It's all very touching, and this deal might just have led to the recovery of Belle's lost memories... if not for Regina, who of course sees an opportunity to swoop in and muck everything up. She visits Belle under a pretense of friendliness, then hands the patient an enchanted matchbook that actually does jog the girl's memory.
There's just one problem: It's jogged the wrong set of memories, the fake ones that belonged to Belle's cursed self. Yes, the girl trapped in Regina's Cuckoo's Nest sanitarium apparently had a personality all her own -- she knew herself as Lacey, a flirtatious barfly with a penchant for billiards and racy outfits. (Or, at least, as "racy" as you can get during ABC's family hour.) 28 years of being shut up in that asylum, without access to sequins or tequila shots, must have been a special kind of torture.
Rumpelstiltskin is furious when he finds out what Regina has done. But as the evil queen smugly informs him, there's just one way he can restore the real Belle -- via Twue Wuv's Kiss, the curse-breaker to end all curse-breakers. And a simple smooch won't do the trick; as Charming once discovered back in Fairy Land, the kiss won't work unless its recipient loves its bestower in turn.
Though getting Lacey to find love in Rump rather than the bottom of a bottle seems like a long shot, desperate times call for desperate measures. The imp heads to Granny's, seeking help from another experienced curse-breaker. And while he's still sort of mad about the whole Cora thing, Charming agrees to lend his co-grandparent a hand -- perhaps because he wants Rump to owe him a favor, or perhaps because he's in a good mood; the prince has just come back from the outskirts of town, where the dwarfs and Anton the Giant are quietly raising a bumper crop of magic beans. Ah, what a miracle fruit!
With the help of Charming's expert guidance -- "Show her the man she fell in love with!" "Just ask her out!" "Talk a big game about saving her, then immediately get taken out of the fight before it even really begins!" -- Rumpelstiltskin manages to get himself a date with Lacey. That very night, the pair meet at Storybrooke's only restaurant. He's in his usual dapper attire; she's clad in a short, tight, backless sequined dress that may well have been designed by Romy and Michele.
And that's not the only sign of cognitive dissonance between these onetime lovebirds. He orders her a burger, perhaps trying to awaken memories of dates past. She cancels the sandwich and asks instead for a chicken parm and -- ha! -- an entire bottle of white wine, which she proceeds to pour into the largest glass this side of Big Carl. Still, Rump is keeping hope alive -- especially after Lacey nonchalantly says a phrase Belle once recited during their unconventional courtship.
Alas, that moment of euphoria is short-lived. Lacey ducks out to use the bathroom and doesn't return, prompting Rump to leave the table and hunt her down. He finds her outside Granny's, being pinned to the wall by a certain beer-guzzler who frequents the same divey bar she loves (called, appropriately, "The Rabbit Hole"). The noble Rump does his best to rescue the fair maiden from her assailant -- only to discover that Lacey, um, wanted the dude to ravish her. I feel like she and Jack the Giant Killer would have gotten along juuuust fine.
NEXT: A twisted path to Twue Wuv?