Once Upon a Time recap: Doubt: A Parable

Angst is the flavor of the week, afflicting Emma, Snow -- and even Rumpelstiltskin. Also: Rufio shoutout!
Ep. 02 | Aired Oct 6, 2013

UNBEWEAVABLE "My kingdom for a bottle of conditioner!"

Jack Rowand/ABC

Uh oh, dearies -- we've reached the part in our story when everyone is being afflicted by crippling self-doubt. (Or, in Emma's case, the part where she... continues to be afflicted by crippling self-doubt.) It's a necessary step along any hero's journey. Unfortunately, it's not exactly the most scintillating subject in Once's repertoire. At least Rumbelle supporters and Captain Swan crew members each got a little something to snack on; the rest of us will just have to hope things get more exciting when Tinkerbell flits into our lives next week.

Tonight's "believe in yourself" theme stretches all the way from Neverland to the season's first Fairyback, set during a yet-unelaborated stretch of Once history: the period between Charming awakening Snow and the couple's wedding. These are heady times, characterized by disgruntled dwarfs, Regina's wrath, and Snow White's crisis of confidence, which strikes when her stepmother offers her a Joker-esque deal. Since attempted murder and cursing hasn't exactly worked in Regina's favor, she's got a new proposition for the princess: Snow, Charming, and the dwarfs have one day to get the hell out of Dodge. And for each day they defy Regina's orders, the Evil Queen promises to kill one innocent as punishment.

Nobody ever taught Snow not to negotiate with terrorists: She's all for giving in to Regina's demands and retreating far, far away. (But not there.) Charming, though, knows that they can fight the villainess and win -- provided his betrothed only believes in herself. And the best way to make Snow believe in herself is, of course, to lie to her.

Charming tells the princess that Rumpelstiltskin has pointed him in the direction of a magical weapon that will help her defeat Regina once and for all. The weapon, as it turns out, "was formed by a benevolent mage [named] Merlin, from a realm called Camelot." (Timeline check: Tonight's fairyback takes place before the pair met Lancelot, so it makes sense that Snow doesn't know any Arthurian lore.) Snow draws "Excalibur" from a stone and almost immediately gets her mojo back. When Regina returns for another threatdown, the princess even draws blood from her enemy.

Too bad that, as Rumpelstiltskin himself soon informs her, the sword's a fake. ("Shoddy craftsmanship, too. Then again, what can you expect from a shepherd? Lucky it wasn't made of wool.") At first, Snow is royally and understandably pissed. But when Charming mansplains that he only lied for Snow's own good, she quickly forgives his trespasses. Is season 3's budget big enough to fund a glimpse of Snow and Charming's war against Regina?

NEXT: She really is a funny girl...

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