Image credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
ONE STRING ATTACHED At least, until The Dragon gets through with Il Burattino.
As it turns out, Tamara has a history with Pinocchio. When he went to see The Dragon in the fall of 2011, she was visiting the healer as well, apparently seeking a magic cure for a case of terminal cancer. August learns this only after reluctantly giving the Dragon one of his most prized possessions -- a necklace made of one of his original strings -- and subsequently learning that an anti-petrifying potion will cost him an additional $10,000.
Pinocchio doesn't have enough paper (how ironic, for a dude made of trees!). But Tamara, whom he runs into at a bar shortly after leaving The Dragon's lair, has cash to spare -- and she's careless about protecting it. After hearing her cancer story, August steals the money and uses it to buy The Dragon's cure. Unfortunately, his bum leg makes a quick getaway all but impossible. Soon enough, Tamara catches up with him and takes the cure for herself. "Whatever it is you have, you deserve your fate," she snarls before leaving the poor puppet all alone. Oh, what he wouldn't give for some donkey juice right about now.
The two old foes meet again in Storybrooke. After engaging in a bit of gloating, Tamara tells Pa Timbertoe that she's willing to give him the small bit of cure-juice that remains in The Dragon's vial... if he's willing to drive to New York to get it. Oh, and never to return to Storybrooke. Faster than you can say "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay," Pinocchio's putting his wooden pedals to the metal. By the time Gepetto, Emma, and Snow arrive at the trailer, he's long gone -- on his way to a land where a walking hunk of logs would barely draw a passing glance from passersby. (We've seen weirder.)
So what's the real deal with Tamara? Chances are we won't know for a few more episodes -- but as a flashback shows, after nabbing August's cure, she paid one more visit to The Dragon. There, she reveals that she never had cancer -- uh, if The Dragon could instantly discern Pinocchio's true identity, why didn't he immediately send this charlatan away when she entered his office? -- and tells the magic man that she's "analyzed this bottle [filled with magic potion] with the most sophisticated techniques available to man." Okay, so Tamara's a) a skilled liar, b) kind of scary, and c) someone with access to a super-fancy science lab in Hong Kong. That narrows it down.
As August is speeding away from Storybrooke, he notices something in Tamara's car -- a photograph of her and her grandmother. Back in Hong Kong, she had said that this was the talisman she gave The Dragon in exchange for his services. If it's in her possession once more, then she must have gotten it back from The Dragon. (Well, that or she believes in saving negatives.) And since August, too, returned to the magician's lair a few days after his first visit, only to find that The Dragon was dead, it's beginning to look a lot like Tamara is the one responsible for his demise.
NEXT: Just what this show needs -- another precocious little boy