It was co-written by Robert Hull & Kalinda Vazquez, while being directed by Ralph Hemecker.
In the Characters' Past
In October 2011 in Phuket, Thailand, August (Eion Bailey) is now discovering that he is turning back into wood (at 8:15, which is when the curse starts to weaken). As he wakes up, August asks his girlfriend Isra to help, and tells her he has to go to the hospital. Weeks later he arrives at an ER in Hong Kong, where August tries to convince a doctor by showing him his wooden leg, even using a knife to stab it, but the only thing the doctor sees is his human leg. As the doctor screams for the orderlies, August escapes into the seedy streets of Hong Kong, where he meets an individual who tells him of a person who can help him, The Dragon (Tzi Ma). When they reach the Dragon's place, August waits outside, then notices a person dropping her cell phone, and when he hands it back to her, it is revealed that the person is none other than Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green), the woman who became Neal's fiancee. August goes to see the Dragon, then shows him his wooden leg and the Dragon immediately recognizes him as Pinocchio. The Dragon tells him he can help him but there are conditions. First, the dragon needs to acquire something close to August's heart that cannot be replaced, his necklace that was made from his strings when he was a puppet. The second is $10,000 US Dollars, and if August brings it that evening he will become human again.
Later that night, August enters a bar and runs into Tamara, who offers to buy him a beer and explains that she went to see the Dragon because she was diagnosed with cancer. It turns out that she also is carrying an envelope full of money and when she excuses herself to take a phone call, August takes the money and races back to the Dragon's flat, where he gives him the money and as expected receives a potion that would stop him ever turning into wood. Unfortunately, just as he leaves the place, Tamara chases after him and he falls to the ground and Tamara takes possession of the potion. Tamara later returns to the Dragon's flat, where he begins to figure out her deception that she never had cancer and that she was after the potion, which she noticed contained a substance that wasn't from "this" world. When Tamara says she cannot risk anyone else finding the Dragon and pulls out a tazer, the Dragon begins to rise from the floor, exhaling red smoke and exclaiming that she hasn't met the 'Real' Dragon. Tamara is momentarily shocked, but then thrusts the tazer into him, killing the Dragon.
Months later in New York City, and after learning that Emma (Jennifer Morrison) has just arrived in Storybrooke to break the curse, August meets up with Neal/Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) to confirm what will happen next, then tells Neal that he will follow Emma to Storybrooke and when she breaks the curse he will send Neal a postcard. As August rides off, the two are unaware that Tamara has been watching very closely from a vendor stand, where she had bought a grande size coffee cup and as expected "bumps" into Neal, putting her scheme in motion.
David (Josh Dallas) makes breakfast in bed for Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin). Emma thinks he is coddling Mary Margaret too much and cannot help her by being overly protective. Emma tells him that at the end of the day Mary Margaret needs to help herself. Mary Margaret gets up and tells David she has to go to the woods to think things over, and asks David to go look at the harvested bean crop that can help them return to their land. During her time out in the woods for target practice with arrows, Mary Margaret sees a trailer, and when she enters it, she discovers August, who is now completely wooden and refuses to come out, even to the point of telling Mary Margaret that he wants no one to find out that he is still in Storybrooke. Around the same time Emma learns that Neal has invited Tamara to Storybrooke, just as Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) brought along the story book so Neal could get to know more about his life as Baelfire. Emma is worried that Tamara will find out the truth of who he is, but Neal says that he needs her. When Tamara does show up to join the other three for bagels, Henry asks about how Tamara met Neal (the "Coffee Spill" from the flashback, but Neal claims he was at fault even though it was the other way around), then as Henry heads to school with Emma, Neal shows Tamara the book and explains that he is from the Enchanted Forest. Tamara refuses to believe his claim because she believes that Emma is after him now that he found out about Henry being his son, but Neal says that he and Emma are the past and Tamara wants him to prove it.
At Granny's Diner, Greg (Ethan Embry) is enjoying apple pie and learns that Regina (Lana Parrilla) had bought it for him as thanks for finding Henry. When Regina asks if they had met before, Greg claims that it was their first time meeting. As Regina walks away, she runs into Mary Margaret (and makes a comment about her heart by recommending a dish called "Blackened Sole"), who then finds Marco (Tony Amendola) there and tells him that she has found August. Unfortunately, someone else hears the conversation: Tamara, who wastes no time finding August and giving him an ultimatum, to leave Storybrooke forever. She gives him the keys to her vehicle to return to New York City to pick up the potion in her apartment.
As Emma, Mary Margaret, and Marco head to August's trailer, Marco confesses to Mary Margaret about the wardrobe and as he apologizes to her, Mary Margaret slaps him, then apologizes and says she would have done the same for her child. The three then learn that August has just left Storybrooke. En route he finds and recognizes the photo of Tamara and her grandmother (which he had previously seen while with the Dragon) falling from the driver's seat, prompting him to return to town. As he makes a phone call to Emma from the Sheriff's office, Tamara suddenly shows up to cut the line and cuts off his call to Emma, who races back to the office immediately. August realizes that Tamara killed the Dragon and that her real goal was to come to Storybrooke to take magic and plans to warn the residents. Tamara then pulls out her taser and uses it on August so he can't go through with it. As Emma, Mary Margaret, Henry, David, Neal, and Marco arrive to save the now lifeless body of August, August gives Emma his final words, "She's," then dies in Marco's arms. Henry believes that the warning August was attempting to give Emma was brave and truthful, then asks if the Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) can come to save him, and she does indeed show up, saying if August’s actions were indeed brave and truthful maybe she can save him. She then uses her wand and brings August back to life as Pinocchio (Jakob Davies), but as the young boy who is now real. When Emma asks if Pinocchio remembers anything, he says he does not know or remember it. As Tamara races to see this exchange, she tells Neal that she "believed" him, and when Neal asks her if she wants to go back to New York, Tamara tells Neal that she is staying with him.
As the Charming Family returns home, Emma tells Henry that she is sorry about lying to him, and the two make up, while Mary Margaret and David have an exchange with Mary Margaret telling David about the darkened hole in her heart, and David vowing to do whatever it takes to protect their family. And while these events are happening, Regina goes to Greg's room and tells him that she knows who he was by showing him the lanyard she had kept. Greg responds by telling Regina that he will not leave Storybrooke without his father, despite Regina's claim that he left. Although she tells Greg that he will be checking out soon, Greg proves to Regina that he is not bluffing because hours later he gets a phone call from "Her," who is knocking on his door. That "Her" was Tamara, who is revealed to be using Neal and before they close the door, they prepare for a sexual encounter while Neal is taking a shower in the other room.
August Booth's trailer appears in the Enchanted Forest
"Selfless, Brave and True" was co-written by Robert Hull & Kalinda Vazquez, while Ralph Hemecker served as the episode's director.
Disney references in this episode point to Mulan in which the Dragon showcases his ability to draw smoke from his nostrils, Pinocchio in which the Blue Fairy grants August a chance to become a real boy again, The Little Mermaid in which Tamara used a shell-like mirror to see Neal and August talk, and Winnie The Pooh in which a honey neon pub sign called "Winnie's" is featured.
The flashback scenes involving August meeting a woman in Phuket then leaving for Hong Kong, his tattoo on his leg, and the Dragon seeing who August really is, are allusions to "Stranger in a Strange Land" a 2007 episode from Lost.
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