Gideon (Giles Matthey)'s birth and sudden reemergence onto the Storybrooke scene as a grown man with perplexing intentions has been such a whirlwind experience for everyone involved that no one knows what to think, or believe, about his true intentions right now. As of last week's installment of Once Upon a Time, he's decided against killing the Savior Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) and instead align with her to defeat the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) who tormented his blink-fast childhood so. But has he? Has he really?
After Sunday's episode, we still don't have the definitive answer to that question, but what we do know is that he's not altogether in control of his actions right now, which may mean there's hope for Gideon yet. But we have a long way to go — including an epic battle between Emma and the Black Fairy herself — before we can find out how he really feels about the good vs. evil dynamic.
Meanwhile, Hook's (Colin O'Donoghue) uncanny knack for survival is going to be tested, and Henry (Jared Gilmore) faces an ominous threat to his own longevity as the author of this otherworldly adventure story they're all living out right now.
Let's take a look back at what went down in this week's installment of OUAT, then, shall we?
Thanks to another round of Once's frequent flashbacks of late, we learn that the Black Fairy randomly decided that then-baby Gideon was to be a special addition to her collection of stolen children. She wanted him to be the prodigal son-slash-spawn of her particular brand of evil, which meant that when he showed even a hint of insubordination, she would resort to especially cruel measures to punish him.
First, it was his childhood friend, whose cell was next to his. We knew that Gideon knew of his birth mother's love for him, and that was true. Thanks to her inscription on a storybook he steals from his Black Fairy "mother," he discovers what appears to be the true purpose of his life, in the eyes of his real mom. As punishment for him lifting that story from her possession, the Black Fairy carts away his pal and dares him to leaves his cell to play Savior and try to help him. He does not. And by the time he's grown up enough to be recognizable as the adult Gideon who strolls back into Storybrooke in his gloomy cloak, he seems to have forgotten his former vaingloriousness and abides her every word.
He's tasked with searching the mines for the thief who's stolen the Black Witch's vault key, and whaddya know? It's our long-lost friend, alive and well (albeit sooty), conveniently reminding him of his former nobility and intention to strike down the spate of evil that lords over this land. Now's the perfect time to make up for his childhood mistakes by leading his old pal to the orb, which can help in the mission to free all the tortured souls of the mines. But whoops!
Gideon didn't count on the Black Fairy being five steps ahead of his defiance, so when she shows up and expresses her utmost disappointment in him, it's not enough that she transforms his friend into a bug and then squashes him with her boot. Oh, no. She also decides to take hold of his heart so that it can be in her control once and for all.
But before we learn just how under the Black Fairy's thumb the man is, Emma and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) consult with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) to see if they should put the Savior's life in his hands by joining him on this Black Fairy destruction mission he's blackmailing her into (remember, he's got Hook trapped, so Emma doesn't have that much of a choice in all this anyway).
As his parents, they're obviously a little biased, but they do think he's coming from the right place and can be re-trained to think like a hero rather than a villain, if given the right guidance from, ya know, his actual folks. So, Emma goes along with it and tries her own little trust test on for size by asking him to turn over the sword as a show of faith. When he does so, her suspension of disbelief is satisfied, so she follows Gideon to the Sorcerer's Mansion, which is basically the epicenter of magic. He has enough wizarding gifts to create a portal to get to the Black Witch, he says, and so they go. All Emma has to do is align her tear napkin with a book and a candle, and poof! It'll work. Only... the napkin catches fire and a giant pincer pierces the table, followed by a face full of spider eyes on a creature that would make Ronald Weasley soil his pants, no doubt.
They play chase around the house with the thing as it spits its web parcels all about, and eventually Emma realizes that they're trapped. She's sucked into a small wall of the webbing, which is when Gideon steals her sword and reveals that while he's still not killing her himself, he still needs her to die to siphon off the power he needs to portal the Black Fairy into Storybrooke.
Emma does her best to fend off the giant insect beast, but she's easily overtaken and wound into a string mummy. As she draws her last breaths, the sword lights up with a sudden influx of power for its wielder, and Gideon gets to work slicing a portal open. In the nick of time — cue the signature cackle — Gold shows up and unbinds Emma before she's truly dead. But it's already too late by then. The Black Fairy has indeed escaped her mine realm during the few seconds Gideon's portal was open and is here for causing a fracas in this world too.
The look Gideon seems to give himself for the split second that he believes he's failed his mother is confusing — is he happy? That looks happy. And when he tells her that part of him is happy that she made it through, it seems more like lip service than actual alliance. Maybe she didn't get all of his heart after all. At least, that's what Belle and Gold are gonna be hoping as their continued allegiance to Gideon outweighs his betrayal, causing a civil war of sorts between themselves and Emma and Snow.
Why just them? Well, Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Henry have been tied up dealing with other matters, and David... well, David's catching some z's while Snow heads up the daughterly protection detail. See, Henry went all three-eyed raven on his paper while taking notes on what ingredients Regina wanted to try for her potion to undo the Evil Queen's sleeping curse. The only person who can help them figure out what's happening to him is Isaac, whose price for compliance is freedom — well, and a sports car and Hamilton tickets, but he'll have to make do with a rusted minivan instead. Isaac reveals that we are officially in the final chapter of Henry's story, which means there's going to be a big battle that paints the town red soon, and now's as good a time for gettin' as there ever was, in Isaac's book. Oh, and Henry's little scrawling episodes are only going to intensify in the process, so that should be great fun for everyone!
As for Hook, well, it's not looking good. According to Gideon, there's no rescuing him from his realm of imprisonment, and, lo and behold, even his best effort at scoring another magic bean in trade for giving Blackbeard ownership of the Jolly Roger does no good. Instead of taking him back to Storybrooke, as he'd hoped, the two are transported to Neverland, where the Lost Boys are grown and roaming the island in search of someone to murder. And Blackbeard takes off with the only one-man dinghy that can offer any sort of escape to Hook, so he's doubly trapped. But Hook's mantra is, "Captain Hook always survives," so we'll see if and how he manages to get himself out of this proverbial pickle.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.