We finally get to see what the deal is between Ursula and Captain Hook in the "Poor Unfortunate Soul" episode of "Once Upon a Time" -- and we finally find out the location of the Author.
We start out with Hook -- the pirate captain of the Jolly Roger who is, in the past, obsessed with killing the crocodile, or as we also know him, Rumpelstiltskin. He and his hearty crew nearly sail into a crop of jagged rocks when they are mesmerized by the entrancing voice of a mermaid. They are able to veer away at the last minute before disaster strikes.
The crew is saved by the kindness of a young Ursula who, against her father Poseidon's wishes, stops singing so that they can regain enough of their senses to act. Ernie Hudson is a mad Poseidon, upset that she didn't kill the humans -- just like they killed his wife and Ursula's mom. Even undersea creatures have daddy-daughter exchanges as old as time. "If you want to live in my ocean, you'll do what I say!" That never works, and Ursula leaves.
Back in our time, Regina is taking the bad cop role -- in a room full of bad cops. She conjures a fireball to entice August to talk and tell them where the Author is -- since he carried the book around with him for the longest. He says that he met a mystic named the dragon who knew about the Author, and he ended up stealing his research. New character this dragon. Hmmm. Well, Rumpelstiltskin is going to look into it. When he leaves, Regina shows August the page from Robin, showing her own happy ending. Is it real?
Meanwhile, Regina sends a message back to the group of heroes -- that includes Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming and Henry. Oddly enough, she sends a smoke signal -- one that takes possession of Snow/Mary Margaret and allows Regina to speak through Snow. She tells them that Pinocchio is safe but that Gold is back in Storybrooke. Belle has to be warned, and Hook needs to talk to Ursula. He may be able to find out more since he took Ursula's happy ending -- and is somehow able to give it back.
Hook and Ursula meet in the forest, but the initial embrace is anything but warm as her tentacles constrict around Hook. He tells her that he has what she desires, though, if she'll tell him Rumpel's plan. What does she want? Well, we flash back to the past. Hook sees her in a bar and recognizes the voice of the mermaid that almost lured him to doom. She tells him her whole family story. She walks on land with the aid of a bracelet, like the one that Ariel wore. Hook was actually a little bit smitten by Ursula, and offers her safe passage to the land where he mother once sang her songs.
Before that can happen, Poseidon tells Hook that he can't let Ursula travel with him. To entice the pirate, the sea king enchants a shell that will take away Ursula's voice, possibly the thing she most prizes. If he does this, Poseidon will help him get squid ink, something powerful enough to take down the crocodile/Dark One/Rumpelstiltskin. All he has to do is show Ursula how evil humans can really be.
Back in the present, Hook will give Ursula back her treasure, but it's aboard the Jolly Roger. She opens a portal to the ship through the ocean, but instead they find that the ship has become a ship in a bottle. What's happened to the Jolly Roger?!?
Robin Hood! It's the present and Regina meets up with her love ... aw, it's just a dream. Anyway, Gold returns, actually never bothering to look for this dragon mystic that August mentioned. He instead found a potion that turns poor August back into a wooden being. All the better to threaten him, it seems. Luckily for him, it was only temporary, but it did activate his "built-in lie detector," as Rumpel called it. Nose bone growing longer with each lie seems like it might hurt a bit more than wood, so after a few questions, and a brush with fire, August tells them that the door is in Storybrooke and that Regina has seen it. Regina is puzzled by this, since she has been looking for a while, but she and Gold and Maleficent go out to search the town.
In the Hook-Ursula in the past, Hook decides not to sell out Ursula, it seems. But back in the present, we see that Hook has the shell with Ursula's voice in it. They were able to enlarge the ship because of Will Scarlett's Wonderland knowledge (remember the mushrooms that made Alice big? He does.). Ursula tries to extract her voice out of the shell but can't. She wants to back out on her deal to aid Hook, since he wasn't able to deliver on his end. Hook pulls a gun -- bad move -- and is smacked around by Ursula's tentacles and thrown overboard.
But Ariel saves him!! The little mermaid to the rescue!
She then slaps him for their whole Blackbeard ordeal, and during their conversation, says something pretty poignant. Villains don't get their happy endings often because they go about getting them the wrong way. Hmmm... Hook seems to think he has a plan, but he'll need Ariel's help.
In the forest, Emma and the Charmings find August and quickly take out Cruella with a frying pan to get him. Before they can escape, though, Ursula returns. Taking Snow hostage, she proves to be a bit more of a challenge.
In the past, pirate Hook is upset again. He's mad that Poseidon again came aboard his ship unannounced, and mad that he came and took back the squid ink that he'd hoped to use to subdue Rumpelstiltskin. He wanted Poseidon to feel the pain of losing something, so he went ahead and took Ursula's singing voice using the shell. Pretty messed up, but what it led to was worse. A distraught Ursula invoked the powers of the sea goddess and her father's trident and became the tentacled creature that she is now.
In the present, though, Hook aims to remedy that wrongdoing. Hook got Ariel to bring Poseidon to Storybrooke. He returns just in time to stop a showdown between Emma and Ursula, as Snow is being choked by Ursula's tentacles. She lets Snow go, surprised to see her father and hear a heartfelt apology from him about how he treated her. He then returns Ursula's voice, seeing as how the only one who could do that was the one who's magic put it there in the first place. The two go off together, father and daughter. Ursula then tells Hook that Rumpel's plan is not only to find the Author but to somehow corrupt Emma Swan and turn her heart black. Being the savior, she actually has the power to rewrite happy endings in the world of Storybrooke.
A point made by Hook does seem to be eluding folks. If we're to believe the rules of the book about happy endings, and Hook is considered a villain, it's only a matter of time before he loses the happy ending he thinks he has with Emma.
So they need to find the Author, but they already know where he is. A rescued Pinocchio/August tells them that the picture of a door that they had been seeing in the books was the actual door that they had been looking for all along. The author is trapped in the book itself.
So now the heroes know, and it's only a matter of time before Rumpel, Cruella and Maleficent find out. The race is still on, and the stakes are not just happy endings, but Emma's life.