Flashback time - young Henry is all chasing after adventures, facing dragons to rescue sleeping princesses by sexually assaulting them while they’re asleep. Unfortunately for Henry, it turns out this princess actually loves someone else who kills the dragon, sexually assaults her awake and then runs off with the princess declaring that Henry is like a brother to her and so wonderful
Please take note, this friendzoning is going to be relevant later and want us to burn people to death because of it
Anyway, Wish!Rumple shows up in all his sparkly to offer him a Happily Ever After in exchange for a deal. Which Henry refuses because ye gods making a deal with a Rumple, any Rumple? Naaaaaah.
So to the present and everyone is super happy because they have their memories and magic back and Henry runs around saying “mother” and “daughter” and “wife” to remind us he has a family because the focus has been away from them for so very very long that we need to re-establish that they’re actually supposed to be important somehow. Of course not everything is perfect - Killian and Alice still have that poison heart thing. And Facilier is missing
Presumed dead via Wish!Rumple and lo the Black man who was a complicated, powerful and mysterious character with dubious motives, genuine affection for Regina warring with his desire for the Dark One Dagger is just unceremoniously snuffed out. That’ll learn you for thinking you could do more than make occasional baked goods.
Regina goes to check on Facilier and finds Rumple - who everyone is calling Gold to draw a line between him and Wish!Rumple. Regina and Gold catch up on how super evil Wish!Rumple is running amok while Wish!Rumple himself whisks away Henry’s new family - he demands Henry get his Dark One dagger because apparently if Gold decides to give up his dagger then Wish!Rumple will also lose his powers and he’s totally not into that.
A quick revenge council is formed of Regina, Henry, Killian and Gold with Henry vaguely thinking about accepting the deal but Regina being clear they’re just going to kick all the arses especially since this Killian is Wish!Killian he has connections with the Wish Realm and he can totally teleport to this realm with his hook. Apparently?
Henry thinks he should go alone because he has delusions of competence? I mean Regina with all her magic, Gold the Dark one and Killian pirate with magic hook. But failed writer is definitely the guy who should lead this? Shall I mention, yet again, that this series has utterly failed to establish Henry as something useful? I mean, he’s the author, he’s the grandson of the Dark One, son of the Evil Queen and the Saviour - you could have loaded this character with woo-woo.
So through to the Wish Realm and what i think is the beginning of a big cast reunion for Once Upon a Time. They’re split into Regina & Henry team A who are in Rumple’s much much much darker castle complete with Peter Pan (Rumple’s father - yes you remember the Neverland storyline I don’t care if your therapist has urged you to blank it from your mind. At least it isn’t the Frozen storyline) who is kept in stocks because Wish!Rumple holds All the Grudges. They don’t even pretend to care and certainly don’t release him but Rumple does show up to show them that he’s locked Cinderella and Lucy in a snow globe. As one does.
Oh and they find Cruella who Rumple has brought in for the big reunion and to defend his castle. Cruella, a woman with no magic or fighting skills. Cruella, a woman who’s main villainy is distasteful fur trade. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s super cool but this is just bizarre. Especially since for some reason they give her the ability to sword fight (why? She’s from a Flapper 1920s time line. Flappers don’t fence! Give her a Tommy gun) and then she fights with Henry (in that coat!!! I don’t care what kind of ninja you are, you can’t fight in that coat) while Regina watches because we have to pretend Henry is useful and Regina couldn’t fry Cruella with a snap of her fingers.
Meanwhile Gold and Killian are sent to Rumple’s old house to remind us all how angsty and weak he was before he became the Dark One and how much he hated this period in his life. Killian takes Gold to his pirate cave which would totally be flooded in anything resembling rough sea where he can make contact with Ariel because this is the beginning of the Big Reunion. The mermaid has some squid ink which is useful because, for reasons completely unknown, this stuff is good at freezing Dark Ones
The gang gets together and Henry has a tantrum thinking they should hand over a dagger to Rumple to save his family because Gold was totally evil and doesn’t deserve a happily ever after. Which is not wrong but why does no-one on this show think for a second about what could happen if Rumple gets the power of 2 Dark One Daggers? Especially since he can apparently cross realms like catching a bus (in fact, everyone can: seriously magic beans everywhere. Killian’s Hook for some reason. And every witch who has any kind of issue they cast a spell that dumps them all into a Land Without Magic because this is like number one on the problem solving list).
Anyway instead Gold has a plan and he goes to put it into action, with Regina following because Henry doesn’t trust her. He goes to Rumple’s old house with all their demons in it so he can say, actually, this wasn’t the worst thing ever- Rumple is. The Dark Beast before he met Belle is now Gold’s worst nightmare - and he gives Rumple his dagger. Covered in Squid Ink which gives him the chance to give Rumple a good Dark One Dagger stabbing
Except he spends way way more time having a big speech (about how he’d rather destroy Rumple even if it means he can’t reunite with Belle) despite literally only having seconds before the ink wears off. Instead Regina arrives, Gold is distracted and Rumple escapes. Oops
But Henry has his own plan which he has to pursue alone. Apparently. Because he knocks Killian out so he can pursue it alone
I...don’t actually know why? Because Henry’s plan is to reclaim his Author powers with Quill and Ink so he can write a new story. Why would Killian object to this?
He goes to the Author’s Assistant, proves his authenticity, gets his quill and his ink from Cruella’s hair (apparently) and prepares to write a new future - only to have Rumple arrive and steal the quill to give to… Young Henry from the Wish Realm
Young Henry has had a different life because Wish Realm is awful - he mentions Regina murdering the Charmings. Which apparently means the Wish Realm isn’t a sweet sweet utopia? But mainly because he took Wish!Rumple’s deal from the opening scene
Yes, Wish!Henry accepted a deal with Rumple because he was friendzoned and it was totally mean! He was supposed to rescue that princess by sexual assault and instead he got treated like a friend, HOW DARE SHE?! And he pouted because he totally totally can’t have a Happily Ever after despite being like, what, 17-19? I mean he’s barely even started but because the first sleeping dragon guarded princess isn’t ready to ride him like a noble steed he’s going to go dark side?
Is he going to write an Incel screed next?
So the pen is in Rumple’s pet author’s hand so he can rob the Guardian of her special powers meaning the dagger will never be destroyed
So to everyone else:
Sabine/Tiana is making some improbable batter (that batter was already pretty runny and you added 3 more eggs in one go?) and talking to Naveen about her fascinating character conflict: she doesn’t know who she is. She remembers being Tiana, but most recently she’s been Sabine. Yesterday she was a baker and she can’t quite assimilate all of these memories and responsibilities of being an actual queen
What I did like was Sabine/Tiana agonising over whether she is Sabine/Tiana and, unlike the Charmings, realising that royalty has responsibilities and worrying about that. This kind of conflicted personality would be an awesome thing to explore after the curse - albeit several seasons too late.
Alas this is all quickly brushed over because Andrew/Naveen gives her a pep talk. Awww damn it can we not just brush this off? This could be so much more interesting.
So with her newly embraced Queen-ness she can rally the people when Robin and Alice come looking for help - Alice feeling the whole Guardian woo-woo disappearing - getting the people to hand over one of those magical beans that are EVERYWHERE. They’re riding to the rescue
But first they’re going to go to Storybrooke to gather a possee
Where did this plot even come from?! I mean, I can hardly remember the wish realm beyond a convoluted reason to remake Captain Hook. But now we have this archvillain? It’s just all so unfocused - not just because the Wish Realm characters feel like a last minute add on - but all of it. Lucy and Cinderella have been kidnapped? Ok, shame we spent so much of the season focused on Victoria and then Gothel that we barely know these characters. And while we’ve kinda, sorta known that people wanting the Dark one Dagger is a thing it, again, was kind of lost most of the season.