A bird brings Mary Margaret and David together, while Snow fights for her One True Love
Credit: Jack Rowland/ABC

Ah, the three most beautiful words in the English language: “She’s not pregnant.” (Suck it, “cellar door!”) So eloquent! So concise! So easy for a parent to explain to his or her child during family TV hour! With that romantic declaration, Mary Margaret and David’s thwarted courtship is officially back on. Too bad they didn’t have the sense to get a room at Granny’s instead of kissing in broad daylight, where any one of Storybrooke’s other eight inhabitants could see them. But I digress.

Let’s back up to the beginning of the episode, in which Henry and that motorcycle-riding stranger have an incredibly frustrating nonversation. (“What are you doing here?” “Just visiting.” “What’s that?” “A box.” “What’s inside it?” “Just something I need.” Augghh!) We still don’t know Stranger’s name; because he fancies himself a rebel and also gets on my nerves, I’m going to go ahead and call him Holden. As they chat, Regina frowns in the distance and the wind whips around ominously.

At the Apartment of Secret Familial Relationships, Mary Margaret whizzes past Emma, spitting her toothpaste in the kitchen sink (without even rinsing — ew) and claiming that she’s rushing to get to the school science fair. But in reality, MM’s dashing to Granny’s so that she can see David — just as she apparently does every morning at 7:15. Poor MM; that’s both sweet and very, very sad. When Emma catches her mom-roommate in medias stalk, Mary Margaret claims she’s not really a creeper. She just knows David’s schedule by heart and shows up where he’s going to be. It’s not a big deal, guys! Stop looking at her like that!

Mary Margaret’s fairy-tale counterpart is also in a bad place. Just as Snow is about to spear a juicy-looking turkey, Little Red Riding Hood shows up to deliver some awful news: Prince James is going to marry Abigail in just two days. (It must be said that Red is also wearing more clothing than we’ve seen on Meghan Ory all season, and she looks absolutely gorgeous.) Snow’s distraught; she retreated into the woods to try and forget about James, but her seclusion just means now she thinks about him all the time. If only there were some way to banish these feelings, preferably via consulting an unholy imp with poor dental hygiene.

Cut to Snow rowing a boat on a mysterious misty lake. Red has tipped her off — the guy who can help her? Rumpelstiltskin, of course. The more I see of Rumpel, the more I appreciate Mr. Gold. Seriously, what’s up with those goaty noises he keeps making in this scene? In any case, Rumpel has the cure Snow seeks: a vial of freshly made potion that will make her completely forget the man she loves. The Dark One must also moonlight as an employee of Lacuna, Inc. All he asks for in return is a piece of Snow’s black-as-night hair. Uh oh, is Rumpel planning to make some Polyjuice Potion?

NEXT: Regina tells someone else not to meddle, and we all roll our eyes.

Back in Storybrooke, MM is shopping for storm supplies — read: a giant Apollo bar; my kind of supplies — when she accidentally runs into Kathryn, David’s once and current wife. Their respective groceries spill out, revealing that Kathryn is buying an ancient-looking pregnancy test. Oh no! After Kathryn heads to the checkout counter, Regina sidles up to MM and asks her to be discreet about what she’s seen: “Their lives are their business, not yours. Also, my business.” Okay, maybe she didn’t say that last part.

Fairyback: James broods in his chamber as a party rages below. King Charles Widmore enters to give his “son” a talking-to — even though he knows James is in love with another woman, this wedding has to happen no matter what. Once he’s gone, James rushes to his desk and writes a plaintive letter to Snow. He then sends it off with a carrier pigeon, helpfully saying “Find her!” to the bird after it’s already taken off.

Oh, hey, the bird found its way to Storybrooke! No, wait — Mary Margaret’s discovered another chick just like it caught in a net. She brings Bird No. 2 to the animal shelter, where a vet tells her it’s a North Atlantic dove. This species tends to form strong monogamous bonds; if the ladybird doesn’t find her flock again, she may be alone forever. Very subtle, Once. MM resolves to bring her spirit animal back to its airborne buddies, though shelter employee David protests that there’s a storm coming.

We then get a momentary reprieve from the Mary Margaret-David drama when Regina tells Emma to figure out who Holden the Mysterious Stranger is. Because Emma is a brave and independent woman who’s totally not in Regina’s pocket, she agrees to do as the mayor asks.

Mary Margaret drives with the bird to the woods. Though it’s thundering and the road is blocked by an enclosed fence, she’s so determined to help the damn animal that she gets out of her car and sets off to find the flock on foot. This should end well.

Snow White is on a quest as well. After receiving James’s letter — a romantic missive imploring her to come find him so they can be “together forever” — she travels to Charles Widmore’s castle and manages to get inside without setting any unnecessary fires. Of course, minutes after sneaking in and seconds after spotting Charming, she’s seized by a guard and thrown in the dungeons. Maybe you should have kept your disguise on for a few more minutes, Snow. I’m half expecting a hunchbacked beggar to approach her in her cell…but I guess a suspiciously tall dwarf will do.

NEXT: His name is Grumpy, and his disposition is also grumpy.

Snow’s next-door cell neighbor is a guy known as Grumpy. While you’d expect someone so named to be less than forthcoming, Grumpy’s soon telling Snow his sad tale of love and loss: In an attempt to win back the girl of his dreams, he went to work in a diamond mine, then saved all his wages to buy a rock for his beloved. Alas, the rock he was sold had been stolen, and he ended up taking the fall for the crime. Love stinks! Story time is interrupted when a new face enters the dungeon: Stealthy, another dwarf. He sets Grumps free — and after she wishes him luck, Grumpy sighs and opens the door to Snow’s cell as well.

Mary Margaret, meanwhile, is doing some amateur bird watching when — oops! — she falls, nearly hurtling straight into a gorge. As we head to a commercial break, we’re faced with a literal cliff-hanger. Luckily, when we return, MM is saved by her very own Prince Charming. It’s a good thing David stalks Mary Margaret just as much as she stalks him. After the rescue, David manages to convince MM to go with him to find a little old place where they can get together shelter from the storm.

Snow White and the Two (Too?) Tall Dwarfs race through the dungeon, looking for a way out. Grumpy and Stealthy decide to chance sneaking out through the courtyard — but as soon as they emerge, they’re accosted by guards and the king himself. Stealthy tries to make a run for it and is quickly struck in the chest with an arrow, thereby joining the Blind Witch in the Gallery of Characters We Hardly Knew. King Widmore questions Grumpy about Snow, but the prickly pygmy refuses to talk. He’s saved by Snow, who arrives in the nick of time with a torch in hand. Oh good, maybe we’ll get an unnecessary fire tonight after all! Snow threatens to set some hay ablaze, which would apparently cripple the entire stone castle; it’s enough to get Widmore to set Grumpy free.

MM and David find refuge in a nearby abandoned cottage. David must be a Boy Scout as well as a seasoned door-demolisher; soon, he’s built a roaring fire. And soon after that, MM confesses that she still has feelings for David. She’s shocked to learn that the feelings are mutual. In fact, says David, he only goes to Granny’s every morning in order to see her. Aww, romance! But before they can kiss, Mary Margaret stops David in his tracks by saying she knows about Kathryn’s maybe baby. This, apparently, is news to David.

Back at Granny’s, Emma Swan, Law Enforcement Officer Extraordinaire, goes straight up to Holden and tells him he’s “suspicious.” Great opener. He protests that he’s just drinking a cup of coffee: “Wonder what kind of hell I would have raised if I’d ordered a doughnut.” Okay, Holden, maybe you’re okay after all. They banter, and he reveals what’s in the box: an innocent typewriter. Because he’s a writer, and also a Luddite.

Back to our feature presentation. MM discovers that David didn’t know about the possible pregnancy. Realizing that the rain has stopped, she rushes outside with the bird and finds that her flock is still around. Hooray! But while the dove gets to rejoin her mate, Mary Margaret is newly resolved to stay away from David. Even after he argues that he actually can have both her and Kathryn. I guess this is why they call him “Charming.”

Heartbreak is waiting in Fairy World too. King Widmore gives Snow a speech about how love is a terrible disease — for those keeping score at home, this is the third such soliloquy we’ve heard tonight — and commands her to tell James she doesn’t love him. If she doesn’t, he’ll kill the prince. Suddenly, all the fire goes out of Snow and she decides to obey the king.

The following scene is really affecting and well-acted, especially by Ginnifer Goodwin. It’s the hardest thing she’ll ever have to do, to look him in the eyes and tell him she doesn’t love him! Though her eyes are filled with tears, Snow manages to finish the dirty deed and leave James with only the note he sent her. Tissue break, everyone.

David and Kathryn have a heart to heart; she tells him that the pregnancy test was negative, then confesses that she was relieved since they’re clearly not ready for a family. But she still wants to try to make the marriage work. You know what? I like Kathryn — she honestly seems to be handling this situation as well as anyone could. David agrees with his wife — and then, when she notices that it’s almost 7:15, he suggests staying at home rather than going to Granny’s to get coffee. In her own apartment, Mary Margaret is doing the same thing.

As Snow sadly shuffles away from the castle, she’s joined by Grumpy and a sextet of diminutive dudes. He tells her to come with them — she will, evidently, be taking the late Stealthy’s place. Snow moans that her heart has been destroyed and suddenly remembers the Eternal Sunshine potion. But Grumpy cautions her not to drink it; after all, he wouldn’t want his own pain to be erased. “As wretched as it is,” he tells Snow, “I need my pain. It makes me who I am. It makes me Grumpy.” I mean, pain would make anyone grumpy, but it’s nice to know someone has Snow’s back.

A little bit later, Charming gallops through the woods, searching for Snow. But when he gets to her clearing, Red informs him that Snow hasn’t returned since setting off for James’s castle. He resolves to find Snow — he needs to tell her that he’s left Abigail. Yay, love conquers all! Unfortunately, when James does locate Snow, he’ll discover that she has no idea who he is…because she ended up drinking Rumpel’s potion after all. Scratch that thing about love and conquering.

NEXT: Breadcrumb: Why’s MM reading The Mysterious Island?

Which brings us back to Storybrooke, where Mary Margaret and David — both trying to avoid each other — inadvertently meet in Granny’s at 7:45. “How do we stop seeing each other?” he asks her, standing outside the diner-bar-inn. “Apparently, we can’t,” she answers. And then he tells her Kathryn isn’t pregnant. And then they throw all caution to the wind and start smooching, and I daresay their happiness made even my shriveled heart swell a few sizes. Unfortunately, Regina’s parked right across the street, and she sees the whole thing. Ruh-roh!


– As many commentators pointed out last week, Baby Emma was discovered by a 7-year-old boy by the side of the road. Holden the Writer-Stranger could very well be that boy, though I’ve also heard intel that he does, in fact, have a Fairy Tale counterpart. So who could he be?

– The “previously on” package reminds me that the priest who married Snow and Charming looks an awful lot like the priest who almost married Ursula and Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. Though hopefully, Once‘s priest wasn’t quite so…excited about performing his matrimonial duties.

– As she waits for David in the diner, Mary Margaret appears to be reading Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. It’s a story about five people marooned on a strange isle in the South Pacific. Another Lost shout-out, or is there something more here?

– Snow mentions that she helped Red “when no one else would.” Any guesses on what she did? (Maybe some Big Bad Wolf slaying?)

– Rumpelstiltskin tells Snow that he can’t make a man fall in love with her. If he abides by the rest of Aladdin‘s Genie’s rules, he also can’t kill anyone or bring anyone back from the dead.

– Yes, I know King George’s name is actually King George. But I can’t help thinking of Alan Dale as anyone but Charles Widmore. Or, okay, maybe Bradford Meade. And also Caleb Nichol. Basically, anyone that isn’t King George.

– Grumpy loved a girl who was “beautiful as a fairy.” What are the odds she was an actual fairy?

– I’m glad to know that De Beers’ made-up engagement ring tradition has also made its way to Fairy Land.

I snark because I love, people — tonight was very fun all around, especially in comparison to last week’s installment. How did you like tonight’s episode?

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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