I had to double check what channel I was watching as this week’s episode started. The camera slowly pans over a room that looks like a set from The Hangover 4: Happily Ever After. There are empty liquor bottles, clothes, general debris, and semi-clothed ladies strewn about a tropical looking flat. We see August W. Booth wake with a start. The year is 2011 and the reason why he woke so suddenly becomes clear as he glances down at his leg, which has become solid wood. I’ll spare us all the obvious jokes. The savior has arrived in Storybrooke.
Speaking of Storybrooke, present day Charming is preparing a lovely breakfast in bed situation for his wife, who is still in the deepest depression regarding her manipulation of Regina and Cora’s death. Emma takes one look at Charming’s efforts and makes it clear that she is of the opinion her mother needs to man up and learn to live with this mistake. Of course, since Casa dey Charming has no walls, Snow hears everything. She hops up out of bed and begins packing a bag. She needs some Henry David Thoreau time in the woods to clear her head.
Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Henry and Emma meet up with Nealfire at Granny’s B&B. Henry brings The Book and wishes for his father to confirm its stories. Emma is happy to leave them to bond over the most awkward family history ever, but is stopped by Nealfire when he tells her he just got a phone call from Tamara, his fiancee. Not only has Hook escaped the basement where he was left in like a box of Christmas decorations, but Tamara is making her way to Storybrooke.
Emma is less than thrilled at the thought of another outsider traipsing through Storybrooke, potentially having to dodge fireballs, giants, and mommy issues, but Nealfire insists that he needs his fiancee with him and that she and Emma should meet. You can practically hear the automatic car window noise as the walls shoot up around Emma’s heart. However, the promise of New York City bagels is enough to peak Emma’s interest.
Deep in the woods, Snow White is taking out her frustrations via archery to the tunes of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Oh you are slick writers, though the idea of Snow blasting that specific song in her headphones as a way of convincing herself she also didn’t care about her “bad reputation” is interesting. One of her shots misses its mark and as Snow goes to retrieve it, she comes across a trailer. Taking the horror movie method of investigation, Snow pokes her head inside and calls out, “hello?” And who responds but August W. Booth, in all his mahogany marionette majesty.
Hong Kong 2011, and not-so-wooden August is having a hell of a time at the hospital. In an effort to convince the doctor that his leg is indeed turning into wood, he does the smart thing and sinks a scalpel deep into the lacquered limb. Naturally, the doctor assumes that another one had flown over the cuckoo’s nest and August has to flee. He runs into a young man who tells August that someone called The Dragon might be able help him with his unusual problem.
In present day Storybrooke, Snow and Lincoln Log August have a heart to blackened heart. August explains that he turned back to wood as result of his selfish life. He’s too embarrassed to return to town due to his appearance. As Snow tries to comfort him, he throws back at her that she, being Snow White, has never needed redemption or forgiveness. Snow manages to push the guilt on her face aside for a moment to insist August (and probably herself) stop the pity party and go rejoin society. August responds that he is a “woodpile of failure”. Progress is not being made.
Over at Granny’s, the Swan-Cassidy clan is powering through an impressive spread of bagels as if it’s Free Breakfast Friday at the office. Henry, ever the provider of awkward family moments, asks Neal how he and Tamara met. Turns out a cup of coffee dumped down the front of your blouse can turn into a date fairly quickly. As Henry and Emma take off, Henry leaves The Book behind for Nealfire. It’s seems Neal is going to be a bit more honest with Tamara than he was with Emma. However, Tamara sees his using The Book to explain who he really is as a very odd ploy to put a wedge between them so Neal can be with Emma.
A bit later, Regina makes an appearance at Granny’s diner. She first bumps into Greg and can’t quite place why he looks so familiar, which causes both myself and Greg to smirk. Then she almost runs into Snow. Regina recommends the fish special, “blackened sole”, and I now personally believe that Regina’s evil master plan is to follow Snow around sassing her.
After Regina leaves, Snow grabs Emma and Geppetto from the diner counter and explains that she found August in a van down by the river a trailer in the woods. Snow thinks that perhaps the Blue Fairy could work her hoodoo that she do so… adequately, and help heal August. It seems, however, that August has already paid a call to the convent. The Blue Fairy was unable to change him back from being a wooden Ken doll because that is his curse. He would be a real boy so long as he remained honorable and unselfish. Going on benders in Phuket seem to have the opposite effect.
Back in Hong Kong 2011, August is wandering around the shadiest back alley this side of Bladerunner. He is lead to a small room to wait for his audience with The Dragon. The woman ahead of him in line steps behind the curtain, but not before removing her sunglasses and revealing her identity. It seems Tamara was in need of a little magic herself once upon a time. August soon takes his audience with The Dragon, who is an old man of the Miyagi variety. The Dragon can see that August is turning to wood and knows he is Pinocchio. He can help, but requires an item of great personal value, along with a great sum of money. Due to excessive partying, August is short on cash. As luck would have it he runs into Tamara at a seedy bar, and while her back is turned, robs her blind.
August returns to The Dragon and receives a potion to cure him, though The Dragon warns August that this is just a symptom of a larger problem within his soul. Right as August is about to take his potion, he is found out by Tamara and more running ensues. For a man with a wooden leg, August can sure motor. Though not fast enough as the leg finally gives out and Tamara gets the potion.
In present day Storybrooke, Tamara shows up at August’s trailer door. She can see that he has a face only a 1970’s decorator would love (I can’t believe I’ve resorted to wood paneling jokes). Tamara assures August that she kept some of the liquid from The Dragon and it could cure August if he just leaves Storybrooke. Permanently.
Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Regina confronts Greg on his real identity. She realized that he is in fact Owen and in a very sassy and creepy display both assures him that his father is no longer in Storybrooke but if Greg doesn’t watch his step…. well, people have been known to disappear.
Back in the woods, Emma, Snow, and Geppetto make their way to August’s trailer. En route, it comes out that the reason August is even in this realm was the fact that there was room for two people in the enchanted wardrobe. Snow realizes that she could have gone through with Emma, whirls around and slaps the Italian accent out of Geppetto’s mouth. She and everyone present is shocked at this behavior and Snow insists that this is “not her”. They reach the trailer and see August has already gone.
2011 Hong Kong. Tamara confronts The Dragon over the contents of the potion vial. It seems that science has failed this round, as all analyses of the liquid show that is does and should not even exist. This is the first real magic Tamara has found in this world and she isn’t risking anyone else finding it as well. She pulls a comically large Taser from her belt and zaps The Dragon into the next dynasty.
As August leaves town in Tamara’s truck in the present day, never to be seen or heard from again, he notices she still has the personal item she described giving to The Dragon as payment. He realizes she lied about why she needed magic and more than likely killed The Dragon. August returns to town to alert Emma and the rest of Tamara’s treachery. Unfortunately, August barely is able to get Emma on the phone, when Tamara, in true villain form, unplugs the land-line from the wall. She then uses her Taser of Doom on him. Last time I checked, wood doesn’t conduct electricity, so there has to be something very odd about this particular zapper.
The entire, and I mean entire ,Charming family shows up on the scene as August stumbles out into the street and into Geppetto’s arms like a bunch of kindling. He tries to warn Emma, but expires before he can get more than two words out. Henry believes that perhaps the Blue Fairy can work her voodoo now, and the woman pops up faster than Emma Swan if you mention free bagels. Blue explains that because August gave his life for others, perhaps this is enough to redeem him. She gives a wave of her magic wand and August reverts back into a young Pinocchio. It seems the Blue Fairy has given Geppetto and his son a second chance, though Pinocchio cannot remember what he was trying to warn Emma and the rest about. Tamara tries to subtly breath a sign of relief.
In a flashback to New York City circa 2011, we see Nealfire and August meeting up. It seems August is on his way to Storybrooke to help Emma believe in magic and break the curse. Nealfire wonders if this is such a good idea, but August assures him that it is, as well as a possibility for Neal to see Emma again. As August speeds off on his motorcycle, who do we see eavesdropping, but Tamara, with a large coffee in hand, ready to set in motion the events that will soon make her fiancee to the son of Rumpelstiltskin.
We close out this episode with good old Greg receiving yet another phone call from the mysterious “Her”. As he opens the door to his hotel room to let “Her” in, it’s Tamara standing in the doorway, phone in hand. She has been working with Greg all along and as she steps into the room they share a passionate kiss.
Sit tight for four weeks when we return April 21st to see Belle’s racy alter ego in “Lacey”