New Show Recap: Once Upon a Time 4×23, “Operation Mongoose”

Happy Monday! We’re on the last episode of season four of Once Upon a Time. Believe me, I’m just as ready for the finale as you are.

If you remember last week, Rumpel has employed the author to rewrite all of the fairy tales so that those who are currently heroes will be villains and those who are currently villains will be heroes. We see where the author, Isaac, was chosen for his current role; he was an unsuccessful TV salesman in the late 1966. When a publishing company finally accepts a manuscript of his, he goes to meet with them. The sorcerer’s apprentice is in the office, and he hires Isaac to be the next author, since the person who formerly held the position just died (it’s Walt Disney, cough, cough, gag). Isaac’s job is to go through all of the different parallel worlds and record the stories of those worlds.

In the library, the Do-Gooder Gang is trying to find more information on the author. August has been able to reconstruct a drawing of the sorcerer’s apprentice, since he has encountered him before. Hook recognizes him, too. The apprentice was imprisoned in the hat by Rumpel, and the Blue Fairy is able to release him. After the apprentice is freed, he insists that Isaac must be imprisoned within the pages of the fairy tale book so that he can no longer change the stories that have already been written. They race to locate the page in which Isaac had been imprisoned.

Isaac writes a book according to what Rumpel sees as a happy ending. In this world, Rumpel will be a hero, and he will have done well by his son, whom he really abandoned years ago. Once Isaac has finished, the changes in the story begin to take effect, changing the lives of everyone in Storybrooke forever. They are whisked back to the Enchanted Forest to play their parts in the story that Rumpel and Isaac have created. The force of the magic knocks Henry unconscious, and when he awakens, he finds that the town is deserted; he is the only one who evaded the spell’s effects. He hotwires a car and goes to a diner in the neighboring town in search of his family. The waitress becomes alarmed and calls the police. Henry sees a novel written by Isaac called Heroes and Villains. Isaac has become a bestselling author. Henry tracks him to a book signing in NYC and demands to know what Isaac has done. Isaac explains to Henry that his family is in the reality he has created in the book. Henry was never included in the book because he was never originally from that magical world. Henry seizes the book from Isaac and uses the magical key still in his possession to enter the world created in the book. Isaac has journeyed there with him. Isaac tells Henry that he has until the bells toll at sunset to make any changes to the book.

Henry finds himself in a nearby village which at that very moment is in the middle of an ogre attack. A knight in shining armor arrives just in time to slay the ogre with magic, and it turns out to be Rumpelstiltskin who uses his skills doing good deeds. Henry uses the book as means of finding his way about the land, and he finds Regina, who is living as an outlaw in the middle of the forest just as Snow did in the beginning of the series. Regina won’t believe him, even when he shows her the book, and she casts the book into the fire, where it burns. Henry tries to tell Regina that Robin Hood is her true love and that she could have a happy ending with him, but again, she refuses to believe him.

Isaac is captured by the Seven Dwarfs, who are working for the current Evil Queen, Snow White. He is brought before her as a trespasser and a traitor. Isaac tells Snow about Henry’s arrival into their world and how Henry could change things. In this world, Snow had fallen in love with Charming’s twin brother, James, who was as cruel as she is, but because of Regina’s actions, James died. Snow feels that Regina ruined her life. Snow settled for Charming and has stolen his heart so that she might have him under her thrall as Regina did with the Huntsman. Isaac tells Snow that he will help capture Regina and Henry, in exchange for Snow killing Henry.

Regina robs the passing tax carriage, but it was a trap, as Snow and Charming capture her. Snow is ready to kill Regina, but Robin Hood arrives on horseback just in time to save her. Robin is leaving the outlaw racket and would like Regina to lead the Merry Men in his place. Robin is getting married, and his bride-to-be is none other than Zelena. Regina, remembering Henry’s words, had been hopeful during the encounter with Robin, but after this, her hopes of happiness are dashed.

Henry finds Regina just as she’s leaving Robin Hood’s tavern. Regina tells Henry about Robin Hood’s upcoming marriage to Zelena, and Henry tries to convince Regina to stop the wedding. Regina tells Henry about rumors of a woman with magical powers called the savior, whom Snow White imprisoned. We see Emma shackled and in a tower on an isolated island.

Isaac goes to Rumpelstiltskin’s home. In this book, Rumpel is married to Belle, and they have a baby son. Isaac tries to warn Rumpel about Henry. He tells Rumpel that Henry and Regina are going to try and stop Robin’s wedding to Zelena, and that Rumpel must kill Henry and Regina so that the life he’s currently living doesn’t come to an end.

Henry goes to the Jolly Roger and sees Hook. He tries to convince Hook to sail him to an island in the Bottomless Seas to save Emma. The ship belongs to Blackbeard and Hook serves as a deckhand. Blackbeard challenges Hook to a duel for captaincy of the ship. Hook declines the challenge, but Henry is able to incapacitate Blackbeard. The two take the ship to the island where Emma is being imprisoned and are able to get past the guard, a solitary Black Knight. When Henry finds Emma, she recognizes him. It seems that Emma is the only one whose memory hasn’t been affected by the new book’s storyline. Rumpel had planned that Emma know the truth in the alternate world and that she could do nothing to change it.

As they sail away from the island, the Black Night guarding Emma regains consciousness. It turns out that the knight guarding Emma is Lily. Lily, in dragon form, pursues the Jolly Roger. They are able to evade the dragon. On the way to the kingdom, Emma teaches Hook some fighting skills.

When they reach the kingdom, Lily has already told Snow about Emma’s escape. Snow and her guards confront Emma, who tries to tell them the truth of what has happened. Snow doesn’t believe Emma and is determined to kill both her and Henry. Hook takes on Charming in a sword fight and is killed as Henry and Emma make their escape.

Rumpel is starting to realize that things could be changed if Henry succeeds, and he tells Belle this. He is torn between killing Henry and Emma before they can change anything and doing the right thing and allowing the changes to happen. Belle assures Rumpel that he will make the right choice, but Rumpel isn’t sure if he will.

Henry takes Emma to Regina so that they can stop the wedding. Regina is packed up and ready to leave. Emma, who just saw the man she loves die and never got the chance to profess her love for him, urges Regina to listen to her heart and go after Robin. They rush to stop the wedding, only for Rumpel so that they’re unable to do so. As Emma and Rumpel cross swords, Regina goes to stop the wedding. Rumpel uses his magic to incapacitate Emma, but Henry picks up her sword to challenge Rumpel. Henry loses his sword in the duel, and before Rumpel is ready to kill Henry, Regina steps before him, taking the fatal blow meant for Henry. As the wedding bells ring, Robin and Zelena emerge from the church, and Robin stops to help Regina. Zelena is bitterly jealous, and her skin begins to turn green with envy as she runs away in tears. Emma demands that Isaac rewrite the story. Since Isaac has written his happy ending already, he is no longer the author. The magic from the pen indicates that Henry is the next author. Since Regina was a savior for a good cause, Henry is able to use her blood as ink and rewrite the story so that the spell can be reversed.

Once the spell is reversed, everyone is reunited in Storybrooke. Emma frantically tries to find Hook, and though she wants to, she doesn’t tell him that she loves him.

Rumpel awakens in the pawnshop with Isaac by his side. Isaac flees as quickly as he can. Belle has come to make sure Rumpel can’t do anything further to hurt anyone, and Rumpel collapses since his heart is starting to give out.

Snow and Charming catch Isaac before he can leave town. Isaac’s book is gone. When asked why he wrote the stories he did, he replies that he was tired of people who considered themselves to be heroes and their arrogance. He decided to use the powers given to him to settle old scores and he loved the thrill he got controlling characters’ lives.

The sorcerer’s apprentice meets with Henry and tutors him about the responsibilities that come with being an author. Henry decides that no one should have the responsibility and breaks the quill.

As Rumpel grows sicker, Belle tells him that she always loved him, but she had to leave because of the bad choices that he made. After Rumpel tells her about the life they had in the Heroes and Villains book, she wants to reconcile. Rumpel cautions her that the darkness within him is overtaking his soul and that she ought to leave him and take the dagger with her.

Robin and Regina resume their courtship. Emma approaches Lily, and Lily tells her about the pendant on her necklace. The pendant was a part of the shell from Lily’s egg and holds information about her father. Lily wants to stay behind so that she can find him.

When Belle tells everyone about what’s happening to Rumpel, the sorcerer’s apprentice is able to help. He removes the darkness from Rumpel’s heart and seals it within the sorcerer’s hat. The darkness does not remain contained in the hat and flows out into the night. The apprentice explains that all of the darkness in the realms was contained in the Dark One, and now that it has been unleashed, they have to find the sorcerer to fight it. Guess who the sorcerer is? Merlin.

The Do-Gooder Club searches the streets of Storybrooke for the darkness, but the darkness finds them first and tries to tether itself to Regina and snuff out all of the good within her. Emma tells Hook she loves him before luring the dark magic to her so that she can save Regina. Absorbing the dark magic turns Emma into the Dark One. Emma disappears, and the only thing left behind is the Dark One’s dagger, with her name on it this time.

And that’s it for this season! It seems the writers have been finally been listening to the audience and they’re circling back to address some details of the show’s original plot. Whether or not this is the case, I will not be recapping OUAT next year, but if you’re interested, you can find me in the livetweets!

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