Well, damn a lot happened in this episode
In fact we have to give this to this season; a lot is being packed in. There’s very little filler in this season as we have this huge storyline with a twist of the week to squeeze it all in.
The flashback this week goes back to Lucy’s birth and Drizilla arriving like Maleficent's understudy to announce the baby is cursed and on her 8th birthday everything will be doomed
At which point they turn her to stone with some surprising help from Rapunzel (and even she is fully anti-Drizilla now) because it’s more merciful than the savage snark Maleficent will unleash if she finds out who’s trying to upstage her.
8 years later everyone’s forgotten about Drizilla’s threat and the fact she’s their new garden ornament. Seriously guys, Tiana’s queen now, she has people, can’t you move that statue somewhere less creepy? Henry’s apparently fine living in a feudal magical land despite having grown up with indoor plumbing and the internet and they’ve all been living happily and are now celebrating Lucy’s 8th birthday
Honestly I’m going to get everyone a calendar so they can mark on things like ominous curses
While Drizilla is the world’s most ominous garden ornament, everyone has a birthday party for Luzy and, surprise surprise, Gothel shows up. This time with minions who can break an unbreakable spell and de-stone Drizilla. They’re the coven of the 8: basically the worst of the worst evil witches
And I call shenanigans unless they were coven of the 11. Because any ominous coven of super powerful evil witches which doesn’t have Regina, Zelena and Maleficent in it can take allll the steps back
They ominously announce their attempt to curse everyone and leave - so Regina decides to get reinforcements (and whyfore is Henry referring to Regina by name?) and gather in Zelena (and re-introduce us to Robin, Zelena’s rape-baby by Robin Hood which we’re all forgetting about now because Zelena is a Good Guy™) so they can have a witch vs witch show down
While Hook has gone to get Rumplestiltskin so he can add some Dark One mojo and.... Ok, WHY is Rumple all golden skinned, straw-spinning “dearie”? Because when Lucy wasn’t born he was post-Belle human looking and normal; what happened in the last 8 years to make him go all classic Dark One. He’s decided all he can do is give Killian a magical white elephant which means if the curse hits he and his daughter will at least still be related to each other in whatever new curse realm is created.
Ok, shenanigans are called. Rumple can’t help? Because going by what happens there are several moments when he could have helped given his Ultimate Cosmic Power. What cop out is this? I can only assume he wants the curse to happen so he can find the Guardian in one of his convoluted plots
He also gives Alice the teacup which is supposed to restore his memories and we all know how well that worked out.
Henry prepares their plan B, getting some brief help from walk-on character Tiger Lilly who either needs more of a role or not to be here to dole out magical aid to anyone walking past. They plan to make another cupboard, similar to the one that got Emma and Pinocchio to the real world - only this time for Lucy and Henry. Except Henry is the world’s worst lumberjack and the witches catch him before he can even cut the tree down let alone practice amateur carpentry
So we get an epic show down with pretty much everyone vs Drizilla, Gothel and the Witches and Regina and Zelena are all prepared to own this because of course they will. Except the witches have poisoned Henry and to save his life the only way to stop the magical poison killing him is to cast the curse.
And they need Regina for that - after all the curse needs to be cast by a witch who has crushed the heart of the thing she loves most and only Regina qualifies here. It also makes sense that she should be able to do it rather than relying on Amateur witch Drizilla. To save Henry’s life, Regina casts the curse
Which is also why everyone is unwilling to break the curse in the future, Henry’s still all magically poisoned.
In the last moments before the curse, Alice and Robin get to say goodbye - and Killian gives the White Elephant to Cinderella so she and Lucy won’t be seperated.
So to the present and Regina has dragged Henry to San Francisco to find… Zelena! Except Zelena is now a hippy exercise instructor who drinks cucumber water. Oh the vengeance for this will be long and excruciating. And she hates Regina because in this reality Roni told her daughter Robin to travel the world and party rather than get her education. She has absolutely no time for Regina, not one second
So Regina uses woo-woo she’s managed to scrape up to restore Zelena’s memories; well that was quick and easy. With Zelena now Awake she is willing to come back to Hyperion Heights with Regina… though it takes some soul searching because she’s engaged and soon to be married. It’s one of those complex curse moments - because she likes the guy and he’s a good guy and she wants to get married… but at the same time she’s no longer the woman he fell in love with and that’s going to be Complicated. Complications can wait though because family comes first: Yes Zelena is belatedly stepping on the Redemption Train even if she has already teleported to the end station.
Back in Hyperion Heights, Rumple and Rapunzel try to do some quick magic lessons with Anastasia, because if she finds her magic she might be able to heal Lucy. While Rapunzel isn’t exactly a big fan here, she recognises that Drizilla and Gothel are still out there, still after Anastasia and she needs some allies super super quick since everyone’s going to be ragingly pissed at her. Some tests and Anastasia’s ability to discover the Dark One Dagger is magical proves she has magic still (and is likely to be Rumple’s Guardian) but when Gothel arrives, Anastasia panics. Her magic knocks everyone out - Gothel, Rumple and Rapunzel, and Anastasia flees to the first friendly face she sees. Her sister, Drizilla.
Drizilla quickly takes her to safety, giving her a bracelet she promises will dampen her magic; but when they get to her hideyhole Gothel is waiting. Drizilla’s plan is to use the bracelet to steal Anastasia’s magic - Gothel’s plan is to have Anastasia steal Drizilla’s magic and become one of the Coven of 8
Drizilla ends up magicless in a well and Anastasia confused looking at 8 empty cloaks: Gothel intends to unite the coven but clearly the others aren’t here yet
Meanwhile Tilly grabs Killian so she can show him some graffiti - it’s the same graffiti that was in Gothel’s notebook: the symbol of the coven of 8 and is terribad awful. They go to Rumple and find him in his locker which has been completely ransacked - except for 1 coin with the same symbol on it. Which means the witches are coming
Henry returns to Jacinda and Lucy and at Jacinda’s suggestion reads his book to Lucy. He even appeals as if he were her father, if in some world that’s possible and kisses her; and yes I definitely waited for True Love’s kiss
But it doesn’t work - as Zelina and Regin realise; because Rapunzel stole Lucy’s belief, she doesn’t believe in True Love’s kiss so it has no power. That leaves them one option - break the curse to save Lucy but doom Henry
Oh hey, we finally found Alice’s girlfriend after that one super brief mention. Now the showrunners mentioned they were going to get a full episode so this had better not be it. I am happy to FINALLY see some LGBTQ representation that isn’t virtually non-canon (but Ruby! Mulan! Dorothy! Don’t even try - they were side characters in a side plot completely unrelated to the main characters; they couldn’t have been more divorced from the main plot if they’d tried. It was almost a spin off). At the same time a) it’s been seven seasons, that’s a hella long time to be skating on such crumbs and b) Robin happens to be abroad doing ill-defined stuff? Basically she’s been got out the way so Alice can have had a HISTORICAL girlfriend but our current plot is not going to be touched by such shenanigans
And why is she giving letters to her cursed dad to give to her girlfriend when she can hardly stand in her cursed dad’s presence?
I would love for Tiger Lilly to actually have a presence in this show - but not if she drops in for 2 seconds to share woo-woo, that’s a trope not characterisation.