Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

Nothing Gold can stay.

Rumpelstiltskin finds that out the hard way tonight as he finally, finally gets the opportunity to save himself from immortality and join Belle in the afterlife. In doing so, though, he realizes that the price (there’s always a price!!) is the happiness of Alice, whose pure heart is undeniable. He might have to go back to his usual routine and “spin spin spin” after tonight, but crocodile skin or not, Rumple is not the bad guy anymore. Well, unless you’re looking at it from Regina’s point of view, at least.

Let’s take it from the top.

Rumple begins his mission to reconnect with Belle by visiting his private photo shrine to her. Little does he know, there’s another sly dealer of the dark arts listening in. Dr. Facilier just so happens to be lurking in wait and listening in as he updates her on Gideon’s studies and how much everyone misses her. Facilier says he can hear her, offering to bridge the divide that exists with Rumple talking into the void, so Rumple puts him to the test. His voodoo doll might be able to take down Hansel, but it won’t work on someone with Rumple’s strengths, so he hoists Facilier up by his neck and demands to know what Belle is saying, if he can actually hear her.

Facilier tells him that Belle wants him to hurry up in finding the Guardian — Alice could be the gal, but she needs to be tested for purity of heart. If he doesn’t hurry, he might resort to being a terrible person and risk never seeing her again. Hidden beneath all that family drama, of course, is Facilier’s long-standing threat that he’d like to get his hands on the Dark One’s Dagger and make even worse use of it than Rumple would.

In real time, Weaver and Rogers happen upon Samdi/Facilier’s path of destruction as they find Nick dead in the interrogation room that supposedly no one else has access to. On the one hand, good riddance to bad rubbish, but on the other hand, Weaver knows this inexplicable death can only be due to one thing — magic — which could spell trouble for his hopes of a reunion with Belle as well. Indeed, when he checks the evidence locker for his dagger, all he finds is an empty box. In his mind, it’s obvious what has happened: Facilier has used what magic he siphoned from Anastasia to locate and steal the dagger.

The romantic front is still warming up between Alice and Margot and Jacinda and Henry. While Jacinda and Henry, unbeknownst to them, need to keep a safe distance on account of his curse, Tilly/Alice and Margot/Robin are free to spend as much time together as they like. So, they do, in Hyperion Heights and in Fairy Tale Land, where Robin gives Alice a bracelet that makes her heart soar. Watching it all unfold is Rumple, who wants to find out of if Alice really is the fabled Guardian who can relieve him of the dagger’s burden, but Captain Hook runs interference to prevent Rumple from approaching his daughter. He doesn’t want Rumple burdening her with the responsibility of eternity, and he’s no good to them anyway, since he can’t even break the curse that keeps Hook from even hugging Alice one more time.

Speaking of hexes, Regina is this close to finishing her potion to break Henry of his misfortune, but Weaver wants to get his hands on that vial of magic for his own use. Now that his dagger has gone missing, he believes that’s of much more importance than her silly family reunion — never mind the fact that Henry could literally die if he kisses the woman he loves right now. Regina promises to help him find the dagger, even if it means asking Samdi, whom she’s still got it bad for; but she’s not giving him that potion vial, no way, no how.

Meanwhile, Margot and Tilly have a great date that really shows how similar, and yet very different they are. Tilly’s been hearing voices all day, but Margot thinks a day spent roaming the town is just what she needs to cure her ailment. The two eat candied fruit and visit the library’s travel section (since she couldn’t afford all the globe-trotting adventure Margot has had, she’s had to let books be her transport devices). Margot promises that she’s still got adventures aplenty ahead, and she’s not exactly wrong about that … (Recap continues on next page)

In Fairy Tale Land, Rumple finally manages to sneak in and talk to Alice. She’s been warned by Hook not to speak to him, but c’mon. He’s the mastermind of all-things-temptation and easily outwits the poor girl into hearing him out. He promises her there’s a way to break her father’s curse, and that’s all she needs to hear to follow along with his nefarious plan to entrap Facilier in his own little shop of horrors.

At first, she acts like a mere patron of his little marketplace, asking about listening in on the dead, but Facilier can tell something’s off, and that’s when Rumple arrives to distract him while Alice rips out his heart. Why she goes along with that part is unclear; somehow she doesn’t think stealing someone’s most important life organ is a no-no, but once Rumple instructs her to destroy it so that she can free her father’s heart of its curse, well, she’s out. That, of course, is the whole test, and she’s passed with flying colors. Now, she’s ready to be the hero the world needs, he tells her. And despite everything he’s already tricked her into today, she’s all ears once again.

Meanwhile, Samdi is confronted by Regina regarding the whereabouts of the dagger. She doesn’t care if he took it or why, but she wants him to admit it and then return it, or else whatever exists between them can be no more. As shifty a person as he is, Samdi swears up and down that he doesn’t have it. He’d gladly steal it, of course, and has never made that a secret, but he doesn’t have it now. Overhearing their conversation, Weaver’s not so convinced. He threatens Samdi with a gun and only backs down when he’s reminded that if he kills him like this, he’ll never get to see Belle again. When he declines to pull the trigger, Weaver’s magically whisked to his car to think about his little threat.

All the while, Rogers is doing his detective work the old-fashioned way; unlike Weaver, he’s actually trying to solve the mystery of the dead serial murderer, and he’s got a lead. While the security footage from the station conveniently went out at the exact moment the murder took place, he’s smart enough to snag the same timeline from the neighbor’s camera, which clearly shows Drew/Naveen waiting outside by the car, helping whoever was inside doing the dirty work at the time.

Henry, who’s still a little shaken up about being kidnapped and told, with profuse insistence, that his book world is reality, decides to visit the station and ask Rogers a favor. At first he wants to talk to Nick/Hansel, but since Nick’s no more, he’ll have to settle for a police escort to visit the crime scene that is the guy’s old apartment. He has some questions, and Nick’s home might have answers.

When they get there, Henry finds the paternity test results that Nick showed him, confirming that he is, indeed, Lucy’s father. That’s not all they find, however; Rogers also catches Drew slinking away from the scene, and Drew swears his innocence of Nick’s murder, saying he only visited his home to find out what he might have to protect himself from Samdi (spoiler: not much). (Recap continues on the next page)

Tilly has to make an awkward exit from her date once the voices return, and then Weaver sneaks in to steal Regina’s vial of magic without thinking twice. He empties it onto a map, which reveals that the missing dagger is … drum roll, please … with Tilly in her usual spot by the bridge troll.

In Fairy Tale Land, Rumple is ready to hand over his terrible burden to Alice, but he doesn’t know how. Somehow, Alice can hear the dagger telling it how to be claimed, and she snatches it from his possession right then and there. The room is suddenly swarming with dark magic that’s escaping Rumple’s soul and transferring to the dagger for Alice to adopt.

That’s when Rumple grows a conscience by way of Belle’s voice, which tells him this isn’t the way for him to return to her. Shackling Alice to a never-ending existence that requires her to watch everyone she loves die as she never ages is just as bad as throwing her back into that tower. She can have love, with Robin maybe, and find another way to reunite with her father; and he can shed this hapless existence without costing someone else’s happiness.

Alice promises to help Rumple remember the good side of him so that a return to Belle is never out of reach, and even Hook is grateful for Rumple’s moment of kindness. They shake hands, and even as Rumple skitters off on his way to “spin, spin, spin,” he’s nowhere near the menacing maniac that he’s been since the beginning of this adventure here.

Weaver, on the other hand, well, Regina thinks his decision to deprive her of her only chance to save Henry is about as villainous as it gets. After Weaver finds out that Tilly somehow took it without even knowing she did — acting as an unwitting Guardian in real-time, which explains all the voices that have been plaguing her all day — Regina gives him a piece of her mind. He’s not a good person. He’s still the same old selfish slimeball, and whatever friendship they’d forged is through.

At least one thing seems to be rectifying itself, even without that magic, though. Henry and Rogers seem to both be waking up. Rogers was a little shaken by what Drew said about him not understanding the dangers of his boss, and he’s been even more unnerved by the fact that Nick’s coroner’s report shows his heart having been pierced from the inside. Meanwhile, Henry can’t get over that DNA test and how it proves that Lucy has been right this whole time. If she’s right about that, what else in the book is the truth?

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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