Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Meghan Ory
Writer:
 Robert Hull & Kalinda Vasquez
Director: Ralph Hemecker
Network: ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast: March 24, 2013

Well, well, well. It looks like we’re taking a step back from the depths of darkness (finally) on ONCE UPON A TIME. “Selfless, Brave and True” may be all the things Mary Margaret/Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) normally is, but it’s Pinocchio/August (Eion Bailey) who gets to play those cards for a change. Whew! It finally feels like we’re getting back on track here and it’s about time.

We start on October 24, 2011 (gee, wasn’t that the day ONCE UPON A TIME premiered?) August is hanging out in Phuket and wakes up freaking out because his leg is turning into wood. We know it’s for real, but no one else sees it.

Back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret is still hiding in bed – I suppose doing something truly horrible like killing someone else by trickery and an evil curse is not something you’re going to just walk off. David/Prince Charming is being utterly, well, charming, pulling together breakfast in bed, but Emma (Jennifer Morrison) has had enough, pointing out that the only person who can help Mary Margaret is herself. And Mary Margaret gets the hint, because the next thing you know, she’s up and headed for the woods.

In the meantime, Emma is delivering Henry to Neal’s, and Henry’s got the big story book. Neal’s fiancee is on her way and Neal talks Emma into sticking around and meeting her. Oh, and Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) just happened to have mentioned that Capt. Hook was not in the storage locker where they locked some episodes back. He’s still out – as if we hadn’t figured that part out. Emma makes a pretty obvious suggestion that Neal be honest with Tamara about who he is and where he’s from. Sounds like standard stuff, but I’m now realizing it was strangely ironic.

So Mary Margaret is out in the woods doing archery therapy and she stumbles on an old messed-up travel trailer and August/Pinocchio’s inside – all wood, but moving. When the curse lifted, he could still move and everything, but flesh was not happening. Mary Margaret tries for a pep talk, but then August throws it at her that she never needed redemption. So why she doesn’t mention that she’s rather sorely in need of just that, I have no idea.

Nonetheless, the bagel party with Tamara is going juts fine. There’s a sweet little story about how they met, he spilled coffee on her and gave her his scarf to cover the stain (oh, we were supposed to remember that). But then after Henry and Emma take off, Neal tells Tamara the truth about his origins and she decides he just wants to break up with her and storms off.

Back to 2011 and the flashback, in Hong Kong, August has found out about The Dragon, somebody who can supposedly cure magical ailments. Oh, but guess who else is there – Tamara.

Then back to Storybrooke, where Regina (Lana Parilla) is feeding Greg Mendel – the stranger (Ethan Embry) some pie. He takes off and we slide the camera over to Mary Margaret who tells Emma and Marco/Gepetto (Tony Amendola) about finding August. Hmm. Tamara overhears it all, but doesn’t freak.

Flashback time and August meets with The Dragon (Tzi Ma), who not only knows who he is but talks August into giving up his necklace of an old whale tooth and the string that Gepetto first used to make him move when he was a puppet. But The Dragon also needs $10,000 cash. Somehow, don’t think August has that kind of money floating around. Oh, and there’s another catch, The Dragon’s cure will stop him from turning into wood, but there’s another catch – what’s really ailing August, namely his selfish behavior, that he’s going to have to fix on his own.

Emma, Mary Margaret and Marco go consult with Mother Superior/The Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) since the Blue Fairy turned Pinocchio into a flesh person the first time. Alas, she already knows what’s going on with August, and he’s kind of on his own on this one. He didn’t remain as selfless, brave and true as he was supposed to.

Back in Hong Kong, Tamara spills her story about having cancer and going to see The Dragon about a cure. Funny thing is, she has a boatload of cash on her, and then leaves it right next to August to go take a phone call. Duh, he takes it and goes right to The Dragon to get his cure. Only thing is, Tamara’s right on top of him and grabs the bottle.

Then she shows up in August’s trailer, claiming that he owes her and that the bottle saved her life. There’s a little left, but he has to leave Storybrooke to get it. For some reason, though, August is suspicious – he thinks she wants to take the magic from Storybrooke, which she apparently does, but gives him a chance to save himself by going after the potion.

Regina finally recognizes Greg as the young boy Owen, who left his father behind in Storybrooke shortly after the curse took place. Greg’s noticed that Regina hasn’t aged any since 1983 and wants to know where his father is. Regina swears he left shortly after he did. Uh-huh. We’re going to believe that one.

Back in the woods, Marco tells Mary Margaret the truth about the magic wardrobe that sent Emma to the modern world – that Pinocchio went along. Mary Margaret is furious – she could have gone and slaps him. Oops. There’s that black spot on her heart acting up, which freaks her out. August, however, is not in the trailer. In fact, he’s hauling wood out of town.

In Hong Kong, Tamara is back visiting The Dragon and wants to know all about the magic. She’s analyzed the bottle. She’s not sick, either. She also manages to kill The Dragon with her tazer.

Flash forward, August thinks better of leaving and heads back to warn everyone. Problem is, Tamara finds him first and tazes him. He staggers out of the Sheriff’s office, whispers his warning into Emma’s ear and dies. Fortunately, since he risked his life to warn everyone of some danger, Mother Superior thinks she might be able to bring him back from the wood, which she does – way back – he’s a little boy again and doesn’t remember anything about what he was trying to warn the town about.

Lucky for Tamara, who confesses to Neal that she really believes him and that she loves him. Fun thing is, we go back to 2011, and August and Neal are connecting in New York, with August telling Neal he’ll send him a postcard when the spell is broken. Oh, wait, there’s Tamara, watching August drive off, and with a big cup of coffee heading Neal’s way.

Back home in Storybrooke, Emma promises Henry for real that she’ll never lie to him again and it looks like that issue is finally patched over (hooray).  And David gets Mary Margaret to finally ‘fess up what’s happening with her – and Mary Margaret tells him about trying to get Regina to kill her and the black spot on her heart. Awwwww. David believes that she’ll find healing because he believes in her heart.

But one more little fillip – you know that whomever (presumably some female) that Greg has been talking to on the phone? She’s calling again and guess who it is… Tamara. This is just too interesting.

Related: TV Review: ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 2 – “Lacey”

Related:Exclusive Photos from ONCE UPON A TIME at PaleyFest

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Related: Exclusive Interview  with ONCE UPON A TIME creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz

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Related: CD Review of ONCE UPON A TIME  soundtrack

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Related:Exclusive Interview with Robert Carlyle on ONCE UPON A TIME and STARGATE UNIVERSE
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Article: TV Review: ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 2 – “Selfless, Brave and True”

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