For the character, see Sorcerer's Apprentice.
"The Apprentice" is the 70th episode of Once Upon a Time.
After Emma asks Hook out on a real first date, the latter visits Mr. Gold and asks for his hand to be reattached so that he can embrace her with both hands... but magic always comes with a price. Henry tries to offer hope to Regina when she becomes frustrated over not being able to find a cure to save a frozen Marian, and Will Scarlet attempts to break into the Storybrooke library to find a special book. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin is after a magical box that the Sorcerer's Apprentice is guarding, and he may use Elsa's sister Anna to help him get it.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Anna sets sail from Arendelle to the Enchanted Forest. ("A Tale of Two Sisters") Once she arrives, Ruth sends her to Rumplestiltskin for help. ("White Out") Regina tells Henry that she wants to find the author of the storybook and ask them for a happy ending. ("Rocky Road") Hook tells Rumplestiltskin that he knows the dagger he gave Belle is a fake. ("Rocky Road")
Zoso tries to play with powerful magic.
In the Enchanted Forest that was, in a dark underground lair lit only by dim fires is a man in a red cloak sweeping the floor. Suddenly, there is a haunting gust of wind that blows out all the torches in the room, the man is alarmed. He drops his broom and pulls out a sword, almost routinely stating "Show yourself Dark One". "You are not the sorcerer" a mystical voice echoes from behind him. The man turns around to see a cloaked figure headed towards him, waving the dagger of the Dark One. "No, I am his apprentice. And you are not the first Dark One I have faced" the man tells his foe. The apprentice charges towards the Dark One and swings his sword, but he vanishes into thin air, reappearing behind him. The apprentice tries again, but this time is sent flying back and to the floor with a push of magic. The Dark One then turns his attention to a box in the middle of the room which rests on a stone table. The box is the starry box which Rumple later finds in Storybrooke. As the Dark One prepares to open it, the apprentice warns that he doesn't want to know what he'll unleash if he opens the box. The Dark One removes his hood, revealing himself to be Zoso, and he says the sorcerer should not have put his faith in someone like him. He then takes his dagger and waves it across the box, but is instantly blasted with a protective shield, sending him flying through the air. The apprentice gets to his feet and reveals he isn't the only thing his master has faith in, referring to the magical shield. Zoso is furious that there's an enchantment on the box. The apprentice reveals that no one who has ever succumbed to the darkness in their heart can open it. He tells Zoso to be gone, and with that, he vanishes. "Every Dark One has tried, but no Dark One will ever possess what is in that box" the apprentice says to himself, now alone.
Rumple smiles at his victory.
Back in the present day, in Storybrooke, in Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Rumplestiltskin is stood looking over the very same magical box, once protected by the apprentice. He waves his dagger over the box, activating it. The stars in it start to swirl, releasing a purple cloud and glittering magic. This soon takes the shape of a large blue hat. Inside the hat is a universe-looking center. Thousands of tiny stars are inside it, forming little sparkling clouds. Rumplestiltskin looks down at the powerful magical item before him...and he cannot help but smile.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Emma asks Hook out on a date.
Outside Granny's Diner, Emma and Henry pull up in the former's yellow car. They get out and stand facing the diner, "Are you sure you're okay with this?" Emma asks her son, who tells her that he's not, but he wants her to be happy. He then places his hand on her back and shoves her forward, sending her inside. Inside the diner, Hook is stood playing darts. He throws one and hits a bulls-eye, but stops once he hears Emma enter, questioning if the Snow Queen turned up or if he missed a search party. Emma explains that there's no sign of the ice witch yet, causing Hook to assure her that she'll find her. Emma says she knows, but confesses that's not why she's here. Hook wonders why she is, so she awkwardly answers that she thought about what he said the night before, about her being a survivor, and she realized he's right. Hook says she doesn't have to worry about him and he turns around to throw a dart, but before he does, Emma says she came to ask him out to dinner. This causes him to miss the dart completely, "Shouldn't I bet the one asking you out?" he asks, leading Emma to admit she should've known he'd be old fashioned since he's like 300 years old. Hook points out that Neverland and curses may have given him experience, but he's retained his youthful glow. He tells her he'll accept if she lets him plan the evening, but Emma insists she knows how to plan a date. "You know how to chase a monster, I know how to plan an evening out" Hook tells her, "Well I don't pillage and plunder on the first date, just so you know" she jokingly responds. Hook tells her that's because she hasn't been out with him yet and then says he'll see her tonight. Emma smiles and then leaves the diner. Once outside, she heads to the car and notices something strange underneath it, a large puddle. "The hell..." she mutters to herself, noticing the rest of Storybrooke is completely dry. She then curiously gets in her car.
Captain Hook is no more! Say hello to Captain Hand.
A while later, Rumplestiltskin enters his shop and is shocked to see Hook waiting inside, sitting on the counter, "Making yourself at home, are we?" he bitterly says. Hook reveals that he's come to make another deal, but Rumple says he's not interested, "Oh, you will be" Hook assures him, "Unless you want Belle to learn the truth about your precious dagger" he adds threateningly. Rumple angrily approaches Hook, telling him to tread carefully or he may take his other hand. "It's funny you say that, cause my hand is exactly what I'm here about" Hook stops him, Rumple gives him a look of confusion. A short while later, Rumple places a glass filled with a preserving liquid and Hook's hand on the store counter, "You kept it all these years..." Hook says with disbelief as he looks as his former hand, "Only to remind myself that I should've finished the job when I had the chance" Rumple tells him. Hook asks if he can reattach it, "Indeed, but the question is 'why'?" Rumple asks. The pirate explains that he has a date with Emma and he wants to hold her with both hands should things go well, Rumple sarcastically comments that blackmail brings out the romantic in him, "But this hand may bring out the worst" he adds, confusing Hook. Rumple explains that the hand belonged to the man he used to be, a cunning and selfish pirate, so should it be reattached to the body, there's no telling what influence it can have on him. Hook is silent for a moment but then lets out a chuckle of distrust, he tells Rumple he won't fall for his tricks, claiming nothing can change him back. "Now give me my hand" he says as he removes his hook and threatens Rumple once more. "Very well" Rumple says before waving his hand over the glass. With a simple wave of magic, the hand is reattached to Hook's arm. He smiles as he looks at his new hand, but Rumple simply watches him with a stoic look, "Don't say I didn't warn you" he tells him. Hook ignores this and leaves the shop.
Snow helps search for Anna.
In Snow's apartment, a heavy Census Record book is dropped onto a desk. Snow, who is carrying baby Neal, tells Elsa that it's from the first and second curse, so if Anna's in Storybrooke they'll find some trace of her. An impressed Elsa says the curse is very thorough, "That's just A through E" Snow points out, leading Charming to drop numerous more books. With that, Emma heads down the stairs in her dress for the date, and she asks for honest opinions. Snow and Charming are stunned by their daughter's beauty, "Is that just the corset? Where's the rest of it?" Elsa innocently wonders, "This...is the rest of it" Emma says meekly. An excited Snow puts Neal into his bed and then takes a picture of her daughter. An awkward Emma laughs that she needs her own place, but Charming says to cut her mother some slack as they never got to send her to balls. Emma then asks if they're sure they don't need help, but Elsa explains that her sister put her wedding on hold for her so she doesn't want anyone to stop living their lives on her account. With that, the door knocks. Emma answers it and is stunned to see Hook wearing modern clothes.
Hook is likewise stunned at Emma's beauty. He then reaches out his new hand, passing her a rose. Emma doesn't notice at first, but when her mother points it out, she's shocked. Hook explains that Rumple gave it back, claiming he's changed his ways. Emma wonders what she should call him now, so he tells her Killian will do. Emma tells Killian that they should leave before David gives his overprotective dad speech, but Hook assures him that Emma couldn't be in better hands. "That's exactly what worries me, especially now that you have two of them" he responds, Hook smiles. Emma assures them she can take her of herself and then David asks if they want him to drive. They both quickly leave and once the door is closed, Charming jokingly asks if he was too hard on them. "You should've seen me when Kristoff first started dating Anna, it's the only time in my entire life that I've made someone sweat" Elsa smiles. "Speaking of which, let's see if we can find out what happened to your sister" Snow states. The trio then turn to the books before them.
Anna pays Rumplestiltskin a visit.
In the fairytale land that was, Anna is seen walking through the halls of the Dark Castle, calling out for Rumplestiltskin. As she yells, asking if he's here and stating the door was open, the man himself is sat in his main dining room, sat at a table with a crystal ball. He yells out directions to her and she eventually reaches the room. Once she sees him, she introduces herself as "Joan" and wonders if he can help her. Before he can reply, she notices his scaly skin and asks if there's something wrong with it, however, she soon realizes how rude she sounds so tells him it doesn't look like there's anything wrong with it. Rumple, not paying attention to her gibberish, interrupts her and states her name isn't Joan. "You see, names are my stock-in-trade, dearie, and yours is Anna of Arendelle" he tells her. Anna is silent. He explains to Anna that there's no need in keeping secrets from him as he knows more about her than she thinks. "So...you know why I'm here?" she nervously asks. "You want to know why your parents ventured into the strange land" Rumple reveals in his usual playful manner. Anna explains that her sister thinks its because of her, but she knows she's wrong.
Of course, he offers her a deal.
She asks Rumple if he can help her, "As it happens, your parents paid me a visit in their journey" he explains to her, supposing that when people need answers he's the place to go. Anna wonders what answers they wanted, "Well I can't just tell you, dearie" he says before revealing that he also has a penchant for making deals. Anna happily agrees to make a deal, stating she'll do whatever it takes to help her sister. Rumple giggles manically, saying he loves it when people say "whatever it takes". He then uses his magic to create a small vial containing a liquid. "At the foot of the dark mountains live a very old man, prickly sort, probably eats children for breakfast" he explains to her playfully. He tells her he wants her to put the liquid from the vial into his tea. Anna questions what it'll do to him, but Rumple refuses to answer as it's not part of the agreement. "Speaking of which" he says, conjuring up a contract from magic. "Sign here and I will tell you why your parents came to see me" he tells her, passing the pen "Do we have a deal?" he asks. Anna gives Rumple and the contract a tempted look.
A decision has to be made.
A while later, Anna is stood outside a small farmhouse, contemplating situations in her head as she holds the vial given to her by Rumplestiltskin. The hides the vial away and walks to the house, knocking on the door. An elderly man, the Apprentice, answers, asking if he can help her. A nervous Anna says that he maybe can and asks to come inside. He explains that he just put a kettle on the fire so invites her in for tea and biscuits. She enters the house, spotting the tea and biscuits on the fire. She's surprised to see actual biscuits on the fire so asks him if he doesn't actually eat children. "Is that what they're saying about me these days?" he chuckles before beginning to sweep the floor. "Yes...no..." Anna awkwardly says before apologizing. The old man wonders what brings Anna deep into the woods, so she explains that she's on a quest to help her sister, but she's gotten herself turned around. The old man tells her she's free to stay as long as she wishes, adding that his biscuits are delicious. The kettle starts to whistle, so Anna heads over to it and removes the lid. She pulls out the small vial and looks at it, debating if she should actually put it in the tea, potentially killing the man. She gives one last look at the man and knows in her heart she cannot hurt him, so she tips the vial into the fire and stands up, asking "Do you take sugar?".
Emma and Hook enjoy their date.
Back in Storybrooke, in a restaurant, a happy couple are eating spaghetti together. They pick up the same strand and suck on each end until they both reach in for a kiss. Emma and Hook then enter the restaurant, the latter asking what she thinks. Emma says she's glad that it's not Granny's and then they sit down, Hook charmingly pulling out her chair. He goes on to say that he's only seen her on one date and it was with a flying monkey, so asks if he needs to top it. Emma jokingly comments that the bar was set high as he proposed, but Hook reminds her that he tried to kill her too. Once they're settled, Hook asks if he should order some drinks, but Emma seems hesitant. Hook wonders if this is because he might become even more irresistible, but Emma explains that she wants to stay sober in case the Snow Queen crashes their date. "You still think her being here has something to do with you" Hook points out, but Emma tells him she knows it because there was a puddle next to her car. Hook chuckles at this and tells her that she's come to have a good time and not worry. A smiling Hook then signals over to the bartender, who nods in return.
Hook shows an aggressive side.
Meanwhile, Will Scarlet is sat at the bar. He notices the direction the bartender is looking and is worried to see Emma in the restaurant with him. He downs his drink and walks alongside a waiter, who is headed past Emma and Hook's table. He sneaks past the waiter, but bumps into an oncoming woman, knocking the waiter into Emma's table and spilling a drink down her dress. Will stops to help the fallen waiter as a frustrated Emma attempts to dry up her dress. A suddenly enraged Hook grabs Will by his shirt and demands he apologize to the lady. Emma looks at her date with shock and tells him it's okay. Hook releases his grip and looks with horror at what he just did with his new hand. Emma then notices Will and recognizes him as the thief who took off in the ice cream shop. Before anyone replies, he charges out the door. Emma stands up instinctively to chase him, but stops, reminding herself she's on a date and she won't let someone ruin it. All the while she's talking, Hook is just looking at his new hand with fear. Emma, continuing to talk, points out that he won't escape as there's an ice wall around the town. She soon notices Hook's uneasiness and holds his hand, assuring him it was just a glass of wine. "Sorry love, I don't know what got into me" he says, not removing eye contact from his hand. He begins to fear that Rumple's warning was right.
Regina talks to Henry about Robin.
In the Storybrooke graveyard, Regina and Henry are in the hidden vaults of Regina's family mausoleum. Henry begins listing off a bunch of magical ingredients that lay before him, but Regina warns him to be careful unless he wants to spend his teenage years as a toad. He wonders which will unfreeze Marian, but a frustrated Regina closes the book she was reading, "None of them" she huffs. She confesses that she doesn't think she has anything powerful enough to counteract the Snow Queen's magic, so Henry asks if this is because Robin still loves her. Regina asks who told him that, but he reveals that he knows how this stuff works and he knows true loves kiss didn't work on Marian because he still loves Regina. He goes on to ask if she should be happy about this, but Regina tells him she thinks he's too young to understand.
A goodnight kiss.
Meanwhile, Hook and Emma make their way up the stairs to Snow's apartment. They stop once they reach the door and the blonde tells Hook that the date wasn't bad as he managed to help her forget Storybrooke is under siege from an evil Snow Queen. Hook expresses his worry over the encounter with the thief and apologizes for overreacting. Emma comfortingly tells him it's okay as they hold hands, linking fingers. "You wanna come in and have coffee with my parents, a newborn, and a human icemaker?" Emma jokingly asks to lighten the mood before suddenly realizing she needs her own place. Hook says it can wait for next time, but Emma flirtatiously says she doesn't remember asking. The pirate tells her it's his turn before asking if she'll go out with him again. A silent Emma slowly leans in to Hook...and soon enough the newly formed couple are making out. As they kiss, Hook moves his arms around Emma's back and slowly wakes his way up. Soon enough, as he's kissing Emma, he can't help but glare at his new hand...scared of what it will make him do next.
Snow and Charming pry on Emma's love life.
Emma breaks free from the kiss and turns around, allowing Hook to take back the coat she borrowed from him. They both say goodnight and Emma enters the apartment. Hook is left alone with a look of worry. Once in the apartment, Emma leans quietly against the door after closing it, jumping with fear when she hears her mother ask how the date was from the sofas. She looks over to see Snow and Charming sitting on the sofa, waiting for her. Snow looks excited, but Charming has an uncomfortable look on his face. Snow begins asking a bunch of questions about the date, but Charming says he doesn't want to hear everything. When she asks if there was a good night kiss, he points out that's one thing he doesn't want to know. "I really need to get my own place" she repeats to herself before saying goodnight. As Emma heads upstairs, Snow comments that Emma looks happy. "I guess he really has changed" Charming says with a tone of relief in his voice. "I can hear you guys" Emma calls down from upstairs, silencing both her parents.
An unfortunate encounter.
A little while later, a drunken Will Scarlet makes his way towards the Storybrooke Public Library. He attempts to open the door, but it's locked, "Oh we'll see about that, won't we?" he mumbles to himself before pulling out some pins to unlock the door with. "Blood hell" a voice calls out beside him, catching him red-handed. "That's what I say" Will says quietly before turning to see who it is, it's Captain Hook. Both men are shocked to see each other. Hook advises Will that there's nothing worth stealing in the library, but Will ignores this and continues to attempt at picking the lock. Hook tells Will that he's drunk and he should go home, but Will continuously shrugs him off. Suddenly, the pirate snaps and he punches Will in the face, knocking him to the ground. As Hook stands over the drunken scared mess, he suddenly realizes what he's done and becomes filled with worry. He warns Will that if he tells anyone about this he's a dead man. He then rushes away, going around the corner, and leans against the wall. He grabs his arm and looks down at his new hand, which is now covered in blood. "Blood crocodile was right..." he mutters before looking over to Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer.
Anna realizes her huge mistake.
Back in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin is sat in his dining room, holding the vial he gave to Anna, which is now empty, as she stands before him. He asks if she poured it all into the tea, so she confirms she did. He asks if he drank it, so she tells him he drank every last drop. "Good, then he'll live" Rumple says cheerfully. Not noticing what was said, Anna goes on to ask him why her parents visited him, but she stops when it suddenly clicks. She asks what he meant by "live", so he tells her that he'll live because of the antidote she gave him. She asks what the antidote is for, so he explains it was for a poison. Anna explains that she thought she was giving him poison, but Rumple laughs, telling her the poison is what he took yesterday, "What you had was the cure for that". Anna takes a deep breath and confesses to not giving the antidote, leading Rumple to ask why not in a playfully sulky way, meekly pointing out they had a deal. Anna frantically states they need more antidote and to go back to help him, but Rumple tells her its too late for that. He shows her the crystal ball that is sat before him and she watches in horror as the old man keels in pain before turning into a mouse. "You should'a listened to me when you had the chance" Rumple teases the princess, who continues to watch the mouse through the crystal ball with a look of guilt on her face.
Anna begs Rumple to help the old man.
In the fairytale land that was, Anna is seen quickly running towards the small cottage in which the old man lives. She enters and begins looking for him in the form of a mouse, but she's suddenly stopped by Rumple who magically appears, warning her not to step on him. Anna tells Rumple they must find him and change him back, but he says he can't because he doesn't want to, for the old man was protecting something he needs. "You were the one who poisoned him" Anna says with a look of realization; Rumple laughs. Confused, she asks why he'd send her with an antidote if he needed the man to be a mouse, so Rumple explains that it was only ever about her. "It was all a test?" she asks, defeated. Rumple tells her she performed it admirably and goes on to explain that old man is the first line of defense, for the thing he's protecting is enchanted by a spell that can only be broken by someone who has faced their inner darkness and turned away from it. Rumple gloatingly says he knew she'd wouldn't do it, but this makes Anna smile. She tells the imp that she never faced her inner darkness, because once she met the old man she knew she could never hurt someone to get what she wants, "So I was never tempted by that inner darkness you speak of. In fact, I don't even think I have one. I'm, unlike you, nice" she tells him proudly.
Anna faces her inner darkness.
With a grin, Rumple says he hopes she'll enjoy spending the rest of her life locked in his tower, revealing it was part of their deal before showing her the contract. Anna insists she has to get home to Elsa, but Rumple simply tells her she should have never left in the first place. "Imagine the guilt she will feel when you don't return home from your journey. A journey you only took because of her. She will finally become that monster everyone fears she is" Rumple taunts. He suddenly gasps mockingly, pointing out that the wedding is off. With that, Anna leaps forward and grabs a sword from the wall in the cottage, pointing it at Rumple as she orders him to rip up the contract. Rumple repeats that he can't do that, for the only way she can escape her fate is by killing him. He walks closer and closer to the sword she has aimed at him, "And we both know you're just...too...nice" he taunts her more. Anna stares Rumple in the eyes and stands tall, still aiming the sword at his chest.
Rumple has what he wanted.
Rumple pushes his chest against the sword and he orders her to stab him, tempting her more and more. Anna twists the sword on his chest and an uncomfortable look comes over her face. Rumple repeats for her to do it, but eventually she gives in and drops the sword, falling to the floor. Rumple towers over the crying girl and points out that although she never considered killing the old man, she did just consider killing him. He puts the dagger under her face, catching a tear as it drops, "And now I have exactly what I need" he giggles as the dagger shines. Anna turns to Rumple and angrily tells him she should've known from the moment she met him that he's a monster. She adds that he takes love and turns it into a weapon, but Rumple simply tells her love is a weapon. He stands up and swings his dagger, opening up a trap door in the ground, stating few people know how to wield it. He then begins to descend down a staircase revealed by the trapdoor, leaving Anna to cry by herself.
Baby, I swear it's Déjà vu.
Down below the old man's cottage, Rumplestiltskin walks down the stone staircase, entering the room that Zoso did long, long ago. Once reaching the floor, he walks towards the center of the room, lighting it up with the wave of his hand, setting the nearby torches on fire. Once he reaches the center of the room where the magical box sits on top of the stone pillar, Rumple waves his dagger, which is now enchanted by Anna's tear, over the box in a circular motion. He stares coldly down at the box as a magical puffing and sparkling sound is heard as the box is activated. The Dark One then continues to stare coldly down at the box, which has now revealed the Sorcerer's hat. He has finally got what he wants.
Hook and Rumple have a little chat.
Back in Storybrooke, Rumple is seen leaving his shop, carrying a bunch of flowers. He gets into his car, ready to go home, but he's stopped when Hook suddenly gets in and says he was right. Rumple angrily tells the pirate to get out, but Hook says he doesn't want the hand any more as its taken possession of him. Rumple points out he should've heeded his warning, but Hook angrily demands Rumple return it before he does something he'll regret. Rumple wonders if this is a threat, so Hook reveals that he'll tell Belle the truth if he doesn't cooperate. Rumple then questions if the dagger is truly fake, causing Hook to point out that he wouldn't give the had if it weren't. Rumple tells Hook he switched the daggers back, so he's now lost his leverage. Rumple then tells Hook there's only one way he'll get the hook (which he just conjured up with magic) back, and that's by making a deal. Hook reluctantly asks what he wants, but Rumple tells him he'll find out in due time. The pirate points out he's not daft enough to agree without knowing the terms so he'll find another way to rid himself of the hand. Rumple tells him that's easier said than done and explains that since his magic put the hand on, only his magic can take it off. Hook stares angrily at the hook in Rumple's hands and suddenly pounces forward, thrusting it into his chest. "You'd think you'd have learned the first time you buried that hook in me. It never stings" Rumple says with a smile, unhurt by the hook. He sends the hook away with magic and a scared Hook insists that wasn't him. Rumple tells the pirate he's losing control and next time he might do something to someone that can't be so easily fixed. A broken Hook accepts the deal, saying he'll do whatever it takes. "Oh, I do love it when they say that" Rumple grins before ordering Hook to meet him at the docks tomorrow, for they have work to do.
There's a spy by my window.
The next day, Emma is driving through the streets of Storybrooke in her yellow buggy. She is listening to a radio broadcast talking about the weather. As she drives, the reporter mentions that the temperature is dropping nearer to the ice wall. Suddenly, she loses control of her car as she drives over a sheet of ice. After spinning out of control, she manages to stop, so she gets out, unaware that the Snow Queen is watching her. "I knew it" she says as she examines the ice under the car. She then searches the area and soon finds the Snow Queen walking near a small garden plot. Emma asks her why she's following her, but she simply walks away, leaving a trail of ice behind her. Emma draws her gun and chases after her, following her through the small fenced off garden. She continues to follow the ice trail until she comes out the other side. "The hell..." she sighs as she notices the trail suddenly stops and there's no sign of the Snow Queen. Her phone suddenly rings, so she answers it and tells the caller that it's not a great time. On the other side, Belle tells the sheriff that she needs to come down to the library as they have a situation. The librarian then hangs up and looks down at the ground, where an unconscious Will Scarlet is laid next to a smashed window, clutching a book. A bottle of whiskey and a brick are rested next to him, suggesting he broke in to find the book he's holding.
Hook and Rumple follow a walking broom.
Meanwhile, Hook is sleeping on a picnic bench at the docks in Storybrooke. "Good morning, captain" Rumplestiltskin says as he approaches the sleeping man. "I trust you're ready" Rumple says as Hook wakes himself up. He sits up and tells the sorcerer that he's ready to pay the price and get it over with. "Good" Rumple smiles as he holds his hand out and uses his magic to bring a sweeping broom towards him. Hook wonders what they're going to do with it, so Rumple explains that it'll help him find an old friend. He then drops the brush and watches as it magically stands up on its own. The bristles of the brush take the form of two legs and wooden arms emerge from the handle. The walking broom begins strutting away, directing the men to their destination. "After you" Rumple tells Hook, who stands up and follows the broom. He is then closely followed by Rumplestiltskin.
Anna gets some disappointing news.
Back in the fairytale land that was, Rumple makes his way back up the staircase into the farmhouse, carrying his new item, only to find Anna still sat on the floor. As he closes the staircase doors with magic, the princess stands to her feet and demands he give her what she wanted since she helped him. Rumple goes on to explain that her parents came to him with a problem, her sister, and they wanted something to take away her powers forever. A confused Anna insists her parents loved Elsa, but Rumple points out that it seemed they feared her. He tells Anna she should've known, for they always wished she was born "a bit more...normal". Anna asks if they found what they were looking for, but Rumple explains they didn't, as no one could lay their hands on that kind of magic, "Until now" he says, holding up the box. Rumple explains that the hat inside the box does just this and tells her it was created by a Sorcerer and guarded by his Apprentice. Anna wonders what he'll do with it, so Rumple explains that once its fully charged he'll be unstoppable. Anna says she thought he was already unstoppable, but Rumple tells her there are limits, leading Anna to plead as the apprentice dedicated his life to keep the hat from the likes of him.
Anna gets some leverage.
Rumple mockingly says its a shame he isn't here to stop him, "What if he is?" Anna smiles. She then looks up behind Rumple, to a wooden pillar. The apprentice, in mouse form, is on top of it. The mouse then jumps down onto Rumple's hand and bites him, causing him great pain. Rumple drops his dagger and Anna picks it up instinctively. She points it at him to keep him away...and to her surprise he does stay away. Confused, she asks if he's not going to come closer just because she asks him too, but when Rumple stays silent, she realizes it's because the dagger controls him. "Yes, that's how it works" a frustrated Rumple moans. Anna wonders if this is one of the limits he spoke of, so Rumple answers that he wants to be free of the control and keep his power. Anna explains that she can't let him leave with the box, so demands he give it to her. Rumple does as commanded, but warns that she won't want to be at the other end of the dagger when he gets it back. She then commands that Rumple send her and the box back to Arendelle and demands he can never hurt her, her sister and he has to turn the mouse back into a man. Once ready, a clearly frustrated Rumple does as commanded. He teleports her home using magic, causing the dagger to drop to the floor once she's gone. He quickly picks it up and roars with fury, having lost the hat.
Back in Storybrooke, the walking broom finally reaches its destination as it approaches a small house. Hook wonders who its leading them to, so Rumple explains that its someone who wronged him long ago and must now pay the price. The broom reaches the door and them loses its magic, resting on the wall as a normal broom. Rumple knocks on the door...and the Apprentice answers, he looks terrified. "Hello, old friend" Rumple smiles menacingly before telling Hook to show their host to a seat. Hook grabs the old man and takes him further into the house, placing him down on a chair. Rumple follows, carrying the hat box, and he places it down on the floor before the scared old man. Rumple takes out his dagger and waves it over the box, activating it so the hat emerges. "You have it?" the old man asks, shocked. Rumple says he shouldn't have doubted him, but the old man points out every Dark One tries and every one fails, "It might be time to update the motto" Rumple tells him. The apprentice tells Rumple that although he has the hat, he'll never collect enough power to do what he wants. "Oh I will" he responds confidently, "But alas, you won't be there to see it" he says before turning the hat on its side, exposing the apprentice to the underneath. A powerful vortex opens and sucks the old man inside, much to the horror of Hook, "Where the hell did he go?" he asks as Rumple picks up the hat. "Exactly where I need him" Rumple replies, looking at the starry hat.
Anna and Kristoff are reunited.
In Arendelle of the past, Kristoff and Sven are in the barn as the former attempts to get the seemingly depressed reindeer to eat a carrot. When the animal refuses, Kristoff becomes confused as he loves carrots. "Think maybe he missed me?" Anna calls out from the doorway. Kristoff turns and is delighted to see his wife-to-be. They embrace in a hug and then kiss, all the while being watched and mocked by Sven. "Not now, Sven!" Kristoff scolds him, causing the reindeer to hide his head and give them some privacy. Kristoff notices something wrong with Anna, so he asks her what's wrong. Anna explains that her trip didn't go as planned and Kristoff understands this to mean her parents did leave because of Elsa. Anna points out that her parents were afraid of her and they wanted a way to get rid of her powers, "With this" she tells him while showing the magic box. After Anna over dramatically states this is the worst thing in the world, Kristoff asks what she'll tell Elsa. "I don't know" she replies, shaking her head, terrified.
Hook gets his hook back.
Back in the present, in Rumple's shop, the man himself places the empty jar which once contained Hook's hand on a counter. Hook points out that he fulfilled his end of the deal so demands his hand back. With the simple wave of his hand, Rumple switches back Hook's hand for his hook before telling the pirate that their deal isn't actually complete. "I say it is" Hook states before telling Rumple he saw him use the real dagger, which proves he's lying to Belle. Rumple is silent, "You've got nothing on me" Hook says with a smile of victory. Rumple picks up a videotape from his desk and explains that it's a security tape from the Apprentice's house. He asks Hook how he think Emma will react if she found out what he did to that man, but Hook points out that if he's on the tape then so is Rumple. The Dark One waves his hand over the videotape, "And now I'm not, but you are" he laughs, having altered it with magic. Hook states he only did what Rumple asked so he could rid himself of the cursed hand and become a better man, "Emma will understand that" he says confidently.
Rumple reveals that Hook is still in his debt.
Rumple then reveals that the hand isn't cursed, confusing Hook, who reminds Rumple of what he said. "You were right" Rumple laughs quietly, "Dark One lies, Dark One tricks" he says tauntingly before explaining that the hand is simply a lump of flesh that gave Hook "permission" to be the man who he really is; a ruthless pirate who'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Rumple tells the pirate he did him a favor for reminding him of the darkness within, but Hook states that Rumple knows the darkness will have no problem crushing Belle's heart. Rumple tells Hook that if he goes after his love then he'll surely lose his. He then points out that because Hook threatens his marriage and the only light in his life then he'll forever be in his debt. The pirate goes on to suppose taking himself down with Rumple, but the Dark One reveals he thinks he knows Hook better than he knows himself. After a moment of silence, Rumple tells Hook that they're still in business together, "I think you and I are gonna have some fun" he finishes.
Emma questions Will.
Over at the sheriff's station, Charming and Elsa are working on finding Anna while Emma makes her way over to the newest prisoner, Will, who has just woken up. She asks him if he's going to tell them why he broke into the library, but he plays dumb and tells her he thought it was a poorly stocked pub. Emma angrily tells him that his little stunt pulled her away from an important investigation and ruined her night off so demands he start talking. He explains that all he remembers is running away from her and then celebrating with a bottle of whiskey. "Did you celebrate with all your friends, Alice and the White Rabbit?" she asks, holding up a copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Will's eyes open wide as Emma explains that it was found with him in the library and a page with the Red Queen was found in his pocket. A visually upset Will looks down at the book and page with sadness, but when asked if they mean anything to him, he tells her they don't. The sheriff's attention then goes to his bruised eye and she asks if he knows who gave him it. With that, Hook enters the station. Will sees him but doesn't say anything.
A discovery is made.
Emma turns to Hook and asks where he was, but he apologizes, claiming he only just got the message. As he says this, he notices Will and gets a look of fear as Emma asks the thief who punched his face. Will and Hook briefly look at each other, "It's a blood mystery to me. Your guess is as good as mine" Will replies, remembering the threats. Emma tells Will that if he remembers anything she'll know where to find him. As she walks away, Will angrily asks if he's gonna be locked up for breaking into a library, but Emma snaps that its for crashing her date... "Which turned out pretty good despite the rude interruption" she sweetly tells Hook. She then notices he's got his hook back so wonders what happened, but he simply shrugs it off as Rumple's magic not being all he thought it to be. Charming suddenly speaks up and tells his daughter he needs to talk to her. She tells him to make it fast because she wants to go after the Snow Queen. Her father explains that the name she's been using in Storybrooke, Sarah Fisher, doesn't show up in any census records. Emma wonders what this means, so Charming explains that she didn't come by any curse. Emma asks how she got here, but nobody can answer this, "What the hell does she want with me..." she asks curiously.
Henry comes up with a plan.
In Regina's family mausoleum, the evil queen is sat reading through numerous book when Henry enters to ask her how it's going, "No progress yet" she tells him, disappointed. Henry explains that although he might not understand everything going on with her and Robin Hood, but he does understand something more than anyone else; Operation Mongoose. He explains that they're going to find the author and make him change it, stating he knows someone who might have the answers they're looking for. Regina wonders who he's talking about, so Henry tells her its his grandfather. "David?" Regina asks in disbelief, but Henry explains that he meant Rumplestiltskin. Henry points out that everyone knows Rumple doesn't get a happy ending, but because he's just married Belle he must've figured out how to change the story and he might know who wrote the book. "And I'm the last person he'd ever share the with" Regina realizes. Henry says he'll find out for her, so his mother wonders how, "By going undercover" he responds with a smile.
Rumple gets a new apprentice.
"A job?" Rumplestiltskin asks Henry, who is now in Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer. Henry explains that it'd be something after school or on weekends. He explains that now his father is gone, he realizes Rumple is the closest thing he has to him. Rumple seems touched by this. "But if you don't want me around..." Henry says meekly before heading to the door. Rumple stops the boy and agrees to allow him to work for a few hours a week. He then looks into the back room, where the magic hat is sat, and he tells Henry to stay out of the back room and not touch anything without asking; Henry nods in agreement. "You can be my apprentice" Rumple tells his grandson as he makes his way around the counter. Henry wonders what an apprentice does, "Many, many things" he smiles, "First you can start by sweeping the floor" he finishes, passing him a broom. Henry takes it with a smile and then begins sweeping the floor as Rumple heads into the back room.
Rumbelle shares a moment.
"Sooo, you're sure you don't mind?" Belle asks Rumple, as the couple partake in a walk along the Storybrooke Harbor. The Dark One chuckles, reminding his beloved beauty that he ran the shop many years without her, and he's sure he can manage a few days on his own. Belle is touched by this, and Rumple continues that he knows how important the library is to her, and so he pushes her to get it going again. Belle shakes her head, letting out a sigh; she questions how she ended up with such a wonderful husband. The Dark One feels the need to correct her though, stating that it's he who is the lucky one; and with that, he kisses his beauty of a wife, savoring the moment he has with her. He then instructs she tend to her books, and the brunette smiles as they continue walking.
- The title card of this episode features the walking broom enchanted by Rumple, amidst a snowstorm.
- A scene is cut from the episode in which Regina discusses Robin Hood's commitment to his wife with Mary Margaret, that is later shown in the Previously on... segment of "Breaking Glass".
- The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on August 12, 2014.
This episode received 8.07 million viewers.
The episode received positive reviews from critics.
- In a review from Entertainment Weekly, Hilary Busis notes "If you spent the rest of the hour swooning, though, you may have missed out on the explication of a few crucial plot points. As its name implies, "The Apprentice" focused on revealing why, exactly, Rumpelstiltskin was so tickled to discover that Sorcerer's hat in the house where he and Belle honeymooned in season 4's premiere. As it turns out, the object is more than just a groovily decorated cap—it's also an artifact of immense power that could have enormous implications for the rest of our heroes. Well, that, or it's just another magical doohickey that seems important for a while until it disappears from the narrative without a trace. On this show, anything's possible!"
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN rated the episode 8.7 out of 10, saying "Tonight's Once had a few weak points with characters (mostly Emma) acting dense, but it featured delightful performances, meaningful character moments and developments, and more than a few laugh out loud moments. Basically, it had heart. And further exploration of the Sorcerer's Hat plot added an interesting layer to the story."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.