Starting with the magical past, Rumple is all sad over Belle and trying to talk to her using an altar which is all full of hearts… and vodun. It’s no surprise when Facilier shows up and decides to make a play for the dagger - using one of his voodoo dolls
Needless to say that doesn’t really work with the Dark One. And he gets a strangling in return. But he manages to remind Rumple that going evil won’t help him reunite with Belle. He claims to hear what Belle says since he hears the dead and is worried that if Rumple doesn’t find the Guardian soon the darkness inside him will grow and take over.
And he has a point because Rumple’s hands are starting to turn gold again a good sign that he’s going dark sidey. He has found a potential Guardian - Alice. But he needs to test her to see if she’s good enough. Kind of how Gothel tested everyone to destruction.
The problem is that Killian has noticed Rumple watching Alice and is Not Happy because he’s always had issued with the “crocodile” and Alice seems to be getting all cute and happy with Robin. Rumple also can’t heal his heart because the curse on Killian is black magic and needs blacker magic to fix
But despite the warnings from Killian he uses this potential for a cure to manipulate Alice in true Dark One fashion. She ignores all warnings if there’s a chance of a cure and runs with the Dark One to Facilier - and rips out Facilier’s heart following Rumple’s instruction (damn this heart ripping stuff is easy to learn) and therefore, apparently, leaving Rumple’s own dark heart clean
I’m not even sure that Once Upon a Time’s broken morality would accept that as true. We see Ruimple’s hands become more and more gold and as they do his mannerisms slip more and more to the Dark One, his voice, the gestures the language - it’s really well done.
He tells Alice to heal her dad of the curse he has to crush Facilier’s heart. But despite lots of coaxing Alice refuses
And lo, we have a Guardian test - which she passed. Rumple follows her - and his mannerism settle back more normal.
He goes to the shrine and Alice follows talking about how hard it must be to be separated from who he loves and how happy she is to have found Robin and be free from all towers. And she uses her Guardian-ness to take his dagger, it’s all really impressive with lots of shining white light, the dagger has his name stripped from it and is reduced to energy and Alice looks all shiny and amazing - but Rumple stops her
I thought for a moment he did it for the power - but he says he did it for her. Because doing this would make Alice immortal and, having just lost Belle, he knows how much being immortal can hurt without the one you love. It’s another tower.
When next we see Rumple he’s fully golden, complete Dark One - and Killian thanks him for saving his daughter from being immortal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’ve never bought this whole idea of immortality as a terrible curse. Because of that I can’t help but feel there’s a power hungry motive to Rumple’s actions here. Which is only more likely now he’s gone full dark one again
And in the present Killian and Rumple discover that Hansel has died in their custody - and find Facilier’s pin. Rumple panics and goes to check the evidence locker - his dagger is also missing. Enraged and scared he runs out leaving poor Killian to deal with the fallout
Of which there is absolutely none. I mean a man dies in custody, just as the CCTV conveniently goes down and there’s no worry about the fallout from this? Nick is a wealthy white man, a lawyer for gods’ sake - don’t tell me that the shit wouldn’t rain down in diarrhea like rivers!
Jacinda is all kind of troubled that Nick, her ex and father of her child is a serial killer. Henry almost comforts her but is more concerned with the weird things Nick says and even says he’s not ready to talk about them yet to Jacinda. And I get it but at the same time how can this not seem terrible to her? She’s worried about how she misjudged the man she had a child with and Henry, a man who knew Nick for about 2 days suddenly can’t talk about him? Huh
So Henry goes to Killian and asks if he can have a tour of the crime scene of the man who died suspiciously in police custody and of course Killian agrees because why not ? There’s no accountability at all it seems. This gives Henry chance to steal the medical results because why not remove evidence from a crime scene as well?
While there Killian runs into Naveen looking for dirt to use against Facilier - he reasoned there must be some reason why Facilier would kill Nick. He tells Killian he can’t tell him anything because it’s all weird and Killian decides to accept the word and let this man who broke into a crime scene go
Killian. You are the worst, cop, ever. This is one shoddy curse, at least the previous cursed people had the knowledge to back up their professions in the cursed life?
Actually maybe they didn’t? Can you imagine? Mary Margaret the school teacher teaching people medieval myths as fact? The hospital run by a group of people who think magic and rudimentary herb lore is the very limit of their medicine? Hey did any of them drive? Can anyone remember Storybrooke characters driving?
Mind you granny does work a modern electric oven and a coffee maker.
Henry has his medical record and goes to Jacinda to confirm it - according to the test which he confirmed at the hospital, he is Lucy’s biological father. Jacinda is utterly bemused by this, naturally. Honestly I’d be a little horrified as well because without the woo-woo element there are rather few ways Jacinda can be pregnant by a man she didn’t think she’d ever seen before and none of them are good.
While Rumple asks Regina about Facilier particularly because he wants to steal the magic he gave her to cure Henry. Regina snaps back no way is she giving that up and reminds Rumple that Henry is actually his grandson!
Regina goes to Facilier and asks him about the dagger - which he denies taking. But he doesn’t deny killing Nick and is all “he was a serial killer, boohoo”. Reminding us in case we didn’t know that Facilier isn’t a nice guy. But Regina believes him
Regina… I’m increasingly not trusting your judgement here.
Rumple overhearing doesn’t believe Facilier and holds him at gun point to threaten him. Which doesn’t achieve much because, again, Facilier points out Rumple can’t kill people and hope to be reunited with Belle
Personally I think this moral code is dubious, if the only thing keeping you on the path of light is the need to reunite with Belle then you’re not really on a good path. If you need bribing to be good or threatening not to be bad then your morality is pretty much non-existent. But it does make Rumple back off and allow Facilier to use his magic to zap Rumple back into his car.
Which leaves a frustrated Rumple with one more option to find his dagger - to steal Regina’s cure-Henry magic to use a finding spell
While this has being going on we have Alice/Tilly and Margot/Robin. In a role reversal Margot is the jet set traveller now and Tilly is the woman who hasn’t travelled much. They’re cute together, spend the day having fun with sweets, coffee and libraries and it’s all excellent - until the voices in Tilly’s head get too much and she runs
To be found by Weaver - because Tilly’s got his dagger in his backpack. She has no idea how it got there but the voices stop the minute he removes it: Rumple realises the Guardian is protecting his dagger
Whether that means Tilly snuck in and stole it without knowing or that the dagger is magical enough even in a land without magic to teleport to her bag, I’m not sure. But it does mean Facilier is innocent - of this at least
But Rumple is not - and Regina confronts him, utterly furious, for stealing the magic she was going to use to heal Henry. That he put his need for the dagger over Henry is the last straw for Regina - again and again he has betrayed her and she is through
Rumple used to be more intelligent than this
I do like Alice and Robin’s relationship, they are good together, it was well done and for a nice slow burn relationship this platonic-with-an-excellent-possibility-and-foundation-for-more would be perfect. Except there are four episodes left of the final series of Once Upon a Time: which would presumably also fill in Killian getting his heart cured, the curse failing, Mother Gothel actually… actually… well, explaining her presence, Henry being cured, Rumple being redeemed and back with Belle and Facilier’s plotting brought to an end presumably in happy good love with Regina
That’s asking a lot but I expect it - because this is Once Upon a Time a show all about Disneyfied fairy tales and if there’s one rule it’s that there WILL be a happily ever after. But that means fitting it all in.