Rumple and Emma are going on their road trip as Rumple calls in his debt, but Emma insists on bringing Henry since she doesn’t want to leave him behind with Cora lurking around. They tensely cross the boundary, worried that Rumple may lose his memories crossing over (though he never actually lost his memories with the curse, he and Regina were the two who escaped) but when he crosses over he declares that his name is Rumplestiltskin and they’re going to find his son
Working their way through the airport and Rumple being a little overwhelmed since he’s never left Storybrooke before. There’s a particularly bad moment when he has to take off the shawl to go through security, risking losing his memories as he staggers through. He gets more and more agitated and stressed until he goes to a bathroom and batters his fist against the wall. He tries to heal his skinned knuckles, but it doesn’t work. His magic doesn’t work.
As they take off, he looks more and more nervous
In Storybrooke, Snow answers the door and it’s Regina! Quick admissions of being wrong and Regina being framed by Cora and Archie actually being alive follow and Snow’s heartfelt apology. Regina is more focused on seeing Henry and they tell her he’s left town. Regina’s angry that they left without consulting her but Snow protests that they didn’t know where she was – and Emma doesn’t have to consult Regina anyway. Ahem, as Henry’s legal guardian you do actually.
Snow, Charming and Grumpy take Hook to make him show them where he stashed his pirate ship (with Snow confident he’ll help because pirates know which way the wind is blowing. And Charming’s threatening to cut off his other hand). Grumpy is interested in using the ship to return to fairyland, but it won’t work without a portal. Hook doesn’t know Cora’s plans – but knows it involves a man in a cage: the giant from the top of the beanstalk, now human sized.
Flashback to the giant’s past in fairy land, where the other giants call him Tiny since he is considerably smaller than the other giants but he insists on Anton. They’re celebrating the bean harvest and Anton is lightly chided for his obsession with the humans and their world – which they’re banned from visiting (and even pretend the giants are gone) because humans conquered and invaded different realms, not content with just trading. Anton thinks sweeping judgement of the humans is wrong and questions why they grow the beans at all if they don’t use them. One of the other giants destroys the human harp he had and Anton leaves the table angrily, goes to the Beanstalk and climbs down.
Back to Storybrooke where Grumpy comments, unnecessarily, that Cora made Anton travel sized. Snow frees and wakes Anton to try and find Cora’s plans – he’s confused and disoriented, but when he says Charming he attacks – punching him over the rail (he may be small, but he seems immensely strong) and knocks Grumpy aside; until Snow sends an arrow in front of his face. Anton runs telling Charming that he remembers what he did and he’ll pay for his evil.
In the hospital, Ruby visits the amnesiac Belle and tries to bring her some comforts from home. Belle doesn’t remember her and is confused – especially since she remembers Rumple using magic to heal her and throw fire. Ruby tries to call it a side effect from the tranquilisers but Belle insists – and becomes agitated when she’s called Belle, a nurse arrives and sedates her. All of this is watched by Greg, the normal outsider who came to town.
Charming and Snow wonder why Anton is angry with them, but Charming has a flashback to his brother, James, identical in appearance but very different in personality who was called on to face a rampaging giant by their adopted father, King George. Charming says they have to find out exactly what James did, and we flash back to see ourselves.
James met Anton just peering in the windows of a tavern. Anton wishes to see the human world and James offers to let him – but Anton is too big. James’s female companion offers him magic mushrooms from a far off land that will make him smaller – her name is Jacqueline, most people call her Jack. Anton becomes a guest of James and Jack at the tavern. There Jack and James are friendly, and talk about Anton’s place with the humans rather than his brothers who belittle him. Jack also confides in Anton the kingdom’s money trouble – that if they can’t pay off their vast debt to a neighbouring kingdom, they will be invaded and pillaged. Anton offers to help – not with magic beans as Jack suggests – but with the giant’s vast treasure hold.
Anton returns up the Beanstalk and is confronted by Arlo while he fills sacks with treasure. Arlo assures him that, despite the teasing, he is loved and valued by his brothers. But Anton wants to live with the humans, using magic to be human sized. But the sentry birds come on alert – Anton has been followed to the beanstalk by the humans.
Anton and Arlo go to meet Jack and James who emerge from the beanstalk and Anton assures them he would return with the treasure. But they draw swords – they’re not there for the treasure, they’re there for the beans, all of them.
The human armies drive back the giants, their swords are poisoned and the giants are rather outnumbered. Arlo turns to Anton and says he must raise the fields of beans to stop the humans bringing their violence to other realms.
Arlo captures Jack and both he and her end up stabbed with the poison sword. Anton runs to Arlo’s side – but Charming abandons the injured Jack (her skeleton will be found by Emma), running out with a sack of treasure. Anton assures Arlo he’s destroyed the beans. As he dies, Arlo gives Anton a cutting of a bean stalk – some day he will find new lands to plant the beans.
In Storybrooke, Hook meets Regina and sees she’s now on Team Cora – he tells her about the ship being found and the giant released, a perfect distraction so they can get their things. Anton, meanwhile, is confused in modern day Storybrooke and we get a flashback to him in fairyland. He flees into the forest and Regina approaches him. She offers to help him kill the Prince – and gives him a mushroom that will temporarily make him big again. With his size he goes on the rampage, throwing cars around
Charming, Snow and Grumpy run after Anton with Charming protesting that he isn’t James. They mention Emma who Anton remembers – and wants to talk to for her to vouch for them. When he discovers Emma isn’t there he charges and they run – with Grumpy wonderfully questioning Charming about his name James/David/Charming which gave me the giggles I admit.
With the giant approaching, Charming offers to sacrifice himself for the greater good – which the giant accepts (hah, no “oh you’re a noble soul, I’ll spare you!” here) and leaps to crush him. Charming and Snow dodge and he pounds through the floor into a sink hole. Which is when the magic making him big wears off, leaving him hanging from broken pipe.
The town quickly rallies and Charming is lowered down on a rope to try and help Anton. At first Anton won’t take his hand – “maybe death hurts less than life” but Charming talks him into it and lifts him free. All is forgiven and it’s to Grannys for free beer. Everyone assures him they have all kinds in Storybrooke. He asks if they’ve ever tried to get home and they say there’s no way – to which Anton asks what the farm land is like and shows them the cutting for the beanstalk he has.
He goes and plants his seed, but there’s a problem. Cora brought him to Storybrooke to grow beans so they’re doing what she wants which can’t be good. The dwarfs offer to help (work is work, it’s what they do) farm the bean and give him his very own dwarf mining pick – which becomes printed with the name “Tiny” as dwarf picks do (how many people does it take to grow a bean?). Charming asks why he didn’t get one and Grumpy snarks that he isn’t a dwarf (got to love Grumpy).
In hospital Belle is approached by Greg to tell her he also saw a man with a ball of fire. Ominous music. Y’know unless they have it on camera it’s not like they can expose Storybrooke.
Snow and Charming have a moment – Charming worried that if he would have been evil if he was raised by George like his identical twin (Snow White assures him he wouldn’t have been which is rather a steaming pile of crap which would assume there are people who are born inherently good or vice versa). Snow also had fun having an adventure but when Charming suggests going home when the beans are grown she says she doesn’t know because her home is where her family is. She won’t be separated from Emma and Emma may not come with them.
Can I have a moment snarking about the supposed wonderful diversity of Storybrooke with its dwarfs and fairies and little wooden boys – so long as they’re 90% white and entirely straight? Uh-huh. This is an ongoing trope not just in Once Upon a Time but in speculative fiction in general - we have these vast worlds with every creature from every legend imaginable. So long as all of those creatures are straight and white. It's especially galling when you have a series which has so many characters
After so long seeing Rumplestiltskin as this awesome, incredibly powerful and conniving figure, seeing him out of his element is interesting – especially when we consider why he set out to become the Dark One in the first place, because he was afraid, because he wanted power to be brave. Now he’s without his power and is seriously unnerved, it’s interesting
What isn’t interesting and is rather annoying is that Regina is now Team Evil again. All that time on redemption now dribbling away, all those moments re-establishing her motherhood cast aside. At the same time I can understand why she doesn’t feel she owes Snow, Emma, Charming et al anything, it’s a shame when we had a perfect villain like Cora we had to pull Regina in as well.