It's been a long time since I watched Season One, and this is the first episode in it where I couldn't remember what it was about just by the episode title. It turns out, it's not a bad one. It shows you the origin story for an important part of the show. And, I generally like Rumplestiltskin episodes.
Off we go.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumplestiltskin is spinning wool in a little hovel of a cottage, but he's not spinning it into gold. Why? Because he's still a regular human! This is before he became all sparkly and magic.
So, anyway, his son comes dashing into the cottage where they live, upset. Some soldiers have come for one of his friends, a girl of only 14. It seems their area of the Enchanted Forest is deep into a long war with the Orgres at this time in history, and the Dukedom is running out of grown up soldiers. To keep an army on the field, they are now drafting kids as soon as they turn 14.
Because Ogres are badass monsters and way hard to defeat, that's why.
Rumple's son is super concerned about this, because HE turns 14 in three days. He doesn't want to have to go fight Ogres. Who would? That's a lousy gig for anyone of any age.
The conscripted girl's parents put up a fight, but a hooded figure on a horse in the distance holds up its hand, and the parents are temporarily immobilized by magic. The head of the army, who happens to be the Duke, takes the girl, hauling her up onto his horse with him.
The Duke tells the parents that the "Dark One" says he can do whatever he likes, including sending teenagers to the front lines to be Ogre fodder.
Dark One. Remember that. It is a word you will hear over and over again in this show. It doesn't warrant it's own drinking game, like "I will always find you" or "You found me," or "All magic comes with a price," because it's a title and not a cheesy statement, but it's still something you'll eventually get tired of hearing, I promise. Especially after Season Five. Oh gods, Season Five (shakes head).
But, we're not there yet, and the Dark One is still a fresh concept. So, enjoy.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma walks in to Rumple's antique and pawn shop. She's calling for him, but he doesn't answer. So, Emma has to wander into the depths of the shop to find him. He's in the back, painting paper with lanolin to waterproof it. Emma is disgusted by the smell.
Rumple called the sheriff's office, but didn't say why. He made Emma come to his shop to find out all he wanted was to offer his condolences on Graham. He also lets us know it's been two weeks since Regina murdered Graham, and is curious why Emma is still wearing the deputy badge.
He suggests she take on the Sheriff job, as she gets automatically promoted to it after the office is vacant for two weeks. The job is hers if she wants it. Emma isn't sure she wants it, since she can't imagine anyone as sheriff except Graham.
Rumple also has a bunch of Graham's things, because Graham rented an apartment owned by Rumple. He wants to give them to Emma, but she demures. He says he'll give them to Regina, then, and suddenly he has Emma's interest. Telling her most of Graham's things will probably be thrown out if she doesn't take them, he shows her a couple of walkie-talkies.
She and Henry can play together with them, he says. He also goes WAY out of his way to warn her to enjoy every moment with Henry, because they grow up quickly, and before you know it, you "lose them." Interesting choice of words, Rumple.
Cut to Emma approaching Henry at his beachside castle. He's there, all alone, pensive and sad. She hands him a walkie, and says they can use them for Operation Cobra. Henry is not excited. Emma wonders what is up with him, and Henry says they should stop Operation Cobra for the time being.
You don't mess with the curse, Henry says. Regina killed Graham because he tried to, and Henry doesn't want that to happen to Emma.
Emma is touched that Henry is concerned for her safety, but assures him what happened to Graham had nothing to do with the curse, and the autopsy results say he had a heart condition no one knew about.
Henry acts like he doesn't hear her, and continues his list of reasons for suspending Operation Cobra for the time being. Emma is GOOD, Henry insists, and good always fights fair, while evil, like Regina, doesn't. Henry doesn't think they should upset Regina anymore, and he walks away.
Later, Emma is at the police station, picking up the Sheriff badge for the first time, when in walks evil....I mean, Regina....and tells Emma the badge isn't for her.
Emma: "It's been two weeks. The promotion is automatic."
Regina informs her this is true....unless the mayor appoints someone to the position before the two week "automatic promotion" period is over. And, she's doing that today. Turns out, Regina is appointing Sidney (local newspaper publisher and former Magic Mirror) as sheriff. A guy with NO sheriffing experience. Emma, at least, has experience tracking down and capturing bad guys from being a bail bondsperson.
Regina says Sidney's experience is in covering what is going on at the police station. They argue over how evil Regina is, and whether or not Graham was right to hire Emma as his deputy. Emma says Graham freed the police department from Regina's control, and she knows Sidney would be Regina's puppet in the position.
Emma: "I'm not giving it back." (Referring to the police department)
Regina brushes her off, says she already took it back, and fires Emma as deputy.
At Snow's apartment, loud music is playing, and bottles of alcohol are strewn across the kitchen counter. Someone's frustrated. Emma is sticking a knife in a toaster, trying to fix it. I hope it's unplugged.
Snow comes in and tells Emma she's never seen her so passionate. Emma complains that the sheriff job is HERS, and she just wants to beat Regina at this standoff.
A knock on the door heralds the arrival of Rumple, and Snow leaves the room so Emma can talk to him in private. Rumple offers to be Emma's "benefactor." See, Rumple hates Regina, and he wants Emma to be sheriff. On her own, Emma may not be able to do much to go against Regina, but Rumple can.
He's studied the town charter, he says, and it seems Regina is not as powerful in Storybrooke as she thinks she is. Emma is intrigued.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple wakes his son, calling him "Bae" (it's actually short for Baelfire, but who wants to say that name all the time?). He tells Bae they are leaving town, right then, so Bae doesn't have to go be Ogre fodder. Bae is down with that, though he does express the feeling of it being "wrong" to run away. Rumple assures him it is better to be wrong than dead. He's not wrong on that one.
A beggar asks for alms in the woods, and Rumple drops him a coin. After they pass by the beggar, they come across the Duke and his men....the same Duke who took Bae's friend. They demand Bae's name and age, which Bae gives them, despite Rumple asking him to stay quiet. Bae seems proud of his name, and his father's name, which the Duke previously mocked.
The Duke isn't done screwing around with Rumple, though. He asks where he and Bae are going, and Rumple says to sell wool at the market one town over. The Duke thinks they're leaving town so Bae can avoid service.
He tells Bae how Rumple was a soldier in the Ogre war, and ran away from the battlefield, causing most of his regiment to be killed (how one man leaving would have an effect for or against Orgres, I have no idea....the Duke is just making that detail up, anyway). The Duke also says this action got Rumple his reputation as a coward, and made his wife hate him, which is why Bae's mother bailed on their little family.
Rumple begs the Duke to not talk about him like that in front of his son. The Duke tells his men to go ahead and take Bae, even though he's not quite 14 yet. Rumple begs him not to, and says he will give him anything. Well, Rumple has nothing the Duke wants, except fealty.
He makes Rumple kiss his boot in front of Bae, which Rumple is crushed about, but does in hopes of them leaving Bae alone. After the boot-kissing, the Duke kicks Rumple in the face. Bae rushes to Rumple's aid, and the Duke and his men ride away, laughing at their humiliation of poor Rumple in front of his kid.
After they're gone, the beggar approaches them and offers to help. Hey, it's the town doctor from Deadwood. That was a great show. Did you ever see it?
Anyway, Bae tells the beggar they have no money to pay him for his help. The beggar says that is no matter, and they will find a way for him to be their benefactor (the same thing Rumple just offered to be for Emma in Storybrooke....I wonder if the two offers are connected?).
Storybrooke, The Present--Regina is having a press conference in her mayoral office, endorsing her choice of Sidney Glass (haha, Glass...get it? Magic Mirror? Glass? Ah, the cleverness with the cursed names) as Storybrooke's new sheriff. Since Sidney is the publisher of the town's only paper, I guess all the writers and photographers in Regina's office work for him?
Oh, but wait. Emma walks in and stops the ceremony just as Regina is about to put the badge on Sidney. It turns out, the town charter allows the mayor to support a candidate, not the actual sheriff. Regina says it's hardly enough difference to matter, just a triviality.
Emma begs to differ. Since it's in the town charter and Emma is insisting on following the rules as written, Regina has no choice but to agree to an election. Emma will be running, of course. Regina says Sidney will be, too.
Sidney (looking stunned and uncomfortable): "I am?"
Regina says they will leave it to the will of the people. She seems pretty confident her guy will win. After all, she created this town with the curse, and she controls it. However, she's not accounting for the changes that came with Emma's arrival. Maybe she shouldn't be so smug.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple is back in his cottage with the beggar. They talk strategy while Bae is sleeping. Rumple believes his only choice to keep Bae out of the war is to take him and leave town. Rumple sobs at the thought of losing the only family left to him.
The beggar says Rumple needs power. Gee, that would be nice, Rumple says, but where the heck would he get something like that? He has no money and no connections.
The beggar tells him the Duke is so powerful because he has the Dark One in thrall. There is a dagger, you see (that freaking dagger, one of the most recognizable props from this show, about to make its first appearance), and the dagger has the true name of the Dark One on it. Whoever controls the dagger controls the Dark One, and the Duke currently controls the dagger.
The Dark One is a mega-powerful magical being, who can do almost anything. The beggar thinks Rumple should take the dagger, and then HE would control the Dark One. No one would be able to take Bae from him, with that kind of power at his command.
Eh, Rumple isn't enthused about the idea of controlling something that powerful, and won't consider it. Well, instead of controlling the power, the beggar counters, why not just TAKE the power? And, what does he mean by that? We'll have to wait to find out for now because....
Storybrooke, The Present--Regina stalks into Rumple's shop and calls him a bastard for looking so deeply into the town charter. He assures her they both want what is best for the town, but they are just on different sides. Regina is sure Emma won't win the election. Rumple is sure she has a pretty good chance. Never underestimate someone who is fighting for her child, Rumple tells Regina.
Regina: "He's not her child. At least, not legally."
Rumple accuses her of using a technicality, just as she complained about when Emma insisted on an election.
Meanwhile, at Granny's Diner, Henry is reading the newspaper, and Emma comes in to ask him how school went. He shows her the front-page article, which announces she gave birth to Henry in jail.
Henry: "Is it a lie?"
Henry: "I was born in jail?"
She says the records were supposed to be sealed, since she was a juvenile when she was sent to jail. Concerned, she asks Henry if he is scarred for life by the knowledge. Henry assures her he isn't....at least, he adds, not by that.
Relieved, Emma suggests they get their news from somewhere more reliable, like the Internet. Henry is still pretty upset. He points out how the article is more proof that good can't beat evil, because "good" wouldn't do something like publish sealed records in a newspaper.
Emma says she has Rumple helping her now. Henry is aghast, because Rumple is worse than Regina in the evil department. He reminds her she already owes Rumple a favor, and begs her to not owe him another.
Henry (referencing the election): "Don't do this."
He really doesn't want Emma to get hurt. But, she's the Savior, yo. She was supposed to come to town and break the curse. That's why Henry brought her. Just because Regina offed Graham doesn't mean she will do the same to Emma so easily. Henry read the storybook. He should know this.
Emma storms into Regina's office, and tells her what was published was a juvie record. Not only was publishing it an abuse of power, it was illegal. Regina says Henry would have found out, eventually. Emma thinks this is just hurting Henry, having to see his adoptive mother conducting a smear campaign against his birth mother.
As they argue about what's best for Henry, and Regina informs Emma she has to have a public debate with Sidney, there is an explosion at the front door of the mayoral office. It tosses debris at them.
The foyer is engulfed in flames. Regina's leg is trapped by wood thrown by the explosion, and she asks Emma to help her get out of there. Emma regards Regina thoughtfully.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple explains to Bae that the beggar told him if he takes the dagger, he can control the Dark One and protect Bae. Bae is against it. He thinks going to war would be better than Rumple welding such powerful dark magic. Rumple is pretty adamant about doing it. That's when Bae realizes the Duke was right, and Rumple DID abandon the front.
Bae wants to know if his mother abandoned them because Rumple left the front, because Rumple told him she died. Rumple is quiet for a moment, then says Bae's mother did die (she totally didn't).
With that information, Bae is on board to get the dagger. I'm not sure what changed his mind.
Storybrooke, The Present--Regina is sure Emma is going to leave her there in the fire. Emma says nothing, but seems to prove Regina right by leaping out the door into the entranceway. However, she returns before Regina can get too concerned about being killed in an office fire, and look! Emma brought a fire extinguisher with her. She uses it to put out the fire and save Regina. A better woman than most in her position.
She could have had Regina off her case and Henry all to herself. But, that's not what GOOD does, as Henry would say. Emma is good. We get it.
Emma pulls Regina out of the mayoral office, which still has some fire going on in it. Regina's ankle is twisted, and when Emma sets her down on the sidewalk outside, she complains that Emma put her down too hard on it. Regina says the fire department is there (which they are), and that she and Emma were in no real danger, dismissing Emma saving her. Emma says she could have left her, but that's not what good people do.
Later, people from the paper want to get a picture of Regina on a stretcher, and of Emma the hero. Henry, Snow, Granny, and Jiminy Cricket all talk about how heroic Emma was in saving Regina, when Regina has been such a bitch to her. They all want to get on Emma's campaign and make posters and such. Granny and Jiminy seem pretty enthused about this idea, and are totally Team Emma.
Emma smiles and tells Henry that this is how good wins. They don't have to fight dirty. Henry agrees.
Henry: "Maybe you're right."
But, Emma sees something suspicious in the wreckage of the front door of the mayoral office. Turns out, Rumple made a Molotov cocktail out of his lanolin, and set the fire.
Emma goes to see him to ask why. He admits to nothing, but says if he did it, it was to get people on Emma's side. Making Emma the hero by saving Regina is just what she needs to win the election. Emma wants nothing to do with those kinds of tactics, and rejects Rumple's further assistance. He warns her she might be disappointing Henry if she doesn't become sheriff. Emma leaves the shop without another word.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple sets the Duke's wooden castle on fire (that's why you build with stone, yo). As people evacuate the building, he walks in through the flames and takes the Dark One dagger, which is hidden on a wall, behind a tapestry. The name on the dagger? "Zoso."
Storybrooke, The Present--Snow and Charming run into each other as they are both putting up campaign posters, Snow for Emma, Charming for Sidney. Katherine is a friend of Sidney, Charming explains, seemingly kind of embarrassed by supporting Regina's choice. Charming tells Snow he got a job at the Storybrooke animal shelter, too.
That's enough conversation for Snow, and she walks away. People walk away a lot in this town.
Later, before the debate, Emma and Snow talk about her chances of winning (Snow is positive, Emma not so much), and how she wants to win for Henry. If she's not the Savior and she's not the Sheriff, then what part does she have in his life? Emma and Snow both smile, as they now know that this is the reason Emma wants to be Sheriff....the real reason. It's not just for Henry. It's for her, to give her a reason to stay in Storybrooke.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Rumple goes into the woods and calls Zoso's name three times, which is supposed to summon the Dark One. He appears behind Rumple, and agrees that Rumple does, in fact, now control him. Zoso is kind of a jerk to Rumple. He tells him the Duke and his men are probably on the way to Rumple's cottage to take Bae as they speak, since it is Bae's birthday. He also intimates Bae may not even be Rumple's. This pisses Rumple off enough for him to stab Zoso with the dagger.
Zoso falls, and the hood slides away from his face. It's the beggar. He was Zoso, and was playing Rumple this whole time. With Rumple, he found someone desperate enough to steal the dagger and use it.
Zoso laughs and is thrilled to be free. He says Rumple made a deal he didn't understand, and now he will find out why Zoso wanted to be rid of the Dark One power so much. Rumple thinks maybe stabbing Zoso was not such a good idea, and begs Zoso to tell him what to do. Rumple has no idea what happens when you kill the Dark One.
Zoso dies before answering, if he was ever going to. The only way to kill a Dark One, by the way, is to stab it with the Dark One dagger. Rumple pulls the bloody dagger out of Zoso. Zoso's name has been replaced with Rumple's.
Rumple is the Dark One now.
Storybrooke, The Present--Jiminy announces the debate to the assembled crowd. Regina wrote Sidney's speech for him, because she is mouthing the words to it right along with him as she sits in the audience next to Henry. Sidney gives a perfectly polished speech.
Emma's speech is unscripted, raw, and messy. She admits to the fire being a setup by Rumple to get public support for her. She has no evidence he did it, she says, but she is sure it was him. And, she can't win that way. She apologizes to the town and to Henry, and, yes....walks out the door without saying anything.
Later, at Granny's, Emma is drinking her woes away. Red offers her another drink, and Emma takes it.
Henry comes in and hands Emma one of the walkies. He's impressed she stood up to Rumple, and says heroes do things like that. He shouldn't have been so quick to give up on Operation Cobra, he tells her.
Regina and Sidney enter, and Regina makes a snide comment about finding Emma there with a drink and Henry. Sidney tells Emma she won the election, and Regina reluctantly hands over Graham's sheriff's badge.
Regina (practically vomiting up bile at having to say it): "Congratulations, Sheriff Swan."
Henry and Emma are both astounded. Regina says the vote was very close, but the people like the idea of a sheriff brave enough to stand up to Rumple.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Yep, sure enough, the Duke is taking Bae away when Rumple arrives at his cottage. As Rumple approaches, The Duke sees the familiar hooded figure of the Dark One, and notices the Dark One has the dagger. Thinking, correctly, that the Dark One will be pissed with him for controlling him with the dagger all this time, The Duke drops to his knees in supplication.
However, he quickly realizes this Dark One is NOT Zoso. He's confused, but Bae recognizes Rumple. When Bae calls him "papa," the Duke recognizes him as the spinner he humiliated in the woods they day before. The Duke looks a bit ill.
As well he should. Rumple is still hella pissed about the humiliation he had to endure in front of Bae at the hands of the Duke. So, he makes the Duke kiss his boots, then kills him AND the Duke's men. Bae is horrified.
Rumple asks Bae if he feels safe, now that he won't have to go to war. Bae replies that he most decidedly does NOT feel safe, since his dad is now the Dark One.
Rumple says he DOES feel safe. He protected what belongs to him, and is no longer afraid of anything. He smiles, showing his white teeth behind his newly scaly and sparkly skin. It's Dark One chic.
Storybrooke, The Present--Rumple comes to the police station to congratulate Emma on her win. She is suspicious, since she outed him to the town on the Molotov-ing of the mayoral office. She warns him she's armed.
Rumple is unconcerned. The fire was just a distraction, you see. He knew saving Regina would get her positive attention, but not enough to win. Knowing she would out him, he set it up that she would win because she stood up to him.
Emma wants to know why he would go to such Machiavellian lengths to get her elected.
Rumple tells her the people of Storybrooke are afraid of Regina, but more so of him. The town respects her for standing up to him. Rumple wanted her to be sheriff because she owes him a favor, and he needs her in town to give him time to decide what that favor will be.
Next: Season 1, Episode 9--"True North"
*All photos are Creative Commons