Shady Queens Are Out For Revenge On Once Upon A Time
The Evil Queen is back in Storybrooke, and she's brought the Count of Monte Cristo with her. Sure, that's a fairy tale! Why not?
Emma is having visions, accompanied by really inconvenient tremors. A supposed oracle told her she's seeing her own death. Regina removed the Evil Queen from herself and killed her, but that last part didn't take. No one knows that yet except Zelena, who Regina blames for Robin's death, and who is butthurt that Regina thought to kill the part of herself that had the most in common with Zelena.
Here's An Idea
Don't Use Genetically Coded Protection Spells When Literally All Your Relatives Hate You
Zelena accompanies the Evil Queen to Regina's vault. It's protected with blood magic, which seems like a pretty useless method around here, since even though no one knows EQ is back yet, Regina just had a big screaming fight with Zelena who is also a blood relative. I guess Cora's out of the picture for good but still, you know, on principle...
Anyway, EQ used everything she took from the Dragon to get herself to Storybrooke, so she steals some magical items from the vault, and tempts Zelena with the promise of "a sister who appreciates all of your malevolent qualities." Zelena thinks this means bringing Regina back to the dark side.
Don't Look Too Hard At These Extras, They'll Surely Be Recast
Alert Type: We're Gonna Need A Bigger Hotel Alert.
Issue: At Granny's, David and Snow are handing out room keys to the arrivals from the Land of Untold Stories. (The Three Musketeers stand out among the steampunky nonsense, the rest of which is pretty unidentifiable, though someone is carrying a harpoon.)
Complicating Factors: Regina arrives to welcome everyone in her official capacity as Mayor. She's afraid no one will listen to her without the Evil Queen, but Henry reminds her she's a hero now.
Resolution: She manages to give a pretty rousing speech. "You fled to the Land of Untold Stories because you were afraid that whatever was in this book is going to play out. And now that you're here, I'm sure you're scared it will. But what you don't realize is, I'm just like you. I'm getting a fresh start." She assures them that whatever comes next, they'll face it together.
Spoiler: They won't face it together.
Auditions for Oliver! Are That Way, Sir
Situation: A handsome but filthy man arrives at the diner.
What makes it awkward? Henry asks him -- very rudely -- who he is so he can find his story in the book and figure out how to "pick up where you left off." The dude says he's not important enough to have his own story, and Henry of course presses the issue like a jackass.
How is order restored? When Henry turns away the man is gone, but he's left a fancy sealed letter behind.
While we're here: One: How are all these stories in the one book...of fairy tales? Two: Hasn't Henry read this whole thing cover to cover a million times? That was his whole deal in Season 1. And three: How do you pick up where you left off when where you left off is magical medieval times and this is Maine? UGH!
Huge Fan. Love Your Sandwiches.
Who called the meeting? Queen Regina.
What's it about? Reveeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggge.
How'd it go? Yeah, so that guy is defiitely not in a book of fairy tales, but he does have his own story: he's the Count of Monte Cristo. We see him take his first revenge victim at a ball, and after all the other guests sensibly flee, Queen Regina (looking amazing in a period-and-location-appropriate outfit and hair) is waiting for him. (Since it is my convention to use separate names for Storybrooke and Fairy Tale timelines -- except for Snow who screwed everything up by declaring she's no longer Mary Margaret...or when I forget -- "Queen Regina" is how I'm solving the problem of having three Lana Parrillas running around.) She is very impressed that he spent a decade setting this whole thing up. "It's hard to find commitment like that." But the Baron didn't name names, and she has them. In exchange she wants some revenge of her own.
Plot Lightning Round
You've Got Male
In therapy, Emma tells Archie about her vision. She doesn't want to tell her family because she thinks they'll try to get her to stop Savioring, and that's who she is. She wants Archie to help her figure out how to win the fight. Archie explains that that's not really how therapy works, and Emma storms off.
Monte's letter in Storybrooke was to Snow and Prince Charming, inviting them to meet. They're smart for once, and know his story. Regina also knows that she hired him to kill them, so that's what resuming his story means.
They're miffed that that Regina didn't tell them about Monte. "Do you really want to hear about every time I tried to kill you?" Hee. Regina tells them not to worry: She'll just go to the meet instead and call off the hit. Snow isn't too worried anyway, considering it took him this long to find them. Yeah, about that...
It turns out he did find them back in the Enchanted Forest, posing as a vintner named Edmund, the sole survivor of a village attacked by Queen Regina. They invite him back to the castle to be their royal sommelier, and he is quite taken with Snow's handmaiden Charlotte (who...we've never seen before?). The Charmings explain that the best way to get their revenge is "to show the Queen that no matter what she does, we can always find happiness." That seems to be working out great.
Living Well Is The Best Revenge?
Who called the meeting? Regina.
What's it about? She tells Monte she does not want him to kill Snow and David. And while he's at it, he should just forget about his whole revenge plan.
How'd it go? He's unconvinced, mocking her that the Charmings finally got to her, and throws his sword at her head. She stops it with magic, and he runs away.
You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave
Situation: Emma tries to take David and Snow out of town to protect them from Monte, but the car crashes into a force field at the town line.
What makes it awkward? It's the same spell that was used during the First Curse, and since the only way to cast that is with items from Regina's vault, and that was sealed with blood magic, Regina accuses Zelena.
How is order restored? It's not, really. Zelena magics away in a huff. Before long, everyone will know who really cast the spell, but the damage is done.
Agraban, You Say? Surely That Won't Be Relevant!
Who called the meeting? Monte.
What's it about? He checks in to report on his progress to Queen Regina.
How'd it go? She's pleased, and gives him Agraban viper venom with which to poison their wine. It's slow and painful. Monte notes that the Charmings have shown him nothing but kindness, and asks why she wants them dead. She says it doesn't matter if he wants his revenge.
Fifty Shades Of Nope
Who called the meeting? Rumple.
What's it about? He's annoyed that he spent so much time training Regina to be evil if she's just going to have someone else do her dirty work for her. Even if he did put a protection spell on the Charmings so she can't hurt them, he also gave her the Dark Curse so she could hurt them elsewhere, and she's messing with his master plan.
How'd it go? Regina doesn't care. She's going to get what she wants and she's going to do it her way. She put the same protection spell on Monte so Rumple can't hurt him. Rumple...sniffs her? It's super-weird?
Plot Lightning Round
Beauty And The Reformed Pirate And The Other Beauty And The Revenge-Seeking Count (Tale As Old As Time)
Having left Gold, Belle needs a place to stay, so Killian offers her the Jolly Roger. She'll have the whole boat for herself so her wig can have its own room. He feels guilty about trying to kill her, and molesting her, and shooting her. She's totally bygones about all of this, but he's not ready to forgive himself yet and this hospitality (plus risking Gold's wrath) is a step on that path.
Gold catches the Evil Queen in the pawn shop having stolen a coin. He'll give it to her if she agrees to leave Belle and Morfetus out of whatever she has planned. "Are you sure that's all you want? The tales in the Land of Untold Stories aren't the only ones that never played out." Seriously, where is this icky sexual thing between these two coming from?
Monte poisons the Charmings' wine, but Charlotte is leaving the castle to care for her ailing mother and so she's been invited to dinner. He can't bring himself to murder her because she looks like his dead fiancee, and insists on getting a wine more suitable to the occasion, sparing them all.
They're Cousins! Identical Cousins All The Way!
Alert Type: Overacting Twin Alert.
Issue: In the woods with Henry, Regina is freaking the fuck out that the first story can't play out like this after she promised everyone they'd be fine. They find Charlotte's body, clearly poisoned with the viper venom.
Complicating Factors: When Regina touches Charlotte, she gets zapped, which only makes her more tense, so she's not in a great place when the Evil Queen appears. "The handmaiden's story finally caught up with her. Just like yours is catching up with you."
Resolution: Regina tries to zap her but Charlotte's cloak was "laced with a magic dampening spell." EQ isn't too pleased about having been tossed aside. And she doesn't leave things to chance: She has Monte's heart and has been controlling him all along.
Spoiler: Regina and Henry aren't the only ones learning this at this moment.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Monte vs. The Charmings
At the docks, Snow and David try to talk Monte/Edmund down. None of them wants to hurt each other, but with the Queen in control Monte doesn't have any choice, and the Charmings have to defend themselves. Monte cuts a rope and drops some barrels in a net on the Charmings, knocking them out.
Winner: Monte, but he feels pretty bad about it.
Buyer And Cellar
Who called the meeting? Rumple.
What's it about? Getting the Count out of the way.
How'd it go? Rumple intercepts Monte in the wine cellar and asks why he didn't carry out his task. Monte explains that he'd be no better than his enemies if he killed Charlotte just to get his revenge. Snow and Charming don't deserve to die either, so he's abandoning this whole plan. Rumple has to ensure that Monte doesn't change his mind, because "in order for my plan to work, I need Snow White and Prince Charming alive and procreating." He teleports Charlotte, who he's poisoned, to the wine cellar with them, and offers to send her and Monte to the Land of Untold Stories, where her story -- and the poison -- will stop.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Monte vs. Regina
Monte is about to kill the Charmings when Regina intervenes. They fight for a bit and Monte is winning. Regina tells Henry to call Emma but the Evil Queen has enchanted cell phones. LOL. Monte disarms Regina and heads back to the Charmings, leaving Regina no choice but to throw her sword at his back.
Winner: Regina, but she feels really bad about it.
Wrap It Up
The Evil Queen taunts Regina that she should have found a third way, and Regina realizes that killing the Charmings was never her goal, it was forcing her to kill Monte and unleash her dark side on EQ. She warns that Regina herself will destroy everyone's happy endings. "The people from the Land of Untold Stories aren't the only ones with tales they don't want told. And when your stories finally play out, I'll just sit back and watch you tear yourselves apart."
Henry thinks he should have known that "Operation Cobra: Part 2" would be more complicated than he thought "because it's a sequel and they're always more evolved than the original." Okay, a) that's not true; b) how old is this kid now and why is he still doing these stupid names; c) this isn't Scream; d) shut up, Henry. Killian has no idea what any of this means, which is cute.
Henry is correct when he points out that the First Curse pulled people from stories they were happy living, whereas these characters had run from theirs. They need to find out why they ran.
David sees an envelope with his name on it. The coin is inside. It freaks him out and he runs outside to find the Evil Queen waiting. The coin had belonged to his father, and EQ uses it to plant doubt about whether his death was an accident.
EQ visits Zelena and thanks her for not spilling the beans to Regina about her arrival. She brought her along on the vault heist as a test. She's the sister she really wants anyway. "Regina is quite literally the lesser of two evils." You have to appreciate a woman who can pull off this outfit and punctuates her dad jokes with a cocktail shaker.
Emma apologizes to Archie for her behavior at their appointment, but she still can't tell her family about the visions. He's heard about the Queen's arrival ("Bashful is my 4 o'clock and he likes to talk about current events before diving in.") and asks if that's what's really bothering Emma. She says that Regina wasn't with her family in the vision, and she's afraid that's who's in the hood.