We open with August (Pinocchio), waking up next to a woman with his leg turning to wood. Given the language, I’m assuming this is a flashback to when August was in Phuket and found himself turning into wood when Emma returned to Storybrooke.
Back in Storybrooke, David is preparing breakfast in bed – complete with little flowers – for Mary Margaret who has, as you recall, Taken to Her Bed. Emma is rather tired of this and wants to stop the softly softly treatment and haul her out of bed and Mary Margaret needs to figure things out herself.
I’m totally Team Emma on this one.
Having overheard Emma, Mary Margaret gets u and packs a bag – she’s heading off to the woods to get her head together. David keeps wallowing in denial land, once the beans are grown and they go to fairyland again they can put it all behind them. Mary Margaret doesn’t think moving is going to change how she feels about tricking Regina into killing her mother.
Emma gets some new from Neal – Tamara, his fiancée, went to his house and grabbed a bag of her things and there was no Hook – so he’s out and about somewhere. And she’s packing a bag because she’s on her way to Storybrooke. Emma thinks this is not an especially good idea, Neal agrees but he needs her. Realising that that’s the kind of thing that’s a little insensitive to say to one’s ex who loved you and you dumped pregnant and in prison he apologises but Emma takes it in stride and points out he doesn’t owe HER an apology, it’s not Emma he’s lying to. She adds that it’ll be a really good idea to come clean with Tamara (yeah I can see that conversation going well. “Hey, know Rumplestiltskin? He’s my dad! And my ex is the daughter of Snow White! And I’m totally not on drugs, honest!”) before she finds out. Like, y’know, maybe finding the angry pirate with rocking eye-liner in his flat? He also wants Emma to meet Tamara; imagine how enthused she is about that.
In the woods, Mary Margaret is trying to remind us all of how bad arse she can be and shooting arrows at a tree; until one misses. She tracks down the arrow and finds it broken. Following the sound of someone running she finds a greenery covered trailer inside which is… August, now entirely turned to wood. With a broken arrow in his leg. Could have been worse, if he were still flesh he’d now need medical attention and Mary Margaret would spend the next 3 months cowering in her bed.
Flash back to a Hong Kong hospital (August has left Thailand it seems) where August tries to convince a doctor he’s turning to wood when they see a perfectly normal leg. So he stabs himself which doesn’t go down well and he ends up running from the hospital chased by orderlies. He’s pulled into a side corridor by a man who promises to take him to someone who can help – called the Dragon.
Uh-huh. There are very very few ways that can go well.
Back to Storybrooke, Mary Margaret does her soggy best to encourage August to return to society even if he is wooden (he thinks this is a punishment he brought on himself and has nothing to do with the curse). He whines for a bit about redemption and forgiveness and how easy Mary Margaret has it because she’s never ever done anything she needed forgiving for, ever.
Oh please, could you lampshade the moral message a bit more boldly? I think you’re just far too subtle with this. It’s possible that a concussed 3 year old might not get it.
Time for Henry and Emma and Neal to have the awkward family meet with Tamara and when henry and Emma leave, Henry not-so-subtly leaves his fairy tale book behind. So Neal decides to tell her the truth about the Enchanted forest and fairy tales.
You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that Tamara doesn’t take it well, assumes he’s lying and thinks he’s trying to drive her away so he can be with Emma. Honestly why would ANYONE thing they could convince someone of this?! Why not call on Gold and at least have someone nearby who can show off some impressive, can’t-be-doubted magic?
Another August in Hong Kong flashback where he’s lead through crowded backstreets to a backalley to meet this Dragon – and in the waiting room we see… Tamara. Ok, that was unexpected.
At Granny’s diner Regina sits down with Greg, the newcomer-who-she-tried-to-kidnap-as-a-kid thanking him for finding Henry and remarking how familiar he seems (really, we’re going to go there? Claim she can recognise him from seeing him as a child) she leaves after poking Mary Margaret a little more as the Wet lettuce runs in to tell Emma and Geppetto about August. They decide to see the Mother Superior – the Blue Fairy – since she helped before. And all of this is overheard by Tamara.
Back in Hong Kong, Tamara sends August in to speak to the Dragon. The man can see August’s wooden leg – and knows that his name is Pinocchio. For payment for his help he wants August’s necklace which is made from the string first used to animate him as a puppet. And he wants $10,000.
Back in Storybrooke, Mother Superior knows all about August – but her conditions for making him a real boy was that he remain brave, truthful and unselfish and he hasn’t been – which is why he is wood. For him to return he needs to find redemption, a path he needs to travel on his own.
In Hong Kong, August is trying to find how he can possible raise $10,000 when he runs into Tamara again. They have a drink together and she tells her story – she has been diagnosed with incurable cancer and she travelled the world to try and find someone who can help her. Then she found the Dragon, a second chance. In her bag she has a large amount of money in cash (and gave a personal item – a photograph of her grandmother). Her phone rings and she leaves to answer it, leaving August to guard her things. He takes her money and runs.
In Storybrooke, August opens the door to someone knocking on his trailer – it’s Tamara.
In Hong Kong the Dragon asks August for his money, he feels another jab of pain (the dragon makes a comment about interpreting the body’s signals which probably means that his body hurts him because, by spending Tamara’s money, he’s breaking the “selfless, brave, truthful” condition). The Dragon says the potion will stop him turning to wood – but won’t cure him, only he can do that. As he leaves he’s confronted by Tamara. He tries to run but his leg collapses in wooden agony and Tamara claims the potion and tells him he deserves whatever he has.
In his trailer, Tamara won’t answer any questions but can clearly see August as wooden because she believes (why else would she have gone to see the Dragon?) She tells him that her cancer has been cured by the potion and there’s still some left – he can have it if he goes to New York and collects it and never returns to Storybrooke. August connects her to Neal and asks her if she’s there for the magic – she doesn’t deny it but claims Neal is ignorant. He’s worried about what she plans in Storybrooke but she’s sure he will accept her deal given what he did in Hong Kong.
Regina catches up with Greg to tell him she does recognise him – Owen. She also claims no knowledge of his father, he left shortly after Owen did. He says he’s not leaving without his dad and she repeats that he isn’t there – and adds if he doesn’t leave she can make him disappear.
Geppetto, Emma and Mary Margaret head to Augustus’s trailer and Geppetto’s in full grief confessional mode and tells Mary Margaret about how he sent Augustus back through the tree, not her. She smacks him –much to the shock of Emma who doesn’t approve of beating apologising old folks. Mary Margaret apologises, saying it wasn’t her, she hasn’t been herself. Is this the blackened soul? Alien hand syndrome? Anyway Geppetto blames himself for what happened to Augustus because he put too great a duty on a child. Of course when they arrive the Trailer is empty because Augustus is leaving Storybrooke.
Who can predict how this will end kiddies? I give 10:1 odds on him coming back showing how unselfish he is and PING he’s a real boy again. Then getting stabbed by Mary Margaret’s evil hand. Well, maybe not – but I can hope right?
Back in Hong Kong, Tamara returns to the Dragon who reveals she was lying about having cancer. Apparently she’s been looking for someone who has genuine magic which she describes as “rare in this world.” She has examined the bottle with everything known to science and found that it contains nothing – not a thing found in this world. He says that his potions are not from this world because the problem he solves aren’t either (cancer isn’t from this world?) She says now she’s found him she can’t risk anyone else finding him – uh… why? He decides to menace her with red smoke and hovering and she tases him. She takes the photo of her and her grandmother and leaves.
In her car in the present, the wooden Augustus knocks that same photo free from the sun visor. He turns the car around. He rushes to the police station looking for Emma. She isn’t there so he calls her to warn her on her mobile – which is as far as he gets before Tamara pulls the phone wire out of the wall. He tells Tamara he went back to check on the Dragon and found him dead and he realised she did it when he saw the picture. Dramatic speech of him saving himself by being brave, selfless and true by warning Storybrooke about Tamara. She responds by tasing him
What? He can knife himself in the leg but a taser collapses him?
He staggers outside and collapses into the arms of Geppetto, Emma & co. He tries to warn her but collapses and becomes inert midwarning, in time for Emma (just in case you missed it) to exclaim about him trying to use his dying breath to warn them. Henry realises that he has been brave, truthful and unselfish, and last time he did that, sacrificing his life for Geppetto, that was when the Blue Fairy could change Pinocchio into a real boy. The Mother Superior arrives (presumably she was just passing). She uses her magic to turn him into a real boy.
Literally, he turns into a child again. And, of course, he doesn’t remember anything.
Neal and Tamara have a moment where they reconcile, she saying she wants to stay with him and not go back to New York.
And we have a flashback of August and Neal, August telling Neal he has to make Emma break the curse because he’s turning into wood. Neal isn’t a big fan since it means Gold will remember him. All through the conversation, Tamara watches through a hand mirror. When Augustus drives off, she runs into Neal when he turns round, spilling her coffee over herself. Which is how she described them meeting to Henry earlier.
Emma and Henry have another heart to heart in which Emma apologises for lying about his dad and promises never ever to lie to him again.
And the super previous Mary Margaret tells David about seeing Regina and her terribad black heart. They have to find a way for Mary Margaret to redeem herself.
Aaaand Tamara is the woman who Greg has been in touch with – and they’re together as a couple.
Ok, “The Dragon”? That really needs expanding somehow beyond “ooh look mystical east, wooo wooo wooo eastern magic!” really really does, especially given how few POC there have been on this show and how less than ideal they have been – and adding a sinister, evil Black woman isn’t going to improve matters. I’d also like to know why August moved from Phuket to Hong Kong - it's hard to escape the implication that Phuket is fine for partying but if you want medical help, Hong Kong is more "civilised".
Snow White’s evil evil hand… oh gods really? Is her purity so damn precious that she starts to become POSESSED by an act of self-defence blackening her oh-so-pure and oh-so-precious heart?
I think Once Upon a Time is also a little unfocused at the moment. With Cora gone with have a lot of loose ends – Tamara and Greg are the new bads, but Regina’s wandering around apparently content to make snide comments to Mary Margaret. Hook’s still out there somewhere, Belle’s still an amnesiac and Mary Margaret has her TERRIBLE AWFUL BLACK HEART precious. I wonder if there’s a full storyline between them