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Once Upon a Time – Lily – Review

Another solid episode of Once Upon a Time. That is, until we hit those last five minutes. I am not a fan of the latest plot twist. I find it a bit unnecessary and hope that it’s all just a ruse. That being said, “Lily” provides us viewers with some wonderful insight into both Emma and the titular character’s past. Emma was particularly strong in this episode and I love that her journey to darkness, or away from it, isn’t so black and white. We aren’t sure where the savior stands and often see actions like her lashing out throughout the episode. Emma is clearly struggling and one has to wonder what it will be to tip the savior towards heroics or villainy.

The episode begins with a flashback to the Enchanted Forest. We see the Apprentice hurrying down a flight of stone steps to consult with his master, the Sorcerer. The Sorcerer here is being represented by a booming voice coming out of a cloud of mystical multi-colored smoke. I wonder if this character ever once had a physical form or if he can perhaps disguise himself in one. It would be interesting if the Sorcerer was masquerading as a well know Once Upon a Time character. The Apprentice tells the Sorcerer of the Author’s misdeed, how he meddled in the lives of the people he was meant only to write about and changed things. The Apprentice assures his master that the Author was punished and now resides in the Book. The Apprentice also explains how thanks to the Author, the savior’s potential for darkness has been channeled into another. He wants to undo this unfortunate act, but the Sorcerer tells his apprentice that there is nothing that can be done, that the children’s fates remain entwined. It’s interesting to note that the Sorcerer claims Emma and Lily’s fates have always been and always will be ensnared together. It makes it sound as if both he and the Apprentice knew of their connection all along. What would have been if the Author hadn’t changed the story? The Sorcerer commands his apprentice to see to it that the Author never be allowed to play with the fate of others again.

In present day Storybrooke, we see the Author mourning over Cruella’s plain pine box. Rumple is there with him. The Author mentions how much he will miss Cruella, that after all she made him the man he is today. Could trying to court Cruella have been the inspiration the Author needed to begin to meddle with the stories of others? Rumpelstiltskin is a bit cold, informing the Author that someone had to die by the savior’s hand for their plan to work, that they won’t have what they need until Emma has gone completely dark. They must make sure the savior stays on her dark path, and as Rumple utters these words he looks off into the distance. We quickly see what he is gazing at; Emma, standing a ways off. It’s so creepy to see the savior hiding in the brush, watching the funeral and I noticed she doesn’t look quite so ill anymore. Perhaps Emma’s change in appearance was to signify her internal struggle in choosing a dark or light path and now that she has, she is no longer under that internal stress.

Over at Granny’s diner, all our heroes seem to be having an extended family meal. Emma declares that she wants to go after Rumpelstiltskin. He made Emma kill Cruella and the savior thinks he needs to pay. Hook and Charming both try to warn Emma to think things over and not make any rash decisions. We see Emma expressing regret over Cruella’s death and insists she isn’t going dark. Emma admits that everyone present has done things they regret and makes sure to look right at Snow White as she says this. Ouch, Emma. Maybe Elsa needs to come back and tell you to “let it go”. The heroes agree that their main objective is to make sure Rumple and the Author don’t cause anymore trouble. As if right on cue, Maleficent saunters in and says she can be of some help with that plan. They now have a common enemy in Rumpelstiltskin, though it’s clear Maleficent wants to turn on the Dark One before he can double cross her. That potential for back stabbing I mentioned a few reviews back is now coming to fruition as the alliances from the premiere of season 4B have shifted. Maleficent knows that Emma has a knack for finding people and asks the savior to find her long lost daughter. Emma isn’t keen on leaving town as she sees this action as running from Rumple, but Maleficent points out if Emma succeeds, she would actually be hindering his plan to turn her dark. Maleficent gives Emma all the information on her daughter she knows, including that the girl’s name is Lilith. The savior looks thunderstruck and leaves the diner with barely a word. After some research, the savior finds the birth announcement she is looking for and sees the star birthmark on the baby’s wrist, confirming her fears.

We flashback to Minnesota, Lily’s last whereabouts according to Maleficent. Young Emma is with her foster family and they are preparing for a camping trip. The family is very warm and welcoming to Emma, the picture of a perfect home. This makes the inevitable all the more painful since we know Emma’s past is not a happy one. The young savior goes out to the garage to gather more supplies and is startled by a noise in the corner. It’s Lily, who has been squatting in the garage, having nowhere else to go. Emma is wary of Lily, asking why she should be trusted, but Lily needs her help as she has gotten mixed up in some bad trouble. Just then, Emma’s foster father comes to investigate. Lily lies saying her own foster family just moved nearby. Emma’s father is such the gentleman that he invites Lily to have dinner with them.

Back in the present day, Emma is still sitting at the microfiche machine, looking haunted and shocked at this new connection to Lily and her ties to all this fairy tale business. Regina arrives and comments about how “fate is a bitch”, which honestly should be the tag line of this show. Emma explains the weight of the situation, of how Lily and she used to be friends and Regina softens, knowing Emma pushed this girl away in the past. Emma wonders aloud at the coincidence that this particular girl just happens to be the one her parents banished. Regina comments on how there are powers at work beyond their understanding and unfortunately Snow White and Prince Charming messed with them. She goes on to point out that it was more than just coincidence that she adopted the savior’s son, that their actions are their own, but fate has a way of pushing you. This is a great summation of the current troubles our characters have been facing, however I don’t know how I feel about all this being pointed out. I would hate for fate to become a cop out for any future coincidences of extreme proportions. The mayor is setting out to save Robin Hood in New York and invited Emma along for the road trip. Emma should leave anyway, to find Lily and show Rumpelstiltskin he can’t change her. The savior is also needed since Regina has barely been outside of Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, the Author and Rumple are on a stakeout in Rumple’s car. The Author is surprised that the Dark One is letting Emma and Regina leave, but Rumple isn’t worried. He thinks this new quest and whatever comes out of it will be enough to rapidly darken Emma’s heart. The Dark One then spies Belle and the Knave of Hearts out for a stroll and leaves the Author, muttering about business he must take care of.

At the town hall, Emma and Regina are gearing up to leave. Emma is saying her good byes to Henry as Snow and Charming look on, both appearing anxious that their daughter won’t bid them farewell as well. It kind of breaks my heart since this family worked so hard to be together. Hook comes up next to say good bye to Emma and warns her to be careful, that vengeance and darkness are tempting and the savior should use all the good things in her life, like her family and friends, to keep her on the right path. Hook didn’t have those things when he became a pirate, so there was nothing for him but his revenge. It’s been his love of Emma that’s been keeping him on the right path now. I like how Hook has been pulling from his experience as a villain this season. He knows what it’s like to be consumed by the darkness and is trying so hard to prevent the same thing from happening to Emma. Regina walks up and hugs Henry good bye and the quest is about to begin. Unfortunately for Snow White and Charming their fears are confirmed as all Emma has to say to them is a request that they take care of Henry. Regina apparently thinks along the same lines as her sister and is not going into the land without magic unprepared, grabbing the Snow Queen’s scroll as a way to ensure the pair can re-cross the town line. As the savior and the mayor leave, one of Emma’s contacts texts her a lead on Lily, though it’s from five years ago. And it’s in Massachusetts, right near Boston where Emma was living about five years ago. There are some spooky parallels between Lily and Emma and more to come as we continue on in the episode. Lily is a mirror of Emma, a reflection of what could have been if Emma’s life hadn’t turned around. Was this always the case or just a result of Snow and Charming messing with fate? Emma references again how she pushed Lily away and Regina wants to know more. Emma doesn’t answer, simply starting the car and beginning their journey.

Regina’s question is answered in this week’s flashbacks, where we see young Emma with her foster family sitting down to dinner with Lily. Lily remarks on how serene everything is and her gaze falls on chore wheels and other signs of a happy family. She hides her lack of enthusiasm at the life Emma has now, but remarks on how lucky Emma is to be in this familial situation. The foster parents agree that they are lucky to have Emma in their lives. Emma’s foster brother comments on the star-shaped mark on Lily’s wrist, which Lily seems shy about, though she replies that it’s just a birthmark. Then Lily lies once again, saying how she and Emma met in a group home. I have to say, the actress who plays young Emma is spot on nailing the quintessential “really?!” look Emma has as she stares down Lily for lying. Lily is sincere though when she talks about how Emma was the first person who understood her and the fact that it seems as though the two girls are meant to be in each other’s lives. Emma cuts Lily short and makes an excuse to speak with her in the kitchen. There she confronts Lily for lying to her family, angry because she doesn’t want to mess up the good situation she is in. The TV playing in the background catches Emma’s attention and we see why Lily was in trouble. And armed robbery had taken place and one of the suspects shown was wearing the same hat Lily had on when Emma discovered her in the garage. Lily knows she has been caught and tries to explain.

In the present day we see Emma and Regina at a severely rundown apartment complex. Regina quips that she should have just cursed everyone to live in a place like this. Emma finds Lily’s apartment and knocks on the door, only a man comes out of another apartment across the hall. The tenant says Lily hasn’t been there in years because she died in a car accident. He goes on to bad mouth Lily, riling up Emma who loses her temper and slams the man into a wall, with Regina intervening. This is a very “evil queen” type move on Emma’s part and it’s interesting to see the roles both she and Regina had in season one now reversed. Emma is making brash choices and giving in to her rage while Regina is the one who takes the calm approach, talking the savior out of doing harm.

Back in Storybrooke, Belle is at the pawn shop with the Knave, about to leave to babysit Bouncing Baby Neal. She smooches the Knave good bye, and exits. It’s only then that Rumpelstiltskin comes out of the shadows. The Knave holds his own against Rumple, thinking he is in for some trouble and that the Dark One is there to put the hurt on him. However Rumple isn’t there to give the Knave a taste of the cane, he needs the young man’s thieving abilities. Rumpelstiltskin needs the Knave to steal back Belle’s heart where Regina left it, with Maleficent in the mayor’s office. It’s very telling how Rumple feels when he refers to Belle as his wife not his ex.

Back on the road, Emma and Regina are driving along in silence. The savior does not want to discuss her display of temper back at the apartment complex. Emma insists her actions aren’t evidence of her turning dark, they were just her reaction to losing a friend. Emma believes it is she who is responsible for what happened to Lily, that she is the reason Lily’s life was so dark, a darkness meant for Emma. Suddenly, a wolf appears in the middle of the road and Emma skids the bug out of the way. The savior observes that this has happened before and I absolutely love this shout out to the Once Upon a Time pilot, as well as Emma’s acknowledgement of it. Unfortunate for our travelers the bug now has a flat tire. Regina jokes that fate must have wanted them to stop by the Coffee Mug Diner for help, referencing a nearby sign. While Regina sees about getting the bug towed in, Emma plops herself down at a table in the diner and orders coffee. The waitress brings over the pot and as she’s pouring Emma spots a birthmark on her wrist. It’s in the shape of a star. Emma has found Lily and I’m tickled that Regina was right, fate did bring them to that particular place. Emma is once again stunned, which seems to be her default mode in this episode. Regina arrives and takes her place at the table giving an update on the bug. The mayor then notices her traveling companion’s expression and Emma tells Regina that Lily is here.

Flashback to the past and we see Lily emotionally explaining what happened, that her boyfriend had coerced her into helping rob the store. Emma is livid, despite Lily trying to explain that every decision she makes seems right at the time, then suddenly goes wrong. Almost like fate… Emma tells Lily she has to go because the police are no doubt looking for her, but Lily has nowhere to go. And besides, Lily can’t leave her things, which are in the house she was squatting in with her boyfriend. In the house is a necklace dear to Lily, the only thing she has of her birthmother. Since Lily can’t go back to the house, Emma agrees to get the necklace so Lily can be on her way.

There is a great fade of young Emma’s face into that of older Emma, who is about to approach Lily outside the diner. The music is enchanting in this scene as Emma admits she knows who Lily really is. Lily realizes her old friend is before her and explains her faked death as a way of getting fresh start after she fell in with a bad crowd. Emma tries to explain that it was fate that reunited them, just like how Lily said when they were kids, but Lily isn’t as enthusiastic about this as she once was. Emma expresses that maybe all Lily’s problems are her fault, not Lily’s, but the brunette thinks this is all crazy talk. Emma needs Lily to come with her, but Lily has moved on, refusing Emma’s offer for help. And Lily is sure to let Emma know that her life isn’t as terrible as Emma made it out. She has a loving husband and daughter and doesn’t need the savior to come and wreck things like she did before. Lily walks away to pick her daughter up from the bus, telling Emma that she hasn’t thought about her in years, obvious attempt to push Emma away. Regina arrives and sees Lily with a little girl, remarking on how Lily’s life doesn’t seem ruined. The thing is, this girl is not Lily’s daughter, just a local who Lily cons into putting on a show for Regina and Emma. It seems that Lily is up to her old tricks and things haven’t actually changed.

In Storybrooke, Maleficent is holding down the fort in the mayor’s office, looking over her treasured rattle. Snow White and Charming appear in the doorway, there to ask Maleficent’s forgiveness. The dragon queen reminds the heroes that it’s Lily who is really in need of their forgiveness and wonders aloud if that even will be enough. The Charmings have been so worried that Rumpelstiltskin will turn Emma into a monster that they forgot they themselves have already done this very thing to Lily.

In a flashback, we see young Emma at the derelict house where Lily was staying. She quickly finds the necklace in question, a simply charm of a crescent moon, and returns home. Only her parents are up waiting for her. Lily has left, taking the opportunity of Emma’s absence to steal the family’s vacation money. Emma realizes that was Lily’s intention all along. What’s worse is that Emma’s parents called her social worker and discovered Lily and Emma’s true shared past, that they met when they got caught for stealing. And as icing on the cake, the parents also phoned the police about the missing money only to discover Lily was a suspect in an armed robbery. Emma tries to save face, telling her parents that’s why she insisted Lily leave, but her parents grow angry when they realize Emma knew all along that Lily was a criminal and endangered “their” children. Emma picks up on this particular word usage, that she is not included in the family, and leaves the house.

Back at the Coffee Mug Diner, Emma got ahold of Lily’s timecard in order to get her address. Emma’s superpower is in high gear sensing that Lily isn’t being truthful. Lily has always lied to Emma and despite this the savior is determined to make things right this time and reunite Lily with her mother. Regina and Emma pull up to Lily’s trailer. There’s no sign of a child or husband, so Emma’s superpower was spot on, which Regina is reluctant to admit. Then the pair come across a startling discovery. Lily has an entire wall devoted to maps and pictures all pointing towards evidence of Storybrooke and its magical inhabitants. Lily knows everything and has been looking for Emma. This moment was stunning for me, just the fact that Lily knows so much about Storybrooke and has been hunting Emma for some time. And clearly, if the big red Xs through Snow White and Charming’s names are any indication, Lily is out for revenge. Suddenly there’s noise outside. Lily is stealing the bug and unfortunately also the scroll Regina left in the car. A woman bent on revenge and looking for Storybrooke now has a way into the town. Regina and Emma spring into action, stealing Lily’s car and give chase.

Back at the mayor’s office, Rumpelstiltskin tries to enter the room, but is blocked by a spell. Maleficent taunts Rumple from the doorway, telling the Dark One that their alliance is over and that Emma will find her daughter and negate her dark status. However, Rumple seems confident that it will be Lily who keeps the savior on her dark path. Rumple has mentioned this twice, what does he know about the connection between these two women that we don’t? Maleficent isn’t worried and won’t let Rumple’s words coerce her into giving up Belle’s heart, but Rumple doesn’t even need the dragon queen to do that. He had been distracting her from the true thief and we see the Knave ducking out of the window with the heart under his arm, immune to the force field spell.

On the road, Emma and Regina are in the middle of a high speed chase after Lily, This is a fantastic action sequence as our heroes try to catch up to Lily. Emma is furious that Lily will once again ruin her life, this time by going after her parents. Regina attempts to talk Emma down so the savior won’t do something she’ll regret later, and Emma throws this back in Regina’s face commenting on what the mayor had planned when she finally met up with Zelena. Regina is defensive, claiming her situation is different and Emma counters that if Zelena lays a hand on Robin, Regina would obliterate her. Well, Emma has the same thing planned if Lily does anything to the Charmings. The mayor warns that Emma is starting to sound like a real villain, but Emma scoffs at this, saying villains are for fairy tales and this is the real world where there are no heroes or villains. If Regina doesn’t like Emma’s actions, she can walk to New York. I have to say, I agree with Regina, Emma is sounding like a villain. In fact, this scene is one of my favorites because if you were to swap the actresses out and give them each other’s lines, you would have a typical interaction between Emma and Regina circa season one. Their roles have switched and despite all of Emma’s protesting, I think we are growing closer and closer to an event that will finally make her give in to darkness.

Flashback, where we see young Emma looking extremely melancholy waiting at a bus stop. Lily saunters up, but Emma wants nothing to do with her. Lily is confused, she thinks she did Emma a favor by setting her free from her cookie cutter existence. Lily wants to take the stolen cash and have the pair of them go off and live a free life. However, Emma is upset because she was happy to live a mundane life with a family who cared about her. It shows the difference in these girls and really highlights how they are almost different sides of the same person. Emma calls Lily out at playing the orphan card and pretending to be a runaway when she has a family and throws the necklace she retrieved back at her former friend. Lily confesses that she can’t go home to her family since they kicked her out. Ever since Emma left her, Lily’s life has gone sour. Lily thinks she’s cursed and acknowledges that Emma brings light to the darkness of her life. Since she has no one else now, Lily begs Emma not to walk away this time, but the young savior is done helping Lily and leaves her.

Back on the road, the high speed chase comes to a close as Emma succeeds in overtaking Lily in the bug, forcing her former friend to a halt. Lily tries to walk away, but Emma stops her, confronting Lily about her knowledge of Storybrooke and its inhabitants. Lily doesn’t hide what she knows, in fact she’s angry, believing Emma stacked the deck against her before they were even born. When Lily goes on to threaten Snow and Charming, Emma loses it and shoves Lily. Despite the anger that she has been feeling and what she has been holding against her parents, Emma still does care for them. Lily and Emma get into a brief fistfight which has a few magical effects as the headlights on the bug blow out and thunder rumbles overhead. Then the savior pulls her gun and coldly trains it on her former friend, who is on her knees before Emma. Emma claims she is just trying to stop Lily, but Lily is certain she is destined for bad decisions thanks to Emma, and tries to goad the savior into putting her out of her misery. If Emma let’s Lily go, she will destroy everything. This scene is very tense with Emma hesitating just long enough for the audience to wonder if she really will pull that trigger. Regina cautiously approaches, once again the voice of reason. Emma’s parents need a hero and Regina assures her that Emma will ruin everything if she kills Lily. Regina speaks from experience when she says that if Emma crosses the line and becomes a murderer, the journey back isn’t easy. It also speaks to Emma’s state of mind that she referred to what happened to Cruella as “murder”. She has clearly been struggling with that event and possibly her reaction to it. There is silence as Emma slowly lowers her gun and I think this scene is beautifully shot, especially the wider angles.

We flashback to Lily on a bus, contemplating the crescent moon necklace. The Apprentice appears at her side, as if my magic, and remarks on how the charm seems to compliment her birthmark. This got me thinking about where we’ve seen stars and crescent moons together before. Why on the traditional Sorcerer’s Hat from Disney’s Fantasia, of course! Could this be a sign that the Sorcerer or the Apprentice have a deeper connection with Lily, perhaps a father-daughter type connection? The Apprentice reveals just how much he knows about Lily, which freaks her out, but the old man assures Lily that he has answers for her. So it was the Apprentice who explained it all the Lily. The question is, why did he meddle in her affairs, the very thing he punished the Author for? I think this strengthens my theory that they are father and daughter. The Apprentice wants to go above and beyond to help Lily and it seemed like her banishment to the land without magic was the last straw in his tolerance for the Author.

Back in the present, Lily and Emma sit in silence. Lily refers to herself as the “anti-savior”, but Emma doesn’t think much of that. I love that Once Upon a Time used that comparison though, it really lends itself to the idea of Lily and Emma being opposites of each other. Regina is a ways off on the phone and rushes over to urge the team to get to Robin Hood faster. She just found out she’s lost her leverage against Rumpelstiltskin. Emma invites Lily to come with, not pushing Lily away for once. There is powerful magic here with these two together, I wonder what the result will be.

Speaking of Belle’s heart, at the pawn shop the Knave enters and presents Belle with a box. He clearly looks upset as he shows Belle that the box contains her heart. Belle is surprised to see it and I’m frankly surprised that Regina took her heart without asking. It seemed that the two of them were both in on Regina’s plan. Belle questions what Regina was doing with her heart and Rumpelstiltskin once again appears from the shadows, explaining that the mayor was using her as a pawn against him. Belle is very leery of Rumple, at least at first, but is then surprised that the Knave and the Dark One worked together to retrieve her heart. Rumple isn’t at the pawn shop to ask forgiveness. Instead, he admits he had been deceiving her all the while they had been married when what he should have been doing was making her happy. If the Dark One keeps hurting Belle then there is no hope for him. This is a good step for Rumple but I don’t think it out weights the fervor with which he has been trying to turn the savior dark. Rumpelstiltskin puts Belle’s heart back in her chest and declares that the Knave is going to be the one protecting it from now on. The Knave continues to look upset here, as if he knows he can’t stand in the way of Belle and Rumple’s connection. As Rumple leaves the shop, Belle starts after him as if she wanted him to stay.

In New York, Regina, Emma, and Lily have finally made it to Robin Hood’s door. When Robin finally answers he is shocked to see the mayor, while Regina looks relieved. They have missed each other so much. Regina quickly tries to get Robin to leave since Marian is at the store, promising to explain everything. She reveals that Marian has been Zelena the whole time, to which Robin is dumbstruck. Just then, “Marian” returns from grocery shopping and plays dumb to Regina’s accusations, which infuriates the mayor. Robin still believes that “Marian” is who she says she is and tries to get Regina to face the reality that he is with his wife now. However, I guess Zelena grew tired of the act because “Marian” smirks and drops the glamour, revealing herself. Robin looks terrified and I find it interesting that Lily just seems mildly interested. Lily is curious about magic and doesn’t really know much about it, so what is going to happen when she crosses that town line? Robin hesitates and doesn’t leave right away with Regina, even after this startling revelation. And soon we find out why in a plot twist that I am personally not a fan of: Zelena is pregnant.

There you have it, “Lily”. What did you think? Be sure to comment below!

I love the scenes between young Emma and Lily. It really shows how they complement each other, that when one appears in the other’s life they have an effect on it. These two are like the yin and yang and when one leaves it seems that a vacuum is created for the other. Positive things happen for Emma, negative for Lily and vice versa when they are together. They are meant to be near each other to bring balance since neither is a whole person thanks to the Author. Seeing them together for an extended period of time will be interesting as they essentially complete each other. I wonder how the addition of magic will mix this up.

I don’t for one second believe that Zelena is pregnant. She is a lying liar who lies and often in television when a character is pregnant there is some definitive proof; a pregnancy test, morning sickness, or a baby bump. Until we see something of that nature, I will believe Zelena is lying to ensnare Robin. We know Zelena is aware of Robin’s code and what better way to trap the man than by using that against him? Zelena knows that Robin wouldn’t leave his unborn child with a psycho like her and was counting on that fact to keep him in her clutches. I also think this might be Zelena’s way of guaranteeing her ride back to Storybrooke. And as a bonus, this will definitely mess with Regina’s head.

Lily’s reunion with Maleficent is something I can’t wait to see. I have a feeling Lily will still be thirsty for revenge, while Maleficent, who essentially has her happy ending with Lily, will want to step back and not go after the Charmings. I don’t think we will see a mother-daughter team up, instead perhaps the audience will be treated to Lily going on a magical rampage once she crosses the town line and Maleficent, a villain, will have to sway her daughter away from that path, similar to how Snow White and Charming have been trying to do with Emma.

Tune in next week for the return of Cora and a dragon filled reunion in “Mother”!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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