Selfless, Brave and True Review | Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 18

Whatever happened to Pinocchio anyway?

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, and Jared S. Gilmore.

Season 2
Episode 18: Selfless, Brave and True

For those wondering just what exactly happened to August after he turned to wood and then mysteriously disappeared in the season premiere, wonder no more! This episode is entirely for you. Not the most emotional or developed of episodes, this does help lend the audience some understanding as to the wider story at play as the season finale draws ever closer.

However, short of highlighting just how incredibly awful Pinocchio has become, as well as helping us to realising that Tamara is, in fact, the absolute worst, this episode doesn’t offer terribly much more. In fact, most of the storyline in the current Storybrooke is overshadowed by the entirely distracting CGI wooden face that Pinocchio has to endure: a crying shame, considering the talents of Eion Bailey, who does brilliantly in the flashback sections.

As may be inferable from the title, this episode explores how far Pinocchio has come from his initial promise to the Blue Fairy: to be selfless, brave and true. Unfortunately, since leaving the Enchanted Forest and coming to the Land Without Magic, his actions have been anything but. As soon as Emma enters Storybrooke back at the beginning of Season 1, August starts feeling a pain in his leg and believes it to be turning into wood while he lies in bed in Phuket (a location he only got to because he stole the money that Neal wanted to give to Emma in the first place. Not going well so far, August, ngl).

His search to cure his affliction leads him to the mysterious Dragon, who demands August’s most prized possession, as well as $10,000 in order to stop him from turning to wood. The Dragon demonstrates that he possesses some magic, by showing a massive understanding of August’s background. Unfortunately, August doesn’t have the kind of magic that the Dragon needs. Fortunately for him, he encounters Tamara in a bar, after previously having met her at the Dragon’s office. She has got $10,000 so that she can get the Dragon to cure her cancer. When she takes a phone call, August takes advantage and he steals her money. She manages to catch up with him and get the money back, though says he deserves whatever illness he has. When August goes to find the Dragon a few days later, he finds himself unable to seek his help, as he has been killed. Instead, August returns to America, and runs into Neal, telling him of his intention to go to Storybrooke to help Emma break the curse.

Meanwhile, in the present, August is in hiding in the Storybrooke forests, ashamed of what he has become and refusing to reveal himself to the community. He is found by Snow, who is practising her archery skills in the forest and still reeling from the part that she had to play in Cora’s death. Snow turns her attention to trying to save August and informs Marco and Emma about his presence. The Mother Superior makes it clear that August must go through his redemption along, otherwise it wouldn’t be truthful, but the group head off to the trailer regardless.

When they get there however, August has already left. Tamara, who Neal had invited to Storybrooke, had reached August before the others and informed him that there was a potion in her New York apartment that would heal him, so he leaves. However, en route he discovers a photograph in the car of Tamara and her mother, which he had previously seen with the Dragon. With a sudden realisation, he turns back towards Storybrooke.

As it transpires, Tamara had been faking her cancer diagnosis so that she could get close to the Dragon. Once she had gotten close enough, she used a taser to kill him as part of a vendetta against magic. She had also followed August, and purposefully bumped into Neal to start their relationship, as a way to get to Storybrooke. August is just about to tell Emma about Tamara using the phone at the sheriff’s station when Tamara cuts the line. August realises her plot to rid the world of magic from Storybrooke, just before Tamara tasers him to death.

August manages to get to the street and dies surrounded by Marco and Emma. He tries to warn Emma, but does not complete telling her the news. Henry contends that August’s actions were selfless, brave and true and as a result the Mother Superior transforms the now-dead August into a young, living boy once more. Unfortunately, he does not recall the message that he needed to tell Emma, but he and Marco are finally given the chance to be a family once more.

Other interesting plot lines this week were the development in Snow’s character. She has spent the past few episodes dramatically moping about her role in Cora’s death, but finally gets herself up and out of the house. Her interest in August’s redemption is more of a statement towards herself that she can indeed recover from the moment of darkness that she went through by manipulating Regina, and she finally manages to tell David at the end of the episode about the blackness in her heart. Before this, however, she punches Marco in the face due to his revelation that the magic wardrobe could, in fact, have carried two, but he used it to send Pinocchio instead.

While, obviously, punching somebody in the face is not okay, I’m not quite certain I subscribe to the ideals being pushed here: namely that, in order to be “good” and to be a “hero”, you shouldn’t have any negative emotions. That simply is not the case. I agree that actions are not excusable just because you are mad, but Snow was within her rights to be incredibly annoyed at Marco over this piece of information. Hitting him was too far, but she cannot be blamed for not accepting his apology straight away, just like Emma expected her too. It’s also strange for Emma to behave holier-than-thou considering the number of violent tussles she’s gotten herself into over the past two seasons.

Regina also finally works out Greg’s real identity as Owen, the little boy who visited Storybrooke 28 years previously. He confronts her over the location of his dad, and she relays that he left shortly after he did, and that Greg won’t find his dad within Storybooke. Greg insists that he isn’t going to leave, however, and later meets up with Tamara, who is revealed to be the “Her” in his phone book, and they kiss while Neal is in the shower next door.

In Short

  • August is still alive, but has reverted to a puppet, and is hiding in the Storybrooke forests.
  • When he had first started turning to wood, he had consulted The Dragon in Phuket, where he encountered Tamara.
  • Tamara tells August that there is an antidote to his illness in New York, and he heads off to find it.
  • He realises that Tamara killed the Dragon, and tries to warn the rest of Storybrooke, but Tamara kills him too.
  • Mother Superior transforms August back into a young, living Pinocchio because he has demonstrated that he is selfless, brave and true again.
  • Tamara is in league with Greg, and they seek to destroy magic.

Other thoughts

  • I’m glad that the whole Henry hating Emma storyline seems to be over now. That was dragging on far too long, and entirely unnecessary.
  • I’m also pleased that Snow seems to be stopping moping around. What she did, in manipulating Regina, was terrible, but it was high time that she moved past it.
  • The solution to August’s transformation was obvious from the very beginning. In fact, I’ve been saying it since the first season. The promise that he made when he was turned into a boy was that he would always be selfless, brave and true. Did he think the Blue Fairy was lying? Idiot.
  • Having said that, if some lady left $10,000 lying around in a restaurant, I would probably steal it too. Not sorry about it.
  • Regina being bitchy to Snow White in the cafe was everything. She’s really enjoying torturing Snow with her own actions, and I can’t say I blame her. I’d probably do the same thing if somebody had killed my mother.
  • Regina trying to pretend that the reason for her lack of ageing in 28 years was because of good skin care was hilarious. Did she honestly think that would work?
  • I very much doubt that Regina is telling the truth about what happened to Kurt, so I’m intrigued to see what the payoff of that will be.
  • I’m glad that Tamara is actually evil, and it’s not just Emma being a psycho ex. I am fully prepared for everybody else to just ignore her about Tamara and pass it off as that, however.
  • Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that a character who started this hour lying in bed with a woman and making horrendous sexual innuendo then ends up the hour being pre-pubescent again? I mean, I really do hope this is a fresh reset for him because otherwise that is a very compelling reason to go to therapy.
  • Also also, how did Pinocchio manage to track down Neal again? Did they keep in contact? New York is a big place, how did they manage to meet up again? Did Tamara just chance it that August was from the Enchanted Forest and follow him so that then she would bump into Neal? How did she find out all this stuff? And what is her vendetta against magic in the first place?


A highly expository episode, that serves little other than to set up tension to be resolved later.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

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