Now that Henry (Jared Gilmore) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger) can make contact in the “Flaming Disco of Death,” Emma and Mary Margaret decide to ask for help dealing with Cora.
Rumplestiltskin provides just the thing. He knows how to immobilize Cora (Barbara Hershey) with some magic squid ink (yes, squid ink) that’s been left in his jail cell in the Enchanted Forest.
The task of getting the information to Aurora proves too dangerous for a kid, though. David (Josh Dallas) volunteers to take the Sleeping Curse so he can go instead. In a huge leap of logic; he figures that Snow will be waiting in the room instead of Aurora.
Alas, though, when Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming meet, they can’t actually touch one another. Unable to receive true love’s kiss, David now appears to be trapped by the Sleeping Curse until Mary Margaret gets back to Storybrooke.
Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Cora captures Aurora to use as a trade for the compass. But Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) lets Aurora go. He explains to her that he still wants to ally with Emma.
But when Aurora gets back to the others, it is revealed to the audience that she is under Cora’s control. Hook stole Aurora’s heart and offers to let Cora use it to spy on and/or manipulate the girls.
Hook’s changes of sides come fast and furious. On the recent trip up the beanstalk, we started to believe him even knowing we shouldn’t. But now, when it becomes clear he is manipulating both sides, we are reminded that the only loyalty Hook truly has is Hook. Where will he end up? With whom? And which of his words, if any, are true? And why do we care so much?
Charming and Snow’s brief meeting in the in-between was sweet and sad. The running theme of their relationship being nothing but reunions and separations is so tragic!
In a nice contrast with Hook’s return to villainy, both Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Regina really show their softer sides. Regina’s (Lana Parilla) honest attempt to avoid returning to her magic addiction for Henry’s sake was especially poignant.
The episode wisely chose to lose the flashbacks and multiple storylines this week. As we barrel toward the winter finale — and hopefully a resolution to the “Lost in Fairytale Land” arc — this was a smart move. Stay focused, writers, we’re almost there!
And finally, “Condiments are this world’s most powerful magic.” Best line of the episode!
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Zombies? WTF? That thread came out of nowhere and went nowhere. Fortunately, Cora’s undead weren’t interesting or scary. But why put them in the opening credit sequence if they were a throw-away bit?
Aurora really can’t do anything right. She was on the verge of becoming an interesting, plucky character when she was once again relegated to being dead-weight. She failed to get the information they needed and now she’s an unwitting pawn. Poor girl, she just can’t win in the characterization department.
Why is the jar of magical ink in Rumplestiltskin’s cell? It had rendered him powerless, and so of course, he decided to just whisk up a batch (in jail?) and keep it in his room… This desperately needs more explanation.
So, apparently anyone can sign up for Stealing Hearts 101 in Villain School? Because it’s starting to seem like everyone can do it, which makes it much less special when the show breaks it out as a plot device. Which is what it so obviously has become.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Into the Deep” was directed by Ron Underwood. It was written by Kalinda Vazquez and Daniel T. Thomsen.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.