In the Fairy Tale Realm, we learn Rapunzel’s backstory. Meanwhile, in Hyperion Heights, Victoria finally achieves her goal, though it comes at a major cost. Full recap of “One Little Tear” (first aired Friday, December 8 at 8pm ET|PT on ABC).
With “One Little Tear”, Once Upon a Time kicks things into high gear! Within the first 10 minutes, there are OMG-moments that reverberate throughout the remainder of the episode and likely the rest of the season.
In the Fairy Tale Realm, we meet the real Rapunzel several years ago as she’s traveling through the night with her husband and two daughters. Her husband Marcus (a tailor) is severely ill and the children are hungry It’s clear the family has fallen on difficult times. Rapunzel stops the horses and carriage outside of a large manor house. The older daughter is concerned about her mother leaving, but Rapunzel tells her all will be well. She has taken a lantern and there is one in the carriage: “The lanterns will connect us. You’ll see mine in there, and yours will guide me back to you here. Remember, for my family, I’ll always find a way.”
Rapunzel sneaks into the garden to collect vegetables that she and her family can eat. However, almost immediately, the witch Gothel arrives. She chastises Rapunzel for stealing from her. Rapunzel apologizes for her theft, but refuses to apologize for trying to save her family. Gothel seems impressed by Rapunzel’s selfishness and offers a bargain. What would Rapunzel sacrifice to assure her family’s well-being? “I would do anything.”
Gothel pours out some seeds and throws them to the ground. Rapunzel’s hands are bound and a large tower grows around her. She is now trapped and Gothel tells her that he family will never find her. This is the price to pay for her family’s happiness. Rapunzel calls out for her family. Marcus! Anastasia! Drizella! WHATTTTTTTT?! Yep, the surprise is that Rapunzel = Lady Tremaine/Victoria. LAWD.
Six years go by… and Rapunzel knows exactly how long because she keeps tracks of the days. It’s incredibly frustrating. One evening, Rapunzel looks out the tower window and sees hundreds of lanterns floating in the air. This gives her the courage to make an escape. She cuts off her lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng braid and uses it as a rope to rappel down the side of the tower. It’s a long way down, but she does it, for her family.
Rapunzel follows the trail of lanterns to their source, only to find that an older Anastasia is sending them into the air. Anastasia’s hope that the lanterns would be a signal to her mother has come true. Rapunzel is so excited to see her daughters (though Drizella doesn’t share the sentiment). Marcus joins them outside and is shocked. He’s thought that Rapunzel is dead. She tells him about Gothel’s trick, the promise of her family’s prosperity in exchange for her being locked away. But she’s back now! All is well, right? NO. Because Marcus took all that prosperity and married another woman, Cecilia (AKA (Cinder)Ella’s mother).
In time, Rapunzel moves to a small cottage at the back of the manor and she’s essentially the maid. RIDICULOUS. Rapunzel doesn’t seem to mind the service, but she is upset about the increasing distance between her and her daughters, especially Drizella. Marcus assures Rapunzel of her children’s love and even offers her a present. He’s mended her old cloak, the one left behind when she was imprisoned. Marcus acknowledges he owes everything to Rapunzel for her sacrifice. He still loves her, but he also loves Cecilia and Ella. *EPIC EYEROLL*
Gothel comes upon Rapunzel as she’s crying. Gothel planned all along for Rapunzel to escape and find that her family has moved on without her. Why? Gothel knows that Rapunzel will sacrifice her happiness for her family. But will Rapunzel sacrifice someone else’s happiness for her own? Gothel leaves Rapunzel with a poisoned toadstool from Wonderland: “Squeeze it into Cecilia’s drink when she least expects it. You can make her go away. You can have your family back..” Rapunzel refuses to hurt an innocent woman and throws the toadstool into the fire. Maybe so… but in case, Gothel recovers the toadstool and leaves it on the fireplace mantel.
At Drizella’s birthday party, Rapunzel serves lavender lemonade to the guests. Cecilia compliments Rapunzel’s lemonade and tells her to take the day off from working to celebrate Drizella’s birthday. (I am *so* enraged that Rapunzel is literally these people’s maid! Marcus is the worst.) Rapunzel watches Cecillia with Drizella and Anastasia and becomes angry. Marcus tries to say that they can all get along, but when Drizella calls Cecillia “Mother,” (thanking her for a birthday gift) Rapunzel snaps. She returns to her cottage, breaks a mirror in anger, and then reaches for the toadstool…
The toadstool causes Cecillia to flee to Wonderland. Marcus goes after her, but eventually returns, and they live on as a family. One snowy day, Marcus and Rapunzel watch as Anastasia, Drizella, and Ella make a snowman. When the snowman’s hat blows away, Ella tries to catch it. Anastasia can tell that the ice is thin and goes after Ella to stop her, but it’s too late. Both girls go under and Marcus dives in after them. When Marcus comes up, he only has one girl, Ella. He says he could only grab one girl… you better believe Rapunzel is livid that he wouldn’t choose Anastasia. (This now explains Ella’s guilt and why Lady Tremaine blames her for what happened to Anastasia.)
Rapunzel is able to get Anastasia out of the lake and runs to beg Gothel for help reviving her. Gothel locks in Anastasia’s last breath to help keep her between life and death. And Gothel says that this time, Anastasia will go into the tower. It’s all been a test. Gothel has been searching for the Guardian, someone pure of heart and incorruptible. Gothel thought it might be Rapunzel, but she harmed an innocent (Cecilia). Maybe Anastasia could be the Guardian? Gothel tells Rapunzel that this time, she has reinforced the tower with blood magic. When Gothel reaches for the seeds, she realizes that Rapunzel has stolen them. She throws them down and the tower imprisons Gothel. (And now we understand why Gothel needed her own child. The blood magic means that she can leave the tower only when someone in her bloodline holds her place… ALICE! Also, poor Alt-Killian!)
Rapunzel promises to bring Anastasia back…
In Hyperion Heights, Victoria is being held in jail for the kidnapping of Eloise Gardner. Drizella comes to see her mother and gloat… “Orange looks better on the women on that Netflix show.” *SNORT*
Victoria isn’t at all glad to see Drizella, why has shwe some? Drizella asks for information on where Anastasia’s body is. Apparently, she wants to wake her sister up. But Victoria sees through her. Drizella only wants to take the magic within Anastasia and then kill her sister. Victoria isn’t about to let that happen. Drizella tries to make a deal… she controls all of Victoria’s assets now. The only way Victoria can get out of prison will be to tell Drizella about Anastasia’s whereabouts. Besides, Drizella shares that she can find Anastasia with Gothel’s help. But Victoria isn’t at all phased; she’ll get herself out of prison. After all, “when it comes to my family, I always find away.” These two throw some serious shade at each other in this scene–Victoria mocks Drizella for collecting mother figures; Drizella tells Victoria to have fun in prison.
When Weaver comes to take Victoria back to her cell, she admits that the only reason she agreed to meet with Drizella was to get a moment with the detective. Victoria asks for help getting to Anastasia and makes a specific appeal to Rumplestiltskin–the dagger, his search for the Guardian, his quest to reunite with Belle. Victoria promises to share her information if he will help her. But is Rumple really awake? Surprise: YES. YESSSSSSSSSSS. RUMPLE IS AWAKE. (And he calls Victoria, Rapunzel!)
Before long, Victoria is out of jail and Detective Rogers is there just as she’s leaving. He’s not at all pleased that the woman who kidnapped Eloise Gardner can just go free. Weaver/Rumple intervenes and tells Rogers that Victoria is going free because the search that uncovered Eloise was done without a warrant. Rogers accuses Weaver of convincing the judge to throw out the search and threatens to uncover his corruption. Weaver warns that going up against him will only bring more damage upon Rogers. Weaver gets into his car with Victoria and they plan to make a few errands.
Elsewhere, Jacinda and Lucy are happy to be back together. Lucy suggests that they have Henry over to share the good news, but Jacinda is less enthusiastic. When Lucy goes to get ready for school, Sabine asks Jacinda about her relationship with Henry. Is there still the potential for romance? Jacinda isn’t so optimistic because she’s heard that Henry went to San Francisco with Roni. They’re interrupted by a knock at the door…
It’s Victoria! Apparently, she has come to relinquish custody of Lucy to Jacinda. Apparently, when Victoria demanded that Jacinda sign over custody of Lucy those years ago, it was a test, one Jacinda failed. But now that Jacinda has reached out to Nick (Lucy’s father and a lawyer), and done to court to fight for Lucy, she has proven herself as a good mother. Victoria claims to be happy that Nick is back in Jacinda’s and Lucy’s lives. UGH.
Jacinda is skeptical about Victoria’s real motivations, but she claims that she only wants Lucy’s happiness. Victoria promises to send Lucy’s things to Jacinda’s apartment and says she is proud of her step-daughter for not giving up on family.
Later, Jacinda has Nick over to the apartment to confirm that paperwork and that Victoria has really given up her custody of Lucy. Jacinda is obviously happy and thankful. She hugs Nick… and then they share a kiss. Jacinda almost immediately steps back and tells Nick the kiss is a mistake. They can be friends and she wants him to have a relationship with Lucy. But that’s it.
At the police precinct, Rogers sneaks into Weaver’s locker to find out what he’s been up to. It seems Weaver has been collecting all sorts of knick-knacks. Killian’s hook is even there! However, Rogers is more interested in a box of files that has information about practically everyone in Hyperion Heights including Sabine! Roger’s goes to see Sabine as she’s painting the food truck, the Rollin’ Bayou (*FLAILS* because no one is talking me out of my Alt-Killian/Tiana ship!!!). She tells him that Weaver talked to her a few days ago about the fire at Mr. Cluck’s. Apparently, the arsonist used a knife to break into the alley door. Sabine draws the knife for Rogers, and it’s the Dark One dagger! Rumple knows that he can only be reunited with Belle if he passes the dagger to the Guardian. It seems he believes the Guardian is in Hyperion Heights and is doing from person to person, foisting the dagger on them, to see who can free him.
Drizella and Gothel try to keep tabs on Victoria and Rumple to follow them to Anastasia’s body. Gothel tells Drizella that she shouldn’t underestimate her mother, but Drizella is only concerned with her revenge.
Victoria is well aware that she and Rumple are being followed. It doesn’t stop her from breaking into the mausoleum… for a bag?! She says it has everything she needs to wake up Anastasia. This confuses Rumple. Why would Victoria expend all this effort to wake one daughter while completely despising the other? Rumple tells her that he had a son who hated him like Drizella hates Victoria, but he never stopped trying to bridge the gap between them. Baelfire!!! Rumple then warns Victoria that there are major costs to trying to reunite with someone that’s gone. Victoria tells Rumple not to compare their grief. Besides, she can’t stop when she’s this close to Anastasia.
By the time Drizella and Gothel enter the mausoleum, Victoria is already gone. Rumple tells them he’s known all along that they’ve been tailing him and that they need to be better. Mother Gothel asks for a private moment with Rumple. He asks her why she calls herself “Mother.” She’s certainly not a nun! Gothel responds that “mother” means different things to different people, and she’s all about tending to the needs of those who come to her. She even offers to tend to Rumple’s needs… he declines. Gothel refers to Rumple as the Dark One and asks about Belle: “You know you’re never getting back to her. Not on your own. But with me…”
This makes Rumple very angry. He wants nothing from Gothel. And whatever she plans to do to stop Victoria won’t work either. Interestingly, Gothel mentions that there are costs to awakening Anastasia, the loss of an innocent’s belief: “Do you have any idea where your great-granddaughter is now?”
Victoria picks Lucy up at her ballet class. The bag that Victoria gets from the mausoleum? It has the Fairy Tale book! She gives it to Lucy and confesses everything about fairy tales being real. It’s all real. She’s Rapunzel (Tremaine is Marcus’ name, which she took when they were married), Jacinda is CInderella… even that she poisoned Cecilia (supposedly after being tricked by Gothel).
— Once Upon A Time (@OnceABC) December 11, 2017
Victoria tells Lucy everything that leads up to Anastasia falling into that lake. They even do to see Anastasia, now at a hospital. Lucy is confused about why Victoria is telling her these things. Victoria says she wants her to see the world as it really is… and then proceeds to show Lucy a video of Jacinda kissing Nick: “You were right Lucy, fairy tales are real. But sadly, happy endings aren’t.”
Victoria even tells Lucy that Henry has left town. This totally devastates her belief that she, her mother, and Henry will be together. Lucy lets her belief go… and Victoria has what she needs, one of Lucy’s tears.
Rogers confronts Weaver as he’s searching for Lucy. One of his officers has located her backpack, but there isn’t much to go one. Surprisingly, Weaver tells Roger about trying to reunite with Belle and Rogers believes him. Rogers even offers to help. The first order of business is to find Lucy.
— Once Upon A Time (@OnceABC) December 12, 2017
In the hospital, Victoria successfully wakes up Anastasia (Drizella witnesses it and sheds tears of her own)…
…And Lucy eventually makes it home to her mother, only to pass out, unconscious, the moment Anastasia awakens.
I don’t know about you, but Rapunzel/Victoria/Lady Tremaine is much more sympathetic to me. However, why must Lucy pay the price for Anastasia to be awake? Also, what have Henry and Regina really been up to?
Next week is Once Upon a Time’s Mid-season Finale, which means another juicy episode!
In “The Eighth Witch” (written by Jane Espenson and Jerome Schwartz, directed by Ralph Hemecker)
REGINA REUNITES WITH ZELENA, AND GOTHEL WORKS TO EARN ANASTASIA’S TRUST–When Drizella threatens the realm with a dark curse, Henry and Ella take extreme actions to protect Lucy and the others; and Regina is forced into making an unimaginable choice. In Hyperion Heights, Roni recruits Henry to travel to San Francisco to search for her sister, but when he learns Lucy has fallen unconscious, Henry rushes to be by her side. Meanwhile, Gothel earns the trust of Anastasia and the consequences of their budding relationship could prove to be fatal.
And apparently Zelena is a SoulCycle instructor… this is going to be so GOOD!
— Once Upon A Time (@OnceABC) December 14, 2017
Once Upon a Time airs Fridays at 8p/7c on ABC.