There are plenty of things to care about in this episode, and there were plenty of plotlines connected to other plotlines to create a web of... something? It just all feels so pointless when you don't care.
August W. Booth opens the episode, banging chicks and generally owning the hell out of Hong Kong. He's like Archer, except... no wait, he's exactly like Archer.
His leg starts turning to wood, which is not an euphemism for getting an erection, so he goes to see a magical Chinese healer named “The Dragon” because original writers are original. The healer asks for something personal – the string which Gepetto first used to sew Pinocchio – and $10,000. One is around August's neck, the other he steals from Neil's girlfriend, whose name I have already forgotten and who also goes to see the Dragon. (It's Tamara. Thanks Google.)
Once he uses his ill-gotten funds to procure the vial of magic, Tamara chases him through the gutters and alleyways of Chinato- I mean Hong Kong, and steals the vial. Later, she returns to the Dragon's shitty apartment and tells us the chemical formula for magic: nothing. (That's because magic is a FEELING scientists!) Where did she even find the necessary scientific equipment to run the proper tests? I assume you need at least an electron microscope, or test tubes. Bare minimum you need a Bunsen burner. She kills the Dragon with a taser of all things, because there can only be one Asian on this show and Mulan still might come back.
The logic behind the choice of taser versus anything BUT a taser becomes apparent later in the episode. Tamara finds August moping in his rape trailer in the Forest and tells him to leave – the bottle of magic is in New York and can cure him of his now all-over wooden skin condition. He takes the bait, choosing to save himself over his family and friends, even though making the morally correct choice is what can heal him. As he crosses the city limits he finds the picture that Tamara supposedly gave the Dragon as her payment, and realizes that she's up to no good. DUH. LIKE ALL THE DUHS.
He returns to Storybrooke and tries to warn Emma via rotary phone (effective, right?) but is thwarted by the key fault of landlines: namely, that they are physical lines and can be cut by a secretive bitch named Tamara. She assaults him with the taser (now it all makes sense, right?) and I have to check the internet to confirm that wood does indeed conduct electricity (only when dry, and not nearly as well as copper – thanks again Google!) so her attack is effective.
August flails outside and tries to warn the conveniently nearby Emma about Tamara. He fails and turns completely back to wood. Because he, um, died in a selfless way, the Blue Fairy is able to turn him into... a real boy. He's a kid again with few to no memories of his licentious life, including what he was trying to warn them all about: Tamara, who shows up, apparently having booked it before checking to see if August was totally dead, and totally lucks out.
A few things about Tamara: she follows August to New York and that's how she meets Neil. She is somehow banging both Neil and Owen (Ethan Embry), making her Emma's true nemesis. Forget Regina, if two women pursue the same men they are immediately enemies.
This week in Snow's plotline: she sees a lesson for herself in August's storyline, because she is a selfish person who projects her shit onto everyone else. You will be fine. “The world is not divided into good people and Death Eaters.” Go read Harry Potter and bang your hot husband. There are people with cancer.
Next... month: A new protagonist on an already crowded cast list. Writers, I beg you: go watch Supernatural. There are weekly new characters who serve as foil to the two, COUNT 'EM TWO, main characters' lessons. Okay, max of four main characters. That show is on the CW and has better writing than this primetime, Big Three network show. That's just... just sad.