"Selfless, Brave and True" is the 40th episode of Once Upon a Time.
While Mary Margaret goes off on her own in an attempt to come to grips with what she did to Cora and how her deed has affected her, she stumbles upon August, who has hidden himself away from the others, ashamed at the actions he has taken in life, and is completely made of wood. Meanwhile, Emma is shocked when Neal invites his fiancée, Tamara, to come to Storybrooke. In flashbacks, after the curse is cast, August is introduced to a man of magic who may be able to prevent him from turning back into wood... but at a steep price.
October 24th, 2011
"I'm turning into wood."
A glass bottle is seen rolling from side to side on a messy, wooden floor belonging to a house beside the beach. The camera moves up to the bed where a naked woman, covered by sheets, is seen sleeping beside a man. We see a digital clock on the bedside table, and when the time changes from 8:14 to 8:15, the man suddenly wakes up and turns around, revealing himself to be August W. Booth. Apparently in pain, August sits up frantically and his one wooden leg hits the floor as we see the skin on his thigh further transforming into wood. He looks at it, shocked, before telling the girl he slept with to wake up (in Thai, with subtitles appearing on the screen). The girl does so, but tells August that it's only 8:15 and that he should go back to bed, but he moves backwards, still staring at his leg, and asks the girl if he sees it. He addresses her as Isra and begs her to wake up and help him, but Isra tells him that it's early and she's sleeping. He asks her if she doesn't see it, but she tells him that all she sees is his leg, before begging him to be quiet. She closes her eyes as August stands up out of bed and says that he needs to go to a hospital, but Isra asks him what the hell is wrong with him, not being able to see his wooden leg. August, in a panicked state, then says (in English), "I'm turning into wood."
ONCE UPON A TIME
David and Emma argue over Mary Margaret.
David adds some white-petaled flowers to a small vase on a breakfast tray in his apartment, looking over to his wife who's remaining in bed with the covers pulled over her head, still moping after what she did to Cora. He takes the tray from the counter and begins to approach Mary Margaret but Emma sees this and says, "Breakfast in bed? Seriously?" David reminds his daughter that what's happened has been really hard on Mary Margaret and the least they can do is make sure that she's eating. Emma says that she thinks it's time to give the hot cocoa and the foot massages a rest and hall her ass out of bed and tell her to move past this. David places the tray back onto the counter before telling Emma that she's being a little harsh, reminding her that Mary Margaret took Cora's life. As he says this, Mary Margaret is shown to be awake and listening from under her sheets, seeming sad, when Henry emerges from the stairs, asking his mother and grandfather if everything's okay. The two of them assure him that everything's fine and Emma tells him to get his coat. Henry wishes David goodbye before Emma approaches her father and speaks in a hushed tone, telling him that she knows he thinks Mary Margaret needs their help, but at the end of the day, she's the only one who can help herself.
Snow requests a little time.
As Emma talks, she applies her own coat and David nods as his daughter follows Henry out of the apartment. He goes to say something else but the door closes before he can, and he suddenly hears the words "good morning" from behind him, and turns to see his wife up and out of bed. He greets her unexpectedly and approaches the counter, pointing out that he made her some eggs, but if she's craving something else, they can go to Granny's Diner. "Unless you have other plans..." the prince says, finally taking note that Mary Margaret is packing things into her handbag. She tells her husband that she thought she'd head out to the woods as she needs to think things through, but David asks to come with her. Snow tells him that she needs to do this alone, and he remains silent, at which she reminds him that he has things to do, suggesting that he could go to work in the bean fields, which she knows he's been looking forward to. David confirms this, telling his wife that Anton says they may have a crop soon and once they do they can go home and none of what happened will matter as it will all be in the past. Mary Margaret states that she used Regina to kill her own mother and that she doesn't think going back will erase that, but David tries to convince her otherwise. "Please," she begs, nearly tearing up, "Give me time."
Henry hands over his book.
Emma and Henry are seen approaching Granny's Bed & Breakfast before the latter walks inside, carrying the book in his arms, and is greeted by Neal, who he hugs. Neal asks his son how he is and Henry replies that he's good before showing his father that he brought his book as he thought he could tell him what it was really like over there. Neal says that that sounds great, accepting the book as Emma walks in. He then takes some money from out of his pocket and hands it to his son, suggesting that he run over to the diner and get them three hot cocoas and they'll dive in. Henry leaves to do so but Emma tells Neal that she may have to take a rain check on that as she needs to get down to the sheriff's station and take care of some things. Neal asks her if it can wait as he has a couple of things that he wants to talk to her about, and Emma wonders what. Neal explains that Tamara went to his place to get some of her stuff and her bags were in the storage room, but Hook wasn't. "Lucky," Emma says, but Neal points out that that means Hook's out there. Emma says that she doesn't know how much more trouble he could cause anyway, before Neal moves on to the "second thing", explaining that the reason Tamara was her stuff is that she's on her way there. "Here? As in Storybrooke?" Emma asks, surprised, and Neal confirms this, saying that Tamara should be there at Granny's any minute now.
Emma is persuaded to meet Tamara.
The blonde asks him what he's thinking but Neal wonders what she means, at which Emma asks what he's going to tell Tamara when she sees a giant or a werewolf running past her down Main Street. She says that between Greg Mendell, their food-obsessed tourist, and now his fiancée, the town is becoming a theme park. He stipulates that maybe he didn't think it all the way through, apologizing, but saying that he needs Tamara. He apologizes again, thinking that sounded insulting to Emma, but the blonde tells him that there's no need as she's not the one he's lying to. "Who's lying?" Neal wonders. "Does she know who you really are?" Emma wonders, "And where you're really from?" She tells him to take her advice and not let Tamara find out on her own, and to tell her the truth about everything. Neal suddenly receives a text on his cell phone and takes it from out of his pocket, alerting Emma that it's Tamara, who's ten minutes away. He suggests that Emma stay and get to know her but the blonde says that she really should be going. Neal approaches her and reminds her that they're all connected and it might be nice for the two of them to talk, begging her to just stay and say hello. "She's bringing bagels," he tells her, and Emma raises an eyebrow.
August is discovered in the woods.
An arrow hits a drawn-on target on a tree trunk in the woods as Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" plays over the top. We see Mary Margaret holding her bow and arrow and firing two more arrows at the target on the tree. She fires another and we see it fly past the target, missing its predecessors, and Mary Margaret takes her earphones out of her ears, causing the music to quieten, becoming confused. She hears a snapping sound out in the woods and goes to investigate, walking past her target tree in search of her stray arrow. She soon sees it on the ground and approaches it, picking it up only to discover that it's missing its head. Mary Margaret then lifts her head to see something that surprises her and we are treated to a view of a large, although slightly discrepant and filthy, caravan trailer out in the woods. Snow walks closer towards it and removes her quiver, setting it down next to her bow before opening the trailer door. Looking from side to side, Mary Margaret walks in and asks if anyone is inside. "Just me," says a voice that startles Mary Margaret, and she turns to see a totally wooden August emerge from a back room. She sees that he has the front half of her snapped arrow sticking into his leg before taking a proper look at the wooden man and saying, "August?" He stares at her blankly yet shyly through wooden eyes.
August stabs himself to prove a point.
We are shown many people rushing around the streets of Hong Kong before we see an ambulance van pulling over in a hospital parking lot. Inside, we see an abundance of sick people sitting in the hallway, waiting to be treated, and at the end, we see August, sitting and seeming glum with his face buried in his palms. An orderly soon emerges and calls August's name from a clip board, at which the writer sits up.
Inside the doctor's office, August is seen lifting his pants' leg to reveal his wooden leg, however, as the doctor doesn't believe in magic, all he sees is a normal leg, with no traces of wood. He tells August that he doesn't see anything but the writer stretches his leg and places it on a table, assuring the doctor that his leg is turning into wood. The doctor tells August that he thinks he should go but the writer asks the doctor to wait, assuring him that he can prove it. He proceeds to move his wooden leg in front of him and grab a scalpel. The doctor begs him to stop but August stabs his leg with the scalpel and it jams into the wood, the doctor being shocked that there is absolutely no blood or wound in the flesh leg. In Thai, he calls for the orderlies to restrain August and take him to the psych, but August pulls the scalpel out of his leg and runs out of the doctor's office.
August is told of a man of magic.
We see the writer running through the halls as the doctor and several security men chase him, but August is far ahead of them and pushes a gurney sideways down the hall to block them off. He soon reaches a dead end as the people chasing him begin to catch up, and as he doesn't know what to do, someone opens a door from behind him and grabs him, pulling him into an adjacent, secluded hallway. August tries to shake the man off of him but soon gets thrown against the wall, asking the man who he is. He states that he's "someone who can help", saying that he heard August yelling about his "situation" and knows a man who fixes those kind of problems. August peers out of the window of the hallway's door and sees that the doctor and security guards are looking for him outside of it, before turning back to the young man and asking him what kind of problems the man sorts out. The man says "the kind people just dismiss", assuring August that for the right price, he can cure anything. August peers out of the window yet again before backing against the wall and asking who this man is. "They call him the Dragon," the young man tells August, who appears less than impressed.
Mary Margaret tries to convince August to return to Storybrooke.
We are shown the exterior of August's trailer in the Storybrooke woods where inside we see Mary Margaret talking the the wooden man on the couch, the latter of which is now wearing his leather jacket. Mary Margaret, confused, says that the curse broke, but August says that it didn't for him, explaining that when it lifted, he could move again, but he stayed in his wooden form. He tells Mary Margaret that this is his own punishment, not the Queen's, he did it to himself, and Snow says that she's very sorry. He turns away from her and she tells him that he doesn't have to hide as there are people in Storybrooke who care about him, such as Emma and his father. August asks how he is, referring to his papa, and Mary Margaret tells him that he misses him. He says he knows, seeming ashamed, but that he can't let him see him like this, or Emma. Mary Margaret begs him to reconsider, saying that they could all use him back and that there's been a lot going on, such as that Henry's father returned as Emma found him. August seems surprised, asking if Emma and Neal are back together again, but Mary Margaret answers negatively, explaining that Neal's engaged to a woman he met in New York.
Mary Margaret is sad that she can't help August.
August says that he was hoping - "That's my problem: hoping," - that things could still work out and that he could find redemption for the mistakes that he's made, "But maybe some things you just don't come back from." Mary Margaret takes this hard, relating to her own situation with Cora, and shakes her head, telling August that no matter what he's done he deserves a second chance. He tells her that that's easy for her to say as she's never had to worry about forgiveness or redemption has she has never needed it, but Mary Margaret knows that he is wrong, and tells him that it's time to stop feeling sorry for himself, saying that he should could back to town with her and find Marco. August asks her if she thinks he'd want to face his father in his current state, referring to himself as a "woodpile of failure", but Mary Margaret tells him not to say that. The living dummy asks Snow White if she will help him, and she nods, at which he tells her to leave and not to tell anyone that she saw him. Mary Margaret appears saddened by this.
An awkward breakfast.
We see a pile of bagels accompanied by various spreads, meats and other food on the table in the reception of Granny's Bed & Breakfast. Emma takes a bite out of a bagel as the shot reveals her, Henry, Neal and Tamara all sitting around the food, without a single word being spoken. Eventually, Henry breaks the silence by asking Neal and Tamara how the two of them met, and Neal pauses as Emma looks at him awkwardly, but Tamara smiles happily and begins to divulge in the story. She tells Henry that she was super late to work and rushing like crazy whilst guzzling her giant coffee when Neal crashed into her and caused her coffee to soak her blouse; there was no time to change so Neal gave her his scarf to cover the stain and said that she could keep it or call him if she wanted to return it. She and Neal smile at each other as she says that she decided to call him and that they've been together ever since. Henry seems content in this story and Emma, who's clearly uncomfortable, comments that it sounds like fate, and Neal and Tamara remain silent.
Neal shows Tamara Henry's book.
The blonde then says that she's got to drop Henry off with his grandfather and thanks Tamara for the bagel before standing up , as does Henry, who tells his father's betrothed that it was nice meeting her. Neal hands his son his book of fairytales but he suggests that Neal hold on to it before leaving the building with his mother. Tamara tells Neal that Henry seems like a really great kid and Neal agrees, before she adds that he has his spirit. "You think?" Neal asks, at which Tamara moves in closer to him and confirms it. Neal tells his fiancée that there's something he needs to tell her and Tamara wonders what it is, at which Neal tells her that he's not from "here". Tamara becomes confused, not knowing what he means, and Neal tells her that he's from a place called the Enchanted Forest. He sees her face and tells her that he's being serious before handing her Henry's book. Tamara opens it and begins to turn the pages, eventually settling on one that pictures Baelfire. She comments that she's looking at fairytales and Neal tells her that they're real, before correcting himself in saying that they're more than real, and calling them history - his history.
Tamara accuses Neal of having feelings for Emma.
He points to the little boy on the page and says that it's him, before Tamara asks him what the hell he's doing. Neal tells his fiancée that he's trying to be honest with her but Tamara slams the book shut and hands it back to him, standing up and telling him that if he wanted to be honest, he would tell her what this is really about, bringing up the "cute blonde" that was just here - the mother of his child. Neal realizes that she's talking about Emma and Tamara tells him that she's not a fool and that she saw the way the two of them look at each other. Neal tries to assure her that it's not like that but Tamara says that she thinks it is, adding that she also thinks it's why he wanted to hide under the table when Henry asked how they met, as he didn't want Emma to hear the story. She tells Neal that if he wanted to be with the blonde, he could have told her, but Neal stands up, trying to deny this, as Tamara accuses him of trying to force her away. Neal assures her that this isn't true but Tamara applies her coat and tells him that when he's ready to be honest with her about himself and his feelings, then he can come find her. She proceeds to leave.
Tamara in the flashback.
In the past, we are taken down the busy streets of Hong Kong as August is led through it by the young man he met at the hospital, before following said gentleman up a flight of exterior, metal stairs, being assured that they're almost there. The door on the upper level is opened and August soon walks in, being taken into another waiting room where the young man says that they're there, and that he shouldn't be waiting for long. As the man disappears into the adjacent room through the bead curtain, August sits down next to the other people, before the man re-emerges and points to a woman with a scarf in her head sitting nearer the entrance, telling her that the Dragon's ready for her. The woman grabs her purse from the floor but drops her cell phone, and as she stands up, August picks up the phone and alerts her of this. The woman turns around and removes her sunglasses, revealing herself to be none other than Neal's fiancée, Tamara. She proceeds to take the phone from August and thank him.
Regina can't quite place her finger on from where she recognizes Greg.
A fork digs into an apple pie in a booth at Granny's Diner as the shot reveals Greg Mendell about to take a bite when Regina approaches him, telling him that she hopes he's enjoying his pie as it's on her. When Greg remains silent, she introduces herself as Regina Mills, the mayor of Storybrooke, and sits down opposite him, adding that she's also Henry's mother. Greg realizes that Henry was the "cute little kid who was wandering through the woods" and Regina confirms it, gesturing the pie and saying that she just wanted to thank him for calling her about him. Greg assures her that it was no problem as he has a soft spot for little kids in trouble and Regina goes on to say that she's fairly certain the two of them haven't met before but he does seem oddly familiar, at which Greg tells her that he doesn't see how that's possible unless she's spent a lot of time in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He takes another mouthful of pie and Regina laughs, not being able to say that she has. He continues to eat and the mayor tells him that if there's anything he needs during his stay there, he doesn't need to hesitate to ask. She stands up from her seat and makes her way out of the diner, however, as she approaches the door, Mary Margaret rushes in.
Tamara the eavesdropper.
"If I were you I'd try the fish special. It's right up your alley," Regina tells the teacher, "Blackened sole." She smiles before leaving the diner and a saddened Mary Margaret quickly approaches Emma, who's sitting at the counter beside Marco. The blonde asks her mother what's up, having received an urgent phone call, and Mary Margaret says that she's found August, which alarms Marco. "My boy? He's alive?" the old man asks, excited, and Mary Margaret answers positively before adding that he's completely wooden and has been living in an abandoned trailer down at the Toll Bridge. Emma asks if there's anything they can do to help him and Mary Margaret says that they can't, but adds that she knows someone who might be able to: Mother Superior. Marco nods, recounting that the Blue Fairy helped once and can help again. She must. Emma and Marco stand up and the latter quickly places some money down on the counter before the two of them rush out of the diner with Mary Margaret. As they do so, the camera moves along the length of the counter to reveal Tamara sitting at the end of it, having listened in.
August reveals his condition to the Dragon.
In the past, Tamara emerges from the beaded curtain that leads into the Dragon's "office" and tells August, who's in the waiting room, that he said to send him in. The writer remains silent but Tamara wishes him luck, before leaving, and August stands up, making his way through the beaded curtain. Once inside, he see an old, Asian man in a red robe sipping tea at a table: the Dragon. August appears confused by the normality of the apartment and the eccentricities of the man but ignores this and soon approaches, being asked to sit. He sits down on a stool opposite the Dragon and the old man asks August why he's come. The latter lifts his right pants' leg to reveal a bare, normal leg, and the writer asks the Dragon if he can see that, but he answers negatively, saying that the problem is with August's other leg. The former puppet chuckles and lifts his other pants' leg to reveal his wooden leg, and the Dragon states that he's turning to wood, before addressing him as Pinocchio. August, shocked, asks how the hell the Dragon knows his real name, and wonders who he is, asking if he's from his land, but the old man doesn't answer. He tells August that he's in pain and advises him not to waste his energy on him, but on his affliction, as all he needs to worry about is whether he can help him - and the answer is "indeed I can".
Pinocchio sacrifices a personal item.
August gives a large sigh of relief but the Dragon tells him that there are, however, conditions: "I need an item of great value to you." Pinocchio takes this to mean money, and says that he has some, but the Dragon denies this, telling the former puppet that that comes later; "I need something close to your heart. Something that cannot be replaced." The Dragon points a finger at August's neck and the latter pulls out the necklace he's wearing containing a little wooden whale. He assures the Dragon that it's worthless, and the Dragon says that the pendant perhaps is but that the string isn't as it's the same string that Geppetto used to animate him when he was a freshly carved puppet, so, in a way, it first gave him life. The Dragon tells August that it will serve as payment from his soul before extending his arm expectantly, and the writer asks if it will work. "Perhaps," the Dragon tells him, and August reluctantly, pulls the necklace from his neck and hands it over to the Dragon, who tells Pinocchio that, being a resident of this world, he will also need payment from his wallet: "10,000 American dollars." August is shocked by this price but the Dragon assures him that if he brings the money by that night, he will never turn to wood again. August looks up, not knowing what to do.
Mother Superior explains why she cannot help August.
We are treated to a view of a biblical statue standing outside the Storybrooke nunnery as the camera moves down to Mother Superior, who's telling Marco, Emma and Mary Margaret that she knows about August and recounts that he came to her shortly after the curse broke to ask her if she would return him to what he was. Emma asks the nun why she didn't, at which Blue explains that what August was is what he is. Mary Margaret appears taken aback by this statement as Mother Superior goes on to ask Marco if he remembers the morning on that beach all those years ago; the day she turned his son into a real boy (see "The Stranger"). Marco nods affirmatively, stating that it was the happiest day of his life, but Blue reminds the old man that she told Pinocchio so long as he remained brave, truthful and unselfish, he would stay a real boy, but she's afraid he did not. There is a moment of pause before Mother Superior states that that is why August changed back, and that is why there's nothing she can do for him. Mary Margaret says that it's true he's done some things he regrets, but that everyone has, and asks if he doesn't deserve a second chance. Mother Superior informs them that if there is still a path of redemption for August, it is one he must travel on his own; no one can force him, or it will not be true. Marco appears saddened by this but Mary Margaret tells him not to despair as she knows there's still hope for his son; "There has to be."
Tamara and August share a drink.
August is seen standing at the entrance to a bar in Hong Kong casually looking through his wallet, which contains a fairly little amount of money. He hits his head against the door frame, upset, but a voice is soon heard calling him with a "Hey!" August looks to see Tamara sitting at the bar and waving to him, and he replies before making his way over to her and sitting down beside the girl. She comments that he looks like he could use a drink and he agrees, but states that he wasn't planning on staying so long. Tamara asks him to humor her and says that celebrating alone is no fun, at which she nods to the bartender and takes out her own envelope of cash which contains the full $10,000 that the Dragon requires. She takes out a note of cash and pays the bartender who accepts it before serving her and August a beer each, and Tamara places the envelope back into her handbag. She raises her bottle and toasts to second chances, at which August lifts his bottle and clinks it, asking who knew they'd be so expensive. Tamara laughs before the two of them take a drink and August asks the girl what brought her to the Dragon. "Cancer," Tamara replies sadly, explaining that it's a very rare form and that when she was diagnosed, the specialist told her she was on "borrowed time". She tells him that ever since she's been searching all over the world trying to find a cure; "Doctors, healers, you name it. Anyone who could promise a miracle... but no one could. And then... then I heard about the Dragon."
August robs Tamara.
August seems saddened by her story but is soon distracted by a shooting pain in his wooden leg, and Tamara wonders why he wants to see the Dragon. He tells her that he has a "skin condition" at which she jokingly asks if it's acne and states that they have creams for that. August laughs with her, saying that he wishes, but explains that once his condition spreads, he's done for. Tamara tells him that she's glad he found the Dragon too and he thanks her; she asks if he told August he needed a personal item and the former puppet answers positively. She asks who carries stuff like that around with them anyway, before saying that, luckily, she had a photo of her grandmother with her in her wallet, but no it's gone; "But if my cancer is too..." Her and August clink beer bottles once more before drinking and Tamara's phone suddenly rings in her purse. She puts her bottle down and digs through it, soon pulling out her cell and checking it, telling August that she'll be right back and asking him to watch her stuff. He agrees to and the girl walks over to the other end of the bar to take her call. With Tamara gone, August looks at the envelope of money he desperately needs in her handbag, before looking to her at the back of the bar and seeing that she's perfectly distracted with her phone call. Feeling awful, August looks back to the money, to Tamara, and to the money, before eventually doing the unthinkable. He slowly takes the envelope from out of her purse, looking from side to side as he does so, before walking backwards out of the bar, making sure that Tamara doesn't see. Once he's out of the bar, he proceeds to run.
The wooden August approaches the door of his trailer in the Storybrooke woods when he hears it knocking loudly, but reminds the supposed Mary Margaret on the other side that he told her to leave him alone. He proceeds to open the door, but Tamara is standing on the other side, and August is completely taken aback to see her. He blinks, shocked, but Tamara simply stands there before giving a slight smile and saying to August, "Hey... long time."
August pays for his remedy.
Back in time, August rushes into the Dragon's apartment and stops, taking a moment to catch his breath. "For someone who spent his entire life running should be in better shape," says the Dragon, who appears seated behind his table at the other end of the room. August stands, limping over to the old man, telling him that he will be if he has what he promised. The Dragon takes a small red pouch from within his robes and opens it, pulling out a small vial filled with sparkling, red liquid. He holds it up and gives it a shake, but when August goes to grab it, the Dragon retracts the potion and reminds the former puppet that they discussed price, asking August if he has the money. August takes Tamara's large, cash-filled envelope from his pocket and sighs, before looking over to a photograph of Tamara and her grandmother on the table. He suddenly jerks in pain, taking a deep breath, and the Dragon covers Tamara's photo with his hand. August calms down as the old man explains that the body has a strange way of sending us signals but that the tricky part isn't hearing them, but knowing what they truly mean. The Dragon moves his hand away from the photograph and August asks if the old man's sure this will cure him. The Dragon lifts the potion, which has been placed back into its pouch, and assures August that what's in the bottle will stop him from turning to wood; "But that's just a symptom. Only you can cure yourself." He places the vial on the table and August hands over the $10,000, before taking the potion for himself. As the Dragon counts the money, August inspects the bottle happily.
Tamara leaves August to rot in a gutter.
August is seen running down the stairs that lead up to the Dragon's apartment and stumbling as he does so, due to his wooden leg, and he ducks behind a corner beneath the stairs in the busy Hong Kong alley and begins to open the pouch containing the potion. He begins to pull out the vial, however, he suddenly hears a familiar voice call, "Stop!" August turns to see Tamara who approaches him and gestures the potion, saying that it's hers, but August tells the girl that he's so sorry before running out from under the stairs and speedily making his way through the crowded alley. Tamara begins to chase him, begging somebody to stop August, but the writer pushes people out of the way in an attempt to escape. He eventually turns a corner, making it into an adjacent, dirtier alley, but trips over as he does so, landing on the floor and allowing the potion to fly out of his hand. He clutches his wooden leg and cries out in pain as Tamara picks the potion up off the ground and tells August that, although she doesn't know what's wrong with him, he deserves his fate. Tamara turns around and leaves and the camera shows August crying on the alley floor before zooming out, further making clear his isolation.
August questions Tamara's motives.
We are shown Tamara's human eyes which stare back at August's wooden ones in the contents of his abandoned trailer in the Storybrooke woods. Tamara takes a look around and comments on the furnishings, saying that August isn't much of a decorator, but then again, she supposes a man made of wood doesn't require much. August appears stunned that Tamara can see the true him, taking this to mean she "believes", but she asks him if he thinks she would have chased down someone called "The Dragon" if she didn't. She removes her purse and August tells her that he doesn't understand, asking her what she's doing in Storybrooke and how this is even possible. Tamara tells the wooden man that what she's doing in Storybrooke doesn't concern him, but she needs him to do something, and after what he did to her in Hong Kong, he owes her. She smiles as she takes a seat and August stares at her blankly, asking her what he could ever do for her. "Leave," Tamara replies simply, assuring him that it's a simple request considering what she's about to offer him. He limps a little closer and sits down with little ease, denying the girl and requesting that she explain everything; "Did you follow me? Are you like me?" Tamara removes her gloves and puts them in her coat pocket and wonders if he's asking if she's magical, to which to replies negatively, stating that she's quite human.
Tamara offers August "salvation".
She goes on to tell him to forget for a second why she's there and who she is and to ask himself the more important question: "How?" August appears confused but she reminds him that her cancer was a death sentence, and yet there she is. "The Dragon," August says, "The liquid in the bottle; it worked." Tamara adds that it cured her and leans forward, assuring August that it can cure him too as she still has some of it left. Pinocchio turns his wooden head and becomes intrigued, at which Tamara explains that the bottle's in her apartment in New York, and he can go and get it; all she asks is that he leaves Storybrooke now and never returns. August looks to the keys in Tamara's hand and suddenly brings up Neal, realizing that she's his fiancée, wondering if the two of them are there for the magic; "Are you two trying to take the magic from Storybrooke?" Tamara sits back and sighs before standing up, assuring August that Neal hasn't got a thing to do with any of this and knows as much as he does, but she then adds that actually, August now knows a lot more. "So do we have a deal?" she asks him from the other end of his trailer, having walked there, but August tells her that he can't leave without knowing what she's doing there. Tamara turns her head, telling him that sure he can, and he will, because he's the same man that she left in a Hong Kong gutter; a man willing to do anything to save himself, and that's what she's offering: salvation. She hands over her keys.
Greg's key is seen entering the lock to his room at Granny's Bed & Breakfast and the key chain that his father gave him as a child is visible before he walks inside. He is shown on his cell phone, but quickly hangs up when he sees something in his room, and as he throws his keys on a desk and puts his phone in his pocket, he tells the person in his room that he's all set on towels, if that's why they're there. The camera changes to reveal that it's Regina, who's staring out the window but soon turns around, telling Greg that she's there because she's realized why he seems so familiar to her; "It's because we have met before, haven't we? Owen." Greg smiles as the mayor reveals that she's carrying the lanyard he gave her as a child, and she tells him that she kept it all these years as a reminder of their time together, reminding him that he was just a boy when he gave it to her, but now he's all grown up. She approaches Greg for a closer look and tries to put her hand to his cheek, saying that it's a wonder she didn't recognize him, but Greg backs away, assuring the mayor that he recognized her because she looks exactly the same, as if no time has passed for her.
Regina assures Greg that people can just disappear.
Regina smiles, touching her own face and telling Greg that monthly juice cleanse does wonders for the skin, but he doesn't buy it, at which Regina tells Owen that he could have come to her and told her who he is and why he's there. "I think you know why I'm here," Greg tells her, but Regina says that she honestly doesn't. "I'm looking for my father!" Greg states, and Regina seems surprised, telling Greg that Kurt left shortly after he did and she never saw him again. Greg approaches the mayor, saying that he doesn't believe her; "Be that as it may, it's the truth," Regina assures him, but Greg says that people don't just disappear. Regina tells him that scared little boys tend to have overactive imaginations, but Greg points out that he's not a scared little boy anymore and that it's taken him a long time to get back to town and he's not leaving without his father. "I'm afraid you are," Regina says with a cackle in her voice, "Because he's not here." She begins to leave the room and tells Greg that she'll let Granny know that he'll be checking out the next day, and she turns to him. "Or what?" Greg asks her, taking this as a threat, and Regina re-approaches him, telling him, "Contrary to what you might think, people can just disappear."
Geppetto fesses up.
In the woods, Mary Margaret, Emma and Marco are seen searching for August's trailer when Marco suddenly says that this is all his fault. Mary Margaret assures the old man that children make their own decisions and that he can't blame himself for anything that's happened, but Marco thinks differently, saying that Snow should blame him too. He then steps out in front of the two women and the three of them stop moving as Marco explains that the wardrobe he built for Snow, the one that transported Emma to this world, she did not go alone. "Of course she did; the wardrobe only had enough magic to transport one person," Mary Margaret says, going to continue walking but she gets stopped by Marco who exclaims that that was a lie he made the Blue Fairy tell her - it had enough magic to transport two, and it did, her daughter (Emma) and his son (Pinocchio). "I could have gone with her..." Mary Margaret says in a saddened tone, and Emma seems sorry for her mother as Marco tells them that there is no apology he could give that could ever make up for what he did. He removes his hat, and adds that he is so sorry, however, Mary Margaret suddenly slaps him hard across the face.
Mary Margaret, after slapping Marco.
Marco clutches his cheek and Emma asks her mother what she's doing, pointing out that Marco was apologizing, but the old man states that it's okay as he deserved it. Snow stares at her hand and assures the two of them that that wasn't her, before telling Marco that she was so sorry and she's not herself; "You just made a mistake, I would have done the same thing for my child - I forgive you, you were protecting your son." Marco shakes his head, saying that in fact, he burdened Pinocchio with a weight no child should have to bear, and he called it love. Mary Margaret looks up to the old man, about to reply, but is stopped in her tracks by something she sees. Marco then looks behind him and sees August's trailer buried in the trees, and he, Mary Margaret and Emma walk towards it. Soon enough, Marco opens the trailer door and walks inside, followed by Mary Margaret, however, he is deeply disappointed to discover that no one is inside. Emma, who's standing at the door, looks to her mother as she realizes the same thing: August is gone.
The wooden August is seen speeding down the road in Tamara's car, having accepted her offer, and soon drives past a sign that reads, "Leaving Storybrooke".
The Dragon is confronted by Tamara.
The Dragon stares out of his apartment window in Hong Kong from his balcony. "Your photograph is on the desk," he says, "Do not forget to take it when you leave." Tamara is seen walking into the room behind the Dragon and tells the old man that she's not going anywhere until she gets the truth. He turns around, pointing out her interesting choice of words for someone who lied about being sick. Tamara tells him he's right and that she never had cancer, and so the Dragon wonders why she sought him out. "I've been searching for someone like you for a very long time." Tamara states, and the Dragon takes this to mean she's been looking for magic. She tells him that it's rare in the world they're in, so rare that most would say it's fiction. "But not you?" the Dragon asks, and Tamara confirms, "Not me." She goes on to say that finding magic has not been easy as she's found the world full of frauds... until him. She takes the vial of glowing, red potion from out of her coat pocket and tells the old man that she's analyzed the contents of the bottle with the most sophisticated techniques available to man, and she found "nothing". The Dragon points out that this must mean he's a fraud too, but Tamara denies this, and tells him that she found literally nothing; "The liquid in this bottle doesn't contain a single element found in this world." She puts the vial back into her pocket before asking the Dragon if he can explain that, but he merely says that what he creates is not from this world because the people who need his help suffer from afflictions that science cannot treat - people like the man she stole that vial from.
Tamara murders the Dragon.
Tamara assures the old man that she didn't steal anything and that she paid for what's in the bottle, but, now that she has it, she can't risk anyone else finding the Dragon. She says this as she walks away but soon turns back around to face the Dragon with something else she's pulled out of her pocket: a taser. She presses a button and a bolt of electricity is seen surging at the end. Tamara aims it at the Dragon and tells him that it was nice meeting him, however, she is startled when red smoke begins protruding from the old man's nostrils. The same red smoke surrounds the Dragon and he glides towards Tamara with ease, saying that she hasn't met him, at least not the real him. He extends his arms outwards and hovers higher into the air as more red smoke appears beneath his feet and around his legs. Tamara appears shocked but quickly jerks her taser forward and hits the Dragon in the chest, causing him to be electrocuted. As she tasers him, he shakes around until she eventually relinquishes and the Dragon falls to the floor dead, causing the red smoke to dissipate. She looks down at his body before letting go of her taser's button and making the electricity surge end. She proceeds to take the photograph of her and her grandmother off of the Dragon's desk, takes one last look at his dead body, and leaves.
August comes to a sudden realization.
In the present day, August is driving further away from Storybrooke in Tamara's car when he hits a bump in the road which causes a photograph to fall from the overhead mirror, from where it had been tucked away, and land near the steering wheel. August looks down on it but quickly turns away, however, upon further inspection, he realizes that it's the photo of Tamara and her grandmother which she had given to the Dragon a year or so previously. He picks the picture up in his wooden hand and stares at it for a little while before placing it down and violently turning the steering wheel, causing the entire car to turn around and begin to head the other way, back into town. Soon enough, August drives back past the leaving sign, now having returned to Storybrooke.
The warning is cut short.
The wooden August is seen walking into the sheriff's station and calling out for Emma, asking if anyone's there. Realizing that no one is, Pinocchio picks up the telephone and lifts it to his ear, before carefully dialing. Meanwhile, out in the woods, Emma receives a call on her cell phone and answers it, hearing August on the other end. She exclaims his name which causes Marco and Mary Margaret to hurriedly approach her and August tells the blonde to listen to him as he has to warn her of something. However, the phone call is soon cut short as we see Tamara enter the office from behind and unplug the phone cable. August turns to her as Emma, out in the woods, asks August what he has to warn her about, not having yet realized that the call's been cut off. August drops the phone and steps back as Tamara approaches him, telling the puppet that he disappoints her. August tells the girl that he knows what she did to the Dragon, but Tamara remains silent. August explains, "A few days after you left..."
I went back to beg him to fix me, and we both know what I found...
As August talks in the present day, we see the flesh August of the past kneel down beside the Dragon's lifeless, dead body and place his finger beneath the old man's nose, checking for a breath but finding none.
At the time, I was too wrapped up in myself to wonder what had happened; to question who could have done such a thing...
|August W. Booth|
August is violently tasered by Tamara.
Back in the present day, August pulls out the photograph of Tamara and her grandmother that he found in her car and states where he found it, telling the girl that then it hit him - she went back to the Dragon, where she got the photo back, and she killed him. Tamara approaches August further and tells him that he should have left and that she counted on that he'd want to save himself. August suggests that maybe that's what he's trying to do, but Tamara smirks at this. "I've lived a life of selfishness, cowardice and dishonesty... and only I can cure that. Not magic. Not science. Just me... I care about the people in this town, and if you wanted the Dragon's little bit of magic, well you have hit the mother load here, and you are not going to harm anyone to get it. I'm going to warn them," August assures her, but Tamara shakes her head "no", assuring him in return that he's not. Suddenly, she takes her taser from out of her pocket and hits it against August's chest, electrocuting him. The wooden man groans in pain as Tamara refuses to relinquish her weapon and he eventually falls to the ground with a smoking wound.
August uses his dying breath to warn Emma.
Emma, David, Henry, Marco and Mary Margaret are seen marching through the streets of Storybrooke in search of August as the prince looks at his cell phone. He says that if August is still at the sheriff's station, then he's not picking up, and puts his cell in his inside pocket. As they approach the station, August is seen stepping out of the door, having just been tasered by Tamara, and stumbles towards the group of people who all rush to his aid. He struggles to stand up and soon collapses as everyone approaches him. Emma and Marco kneel down beside him and turn him over, and Marco asks his son what happened to him. August tells his father that he's sorry, but Geppetto assures him that there's nothing to apologize for and that everything is going to be alright. August then turns his head and looks at Emma, and utters her name happily. She reciprocates, and he suddenly sits up, in an attempt to whisper something in the blonde's ear. As he does so, he manages to say, "Emma, she... she's... she's..." however, he soon stops drawing breath and remains still, and Marco cries as he sets his son back down on the ground, not being able to go through this again.
Look who conveniently arrives...
Snow and Charming watch, saddened, and Emma stands up to see Neal arriving on the scene, who is shocked to see Marco crying over a dead August. Mary Margaret states that he can't end this way as he was supposed to get a second chance, and Neal asks what happened. Emma explains that someone killed him to stop them from telling them something and that he used his last, dying breath to warn them, she then assures Marco that she will not let that be in vain. Young Henry looks down at the scene and utters, "Brave, truthful and unselfish..." he then looks up to his mother and exclaims the same thing, asking her if she sees what this means; "That's what Pinocchio was supposed to be. There's still hope, we need the Blue Fairy," he explains. "I'm here, Henry," says Mother Superior who emerges from behind the Charmings, having run to the scene. Mary Margaret asks Blue what Henry means and the fairy reminds them all that she was able to turn Pinocchio into a real boy after he sacrificed his life for Marco's, she says that if his actions today were indeed brave, truthful and unselfish, then Henry's right, there's a chance she can do it again.
"I'm a real boy!"
Marco begs her to try as he continues to cry over his dead son and Mother Superior nods before grabbing her wand. She closes her eyes and waves it down to face August where it lights up with blue magic. As she does this, August's dead, wooden body begins to glow brightly with the same magic, and when the light fades away, little boy Pinocchio is seen resting in Marco's arms. The small child opens his eyes and looks up to Marco, "Father..." he says. "Pinocchio..." Geppetto reciprocates, and everyone watching smiles down at the scene. Marco shows Pinocchio his hands and tells him to look, and the boy obliges, before saying, "I'm a real boy... I'm a real boy!" Marco smiles and lifts his freshly rebooted son to his feet and the two of them hug. As Neal watches and smiles, Tamara is seen walking up behind him, having just seen this, and Neal appears surprised to see her. She comments that it's true, meaning that she now believes Neal about magic, and as everyone watches the joyous reunion, Mother Superior tells little Pinocchio to do better this time, playfully touching his nose, and Tamara seems surprised by the fact that she's looking at Pinocchio, and Neal confirms that she is.
Emma asks Pinocchio an important question.
Emma then leans down in front of the boy and tells him that she has to ask him a question and that she needs him to think real hard: "Before you turned into a little boy, you were trying to tell his something very important. Do you remember? You were trying to warn us about something." Everyone watches expectantly besides Tamara, who appears worried that she may be exposed, however, Pinocchio tells the blonde that he doesn't remember, and if he did, he would be truthful. He turns to his father who appears proud of his boy, before telling Emma that he promises. Mary Margaret looks to her daughter who looks back, and Pinocchio, Geppetto and the Blue Fairy walk away as Snow and Emma embrace, as to Henry and Charming. They then begin to make their way home, leaving Neal and Tamara alone, and the former tells her that if she wanted to head back to New York, he wouldn't blame her, as he knows this isn't what she signed up for. Tamara says that what she signed up for is him; "I love you." Neal smiles, and tells her that he can't believe how lucky he was to have met her, and she says that they're both lucky.
New York City
Tamara meets Neal... on purpose.
August sits on the edge of his motorcycle as Neal talks to him from the sidewalk, commenting that it must have been a hell of a flight from Hong Kong, and that he looks better. August says that he's felt better, and tells Neal that he's turning back into wood, which means that Emma's in Storybrooke. Neal takes this to mean that August's going there and the writer confirms it, saying that he's got to get her to break the curse and stop what's happening to him. Neal says that if the curse is broken, his father's going to remember who he is and then come looking for him, but August points out that the flip side is Neal gets to see Emma again. Bae says that he's not so sure she wants to see him, but August says that he never knows. He proceeds to put his leg around his motorcycle, albeit with a struggle, and apply his helmet, reminding Neal that when the curse is broken, he'll send him a post card. As August drives away, we see Tamara watching the two of them from down the street via her compact mirror. She shuts it and turns around, revealing herself to be carrying a giant cup of coffee, and quickly approaches Neal, who is watching Pinocchio leave. When he turns around, he bumps into Tamara, who walked into him on purpose, and causes her coffee to spill all over her shirt. He tells her that he's so sorry and asks her if she's okay, but Tamara assures him that it's her fault as she's in a hurry and late for work. Neal quickly removes his scarf and hands it to the woman, telling her that she should take it as it will cover the stain, and Tamara thanks him before wrapping it around her neck, stating that it's perfect and thanking Neal, who adjusts the scarf to better cover up the coffee spill. He apologizes again and she thanks him again, before introducing herself as Tamara.
Emma and Henry make amends.
Emma walks into her apartment followed by Mary Margaret, Henry and David and stands on the stairs, before requesting Henry. The kid turns around and approaches his mother who sits down, wondering what she wants. She tells him that they've got to talk but he seems less than happy. "I'm sorry," she tells him, "I'm sorry I lied to you about your dad. I promise I will never lie to you again. Just don't push me away." Henry stares at his mother and assures her that he won't, and Emma smiles before the two of them hug, and when they pull out of it, the two of them happily head off upstairs together. Meanwhile, behind the stairs, David removes his jacket and asks his wife if she's ready to tell him what's going on. Mary Margaret answers positively, but says that before she does he has to promise he won't get mad. He sarcastically states that that always means good news, but she shoots him a look which causes him to promise her. He goes to sit on a chest at the end of their bed and Mary Margaret tells her husband that in the previous week, she went to Regina's house and confronted her. David stands up suddenly, asking her if she's out of her mind, but Mary Margaret reminds him that he promised not to get mad. He assures her that he isn't and she retorts, "I can see that..."
David assures Mary Margaret of the goodness in her heart.
David pauses before pointing out to his wife that Regina could have killed her, and Mary Margaret says she knows, explaining that that's why she went; so she would kill her. David appears shocked as Mary Margaret goes on to tell him that she couldn't take the guilt of what she did to Cora and could barely breathe, she told Regina to end it and she ripped out her heart; "And when she took it out, my heart, David... it has started to blacken because of what I did." Charming wonders why she didn't tell him, but Snow states that telling him made things real and she needed to believe it wasn't and that she could find a way to stop it and that redemption was possible. He assures her that it is, taking August as an example, but Mary Margaret points out that it cost him everything. David hugs his wife comfortingly and tells her that she is not him, and she sure as hell isn't Regina. He pulls out of the hug and says that this means those are not the only two options and that they'll find another way, he knows it. Mary Margaret asks what makes him so sure and her husband puts her hand to her chest and says, "This does. And I know it better than anyone." She leans into him and smiles as he holds her.
Greg shares a kiss with "Her".
Greg's cell phone is seen ringing as it rests on a table in his room at Granny's Bed & Breakfast and the caller ID shows that the call is coming from "Her". Greg soon picks it up and answers it, asking the woman on the other end why she hasn't called him back and wondering where she is. There is a knock on his door and he goes to it, still holding the phone to his ear. Greg opens the door and Tamara is standing on the other side, also holding a phone and telling Greg that she's right there. He smiles, hanging up, and she does the same before saying that she's sorry he's late as it's been a heck of a day. She tells him that she doesn't have a lot of time as Neal's in the shower so she only has a couple of minutes, and Greg says that they shouldn't waste them before pulling Tamara into him and kissing her passionately. As they make out, Greg closes the door to his room and the two of them proceed to make love.
- The title card features August's trailer in the woods.
- Although credited, Emilie de Ravin (Belle French/Belle), Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook), Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood) and Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin) are absent from this episode.
- The original promotional summary for this episode, featured in the press release, wrongly read "(...) before the curse was cast..."; August's flashes occur after the casting of the Dark Curse.
This episode saw a slight decline, placing a 2.2/6 among 18-49s with only 7.38 million viewers tuning in.
The episode received mixed reviews from critics, with most commenting on Pinocchio's image and storyline.
- Hilary Busis from Entertainment Weekly notes that: "There was some good stuff in 'Selfless, Brave, and True.' Unfortunately, 'wooden' Pinocchio's appearance was so distracting that it was tough to focus on what the episode did right."
- Oliver Sava of A.V. Club gave this episode an "C," noting that Hull and Vazquez "don’t craft a strong enough story to make the viewer believe that these connections are anything but overly convenient plot developments."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.