Many of us may have been hoping that Bruce Lee would make a special appearance in the "Enter the Dragon" episode of "Once Upon a Time," but it was not to be. Instead, Rumpelstiltskin stole the show with a few roundhouses of his own, and one evil sorceress inspires another.
At Granny's after dark, a not-so-hopping nightspot in Storybrooke, Evil Queen Regina meets up with what seems to be a noir newly resurrected Maleficent, and the tagalongs Ursula and Cruella, in an attempt to show that she's still one of them: a villain. Don't fret -- it's all an undercover ploy. And to illustrate how hateful she used to be, we flash back to a younger Regina under the tutelage of a crazy dark lord, Rumpelstiltskin. Regina questions the training that Rumpel has been giving her in magic. She somehow procured a spellbook from Maleficent. Now that's a real spell caster, says Regina. So Rumpel went ahead and sent Regina to her -- on the spot.
Back in the present, Snow White and Prince Charming have told daughter Emma Swan about Regina's plan to skip over to the other side. She thinks it's an awesomely bad idea, and when Regina doesn't check in, it seems that her fears are confirmed.
But nothing to worry about, really. Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent decide to test Regina's evil with a game of chicken against a train. It's not much of a test, so Regina schemes for a little destructive fun. When she later does meet up with Snow and Charming, she tells them that she still doesn't know what their overall plan is, but in order to gain their trust, she had to get drunk and blow things up with the witches. Isn't that always how things have to go?
In the obligatory "Henry-is-still-on-Operation-Mongoose" scene, while looking through one of the books by the Author, he notices that on a page there seems to be a door of special significance. Maybe he's seen it before? With everyone on the lookout for the Author, it does seem as though Henry might be the one making the most progress.
Back to the past Enchanted Forest, and the first meeting between Regina and Maleficent. The mighty morphin' dragon sorceress is a mean, down-on-her-luck shell of her former magically glorious self. Still, Regina asks Maleficent to teach her magic. Her first lesson? A single drop of sleeping curse, seawater and toadstool takes the edge off. Regina tries to boost up a broken Maleficent, and later succeeds in helping her at least partially get her fiery groove back. Regina finds that Princess Aurora is getting married, and she pushes Maleficent to get her revenge on the king so that Regina can feel like it's possible for her to get her own revenge on Snow White. That spark of evil is why Rumpel thinks Regina can be turned back to her evil ways in present-day Storybrooke. She's lost another love, and Rumpel wants her on his side when he starts a war in Storybrooke. Interesting.
In the present, Regina and Maleficent meet and talk as if they're old friends. Maleficent tells Regina that she's looking for the Author as well. They can help each other. The bad guys want to shift the entire balance, not just get a few happy endings. The "Charming softball team and their pirate mascot" Hook, as Regina so eloquently calls them, is worried about Regina spiraling into evil. Emma now is pushing herself into the plan, and will be Regina's back-up for whatever is being planned -- and what's planned is stealing a little boy, Pinocchio. Maleficent thinks he has ideas about the Author, but that Regina was too gentle in trying to extract the information from the boy. Apparently, you can't just ask -- and Maleficent and the others have a secret dark power that they may be able to use. That entices Regina, so she ditches Emma (and her phone), kidnaps the child, and knocks out Marco in the process.
Maybe they have a tiny bit of a bond between them, reinforced by another flashback to the past. Younger Regina tells Maleficent that her power resides in the eternally burning tree. Maleficent draws the dragonfire back into herself, hoping to reignite her ability to transform into a dragon, which she apparently lost. It doesn't seem to work at first, and Regina and Maleficent are captured by the king, who knows that Maleficent is again up to her evil ways. But Regina's not going out like that, and she, the beginning conjurer that she is, ignites one little fireball to knock off a horseman. That spark helps inspire Maleficent to become the dragon once more, and later, to put Aurora to sleep -- all thanks to Regina.
Back in present-day Storybrooke, Will and Captain Hook have a run-in, but not the usual fisticuffs run-in. Hook doesn't know (yet) about Will and Belle, so he just shoos Will off to talk to her. Hook tells Belle about the whole plan that Regina and the rest have cooked up -- to help Regina infiltrate the bad witches coven. He wants her to go get Rumpelstiltskin's dagger, just in case that it is the item of power that the trio wants. One of them could either control Rumpelstiltskin with it, or even become the dark one. Something's off with this whole thing, though. But Belle leads Hook to the dagger anyway, though she has reservations about letting go of her only protection against the dark one should he ever return. To calm her, Hook tells her that she should command Rumpel to appear before her if he is actually back in town. Nothing happens, so it must be all good. She hands the dagger to Hook and leaves. Then Hook turns back into Rumpelstiltskin! Now Rumpel is back to full strength.
An even freakier moment ... Hook/Rumpel makes Belle swear a pirate's oath to not tell anyone about them re-hiding the dagger. She tells Hook about her and Will, how he makes her laugh. But she still loves Rumpel, even if he's shady. That gets to the disguised dark lord.
But not enough to derail him from his plans. Back at his cabin, Regina finally faces the returned Rumpel, with him revealing that he is around and pulling the strings, so to speak. He's the one who wanted them to kidnap Pinocchio, but not so that they could question the amnesiac boy. Instead, Rumpel reverses the magic that first turned August into a boy, and now he's back as a man, with his memories intact. Let the fun begin.