Previously on Once Upon A Time… Rumpelstiltskin cut off Captain Eyeliner’s hand, Team Badass started a quest for a compass and a scruffy guy got a postcard from a dove.
We begin this week’s tale in the Enchanted Forest, present-day. Hook is leading the beautiful team of badass ladies towards the giant beanstalk that they allegedly have to climb.
Emma gives her sorry version of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale, which is mostly vague and, according to Hook, almost entirely wrong. He tells the real version of the story while Snow adorably nods along in confirmation. There’s one big bad giant left up there in the clouds, and he has enchanted the beanstalk so only people with the magic cuffs can climb it, of course. Hook tells the girls to wrestle each other for it and after I silently chided him for being gross, I realized I probably wouldn’t hate watching that myself. Emma is not amused.
Flash back to Portland, Oregon, 11 years ago. Emma has sexy glasses and a ponytail (so we know she’s younger) and she’s hiding carjacking tools in the sleeves of her black leather jacket. However, she broke the number one survival rule: She didn’t check the backseat of the car before she stole it. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BACKSEATS, PEOPLE. Always.
Anyway, the person in the backseat is the scruffy guy that got the postcard in the first episode this season, but he is definitely not wearing a suit here. In fact, the car Emma stole wasn’t even his. They bond over their shared love of thievery and we learn Emma hasn’t developed 100% of her Swan Sass yet, because though she calls him out on being a misogynist, she doesn’t punch him in the face.
Back at the beanstalk, Team Badass is fighting over who will go up the beanstalk. Mulan and Snow are comparing the length of their swords when Aurora finally earns her rightful spot on the team and offers herself because she doesn’t have any loved ones to leave behind. Emma ultimately wins the argument because she’s Emma, and she pulls Mulan aside to tell her to cut down the beanstalk if she’s not back in 10 hours.
Hook slaps the cuff on Emma and his relentless schmoozing beings. In between inappropriate comments (the worst of which being “First beanstalk? You never forget your first.”), Hook does a little psychoanalyzing on Miss Swan and says she has the same look in her eyes that the Lost Boys had back in Neverland. He asks her if she’s ever been in love and she says no like she’s trying to convince herself.
This admission takes us back to Emma and Neal’s Bonnie and Clyde days. In a dash of foreshadowing, Emma fakes being pregnant with Neal’s baby to rob a convenience store. They make out like bandits (ba dum kssh), but decide that maybe it’s time to retire from their life of crime and settle down somewhere (decidedly not Neverland). They blindly point to a place on the map and decide on Tallahassee, probably the only way anyone ever decides to move to Tallahassee.
In the Enchanted Forest, the ladies who are left are organizing a watch schedule. Aurora offers to stay up with Snow for her watch and at first I’m like “Ummm why, are you having a lovers’ quarrel with Mulan?” but then I remembered the whole sleeping for a years thing and let it go. Then a beautiful thing happens: Snow White and Sleeping Beauty bond over having been victims of the same sleeping curse. Apparently one side effect is insanely terrifying nightmares, but Snow convinces Aurora to try to sleep, assuring her that she’ll watch over her.
Hook and Emma finally make their way up the beanstalk and find a devastated land. Hook takes another break from being a creep when Emma asks about the name Milah on his tattoo (RIP Pirate!Helena). She admits to him that maybe she had been in love once…
Speaking of said love, while on a trip to the post office, Neal Cassady found his picture up in the Wanted section in the post office. Which they are obviously diligently looking out for, since he strode right in and plucked his own picture off the wall. He stole some watches a while back and now for some reason he has to go get them. Since she’s now really good at stealing stolen things, Emma agrees to do it so that he doesn’t get re-busted.
At the base of the beanstalk, Snow wakes Aurora up from a nightmare. She coos at her to tell her about her nightmare to try to calm her down, which was apparently one she had before. She was in a room with fiery curtains, but no windows and no doors. Through the flames she saw someone in the other corner of the room and he was looking right at her. Snow is sweet and sympathetic and I feel bad that Emma never got to have her as a mom when she was little because she’s really good at it.
Up in the castle in the clouds, Hook and Emma knock out the giant using teamwork and Mulan’s sleeping dust. While wading through piles of treasure and bones, Hook almost sets off a tripwire. He takes Emma’s grabbing him the wrong way and does some more relentless flirting. Emma (luckily) doesn’t seem to be having any of it.
Young Emma successfully steals the stolen watches, but when Neal goes to sell them, he is tackled by August, who calls himself Emma’s guardian angel. To which Neal and I both scoff. He makes some excuse like “Oh I got a little sidetracked, you know, worked in a puppet show for a while, went to Pleasure Island, almost got turned into a donkey, the usual temptations.” But he’s here now and ready to protect Emma, which apparently means making Neal leave her so she can stay on track for her destiny to break the curse. He convinces Neal by showing him something in his box (not a metaphor, I don’t think). But instead of just leaving her, he sets her up and gets her arrested and it’s no wonder the poor girl has trust issues.
Two months later, August and Neal meet up again and Neal finds out his little stunt landed Emma 11 months in prison. He gives August some cash and the keychain he lifted for her at their first heist to send to Emma, on which are the keys to his car. He makes August promise that once the curse is broken, he’ll let him know. In fact, he says “I’ll send you a postcard.”
Present-day Emma has run into a bit of trouble, too. The giant woke up and is not a morning person. Hook almost immediately gets incapacitated by falling debris and Emma forgets for a second that she’s Emma Freaking Swan and just stands there while the Giant Hurley scoops her up. She tries to reason with him, but when that doesn’t work she bites him. Bites him!
She traps the giant in his own booby trap and threatens him with Jack’s sword. He hands over the magic compass and Emma spares the giant, so he lets her out. She also sweet-talks him into letting her leave Hook chained up there for a few hours to give her a head-start down the beanstalk.
Mulan had started to cut down the beanstalk, because 10 hours had passed, but Snow wrastles her to the ground. Emma hops down off the beanstalk and breaks it up, and Snow scolds her, telling her they go back together or they don’t go back at all.
A silent Young Emma is sitting in her prison cell when a guard comes in to give her the keychain August sent her (I guess he kept the money?). She congratulates the blonde on her new car — and her pregnancy.
Back in Storybrooke (Storybrooke! Did you almost forget it existed?), Henry had a bad dream — he was in a room with fiery curtains and saw a girl staring at him through the flames. Which makes it official: Henry is the stuff of nightmares.
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