The dwarfs, our favourite canaries, are now at the borders of Storybrooke wondering what diabolical fate will befall them if they cross the line. Dopey is volunteered before the Charmings arrive to give them another reason to flee (but there’s also Regina. Regina just spent some time confined to the same vehicle as Mary Margaret and David?! Has she not suffered enough?!)
Leeroy/Grumpy’s logic is that they can’t stay in town while Emma’s the Dark One because she is the scariest villain ever. Dopey crosses the line… and turns into a tree. I like Regina is more amused by the novelty of it than anything else
Anyway no period of amnesia could be without it’s flashbacks so let’s zoom back 6 weeks to teeny-tiny-Camelot (‘tis a silly place. Yes I am going to do that every time).
The gang have all gathered at the pocket castle and are introduced to Guinevere (and Mary Margaret bows full on without any acknowledgement of her own crown – fail etiquette!). Zelena is also being dragged along with Regina holding her leash. Killian is, wisely, pushing to find Merlin before they have a ball and Emma splatters all the guests (which is just rude). They also tell Arthur that the Dark One is totally threatening them (which conveniently not mentioning that the Dark One is Emma).
Turns out finding Merlin isn’t the hard part. They know where he is. But he’s a tree. And not a Pocahontas-style talking tree. He needs saving, predictably, by the Saviour. Oops that could be a problem… Regina quickly steps in as a Saviour understudy while holding Emma’s dagger.
When they go searching Emma is hella pissed about Regina totally abusing her dagger principles. Regina lays down the obvious of why she has done it – to try and save Emma from her own dark inclinations. Despite the snark, Emma does thank her.
Regina also gets the magical Saviour shiny necklace from Sir Percival though Regina manages to look conflicted. She decides to try and skip the ball because the whole idea of going as a fake Saviour galls her. But her excuse is she can’t dance (Mary Margaret objects because of all the balls they had but Regina points out her husband would much rather dance with the oh-so-precious daughter Mary Margaret. Ouch). So we now have to have a dancing class completely with Regina’s awesome sense of style (which she has to change because her clothing is all so super gloriously evil).
But Percival uses the magic necklace to spy on them while looking all bitter and mean.
The ball launches and we have a nice moment of Leeroy giving Belle some hope about Gold and David deciding to make Henry’s painfully obvious crush even more painful by deciding to give ADVICE. Because everyone wants their granddad giving you dating advice (especially David’s “hey kiss them AFTER they’re unconscious and helpless”). Henry decides to use his past great deeds and modern technology to impress Violet who is tired of the ball because they have so many of them. He also has surprisingly retro taste in music.
Percival makes his move on Regina revealing that he totally knows who she is while they dance – because he was a child in the Enchanted Forest when she was the Evil Queen. There’s a fight on the dance floor in which Regina does nothing – even while Percival nearly stabs Robin – it’s down to David to save him – though he still gets stabbed in the process.
Regina can’t heal him because the sword was enchanted specifically to kill Regina. Instead she appeals to Emma, refusing to use the dagger to force her, she asks Emma. Emma does – and her inner-Dark-One appears to explain the nature of dark magic healing: pay the price. Emma refuses, claiming she’ll pay the price and not telling anyone else about it before healing Robin (and kissing Killian – dark magic is all exciting). As Emma goes for a lie down, some of her skin starts to go sparkly and golden.
In the aftermath, Regina decides to tell Arthur that, yes she was the Evil Queen. But she’s still acting as the Saviour while Emma looks on and seethes.
Later Guinevere tells Arthur about her misgivings about the visitors as they sit at the Round Table – especially with the death of Percival. Of course they also need them to destroy the Dark One in order to get the Dark One Dagger – the other half of Excalibur.
To the present, with Rumple in his coma and Killian asking Belle why True Love’s Kiss didn’t all magically cure Dark One-ness. She says it did – but Rumple chose power rather than love out of his fear: it’s not a curse when the inflicted wants the curse. She also warns Killian that loving a Dark One is not easy.
Henry also summons Emma who still apparently cares for her son – she says she blames everyone but Henry. Regina is quick to move in on the Dark One playing with her son. Regina and Emma exchange taunts over the curse with Emma all smug because the curse needs a Saviour to break… which they don’t have. When Regina says “we’ll find a way, we always have” Emma points out that yes, they did, with her. Ouch that’s two points to Emma. Henry wants Regina to be the new Saviour
Oh gods me too! ME TOO!
But she mentions a threat appearing that only a Saviour can vanquish – King Arthur and his Knights have arrived in town and they’re pissed, capturing Leeroy and a fellow Dwarf. They don’t know why they’re in Storybrooke or why; the exposition of Emma, the curse and their lie about Emma doesn’t make King Arthur any happier. The fact Emma has the dagger and the Charmings don’t exactly want to defeat her just dollops even more pissed-off-ness on his Majesty.
Apparently there’s a few random Camelot people wandering the woods so Robin has his long-absent Merry Men perform a search helped by the endlessly annoying David. This leaves Regina and Mary Margaret to consider whether this is the threat that Emma warned them about and Regina thinks not since she could totally kill them all so very easily (Mary Margaret soggily objects like the soggy wet lettuce she is).
Regina is also having doubts which she shares with Robin Hood – she doesn’t believe people will look at her as a Saviour (even if they don’t see her as a villain any more, they tend not to see her as a hero either). Forgiving Regina isn’t the same as trusting her. Arthur finds Guinivere but he’s lost Excalibur (Clumsy and careless). And then Robin gets kidnapped by a shadowy thingy.
Regina tries to intercept and fails – because her magic always becomes pathetic whenever she’s required to be heroic otherwise she’d break storylines with how powerful she is. Damn it I want to see Regina nuke things. Mary Margaret demands Regina go to the hospital
Reina continues to awesomely display her conflict and issues as she curses the comatose Gold for making her the Evil Queen and a figure no-one will accept as a Saviour – while also swearing to be Saviour no matter what because she’s awesome like that. While she cries Belle comes with some research – the creature is a Fury which is collecting the “unpaid price of magic” – and it demands a life. Robin – and the only way to stop Robin being dragged away is to exchange him for someone else.
Emma is catching up with Killian in her new home, apparently cursing everyone doesn’t preclude them still being together. He tries True Loves Kiss – and it doesn’t de-dark-one Emma (well, Gold didn’t exactly look pure human after the first kiss either). It doesn’t work because Emma has fully embraced dark oney-ness and is annoyed that no-one is accepting the new her. She refuses to tell him what happened in Camelot – and he refuses to sleep with her.
Regina stomps off to see Emma and tell her she won’t sacrifice someone for Robin and tries to appeal to the better side of Emma. She tries to manipulate Emma into making Robin’s death her fault but Emma reveals it’s not her dark magic that the Fury is here to collect on. It was Regina – for Robin’s healing.
The gang goes to where the Fury is trying to take Robin over and Regina offers herself instead. Mary Margaret gets involved and wants to go to (I would say heroic but a) I hate the Charmings – yes I’m petty and I admit it - and b) she quite literally doesn’t have the slightest clue what is going on). They they then get a whole chain of people being connected by Fury magic in a scene that was totally ripped off from Guardians of the Galaxy. The Fury leaves, apparently satisfied with a bit of life from all of them, or unable to take them all.
I still think they could have sacrificed a dwarf. Is Sneezy that necessary?
Robin wakes up and points out she has people who have faith in them (but, to be fair, it is the Charmings. They’re sappy enough to have faith in ANYONE. And they still think they’re the good guys despite SACRIFICING A BABY! No I am not over that) Anyway everyone now has faith in Regina, as they should because she is made of pure, distilled awesome.
Back to Granny’s diner (and I think Sneezy has been turned to stone – well Regina fixes that) with Belle commiserating with Killian who is determined to win back Emma. While Mary Margaret angsts about them being against Emma
Henry also gets to introduce Violet to modern technology. And his continued shockingly dated taste in music.
Emma herself watches someone else enter the diner while looking all ominous. And she is still being haunted by her inner Dark One who wants to point out the weakness of the dark one – all their old friends and family and loved ones that keep dragging them back to humanity. She has Excalibur and the inner Dark One intends her to use it to end all that pesky limiting affection.
Except the Dark One isn’t allowed to draw Excalibur from the Stone.
Ok, pet peeve – Emma’s angry “why can’t anyone accept who I am!?” Is dubious and draws heavily from the narrative of LGBT people facing rejection for who they are. Does it draw direct parallels? No, but the allegory is clear – friends and family being unable to accept “who you are.” We’ve seen the same attempted trope used in Charmed as well. But it’s beyond ridiculous – even Gold wasn’t so far gone as to expect everyone to accept his dark magic – his redemption was always about turning away from the Dark One. There is no way Emma could expect people to “accept” the new her – and it makes that narrative extra problematic since it invokes the family rejection of people who have NOT embraced dangerous, evil magic.
Regina is definitely the star of this episode. Her conflict over wanting to be the Saviour but fearing her legacy still looming over her is powerful. Her inspiring the faith of others (even the Charmings) is powerful. Regina’s whole character, acting and conflict has a good chance of being the utter awesome backbone of this season and the true jewel in the crown of her terribly long and painful road to redemption that is finally getting on track.
Yet at the same time we have Regina being depowered – both in the ball and in the forest against the Fury. Her awesome magic either doesn’t appear or does very little. We saw the same thing back on Pan’s island (I know we all try to forget the horror that was NeverNever land so forgive me for bringing it up). I can see why – because Regina fully powered is story breaking (and overpowered villain is a good character, an overpowered hero is not) but it’s still frustrating to see her flap helplessly while Robin is stabbed