The second half of Once Upon A Time’s fourth season is shaping up quite nicely after the first two episodes. Now that Rumple’s back in Storybrooke, it was time for the Queens of Darkness to take the next step in their quest toward happy endings and that meant bringing Maleficent back to life. As “Unforgiven” unfolded, we learned why Snow and Charming were so desperate to keep that from happening and the less than heroic measures they were willing to take.
Before we get into the main story, let’s talk about the subplots. Regina explained to Henry that the queens reminded her of a time when she was a villain and all she wanted was to be as happy as she was with him, Robin and Roland. Through Henry, Regina learned August knew a lot about the book and she summoned Marco and Pinocchio to her office. The boy had no memories of his life as August and even Emma’s presence didn’t help. Regina lost her cool and started yelling at him. Needless to say Marco was not amused by the way she treated his son and made it clear she should stay away from him. He also suggested that maybe she didn’t deserve a happy ending after everything she did (ouch).
Regina realized the error of her ways and went to apologize to Marco (even if she didn’t get off to the best start). She admitted that if anyone would have talked to Henry that way, she would have done a lot more than yell. She told Marco that every time she made progress in her search, she hit a dead end, but she knew she’d never find it if she reverted to her old ways. Marco was touched by her genuine apology and gave her August’s satchel, suggesting there might be something in there that could help. He even wished her luck and everything about this scene was perfect. There’s something about Marco that just makes me want to hug him and Regina has grown so much. She’s not taking the easy way out this time and she knows she can’t step on people along the way. That’s huge for her.
Moving on to Hook and Emma, the former pirate did a little bit of backsliding of his own after running into Ursula. Emma questioned how they knew each other and he lied and said he didn’t remember. But Hook lying to Emma is pointless and they both know it so he awkwardly left the station only to return later when she called for him. She knew he was holding something back, but she trusted that he’d tell her in his own time. She wanted to believe the best in people. Hook appreciated the faith she was putting in him and assured her that he didn’t intend to let her down (and this is the part where my shipper heart explodes with flowers and rainbows and happiness because these two have come so far and they’re so happy and I love it).
After doing his part to help the Queens (we’ll get to that), Rumple took a stroll to spy on Belle and got quite the shock when he saw her in the shop kissing Will. Rumple literally stumbled back like he’d been shot. On the one hand, he absolutely deserves this because he put his quest for power above Belle and she should get on with her life. But on the other, I don’t like this rebound relationship. Call me a bitter Once Upon A Time in Wonderland fan if you’d like (where is Anastasia???). Shipper bias aside, Will has been horribly underused since they brought him to Storybrooke and there are still so many questions that need to be answered (How did he get there? Why is he there? What happened in Wonderland? Where’s Anastasia?). I love the character and as someone who did watch the spinoff, I feel like the audience deserves answers sooner rather than later.
Now, let’s get back to Snow and Charming vs. the Queens of Darkness. Like most things, it all started back in the Enchanted Forest. Snow and Charming returned from their honeymoon to find the queens chilling at the castle while all their guards were unconscious. They explained that Regina had stolen the Dark Curse from Maleficent (side note: how and when did she get it back from Rumple? Did I miss it or have they not explained it yet?). They needed a way to stop her. They wanted to travel to the Tree of Wisdom, which would answer any question they asked of it as long as two people with valiant hearts touched the tree. Snow and Charming didn’t trust them, but they were desperate to stop Regina so they agreed to make the journey.
Things got dicey when Maleficent turned into a dragon to kill the guards that stood in their way. She mocked Snow and Charming for not being willing to do whatever it takes and then the next morning, the heroes journeyed to the tree by themselves. But when they placed their hands on it and asked the question, the tree tossed them both back. The queens scoffed that maybe they weren’t so valiant after all and then Maleficent figured out Snow was pregnant and the baby was a wild card. She explained that because their baby was the product of true love, the baby could be the greatest hero ever or the darkest villain.
I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around this one. While I do believe everyone, fairytale character or not, has the potential for good or evil inside of them, I feel like this violates the rules of the show. True Love has always been shown as the greatest magic of all and the strongest light magic there is. So I’m not sure how they can justify saying the product of True Love could also turn out to be evil. I’m probably overthinking it and for the record, I’m not against the idea of Emma struggling with the temptation of darkness. I just think it might be a bit of a stretch on the show’s mythology.
After the failed experiment with the Tree of Wisdom, Maleficent paid Snow a private visit at the castle to tell her why she was so desperate to avoid Regina’s curse: she was pregnant too. She asked Snow to help her and Snow refused. She didn’t want to work with a villain and she wanted to protect her child. Was it a selfish decision on Snow’s part? Maybe. But I also can’t say that I blame her for not trusting Maleficent. That being said, what we learned next makes it very hard to do anything but root for Mal.
In present day Storybrooke, Charming (and a confused Emma) pulled over Cruella and Ursula after they left Gold’s shop. David pretended not to find anything, but he returned home with a talisman belonging to Maleficent. He and Snow told Emma they were backing off the queens and going hiking (worst excuse ever) and then proceeded to head to the mines so they could gather Maleficent’s remains and throw them in the harbor (that’s cold). But that was exactly what Cruella, Ursula and Rumple wanted them to do. They didn’t need the talisman. They needed the blood of the two people who’d hurt Maleficent the most. Rumple left them alone, Cruella took the blood and then Maleficent returned in dragon form before becoming human again and promised to make Snow and Charming suffer.
Snow and Charming decided to come clean with Emma only to arrive at the sheriff’s station while she was having her beautiful moment with Hook. As they listened to their daughter explain that she wanted to be more opening and trusting because of them, they couldn’t exactly tell her they were lying liars who lied (with the best intentions). So Snow sought out Regina for a private meeting and asked her to go undercover with the Queens of Darkness to learn their plan. Snow, choking on tears and guilt, brought up the secret Regina asked her to keep and how she’d failed, but now needed Regina to keep one for her.
She explained that Emma could have turned to the darkness, but Snow and Charming went to great lengths to make sure she became the savior. She told Regina that Emma’s finally opening up her heart and she’s afraid she’ll go tumbling down a dark path if she learns what they did. Then Snow admits that because of her and Charming, Maleficent lost her child. Cut to a shot of Maleficent and her talisman, which turned out to be a baby rattle (Honestly show, why don’t you just tell me to rip my heart out ahead of time so it would hurt less?).
First, I loved the entire Snow/Regina conversation. I’m always here for their relationship, good or bad, and it really feels like things have come full circle. I believe Regina will keep the secret, not only because she’s not a child as Snow was, but because she understands where Snow’s coming from (we all saw how she reacted when Ursula and Cruella were discussing her misdeeds in front of Henry). I love the idea of Regina going undercover and I’m sure she will be tempted, but I don’t think she’ll end up reverting to her evil ways. She’s come too far for that.
As for Snow and Charming, they should know better than anyone that honesty is the best policy in general, but it’s the only policy with Emma. She forgave Hook for his poor attempt at hiding his past misdeeds pretty fast, but I think that’s because she understands how his mind works and the guilt he carries. She knows exactly who Captain Hook was and who Killian Jones is so she’s willing to give him the time he needs to come to grips with whatever it was he did to Ursula and share that with her. But I don’t think Emma will be quite as forgiving with her parents. Maybe if they’d come to her right away. She might have had some reservations, but she wouldn’t have fallen to pieces. Emma’s too strong for that. However, by not sharing the truth with her, Snow and Charming have basically guaranteed she’s going to find out from someone else, most likely Maleficent herself. That is not going to be pretty and will be far more damaging than if they came clean now.
Next week, Regina’s undercover with the Queens of Darkness and we get more Regina/Maleficent backstory.