Alas, Arthurian scholars: Though tonight's episode was called "Lady of the Lake," it didn't revolve around a queen of Avalon with a fondness for magic swords and water sports. It did, however, introduce yet another piece of eye candy -- you can ride in my cart anytime, Lancelot -- before cruelly revealing that he'd been dead the whole time. I hope that he and Sheriff Skinny Jeans are up in Attractive Dude Heaven right now, smiling down on us before going to play cards with the real Prince James.
This episode also marked the return of the dreaded Boring Storybrooke B-Plot -- actually, a C-plot, due to the show's new three-pronged approach. Since there wasn't much to it, I'll summarize the whole thing up front: Henry wants to help Charming find Snow and Emma. When Charming balks, Henry takes matters into his own hands, tracking down Jefferson and then sneaking into the creepy magic vault below Regina's father's crypt. Charming arrives there just in time to save his truant grandson from the snake that killed Henry's Great Grandpa Leopold. He then resolves to let Henry be more involved in the rescue effort. There's hugging, there's learning, there's play swordfighting. While nothing was really wrong with this portion of the episode, it didn't do much to propel Once's master plot forward.
Unlike, say, the present-day Fairy Land segments. These begin right where last week's episode left off: an incarcerated Emma is chatting with her fellow prisoner Cora, who doesn't waste much time before coming clean about her identity. While Emma is immediately suspicious, Cora assures her that she's not as wicked as her famously evil daughter: "The apple fell very far from the tree." Somehow, that's enough for the woman who once claimed to be able to tell when people are lying. Emma seems willing to take her cellmate at her word, even after Snow regains consciousness and tells her that Cora's the worst thing since unsliced bread.
Their mother-daughter tiff is interrupted when the pair gets lifted out of their underground prison; the leader of their jailers wants a word. Snow is delighted when she sees that said leader is none other than Lancelot, a noble knight who does his shopping in Ye Olde Macy's Big and Tall Armor Department. Snow explains to Emma that Lance is an old friend...
... though the two first met when Lancelot captured Snow and delivered her straight to King Charles Widmore's castle. Timeline check: Tonight's fairybacks take place soon after Charming awoke Snow from her glass coffin (and fought a dragonized Maleficent), but before they had wrested back Charming's kingdom. Snow is defiant in the face of the king. That's cool with George; he mostly invited Snow over so that he could reveal his own sob story (his wife drank a potion that made her barren; his adopted son proved difficult to replace). Oh, and so that he could poison her womb with the same tonic that kept his wife from getting pregnant. Come on, Snow -- someone who was felled by a poisoned apple should know better than to eat or drink anything a villain offers you. Even though you ate that bad fruit willingly.
NEXT: Mulan: "Let's get down to business... to defeat... the ogres!"