John Doe finally makes his choice. Also -- dragons!

By Shaunna Murphy
April 30, 2015 at 08:41 PM EDT
Kharen Hill/ABC

Why do Ginnifer Goodwin’s tears always make me drop my innate snarky cynicism and hug whatever fluffy stuffed animal is waiting nearby? When Margene Heffman had to give up her fledgling jewelry business on Big Love, I was this close to marching over to Utah to teach that no-good Bill Henrickson a lesson myself. I even wanted her to seduce Justin Long in that horrible hot mess He’s Just Not That Into You, which probably makes me insane. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that Goodwin is an impossibly likable actress, so watching her heart break last night was an emotionally troubling experience. I’ve got your number, John Doe David Nolan.

Anywho, the opening credits for last night’s Once Upon A Time included a dragon, so there was no way that this wasn’t going to be a top-notch episode. We also had a visit from the phenomenally petrifying Alan Dale, and that MacCutcheon Scotch whiskey his Charles Widmore loved oh-so-very-much. $120 a glass! But the episode ultimately belonged to Josh Dallas’ Prince Charming/David Nolan, who wound up being not quite as princely as we initially thought.

We began at John Doe’s welcome home party. Except now his name is officially David Nolan, so I guess we began at David Nolan’s welcome home party. It was a rager, but all David could do was pout because Mary Margaret “lost her invitation.” Kathryn tried to jog his hazy memory by mentioning a mini-windmill that used to sit in their front yard, while Henry attempted the exact opposite.

According to Henry, the reason that the curse was not affecting David — the reason he still loved Mary Margaret — was that his amnesiac brain couldn’t handle it. Everyone else’s brain was filled with fake stories, but in David’s they just wouldn’t stick. If Henry is right, and it would certainly appear that he is, then Kathryn is officially exonerated of any guilt. In her mind, she really did lose her beloved husband, who was now running around town with a beautiful brunette. Lucky for her, her new “friend” Regina was on the case.

David managed to escape the festivities, and he found his Mary Margaret inexplicably hanging a birdhouse in a tree in the middle of the night. Seriously, who does that? It’s dangerous, and could definitely wait until morning. He told her that he loved her, and that he was officially choosing her over Kathryn. The David who married Kathryn was a stranger to him, while the David who was here today was permanently stuck on Mary Margaret. She was undoubtedly thrilled to hear this, but held her cool. Because, you know, he’s married.

NEXT: Charming dies. Just kidding?

In Fairytale, Prince Charming was fighting a battle of a different sort. Charming ass-kicked and eventually slew an evil baddie with a particularly nasty-looking weapon, to monstrous applause. His father, King George (Dale), was thrilled to see his son slay this seemingly unkillable creature, but King Midas was still unsure. Could this handsome young lad really slay a dragon? “Do fairies sprinkle dust?” George replied. “Do trolls live under bridges?” Ha, I love that this is Fairytale’s equivalent of “Is the Pope Catholic?” Fairytale is a wacky place, y’all.

George and Midas struck a deal — if Charming could kill this ridiculously unslayable dragon, then his father’s kingdom would be showered with gold. A fair trade, but Charming was hesitant to accept his knights’ heavy praise. “Just because I was easily able to kill this brute doesn’t mean…”

Holy crap! The previously killed “brute” in question sprung back to life, stabbing Charming right through the heart. He was dead, dead, dead. At the funeral, King George decided to skip mourning for his son in favor of stressing out about cash flow. Midas apparently missed the news of Charming’s death, and if he found out, their lucrative deal would be over. I thought this was strange as Midas had only left the scene about 20 seconds before Charming’s death, and he surely couldn’t have missed it. But hey, let’s suspend our disbelief.

Rumpelstiltskin arrived to creep us out and steal the scene, as usual. He even showed us his jazz hands! Wonderful. “So this is how you treat my gifts,” he giggled over Charming’s lifeless body. “You really must be more careful.” We then learned that King George and his now-deceased wife couldn’t have children, so Rumpel, the adoption agent of the rich and famous, gave him Charming. Rumpel couldn’t bring Charming back to life, but he could find Charming’s twin brother, even-more-Charming, for a price: the location of the Fairy Godmother Rumpel killed two episodes ago. He needed her wand, and now I’m hoping that another Rumpel-centric episode will come quickly so we can find out what he needed it for. (Rumpel-centric episodes are quickly becoming the John Locke-centric episodes of Once Upon A Time. Luckily, we still don’t have a Kate.)

Speaking of that other flashback-focused ABC show, Mary Margaret and Emma drowned their sorrows in the Widmore-approved bottle of of MacCutcheon. Mary Margaret wanted to hook up with David, but Emma assured her that this was a terrible idea. “If you think something you want to do is wrong, it is,” she said. “You have to stay strong, and he has to figure out his life.” Hilariously, David figuring out his life was not going to include sex with Kathryn. She tried her best moves that night, to no avail. “I was going to go to bed,” she cooed. “Do you want to join me?” Errr. “Why don’t we just sit and talk some more?” he replied.

NEXT: Love games

The next day, Mary Margaret was still in agony over her screwed-up love life. And to make things even worse, Dr. Whale interrupted her breakfast to act like a cocky jerk. “I heard you resigned,” he said. “I hope it wasn’t because of me.” Say what? “Our date. I never called you after.” Mary Margaret looked at him like he was ridiculous, which he is. (Also — do we assume that Dr. Whale is the Whale from Pinocchio? This is the most logical-slash-obvious guess, but it’s also a hard sell for two very important reasons. One is that we haven’t seen Dr. Whale interact with Hopper or Marco, and two is that the whale from Pinocchio is a whale.) Regina showed up to further ruin her peaceful meal with some carefully worded threats. David had apparently left Kathryn, and Regina was fightin’ mad. She defended the sanctity of marriage, and warned MM that bad things would happen if she hooked up with David. “So before you do something that can’t be undone, let him remember who he was,” she sneered.

Unfortunately, David wasn’t making this easy. He showed up to Mary Margaret’s classroom, where he again professed his love. At this point, Mary Margaret was wavering. He asked her to meet him at the troll toll bridge at eight. If she didn’t show he would know it was over. Mary Margaret ran to Emma to see what she should do, and this time Emma actually told her to go for it — he had already left his wife, and more importantly, it would piss off Regina. David anxiously stared at the clock, awaiting MM’s final decision.

Back in Fairytale, our Charming laboriously labored on his mother’s farm. Mother wanted to set him up with a local lady for financial reasons. The optimistic Charming insisted that he needed to marry for love. “You can’t have everything,” she sighed. “Perhaps he can!” said Rumpelstiltskin, who again appeared out of nowhere with a wonderfully girlish giggle. He offered up the dragon-slaying deal, which Charming hesitantly accepted. He was no warrior, though a mother-loving farmboy could maybe do just fine.

Lucky for us, the dragon-slaying sequence was actually pretty cool. The original plan was to have Charming stand by while his knights did all of the work, but things changed when the knights were burned alive one by one. Charming masterfully led the beast to a narrow canyon in the rocks, where he was able to trap and eventually behead him. Midas turned the head to solid gold, and King George was eager to accept their prize — even more gold! Tons and tons of gold! Unfortunately, Midas had a different plan in mind. The whole dragon thing was actually a cruelly elaborate test designed to find the perfect mate for his daughter — Kathryn. Charming, who still wanted to marry for love, told George that he wouldn’t do it. “Marry this girl or I’ll kill you and your mother,” he replied. This made Charming’s decision rather easy. Mom wins every time.

My only question is this — why haven’t we seen Midas and/or George in Storybrooke? They are both pivotal pieces to the puzzle over in Fairytale, and seem to be perfect candidates for Regina’s band of ne’er-do-wells. I assume we’ll be seeing more of Dale in the near future, so let’s hope they come up with something juicy for him over on our side.

NEXT: Windmill, windmill for the land

When the big night finally arrived back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret decided to wait at the bridge for her lov-ah after all. What joy! Unfortunately David had not been awake for very long, and his brain was still a bit fuzzy. He got lost on the way to the bridge, running right-smack into Regina. “So you made your choice?” she asked. He said yes, of course, but he needed some help finding his way. Regina pointed him right to Mr. Gold’s shop, where you knew things were about to go horribly wrong. I noticed Aladdin’s magic lamp and a set of teacups that probably belonged to Alice, but David could only stare at the windmill that used to live in his front yard. Crap. “Charming!” Gold squealed. David agreed. “This belonged to me,” he said in a semi-trance. Then — “I remember!” And just like that, David is cursed like the rest of them.

He arrived at the bridge, where Mary Margaret was eagerly anticipating a romantic evening. She could tell right away that something was up, and it was heartbreaking. “I remember everything,” he said. “….And you love her,” she replied. He said no, but he knew he loved her once, and now he had to honor that. It was simply the right thing to do. “The right thing to do was not to lead me on,” Mary Margaret said. She turned around and left in tears, and my heart broke. Seriously, how smokin-hot is their chemistry right now? Maybe it’s because of those rings: In Fairytale, Charming’s mother said that “true love follows this ring wherever it goes,” and David was clearly still wearing it over in Storybrooke. Hmm.

Mary Margaret ran straight to the diner, where everyone in Storybrooke hangs out at least three times a day. There she ran into Dr. Whale, who offered to buy her a drink. “You can buy me two,” she responded. I don’t like where this is going.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Emma cruised around in her fancy cop car, unhappily working the night shift for hipster Sheriff Graham. (His excuse? Volunteering at the animal shelter.) She conveniently passed Regina’s house at the exact moment when Graham jumped out the window, presumably after sex with Regina. Emma was rightly grossed out, and concerned for Henry. This showed us that her motherly instincts were finally kicking in, but also that she was sort of crushing on Sheriff Graham. “This is disgusting,” she said. “I do work at the animal shelter,” he replied sheepishly.

In Fairytale, true love fared much better. Charming was all set for his wedding to Kathryn, known here as Abigail. She was a miserable human being, so Charming didn’t look pleased when it was time to leave for Midas’ palace. “I thought we might take the scenic route,” he said, trying to delay the inevitable. “Smile son — you’re on the road to true love!” King George replied. At this point it became crystal-clear that this was the very same scenic route that would lead Charming to Snow White, who was waiting sneakily in her tree. So things are truly terrible over in Storybrooke, but hey, there’s always the fairy tales. Because this can’t be all there is, right?

So, viewers — what did you think of tonight’s episode? Were you happy with Charming’s backstory, or were you hoping for some more “Oh my God” moments that would add to the show’s mysterious mythology? Where do you hope to see Alan Dale in Storybrooke? Can you believe that MacCutcheon Scotch whiskey costs $120 a glass? Sound off in the comments!

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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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