ABC/Jack Rowand

The glass slipper shatters

October 10, 2016 at 06:34 PM EDT

For starters, worlds collide as they so often do on this show when Ella accidentally makes auto-besties with Princess Snow by being clumsy-footed in those awkward kitten heels (and the audience gets a clever fourth wall-ish wink about why we can’t call Cindy’s prince Charming because that name’s already taken, thankyouverymuch). More importantly, instead of flitting away as the clock strikes midnight for fear of her guise coming undone before the prince’s eyes, she actually leaves out of embarrassment because her wicked stepmother gamely convinces her that the prince only pretended to have eyes for her because he could see right through her, and everyone’s in on the joke except Ella. Ouch. It only bolsters her stepmother’s terrible story that the prince is spotted giving a rose to her seemingly also evil stepsister Clorinda, so that glass shoe on the staircase thing takes a dark turn indeed.

Charming’s also dealing with some inner turmoil as he decides to track down the origin of his father’s coin. Rumple’s got some information to share, but, as always, there’s a price for it. Thankfully, it’s not too onerous a task; all he has to do is deliver an audiotape to Belle on Rumple’s behalf, and whether she listens to it or not is up to her. (Spoiler alert: She does, and in it, Rumple’s putting on his best Jamie Fraser from Outlander impression with a sweet story for their bairn-to-be. D’aw.)

The twists continue in Ella’s backstory when we find out that Clorinda wasn’t really so bad after all. Just as Ella’s about to take leave of her cruel family with the special key that unlocks a portal to the land of wonderfully pure imagination and time-killing, Clorinda fesses up that she’s not after the prince’s hand at all. In fact, the gent she’s really set her eyes on is his foot-servant, Jacob, who’s asked her to marry him. The prince wasn’t giving her his rose as some Bachelor-esque gesture; he was merely passing along a message from his pal.

When we come back to present-day Ashley, as she’s toting a rifle on the docks, she’s not out for revenge against her former step-sister, as everyone thought. Quite the opposite, actually. As it turns out, it’s she who committed the biggest wrong against Clorinda by spilling the beans on her romantic getaway locale to her stepmother, who decidedly does not approve of her daughter ending up with the likes of him. To be fair to Ella, her confession of Clorinda and Jacob’s whereabouts was under threat of glass slipper murder, which happened anyway, but it’s not like she didn’t try to stop stepmother from getting in the way of their nuptial plans. It’s just her stepmom is so gutting with comments like, “You look like a trash bin and have the education of my cat,” in response to Ella’s suggestion that she could marry the prince and bring their family into money and esteem once more.

Speaking of sisterly drama, Regina is none too thrilled to discover that her not-better half, Evil Queen, has already got her claws in Zelena — having even offered up a priceless family heirloom to the baby as a token of solidarity. But Zelena’s sorry-not-sorry about making nice with Evil Queen because she’s still not totally thrilled that Regina ripped her own personality in half to get rid of the parts that resembled the Wicked Witch she calls sister.

Meanwhile, the Evil Queen does her best to eliminate the threat of Emma Swan’s magic coming into use by taking her and the boys off the proverbial “chess board,” and in another Cinderella-centric flashback, we watch as stepmother removes herself from the chessboard of her own life … with a heartbroken Clorinda in tow as she steps through the magic key portal, leaving Jacob to wallow in his loneliness without her.

Ashley eventually finds Clorinda hiding out in a pumpkin patch, but she’s not alone. She’s got wicked stepmother with her, and what’s worse is that all this time has allowed her stepmother to fill Clorinda’s head with stories of Ashley/Ella’s betrayal that day at the castle tower. Clorinda wants some homegrown revenge, which involves putting a stop to Ella’s happy ending by blunt force. See, the prince didn’t care that Ella was a nobody in rags or that her proof shoe had been shattered; he wanted to make her a princess, and so he did, but Clorinda’s spent this whole time pining for Jacob and what could have been for her.

Good thing the ground they’re standing on just so happens to belong to Jacob, and he’s still got a thing for Clorinda, because otherwise this could’ve ended badly. Oh wait. That’s right. Stepmommie dearest doesn’t give a Gus’ butt about Jacob, and she still wants her justice for not becoming the Queen Mom (think Cersei Lannister levels of power-hungriness, but without the haircut here), so she stabs Ashley anyway. Thankfully, Emma’s able to pull herself together long enough to heal the wounds, and voila! Evil stepmother finds herself working as a farmhand, and all is right in the world again.

Well, except for the fact that David/Charming finds out that his dad was actually murdered way back when. He assures Snow he’s got too much to live for to go off some epic revenge spree, but even he doesn’t believe that. Oh, and the Evil Queen has just freed Hyde from his shackles so that he can help stop all that pesky progress on figuring out how she got back.

But back to the happy bits. Emma musters up the courage to ask Hook to move in with her, which he accepts, and Dr. Jekyll finds a new friend in all-things-nerdy in the form of Dr. Whale (formerly known as Frankenstein), who’s got all the lab stuff a guy could want and whose only apparent hang-up is a peculiar sense of protectiveness over the contents of his fridge.

Episode grade: B+

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