In Minneapolis, 1989, a young Emma attends a showing of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone alone. She steals a candy bar from a woman, and is immediately approached by an usher who knows her by name.
But the usher doesn’t care about the candy. He simply warns her to never pull Excalibur from the stone. Then he vanishes.
Lancelot, Perceval, and Arthur arrive at the sword i the stone, but discover Sir Kay has beaten them there. He wants the sword for himself, but when he reaches for it, he turns to a pile of ash, obviously unworthy. Arthur takes his turn, and succeeds in removing what’s left of the sword from the stone.
Back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret, David, Regina, Robin, Henry, and Hook try to summon the Dark One but fail, realizing she’s not in their realm.
They head to the Apprentice who is being cared for by Mother Superior. Before he passes on, he gives them a wand and says it can only be wielded as it was forged, with the darkness and the light. Regina thinks this is her cue, but fails to make the wand summon a portal to Emma. Hook points out the irony that she’s done too much good to be dark enough anymore. He says they need someone “wicked.”
In a very fancy manhole cover,
the alien from the X-Files the Dark One appears.
Emma, clad in rough garments, has materialized in the forest.
The Darkness takes the form of Rumpelstiltskin, informing Emma that the real Rumple is still in a coma back in Maine. But though the Darkness can take many forms, this is the most practical one for Emma to accept. Immediately, the Darkness tries to push Emma to use her powers. Though Emma insists she’ll never go evil, Rumple assures otherwise. The only way to stop, he promises, is to be stopped.
Emma approaches a peddler on the road for directions, and he charges her an increasing rate for his information. Not having any money, Emma tires of his demands and inadvertently
Force chokes magically restrains the peddler. Though disgusted by her actions, Emma can’t deny that she is intrigued by her powers.
Belle is watching over Rumple in the back room of his shop, instead of a hospital room for some reason. Mother Superior tells her she ought to be helping the others get Emma back, but Belle wants to be there in case Rumple dies. Mother Superior magics Belle a most impractical rose in a bell jar, saying that as long as the rose has petals, Rumple still lives.
Zelena is meditating in her padded cell when Regina, Robin, and Hook arrive asking for help. After a bit of squabbling, Zelena asks to see the wand. Despite the magic-blocking cuff Regina slapped on her, she’s still able to understand the magic in the wand and tells them they need something important to Emma to guide them to her. Regina refuses to remove the bracelet from Zelena and leaves, but Zelena appeals to Hook.
Meanwhile Emma is lost in the forest, and Rumple taunts her into using her magic to teleport to where she needs to be. She discovers the Will-o’-the-Wisp and is told that it can get her to Merlin. Emma chases the Wisp through the forest, but it’s snatched up by Merida, who Emma magics to the ground. Emma pleads with her to give her the Wisp, but Merida needs it to save her family and kingdom.
She’s willing to fight for the right to it, though, so long as it’s fisticuffs and not magic. Rumple encourages Emma to break Merida’s neck, but Emma refuses to fight at all, hurrying Merida on her way before it’s too late. Grateful and sympathetic, Merida offers to take Emma with her to the Hill of Stones where she can use the Wisp too. Emma agrees to set out with her, pleased that her choice to not use magic has worked in her favor.
At Granny’s, Hook approaches Henry about using the Author’s pen to change Emma’s story, but Henry confesses he’s broken the pen to avoid temptation.
Hook then suggests springing Zelena from the padded cell. Henry shows his teenage reckless side and agrees to help him.
Merida slashes her way through the delicate ferns of the forest with a massive sword as she and Emma trek to the Hill of Stones. She reveals that her brothers have been kidnapped by warring clans, and that her rule as Queen has been put into question. Emma suggests they make camp because an exhausted warrior is no good to anyone.
As Merida sleeps, Emma tosses and turns. No matter which way she faces, Rumple appears to her. Though Emma is proud of not using dark magic to get what she wants, Rumple informs Emma that the Wisp will belong to Merida once she whispers to it for help, and it will be inaccessible to Emma so long as Merida’s heart beats. Though she cannot hear Rumple speak, a terrified Merida gleans enough from Emma’s half of the conversation to know she’s in trouble.
Henry and Hook make their way down to the psych ward of the hospital, and Henry creates a diversion by spilling his soda on “Nurse Ratched” (no, really, Henry actually calls her that) while Hook snags the keys to Zelena’s cell.
Zelena realizes that Hook’s there to spring her. Despite swearing on her unborn child that she’ll be good, Hook requires more insurance. Using a potion Regina gave him a long time ago to rip out Cora’s heart, he douses his hook with it and aims for Zelena’s chest. But she’s protected her heart a long time ago with magic that still shields her. She swipes Hook’s knife from his belt and slices off her own hand. Now free of the bracelet, she uses her magic to reattach her hand and disappear in a cloud of green smoke.
Regina is livid that Hook’s let Zelena escape. Mary Margaret FINALLY speaks and insists they stop bickering. They need to stick together, united as Emma would want them to be.
A glamored-as-Regina Zelena appears in the Charming’s loft where Robin has just put Roland to sleep. Fake-Regina tells Robin Zelena has escaped and they must flee. Upon kissing the glamored Zelena, Robin realizes it is not Regina. Zelena drops the glamor and tells Robin he’s the key.
Out by the clock tower, Regina leads the Charmings, Hook, and Henry towards Zelena who is holding Robin hostage. She wants to trade Robin for the wand so she can return to Oz. Though Hook is incredulous that Regina would give in, she makes the trade, and Zelena uses a trinket from Oz to summon a green twister.
The others look on in horror as Zelena aims the wand to summon the portal to her, but she is struck by … I dunno…wand kickback? David grabs her and Regina reclaims the wand and shoves the magic-dampering brace back on Zelena’s wrist. Regina hijacks the portal and says they are taking it to Emma.
Emma discovers Merida has left while she was out gathering food.
Rumple tells her she’s gone to the Hill of Stones to use the Wisp and says she’s going to have to kill her. At the Hill of Stones, Merida whispers to the Wisp, destroying Emma’s chance at using it. Emma’s countenance has changed dramatically and she looks less desperate and more determined. Merida pleads with her to leave, but Rumple goads Emma to rip her heart out.
The twister is approaching town, and the rescue party has taken up inside Granny’s. As she battens down the hatches, Zelena is tied to a chair. As the only one able to wield the Apprentice’s wand, they must take her along. Regina pulls out Emma’s baby blanket, one of the very few belongings that are special to Emma. Four of the Dwarves rush in before the twister strikes, and they pledge their fealty to Snow. The twister hits and the diner is shaken loose from the foundation.
Rumple continues to whisper to Emma as Merida shoots arrow after arrow at her heart. But Emma catches every shot and throws them aside with increasing ease.
Emma insists she can talk to Merida, but as Rumple pushes her, Emma becomes more enraged and pulls Merida to her magically. She pulls out her heart, and on Rumple’s command begins crushing it. As Merida gasps, Hook and the rescue party run up to them and he yells at her to stop.
Emma says it’s the only way to ensure the Darkness won’t destroy everything and everyone she loves. Mary Margaret pulls out the Dagger to control Emma, but Hook says Emma must make the choice to be good.
As Merida’s pleading eyes beseech Emma, Rumple continues to encourage Emma. Hook comes between Emma and Merida, saying heroes and villains overcame their demons, and so can she. Emma shoves Merida’s heart back in her chest and collapses in Hook’s arms. The vision of Rumpelstiltskin has disappeared for now.
The Wisp flies off as Emma apologizes to Merida. Merida thanks her for showing her darkness and decides mercy may be the better choice for dealing with the warring clans that took her brothers. As Merida follows the Wisp, Emma and her parents reunite. They try to offer her back the Dagger in good faith, but Emma gives the Dagger to the one person she knows will overlook her emotions and do the practical thing. She hands the Dagger to Regina, asking Regina to save her if she can, or destroy her if she can’t.
They leave the Hill of Stones and return to Granny’s and the rest of the rescue team. King Arthur and his knights ride up to them, expecting the group’s arrival because of a prophecy from Merlin. Merlin, though missing, is to be reunited with them all through Emma. The group is led to the gates of Camelot, and Emma and Hook walk hand in hand behind King Arthur.
Six weeks later, Sneezy and Sleepy are patrolling the town. Sneezy is wearing Emma’s red Savior jacket. Gross. There’s a flash and a crash, so someone must be back from the Enchanted Forest.
The entire rescue party have landed back in town in the diner. Dressed in period garb from Camelot, they know not why they have returned nor remember what has transpired in the last month and a half. They have lost their memories. AGAIN. Emma appears in the doorway in black clothing with stark white hair and pale skin. More evil than ever before, her bearing and tone have changed dramatically.
Emma tells them they failed to get the darkness out of her. She turns Sneezy to stone, saying there’s no savior in this town anymore. Regina reaches for the Dagger, but Emma reveals she is holding it. She threatens to end them all. Hook asks why she’s doing this, and Emma simply replies she’s the Dark One before vanishing.
Final thoughts, Jerry Springer stye: Not a big fan of this episode. While I really liked Merida and Emma’s story and how Rumple was her spirit guide, I’m over Mary Margaret and David’s bland parenting, Henry’s new “teenager” mode, and Zelena for being Zelena. I still want to see how Regina and Hook continue to grow, but I could actually, literally throw Robin Hood into Granny’s deep freeze until after the hiatus. In my opinion, there was too much story crammed into this one hour, and they could have easily broken this into two parts and given the Charmings more personality (and dialogue) and Henry a little more depth.
But what do you think? Tell us below!