Although it doesn't have an impact on the immediate plot, it is lovely to see Mr. Gold and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) together enjoying a simple meal and each other's company. Even in this short scene there is something quaint and genteel to this quiet courtship. We see glimpses of Gold's difficult relationship with the good people of Storybrooke, and he seems almost apologetic about it, even accepting Granny's slight without challenging her as he might have before Belle's return.
Their date is interrupted by news of Cora's existence, and her desire to cross into Storybrooke, something, Regina intimates to Gold, that would complicate both their lives. But Gold is confident he can handle the evil Cora. But, as Regina points out, Gold now has a weakness — someone he loves, someone that can be used against him.
I found the interplay between Mr. Gold and Regina fascinating. Although they are far from friends, the two sorcerers can find common ground in defeating her. Cora is powerful, yet, insists Gold, he is more powerful, something Regina doubts. But more interesting is how they are collaborating despite their distaste for each other to help Emma and Snow, and not for mischief or to create havoc.
I really loved how we observe both of them using magic now in our "real" world. It seems slightly incongruous, since we are accustomed to seeing them work their magic only in their magical environment of Fairytale Land, but it works. Their magic is now out in the open, not secretive nor sinister (at least not for now).
As Rumple reveals what he had known about the spell used to trap and imprison him, telling Henry how to find the magic ink hidden in his cell, Regina and Charming share a look. They must wonder why, if Rumple had know all of this, he had submitted knowingly to the spell, and why, with the powerful substance in his possession why he never used it during all the many years of his captivity. (I assume it's been many years just from the terrible state in which we find Rumple when first we meet him.)
On the opposite side are Cora and her new ally Hook, and the two are perfectly matched, and make Gold and Regina look positively tame. Killian is master of the double and triple cross, playing both sides to suit his own agenda. He makes a great, very much black and white villain, and not in the least sympathetic.