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In “Selfless, Brave and True,” Once Upon a Time (kind of) sacrifices another beloved character. Meanwhile, a growing team of real world villains has set up shop in Storybrooke.

The Players:

  • Director: Ralph Hemecker
  • Writer: Robert Hull and Kalinda Vazquez
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “Selfless, Brave and True”

Once is notorious for introducing characters, only to send them away with little explanation. Remember August (aka Pinocchio)? He makes a return this week, redeeming himself with a dose of selfless truth after a slew of lies and bad decisions rendered him wooden.

The Good:

  • August Returns: August has been one of Once’s most mysterious characters. The earthly embodiment of Pinocchio, he was sent along with Emma in the enchanted wardrobe, escaping the curse. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay on the path of good, abandoning Emma and making shady decisions along the way. Eventually, the deceit catches up with him and he becomes wooden again. This was the last we’d heard of August. This week’s episode caught us up on where he’s been since – in Asia, seeking the help of a man known as The Dragon.
  • Regina Wises Up: The villains of Storybrooke are anything but bumbling. Regina stays true to her smarts, discovering Greg’s identity (i.e.: He’s really Owen, the little boy who escaped Storybrooke in 1983). She tells him that his father isn’t there, but don’t think that’s the last we’ll see of the “stranger.” She also proves her wit is still sharp, quipping to Mary Margaret that she should try the fish special at Granny’s – the blackened sole.
  • Out, Damn Spot: Mary Margaret confesses to David that the heart Regina snatched (and put back in) has a black spot on it. He consoles her, of course, but this is big: The good guys know Mary Margaret has the potential for evil now. For her part, Emma thinks Mary Margaret should just get over it, considering how evil Cora was and all. Finally, something from Emma we can agree with.

The So-So:

  • Tamara: Neal’s fiance, Tamara, comes to town complete with a meet-cute story about bumping into Neal with her coffee. Emma urges him to tell her everything, but that may not have been the best plan. We later learn that she and August crossed paths back at The Dragon’s establishment. She was there seeking a cure for her cancer and August robbed her. If it redeems him at all, she didn’t really have cancer; she was lying to get magic. Oh, and she’s romantically entangled with Greg/Owen, unless that was a platonic makeout session at the end of the episode. Only time will tell if she’s a better villain than Cora.

The Bad:

  • Goodbye, August: Tamara’s major act of evil is the murdering of August, whom she kills to keep quiet. He dies, but only kind of. August the grown, earthly man dies but Pinocchio, the wooden boy lives. The Blue Fairy is able to help, but making him a real boy makes him, well, a boy. August is gone and Pinocchio has no memory of Tamara. It’s as if Once is trying not to have any hot men in its cast.

Overall:

“Selfless, Brave and True” forgoes frequent flashbacks to Fairytale Land in favor of real world plot development, which is fitting. Tamara and Greg are positioned as the new villains, replacing the drab duo of Hook and Cora. How will Fairytale Land’s former residents fare against earthly foes? Will Greg and Tamara be a common enemy for Regina and the good guys?

Rating: 7/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s show?