Once Upon a Time Recap: Dueling Agendas, Flying Arrows and One Red-Hot Reunion

This week on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, both the Storybrooke and fairytale land contingencies sought to use the netherworld to their advantage, conflicting agendas put Mulan at odds with her traveling companions and Cora and Hook kept one another guessing.

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BRING OUT YOUR DEAD! | Clambering down from the beanstalk, Hook was greeted by Cora, who scoffed at his ability to be bested by Emma Swan. When Hook challenges Cora to just go ahead and kill him, she opts for a worse fate: stranding him in the fairytale land that is, never achieving his revenge. Hook tries to charm the crone, but with no luck — she vanishes, fetches a heart from her collection and uses it to command a small army of walking dead to hunt down Emma & Co.

Speaking of the ladies, Aurora confirms for Emma that her son Henry is in fact the young boy she sees in the fiery netherworld room. While Emma blames herself for the rugrat’s fate, Snow sees the positive: they have a way to communicate with Storybrooke, namely to find out from Rumplestiltskin how to defeat Cora. “So back to sleep, Aurora!” Emma commands, and the episode suddenly feels like NBC’s Awake. (A moment of silence….) Aurora meets back up with Henry to say that his mother and grandmother need his help; Henry then awakes to report to Regina and David, “They’re alive!” And the person Emma and Snow must defeat to get back is… Regina’s mother.

UN-HOOKED | Regina promptly interrupts Mr. Gold’s lunch with Belle (“Condiments are the magic of this realm!”) to relay the Cora news. Gold is confident he could beat the old bat again if she set foot in Storybrooke and thus sees no emergency, but Regina notes that he now has a weakness — Belle. Gold then sends Henry back into the netherworld to tell Aurora about the supply of rare squid’s ink in his old FTL cell, and how it can be used to stun Cora. But before Henry can share this message, Aurora is woken by the undead’s attack on their camp — and with bad burns. During the melee, Snow at one instant saves Emma (and thus the compass) with a fine bit of archery, but before all is said and done, Aurora is whisked away. Cora aims to use the princess as trade bait for the compass, but before she can, Hook sets the sometimes-sleeping beauty free, provided she tell Emma that as far as he is concerned, their deal is still on — he’ll help find the enchanted dust if he gets to take the trip to Storybrooke.

Needing to communicate once more with the other side but with Aurora MIA and Henry developing nasty burns, Snow offers to use sleeping powder to visit the netherworld, while David volunteers to go in Henry’s place. To that end, Regina whips up a sleeping curse as Henry watches, assuring the lad that as promised she is “trying” to cut back on magic, and as of late has only used it to help people; nice mother-son moment. Alas, once David goes under and finds Snow amid the flames, they are unable to kiss and thus free David from the sleeping spell. As such, it looks like he’ll be out until she gets home to smooch him in person. But before Snow awakes and vanishes, David imparts the details on defeating Cora with the squid ink.

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THE PRINCESS SPY | Snow wakes and immediately freaks about David’s limbo state. Emma assures her mom that she will find Charming, as they always do, while Snow shares that she has the details on defeating Cora. Emma, though, has now lost the compass — which has been pinched by Mulan, who values her vow to Phillip more than Aurora’s misplaced want to help two strangers. Snow tracks and catches Mulan, and while holding the belligerent warrior at arrowpoint is interrupted by the return of Aurora. They quickly bring the princess up to speed on their next mission — to Rumple’s old cell — while Cora “listens” in through Aurora, who is now under her control via a heart that Hook sneaked her.

Next week: “Queen of Hearts” aka the winter finale!