Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “Mother” [4x21]

     Apologies for the lack of a recap/review last week, Once fans; I had to go on an unexpected trip, and rest of the The Fangirl Initiative was already working in full force to prepare for the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t get to see last Sunday’s episode until later, because it was certainly a doozy! I’ll do my best to bring you all up to speed before we take a look at this week’s installment, but before we begin, allow me to warn you as always:

     Last week we saw that Maleficent’s daughter, Lilith, had continued to try and track Emma down when they were teenagers. However, her poor choices destroyed Emma’s foster situation yet again, and the girls parted on poor terms. This led to Mickey actually leaving Storybrooke to find the adolescent Lily, and he explained the truth of her birth and cursed nature so that she might have a better chance at improving her life.

     Since then, Lilith has been searching for Storybrooke throughout her adulthood… and Emma found her, with the help of “fate.” Now the two of them are going to return to Storybrooke… but a new wrench has been thrown in their gears. Not only did Rumpelstiltskin and Will steal back Belle’s heart and spoil Regina’s leverage over the [dying] Dark One… but when Regina showed up in New York to rescue Robin from his false wife, she discovered the worst news imaginable: Zelena is pregnant.

     This week’s installment begins in the Enchanted Forest of Flashbacks, where Evil Queen Regina discovers a peasant wedding taking place on the royal grounds without permission. On any other day she just might intimidate her subjects into leaving, but it’s the anniversary of her true love’s death, and so without much prodding she crushes the heart of the groom.

     After turning the matrimony into a funeral, she visits Daniel’s grave… only to find a yellow rose already there… along with her mother, Cora.

     Meanwhile in the present, Regina and Robin Hood are discussing their latest obstacle (Zelena’s pregnancy) over a couple of scotches. Regina’s bothered that Robin actually moved on, but he’s more concerned about what trauma Roland might go through after losing his mother again.

     Fortunately, Regina suggests a forgetting potion that will remove Roland’s memories of the false Marian’s return through the portal. Though that does help, she reminds Robin that now there will forever be a rift between them, even if Zelena is eventually defeated; her future child will be a lifelong barrier and there may never be a full happy ending for the two of them to have.

     Still in the apartment guarding Zelena, Emma has grown a new heartache after looking through Neal’s possessions. However, whenever her anger burns hot against his murderer, Zelena just bats her big sad eyes and says she feels the baby kicking — after all, Emma wouldn’t harm a pregnant woman, now would she?

     But then Regina and Robin return, with the announcement that they all (including Zelena and Lilith) are returning to Storybrooke immediately.

     In said lovely little town, Hook barges in on Gold’s breakfast with Isaac (the Author, remember) to gloat. Not only did Emma resist the urge to become evil while she was gone, but now Hook knows that the Dark One can’t lash out at him for fear of damaging his own failing heart even more. Now Hook will get his happy ending, and Gold will not.

     Once Hook leaves, Isaac warns the Dark One that this is a bad development; the ink requires Emma’s blood and dark impulses to control happy endings. Gold, whose heart is failing so much now that he can barely walk, decides that he must find ink some other way — but Isaac warns him that there is no loophole.

     Not long afterwards, Emma and her contingent return. Emma’s family reunite eagerly with her (though she still refuses to hug her parents) and Maleficent is left anxiously waiting on the sidelines…

     …but at last Emma guides Lily out of the car, past a glare-off with the Charmings, and finally the long-lost mother and daughter meet. Maleficent actually looks like she might cry!

     Back in the past at Daniel’s grave, Regina raves at her mother for showing up on this day of all days. It would seem that Cora escaped the looking glass where her daughter banished her to Wonderland, and now she is back to ask for forgiveness (though she doesn’t seem very sincere about it). Now that Regina is her own woman, with power and beauty and strength, Cora just wants to help her get one final thing: love.

     Though Cora destroyed Regina’s first love, she realizes now (or claims to) that Regina can never be content with a loveless marriage as her mother was… and Cora knows of Tinkerbell’s prediction about Regina’s new love in the tavern.

     Meanwhile in the present, Regina has Zelena’s magic suppressed with an enchanted cuff and has brought her to the hospital’s mental ward for safekeeping. Zelena doesn’t think that Regina will have what it takes to kill her in nine months, but Regina locks her in with a strong spell and no qualms… though the secretary at the desk is watching the whole process with enough interest to make the situation smell suddenly fishy…

     While Isaac searches Gold’s collection of books for information on blood magic, the Dark One staggers to the back of his shop to examine his heart: it’s almost entirely black, and the charred sections aren’t even shining anymore.

     Regina barges in to demand the Author, but notices that Gold can barely stand and realizes that his heart is finally giving out. The Dark One might not be able to die, but Rumpelstiltskin (and his ability to love) can. Gold warns her that this is bad news for her, too; destruction will reign if the Dark One loses Rumpelstiltskin's regrets and restraint.

     He suggests that they work together, and even shows her the quill that he’s acquired… but she takes it from his helpless hands and apparates with Isaac at her side, leaving Rumpelstiltskin with a cheeky “Goodbye, Dearie,” as he collapses on the floor!

     In the Enchanted Flashback Forest, Cora enters the tavern in her sparkly dress, because that’s not conspicuous at all.

The sleazy, dapper Sheriff of Nottingham introduces himself and presumptuously buys her a drink. (I’m not sure which of them I want dead more. Please let them kill each other…)

     Cora explains that she’s looking for a man—


     …with a lion tattoo on his wrist. Nottingham knows who that is only too well — but, he bears the bad news that Robin is newly married. Cora doesn’t mind, however, and Nottingham agrees to help her more… for a price.

     Back in the present, Regina learns from Isaac that the energy of the Savior’s darkest potential has to charge the ink (coughLilithcough) for it to work, but Emma hasn’t gone dark.

     Regina shows Isaac the page of her almost-happy ending: he’s delighted at the sight of it, and admits that it was part of some experimental writing that he did for another book that was never finished. He doesn’t know how it could have simply appeared out of nowhere, but that means some omnipotent force is looking out for Regina from afar.  That information makes Isaac happy to write for her if she can just get ink… and she knows exactly where to find it.

     Over at the diner, Lilith (cough, cough) gets down to business with her mother and asks how they’re going to seek revenge on the Charmings. Maleficent, to her surprise, would rather focus on future happiness rather than past anger… but Lilith suggests they do both.

     She’s prepared to leave Storybrooke if her pushover of a mother doesn’t join her, but Maleficent can’t cross the town line without dying (since she’s only alive from a resurrection spell)… and with no promise of revenge, Lily storms away without her.

     Desperate, Maleficent goes for help from… the Charmings?

     Since they cast the second curse to bring everyone to Storybrooke, perhaps they can seal the borders as Regina did. Snow admits she doesn’t know how to do that, and it wouldn’t be the right way to reconcile with Lilith, anyway, anyway. The orphan’s walls are up, just as Emma’s were when she first came to Storybrooke; because she’s afraid of being rejected or let down (as Emma was in the end). So though the Charmings are the reason why Maleficent’s daughter was lost in the first place, now she needs them to do anything they can to help return Lilith to her.

     Back during Regina’s reign in the Enchanted Forest, we see Cora return to her castle with the news that the mysterious true love is on his way (why do I feel like she put a fake tattoo on Nottingham’s wrist just to mess things up even more?).

     She magicks Regina into a breathtakingly innocent silver gown (Regina’s favorite, in fact). Regina turns around, and there comes… guess who.

     Cora swaggers off and leaves Regina to chat with Notting-Hood, who listens to her vulnerable tale of woe and tells her that she should be weak and feminine with him.

     She catches on to his tricks and uncovers the tattoo on his arm as a fake, so she brings the lion to life! 

     She forces it up his sleeve until he admits that Cora told him he could be king in exchange for getting Cora a grandchild (though he doesn’t know why she wants one).

     Meanwhile in the present, Regina finds Lilith out at the bus stop and suggests that she stop focusing on what the Charmings deserve and rather on what she herself deserves… but Lily thinks that she deserves for the Charmings to be dead.

     Regina knows that half of the darkness being stirred up in Lily is actually the Savior’s darkness, and that’s exactly what she needs… so she she slices Lilith's hand to gain blood for the Author’s ink bottle! Then she leaves in a puff of smoke, and Lilith’s rage grows so great that her eyes begin to glow.

     Not long later, the Charmings and Maleficent succeed in their search for her… except that now, Lilith is a giant raging leviathan like her mother! But instead of attacking them or crushing the truck and barbecuing them while they’re inside of it… she just flies off.

     Back in the Evil Queen’s castle, Cora discovers that Regina saw through her scheme. She claims that her own choice of husband was much better for Regina than an already-married man, but Regina knows that Cora didn’t want a happy daughter: she wanted a grandchild.

     Down in Zelena’s own prison, Regina visits with Isaac on her heels. Now that she has the Author and the ink, Regina will finally get her heart’s desire in her wicked sister’s very presence… and she’s been deliberating on the perfect ending for Zelena for ages.

     Out at the Storybrooke docks, Emma and Hook charm one another over a bottle of rum…

     …and Hook reminds her that she needs to be mindful of her heart’s condition… not against Gold or his schemes, but against her parents. Both times when they failed her, they wanted for her to be happy, and that counts for something.

     Out in the woods, Maleficent is worried that Lilith hasn’t been taught how to fly; one wrong move and her daughter could be seriously injured.

     And sure enough, they find Lily-Dragon downed in a field, still raging and sparking fire-breath without control. Maleficent runs towards her without worry, but Snow and Charming run after her, too. 

     In the chaos, Lilith’s tail slams Snow’s head into a rock and knocks her out.

     Then without barely a glance at her good work, Lily flies away. Emma and Hook show up moments later, and seeing her mother hurt finally does the Savior some good.
     She magically heals the cut on Snow’s head (though internal healing will take more time) and apologizes for continuing to punish her parents for so long. She forgives them and the family is finally reunited… but Maleficent wanders the forest alone, still searching for her daughter.

     She finds Lily transforming back into a human, shaking and terrorized. Maleficent joins her and gives her the rattle that was always meant to be hers all those years ago. Lilith admits that she's confused, because she expected her mother to be a vengeful sorceress, instead of an open woman who wants to bond… and all of her past relationships have ended badly because of the darkness she was cursed with.

     But Maleficent doesn’t mind a little darkness… and she’ll teach Lilith to use that darkness, if she’ll stay for at least a week to start with.

     Down in the Asylum, Zelena thinks that her sister is jealous because she doesn’t have a child… but Regina already has Henry. Instead, to make sure that Zelena can’t hurt anyone else ever again, Isaac is going to write her out of the story… forever. No one will be able to mourn her or even the loss of her baby, because everything will be as if she never existed. (Wait, Regina, what about everything that’s happened since Zelena showed up? What about the Frozens? And the portal? And Marian!?)

     Zelena applauds Regina for giving up a baby without batting an eyelash, just as Cora did when her own firstborn might have jeopardized her own position. Regina’s smile slowly fades.

     Back in the Evil Queen’s castle, Cora warns that Snow White will take back the kingdom unless Regina starts building her own royal bloodline. But Regina knows that Cora merely wants to get her out of the way and rule vicariously by controlling whatever child she bears. To foil that scheme, she has concocted a potion to ensure that she will never bear children.

     Cora thinks that this is a sham, but Regina insists that she will hurt herself so long as it hurts Cora more… and she downs the potion in an instant.

     But Cora claims that if she wanted the crown, she could have already gained it easily. She wanted Regina to bear children for her own sake… but now, as always, Regina is the only thing standing in the way of her own happiness.

     Meanwhile in the hospital ward, Regina changes her mind and orders Isaac to write nothing. Cora may have hurt both Zelena and Regina, in different ways, but she wasn’t the obstacle stopping their happiness: they themselves are standing in the way of their own happy endings, and Regina isn’t going to do that anymore.

     Robin shows up, breathless; he’s been looking for Regina everywhere. As he and Regina reunite, Isaac lingers between the three of them with his pen, looking far too thoughtful for my taste.

     Regina announces that she already has everything she needs, and Zelena is going to remain as she is. But Isaac declares that he doesn’t have everything he needs, and so he starts writing in the Book. Then suddenly — 

     He vanishes in a cloud of smoke and departs for where, according to the page he leaves behind, “Mr. Gold awaits.”

     Almost out of time, Gold orders Isaac to write. With a snap of his fingers, he conjures a new book.

     It’s time, says Mr. Gold, for villains to finally win.

     Tune in next week for the two-hour season finale "Operation Mongoose," featuring Rumpelstiltskin the Knight, Snow the Evil Queen, and Emma going mad in a tower!

Current Questions:
A. Does nobody care that Mickey is still trapped in the Sorcerer’s stupid hat!?

B. Who is Lilith’s father!?

C. I know she’s dead, but how did Cruella end up in the Enchanted Forest after Isaac cursed her with the inability to murder ever again? (Not that it’s really a curse, per sé, but… well, you know what I mean…)

D. Is Isaac’s new story going to bring back Neil? Or perhaps other long-lost dead characters? Cruella? Blackbeard? Graham? (To all the Graham fangirls out there: try to breathe…)

Current Theories:
A. The nurse monitoring Zelena may be up to something.

B. …Though I rather hope he’s not, I still hold Rumpelstiltskin as Most Likely To Be Lilith’s Father. Which would make her Emma's unofficial sister-in-law, and Henry's aunt. Just think of the awkward family reunions, guys!

C. I’m still waiting for Hercules and Hades to show up. That Herculean helmet in Rumpelstiltskin’s castle had to be there for a reason! It had to be!


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