When we last left the denizens of Storybrook, they were reeling from the death of Graham/Sheriff/Huntsman. Murdered in cold blood by Regina/Evil Queen.
But this episode is clearly Rumpelstiltskin’s episode, and I couldn’t be happier. Let the David Bowie (whose birthday is today, incidentally) references fly! BTW, the soundtrack to this episode is particularly good, kudos for the Sonic Youth song !
We open to R. (I don’t want to type his long-ass name every time) spinning. He lives in a hovel and you can hear screaming outside. We see soldiers taking all the children away, and some crazy ass sorcerer holding the town at bay while the soldiers do it. It is clear that the next time they come they will take R.’s son. Both of them are terrified.
Cut to Storybrook
Emma is summoned by Mr. Gold, who just talks about the Sheriff and how much he will be missed. He tries to get her to take his belongings, but she refuses until he presses the point with some walkie talkies for Henry. He also reminds her that the Sheriff’s job is now hers by default. She acts like she doesn’t want it, but you can tell she does. It is also clear that Gold is pushing her toward Henry.
Emma gives Henry the walkie talkies. They talk about Graham’s death some, and Henry is visibly shaken. He tells her he wants to cool it with the covert stuff. Henry also says Gold makes Regina look like Hello Kitty (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist).
Back at the Police station, Emma is about to put on the badge when Regina shows up, and after a big scene of two stepping, Regina wrests the badge away from Emma. Cut to Emma listening to SONIC YOUTH and drinking...GOOOOO EMMMA!
Mary Margaret arrives in one of her do-goody moments and gets Emma to admit she wants the badge back. Just then, a convenient knock sounds at the door and Mr. Gold, our resident Bad Batz Maru (okay I’m done with the Sanrio references), shows up. He says he has found a loophole in the town bylaws and that if she still wants to be the Sheriff they can set up an election. She agrees.
Back to R.-land in the next scene:
R. and son run to avoid the soldiers, but they are caught. The soldiers humiliate R. by telling his son that R. is a deserter, coward and a liar, and then they make him kiss their boots. R. is treated cruelly and humiliated, but the son doesn’t care, since it’s clear he loves his father. Enter Old Man (played by Brad Dourif of LOTR and Deadwood fame; if he drops the F-bomb I’m going to die) who helps R and son home.
R. offers Old Man some soup and they talk. They discuss the power of names and how R. can regain his personal power by taking it from that Dark Sorcerer guy. Old dude tells R. about a dagger with the dark one’s name on it. If R. can take it out of the castle and kill the Dark One with it, then he’ll have limitless power. R. looks confused, he seems like sort of a simpleton.
This is the modern world...
Emma confronts Regina and tells her about the loophole, and that there will be an election for sheriff.
Regina appoints Sidney Glass (the mirror) as Emma’s opposition. Sidney looks shocked, and Regina looks scared.
Regina goes to see Mr. Gold, who lets her know that he’s in Emma’s corner. More two stepping and some name calling.
Cut to the cafe, where Henry is reading a smear campaign article about Emma. He’s not buying into it, but it’s clear it’s hitting all the highpoints of Emma’s somewhat questionable life. Again, Henry warns about Gold’s evil ways.
Emma pays a visit to Regina, and while they are hurling insults at each other a fire erupts in Regina’s house. The Mayor is hurt, and demands Emma save her. Emma does, because frankly that’s what reasonable people do.
Back to R., who is talking to his son about his plans to kill the dark one and take his power. R wants desperately to be all powerful to prove to his son that he is a good man. You can see him nearly drooling over this power. The son doesn’t like it, but stands behind his father.
Hooray for Emma, she has saved the Evil Queen’s bacon, but EQ is not grateful, but whiny and complaining. The townsfolk are excited, though, and calling her names like HERO and SHERIFF. Emma recognizes a smell in the fire debris—a smell she last smelled, ah yes!, when she was visiting Gold in his shop. She realizes he set the fire and goes to confront him.
He doesn’t outrightly say he did, but his smile says “Yep I did it, what are you going to do about it?”
We next see R. and son setting fire to the castle so that R. can run in and get the dagger. He finds it easily and looks to see the Dark One’s name, which is, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Zoso (h-huh like Jimmy Page’s name on that Led Zep cover; I faint and miss the rest of the episode. OK, not really, but seriously writers—come on!)
The day of the sheriff’s debate comes and we see Mary Margaret run into Princely guy, they talk awkwardly and say nothing, MM walks away with a sad.
Then MM goes to talk to Emma. They have a deep talk about Emma’s feelings for Henry and how she wants him in her life, and wants him to be proud of her. She realizes what she must do.
R. has got the dagger and he is summoning the Dark One. When the magical menace arrives, it is clear that R. doesn’t really have him under his power. The Dark One is taunting R. and calling him names, so R. stabs him just as planned.
But WAIT—the Dark One is the Old Man who told R. about the dagger to begin with! As he lays dying he explains that he couldn’t stand his life anymore and this was they way he tricked R. into freeing him and taking his place. Old guy dies and R. is visibly upset. We can see R. turning “gold” before our very eyes. Just before Old dude dies he whispers “all magic comes with a price...” Hey, haven’t we heard that before? (cue ominous music)
Debate starts, and Mr. Glass is all smiles and kindness, while Emma is serious and uncomfortable. She stands and tells all of Storybrook that Mr. Gold set the fires to “help her win” so people would overlook her shady past. The town is shocked into silence, and Gold skulks out. Regina looks pleased with herself.
A few minutes later, Emma is in the cafe drinking when Henry shows up and right on his tail are Regina and Glass. Regina tells Emma she won as sheriff because the town loves that she stood up to Gold. Regina warns Emma that Gold makes her look like a kitten. Emma looks uncomfortable.
Back to R., whose son is being carted off by the soldiers. R. shows up all gold and crazy looking like he stepped off the cover of Ziggy Stardust or something. He humiliates the soldiers and almost makes them pee their pants with fright. Then in a fit of rage he brutally kills them all. Son is terrified, and we see the Birth of Rumpelstiltskin.
Gold comes to see Emma, once more congratulating her for becoming sheriff. He tells her he is glad his plan worked, because he knew that the town would love her standing up to him. She is aghast, and realizes that she has become his tool (in more ways than one, people!). He leaves snickering and she is worried.
He reminds her of the favor... It’s coming! Muahahahahaha.
When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.