(Beware, spoilers below!)
This week on Once Upon a Time Emma and the crew are pursuing the Author, but he’s nowhere to be found. Her parents confess that Author manipulated them but Emma tell them that she’s still furious about what they did. In Storybrooke the Author is already out trying to make a magic quill but he can’t make one since none of the trees are magical. Mr Gold gets the Author to come with him when he offers him a magic quill in exchange for some happy endings – and they get whisked away.
In the crypt Regina wakes up and Gold shows her that he found the number for Robin that she kept in her pocket. Gold tells her to call him. We flashback to nine weeks ago as Robin and his family begin to make a new start in Baelfire’s apartment. As Marion goes to pick up Roland her bag gets nicked and Robin goes after the thief on horseback until he finally catches up with him. Flashing back to the Enchanted Forest of the past Robin and Marion has started a new life running a tavern. The Sheriff of Nottingham shows up and asks for his taxes to be paid but Robin says they need a bit more time. He gives the former thief two days.
In New York Marion commiserates over how she feels that everything is her fault; just then Gold shows up. He’s shocked as to why the family are their and tells them to get out. Robin knows that he wants to find the author and as the two men stand off Mr Gold collapses. Back in Robin’s tavern Rumple shows up and asks Robin to steal an elixir for him. What’s more, he’ll need to go to Oz to do it.
In the hospital Mr Gold has been told he’s had a heart attack but he has another theory; that his dark deeds have poisoned his heart. Outside of the magic in Storybrooke he’s not as protected as before. He tells Robin that the Elixir of the Wounded Heart will help him do that and he wants Robin to get it for him.
In the past we see Robin emerge in Oz… and finds that he’s inadvertently saved Will Scarlet. The two make a deal for Robin to give Will a bit of the potion in order to make sure the guard is cleanly disposed of. Back in New York Robin arrives as the store ‘The Wizard of Oak’ and he rummages through the shop until he manages to come across the potion. The cops show up but he gets out just in time.
Marion’s understandably not happy but she doesn’t feel that Gold should be allowed to stay alive. Back in the past Robin seems to successfully get into the palace and steal some elixir, but then Zelena shows up. She knows that Rumplestilksin is behind it but he manages to just about escape. Robin flees with some of the elixir but lies to Will and says that he didn’t manage to steal a drop of it.
In modern New York he delivers Mr Gold the potion and makes a deal that ensures that he and his family can stay in their apartment and never seem him again. He drinks the potion but it doesn’t work: just then Marion comes in and demonstrates that she switched the vials. She reveals that she’s actually Zelena. In fact, Marion’s never been alive and Zelena never died. When Rumple killed her he just made her life force move on. The witch admits that she travelled the time portal with Marion, killed her and took her place.
She lets Gold ‘die’ but the science of our world manages to keep him alive. He wakes up but she’s not all that disappointed about it because she hasn’t yet finished talking about her plan. Zelena admits she’s a little disappointed that she can’t win Robin’s heart but she wants Gold to write in her happy ending too when he finds the author. In exchange she’ll give him the potion and he won’t die.
Back in Oz Will thanks Robin for all he’s done and for being an honorable man. He tells Robin about the sister he had that died and the former believes that Will didn’t want the potion to sell but wanted it to mend his own heart. They hug it out … and Will manages to nick the potion off him. Outside the hospital Robin offers Gold his son’s old belongings but the latter doesn’t want it because of what it reminds him of. Robin admits that Marion feels like a stranger to him and Gold tells him to grasp his happy ending and never let it go.
In the Enchanted Forest Robin stands empty in his tavern when the Sheriff of Nottingham turns up. Robin admits he has no money but The Merry Men back him up and henceforth promises to steal from the rich and give to the poor. The two promise to be together because they want to be together.
Robin is thinking things through in New York when Marion confronts him about Regina. He finally decides that he loves her and wants to be with her. Robin deletes Regina’s contact. In Storybrooke today Marion/Zelena picks up the phone. She reveals that she’s now looking after Robin and that she’s not dead after all. Gold tells her that that’s why Regina will do what she says, because one phone call from him will ensure Robin’s death. Regina says that she won’t let him turn Emma to the darkness – and he asks if that’s her final answer.
Aside from this being a Robin-centric episode we’ve rarely seen Robin and Gold interact directly. This episode manages to bring back some fan favourites whilst also giving us insight into dynamics that haven’t really been front and centre yet. It showcases both Robin and Will’s extent of resourcefulness – we know of their great skills but this time we actually got to see them at work. Zelena’s bombshell was the biggest bombshell that’s been dropped on us since, well, last episode, but the longevity of Zelena’s plan did make its shock factor more effective. No doubt many fans will go back and watch the Marion clips in past episodes in order to see if there are any things they might have missed. I want to be a tad skeptical about what she’s done, but her motive is character true and cements Zelena’s place as a formidable villain even better than last season. The Robin origin story hits home with greater effect because we know that the Marion we see in flashbacks is not the same Marion in New York today. For a flashback heavy episode it was fast paced and great fun: bring on Cruella’s episode next week!