"Changelings" is the ninth episode of the sixth season of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the one-hundredth and twentieth episode of the series overall. It aired on November 27, 2016. It was written by David H. Goodman & Brian Ridings and directed by Mairzee Almas.
In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Rumple collects Jack and Jill’s son as bait to lure a powerful being to him. Back in Storybrooke, Gold tells the Evil Queen that she must kill Zelena, and the EQ makes a decision that will change her relationship with her sister forever. When Belle discovers Gold’s plans for their son, she convinces Hook and Emma to help her steal squid ink that can immobilize him, and, as a result, Belle is left to make a sacrifice that will affect the lives of everyone in Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Jasmine finds a genie-less lamp that she hopes to use to save Agrabah, and Aladdin finds a way to be her hero.
A swing set from the Dream World is featured in the forest.
In the Characters' Past
At Rumplestiltskin's castle, Belle is stunned to see Rumplestiltskin bring a child back with him, but as she asked questions, he made her stop before he left again. While reading Her Handsome Hero Belle calms the baby down as she plots to track down the parents. When she entered his secret room, she read a scroll, but Rumple was on to her and traps Belle in the room and disappear with the baby. She is then rescued by the Blue Fairy, who enlisted Belle to save the child before the Dark One can use it as bait for the Black Fairy, who like Rumple, was known to take children.
That night in the forest, Rumple summons the Black Fairy and catches her by surprise with squid ink. He questions her about her habit of abducting babies while leaving behind the one that was legitimately hers, to which she soon realizes he is referring himself, as it turns out that Rumplestiltskin is her son. Rumple directly asks his mother why she abandoned him. With her surprise turned to amusement, Black Fairy states that Rumple is one to ask such a question before blatantly answering she chose power over love (which Rumple did with his own son). As Belle comes out of her hiding place and takes the baby, the squid ink on the Black Fairy wears off and she grabs the distracted Rumplestiltskin by the neck, telling her son he won't be getting anymore answers from her and will have to simply keep guessing more about why she abandoned him before flying off into the sky giggling. Belle is sympathetic to Rumple's pain, but says its enormity didn't justify sacrificing an innocent infant. Rumple, still emotionally hurt from his encounter with his twisted, unabashed mother, states no one knows anything of his pain before poofing away.
Later on, Belle returns the baby back to its parents, revealed to be Jack and Jill, as a hidden Rumplestiltskin watches from a distance; deeply saddened to see a child with loving parents, which he never had growing up.
In the present day at a undisclosed location, Gold chases down and captured a nun, and the Evil Queen has shown up to witness what he plans to do to her, as she is aware of his hatred towards fairies. As Gold reminds the Evil Queen that she is supposed to kill Zelena on his behalf, he proceeds to toss magical dust on the fairy, causing her to age immediately, which he wants to serve as a message. This has Belle more worried after seeing the aged nun and knowing that he'll use it to speed up her pregnancy and take their child. While doing research on how to stop Gold, Belle comes across a book and as she opens it a red string appears on the floor that matches the page on the book and she follows it to her son, who tells her the answer was in front of her, and suddenly wakes up on top of the book, realizing that she was dreaming while researching for the answer.
In the meantime, Jasmine tells Snow that she is nervous about the magic lamp, assuming that a genie's magic could help her find Agrabah but fears what the genie will want in return. She decides to summon the genie anyway, but when she rubs the lamp, all that comes out are two cuffs, implying that the genie was freed. Aladdin then puts the cuffs on, turning himself into a genie instead. Around the same time, the Evil Queen confronts Zelena and easily overpowers her. Before she can kill the witch, the Evil Queen is stopped by Regina, who threatens to crush the heart the queen and mayor share and kill the both of them if she doesn't back off before telling her that Gold is using her. Regina allows the Evil Queen to get away for now as she is aware that her dark heart has a large hole inside of her. Even after saving Zelena's life, Regina still can't forgive her.
The book that Belle slept on captures the attention of Hook as he recognizes the book is written in squid ink, and suggests that he and Emma take care of the situation. When they arrived to the pawnshop, Hook provokes Gold's anger, by mentioning how his status as the Dark One ruined his previous son Baelfire's life, to distract him and allow Emma to use the ink on the pawnbroker. However, just as they were searching the shop, Emma's visions resurfaced and hand started to shake again while Gold disappears, ready to confront Belle with the aging dust. Telling Belle that he thinks their son may be the only person who could ever love him and is willing to do anything to prevent the prospect of losing another son. However, Gold starts having second thoughts after Belle tells him that she might also lose him forever and backs down. Back at his pawnshop, the queen is angered that Gold used her and still chooses Belle over her. Gold, not caring, tells the queen their partnership is over and orders her to leave.
At Granny's, Belle, Emma, and Hook have a conversation. As Emma tells Hook that a new vision involving her death has appeared, Belle drops her mug on the ground, revealing that the tea she was drinking was a spell, which causes her pregnancy to accelerate and she goes into labor. As Emma and the fairies help Belle deliver, she finds herself again in the dream world talking to her son, who gives his mother a message, “you know what you must do." As Belle successfully delivers the baby, she asked Mother Superior to be his fairy godmother and to take him far away from Storybrooke, where he will be safe from Gold. Belle then named her son Gideon in honor of her favorite book hero before Mother Superior sends the child away. When Gold, who prevented to enter by a protection spell placed on the nunnery by Emma and the fairies until the baby was delivered, arrived to see his son, he becomes furious with her as she refused to tell him what his name was and where he went, but vows to find him.
When Gold returns to his shop, the Evil Queen is waiting and tells him that she was responsible placing the spell in Belle’s tea that resulted in her pregnancy to accelerate as payback for him rejecting her. Now enemies, Gold vows to make her pay for causing his son to be taken from him, but she is unfazed as he has yet to kill her sister, the one who caused his previous son's death. Gold counters by reminding the malevolent monarch that he plays a long game in which she is merely one of his pawns (referring to how he manipulated her in his grand plan to find Baelfire), Regina's dark half just sadistically wishes him luck in finding his son again, adding she hears fairies make great mothers (referring to his own). Alone, Gold trashes his shop in anger. Finally, after Hook tells her that Regina reversed the aging spell on the nun, Emma tells Hook that she feels stronger than ever, ready to confront her vision, returns to the shop, where she finds the sword that will kill her in her vision.
- Rumpelstiltskin's mother is the Black Fairy, who, like his father, abandoned him at a young age. She is also another reason why he hates fairies; it was at first because he blames the Blue Fairy for him losing Baelfire through a portal.
- Emma finds the sword that will kill her in her vision.
- Belle gives birth and names her son Gideon.