Magic always comes with a price and someone needed to pay it on the latest episode of Once Upon A Time.
“The Price” kicked off with the remaining dwarves taking the Sneezy statue to the town line and debating which one of them would be the guinea pig to find out what this new curse does when people leave town. Snow, Charming and Regina attempted to stop them, but Grumpy insisted they didn’t want to live in a town where Emma’s the bad guy because she knows them all too well and she’s usually the one saving them (fair point). Unfortunately, Dopey lasted about 10 seconds before he turned into a tree (yes, a tree).
Regina vowed to step up and be the savior, which seems like the logical choice since she has strong magic and she’s on Team Hero now. The dwarves weren’t convinced and neither was Regina after an encounter with the Dark Swan. Emma taunted Regina about how she learned from Regina’s mistakes and her curse did not include a built-in savior, which was too bad because something was coming for them that required a savior.
That something turned out to be a fury, tasked with collecting a soul for the underworld (as always, we need to thank Belle for her time and research since no one else ever does). They figured out someone used magic in Camelot and didn’t pay the price. Now that price was Robin’s life after he was abducted (in front of his adorable son) and Regina found herself unable to stop the fury. So she turned to Emma for answers, but Dark Swan did not want to play that game and told Regina to do it herself.
Back in Camelot, Arthur introduced the group to Guinevere and they wanted to throw them a ball, but Hook wanted to get down to business and find Merlin. It turns out that he’s trapped in a tree too (what’s with the trees?) and needed the savior to free him. Regina used the dagger to stop Emma from stepping up and proclaimed herself the savior. Once they were alone, Emma conveyed how unimpressed she was with Regina using the dagger, but Regina reminded her it was the reason she gave it to her and they couldn’t risk her using dark magic. Fair enough.
Unfortunately, Regina had a raging case of self-doubt. First, she didn’t know how to dance so she planned on skipping the ball. Charming and Snow gave her some confidence and a quick dance lesson and after Snow shared a lovely mother-daughter moment with Emma, the ladies were introduced and the ball began. Regina relaxed and danced with Robin and then Percival, one of the knights, wanted to dance with her. But whoops, he knew she was the Evil Queen because she once destroyed his whole village and laughed about it (oh, Regina). He attempted to kill her, Hook stopped Emma from using her magic against him, but Charming ended up slaying him with his sword.
Robin took the sword meant for Regina and her magic wasn’t enough to save him so she asked Emma to do it. Rumple appeared in Emma’s mind to remind her someone would need to pay the price, but Emma insisted it didn’t work that way because she’s the savior (Side note: everyone handled Emma talking to a chair a little too well. Cry for help, guys). Emma used her magic to save Robin and then laid a major kiss on Hook. But once she was alone with the voice in her head, Rumple pointed out that she liked using the dark magic and that’s why the true love’s kiss didn’t stop her skin from changing.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina took Emma’s advice and ordered the fury to take her instead of Robin. It complied, but Snow, Charming, Grumpy and Arthur joined hands with her to beat it back (or maybe it took part of each of their lives? I don’t really understand what happened). Robin woke up and pointed out that Regina found other believers, which was the cutest since his faith in her never wavered (But seriously, Hook should sit down with Robin and warn him that this kind of thing is going to happen a lot to the man in love with the woman tasked with saving the town).
Speaking of love, Hook paid a visit to Belle to inquire why a true love’s kiss didn’t work for her and Rumple. She told him about the time it did, or started to, until Rumple panicked and chose the magic over their love. She warned him that loving the Dark One sucked (in a much more poetic way, obviously) and that if Emma wanted the curse, the kiss wouldn’t work. Of course that didn’t stop the captain from seeking her out.
Emma was all too happy to whisk him back to her lair (which was more of a shiny new house than an actual lair). Hook pulled her in for a passionate kiss and Emma was all for it until Hook stopped and wanted to know why it didn’t work. Emma didn’t understand why everyone couldn’t accept that this was who she was now. She still wanted Hook to stay and makeout some more (she’s dark, not crazy). But he turned her down because he’s still on Team Hero, even if she thinks she’s not one any longer.
Elsewhere, Arthur and Guinevere reunited in Storybrooke and Arthur told her Excalibur was MIA. Back in Camelot, the two shared a moment and Guinevere expressed her concerns over their new guests. But Arthur remained determined to put the sword back together and that meant finding and defeating the Dark One. After she skulked outside Granny’s and watched her friends and loved ones hanging out without her, Emma went back to her lair and got another visit from Rumple. Even though she accepted the darkness, he had a new mission for her. Excalibur was back in its rock in her basement dungeon and Rumple told her she needed to free it in order to end the dagger’s control. But Emma couldn’t pull the sword from the stone on her own – it came with a price she needed to be willing to pay.
After a strong season premiere, “The Price” proved to be an excellent follow-up episode. I’ve always enjoyed the parallel stories between present day and flashbacks and I appreciate the little moments we’re getting in the middle of major crises. Hook and Belle’s friendship, Henry meeting Violet in both lands and teaching her about music, Roland following his father’s lead when they were gathering supplies, all the couples dancing and smiling at the ball, Regina turning Sneezy back into a person – all the things that make them feel like real people instead of chess pieces being moved around the board.
Next week, Emma tries again to get Hook on her side and Charming and Arthur set out on a mission in Camelot.