Sunday, March 15, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “Enter the Dragon” [4x15]

     After last week’s emotional roller-coaster of an episode in the highly-popular series Once Upon A Time, it’s safe to say that a large portion of ABC’s viewers were anxiously awaiting Sunday night with a mountain of questions. I even did ‘research’ in anticipation by watching Disney’s Maleficent to see if it contained some relevant clues to the new episode (which it didn’t, but its first half was a solid origin story and its second half was somewhat redeemed by a funny little discount-Loki named Diaval). So, with no hints to go by other than those presented by the show itself, time to dive in and recap the latest episode of ABC’s Once Upon A Time! And as always, be warned

     When last we left our favorite Maine township, both the villains and the heroes were hunting down the Author of their stories to receive happy endings of their own. Mr. Gold just stumbled upon Belle's fledging relationship with Will Scarlett (which ripped out the hearts of several fans, I'm sure), and Henry started to investigate August's possessions to find clues about how he altered The Book and if the Author was involved.

     However, Maleficent was resurrected, so she set out to destroy the happiness and reputations of the two people that are somehow responsible for the death of her unborn child (sob): Snow White and Prince Charming. Because of this, Snow recruited Regina to go undercover with the evil queens to find out what they're planning.

     Which brings us to the present: Regina is heading to Granny's to confront the three villainesses and join their posse — hence her wardrobe-change into tight leather, which always signifies evil in this show…

     She meets Maleficent — now in modern attire, and still keeping her baby rattle close.

     Regina explains that she came to join them, but she's also ready for a fight; after all, she was the one who locked Maleficent below the library for a decade, and she expects some flack for it. But Maleficent isn't after her… though the two witches do give one another some attitude as Regina tries to insist that she really is evil again. She finally downs a glass of some unknown substance (either a strong drink or potentially any potion that could possibly exist. Great idea, Regina) to prove it.

     Then we take a step back into Regina's past, returning to a time when she's still seething about being Snow's stepmother and still a magic novice under the tutelage of Rumpelstiltskin. Snow White has become one of the best horseback riders in the land, though Regina suspects its because of the horse rather than its rider.

And she says as much to Rumpelstiltskin, who's popped in to see how his sulking student is doing.

     She's not doing well.

     Regina's getting impatient with her slow progress in the study of magic, so she's been perusing a book she found in her mother's possessions: a book that used to belong to Maleficent, describing her ability to transform into a dragon.

     Rumpelstiltskin admits that Maleficent's power is great  he even shows her a scorched wilderness that the witch once destroyed, with fire so hot that one tree is still ablaze after all this time. Because apparently it hasn't, you know, disintegrated into ash like normal wood. (Why not choose the much more believable option and just say that Maleficent's fire melted the rocks into a magma lake that's still hot to this day?. .)

     But Rumpelstiltskin's point in all of this is that such powerful magic takes time to develop. But Regina doesn't want to be patient: she wants Maleficent's help instead. So Rumpelstiltskin rolls his eyes and snaps his fingers and sends Regina to the tree which is conveniently located beside Maleficent's castle.

     Meanwhile in the present, Emma isn't thrilled to find out that her parents sent Regina undercover. After all, Emma used to track down people for a living and it turns out that they have good reason to worry, because Regina was supposed to check in over an hour ago.

     And that's because Regina's busy proving herself to the three queens of darkness: they've driven out of town and parked on a set of train tracks. Sure enough, they hear the ominous horn about to herald in their doom; trains always come when there's a scene on their tracks

     The ladies explain to Regina that this is a test; she can simply apparate them out of the way, so the first person to save their group loses. Of course, the drawback to playing chicken is that if you simply never flinch, you run the risk of going up against someone with the same philosophy. So as the train nears, Regina has mere moments to decide if she's going to cave or let it strike. Of course she doesn't want to die herself but did she never consider that the queens just put their lives in her hands and are letting her run a game of Russian roulette? If she doesn't save them, she may die but so will they, and to her knowledge the town's problems could end there. Such martyrdom would actually be one of the most heroic things any Storybrooke character has ever done!

      …but of course, she does relocate the car at the last moment. The other ladies mock her for "going soft," but she suggests that they go and find some real trouble.

     While the ladies are out going wild, Henry's at home examining every inch of The Book with a magnifying glass. He feels as if one illustration in particular, that of a door, may somehow lead to the Author; there are faint designs on it that are just baaarely illegible…

     The next morning, Emma and Hook convene at Granny's to look for Regina. After all, she still hasn't checked in after her new posse drank the place dry the night before. Emma's particularly uneasy because if Regina had control over the situation, she would have rendezvoused by now.

     Out in the woods, the Charmings are also searching for Regina… and they find her after discovering a charred sheriff's cruiser, burnt to a crisp in a glade. She admits to them that the smoking car was the witches' idea of a good time, and she didn't check in all night because she had to party hard and pretend even harder. The Charmings are upset that she didn't find out what the queens are up to, but Regina insists that she did accomplish trust... and she also found out that the villainesses are hiding something besides just blackmail on the Charmings… something incredibly powerful.

     Regina assures them that while she once had to approach Maleficent for help, this time the tables will be turned and Maleficent will come to her.

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, we see Regina come to Maleficent's castle. She admits to the empty throne room that she's beginning to study magic: Maleficent's voice replies from nowhere and challenges her to light the fireplace. Regina struggles to do so at first, but eventually her temper sets the logs ablaze. At last Maleficent swaggers out of the shadows, with enough crimped hair and eyeliner (and magic-mushroom cocktail in her bloodstream) to give Keith Richards a run for his money.

     Apparently she hasn't had a proper fire in years, ever since the flame went out of her when she was defeated by Briar Rose. Not Sleeping Beauty, mind you… but rather the mother of Sleeping Beauty, who became the wife of King Stefan after he saved her with true love's kiss (and no, that's not really the backstory that we receive in the film Maleficent). Now Maleficent spends her free time lounging around her castle and has quit practicing magic.

     It would seem that before Regina can receive magic lessons, she has to have a heart-to-heart and help Maleficent come to her senses. She gets pretty worked up about it, too.

     Back in Storybrooke, the three queens (that expression has made me want to sing "We Three Kings" for weeks) return to Gold's cabin and gush to him about their night with Regina. He suspects that Madame Mayor's just spying on them, but they know that too and assure him that Regina doesn't know about his return yet. Still, Gold admits, Regina has been through two heartbreaks already. Pain creates strength, and when war comes everyone in town will have to pick a side… and she just may side with the villains. What war might this be? Why, the one that the villains are going to start, of course.

     On her long walk home through the Enchanted Forest of Flashbacks, Regina meets a coachman who offers her a ride part-way. He's heading to the wedding of Aurora, Briar Rose's daughter. Regina declines and immediately brings the news to Maleficent, hoping to stoke her anger. But when Maleficent asks why this matters so much, Regina admits that if someone as powerful as a dragon sorceress can't achieve revenge, then neither will she.

     Maleficent finally softens and asks Regina if she's lost someone, too.

     Wait, wait, WAIT Who was Maleficent in love with? It can't be the father of her child, since in this flashback Regina has yet to get any revenge on young Snow White, and Maleficent didn't reveal any mention of pregnancy until after the Charmings had returned home from their honeymoon. I assume that whoever this lost love was, Briar Rose is somehow involved in the whole fiasco

     Regina presses Maleficent to fight back. Maleficent says that she can't because she's long-since lost her spark of power, but Regina tells her they'll get it back. Maleficent just has to get back into costume first

     Back in Storybrooke, Maleficent does indeed come to Regina (as Regina predicted). She offers Regina aspirin because they'll need the hangovers dealt with and all their senses sharpened for tonight's mission. Why? Because they're after the Author, too.

     Maleficent explains that Gold told the queens about the Author in new York. So even though Regina's been investigating, she's been going about it all wrong. The evil queens have new leads regarding the Author, and they have one source in particular that's going to be revealed tonight!

     Regina immediately meets with the "Charming Softball Team and their Pirate Mascot," as she calls them.

     She's not thrilled to have such a large group of people meeting so conspicuously, but she explains to them that the villains are after the Author, too. While she just wants her own happy ending, they want to turn the tide against their enemies completely. Tonight they're going to steal something that will help lead them to the Author, and she's going no matter what anyone says. Emma's hesitant, but she has Regina's back and promises to be wherever the throw-down is.

     That night, Regina waits at the library with Emma sitting in her car at a not-so-distant distance.

     Seriously, for someone in the bail-bonds business, she's not very discreet when it comes to tracking people in this town.  In a place that small, there may only be two cars driving around at the same time in the middle of the day, let alone in the same direction at night

     The Cadillac DeVille pulls up, empty but enchanted to steer itself. Maleficent appears beside Regina, and the two ladies prepare to drive to an unknown destination just like old times.

     Inside Granny's, Belle and Will are sharing an awkward slice of chocolate cake. That's right: these two people have taken something something as simple and fantastic as chocolate cake and managed to make it awkward.

     But don't worry; things are about to get even more awkward, because Captain Hook arrives and crams in next to Will with a glare and a growl about some old grudge they share. But he's really just there for a private chat with Belle. With Will gone, he explains to her that the queens are searching for something powerful, and he suspects it's Gold's dagger. After all, if they possess it, they could summon and control him  or worse, kill him and take on his powers themselves!

     Since the queens may be able to figure out Belle's hiding place for the dagger with enough information from Rumpelstiltskin, Belle and Hook must re-locate the dagger: Hook will even discreetly hide it himself to ensure that the queens don't know where it is.

     Meanwhile Emma, being less-than-discrete, is following the Cadillac DeVille by a few yards even though she's also tracking Regina's phone and could just as easily follow from a few blocks away!

     The Cadillac stops at Gepetto's house. Maleficent explains that Pinocchio has the information they need about the Book. Regina assures her that she already tried to interrogate him... but Maleficent thinks they'll need more force. Besides, if Regina wants to prove herself, then she (a mother with an adolescent son, mind you!) must kidnap the boy.

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina brings Maleficent to the perpetually-burning tree; apparently the fire covering it will be the spark to awaken her magic. Maleficent sucks the blaze into her lungs and consumes it but she's not sure whether it worked. Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you look at it), someone's arriving that will help her to find out just that: it's King Stefan! He's come to ensure that she won't take away his daughter's happiness. He's going to protect Aurora from Maleficent, even though the witch hadn't set foot outside her castle or provoked him for ages.

     He threatens to take Maleficent captive. She prepares to fight back, and transforms

     into her same old self. Well, that was disappointing. Looks like Stefan will take her prisoner without so much as a fight.

     Back in the present, Regina barges in on Geppetto and Pinocchio and knocks them out with a sleeping spell. Emma sneaks in the side of the garage to see what she's up to, which frustrates Regina even more. She has to prove herself, and that means doing everything that needs to be done until Pinocchio's in actual danger. Still, Emma begs her to sneak him out; she doesn't feel good about this plan, as if everyone in town — even her own parents — have been lying to her for days.

     Regina assures her that this is just a change; after all, the Villains are borrowing a hero-strategy by working together, so now the Heroes must borrow a villain-strategy and break some rules.

     Regina leaves the garage and helps Maleficent load the sleeping Pinocchio into the Cadillac... then she glances down at her phone and considers Emma's ability to track her... as if she's thinking about turning it off or leaving it hidden somewhere…

     In the Enchanted Forest, Stefan has taken both Maleficent and Regina captive. Regina's not going to take it, though: she burns through her bonds and starts throwing fireballs… but then runs out of magic. It would seem that she's about to be defeated, when…

     Maleficent transforms into her claymation self and sends Stefan away scalding in his armor!

     Back in Storybrooke, Emma waits in Geppetto's workshop for the beacon on her tracker to begin moving again. Suddenly she realizes that she's been sitting their been too long: she runs outside and finds (to no one's else's surprise) that Regina has left her phone behind.

     We then flashback to where Aurora is preparing her wedding… until Maleficent shows up. She tells Aurora that her father failed to protect her, and now the king and queen will suffer most when they see what has become of their daughter: she's going to be cursed with Maleficent's enchantment of eternal sleep! And on top of that, Prince Phillip won't get a chance to break the spell because Maleficent is about to go off and enchant him, too… all thanks to Regina.

     Out on the coast of Maine, Belle has fetched the dagger for Hook and he's going to hide it for her. But there's something about his mannerisms in this matter that seems too comfortable, too at ease with the situation… TEN BUCKS SAYS IT'S RUMPELSTILTSKIN IN DISGUISE HERE TO STEAL THE DAGGER FROM BELLE!!

     But just as Belle's about to hand over the dagger, she has an awful thought: what if Gold's already in town? Hook suggests if she's that worried about it, she should summon him. When she calls out for the Dark One to face her, no one appears but Hook does turn towards herConvinced, Belle hands over the dagger and leaves him standing with a wicked smile. Because he is, of course, Gold in disguise.

     After re-hiding the dagger, Gold/Hook returns to his shop and tells Belle to swear a pirate's oath never to speak of this occurrence again (so as not to alert the real Hook of this dangerous development). They swear together, and it's fairly obvious that Gold knows this hand-in-hand promise is as close as he's going to get to her right now. He inquires after her relationship with Will  after all, somebody (coughGOLDcough) left a rose on her doorstep and she's assumed that it's her new beau. She admits that her new romance isn't serious just yet  she's not sure if she'll ever be completely over Gold  but it is new. After all, Will is honest and makes her smile.

     Before Gold/Hook can leave, Belle asks him about his past with Will; she could tell that they had some sort of falling out. Gold admits little, except that Will took something he cared for.

     With that he leaves the shop, watching Belle giggle on the phone with Will while he loses his disguise in broad streetlight and walks off.

     Back in the Enchanted Flashback Forest, Regina has returned to her own kingdom and meets Rumpelstiltskin in the royal stables. She explains that Maleficent regained her powers, and that she herself didn't really need a new teacher; she already had a good one. And now Regina's ready to work harder, because death is too good for Snow White; she's going to put her under the Sleeping Curse, the same way Maleficent cursed Aurora (and the same way Regina has now cursed Snow's prize horse).

     Out in the forests of Maine, Regina brings Pinocchio to Gold's cabin and meets with the three queens. Just as Regina begins to suspect their usage of the place, Maleficent admits that the dark power they've been bragging about is indeed from the Dark One himself… and he steps out of the shadows with his dagger in hand!

     Gold admits to Regina that sometimes teachers do need to learn from their students, and sometimes people need to fall very far to realize that they can't accomplish everything themselves... which is why they need the Author. Regina agrees with him that the Author is necessary to their plan, but she reminds him that Pinocchio couldn't remember anything when she questioned him. But when Gold doubts her resolve and thinks she's gone soft, she stands back to let him go to work.

     For one horrible moment Gold approaches the sleeping Pinocchio with the dagger. He explains that no amount of questions or even torture will make the boy remember, so they're going to… turn him back into August.

     With a quick spell, Gold returns Pinocchio to his adult self and asks simply: "Shall we begin?"

     Tune in next week to see if Regina has to torture a clueless August! Meanwhile, Hook and Ursula finally butt heads and we may get to see the shady events of their past… and it looks like Robin Hood might be coming back!


Current Questions:
AWho was Maleficent in love with?
     1. And how did she lose him?
     2. Did Briar Rose had something to do with it?

B. Who is (or was) the father of Maleficent's child?

C. Why can't ABC muster up a bigger budget to improve the appearance of Maleficent's dragon form? These guys have access to one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world (if not the biggest) but their animation on this show is rough to say the least.

Current Theories:
A. The only reason why there's trouble in Storybrooke is because of Rumpelstiltskin. He knew about the Author, and he knew how to turn Pinocchio back into August. The only reason he didn't join the Heroes to do so was because he wanted to cleave himself from the dagger and possess his power without the threat of being controlled. (And that, of course, led him to possess-then-attempt-to-murder Hook, which lead to his banishment and all the following events). I say this because my theory is that someone will point all of this out to him when he's defeated yet again: "You already had a happy ending! Nobody made you lose it except yourself!"

     So if anything bad happens in this season, you can pretty much just blame him.


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