Once Upon A Time Episode 312 Recap: Well, I’ll Be A Monkey’s Uncle!

Previously on the show that promised us a bisexual character and then gave her virtually no screen time, Regina wiped Emma and Henry’s memories of Storybrooke, thus saving them from a reversal curse put in place by Pan. They live happily ever after in a suspiciously expensive apartment in New York City, where Hook has somehow tracked them down and hoped that his true love’s kiss will give Emma her memories back. Womp womp, it’s not effective.

This episode opens on the words “one year ago”, because why write a narrative that’s in temporal order when you could confuse the bajeesus out of your audience? Prince Philip’s galloping back to the old homestead, which in this case is literally a poured concrete gazebo in the middle of a field. By all means, OUAT producers, film this episode at the picnic and day-use pavilion of your local park. While you’re at it, why not film the castle scenes on the playground? I probably won’t be able to tell the difference. Also, setting garbage cans on fire ain’t gonna heat your wall-less house, kids.

We're planning on giving birth over in the picnic table area, or maybe near the rusting slide on the playground.

We’re planning on giving birth over in the picnic table area, or maybe near the rusting slide on the playground.

Aurora, or The Princess Formerly Known As Sleeping Beauty, makes a comment about being hungry and angry, aka “hangry”, because she’s pregnant. Don’t worry, folks. She only looks 16. I’m sure she’s a much more mature age, like 17 or 18. Before you can be concerned by the fact that every biological parent on this show gave birth before the age of 21,  the Storybrookers show up.

Now, let’s real quick make a note of why I think this show is so gay that it hurts. If I told you that a purple glittering cloud had appeared, and out of it stepped someone in a ridiculous wig, knee-high boots, and an overdone costume, you might think I was talking about my favorite local drag queen. I mean, come on. The amount of laceable leather accessories in this episode alone should be proof that there is something queer afoot. Alas, we know better than to dream.

heterosexual clouds

What did I say about ridiculous wigs though? We’re back to that twenty four seven, three hundred sixty five days a year wig lifestyle. They grow ’em long and knotty in the Land of Fairytales.

Why yes, a long-haired rat DID drown on my head.

Why yes, a nest of rats DID drown on my head.

Flash forward to our world, one year later. How do I know that it’s our world, one year later? Because the screen told me so.

oops it's now

Emma Swan is wearing a dress and heels and not walking like a linebacker in them, so I guess Regina’s spell also graced Emma with Regina’s ability to move in lady outfits. Other fun fact: Emma is on a date with a dude. It’s too bad Snow isn’t here to crap herself, since setting her daughter up with mediocre male partners was Snow’s greatest purpose. I guess invading Emma’s personal life only counts when there’s a much more important crisis at hand. Anyway, Emma seems predictably blah about this dude, as she is predictably blah about everyone that the writers keep shoving into her arms. Homegirl just wants to hunt bounty and play Diablo, okay? Stop trying to find some dude to slobber on her boobs.

Thrilled to be here, thrilled to be a part of this heterosexual thing, yes very.

Thrilled to be here, thrilled to be a part of this heterosexual thing, yes very.

When this dude Graham gets up to fling poop at the waiter, he is immediately replaced, musical chairs-style, by Hook. Okay, this is New York City, right? A strange man in eyeliner, possibly an unwashed cosplayer, possibly a serial killer, shows up at your house and kisses you, then he shows up at your date night. Why do you not call the cops IMMEDIATELY? Has she never seen SVU? Does she not know that stalkers are, like, a thing that needs to be dealt with swiftly? I know she’s a bounty hunter and all but the amount of time she entertains a complete stranger in a weird outfit telling her that her parents are alive and that she has a frigging super power is craaaazy.



He gives her an address to go to if she “wants to learn the truth”, which us SVU-watching folk know is creepy guy talk for “here is a place to go where I may or may not murder you, it’s definitely a safe bet that something unsafe will happen at this locale.” Yet we all know Emma is going to put on her scrunchy face and skip on over to this address at some point in the episode, even though she is a person who supposedly hunts down dangerous humans for a living. I don’t know what I expect anymore.

Back in one year ago but also another dimension, the Storybrookers are catching up with Aurora and Philip, namely to talk about babies and gape at Regina’s cleavage. No one brings up the fact that the two kids are living in a gazebo surrounded by burning trash, so I guess this is normal everyday Fairytale Land stuff. Snow says they’re going to head back to the castle, and Regina will come with them because this will give everyone hope, this whole “my beloved leaders have now teamed up with an evil dictator, how could this possibly go wrong in my tortured peasant eyes?” thing. Regina was born at night but not last night, so she can see what a stupid idea this is. Of course, no one listens to Regina because the whole point of this show is to discount her actions and motives in favor of whatever convoluted morality lesson they’re addressing this week.

Yes, I'm sure all these "medieval-era eurocentric peasants" will loooooove a QWOC back in the castle.

Yes, I’m sure all these “medieval-era Eurocentric peasants” will loooooove a QWOC back in the castle.

Aurora and Philip get all shifty about pronouns and refer to a mysterious female presence who may punish them for not informing her of the newbs’ arrival. They decide to be shady because otherwise the mysterious female presence will punish their baby? Yo, that thing has a lot more time to cook, I don’t think you need to be worried about the mysterious female presence placing your baby into, say, a tree trunk that doubles as a portal? At any rate, they’re gonna go ahead and not tell the newbs the helpful information they need, which is pretty shitty of them. You dodged a bullet there, Mulan. Go find your hot deserving lover offscreen, Mulan. Lord Walt Disney knows we’re not gonna see it onscreen any time soon.

Oops, we're douchecakes.

Oops, we’re douchenozzles.

Back at the date that has already taken up too much of this episode — seriously I am looking for ways out at this point — Graham orders a banana split with a diamond ring. Whoa, back up. Y’all have been dating for eight months? Now is not the time to put a ring on it, Graham. Marriage is not something you can just monkey around with! Last I checked, y’all weren’t a pair of lesbians with a mutually owned cat. Emma is about as on the fence about this proposal as I am with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez getting back together — Are they ready for it? Is Justin still clinging to Selena because she’s the only solid relationship he’s known? Is Selena enabling him? So. Torn. About. This.

OUAT312-00084FUR REAL?

Emma returns home to Henry playing video games and drinking Red Bull and Pepsi like the 12 year old boy he is. He closes out of 4chan and asks her how the proposal went. Apparently 12 year old boys can easily intuit when their mother’s short-term boyfriend is going to propose based solely on the choice of restaurant and timing. He and Emma have a conversation that sounds nothing like a conversation any 12 year old boy would have with his mother in the history of ever, which leads me to believe that Henry has now moved up from “Continually Kidnapped/Cursed Child Plot Device” to “Ooh Girl, Stand-In For Emma’s Plucky Best Friend.”

Ooh girl, I know you didn't just kill my Level 23 Mage.

Mom, why does your Sims 3 account have a house called Swan Queen? Is that…is that sim’s name Regina? Is your sim married to her? Why is their cat named Henry?

Back in the past but also another dimension, Grumpy reports that other Storybrookers are popping up like daisies all over the place. Charmin says they’ll need to organize them and send them back to the castle. Question: Isn’t everyone who was not present for Regina’s curse reversal going to be super pissed off? Here they were, enjoying their lives and iPhones and modern conveniences, and now it’s back to wearing oily furs and pooping in a slop bucket that you empty out by the pig sty. Also, back to a feudal system where overlords and evil dangerous creatures are continually threatening your livelihood, not to mention that you only get to bathe once a month in a splintery tub of ice water. STDs are probably off the charts, infant mortality is common and expected, and if a magical creature doesn’t kill you, a highly contagious disease with no known cure probably will! Why in the DisneyWorld would these folks who were just minding their own business, preparing protein shakes in blenders and taking hot showers and watching porn on their tablet, want to return to the Land of Fairytales and shorter lifespans?

Hook isn’t going to be a part of this caravan because he’s a pirate and pirates don’t know how to form queues. Also, he’s still in love with Charmin and it’ll break his heart to see his lover have to feign heterosexuality. Also, his ship has appeared somewhere in this massive kingdom, and using no tracking equipment whatsoever, he will track it down. Of course he will. But not before he and Charmin have a Brokeback Mountain “hands on the same horse” moment. Oh, those two. We’ll always have our fanfiction, boys.

Have fun being straight in that hideous ensemble. Smell you later, bye, don't catch up.

Have fun being straight in that hideous ensemble. I have some seamen to hunt down.

Neal, who pretty much always looks constipated, says he’s going to Rumpleforeskin’s shop to see if he can find a magical object that will bring his father back to life. At this point, sure, why not? Literally anything is possible on a show where every episode introduces a new previously unheard of clause or magical object that alters the story arc just long enough to drive each individual forty minutes forward. It’s kind of like lighting a rocket with a million tiny uneven matches instead of just creating one well-orchestrated boom.

No, I'm regular, thanks for asking. I just LOOK like my bowels are backed up to my esophagus.

No, I’m regular, thanks for asking. I just LOOK like my bowels are backed up to my esophagus.

Henry needs a permission slip for his field trip to the Children of Gay Moms Amusement Park, which conveniently forces Emma to revisit the slip of paper that a psychopath handed her earlier. She decides to go to this place that the psychopath told her about, because that is the most rational thing to do in this situation. Again, if she is a resident of New York City, she should have an extreme heightened awareness when it comes to street people in strange outfits handing you crumpled dirty things, but no. Emma ends up at Neal’s apartment, where her memory is magically jogged.

Hm, this tacky Urban Outfitters dreamcatcher is reminding me of an even tackier man I once booped.

Hm, this tacky Urban Outfitters dreamcatcher is reminding me of an even tackier man I once booped.

Emma meets up with a man that could still, for all she knows, be someone who eats small children, and entertains the idea of drinking his mysterious substance. Let’s talk about things you don’t do in New York City, or any city, or anywhere on the planet, especially if you are a hardened and jaded bounty hunter whose job is to track down dangerous manipulative criminals. But hurdy doo dah, Emma meets up with this shady character and his poison anyway. Then she has the cops arrest him, which she should have done AAAAAGES AGO.



In possibly the only scene that actually made me feel anything remotely close to an emotion this week, Snow ventures off the super slow-moving path and finds Regina burying her heart. Regina doesn’t want to feel the intense pain of losing her son forever, so she’s decided to rip out her own heart and bury it in the woods. Okay, can I be real for a second? This is a really cool metaphor and feels way too deep and intense for the people who brought you Fifty Shades of Pan. I call that somebody in the writer’s room has been reading their fanfiction.

Also during this scene, a flying monkey appears and attempts to carry Regina away. Thing is U-G-L-Y without an alibi and I look forward to having the terribly CGI’d monsters of previous seasons replaced by the slightly better CGI’d but still extremely hideous flying monkeys. In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past millenia, this means that yes, no franchise purchased by Disney is safe, and we’re getting into Oz territory. For those of you sleeping under a rock for the past ten months or so, yes, Disney acquired the rights to Oz things in order to make that shamefully bad movie starring a super blazed James Franco and Mila Kunis, who was screaming a lot and whose backstory was really bad. Like, really bad.

They made the Wicked Witch of the West turn evil because she had a crush on a guy? Wow, that shit's not cool, even for Snow.

Regina just saw heterosexual intercourse for the first time.

Who shows up to help them? Robin Hood. Man, Jiminy Cricket pulled the short end of the stick, huh? Poor bastard has to be a frigging cricket in Fairytale Land, but Robin Hood doesn’t have to be a fox? Alert the presses, this show is inconsistent, and the sky is blue. Anyway, apparently Robin Hood is going to be Regina’s love interest, at least if Snow has anything to do with it, since her favorite pastime is arranging for wonky penises to go into bored vaginas. As of right now, Regina is thoroughly unimpressed with Robin Hood and I look forward to her attitude staying that way for as long as possible before yet another character is forced into another weird chemistry-less relationship for the sake of the dated and poorly thought out “true love” trope.

Back in the real world but also a year later because what is constructing a linear narrative, Emma looks through some photos from the random apartment. They feature her and Henry in a place called Storybrooke, also on a flight from Maine to Boston. Okay, how in the heck does she know that this is a flight from Destination A to Destination B? Is it a picture of the plane tickets? Is it a picture of a sign in the airport followed immediately by a picture of the sign in the next airport? Is it a picture of a piece of paper that says “EMMA AND HENRY FLEW FROM HERE TO THERE AT THIS TIME OOH HOW MYSTERIOUS”? At any rate, this inspires Emma to release Hook from prison, something that the cops wouldn’t allow the accuser to do without an insane amount of paperwork, if they allowed her to do that at all, just…by the by. Emma goes ahead and drinks the drank, thus allowing her memory to come back. So the major conflict established in the midseason finale? Solved, within twenty eight minutes of the first episode!

Emma shoots down her first pre-Dinah Short poppers.

Emma shoots down her first pre-Dinah Short poppers of the afternoon.

Despite moving at a glacial pace, the Storybrookers have already come across the castle and oops, it’s protected by a magical barrier because a new tenant is insisting on higher security measures. Who is this new tenant? Like, obviously we all know it’s the Wicked Witch of the West, but let’s pretend for one second that we don’t have a lifetime of pop culture references to influence us.

Back in the real world but also one year later because crack rock is still a problem in the OUAT writers room, Hook is at Emma’s house. Graham is supposed to show up and Emma says that because they’ve been dating for a couple of months, she owes it to him to explain her way out of the relationship. Graham straight up TURNS INTO A FLYING MONKEY and then disappears into a poof.

Let’s get this abundantly straight: Emma was fur sure sleeping with a winged primate. Again, let’s review. What you’re telling me is that having a gay couple on this show would be extremely difficult and polarizing, but humans are shacking up with monkeys? I can’t. I really can’t.

This explains all those banana-flavored condoms.

This explains all those banana-flavored condoms.

The next morning, Emma is very calm and collected despite having found out last night that she has been doing the dirty with a monkey that has wings. She tells Henry that she and Uncle Hook are going on a road trip to Maine. When they get there, the town is eerily quiet, probably because it’s a soundstage. Emma goes to her parents’ apartment and… they’re home? Except they can’t remember anything that has happened the day before? Except they are aware of their memory loss? And they are measuring time based on Snow’s baby bump? I don’t even know.

That’s how I would sum up my relationship with this show. “I don’t even know.” Because I don’t even know. Where is Mulan? Why isn’t Regina empress of the universe yet? Until next time, peasants.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. My girlfriend got me into this with promises of a queer Mulan. I started out thinking this show was the stupidest thing on earth and now I can’t help it, I’m obsessed, and somehow I’ve become invested in SwanQueen and I learned how to use tumblr. It’s been an eventful season.

  2. I was so happy when this show came back – not for the actual show, but for these recaps. They make my day. :)

  3. Monkey Man was Walsh, not Graham. I just felt like this review had zero positives. I dunno, I liked the episode.

  4. I absolutely love this recap. Also, I wonder how Emma can afford the apartment too. If the spell only messed with her and Henry’s memories and not their finances, she must catch someone almost every night or go after some majorly high-profile bail jumpers. When I saw Flying Monkey Guy I thought she pulling the “blind date as chance to catch a target” trick again. And Mulan would not have let that whole “let’s keep this danger from them” thing go down. She would have been all about them having the strength together to protect themselves, their friends, and their child. Afterall, they just reunited with the same group of people they were able to fight an ogre, a giant, a creepy wraith, and find a portal to another universe with.
    Also, I am wondering if Dr. Frankenstein got brought back to Storybrook a second time around (assuming he was sent back to Black and White world).

  5. I laughed so hard at the trash cans on fire. I didn’t notice that when I watched the episode, though I did notice the weird as hell gazebo-house. Forever laughing.

    LOL @ “QWOC back in the castle.” I’m sure most of American does’t realize that Lana Parrilla is Puerto Rican and certainly don’t realize Regina is totally queer.

    “I want you to be my top banana” – Emma’s face = best screencap

    “Also, he’s still in love with Charmin and it’ll break his heart to see his lover have to feign heterosexuality” That’s why I love these recaps. Fucking up heteronormativity is so amusing.

    Okay wait, the screencap of Snow & Regina looking up at the flying monkey, wait no, “heterosexual intercourse” is the best. Their faces are perfect.

    “Let’s get this abundantly straight: Emma was fur sure sleeping with a winged primate. Again, let’s review. What you’re telling me is that having a gay couple on this show would be extremely difficult and polarizing, but humans are shacking up with monkeys? I can’t. I really can’t.” TRUTH.

    Finally, Jamie Chung is now on “Believe” soo… unlikely we’ll see Mulan for a while, if ever again. :( :( But she said she loves Mulan and wishes it had been a meatier role. US TOO, JAMIE, US TOO.

  6. Come back, Mulan! Yeah, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep watching this crack show, but I’ve returned for the SwanQueen. That QWOC in the castle joke had me rollin!

  7. I don’t even think I can continue to watch this show. I hope you do, Kate, because your recaps are a thousand billion times better than the actual show. I’m not looking forward to watching the most recent episode, but I will–just so I can fully follow your recap.

    The show started out cute, then got a better, then got weird, then started to suck, and now it’s just…it’s a new adjective that hasn’t been coined yet.

  8. Oh my gosh…I have been waiting SO LONG to watch this episode. I feel like I’m trapped in a relationship where I love this show, but I only love it because it’s so ridiculous. Also, your recaps make me bust a gut. Keep reading queerness into this show, because it’s the only thing that makes all the heteronormative ‘true luuurrrvvee’ storylines bearable.

  9. Kate, come back! I used to think that watching this show was inexcusable (well, I still do). But come back! Your recaps make it somehow less inexcusable. Come back!

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