"Lady of the Lake" is the 25th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Emma and Mary Margaret, with the aid of Mulan, Aurora and brave knight Lancelot, attempt to find a portal that will bring them back to Storybrooke, but a dark force threatens their safe return. Meanwhile, Henry tries to talk Jefferson into reuniting with his daughter, and, back in the fairytale land that was, on the eve of meeting Prince Charming's mother, King George curses Snow White, and the only antidote lies within the waters of the Lady of the Lake.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Queen Regina uses magic to send out a fireball. ("The Thing You Love Most") Regina smiles happily at the approaching purple mist. ("A Land Without Magic") The purple mist engulfs Storybrooke and Charming and Snow embrace as it passes. ("A Land Without Magic") Mr. Gold unleashes the purple mist and tells Belle that he's bringing magic to town. ("A Land Without Magic") Regina tells the Charming family that magic is different there and Emma is sucked into the magic hat's portal. Mary Margaret yells that she cannot lose her again before jumping in after her daughter. ("Broken") Henry asks Regina where Emma is and she tells him that she's gone. ("Broken") Henry stares at a photo of Emma and Mary Margaret and Charming assures his grandson that he will always find them. ("Broken") Snow and Emma are taken prisoner by Mulan and Aurora and Snow rebels. She tells Emma to run but Mulan's sling makes her trip. Mulan orders that they be taken to "the pit". ("We Are Both") In the pit, Emma tries to awaken her mother when she is approached by none other than Regina's mother, Cora. ("We Are Both") Back in time, Red and Charming ambushed by knights and Red asks to whom they are loyal. Charming tells her that it's King George, who is riding a horse dressed in armor and yelling, "Bring me his head!" ("What Happened to Frederick")
Snow, Charming and Red face King George's men.
Red Riding Hood runs fast through the Enchanted Forest and into a tent which houses Snow, Charming and various strategists, plotting battle against King George and his men. Red alerts her comrades that they have to move camp, for the King's men are coming for them, but Charming refuses to run, recalling how they promised to take the kingdom back and exclaiming that they can't do that with their tails between their legs; "...no offense," he adds, to avoid offending Red the werewolf. She warns them that they cannot stay where they are because of the opposing side's new general. Snow asks who he is and Red explains that they call him the Leviathan and that they say he strikes like a monster at the heart of the sea, you never see him coming and you never survive. Charming says they'll see about that, while Snow asks how close the King's army is. Suddenly, an enemy arrow hits the table inside the tent, and Charming surmises that they're pretty close. He nods toward the others and he and two men draw their swords and go to attack George's army. Snow suggests splitting up, so as to divide their adversaries, and Charming agrees, sending Red off in one direction and his own men in another, before pushing Snow away so that he can fight. She asks if he isn't coming and Charming points out that George is after him, therefore she has a better chance of escaping on her own. He kisses her forehead and tells his fiancée to meet him in two days time at "the cabin". "The cabin?! Where she is?" Snow asks, taken aback and wondering if he's sure. "We're engaged," he reminds her, "I think it's about time you met my mother." He gives her another kiss, just as a knight is seen riding up behind them, watching the pair. Charming tells his love to go and she obliges as the mysterious knight watches her leave.
Snow is running through the forest when the knight sticks out his arm, flooring her and causing her to yelp out in shock. She wonders what kind of general hides behind a mask, demanding that "Leviathan" show his face. The knight seems surprised that that's what he's being called; as he removes his helmet, he tells her, "The name's Lancelot." "Lancelot?... Of the Round Table?" Snow asks, but he promptly reveals, "Not anymore." He then advances suddenly, and she screams.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Snow protects Emma from Cora.
Mary Margaret/Snow White is lying unconscious in "the pit", with Cora leaning over to check on her. Emma asks the old woman if she's sure her mother will be okay, and Cora tells her not to worry, for she'll be fine. Emma asks further just what this place is, wanting to know where they are, and Cora explains that they're on a little island that their captors like to think of as a safe-haven. Emma asks what the haven is from and Cora tells her that the world's dangerous; "What's left of it, anyway." Emma insists that they can't keep them down there because they didn't do anything wrong, but Cora points out that she didn't either, and clearly she's been stuck in the pit for a while. Emma asks why Cora is down here and the latter explains that she's there because of something her daughter did, going on to say that she caused the Dark Curse that ravished the land. Emma is shocked that she's talking to Regina's mother but Cora assures her that she has nothing to fear, for the apple fell very far from the tree. She then realizes that Emma's from over there, asking how she got back, but before Emma can answer she's stopped by Snow, who's woken up. She recognizes Cora and stands between she and her daughter, fearing the evil witch. Cora tells Snow that she's so relieved she's alright but she ignores her, instead grabbing Emma and warning her that as bad as she thinks Regina is, this woman is worse. "Oh, Snow," Cora utters, but the former princess simply continues to shield her daughter from her step-grandmother. Cora begs her to believe her when she says she just wants to help and Emma suggests hearing her out. Mary Margaret fiercely warns her against this but the blonde points out that right now they are at the bottom of a hole with no other options, and Henry is back in Storybrooke with Regina. Cora asks who Henry is and Emma explains that he's her son who she shares with Regina; it's complicated. Snow turns to Emma again, ordering her not to talk to Cora, and a voice soon calls out as a climbing rope is dropped into the pit that the leader requests an audience. Emma and Mary Margaret are expected to climb out and meet him.
Charming asks Henry to stay away from magic.
Over in Storybrooke, Henry asks David what he thinks should be the first agenda for Operation Scorpion; however, David merely asks what it is, and his grandson reveals that it's the codename for their mission to find Emma and Snow. As they cross the street, he asks the prince if he prefers "Viper", for that was his second choice, and David tells the boy to listen, for they need to talk. Dodging this, Henry states that "Scorpion" is better, but Charming doesn't mind, and Henry realizes that he's trying to tell him that he's not allowed to come with him to find Jefferson. Charming reveals that he in fact already found Jefferson, shocking the child, who asks if he'll help them, but his grandfather answers negatively. Henry asks why he wasn't told this and David defends that he didn't want to disappoint him, for he knows he wants to find his mother, but Jefferson can't help them. He adds that they need to find another way to restore Jefferson's hat and Henry wonders why he can't help look. Charming points out that it requires magic, and magic... "Always comes with a price. I've read the book you know?" Henry finishes for him, and David apologizes, but he really can't let the kid near this stuff. He adds that if he really wants to help then he should go to school where he'll be safe, and Henry nods sadly before hanging his head a running off to the school bus. Charming leaves and Henry sees this; at this point, he runs past the school bus doors and carries on down the sidewalk, ignoring his grandpa's orders.
Aurora wants to avenge Phillip.
In the fairytale land that is, Snow and Emma are walking through the safe-haven. The former asks why her daughter refuses to listen and Emma argues that she just wanted to find them a way back home, adding that she could have handled Cora. Mary Margaret tells her not to be so sure, pointing out that she's lived in this land and knows its dangers. The guard from the pit then tells them to wait where they are before going to talk to others, and Emma appears fed up, asking her mother if the reason she came down the portal is because she thought she'd be helpless there. "No!" Snow insists, "I came through to be with you." They then notice someone stepping out of the small building nearby in the camp. The person Lancelot, and Snow seems thrilled to see him. The feeling is mutual and the two of them soon embrace. Lancelot says that had he known they were the prisoners Mulan had brought back then he never would have locked them away, asking for their forgiveness. She provides it, while Emma questions, "Lancelot? Really?" Mary Margaret assures that he's an old friend and that they can trust him, but from afar, Aurora is less than pleased, asking Mulan why Lancelot is embracing the woman responsible for Phillip's death. Mulan reminds Aurora that she's new there, adding that Phillip trusted Lancelot and therefore so must they. Aurora proclaims that she wants justice, at which Mulan warns her, "Tread carefully. It's dangerous to confuse vengeance with justice." She asks if Aurora understands her but the princess is silent. The warrior repeats herself, this time more sternly, and Aurora answers affirmatively. However, when Mulan walks away, Aurora stares at Mary Margaret and Emma talking to Lancelot, then turning around and pulling a large dagger from a sheath hidden beneath her shall. She stares at it, ready to claim her revenge, before looking back to the newcomers with an obvious plan in mind.
Snow and Emma make plans with Lancelot.
A platter of strange meats is set down before Mary Margaret and Emma, who are sitting around the table with some other refugees. Emma asks what the hell it is, disgusted by the mysterious food, and Lancelot tells her that it's chimera, which is an acquired taste but all that their hunting party could bring back. He explains that it's one part lion, one part serpent and one part goat, and Emma, sticking a carving fork into the thing and lifting a piece for her plate, comments that it's like turducken. She then puts it back, not wanting it, while her mother tells her old knight friend that she doesn't understand why this land still exists, for they were told that it doesn't, and wonders how he and the others all managed to escape the curse. Lancelot tells her that it's a mystery when the smoke came and the dust cleared, most people were torn from this land, but some of them in this particular region were left behind; they don't know how and they don't know why. He adds that finding this safe-haven wasn't easy and took some spilled blood, but tells the two of them to worry not for they're safe there. Snow says that they can't stay because her husband and grandson are in the other land and they have to get back to them. She asks if Lancelot could help them find a portal but he tells her that leaving is unwise due to the Enchanted Forest not being as she remembers it. He reveals that the ogres have returned. "Ogres? What, as in 'fee fi fo fum'?" Emma asks, but Mary Margaret corrects her in saying that those would be giants. Lancelot adds that ogres are far worse, telling them that that's why the live on the island, because it's safe from them, and he begs Snow to stay, assuring her that there are no more portals left. Mary Margaret reveals that she might know of one, to Emma's surprise, but when she's asked where it is, she says that she doesn't feel comfortable voicing her plans because Cora's there and she's powerful. Lancelot reveals that she's not anymore because the curse stripped her of her powers; but, given her reputation, they've kept her locked up as a precaution. Snow tells him that, nevertheless, she's not taking any chances, but asks the knight to trust her as she has a way to get home, begging him to let them go. Lancelot allows it on one condition - that they take his bravest warrior with them. With a wave, he summons Mulan, who he says can defend them. Emma tries to argue that they can defend themselves, but Snow quickly says, "Deal." Emma turns to her, annoyed, as she thanks Lancelot for always looking out for her.
Snow accidentally curses herself.
In the past, Lancelot pulls a bag from the captive Snow White's head. She shrieks, then being faced by King George and growing immediately enraged, exclaiming that she doesn't care what he does to her for she will never reveal where Charming is. George knows this, and tells her that that's not why she's there. He asks Lancelot to bring their "guest" some water and the knight leaves to obliged, with Snow appearing very confused. The King points out that times have been good for her and that he can see a light in her eyes. He advises her to cherish that, for that light can die and be replaced by something else: pain. Snow argues that the only thing he knows of pain is how to inflict it, accepting the goblet of water from Lancelot as she does so, but George tells her that she's so very, very wrong, going on to state that he's had his fair share of pain. He goes on to talk about the fact that he had a son that he loved and that he tried to replace him with Charming; he offered him the world, but was rejected. Snow merely rolls her eyes as George tells her of how he was humiliated in front of his kingdom, all for the sake of "true love", and Snow points out that it's something about which he'd know nothing. "I know more than you think," he assures her, but she cares very little, merely humoring the King. He explains how he was in a blissful relationship with his wife, but she became cursed, having drank a vile potion that made it impossible for them to conceive a child. "Family is everything, my dear. Losing all hope of having one... there is no greater misery. Charming could have been that hope for me... but instead, he made my suffering worse. For that, death is too good for him. First he must know pain. My pain," he finishes, and Snow is confused as to what he means. She then looks down at the contents of her goblet, realizing that it's the same potion George's wife drank. "You poisoned her?" asks a stunned Lancelot. "I cursed her," the King corrects with relish, "She will never bear a child." An angry Snow looks up at him, stunned.
The three girls prepare themselves with weapons.
Back at the camp, Mulan opens a trunk filled with weapons before Emma and Mary Margaret, telling them to choose wisely for they must stay vigilant on the journey. Snow retrieves a sword on a belt and straps it on while Emma merely asks Mulan where her gun is, wanting it back. Mulan takes the pistol from her armor and inspects it, asking if it's magic. Emma tells her that that depends on who's pulling the trigger, outstretching her arm to take it. She checks on it while her mother picks up a quiver full of arrows and a bow to go with her sword. Mulan tells the two women that if they do as she says, step by step, then they might just survive. Emma thanks her for the pep talk but is sure that they'll be okay, revealing that she just killed a dragon the previous week (see "A Land Without Magic"). Mulan asks Emma if she's ever seen an ogre, and Emma jokes that she might have dated a few. "Legend has it that when they kill you, the last thing you see is yourself dying in the reflection in their eyes... Let's walk. It'll be dark soon," Mulan warns the blonde before walking ahead. The now equipped Snow tells Emma not to let Mulan bother her, for she won't let anything happen to them; "Stick to the plan." Emma asks just what the plan is, not having been told anything, and her mother reveals that they're going after the wardrobe. "The wardrobe. The wardrobe? Like the wardrobe that sent little baby me to Maine?" Emma asks, wondering if that'll get them back to Storybrooke, but Mary Margaret doesn't know; first they'll have to see if it survived the curse, then they'll worry about making it work. Emma asks where it is and Snow says it's at her place. "Wanna see where you're from, Emma? That's right, we're going home," the former princess announces before heading off after Mulan with a shocked Emma alongside her.
Henry tells Jefferson to find his daughter.
In Storybrooke, Jefferson is holding a child's rendering of himself with the words underneath it reading, "Have you seen my papa?" he stares at it sadly. Henry then approaches, knowing who this man is and saying that he needs his help, but the Mad Hatter points out that he already told the kid's grandfather that he can't do anything. Henry knows this but is sure that there must be something they can do, but Jefferson assures that he's just the wrong person to talk to; magic isn't his strong suit. He suggests talking to his mother, for maybe she's got something in that vault of hers that will help, and Henry grows shocked, not having had it confirmed before that her vault is in town. Jefferson tells Henry that that's none of his business and instructs him to talk to his mother. "What's that?" Henry asks, noticing the piece of paper drawn by Paige; Jefferson folds it up and puts it in his inside pocket. Henry realizes that the Hatter's daughter is looking for him and Jefferson wonders what the kid knows about it. Henry reveals that he's read his story and knows about how the two of them were separated (see "Hat Trick") before telling Jefferson that she's there in Storybrooke and will be in school. Jefferson tells Henry to go home; he stands up but Henry stops him from going, telling him that Paige probably wants to see him. Jefferson orders the kid to get out of his way but Henry needs to now why he's not going to find her. "Because I left her!" Jefferson yells, crouching down and clutching the young man by the arms, "And she'll hate me." Henry asks him how he can know that and Jefferson backs off, taking a pause. "I was on my way, but... fate reminded me I shouldn't," Jefferson informs him. "You should! I've been left too, anything's better than nothing. She'll spend her whole life wondering why you left her. Not knowing... is the worst," Henry explains.
Regina is pleased to hear from Henry.
At the Mayor's office, there are boxes dotted around the place and it seems emptier than usual. Regina is standing there when her cell phone begins to ring; she walks over to her desk to answer it, and Henry is on the other line. She appears overjoyed by this, explaining to her adoptive son that she's just packing up her office because she's been asked to leave. He then says something, and she replies that it can wait because she'd love to have lunch with him, arranging to meet him at Granny's Diner in ten minutes time. She hands up with a smile, grabbing her purse and leaving the office to go have lunch with her son. However, once she's gone, Henry emerges from another one of the office's entrances, cell phone in hand, and sneaks around the desk, the whole phone call having been a ruse to get her to leave. He grabs his mother's extensive set of skeleton keys from a hook on her filing cabinet and walks away with them, ready to uncover her vault.
Mother knows best.
Over in the Enchanted Forest of the present day, Snow, Emma and Mulan are making headway on their journey when the latter designates the area they're in to be a good stop, saying that they can set camp there for the night once they find water and cut come firewood. Emma wonders if they should maybe not start a fire since they're hiding from ogres, but her mother explains to her that ogres are blind and hunt by sound alone. "Great, because that's something everyone would know about ogres," Emma spouts sarcastically. Snow walks over to her daughter, saying she knows she's out of her element, but before she can finish, Emma assures that she's fine. Mary Margaret says she knows, but suggests that the blonde stay there and guard the campsite while she and Mulan get water. Emma questions being left alone in a big empty clearing but Snow assures her that it's the safest place and that they'll be right back. She then gestures Mulan and the two of them start to walk in separate directions, leaving Emma alone.
Lancelot just wants to help.
Over in the Enchanted Forest of the past, Snow White this thrown onto woodland floor by King George's men, coughing as she stands up and their carriages ride away. She walks among the trees and sees that she's at the campsite from earlier, which has now been completely destroyed by the battle in which she was captured. She hears a horse's hooves nearby and grows alarmed, grabbing a large pole from the knocked-down tent and running at the horse's rider, waiting for him to come around the corner before using the pole to knock him from his steed. He falls to the ground and she sees that it's Lancelot, angrily stomping over to him and placing her foot on his chest plate, aiming her new weapon downwards. Before she rams him with the pole, however, he begs that she stop, and she obliges, still keeping the long metal beam hovered above him threateningly. "I've come to help," he professes. "After what you did to me?!" Snow exclaims, about to ram him again. "After what the king did to you!" the knight reminds her, "I still do have the smallest shred of honor left." Snow, still angry, is about to hit Lancelot again, after asking where the soldiers are, and he reveals that they're at the cabin where her prince his hiding his mother. Snow demands to ask how he knows, raising her weapon, and Lancelot explains that they were sent there to kill Charming's mother. "Charming's at the cabin, too," she utters, wary.
Ruth is accidentally shot.
Ruth, meanwhile, is decorating the cabin as Charming approaches from down the road, assuring his mother that the place looks beautiful before trying to beckon her inside. She apologizes, saying that she wants things to be perfect when she meets the girl her son is going to marry, and suddenly he silences her, asking her if she heard what he just did. He then orders her to go inside, bolt the door and stay inside no matter what happens, and Ruth nods before going to carry out her son's command. Charming draws his sword and runs up the road, expecting soldiers, and he's correct; knights arrive from all closings and surround the prince. "What? That's it?" he asks. An arrow is fired at Charming but he ducks out of the way, causing the arrow to stab another soldier in the chest; he falls from his horse. Charming rolls across the ground and gets to his feet where he battles one soldier and defeats him, killing him with his sword. Another two come at him and Charming engages in a sword fight. He stabs one and harms another before yet another knight begins to chase him. Charming runs onto a wagon and sways his sword, wounding the knight's neck, killing him. Soon, a knight on a horse gallops toward Charming and the prince stabs him across the chest as he passes, before striking down yet another. He leaps across the wagon and battles two soldiers; he stabs one of them, defeating him, and continues with the other. He places his hands on his shoulders and flips off of the wagon, brutally snapping the knight's neck as he does so. And that's the last of them. "Son..." Ruth's whimper is heard, and Charming turns to see her standing there with an arrow sticking out of her chest. "Mother!" he exclaims in fear, running towards her. He grabs her before she collapses and gracefully rests her down to the ground. He bemoans that he told her to stay inside, and she says she knows, but she heard him and thought he was hurt. She apologizes, struggling to talk, and her son assures her that she's going t be okay. Snow kneels down beside him and Lancelot joins her, the two of them having just arrived on the scene. The princess is sorry but assures that they came as quickly as they could. Ruth asks if this is Snow, smiling at her son's true love.
Back in the present day fairytale land, Snow places her gathered wood into a pile and tries to stack them up for a fire. Suddenly, however, she is grabbed from behind and lifted up, a large dagger at her throat. "Don't move." Aurora tells her, holding the blade, "Phillip's gone because of you." However, Snow quickly grabs Aurora's arms and flips the princess over her shoulders, flooring her. She then leans over the girl, pinning her down, and tells her to listen, asking if she thinks she doesn't know what it feels like to be separated from the people that she loves. She exclaims that what happened to Phillip was not her and Emma's fault, so she suggests the finds another way to channel her anger. Mulan, seeing this, orders Mary Margaret not to talk to Aurora like that, pulling her off of her friend. The elementary school teacher exclaims that Aurora tried to kill her, and, as she helps the latter get to her feet, Mulan assures that she will deal with her. Suddenly, a loud gunshot is fired. The three princesses are shocked and turn to see Emma, having just fired into the air, now aiming her gun in their direction in order to protect her mother, who asks what she's doing. Emma points out that she's protecting her, ordering Aurora to drop her weapon, but Snow simply asks if she has any idea what she's just done. A long, snarling growl is then heard and Emma turns to the direction of its source. "Ogres?" she asks. "RUN!!" Snow screams, and the four women do exactly that, proceeding to speed through the forest. They keep on running but the sounds of the ogres draws nearer, and Mary Margaret orders that they split up. Once she does so, Mulan and Aurora go one way while she and Emma go another; however, in all the drama surrounding them, Snow doesn't notice when Emma trips over a thick root in the ground, and so she just continues running. Emma turns around, scared, as a creature emerges from the trees, being as big as them. The hideous beast runs at her; it's an ogre. It soon crouches before her, growling, and Emma quickly grabs her pistol, which is lying on the floor beside her. She aims it up at the ogre, ready to fire, but it suddenly lifts a massive fist and snatches the weapon right out of her hand. "Seriously?" she questions as the ogre crushes the gun with its fist and throws it out of reach. Emma looks very scared in the presence of the ogre and it proceeds to let out a ferocious roar which blows Emma's hair back in all its might.
Snow defends her daughter.
The ogre is still crouched over Emma, roaring at her and making her her blow back; she shields her face from the beast as a whistle is heard from nearby, surprising the helpless blonde. As it turns out, the whistle came from Snow, who's captured the ogre's attention. "Back away from my daughter!" she announces before drawing an arrow from her quiver, loading up her bow and finally firing at the dreaded creature, hitting it square in the eye when it tries coming at her. It screeches loudly before falling back, dead, and the former princess and bandit approaches the beast's corpse before pulling her arrow from its eye, re-adding it to her quiver. A shocked Emma stands up and makes her way toward her mother, who recalls that you have to shoot ogres in the eye to killed them. Amazed, Emma asks when the last time she shot an arrow was, and Snow reveals that it was twenty-eight years ago; "I guess it's like riding a bike." Emma then asks her how she knew she could hit that, stunned by her mother's extreme accuracy, and Snow says that she didn't. She then notices that Emma's carrying her now mangled gun and reminds her that that sort of thing isn't going to work where they are. Emma now realizes this and her mother says that they should get going, before walking off. Emma stares at the dead ogre next to her before following on.
The arrow was poisoned.
In the past fairytale land, Snow, Charming and Lancelot are all kneeling over Ruth, who's still lying on the ground with an arrow in her chest. Upon inspection, Lancelot deduces that the arrow is poisoned, and a hopeful Charming says that they just need to find the antidote. Snow suggests that maybe the fairies can help them, but Lancelot denies it, telling them that this poison will take something stronger than fairy dust to be cured. "Lake Nostos!" Charming exclaims, "I've been there before. Its waters have powerful, magical properties. I've seen them turn a man from solid gold back into flesh (see "What Happened to Frederick"). It isn't far, a day's journey, at most." Lancelot offers to prepare a wagon before walking away.
Ruth checks the sex of Snow's first born.
Snow, Charming and Lancelot are then seen walking down a forest road with Charming's mother Ruth lying in the wagon that's trailing behind them. Charming figures that it must be a curious tale, but Lancelot wonders what he's talking about. The prince explains that he means the story behind how a knight of the Round Table became a sword for hire, and Lancelot realizes that he wants to know how he fell from grace, adding that it happened for the same reason that Charming ended up running from King George: a woman (see "The Broken Kingdom"). His interest piqued, Charming tells Snow that he and the knight are going to scout ahead and won't be long, and Snow gives him a nod as she continues to keep Ruth company. The old woman exhales heavily, holding a cloth to her chest-wound, and Snow dabs her forehead. Ruth thanks her but Snow assures that it's the least she could do to make her comfortable; the old woman then reveals that she's talking about how Snow gave her son something to believe in, and the princess smiles. Ruth goes on to say that all he's ever dreamt of is having a wife, and again Snow smiles, but her smile dissipates when Ruth adds, "And a son." Ruth tells Snow to fret not, for it could be a daughter, but all that matters is that it's healthy. She then wants to show Snow something, removing a necklace which she says her mother gave to her when she was pregnant; she said it was spelled by a gypsy, to predict the sex of your first born... even before you're with child. Snow wonders if it works and Ruth says that it did with her boys, explaining that if it swings North to South then it's a boy, East to West then it's a girl. Snow nods. "Shall we? Just between us?" Ruth asks, shocking her future daughter-in-law. Snow says that she does not think that that's a good idea, but Ruth asks her to indulge an old woman, saying it'll help take her mind off of things. Snow awkwardly obliges, and holds out her hand. Ruth dangles the necklace's charm over her palm; however, it stays perfectly still. Snow nods sadly and a disappointed Ruth tells her not to worry, for it's just a silly superstition. She puts the piece of jewelry back around her neck, and Snow appears sad. He future mother-in-law asks her what's wrong, assuring her that she can tell her anything, and Snow explains, "It's the King... when he captured me... he cursed me. So... so that I can never have children." "Worry not," says Ruth, "If the water from Lake Nostos can heal me, it should be able to do the same for you." Ruth tells her. Snow asks her if she really thinks so, and Ruth happily announces that she is going to make a wonderful mother.
Home, sweet home.
Mulan leads Mary Margaret, Emma and Aurora through the Enchanted Forest; the latter pulls her shawl from a branch and Mulan tells her that she's got to keep up. She apologizes, pointing out that she's not exactly dressed from the woods as she pulls her dress fabric from plants it keeps getting caught on. She comments that it's cold out there and Mulan says that maybe she should have listened to her and stayed back. "Here," Emma says, removing her leather jacket and handing it to Aurora. Aurora reminds the blonde that she tried to kill her friend, at which Emma reveals that Mary Margaret is actually her mom, and she has a feeling she can take care of herself. "And I get it, you're not the only one who's been screwing up a lot lately." She walks ahead, leaving Aurora with the jacket. The princess lifts up the piece of leather and wonders aloud, "What kind of corset is this...?" "Over here!" Mulan calls, standing and watching with Snow. Emma hurries to catch them up, and Aurora soon follows. Emma asks if that they're looking at is where they're headed, and Snow confirms it, nostalgically announcing that the ruined castle before them is home.
Back in time, Charming, Snow, Ruth and Lancelot arrive at Lake Nostos; however, Charming is suddenly alarmed and stops the wagon. He and Lancelot walk forward and Snow follows on, slower. "Where's the lake?" she asks. "You're looking at it," Charming reveals as the shot turns to reveal the empty pit in the ground. "It's gone," he says desolately.
Henry is nearly killed by two snakes.
In Storybrooke, Henry is staring at a picture in his book of the Evil Queen standing outside of her vault; it bears a certain symbol, which is the same as the one on her mausoleum at the town graveyard. He lowers the book to confirm this, and proceeds to head inside, closing the door behind him. He is faced with his grandfather's tomb, looking at the carving - "Henry Mills, loving father" - and on closer inspection he realizes that a hidden staircase is beneath the tomb. He runs to the other side and with all his strength pushes the whole thing out of the way, revealing the stairs leading to the vault beneath. Henry walks down into the vault and steps cautiously within the stone walls. He sees a wall completely filled with drawers, all containing hearts. Footsteps are heard and so Henry turns around to another section of the vault. He takes in all of the magical memorabilia around him but seems particularly drawn to a standard size box with a key hole. Henry takes out the skeleton keys that he stole from Regina and takes out the box, placing it on the floor before kneeling over it. The boy places a key into the hole and twists, opening the box. Suddenly, two Agrabahn vipers poke their heads out of the box and hiss. A shocked Henry falls backwards, scared; however, David quickly shuts the lid of the box, commenting as he does so that maybe they should have gone with Operation Viper. He asks his grandson if he's alright and helps him up, and Henry says that he is. He asks how he knew he was down there and David reveals that Regina called and said he asked her to lunch but then stood her up; she went to her office, saw that her keys were missing and figured out the rest. She would have come herself, but she didn't think he'd go with her. Charming kneels down and asks Henry what he was thinking, and Henry laments that he just wants Emma and Mary Margaret back. "It wasn't meant to be like this. I should be over there with them, riding horses, learning how to sword fight," Henry moans. "I know," Charming acknowledges, telling him it's okay because they're going to do it together. "Alright, you gotta get to school, and I gotta make sure no one finds out about this place," the prince says, placing the snake box back in its place before walking away with Henry, out of the vault.
Ruth asks Snow to drink the remaining waters.
Back in time, Prince Charming walks out among the barren lake full of bones and picks up the tiara of the Siren that used to reside there. He explains that the lake being empty his his fault, for he killed the Siren that used to live there (see "What Happened to Frederick"), but Lancelot tells him that he needn't worry because his mother raised him near a lake; there may yet be water, one just needs to know where to look. Charming picks up a helmet and tries to dig but finds nothing, and so he throws the helmet on the ground in anger. Lancelot walks over to a tree branch and retrieves a small shell, sip-sized, filled with lake water. Charming runs over to him, ecstatic that he found it, and Lancelot hands over the snail shell, assuring that it's only enough for one sip. "To save my mother," Charming says, and Lancelot looks awkward, knowing of Snow's curse. He says that they shall find out, and Charming takes out a flask. Lancelot pours the water into it while afar, still within the dry lake, Snow is with Ruth, who's still lying weak in her wagon. "I want you to have... the last sip of water," Ruth tells Snow, who refuses, saying that she couldn't. Ruth explains that that water can lift her curse and allow her and Charming to have a child, but Snow points out that she, Ruth, would die, and she can't let her give her life for this. Ruth states that it's what parents do: they put their children first; "Someday... you will understand." Snow says that maybe it's for the best, for she was raised without a mother and wouldn't even know how to be one, telling the dying woman that the water was meant for her. Charming and Lancelot approach the girls, the former of which seeming extremely excited, beaming about the fact that they've found a morsel of water. Charming opens the flask and tells his mother to drink; Ruth takes it and seemingly takes the sip of water; she then lies back, apparently cured. The men momentarily leave and Ruth apologizes to Snow who nods, understanding. Charming returns and gazes happily at his mother.
Emma sees her nursery.
In the present, Snow, Mulan, Aurora and Emma walk into the latter's old nursery within the former's old castle. It looks quite messed up and disregarded, but Emma is still able to recognize it from Henry's book as she walks inside. She approaches the wardrobe as the other three princesses enter the room fully. Mulan tells Aurora that the two of them will stay and watch the gate, then leaving with the formerly sleeping beauty. Snow seems emotional and picks up a teddy bear that was supposed to belong to Emma, commenting that she never thought she'd see this place again. She reveals that this room was Emma's nursery, and Emma seems surprised that she lived there. However, Mary Margaret says that she never even got to spend a night, but this is the life she wanted her to have; she was going to teach her how to walk in there, how to talk, how to dress for her first ball... and they never got to do any of it; they never got to be a family. "We have a family, in Storybrooke," Emma reminds her mother before saying that right now they need them to get back to them. "So, how do I get this to work?" Emma asks, gesturing the magical wardrobe. Snow, still clutching the teddy bear, looks up.
The waters don't work on Ruth.
At Lake Nostos, Charming, Lancelot and Snow White are all gathered around a still-dying Ruth. Charming asks why the water didn't work and Lancelot suggests that maybe it takes time to heal. The prince refutes this, for he used this magic before and it worked instantly; he surmises that there's not enough water and that they need more, running off, but Ruth hands the flask to Lancelot and begs her son to stop. Charming turns to her and walks back. "There's no... more magic here, and I... I don't want to spend my last moments in this way," Ruth tells him. Charming apologizes, saying that it's all his fault. "Your fault for what? For being happy? For finding your true love?" Ruth asks, stroking her son's face before turning to Snow, "For your happiness, I would... gladly give my life." She adds that she won't live to see him marry Snow. Ruth becomes weaker and Snow leans in to her and whispers that yes she will, in reference to the marriage. Charming turns to her, confused, and his true love asks Lancelot if a disgraced member of the Round Table still has the power to perform a wedding. The knight assures that it would be his honor, to Ruth's joy.
Snow and Charming get married.
"In my kingdom, there is a legend of a cup, it has the power to grant eternal life. So may the love between you always be strong, true, and eternal," Lancelot says within the lake as Snow White and Prince Charming stand beneath an altar. Ruth is watching from the wagon as they are poured a chalice of water, and each of them drink, first Snow, then Charming. The pair smile at each other a share a kiss, they then look back to Ruth who is lying still in the wagon with her eyes closed. She is dead. Charming approaches her and places a bouquet upon her body. "Goodbye, mother," he says. Charming hangs his head in sadness and Snow rests her head on his shoulder, comfortingly.
Snow sees past Lancelot's lies.
In Emma's disregarded nursery, her and Snow open the door to the wardrobe, with the blonde asking where the "on-switch" is. Mary Margaret tells her that it's more complicated than that, saying that they'll have to get it back to the island and then hopefully someone there has enough magic to make it work again. Emma asks how they're supposed to carry it, to which a familiar voice replies, "With the help of an old friend." Lancelot has entered the room, and Snow asks him what he's doing there. He explains that he heard about the ogre attack and had to make sure they were alright, and Snow wonders the whereabouts of Mulan and Aurora. Lancelot says that he sent them to find food, for tonight they'll set up camp and tomorrow they'll get back. "So, this is it," he adds, looking at the wardrobe. Snow says that it's the same one Emma went through allowing her to skip the curse, which Lancelot finds remarkable. The former princess further explains that Geppetto carved it out of an enchanted tree, but there's no magic left. Lancelot believes that there must be another way to recharge a portal so powerful, leading Mary Margaret to wonder why he's so interested. "Well, I just want you to be home with your husband... and son, Henry. They must miss you," he says. Snow quickly draws her sword and aims it at Lancelot, telling Emma to stay away from him for he is not who he says he is. Emma asks her mother what she's talking about, wondering who he could be, and Snow points out that there is only one person she told Henry's name. "Cora..." Emma recalls, watching as Lancelot becomes enveloped by purple smoke and Cora stands where he once was, having used magic to disguise herself. "He's dead. I killed him a long time ago," Cora reveals. Snow realizes that she's been posing as him ever since, still aiming her sword, and Cora points out that they'd never listen to her; besides, every kingdom needs a hero, "don't you think?" Snow advances on the woman with her sword but Cora creates a bubble of purple magic from her hand and uses it to stop Snow and lift her, throwing her across the room, pinning her up against the wall. Emma runs to her mother's aid but Cora swishes one arm and the blonde is knocked off her feet. The purple energy begins to strangle Snow who is starved for air and begins to choke. Cora walks up to the incapacitated woman, ready to kill her.
Cora attacks Snow.
Snow is still pinned against the nursery wall and choking due to the blue-purple surge of energy brought on by Cora's magic, while Emma remains floored. Cora approaches the former, saying, "Thank you, Snow. I've been looking for a way over for so long." At this, Emma stands up, ready to defend her mother, but Cora is too quick and merely extends an arm which brings the carpet to life, causing it to wrap itself around Emma's ankles and pull her forward. "I never thought the person to help me find it would be you," Cora adds as Emma struggles, being dragged further away from her mother by the carpet. Mary Margaret, through her compressed throat, asks Cora why she's doing this, and, across the room, Emma takes out her gun and removes all the bullets, holding them in her palm. Cora replies that she wants to see her daughter, for it's been too long, and she would love to meet her grandson Henry. Emma, meanwhile, cracks open a bullet and pours gunpowder from the inside all over the base of the wardrobe. She exclaims that Cora will never meet Henry, rubbing a shard against the metal of her gun to create a spark which sets the gunpowder alight. "No!" Cora yells, discarding Snow; she uses magic to launch the fire in the form of a fireball at Emma; however, Mulan dives in and blocks the attack with her sword, returning it to the wardrobe and allowing it to keep on burning. Cora looks around the room, assuring them that they're not done before she disappears in a flurry of purple smoke. The magic releases Snow and she falls to the floor, catching her breath. Aurora helps Emma to her feet and Snow stands up to see the burning wardrobe, asking her daughter if she's okay. "Yeah, you saved me," Emma states before going on to ask where Cora is. Snow assures that she's gone, and Emma points out that so is their ride home; they stare at the burning wardrobe.
Snow's curse is broken.
In the fairytale land that was, Prince Charming lights a candle for Ruth and places it on a rock which marks her grave. Snow offers her condolences, knowing that she was all the family he had left, but he assures her that he still has her, telling her that he loves her and that together they can start a new family. He holds her hands but she seems sad; soon, Charming takes out Ruth's necklace, saying that she would have wanted Snow to have it and revealing that it can tell you the sex of your child. Snow begs him not to use it but he assures her that it's just superstition. She says that there's something she needs to tell him and he wonders what's wrong. Just as Snow is about to explain what she's been cursed with, she looks down to see the necklace hovering over her hand, swinging East to West. "We're going to have a child," she says happily, realizing that her curse has been lifted. "What?" Charming asks. "We're going to have a child!" she repeats herself, and he wonders if there's something he needs to know. Snow merely smiles and says she means some day, and he replies that of course they are, then asking what it's going to be. He assumes a boy, but can never remember which direction means what. Snow tells him that it's a surprise, smiling, and the prince assures his wife that they are going to take back the kingdom and they will do so as a family. They kiss, and Charming soon runs off to retrieve the wagon. Snow walks over to Lancelot, realizing something. "This is because of you, isn't it?" she asks, "Ruth only pretended to drink the water. She had you put it in the wedding chalice so that I would drink it. That's how King George's curse was broken, wasn't it?" Lancelot smiles and says that he has no idea what she's talking about, merely asking what her child is going to be. Snow looks to Charming, who'd tending to his horse, and then back to Lancelot, revealing with a smile, "A girl."
Mulan offers to help Snow and Emma get home.
In Emma's nursery, the girls stand over the wardrobe's ash, and Snow says that Lancelot was one of the bravest men she ever new. Mulan wonders how she could be so blind to not see that it was Cora, but Emma tells her to be fair on herself, for the whole shape-shifting thing kind of threw her too. Mulan wonders what they're going to tell the people on the island, and Snow suggests that they tell the truth; that Lancelot was cut down by a terrible villain and died an honorable death. Mulan says that Cora's still out there and states that they need to find her and need to defend what's left of the kingdom. Aurora asks who's going to lead, suggesting Mulan, but Mulan denies this, saying that their ruler shall be Mary Margaret. The former princess is honored, but she and Emma still have to find a way back to Storybrooke. Mulan offers to help her find a way, asking Aurora if she will too; Aurora agrees, saying that perhaps it will help her channel her anger. Snow nods and Mulan gestures them to leave, doing so with Aurora; however, Emma stays back with her mother. "Sorry I torched our ride home. I couldn't let her get to Henry, I-" Emma apologizes. "You had to put Henry first," Snow finishes for her, understanding her actions. "I was angry at you for so long... wondering how you could choose to let me grow up without you. But then, just seeing all this... you gave up everything... for me. And you're still doing that. I'm sorry, I'm not good at this, I... I guess I just... I'm not- I'm not used to someone putting me first," Emma weeps, and Snow quickly embraces her daughter. "Well, get used to it," she tells her. The two of them hug for a while longer before finally breaking it off, and Emma walks out of the room. Snow is slower in doing so, picking up her bow and arrows and looking out upon the nursery, seeing it as it should be, filled with color, tidy and fit for a baby to sleep in. Snow begins to cry at the life Emma never got to have and leaves the room, closing the door behind herself. Cora then appears from a cloud of purple smoke and approaches the destroyed wardrobe, kneeling over its remains and picking up some ash, dropping it into her other hand where a vial forms around the sample. She looks at it and it glows red, signifying that there is still magic within it. She smiles wickedly.
A vengeful King George watches Charming and Henry.
In Storybrooke, Jefferson walks out from behind a lamp post and watches as the children step off of the school bus, looking for Grace. The young girl soon walks out and Jefferson nervously walks forward and exclaims her name. She turns and meets her father's sad eyes. "Papa!" she yells, running towards him; the two of them hug and Jefferson tears up. "You found me, I knew you would," she says. Jefferson picks up his daughter and carries her home, still hugging. Henry watches the scene from afar inside Emma's bug. Charming knocks on the window with an item in his hand and Henry rolls down the window so that the two may converse. "I've been thinking, if you're gonna start helping me, we gotta make sure that we do this right. So, I picked these up on the way home," Charming says, revealing the two wooden training swords he bought to Henry. Henry is amazed, and David points out that he's the grandson of a prince, so he thinks it's about time he learned how to use a sword. Henry smiles and his grandfather tells him that he cannot get Emma and Snow back without him; he asks if he's with him. "Can you teach me how to fight a dragon?" Henry asks, and Charming says that they'll work their way up to it, stepping away from the car as Henry steps out of it, being handed one of the wooden swords. The grandson and grandfather begin to fence with the training swords, playfully running around and battling. From across the street, someone is watching this scene from their car. It's seen to be Albert Spencer, otherwise known as King George, and he looks full of vengeance.
- The title card features a knight, presumably Lancelot.
- Although credited, Emilie de Ravin (Belle French/Belle) and Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin) are absent from this episode.
- This marks the fifth writing credit for both Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. It also marks the third directing credit for Milan Cheylov.
For the second week, the ratings took another hit, slipping to a 3.0/8 among 18-49s with 9.45 million viewers tuning in, an 11% drop from the previous episode.
- Entertainment Weekly's Hillary Busis liked the episode, especially Sinqua Walls in the Lancelot role ("You can ride in my cart anytime, Lancelot!"), but thought that the Storybrooke setup in this outing was a little weak: "While nothing was really wrong with this portion of the episode, it didn't do much to propel Once's master plot forward."
- The A.V. Club gave the episode a B, but had positive remarks, noting that "things are moving at a much brisker pace than last season, and this show is finally figuring out a good balance between fairy tale fantasy and grounded human emotion. The show does run the risk of becoming overstuffed with so many plots going on at once, though, and some of the more dramatic moments lose their impact because they aren't fully built up."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time' recap: The Scion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe by Hilary Busis Entertainment Weekly (October 15, 2012)
- ↑ "Lady of the Lake" S2 / E3