Previously on Once Upon A Time, Rumple’s heart started to die, Regina began Operation Mongoose, a mission to find her a happy ending, and Gold decided to flip the script…literally.
We begin in Isaac’s backstory which is as sad and pathetic as you would expect from his whiney present-day self. He’s a failing writer working at a TV store in the ’60s, but on a particularly bad day at work, he gets a letter from When You Wish Upon A Star Publishing signed with a mouseprint inviting him to their office immediately.
There, he finds The Apprentice, who invites him over to his desk and asks him to pick a writing instrument. Isaac is drawn to the quill and the quill chooses him back like a wand chooses a wizard. The Apprentice makes a door appear out of thin air, and since Isaac can see it, it means he believes in magic and is ready to be the next Author.
In present-day Storybrooke, Regina and the rest of Team Charming are having a hard time finding any helpful information in the blank books in the Sorcerer’s house.
They start musing about what kind of terrible fates Gold will write them when August busts in with a sketch of the man they need to find, the Apprentice. Hook recognizes him as the man he trapped in the starbox, so they get the box and the fairies and extract him using the fantasia broom. Too bad Hook never thought of trying to release the poor guy before they needed him, since apparently it wasn’t particularly difficult.
The Apprentice comes out swinging, ready to stop Isaac and put him back in the book where he belongs.
Isaac is in Gold’s shop, telling him to hang on while he finishes up his book. And I dunno, he’s been standing there writing for a long time, and hasn’t had a sip of alcohol, played a game of candy crush, nor had a bout of writer’s block that made him want to throw things, so I don’t know what kind of writer he thinks he is. Gold asks Isaac why he’s helping him, and Isaac says he’s always liked those Groundhog Day/Dopplegangland episodes of TV shows and wants to do one too. The last thing Isaac needs to work into the story is Baelfire; he can’t bring him back to life (praise Vanderjesus) but he can make Rumpelstiltskin forget. Rumple doesn’t want to forget his son entirely, just all the times he failed him. He wants to remember being the good father he never was.
Team Charming breaks up: Regina and Emma with the apprentice, everyone else to the Loft.
If only something exploded behind them while they walked.
But it’s too late, before they can find Isaac or the page or the key, Isaac writes “The End” and the world as we know it disappears.
Henry wakes up, unaffected by the spell, having been born in a land without magic, and finds Storybrooke a shell of a town. (I guess Storybrooke still exists since it, too, was born in a land without magic?) Unable to find anyone anywhere, not even baby Neal, or maybe he did and just left him alone, which he’s probably used to with two idiots for parents. Henry grabs a car and drives to a nearby diner, showing her pictures of his family and wondering if maybe they just went on a fun roadtrip without him. When she makes a phone call and he realizes it was probably the police, he heads out, but not before snatching a book off the book rack titled Heroes and Villains written by Isaac himself.
Isaac is at a reading of his book, getting praised by his adoring fans, giving autographs to people dressed as our favorite characters, including a woman who gives him a Long Live Regina pin.
She obviously doesn’t have Tumblr; I’ve seen way better fan art than this.
As he goes to sign his next book, Isaac looks down and sees the page with the door instead. Henry holds the key over it threateningly and demands information about his family. Isaac explains that his family is in his book, in an alternate reality, and that he couldn’t fix it if he wanted to because he used magic for personal gain and that’s strictly forboden.
This pisses Henry off, so he uses the key to jump into Heroes and Villains, which I’ll admit is pretty clever since it’s not as obvious as lock + key.