Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “Unforgiven” [4x14]

     Happy Tuesday, and welcome to another weekly recap of ABC’s modern mix of fairytales: Once Upon A Time.

     Last week promised us a bucketload of scandal and intrigue, so without further ado and only the proper spoiler warning to cushion the blow, let’s dive in and re-live every dramatic gasp!

     When last we left our self-aware fairytale characters, they were all scrambling for their own happy endings in very different ways: Ursula and Cruella just made contact with Regina and gained entry into Storybrooke…

     …though of course their true intentions were to sneak Rumpelstiltskin in and further his evil plot (to resurrect Maleficent and corrupt Emma); Operation Mongoose just learned that the Author and the Sorcerer are very different people; the Charmings have just made an ominous reference to what promises to be a shady past; and it would seem that there will soon be an undead dragon in our midst very soon — wait, did I say undead dragon?

     And fair warning… this episode is not for the emotionally faint of heart. If you tend to cry at the drop of a hat, have your tissues ready today.

     In the middle of the night, Snow rolls over to find David gone. When she rises to look for him and comfort a crying baby Neil, she turns and ends up face to face with… Maleficent. The formerly-dead lead queen of darkness, now flanked by her sisters, threatens to tell the town… "the truth."

     (Meaning what the Charmings did to her in the past). She even magicks defenseless little Neil into her own arms… but seeing as how we haven't seen her resurrection yet, it's a bit difficult to take the scene very seriously. Why?

     Because Snow was dreaming, of course. She wakes up to discover that David really is absent (again), but he's not far: just sitting on the stairs. Neither of them is sleeping well, so he's coping with it by… drinking? For shaaame, Charming!

     Snow suspects that Cruella and Ursula could want to resurrect Maleficent in order to expose … "the truth".

     That would explain why they've come to town, so Snow and Charming had better make sure that the queens leave Storybrooke before anybody else learns… "the truth".

     It all makes for such delightful intrigue: we're certainly squirming with excitement to learn what they're hiding!

     And the audience is whisked away into a flashback to find out just that — albeit in very small 'fun-sized' scenes in the Enchanted Forest. On their return from honeymooning, Charming and Snow arrived home to find their guards asleep: in fact, the further they go into the premises, every castle inhabitant is unconscious. Why, who in the world of classic fairytales could possibly have done this?

     Maleficent, of course — flanked by her villainous amigas: it would seem the three of them joined forces for a second time, now working together to meet the Charmings and make some sort of deal.

     Back in the present, the two living queens are having a hard time getting any decent treatment by the townsfolk: Granny's ignoring their drinks order, while roguish Will Scarlett can show up after who-knows-how-many-episodes and grab a pair of coffees in a heartbeat. Surely this shady thief is not fetching cappuccinos for the dynamic sheriff duo, so who's the other coffee for?

     The witches complain to Regina when she comes in, proclaiming that she's done far worse to her own citizens without being ill-treated now. Regina quickly sends Henry away to research his book, and she warns the queens never to recite her former sins in front of Henry. It's a fairly tense moment.

     Cruella and Ursula leave in a huff, passing the pair-o-sheriffs on the way. Hook's thrown off by their appearance; it would seem he knows them, and yet he's reluctant to admit anything to Emma on the subject. Sacrebleu! More secrets!?

     The dust from the witches' footprints has barely settled before David stops Emma from heading to lunch; he suspects that the two villainesses are up to no good, and there's no time for grilled cheese sandwiches with evil afoot! Emma joins her father on the hunt and they follow the queens to Gold's shop.

     Said shop has now reopened, and is being run solely by Belle. Alone. In Gold's absence and stead.

     Ursula and Cruella congratulate Belle on banishing the dark one, crooning about how awfully miserable he is without magic now: of course, their painful gloating is just a front for Ursula to sneak a tentacle into the back room and feel around for a single special item that she can't see (but somehow can find within ten seconds without making any noise).

     That object is a simple little wooden box, with a suspicious set of black horns on it…

     And after using the cover story of "looking for a hood ornament for Cruella" to peruse around the shop a bit more, they depart. Meanwhile, Rumpelstiltskin is on his own special mission to further their evil plot: he has snuck into the catacombs beneath the library, and he comes to the cave where Emma battled Maleficent. Once there, all he has to do is summon the dust and ashes of the slain dragon into a little pile.

     Back at the mayor's house, Regina and Henry are still investigating the book for clues. Henry can tell that his adoptive mother is wearing thin; she can hardly believe that it could be possible for her to have real happiness again, as she did when Robin Hood and Roland were still around.

     Then she notices something: the paper on Pinocchio's story (which Henry has been reading) is different… newer. Ages ago when August was trying to convince Emma of her destiny, he added his own story to the book to convince her. And even though August isn't around anymore, perhaps Pinocchio might remember how he did it… despite his unfortunate amnesia.

     As Emma and Charming watch the evil queens leave the pawn shop in their sweet ride of death, Emma suspects that her father and mother have some type of past with the witches. David even admits that she's right… but he doesn't want to tell her… "the truth."

     Back in the Enchanted Forest flashback, Snow and Charming take council with the three queens and learn of the curse that Evil Regina has stolen and plans to enact. Because even the trio of darkness is threatened by this, they offer to escort Snow and Charming to the Tree of Wisdom, which can answer any question (including how to defeat the curse). However, only the two most valiant heroes in the land can unlock the tree's secrets. Wow, next they'll probably say that this Tree of Wisdom lies beyond the valley of sparkles in the forests of happiness…

     Snow and Charming are hesitant to place any trust in the three villainesses, but they don't have much of a choice if they wish to save the kingdom.

     Back in the present, Emma and David are following the Cadillac DeVille by a few yards in their police cruiser. How inconspicuous.

     Belle calls to let them know that a wooden box may have gone missing from the back of the shop. Emma turns on her lights and pulls the ladies over. And despite Cruella's shameless flirting, Charming manages to search the red-fur-filled car (yeesh) and find the stolen Maleficent box in no time!

     He returns to Emma and the held-up ladies and says… that he found nothing!?

     For some unfathomable reason, Emma ignores her superpowers of lie-detection and lets the evil queens go.

     Back in town, Charming shows Snow the contents of the box: a strange little carving of a claw wrapped around a mauve orb, which according to them was Maleficent's totem. Now the Charmings have confirmation that the witches are trying to resurrect the last member of their trio, so they decide to steal and destroy the one thing necessary for the resurrection spell to work: Maleficent's remains. Why can't they tell anyone (particularly Emma) about it? Because no one can know… "the truth."

     In the Enchanted Forest flashback, the queens and the Charmings have reached a bridge occupied by guards: and while these guards are loyal to the Charmings, the presence of the three witches has made them suspicious — and rightly so, as Snow points out to their impatient travel-buddies. But before you can say "Hey, we could ride some sort of winged creature across this gap," Maleficent has changed into her claymation-esque dragon form and fried the innocent guards to a crisp. Needless to say, Snow and Charming are less than pleased.

     Back in Storybrooke, Emma tells Hook that she's decided to look through the pawn shop security footage to find out what was taken… but Hook is still being secretive about his past (like almost everyone else in this episode) with the Sea Witch. Gee, who else thinks that Hook and Ursula had a fling that didn't end well?

     Sure enough, the footage shows Ursula snatching the wooden box. But when Emma runs out to break the news to Charming… he tells her to back off. He and Snow, stocked up on spelunking gear to venture beneath the library, lie to their daughter yet again. They say that they've been wrong to suspect the queens at every turn, so they're going on a 'hike' as a sign of faith that the witches really are trying to turn over a new leaf. Once again, Emma suppresses her lie-detection powers and decides to take a step back from the investigation.

     After their daughter leaves, Snow admits to David that she's uncomfortable about lying to Emma. He assures her that this is the only way to keep her from finding out… "the truth."

     (Because of course she won't find out…)

     Meanwhile at Regina's house, Pinocchio's memory is not being exactly helpful to Operation Mongoose.

     Frankly, he can't remember any piece of his former life as August, even with Emma there to jog his memory and ask how he added a whole story to the book. Before long, Regina starts to get frustrated and her temper flares: soon she and Geppetto get into a shouting match blaming one another for their current predicament. After all, Regina may have cast the curse in the first place, but Geppetto lied to the Charmings about having to send their newborn daughter to safety alone.

     Back in the Enchanted Forest, Snow and Charming slip away from the three queens in the middle of the night and race to the Tree of Wisdom themselves: it's easy to spot, as its leaves are bright green despite the winter and its trunk is surrounded by a circle of carefully-laid stones. The Charmings lay their palms on golden handprints in two boulders and ask the tree how to escape Regina's curse… but a red blast of magic knocks them back in rejection! They've suddenly become unworthy, and they're not sure why: is it because they were involved in the massacre of the bridge guards the day before?

     Down in the present-day library mine, Snow and Charming find the pile of Maleficent's ashes. Right… where… Gold… just… left it.

     WHACK! Ursula and Cruella knock them out!

     Aboveground, Regina comes to Geppetto and apologizes — albeit with difficulty. The two parents are still on tense terms, but Regina admits that she was out of line shouting at someone else's child. She would have done much worse to anyone mistreating Henry, and she confesses her frustration to Geppetto about struggling to change and perhaps one day deserve a happy ending. Touched, Gepetto reveals that he's kept all of August's adult possessions… including the motorcycle and its saddlebags full of secrets. He offers them to her, and she's too stunned to even thank him… and they both have glistening eyes that have nothing to do with the misty weather.

     Down in the mines, Gold and the two queens stand over the unconscious Charmings. Cruella and Ursula even taunt Rumpelstiltskin by pretending that Belle didn't even mention him during their visit to the shop.

     Too bad the dark one doesn't stop to consider that both ladies have made a living by making others miserable. In fact, in order to vent his frustration, he — gets out a knife!?

     Methinks Charming blood is needed to resurrect Maleficent…

     Meanwhile in the flashback, the three queens catch up to the Charmings and find out that the tree rejected them. Perhaps it's because the two bravest warriors in the land are no longer worthy… or perhaps, Maleficent suspects, it's because Snow's radiant skin is from more than just a regular moisturizing regimen. Snow is pregnant! (As if it would take a genius to tell just from her wardrobe choice; actress Ginnifer Goodwin's belly has been covered with heavy costuming for almost two seasons now.)

     But I digress: Snow and Charming have all of five seconds to process this glorious news, because Maleficent then explains why the tree rejected them: their unborn honeymoon baby has yet to prove itself worthy of the Tree of Wisdom. In fact, the child (Emma) has potential for great good or great evil… greater than any villain yet!

     But with the Tree of Wisdom unable to give them the answers they seek, the three villainesses retreat to seek out another way to escape Regina's oncoming curse.

     Back in the present, Gold slices at the Charmings' hands (a la Pirates of the Caribbean) and holds the dripping blade over the pile of ashes.  It turns out that the totem was just a ruse to lure the two heroes below-ground; it wasn't required for the resurrection spell… just the blood of the two people who wronged Maleficent most. At last the dust reforms into a dragon, and the dragon reforms into Maleficent — as malicious as ever!

     It could be all-too-easy for her to claim justice in that moment: the unarmed Charmings are within her sights, and they're right next to a high precipice. So while David claims that Maleficent doesn't know the whole story, Snow tries to sacrifice herself for the sake of everyone else. For any other villain it might be tempting, but Maleficent merely turns to leave. It's not their death or even their secret that she cares about… only their pain. And now she and her villainous sisters shall have that, all because the Charmings didn't ask their loved ones for help. This is why families need to talk out all of their problems, and always tell… "the truth."

     Defeated, the Charmings shuffle to the jail to confess everything to Emma while they still can... but they catch her in a sweet moment with Hook. She knows that he has a past with Ursula, and she wants him to know that he doesn't have to tell her the truth… but he shouldn't lie to her, either. Hook admits that he did worse than break Ursula's heart, but Emma has put his past (and her own) behind them. She admits that she suspected her parents of lying earlier in the day, but she's learning to be more trusting and to look for the best in people as they have taught her to do. So, of course, the Charmings can't break the news to her now.

     Emma catches them eavesdropping, however, and the Charmings bring the bad news of Maleficent's resurrection. They say she's coming for revenge, simply because she's a Villain and they're Heroes. And no other reason whatsoever. At all. Definitely. Oh why can't Emma sense that they're lying to her!?

     In a final flashback, not long after the Charmings return to their castle from the Tree of Wisdom, Snow awakes in the night again with Maleficent standing over her. This time David is present… but he's been drugged or enchanted to sleep through the night. Maleficent insists that she and Snow must help each other escape the curse, because they both understand something that the other two witches have never known… impending motherhood. That's right, everyone: Maleficent. Is. Pregnant.

     Suddenly it all makes sense: the Charmings' guilt and Maleficent's undying thirst for revenge against them… because despite that beacon of common ground between the two women, Snow refuses Maleficent's request. She and Charming have always emerged victorious by doing good, and if they work with her then they may likely find themselves on a path to darkness. If that happens, then their unborn child might succumb to evil: so they won't compromise their beliefs in order to beat Regina in the short term.

     Now, all these years later, Snow calls Regina to a secret meeting in the park to tell her that Maleficent's back. The heroes may need Regina to fall in with their enemies in order to find out what's going to happen. When Regina asks why she has to do this, Snow admits that it's because of something that she and David did long ago. And even though Snow failed as a child to keep Regina's secret, now Regina must keep theirs from Emma.

     The Charmings want to protect Emma from the darkness within herself by shielding her from knowledge of their past misdeeds: just in the same way that Regina wants to protect Henry from her own past. But even as they're talking, Henry is opening August's saddlebags and finding new pages to the books… pages that may expose his mother's worst moments to him, and there's no going back from that.

     And speaking of irreparably-damaged relationships, Rumpelstiltskin is out in the open street watching through the windows of the pawn shop. At first he sees Belle tending to his spinning wheel, but then… who's that in the shop with her? Will Scarlett? Well, I'm sure they're just frien— they're kissing!?

     When did this happen!? How did this happen!? Belle is still technically married! Besides, she's not a fast girl! She's not stupid! Will's a thief and a swindler! Why him? It may have been time for her to move on, but… but… BUT

     Above town, the queens prepare for war. Maleficent, now in possession of her totem, connects the orb to an interlocking piece with a ring on the end. At first it appears to be a strange piece of jewelry, but then she shakes it, and — it's a baby rattle.

     Somehow, because of the Charmings, Maleficent lost her [unborn?] child. But how? What makes them guilty? We need to learn… "the truth!"

     Tune in next week for Maleficent's modern makeover, and Regina's undercover investigation that tempts her to return to the dark side (what a shock there)!


Current Questions:
A. Who’s the father of Maleficent's child?
     1. Is it Gold? Because I could totally see that being a really awkward shady flashback…
     2. Or did Maleficent have a different guy friend? Perhaps they're weaving this plot with the actual movie Maleficent? Looks like I'm going to be watching the movie now to find out…

B. How and why did Belle start dating Will Scarlett? I'm not opposed to either of them dating, but just… not with each other. I thought that she learned her lesson about trusting people with questionable pasts after being betrayed by her own husband. Will isn't enough of a gentleman for her, and besides: I was really hoping that he might end up with Marian or something.

Current Theories:
A. Baby Neil also has the potential for great darkness.
     1. What if there was some episode where he got sucked into a portal or whatever and grew up at least a little!? So many possibilities…

B. I'm still waiting for Hercules to show up. Not so much because of his own myth, but just because there's a certain villain that I think would be drop-dead hilarious in live-action…

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this post, but I can't because I haven't seen this episode yet. )-: I can't wait to see it though!!! I'm kind of a newbie fan, but a big fan none-the less.(-: