This episode is essentially a recap filling us in on what happened after Robin left Storybrooke with Marian and Roland at the end of the Frozen arc. They end up in New York and settled into Neal’s old apartment, which Regina had given them the keys to. This just raises so many questions. First of all, how’d they reach New York? They weren’t given a car when they left Stortybrooke. Did they just hitchhike to New York all the way from Maine? If that’s the case, no wonder Roland was so tired and wanted to be carried. His little hobbit legs are just not long enough to make a trip like that on foot. Second of all, how did Regina get the key to Neal’s apartment? Even if Neal had managed to keep it on his person after getting shot, falling through the magic bean portal, venturing to Neverland, and getting captured by Pan and the Lost Boys, I’m pretty sure he would have instantly lost it when everyone went back to the Enchanted Forest when Regina had to erase Storybrooke from existence to stop Pan’s curse. So how did Regina, or anyone else for that matter, manage to find it again? Finally, and most importantly, WHY IS THAT APARTMENT STILL STANDING EMPTY? It’s been over a year since Neal set foot in that apartment, let alone paid the rent. You can’t tell me the landlord hasn’t leased it out to someone else after an entire year’s worth of rent has gone unpaid. Especially since this is in New York City, where I’m sure the demand for apartments is quite high. You know, for a story about fairy tale characters being real people living in our world, this show is pretty unrealistic at times. Anyway, as Robin and his family are settling into Neal’s old apartment, Gold suddenly strolls in. Because yeah, Belle’s just kicked him out of Storybrooke, so he’s gallivanting around in the Land Without Magic, too. (I wonder where he managed to obtain a new cane, as Belle didn’t seem to give him one when she was exiling him. Did he just crawl his way to that diner down the road where Pinocchio took Baby Emma years ago and swipe some old man’s cane?) There’s a brief power struggle as both Gold and Robin try to lay claim on the apartment. Gold insists that he needs the apartment because of his self-imposed mission to find the Author, stating that Robin should be willing to help him because it might be the only way for Regina to get her happy ending, too. But Robin refuses to even consider helping Gold, because he knows nothing good can come from associating with Rumpelstiltskin. Finally, someone gets it! But it turns out Robin is speaking from experience, as they have met and done dealings in the past. Turns out, when Robin and Marian had first started out as a married couple, Robin attempted to give up being a thief and opened up a tavern with Marian. But when the Sherriff of Nottingham threatened to shut them down due to unpaid taxes, Dark One Rumpelstiltskin appeared and offered to solve Robin’s money trouble if Robin ventured to Oz and stole a potion from the Wizard. This potion is supposed to help heal a broken heart, but they don’t really explain why he wants this potion to begin with. Maybe he was just having a particularly bad day and was missing his son more than usual? I don’t know. Robin agrees and makes it to Oz. How, I don’t know, unless Jefferson offered his services despite not actually appearing in the episode. But I don’t think that would be possible, as this event might have occurred after Evil Queen Regina’s nasty trick got him trapped in Wonderland. So, yeah, no idea how Robin got to Oz, but he does anyway. Robin manages to get the elixir, despite the efforts of Zelena to stop him, and he even got that enchanted bow that never misses its target in the process. Nice to see them explain how he got that. However, in the end, Robin decides to give the potion to Will Scarlett (who also got into Oz somehow), who he met for the first time during this adventure, so Will could recover from the pain of losing his precious younger sister, who drowned years prior. So, since Robin didn’t return with the potion Rumple wanted, he was unable to get the money the Sheriff of Nottingham was demanding. But that’s okay, because Robin’s decided to go back to being a thief. Only this time, he’s decided to begin his legendary M.O. of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He also decides to drop the whole Robin of Loxley title and adopts the new name of Robin Hood. Because he’s Robin the Hoodlum, now. And he reveals he’s brought back a souvenir from Oz- a pendant containing a six-leaf clover, which can make the wearer disguise themselves as anyone. Was this the writers’ attempt to explain why Robin was played by a different actor during the ‘Lacey’ flashback? If so, that’s creative, so brownie points.
Anyway, fast fording a few decades, Gold and Robin’s argument is put on hold when Gold seemingly has a heart attack and collapses, and Robin brings him to a hospital. Upon coming to, Gold explains that his condition came about because his life as the Dark One has directly infected his heart. The only thing that can save his life now that he no longer has the magic within Storybrooke preserving him is that potion Robin was supposed to steal in Oz, which is currently at the Wizard of Oak, the shop that Walsh, the Wizard of Oz/Flying Monkey ran while spying on Emma during the Lost Year. Much like with Neal’s former apartment, that store has remained virtually untouched, even though the person who owned the place has been dead for some time now. Why haven’t looters ransacked the place by now? Regardless, Robin breaks into the store, and after searching the place (coming across a hidden Mickey in the process) he eventually finds the potion and barely eludes capture by the New York police, who had a surprisingly fast response to the burglar alarm going off. Robin brings the potion to Gold, instructing him to never come near him or his family again, and to allow them to stay in Neal’s old apartment. Gold agrees, but it turns out the potion Robin gave him wasn’t the real potion. Because Marian had switched it with ordinary children’s cough syrup. Why would Marian do such a thing, knowing that it would undoubtedly condemn a man to die? Well, it’s because ‘Marian’ isn’t the real Marian. This whole time, she’s actually been Zelena.
Yeah, I know what you’re all thinking. She’s dead! She died! Well, apparently, she didn’t. Because when Gold seemingly killed her in her cell at the Sheriff Station, Zelena decided to do this whole astral projection thing at the last minute and ended up following Emma and Killian when they fell through the time portal. She then took Marian’s place in that brief window of time when Emma and Killian left Marian alone to assist Past!Snow and Past!Charming at the Troll Bridge, using a Six-Leaf Clover Pendant to disguise herself as Marian. (Was that the same pendant Robin used in the past, or a completely different one? Eh, I guess it doesn’t matter.) This does explain a few things, really. Like how Emma and Killian were able to bring Not-Marian back through the time portal when they returned to Storybrooke. If that portal followed the same rules as Jefferson’s hat, having two people go through and then having three people make the return trip shouldn’t have been possible. But since three people had made the journey through the time portal, three people were able to make the return trip. And again, I am wondering how no one picked up on that. Particularly Killian, since he’d heard that rule before. It also explains why True Love’s Kiss couldn’t save Not-Marian when Ingrid’s magic started to freeze her. (If they had just tried to use Roland to initiate TLK, perhaps they would have realized something sooner. But no one ever listens to me, so why do I bother?)
Zelena wastes no time after her big reveal and immediately starts monologing (why do they always do that? So annoying), explaining her evil scheme to make sure Regina remains miserable for the rest of her life, but then tries to bribe Gold to get the Author to write a happy ending for her once he finds him. Because apparently, making Regina miserable isn’t good enough for Zelena anymore. In exchange, Zelena will allow Gold to have the real potion. The bribe is enough to convince Gold to not warn Robin about how his ‘wife’ is actually Zelena when he gets the chance, which was a bit of a jerk move on his part, but then again, it’s Gold we’re talking about. We can’t expect anything better from him.
Fast-forward again, this time to the present day. Gold, who had learned last episode that Regina was a spy, has chained her up in her vault. Instead of killing her for her deception, he decides to bribe her to help him turn Emma dark so the villains could get happy endings, which he believes is possible now that he’s managed to get his mitts on the Author after Emma released him from his imprisonment, despite the Nevengers best efforts to find him first. To get her to comply to the bribe, he suggests that Regina try calling Robin using the phone number she’d gotten from Emma off-screen sometime earlier. When Regina does so, she learns about the whole issue of Marian actually being Zelena in disguise. Gold tells Regina that unless she agrees to help him turn Emma dark, he’ll contact Zelena and instruct her to kill Robin. The episode ends with Regina’s final decision unstated.