This week’s Once Upon a Time episode "Lady of the Lake" returns to the plight of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) in a remote, still-intact part of Fairytale Land. As they search for a way to get back home to Storybrooke, they enlist the help of Mulan (Jamie Chung) and a reluctant Aurora (Sarah Bolger), first seen in the season premiere. They also encounter Lancelot (Sinqua Walls) of Knights of the Roundtable fame, who turns out is an old ally of Snow's from back in the day when she and Charming were fighting his father George. But he's not exactly who he says he is!
Trying to locate the armoire portal in the ruins of her castle, Snow and Emma travel through dangerous lands, encountering an ogre, whom Snow kills with an arrow to the eye. Emma is singularly unprepared for this land, despite her handgun (which only serves to alert the ogres to their presence). And her fish out of water status gives Snow the opportunity to prove her maternal instincts as they overcome the barriers between them built by resentment and Emma's feelings of abandonment.
Once Upon a Time's recurrent theme of parental love, loss and (sometimes) redemption touches not only Snow and Emma's story. As the story picks up where the last season's finale leaves off, Snow and Charming intend to retake the kingdom from King George. We learn that George and his wife had been unable to conceive; the queen, drinking a potion, had become barren and unable to conceive an heir.
Charming had been his only hope of a legacy, and now that's out of the question, having forsaken it all for the love of Snow White. George takes his revenge, poisoning Snow to render her barren. All is resolved with the help of Lancelot du Lac, who finds a small drop of charmed water in Lake Nostos, where last season Charming encountered the Sirens. But more importantly, it is Charming's mother who ultimately makes the parental sacrifice, giving up her hope of survival after a poison arrow wound for the sake of her son and his happiness.