A big battle is nigh between Emma the Savior (Jennifer Morrison) and the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) on Once Upon a Time, but before we can get to that point in the Storybrooke tale, there are a few loose ends that need to be sewn up to ensure its an even playing field. The theme of tonight's episode is the reunion of lost loves, and since the Evil Queen and Gideon (Giles Matthey) both did their worst to separate the strong couples in town, it's them (er, sorta them) who have to do something to undo their nefarious deeds.
For Regina (Lana Parrilla), it means compensating for her formerly worse half by creating a curative elixir to counteract the sleeping curse Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) are under. Currently, they're a breathing embodiment of The Gift of the Magi-style irony in that they're both alive and well but cannot be awake at the same time. They've managed to make it work so far by co-parenting their kids and recording sweet video messages to one another here and there, but with Emma's future starting to look like a much grimmer fairy tale (heh), they really need Regina to pick up the pace on her little potions project so they can both be there to help her out in the imminent battle.
Meanwhile, Emma is also ready to be reacquainted with her lost love Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), whose whereabouts are currently unknown to her, but whose might would also be useful in the fight.
The good news is that the same sort of magic can be a solution for both -- but the bad news is, there's not enough of it for everyone to share.
What to do, what to do? After all, there's always a price!
Here's a rundown of what happened on tonight's installment of Once Upon a Time.
This week's flashback takes us to the Time of the Dark Curse, when the Evil Queen had the whole town in an angry trance and pranced around with the surprisingly demotional title Madame Mayor. Back then, David was but a comatose John Doe at the local hospital, but Snow was still somehow drawn to his bedside even then. She tried to bring him flowers, but the Evil Queen inadvertently destroyed them en route, at which time Snow found a single red flower blooming on the sidewalk.
Upon being sprinkled with the dust from it, David awoke from his slumber and remembered everything about their true identities, revealing the same to Snow with just a waft of those special dust sprinkles. Once they realized who they were, the pair set out to find their daughter, Emma, and turned to Rumple (Robert Carlyle) for some help. And of course it made sense that he'd be the only other person "awake" during all of this oppression because he's always been sly like that.
Indeed, he knew exactly how they could find Emma, and it meant snagging some more of those pixie flower particulates to create a portal to their kid, but there was a catch. While Snow and Charming were able to stave off the Evil Queen long enough to get their hands on another flower to take them to her, Rumple warned them that it was necessary for them to let Emma grow up outside of Storybrooke until she was 28 and could fully handle the mantle of becoming a Savior. Resuming parentage of her at the age of just 10 would prevent her from ever reaching that status and thus resign the rest of the town to be just as unhappy and separated from their loved ones as Snow and Charming were before. So, after taking a good glimpse of the blissfully unaware Emma Swan in her bedroom, savoring a good story in peace, they decided to make a sacrifice and put themselves back under the Evil Queen's curse so that Emma could grow up and revive everyone herself when the time was right.
This may sound like a noble gesture and all, but with the final showdown looming larger and larger -- with Henry (Jared Gilmore)'s erratic hieroglyphs to signal their story's end -- Snow's starting to second-guess her old decision to let her daughter become the town's Savior in the first place.
Regina and Zelena try to heal their sleep-cursed hearts by dipping them in a new concoction, but that only worsened the connection by resigning them both to a long night's sleep from which they might never wake.
Knowing the power of the pixie petals, though, Snow and Emma endeavor to find some more of that natural magic and make way to the forest where they find a whole field full of those flowers growing in the snow. Unfortunately, the volume of those flower caps also indicates the size of the terrible presence afoot, and lo, there's the Black Fairy and Gideon just waiting for them.
The Black Fairy's not ready for their big battle just yet, for some inexplicable reason, but she's still in full teasing mode and decides to have Gideon vanquish the lot of flowers right in front of the women. Black Fairy's already rubbed Rumple and Belle (Emilie de Ravin)'s noses into the fact that she's adopted their son in more ways than one, but hasn't given up hope on making theirs one happy family once she's able to take over the town after her forthcoming showdown with the Savior. Rumple's not so convinced, however, that he can ever truly join Team Black Fairy aka Team Mom 'cause, you know, he just plum hates her. That said, he's also not ready to give up on Gideon, and for good reason.
It turns out, Gideon spared a single, unnoticeable pixie flower from his punishment, which gives Snow and Emma exactly the amount they need to wake the long-slumbering parents before it's too late.
But before they can imbibe and fully awaken, the group gets a strange signal boost from Hook in the form of his shadow.
See, he's still stuck there in Neverland and was temporarily rescued by Tiger Lily (Sara Tomko) before the Lost Boys could exact their revenge for Pan against him. She kidnaps and threatens him herself, of course, but in the end, they discover that they are definitely on the same side of this fight. Because the very person Hook's hoping to find, Emma, is exactly who she's trying to transmit a special device to to help in the fray against the Black Fairy.
Turns out, Tiger Lily's got part of the wand that first locked the Black Fairy in her mining realm long ago, so she wants to share it with Emma in hopes of the good guys winning out on their war. Together, they manage to seize some transmitting magic from Pan's camp by distracting the Lost Boys in hopes that Hook might escape this realm, but they're quickly overrun just as Hook creates his shadow. Captured without a prayer of escaping, Hook instead sends the wand piece with his shadow, which is what shows up through the window just in time to stop Snow from downing the pixie petal dust.
While the shadow isn't able to talk to tell them what's going on or where Hook is, the fact that he's got Hook's hook in tow too tells Emma and company that Hook's in trouble.
Since Snow's still eaten up with the guilt of having decided this Savior future for her daughter, she decides that she'd rather sleep her troubles away than deprive the child of her one true love by taking the waking mix away from her when it can also reunite her with her true love Hook. Emma obliges and hops through her magic portal just in time to rescue Hook from his would-be executioners, the Lost Boys.
Once they return to Storybrooke, Hook's ready to offer her a proper proposal this time, and, even better, Regina's had time to think up another solution to waking Snow and David -- having all of the townspeople take a gulp of the sleeping curse to share in its burden, as a payment for the sacrifice these two made for the whole town almost two decades before. It takes some time, but eventually everyone concedes and takes a potion-induced power nap so that the lovebirds can be revived. Voila!
Meanwhile, Rumple confronts his mother the Black Fairy about her terrible decision to hold his son's heart hostage and promises that he will rescue the boy from her clutches once and for all. And it might not be too hard, considering he's already shown some signs of unlikely resistance against her, by saving that one petal for the other side.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.