Cue Rumpelstiltskin popping up in Fairy Land as well. He tells Charming that he's there to aid the prince as he searches for Snow in the Infinite Wood -- but that the imp's help will, of course, come with a price. At first, James isn't willing to play Rumpel's game. But soon, he finds that fighting a magically endowed dark creature with nothing but a pair of puny, un-magical blades isn't exactly easy. Finally, the prince acquiesces, and Rump pulls out his glowing vial of Love Potion #9. He needs Charming to help him store the elixir in a safe spot -- like, say, the belly of a beast. Pro tip: Never play Hide and Seek with Rumpelstiltskin.
Emma and Regina trek down to Goldtown, where the shopkeeper instantly senses that Emma's become a believer. He exposits once more that true love is a powerful potion with the ability to break any curse -- and that he imbued the Dark Curse's parchment with a drop of that potion, which is why Emma is the only one who can break it. (She, like the concoction itself, is a product of Snow White and Prince Charming's love.) To end the hex once and for all, Emma will need to retrieve the rest of the potion. And though Gold doesn't explain exactly how she's going to do that, he does say that having her father's sword will help. Now that is a handsome Mother's Day present.
Before she can embark on her quest, Emma has to tie up a few loose ends. She heads back to the hospital, where she apologizes for not believing Henry, then goes to August's room in an attempt to enlist his help. Unfortunately, August isn't exactly a real boy anymore. Emma gets there just in time to see her would-be caretaker transform back into a man-sized puppet. I'm going to ignore any possible dirty jokes and go back to Regina, who's making her own apologies to Henry.
Are we supposed to feel sorry for the queen, or believe that she really has the capacity to care for her adopted son? Because I still feel a bit like Once's writers want to have it both ways: they characterize Regina as the absolute embodiment of evil most of the time, then try to make her a three-dimensional person when it's convenient. Maybe this will be sorted out in Season 2. In the meantime, Regina's got another problem to deal with.
Jefferson has appeared at the hospital, intending to collect on Regina's promise to reunite him with his daughter. Regina, who's selfish to the core, snarls that their deal is null and void since Henry ate the apple rather than Emma. She smarms that even if he wants to kill her for this, the Hatter doesn't have the guts, then stalks off to meet Emma. Jefferson doesn't take this lying down. Instead, he creeps into the hospital's secret underground asylum, bypasses Nurse Ratched and mute Chief Bromden, and swans into a certain cell... where crazy Belle waits, wondering why she speaks with an Australian accent and wishing she had a nice squirrel baby for company. Jefferson gives the girl her freedom and a mission: to find Mr. Gold and tell him that Regina locked her up.
NEXT: Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus