Once Upon a Time Recap: Like Riding a Bike

This week on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Emma labored to find her bearings in the fairytale land that is, as her mom easily settled back into her old, ass-kicking ways. Henry, meanwhile, went about digging up one of Regina’s secrets (when he wasn’t mending a broken family).

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IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT WAS…. Prince Charming’s plan to take back the kingdom is detoured by the rival army’s recruitment of a fighter dubbed “The Leviathan” — but more commonly known as Lancelot — who whisks Snow away for a meeting with King George. The king, it turns out, saw his own wife cursed to never have children, so he poisons Snow to suffer the same fate. Deposited back at her now-torched camp, Snow gets the upper hand on Lancelot, who warns that the king will target Charming’s mother Ruth next. Protecting the cabin where his mother is in hiding, the prince does his best to fell a gang of soldiers, but Ruth takes an arrow to the chest. Maybe the magical waters of Lake Nostos can save her?

Alas, the lake had gone dry, because of Charming vanquishing the siren (in Season 1, Episode 13), but Lancelot finds enough water to save one person. Ruth sacrifices herself to save that sip for Snow, who consumes it during an impromptu marriage ceremony conducted by the (fallen) knight of the Round Table. Later, Ruth’s pendant “predicts” Snow would one day have a daughter.

IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT IS…. Snow introduces Emma to Cora, warning that she’s far worse than her daughter Regina. Mulan pulls Snow and Emma away to meet with their leader… Lancelot! After a meal of chimera (aka lion/serpent/goat or, “Like turducken?”), Lancelot agrees to let his old friend Snow return to what’s left of her castle to check out the wardrobe as a possible way back home, with Mulan providing muscle. Later, a still-bitter Aurora pops up to pull a dagger on Snow, only to get promptly flipped. Still, Emma reads the sitch wrong and fires off a  shot with her pistol, drawing the attention of an ogre. Emma is saved by Snow’s skill with a bow, which is still nifty after 28 years. “I guess it’s like riding a bike!”

Arriving at Snow’s castle, Emma realizes just how much her mother gave up on her behalf, and breaks down in tears: “I’m not used to somebody putting me first!” Lancelot shows up, offering to help lug the wardrobe back to the safe haven… ‘cept he slips and reveals himself to actually be Cora, doing a bit of shape-shifting. (Turns out she killed the real Lancelot some time ago.) When Cora reveals her plan to use the portal to get to Storybrooke, where Henry is, Emma starts a fire, and Cora flees. Mulan appoints Snow as their new leader, but before they leave, Snow gives one last look back at the nursery as it once was, and cries. After the women clear out, Cora returns to put some of the enchanted ashes into a flask….

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IN STORYBROOKE, MAINE…. Henry wants to dive into Operation Scorpion, but Charming says that without the Hatter’s help, it’ll take some time, so… get to school! (Words you never hear in Mystic Falls.) Henry instead meets up with Jefferson, who lets slip that Regina’s vault is somewhere here in town. After urging Jefferson to reunite with his daughter, Henry pinches his mom’s keys and finds the vault under her father’s crypt. Charming arrives in time to save Henry from the box of poisonous snakes (that killed Snow’s dad back in the day). By the end of the hour, Jefferson is hugging his overjoyed daughter Grace and Charming is teaching Henry how to sword fight… as Charming’s father looks on from his car.

A few memorable lines/moments:

* “Ogres? As in ‘Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum?'” “Those would be giants.”

* “I killed a dragon just last week!”

* Wounded Ruth calling out, “Son?” in one of many kinda conspicuous attempts to not disclose Charming’s real name just yet.

* “What kind of corset is this?”

* Wedding officiant Lancelot’s allusion to the Holy Grail.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Do you agree with me that snappier, quipper dialogue like what’s cited above helps keep the show fresh and appropriately meta?