So in an odd opening for a Once Upon A Time episode we start off with August in Southeast Asia in bed with a woman back in 2011. It’s not a one night sort of thing, it seems. They are to some extent together when he jumps out of bed and tries to show her that his leg is turning into wood. He seems confused. Says something about going to a hospital. But if he knows he’s Pinocchio that’s an odd thing to say. Whatever.
The title page comes and goes and we’re back to the domestic squabble that is the Charming family. Mary Margaret is still angsting in bed under the sheets. David keeps wanting to coddler her and Emma just wants her to deal with things. So Mary Margaret gets up and decides to go try and take some time to think. David wants to go with her but says no. He should go do what he wants to do. Because David apparently really wants to go work the bean fields. (Of course he does.)
Henry and Neal continue to attempt the whole bonding thing. But Neal is having a hard time with the whole ‘being back with magic and shit’ thing so he calls his presumably normal girlfriend to come hang out with him. Which Emma is right in saying is probably really stupid because if she’s normal then what is she going to think about this place?
Mary Margaret actually does go to the woods where she gets her Katniss Everdeen on. Because apparently shooting trees with arrows is some how going to make someone less evil than they are becoming? I don’t know. But she mis shoots and hears a clink and follows it to some mobile home that August is living in. Shock! He’s completely made of wood. Except it’s not really a shock because we saw that in the trailer.
He explains to Mary Margaret that after the curse broke he was still fully made of wood like the last time we saw him but he was still made of wood. Mary Margaret tries to get him to come back to town but he’s ashamed. He doesn’t want people to see him like this. August is pretty much mopey and angsty and tells her that he can’t have a second chance because he’s made so many mistakes. Mary Margaret, though, tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself (which, you know, is like the pot calling the kettle black) and he just writes her off and tells her to go away.
August, meanwhile, is used to turning into wood. Just not so much in telling people that he’s turning into wood. Back in 2011 he went to the hospital to try and get them to realize what was going on. He went so far as to stab himself in the leg with a scalpel in front of a doctor who promptly calls him crazy and tries to have him locked up. Probably not the smartest move. Some shady kid helps him escape, though, and says he can take him to “the Dragon” who can fix what ails him. But that sounds super shady, right? C’mon, August. You KNOW why you are turning into wood…
Tamara comes to Storybrooke and seems pretty normal. Henry lets Neal borrow his book and he and Emma leave the two fo them alone for a bit. Neal tries to tell Tamara the truth about everything – magic, where he is from, etc. And for some reason he thinks that handing a girl a storybook full of stories is the best way to explain this. She understandably gets angry and feels like it’s all a joke, a way to drive her away. But really all Neal wants is to tell her the truth. She just won’t listen.
We go back to 2011 where August goes to “the Dragon” and SHOCK! THERE IS SOMEONE THERE WE KNOW. No, seriously. It’s Tamara. Who is apparently not the normal girl she pretends to be and we initially thought she was. Instead she works for the Dragon. The Dragon is an old Asian man who knows who August really is and says he can help him. For a price, of course. He takes a necklace that August wears that’s made of one of the strings his father used to animate him and then tells him he also needs $10,000. He claims he can keep him from turning to wood ever again.
Which is, of course, bullshit. He is made of wood. The Blue Fairy explains this. He’s not the brave, true, and honest little boy he once was and was told that he should always be. If he’s going to turn into a human again he has to redeem himself. No one else can do it for him.
It’s just that we all know that August is a flawed individual.
In the past, he met Tamara at a bar and he passes the money off to her. Tamara claims to be a cancer survivor who sought the Dragon for a cure. They talk and drink together but then Neal takes the money away from her and runs to the dragon. He gives her the Dragon the money but the Dragon tells him pretty much the same thing that the Blue Fairy or anyone else would – the wooden leg is just a symptom. He needs to redeem himself to truly fix what is wrong. But the Dragon gives him the potion/cure/whatever and Tamara chases after August and steals it from him. In the present Tamara finds him and offers the rest of the potion – she saved some – if he will leave Storybrooke and never come back.
With all this shit going down apparently it’s time to revisit last episode’s story line. Regina realizes who Greg Mendel really is and that he’s Owen. She goes to confront him and claims that his father left Storybrooke not long after Owen did. Greg refuses to accept that story but Regina doesn’t care and she tells him that he is leaving town tomorrow.
Out in the woods Marco, Emma, and Mary Margaret go to try and find August but he’s not there. Because of course he’s a cowardly fool who decided to leave instead. He’s just lucky that the curse doesn’t cause him to lose his memories. Waking up as a man who thinks he’s a man and is suddenly made of wood would suck.
Also, it turns out that Tamara? She doesn’t have cancer. She’s just searching for magic and trying to harness it. The Dragon is the first person she has found who can really use magic. The potion she stole from August if literally nothing – science can’t explain it. She takes the potion and threatens to kill the Dragon but he is actually, you know, a dragon. But apparently dragons aren’t immune to tasers to the heart. Go figure. August eventually found him dead a few days later.
August decides on this way out of town that he’s made a mistake and goes back to try and find everyone and warn them about Tamara. Because the thing Tamara gave up that was close to her heart was a picture of her and her grandmother. A picture that August finds in Tamara’s car as he is trying to leave town. He realizes what she is trying to do and tells her that he’s going to warn people about what she is and what she’s done. He’s finally realized that he has to redeem himself… but then Tamara tases him in the heart, too.
What’s with all the tasing in the heart? He’s made of wood.
August manages to hang on long enough to see his father again. She whispers something in Emma’s ear but apparently not enough to properly warn him. Everyone shows up and Neal is once again like “WTF?” is going on. Henry, though, really saves the day. Apparently he’s the only one who has any idea what the stories in the fairy tale book meant and he reminds everyone that Pinocchio must be “brave, honest, and unselfish” and that the last time he got turned into a real person was after he had sacrificed his life for Gepetto. And this time he had died trying to warn them all about something. So the Blue Fairy just shows up out of the, well, blue. He brings August back to life… but as Pinocchio Like, the little boy. Who doesn’t remember anything.
There goes another of Emma’s love interests.
Also one of August’s friends. Apparently August and Neal were like total bros. They kept in touch over the years. And that’s how Tamara met Neal. She recognized August and saw him talking to Neal so she sort of forced her way into his life all flirty like. Neal. Why can’t you see through people’s lies and cons? You used to be a professional con man!
After watching August die and become Pinocchio again, the Charmings are all pretty sad. Emma and Henry reconcile over the whole lying about Neal thing. Then Mary Margaret tells David what happened with Regina and her heart and how it’s blackening. David, of course, takes things poorly.
And then Greg Mendel calls whoever it is that he’s been talking to on the phone and sending text messages and hey! It’s Tamara. Okay, so, it makes sense that they would work together. The making out that comes after though? Definitely didn’t call that one.
So at least Emma still has Neal for a love interest.
Neal doesn’t have any potential bros, though. Except maybe David. But bro-ing around with your girlfriend’s dad is a bit weird. At least Henry has a friend his age?
Don’t expect any more Once Upon a Time, though, folks. The next episode – “Lacey” – will not air until April 21sdt. There will be a special ‘making of’ Once Upon a Time feature three weeks from now but it’s a solid four weeks before we start in to the homestretch. I appreciate Once Upon A Time taking into account all of my final projects and giving me this reprieve.