Finally returning after the month-long holiday break, Once Upon A Time starts off this episode with a heart wrenching scene. A fourteen year old girl is being taken as a soldier to fight in the Ogre Wars. As the family fights to get her back, an unseen power stops them in their tracks, choking them. The power is coming from The Dark One, and the daughter is taken away.
Emma enters Mr. Gold’s shop, following up on a call she received at the sheriff’s office. Here we learn for certain that Graham is dead. Gold haughtily mentions to Emma that she is still wearing her deputy badge. Emma is in no hurry to take over the sheriff’s position. Feeling awkward, she leaves, but Gold follows her out, telling her that he has Graham’s things. After declining the offer of getting a keepsake from his things, Gold says he’ll give them to Regina, as she was the closest to family he ever had. He insists that she takes Graham’s walkie-talkies for Henry. He thinks Emma should spend more time with Henry.
Emma finds Henry at his usual hideout and gives him one of the walkie-talkies, but he is less than enthusiastic. She senses something is wrong, and Henry tells her they need to stop “Operation Cobra” for a while. He is afraid of what could happen after what happened to Graham. She tries to console him by saying he died of natural causes, but Henry knows that she can get hurt because she is good, and good never wins because good has to play fair.
Regina enters the sheriff’s office just as Emma is about to put on the badge. Regina has appointed someone else as the new sheriff, and Emma confronts her, saying Regina can’t accept the fact that things are getting better around Storybrooke. Regina countered and said that she didn’t deserve to wear the badge, and she fires her.
Mary Margaret comes home to find a very angry and unemployed Emma. They are shocked to find Mr. Gold at their door. He tells her that the mayor might not be as powerful as she seems. He was able to find a loophole which allows her to run as sheriff.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, we finally get a glimpse into Rumpelstiltskin’s history. Rumpelstiltskin and his son run away to prevent the son from being taken in the Ogre Wars, but they are stopped by soldiers. After being humiliated by the soldiers, they leave, and a beggar takes them home. He tells Rumpelstiltskin that he can have power over the soldiers if he steals the dagger. With the dagger, he would be the only one who can control “the dark one.”
Emma finds Henry in the diner where she discovers her opponent has revealed a shocking truth in the newspaper. She tries to allay his fears by telling him they have an ally in Mr. Gold, but Henry claims that he is worse than his mother. She confronts Regina. As they are leaving her office, an explosion blasts open the door. She discovers that Mr. Gold set the fire in order for her to save Regina to be the hero and win the election.
Rumpelstiltskin acquires the dagger and summons “the dark one” to the forest. The Dark One tells him that the soldiers are still coming after his son. Rumpelstiltskin then stabs The Dark One in the heart. The Dark One turns into the beggar who warns him that all magic comes with a price.
The town holds a debate where Emma reveals the truth that Mr. Gold set the fire. She only wants to tell the truth. She goes to the diner and is followed by Henry, Regina, Sidney, and later the whole town, to crown her as the new sheriff. In the midst of the celebration, Regina warns Emma that Mr. Gold isn’t a great friend, but he’s an even worse enemy.
The soldiers show up at Rumpelstiltskin’s home to take away his son. He has now become the new Dark One, but his son is now terrified of his father.
Mr. Gold surprises Emma at her office and tells her he planned the whole thing. He knew she was going to win the election after telling to truth. The episode ends with Mr. Gold threateningly reminding her that she still owes him a favor.