We begin this evening back in the Enchanted Forest – whoops, no it’s not. It’s a TV, circa 1960-something, and our author Isaac is a TV salesman. His sales manager is none to happy with his lackluster sales techniques, and reminds Isaac that sales is storytelling and he “doesn’t tell stories that people want.”Isaac hopefully opens a mysterious letter (because his personal mail is apparently delivered to the store) from “Star Publishing” and to his great delight, they’re demanding an immediate meeting.
He shows up at the studio where Jennifer Beals filmed the finale audition sequence of “Flashdance,” and the Apprentice is there to meet him. He tells Isaac that they’re a very selective publishing company, and their previous author has died. (Nice touch – Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966). He sets out an array of pens and asks him to pick a pen. It’s a test, and Isaac needs to choose the wand pen that calls out to him.
After it blasts Isaac with light, the Apprentice lets him know that the pen chooses the author, and somewhere there’s an evil author with a pen that has a feather from the same phoenix inside it. Oh, wait. Wrong story. The apprentice invites the author to take a trip and opens the mysterious portal doorway, inviting Isaac to step through and find his destiny.
Ahead to present day, where the cadre of main characters are searching the author’s house, looking for the new book. Regina grumps about possibly waking up a frog and Hook reminds them that if the Dark One is allied with the author, he’s got the most to worry about. August shows up with an artist’s rendering of the apprentice, which Killian recognizes at once – having been the one who trapped the poor guy in the sorcerer’s hat. Blue frees the apprentice from hat with the magic broom, spouting some plot convenience about good magic vs bad in reversing the situation and blah blah blah.
The apprentice is freed and he says they have to get the page the author was originally imprisoned in, as well as the key, and return Isaac to the book.
Over at Gold’s shop, Isaac asks Rumple what he wants out of his new reality. Alas, magic can’t bring Bae back from the dead. The pen can’t change the past that’s been created. It can only write from this moment forward (Remember that, because it trips them up later).
Rumple doesn’t want to forget Bae, but he wants to remember doing right by him. Isaac agrees, and begins writing. We see everyone in various places all across town and suddenly, everything starts to change. Lights flash and an unseen choir swells and shit is ON.
Cut to Henry, waking up with the mysterious key in his hand, and everyone has vanished. He’s all alone- Storybrooke done been raptured!. Even baby Neal is missing! Wait, is there a baby? I forget.
He takes off in Regina’s car and makes his way to the diner from Season 1, with pictures of Regina and Emma. The waitress recognizes that he’s too young to be driving and calls the cops, but not before Henry sees the new novel “Heroes and Villians” by Isaac Heller.
And now we see Isaac, at a convention, giving the keynote speech to overwhelming accolades, with fans and cosplay all around. One of his fans even gives him her homemade Regina pin!
Henry shows up at the author’s table with the page from the book, and he wants to know what happened to his family. He threatens to lock Isaac back up. Isaac tells him everyone lives in an alternate reality. Worse, there is no Emma in his book – there was no room for a savior.
As he monologues and gloats, he tells Henry that he broke the cardinal rule: don’t write your own happy ending, and now because of that, the magic pen wont work for him anymore. Of course, he’s still going to carry it around, though. ‘Cause…reasons.
Isaac taunts Henry, telling him that he’s not from a magical world and he’s not going to be a knight in shining armor. Henry takes the new book out of the author’s hands, uses the key, and puts himself inside it.
He lands in front of a hovel and immediately finds a sword, too. Not fast enough – Isaac smacks him in the face with a shield, knocking him out cold. He ties Henry up so he can monologue some more. In his story, no hero gets a happy ending. And Henry guesses that will somehow destroy the book. Isaac tells him that he brought Henry to the final day of the story, and if the bell tolls without a hero getting a happy ending, everything will remain as he wrote it. Then he leaves so that Henry can get eaten by ogres.
Wow, the CGI budget for ogres is much better this season. Along comes a knight, who uses white magic to defeat the ogre. He’s known as the Ogre-slayer, and its our own beloved Rumplestiltskin, who reassures a grateful townsperson that no payment is necessary – good deeds are their own reward. Quite a change for the man who formerly demanded payment for every little thing. Of course, he doesn’t recognize Henry at all.
Using Isaac’s bestseller as a guide, Henry hunts down Regina…the bandit queen! She looks amazing, and doesn’t look like she believes him when he says he’s her son. Worse, she tosses the book in the fire and Henry only manages to save a couple of pages.
He tells her his grand plan: he’s going to give her a happy ending. She needs to find Robin Hood and kiss him – a true love’s kiss will break them out of this reality. Regina sees Robin Hood as her competition – it’s because of him she’s trapped in the kingdom. And just like before, the queen wants her dead because she ruined her happiness.
Isaac is less than thrilled to find Henry gone and ends up getting trapped in a net in the woods by some very dark looking dwarves.
“Oh no. Not these guys,” he whines. He’s got his “Long live Regina” button on him and the dwarves make him to be an enemy sympathizer, so they take him to our evil Queen, Snow White.
Snow, resplendent in a glorious evil queen gown and a fluffy faux mohawk is ready to off him, but he gives Henry up without a whimper. And then Snow starts screaming into a heart and in walks Charming.
Well helllooooooo dark Charming. DAMN. Guyliner and black leather just really make a difference, don’t they? Whoa. I need a cool drink. I just really….DAMN.
Snow has Charming’s heart – but wait – CONTINUITY!! If the magic quill can only write a story from the present forward….He should only have half a heart. Right? Or does that rule only selectively apply? Because if we’re saying that the original bit with Zelena never happened now and he’s still got his heart, then the original bit with Rumple never happened either and Killian should still have a hand.
Anyway, Snow originally loved James, but because of Regina he died, so she took Charming’s heart, forcing him to be hers. Isaac tells her that he knows all about them, and their story is in jeopardy because of Henry and Regina’s plan. He also knows exactly where to find Regina, and offers to help Snow as long as she promises to kill them both.
Wow. Dark. This author is a piece of work.
We move on to Regina the bandit queen as she attacks a carriage, only to find Snow White – who has been tipped off by the author. Snow starts to yank Regina’s heart,but in rides Robin Hood, sweeping her off her feet and saving her. He gets her to safety, bandages her hand (awww – callback!) and then tells her he has a proposition for her: he’s leaving banditry and he wants her to lead the merry men. He’s met his true love and he’s turning over a new leaf for his fiancee…Zelena! Aaaaarrrgh!!
Regina is obviously unhappy at the thought of Robin marrying Zelena. Henry puts two and two together and realizes that Isaac was referring to wedding bells. They have to stop the wedding! He tells Regina that his other Mom is the savior, and Regina conveniently remembers that there were rumors once of a woman who called herself that. The savior has been locked up for years by Snow White. The prison is impenetrable. Cut to a shot of crazy-eyed Emma, locked in a tower and unable to get free.
Meanwhile, back at Rumplestiltskin’s house, he and Belle live in domestic bliss with a cute widdle baby and a whole lotta cleavage in that modified yellow ballgown she’s wearing.
Isaac shows up to let Rumple know that his happily ever after is going down the tubes if Regina stops that wedding and finds true love. This new good guy Rumple is clearly conflicted, and Isaac is counting on Rumple to make the right kind of wrong choice.
Finally….Hook!!! Henry has turned to his favorite sea captain for help, only Hook’s not the captain, it turns out Blackbeard is the captain, and Hook is merely a deckhand – and a coward. Henry bests Blackbeard and they take off in the Jolly Roger to go and rescue Emma.
A very tentative and unsure Hook accompanies Henry and manages to help him get into the tower. He finds Emma and frees her, and Emma knows who he is!!! Yes! Emma, being the savior, is immune to the new reality.She runs out into the hallway, right into the arms of a very confused, but obviously besotted Hook, who’s bashful and adorable and oh, my ovaries. My ovaries hurt. He has no memory of Emma, of course, but she clearly remembers him as he smiles his adorable, goofball smile.
Unfortunately, they had to work Lily in there somewhere so we don’t forget her.They turn her into an avenging dragon and sink her with a cannonball, Oh, and Killian drinks goat’s milk because he’s allergic to rum. Freakin’ ADORABLE.
Back at the castle, Snow is pretty pissed that no one can find Regina, so she takes Doc’s heart and crushes it. Damn,Snow. She demands that the dwarves and Granny (who looks like a whorehouse madam) find and kill Regina and Henry, while Charming broods in the background. Mmmmmm.
Emma, meanwhile, teaches Killian how to use a sword in a very flirty way, and when Snow and Charming show up, he stands behind her holding the sword awkwardly and so damn cute while she tries to convince her parents that they are actually…y’know…her parents. They don’t believe her, and when Henry shows up, Killian finds his inner hero and tells Emma to save Henry (yet again!) while he hold them off. He swordfights with Charming and we think he wins, but a moment later, we all clutch our chests and scream at the TV set.
Charming killed Killian – Oh my GOD Charming KILLED KILLIAN. What. The. FUGG.
Oh, not cool. So decidedly not cool. And Emma’s face when she watched him die! To quote my teenage daughter. I can’t even. I literally can’t even.
Meanwhile, back at Rumple’s little white cottage, Belle is reminding him that he’s The Light One, She believes he’ll make the right choice. Rumple knocks the table and chips the cup, and we see a hint of that old darkness return to his eyes.
After getting away from her now evil parents, Emma tries to convince Regina that Henry is telling the truth. She tells Regina she needs to go to Robin and tell him how she feels. “I just watched the man I loved die,” she tells her. “I never told him I loved him. Not once.”
YES!!!! Finally!!! She admits she loves him!
My Captain Swan Shipper heart is doing a major happy dance which is weird because they just killed Killian. But I’m holding out hope that this will all go away and Killian is only mostly dead.
Emma pleads with Regina to not make the same mistake. They rush to the church, but are intercepted by Rumpletstiltskin, who draws his sword. Emma draws what looks like Hook’s cutlass, and they duel as Regina opens the door and stands frozen, afraid to speak. Rumple knocks Emma out and Henry takes up the cutlass just as Robin spies Regina in the doorway, but before he can say anything, Regina steps in front of Henry to protect him, and Rumple cuts her down.
Emma wakes up and when Isaac crows that it’s too late, she plants him a facer and he drops the satchel. Henry takes up the pen and the book, and YES! I knew it! He’s the next author. He uses Regina’s blood to undo everything Isaac did because the blood magic of a mother protecting her son is really powerful, or so I’m told.
Wait – wrong story again. Anyway, it works, and everyone wakes up back in Storybrooke. Emma runs to find Killian and she throws him on the bed in a total dom move that made me squeal out loud, and then she totally wusses out. She still doesn’t tell him she loves him. Dammit, Emma.
Back at Gold’s shop, Isaac is making his getaway. Belle shows up and Rumple collapses. Charming heads Isaac off at the Town Line along with Snow, and they make a pretty speech about how being a villain only makes you sad.
Henry, meanwhile, is talking to the Apprentice, who asks him what he’s going to write next. Henry wants to bring back his dad, but not even an author can bring back the dead. Baelfire died in the real world, and that can’t be undone. The apprentice cautions Henry to write the truth, and resist the temptation of the quill. The power to change reality is huge.
Henry snaps the elder wand pen, refusing to succumb to the power.
Belle realizes that Rumples’ heart is about to turn entirely dark. He cautions her to go far away because once the man is gone, only the dark one will remain, and that is apparently not a good thing.
Look, there’s baby Neal! Charming apologizes for killing Killian but they’re bros so it’s no big deal. Lily flags Emma down and tells her the amulet she wears is a piece of the egg she hatched from. She wants to find her daddy and she can use it to do that. See? All nice and neat.
Belle runs in all aflutter because Rumple is in great danger – and as the camera pans across the faces, we can see that Killian couldn’t give 2/10 of a fugg about that. The apprentice says the sorcerer’s hat can pull the darkness from Rumple’s shriveled, blackened heart, however, that’s more darkness than the hat has ever held. Just so ya know. He sucks the darkness from Rumple’s heart, and the dagger no longer bears his name. His heart has also turned blinding white, and nobody’s really sure he’s gonna be his normal self ever again. He’s temporarily comatose till the writers figure out a new arc for him.
The hat can’t hold the darkness and it gushes out and goes inside the apprentice. Emma draws it out with her white light, sending it out the mail slot where it flies all over town. Good going Emma. Then she sends her parents out after it. Geez. Thought she’d forgiven them.
The Apprentice lays there moaning and groaning, then finally tells them that need to find the sorcerer and his name is Merlin. Finally, the elusive Merlin! Long ago, the darkness roamed free as it does now, and the sorcerer bound it to an individual, saving the realms.
Emma can feel the darkness surrounding them, and it goes after Regina, sucking out her life and turning her into a villain named Venom. Oh, wait, wrong story again. Emma knows they have to tether it to a person to contain it. “You’ve worked too hard to have our happiness destroyed!” She tells Regina. Then she finally, finally tells Killian that she loves him, just before she draws the darkness down upon herself. The dagger drops, with her name upon it.
I’d say “Whoa,” but the truth is, I figured this out a while back. I think it sets season five up beautifully. Killian will be on a quest to reclaim Emma’s soul, Henry will be on a quest to write a new story for his mom, Rumple will have a new story arc, Regina will be an auntie/mother, and now that the Charmings have found Neal, maybe they can be actual parents.
So with all this digesting…I’m going to give this episode 4 dark daggers out of 5.
Loved Dark Charming, loved evil Snow and Bandit Regina, SOOOOOO loved bumbling, endearing Hook, but the ending felt rushed as hell, some of the new rules they invented and old rules they circumvented felt out of place, and the whole thing had an odd sort of disjointed feel for me. It was still great fun, for the most part, and I do like how they’ve set up season five. It seems really promising.
Stay tuned through the summer – I’ll be posting weekly with OUAT speculations, tidbits, and various other stuff related to the show!