I really want to know how they do it. Once Upon a Time has the same length as every other show on TV, but they seem to cram more into one hour than any other show on TV. It might be that the flashbacks take up some of the “down” time other shows have, but I always come away feeling like I’ve watched at least two hours, yet still wanting more. And that’s just one reason I love the show.
So, shall we unpack tonight’s goodies?
We’ll start where the episode started – in the past. Hook (and Smee and other crew members) are on the Jolly Roger when they start to hear a beautiful voice that mesmerizes all of them. It stops just in time, however, and Hook is able to steer the ship away from rocks that could have sunk the ship.
The voice belongs to a mermaid, a young Ursula. As the ship passes, her father, Poseidon, talks to her quite upset. He wanted her to use her voice to destroy the ship, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to do it. It seems that humans killed his wife, Ursula’s mother, and he wants his revenge on all ships, especially pirate ships.
The next time that Ursula and Hook cross paths, she is singing while she waits tables in a bar, hoping to earn gold to get to a destination her mother had talked of where Ursula hopes to make her living singing. It seems she and her mother shared that amazing voice, and singing reminds Ursula of her mother. Hook is so enchanted, he promises to give her passage in the morning.
That night, however, Poseidon shows up on the Jolly Roger and tells Hook to trap Ursula’s voice in an enchanted shell. If Hook will do this, Poseidon will give him some squid ink he can use to defeat Rumpelstiltskin. The next morning, however, Hook reveals the offer to Ursula and strikes a new deal, steal the squid ink for her passage anywhere she wants to go, and she agrees to do to this.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t get away with it like she thinks she did, and Poseidon shows up on the ship, taking back the ink and threatening Hook and his crew. In a fit of anger, Hook traps Ursula’s voice (after promising not to in the last scene) since it will keep her from destroying any other ships. Ursula leaves and does Poseidon.
However, while Ursula is mad at Hook, she is also mad at her father. She takes his trident and uses it to turn herself into her namesake, the powerful sea witch of old. Or at least give her a few of Ursula’s abilities and eight legs. And then she swims off.
Which brings us to Storybrooke. The villains are trying to question August, who, when threatened with fire from Regina, talks about that mystic he met in China. August claims this mystic was researching the Author when he died, and August stole his notes before he left to return to Storybrooke. Gold goes off to search August’s old trailer. Meanwhile, Regina uses a spell to get the word about what is happening to the others via a smoke that takes over Mary Margaret’s body. And yes, part of that message is that Gold is back in town. This isn’t something that Belle takes well, especially when she is asked about where the dagger is. Hook denies having it, and everyone guesses the truth - Gold now has the dagger and tricked Belle last week.
Hook thinks she has a way he can find out the end game, and that is through Ursula. So he uses a sea shell to call her, and it takes some fast talking, but she agrees to trade Gold’s ultimate plan in exchange for her happy ending. Hook has it on his ship, but he needs her to open a portal and get it for him. When it does pop up in the sea, however, it’s in a bottle.
Fortunately, Will Scarlett is able to use a potion he got from Wonderland to make the ship larger, and Hook and Ursula go on board. Yes, Hook has kept Ursula’s singing voice all this time. However, they can’t seem to release it. Hook and Ursula comes to blows as a result, and it ends with Hook unconscious being thrown into the ocean.
However, Hook is saved by…Ariel. When she has revived Hook, she reveals that Blackbeard was using the ship to terrorize anyone and everyone, but he ran afoul of Elsa off the coast of Arendelle and she shrunk the ship. Sadly, Ariel had gotten trapped in the bottle, too, and just been set free by Hook. Hook explains his dilemma with Ariel (who didn’t recognize the real Ursula), and she suggests they think about the problem as the heroes would.
But before we get there, let’s get back to Gold’s cabin. He’s returned from August’s trailer, and he’s not empty handed. No, he didn’t bring back anything on the Author, he brought back a potion he stole from the fairies. It will temporarily undo any spell, and he makes August drink it. It turns him into a puppet very briefly before returning him to human. However, it also turns on August’s lie detector test. Gold holds him near the fire, and every time that August lies, his noes grows and gets closer to the flame. Finally, we learn that the Sorcerer has trapped the Author behind that door that is part of the pages that Geppetto gave Regina a couple of weeks ago. So Regina, Mal, and Gold set off to the sorcerer’s house to try to find the door from that picture. They leave Cruella behind the guard the prisoner.
And while Cruella is on watch, Mary Margaret, David, and Emma show up and free August (whose nose is back to normal size). Cruella really is no match for them. Unfortunately, at this point, a very upset Ursula also shows up and takes Mary Margaret prisoner. Who knows what would have happened if Hook hasn’t shown up, but this time with someone to can restore Ursula’s voice – Poseidon, who was summoned by Ariel. It seems that only the person who did the enchantment on the shell to trap the voice can undo it. Poseidon releases Ursula’s voice, and then father and daughter work out their issues. Ursula plans to leave Storybrooke and go back with her father.
But before she leaves, Ursula does hold up her end of the bargain and reveal Gold’s plan. One reason that the villains aren’t getting their happy endings is because someone is saving everyone. Yes, Emma, the savior, is an issue. And Gold intends to make her go dark, very dark. This could be a huge issue for Hook, who has just told Emma that she is his happy ending, and he’s worried about losing his happy ending thanks to his past as a villain.
Meanwhile, in the happy reunion between Ursula and Poseidon, Cruella got away and goes to warn Gold, Mal, and Regina that August has escaped and that there is a mole. Just as Regina starts to panic, Cruella reveals that it is Ursula. Unfortunately, the trio searched the Sorcerer’s entire house, but didn’t find that door. Regina is tasked with getting that page from Henry.
So she shows up at the loft. Before she talks to Henry about the page, she reveals the contents of a dream she’d hard earlier to Emma. Regina had just reunited with Robin Hood only to have someone show up to stop them. That someone? Regina as the Evil Queen. But Regina felt that her Evil Queen persona was there to protect them from someone else. Who is the question. (My guess is Emma since those in the scene didn’t know about that portion of Gold’s plan.)
And then Regina goes to look at the page. August is recovering from his ordeal in the Loft as well, and he reveals one thing he was able to keep from Gold during his earlier interrogation. The Author is trapped not behind a real door, but by the door in the page. So Henry is holding the Author’s prison in his hand.
Fade to black.
I found it interesting that Ursula had the backstory usually associated with Ariel. We already know Ariel’s backstory with Regina manipulating her, so it was fun to see them add a stole voice to the backstories this week.
So, what exactly is it that heroes do different that villains? Ariel obviously shared something with Hook. Is it work together to solve a problem instead of rushing in and demanding your way the first time? That’s my guess, but I could easily be wrong. Or was there something in those scenes I missed or am forgetting?
And is this it for Ursula? If so, I’m surprised since I thought she’d be around longer this season. Still, she was definitely being under used and with three Queens of Darkness, I don’t see that changing.
Which brings us back to who is the Author. At this point, I’m going to guess it is someone we haven’t meant before, at least not in Storybrooke. And how will they get him or her out of the page? For that matter, what will Regina do to stay under cover now that she knows the true location of the door? She can’t show up with that page despite what Gold told her to do since that would be giving the villains exactly what they want.
I still think that Emma is going to go down a dark road. I’m looking forward to watching how they play that. And I still hope it is Regina that pulls her back. It might be the obvious choice, but I think it is one that will make for a very powerful episode when it happens.
My brain is starting to shut down for the night, so I can’t think of anything else to discuss. Anything I missed? Some theory you want to share? Hit me up in the comments.