After a few weeks of Regina and Rumpel focused episodes, this week’s OUAT centered on the savior of Storybrooke herself, Emma Swan.
In the Enchanted Forest at the foot of the Beanstalk, Emma, Snow, Aurora, Mulan and Hook discuss climbing to the top to get the magic compass they’ll need to find their way to Storybrooke. Hook explains that the truth behind the Jack the Giant Killer story is actually far more gruesome: the giants used to use their magic beans to conquer lands, and there was a war in which Jack fought and all but one giant were killed. The one lives at the top of the Beanstalk and guards a horde of treasure, including the compass. The Stalk is spelled to detract intruders, but Hook has a counterspell for two of them. While Hook flirts, the girls ignore him and fight over who will go with him. Emma, who has the most to fight for in Henry, wins. Mulan gives Emma a powder that will knock out the giant, and in turn Emma makes her promise to cut down the Stalk if she doesn’t return in 10 hours. Then she and Hook are off!
Flashing back, we see a younger Emma stealing a yellow car, one that looks just like her current car. But there’s a man in the backseat, who introduces himself as Neal Cassidy. After he covers for her when they’re pulled over, Emma finds out that he stole the car in the first place, and he asks her out.
At the Beanstalk, Hook tries to chat, but Emma’s not having it. He calls her out, saying he can read her like a book. He knows that she was abandoned as a child and compares her to the Lost Boys. He asks if she’s ever been in love and she says no, but the flashbacks tell us otherwise.
In Emma’s past, we see her pregnant traveling with Neal. Oh, but no, in fact they are shoplifting and merely pretending to be pregnant as a distraction. They’re living a kind of Bonnie and Clyde life, but Neal brings up the idea of them settling down. He says for Emma to close her eyes and point to a map. She lands on Tallahassee, Florida, which as we know from Regina last season, is a place where she’ll eventually spend two years of her life.
At the base of the Beanstalk, Mulan is keeping times by the passing of shadows. She says they should trade of watches, and Snow offers to take first watch. Aurora wants to stay awake with her, saying that she doesn’t like to sleep anymore. Apparently recovering from a sleeping spell involves having terrible nightmares. Snow explains that Charming used to comfort her when she had them, and she offers to watch over Aurora while she sleeps.
Up the Stalk, Emma and Hook reach the top. His plan is to wait until the giant is asleep to sneak into his cave and find the compass, but Emma is impatient. She wants to use the powder from Mulan. She sees a tattoo with Mila’s name on Hook’s arm and surmises that Rumpel killed her, sparking Hook’s need for revenge. She admits to maybe having been in love once.
Flashing back, Emma meets Neal, but he’s upset. He found a wanted poster with his face at the post office from a failed heist of high-end watches. He’d stashed the watches, but was caught on camera. He says he needs to go to Canada, but he doesn’t want to risk Emma by taking her with him. She offers to go and get the watches, which they can fence and get money for new identities. The couple then shares “I love you’s.”
Back at the giant’s lair, they go into action. Hook draws out the giant and distracts him while Emma throws the powder at his face, knocking him out. They make quite a team. They begin to search the cave of treasures, but Emma needs to keep Hook on track.
At the base of the Beanstalk, Aurora wakes from a nightmare, sobbing. She describes a dream where she was trapped in a red room with burning curtains, and another person trapped in the room with her. Snow comforts her, promising the nightmares will fade, and mothering her.
At the top of the Stalk, Hook and Emma are still looking. They find Jack’s skeleton and Emma stops Hook from walking into a trip wire. There does seem to be a fair amount of sexual tension between the two.
In Emma’s past, she gets the watches from the locker Neal stashed them in, and meets with him. He says he’ll go meet the fence and will meet up with her later with the money, but pulls out one watch for her to keep. After Neal leaves the car, he realizes he’s being followed and runs for it. He’s tackled by the stranger who asks after Emma, if Neal “wants to protect Emma.” It is none other than Pinocchio himself, a pre-wooden August.
August tells Neal that he’s Emma’s guardian angel, and the two begin to bicker about who has actually done what’s best for her. August tells Neal that Emma has a “destiny” and that he is keeping her from it. After showing him something from a box, he is able to get Neal to believe in his story. What’s in the box, August?
August must have convinced Neal, because the next we see of Emma, she’s being arrested, the officer telling her that Neal set her up.
Back at the top of the Beanstalk, Hook and Emma are STILL looking. But then the giant wakes up and tramples into the cave, causing the roof to partially collapse, trapping Hook. Then the giant grabs Emma.
Flashing back, Neal and August meet up to discuss Emma after her arrest. August explains that she’s been sentenced to 11 months, and Neal is pissed. August explains that he needs to stay away so that she can do what she’s supposed to and that he promises to be there for her. Neal asks August to give her the car and the money from fencing the watches. He also asks to know if Emma ever becomes free from all of this. August promises to send him a postcard, perhaps a reference to the mysterious postcard from the season opener.
Back with the giant, he has Emma in his grip. She bites his finger and he drops her. Emma grabs Jack’s sword from his skeleton and cuts the trip wire, trapping the giant under a cage. She threatens him for the location of the compass and he gives it up. Though he says she, as a human, will kill him because that’s what humans do, she lets him live. The giant then escapes from the cage, but lets her live in return. Emma, whose got a heck of a lot of guts, says he owes her twice, since she could’ve killed him when she knocked him out. She then frees Hook from under the rubble, only to lock him up. She promises that he won’t die, but she just needs a head start.
At the bottom of the Stalk, Mulan looks at the time and goes to cut the stalk. Snow tries to stop her, knocking her over and fighting her despite her protests that it was what Emma wanted. “You do NOT put my daughter in danger!” Luckily Emma jumps in and stops them, explaining that they have 10 hours before Hook follows them. Snow, mad at Emma for telling Mulan to cut the Stalk, hugs her and reminds her “we go back together, that is the only way.”
In Emma’s past, she sits in her prison cell. A guard brings her mail, a letter with the keys to her car. She’ll have the car when she’s released. She’ll also have a baby, and we see her positive pregnancy test.
Back in Storybrooke, the baby in question, Henry, awakes from a nightmare. He’s recovering from a sleeping spell as well, but luckily Charming is there to comfort him in the same way he used to comfort Snow. Henry describes his dream: a red room, burning curtains, and someone else there. It’s the same dream as Aurora, and the two saw each other!
Next week: Ruby’s wolf is unleashed.