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Once Upon a Time – Mother – Review

“Mother” is now in my top five favorite episodes of the series. It just smacked of everything that is good about Once Upon a Time. The mother-daughter relationships on display in this episode were all so unique yet tied everyone’s struggles together wonderfully. There were moments where I gasped out loud and I have to say those last five minutes were magical. I’m still not a fan of the fact that Zelena is pregnant, but I love how that story line was explored in “Mother” and the slight resolution that came out of it. And of course, my favorite Mother of All Evil, Cora, was back once again and she is as satisfying of a villain as always. We are on firm footing with most of the stories this season and things seem to be wrapped up in a neat little bow, except for Rumpelstiltskin’s master plan, which looks to be incredibly interesting. That final shot in “Mother” makes me abundantly excited for the finale.

“Mother” begins with a flashback to the Enchanted Forest, where we see the Evil Queen roaring down a wooded path in her carriage. She comes across a group of her subjects holding a wedding in a meadow. Regina isn’t too pleased that the hoi polloi are having their ceremony on royal land and takes the groom’s heart as punishment. Her father tries to stop Regina, mentioning that perhaps she is more testy than usual given what day it is. Henry Sr. also mentions that Regina should try and not alienate her subjects as it could show weakness, to which Regina replies forcefully that she is not weak. The delivery of this line, showing Regina at the very edge of her tempter, is fantastic. The Evil Queen obviously is in a worse mood than usual and vindictively crushes the groom’s heart, as well as makes Henry Sr. walk home for setting her off. Regina claims she has some business to take care of and we soon see why she is upset. It is the anniversary of Daniel the stable boy’s death and Regina goes to visit his grave, only to find someone has already been there and laid a rose on the headstone. It’s as if Regina can sense evil in the air as she shutters and turns around, revealing Cora standing behind her.

In present day New York, Regina and Robin are at a bar having a much needed drink, trying to sort out everything that has happened recently. Regina is upset that Robin had moved on, to which Robin points out that it’s not fair for Regina to hold this against him. I feel he is right, though Regina has a point when she says that seeing it in practice is different than accepting this outcome at a distance. Robin is especially worried about the effect of Marian being gone and Zelena’s trickery on Roland. Regina suggest a potion to make the boy forget Marian even coming back into his life. She points out that Roland will lose time but he’ll be less traumatized. I’m not sure how I feel about this option, but it seems to be the right decision to save Roland the pain and confusion of understanding what happened to Marian. Robin is frustrated with the pregnancy situation as well as the involvement of the Wicked Witch of the West, while Regina is apologetic that Robin and his son getting dragged into to Zelena’s plans for revenge. However, Robin is optimistic that his and Regina’s happy ending is still possible, messy but possible. The mayor still sees Zelena as a huge obstacle in the way of this, that Robin is tied to Zelena now in a way she could never be. The pair wonder what to do next. I absolutely love this conversation because it’s simply two people working out a problem together. They just happen to be famous fairy tale characters, but their conflict is rooted in the real world. As much as I love the magic and craziness of Once Upon a Time, scenes like this are what stand out to me the most on this show.

Back at Nealfire’s apartment, Emma is holding the dreamcatcher, lost in memories of her past with Neal. Lily asks about him and gets very clipped answers from the savior. Could this perhaps be the show setting up a Neal cameo in the finale? Emma blames Zelena for what happened to Nealfire and speak of the devil, the Wicked Witch comes over to rub salt in their wounds, sassing that she might have felt a kick from the unborn baby. This entire episode Zelena seems to be taking great pleasure in being as evil as possible and it is such fun to watch. Regina and Robin return and the mayor commands everyone pack up; they are heading back to Storybrooke.

In Storybrooke, Rumpelstiltskin has taken the Author to Granny’s Diner for a meal. They are quickly interrupted by Hook, with Rumple commenting that this is why he hates going to Granny’s. It’s true the Dark One never seems to have a peaceful meal there. Hook clues Rumple in on the fact that he knows the Dark One can’t blast him into oblivion or else he loses that last bright spot on his heart. The pirate also informs the pair that Emma is on her way back and relishes the fact that she didn’t turn evil during her mission. Assuring the Dark One that he will never get his happy end, Hook takes his leave. The Author is concerned since the magic ink that is to be used to write the new endings must be activated by the savior’s blood, or more specifically by the dark potential that flows within it. Without that, the ink is useless. Rumple, however, is distracted by larger problems as his chest begins to ache, no doubt signifying that his heart is growing darker by the minute. He hides this weakness from the Author and assures the scribe that there must be a loophole in activating the ink. There’s always a loophole for Rumpelstiltskin. With Rumple too weak to leave the diner, he poofs the pair of them away.

Out on the street, Emma’s yellow bug pulls up. There’s already a welcoming party present as the Charmings, Hook, and Henry waiting. Emma exits the bug and gives Hook and Henry warm hugs, but flinches away from Snow. Maleficent is also there, hanging back, looking both fearful and hopeful as she tries to spot her long lost daughter. This is the most vulnerable we’ve seen Maleficent and she just doesn’t seem like a villain anymore. Her role as a mother is more prominent than ever in this episode. When Lily finally exits the bug, Maleficent is struck at the sight of her. Lily, unfortunately, is more occupied with giving the Charmings the evil eye before Emma steers her childhood friend away from them, introducing Maleficent to her daughter. This reunion is a mirror of the moment when Emma and Snow White first saw each other in the season two premiere. Both times the mother in the scene was tearful and full of joy and relief, while the daughter appeared more confused and wary. Gotta love those Once Upon a Time parallels.

We flashback to Daniel’s grave, where Regina is confronting Cora, angry to see her mother. However, Cora is there to apologize. The Mother of All Evil used a rabbit to travel back to the Enchanted Forest, claiming to understand why Regina sent her to Wonderland. She sees that Regina has become her own person in her absence. Despite her daughter becoming strong and powerful, Cora thinks there is something missing in Regina’s life and that’s love. And Cora is there to help Regina find it. Regina grows more frustrated with her mother, reminding Cora that she did have love once and Cora stripped that away. Mommy Dearest thought that Regina would be fine in a loveless marriage as she was, but sees that Regina feels things much more deeply. This is a nod to the fact that Cora cannot feel anything as she removed her own heart years ago. Cora reveals that she ran into Tinkerbell, who told the Mother of All Evil about Regina’s failed attempt to connect with the man with the lion tattoo. I would have loved to see under what circumstances Cora and Tinkerbell met. Cora has returned to the Enchanted Forest to reunite Regina with this mystery man, though the Evil Queen remains suspicious and frankly so was I watching this play out.

In the present day, we see Zelena being escorted by Regina to the hospital basement where many a fairy tale character has been kept before. Regina has slapped the magic-sapping cuff on her sister’s wrist and is putting her in a cell to keep her out of trouble. The poison and passive-aggressive quips between Regina and Zelena this entire episode are amazing. Zelena is sure to twist the knife and let her sister know that her new “home” is temporary, but the ramifications of her being pregnant are not; a baby means forever. Regina questions as to why Zelena is so confident and the Wicked Witch reminds the mayor that if Regina decides on the easy route and just kills her, Robin will know Regina murdered the mother of his child. With that hanging over her head, Regina locks and magically seals her sister in her cell.

Over at the pawn shop, Rumpelstiltskin instructs the Author to comb through his dusty collection of books for anything on blood magic. The Dark One makes an excuse to go into the back room where he almost collapses. Rumple takes out his own heart and surveys the damage. The bright spot on his heart has almost flickered out, the organ looking more like charcoal than anything. Someone enters the shop, alerting Rumple; it’s Regina. She’s there for the Author. Regina reminds Rumple that finding the Author was her idea in the first place, one he usurped, and remarks on how ill the Dark One appears. Regina realizes that Rumple’s heart is dying, but is a bit confused as the Dark One can’t die. This is true, but Rumpelstiltskin can and apparently we do not want to see the Dark One running around without Rumpelstiltskin to keep him in check. Regina isn’t worried, confident that she will get her happy ending regardless. Rumple reminds Regina that he possesses the quill and tries to strike a deal for them to work together. Wheeling and dealing to the very end. However, the Dark One is at the end of his rope, so weak that Regina is able to pluck the quill from his hand. The mayor says she will simply figure out the ink later and with a piercing “good bye, dearie”, Regina poofs herself and the Author away, leaving Rumpelstiltskin to finally fall to the floor unconscious.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, we see Cora entering a tavern, looking rather out of place. She immediately gets hit on by the Sherriff of Nottingham and the pair of them together is a “no” from me. Cora explains she is at the tavern in search of a man with a lion tattoo. The Sherriff knows of whom she speaks and Cora wants to know more. Unfortunately, Nottingham has nothing good to say about Robin Hood, bad mouthing him to the Mother of All Evil. I’m amused that one of the Sherriff’s grievances is that Robin won’t shut up about robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The Sherriff also drops the bomb that Robin is currently married, though Cora is not worried in the slightest about this. Nottingham offers to help Cora bump off Robin’s wife, but Cora has other plans.

In Storybrooke, we see the Author and Regina have retired the latter’s vault. The Author is an absolute Evil Queen fanboy, gushing over how complex a character she is, pointing out the aspects of her personality that make her compelling, like her complexity and self-destructive nature. This is a fun little bit of meta and you can see the writers of Once Upon a Time poking at their own creations. The Author comments, again rather callously as if he’s not sure how to interact with real people, that Regina gets screwed over the most and Regina shuts the Author up by shortly telling the scribe that yes, she knows. It’s her life he is treating as entertainment and I want to see more exploration of the Author interacting with his subjects. The Author is also quick to point out that he was only working with Rumple for the protection, so we know this man has no loyalties. Regina has questions for the Author, starting with the mysterious alternate page she carries around, the one showing her and Robin kissing. The Author is amazed to see this as it is part of a “side project” he never finished. Excuse me, he’s saying there are other versions of The Book? This is a game changer. The Author doesn’t know how the page turned up, but sees it as proof that something is watching out for Regina. Still amazed to be in the presence of his favorite character, the Author is eager to write whatever Regina wants, he only needs the ink to do it. Well, good thing Regina already figured that part out.

At the diner, Lily is packing away breakfast while Maleficent simply sits in wonder at being with her child. I thought it was funny that we see a bowl of fruit in front of Lily, further showing how she is the opposite of Emma, who has a notorious love of junk food. Lily is very blunt and simply comes out with it; how are she and Maleficent going to get their revenge? Only the dragon queen doesn’t want to waste her time with revenge, not anymore. Now that she has her daughter, Maleficent simply wants to keep moving forward and enjoy a happy future. Lily is still adamant that the Charmings must be punished and is so cold and rude to Maleficent, telling her mother she must have been a pushover if two humans could best a dragon. All Maleficent wants is to make up for lost time, but Lily continues to push her mother away, wishing to leave Storybrooke. Maleficent warns that if Lily does she can’t come back over the town line and the dragon queen must stay or else she will return to the dust that Rumple resurrected her from. But Lily doesn’t seem to care and exits the diner. I believe in my last review I discussed the possibility of Maleficent wanting peace and the darker impulses within Lily pushing her towards violence. I’m glad the writers took this route since an easy happy reunion would be unsatisfying, though Lily could be less cold to her mother.

Later at Casa de Charming, Maleficent shows up on the doorstep, not there to light anyone aflame. No, she is begging for the Charmings’ help since they’ve already gone through the task of connecting with their long lost grown up daughter. Maleficent thinks that sealing the borders and keeping Lily in would be a good first step, but Snow White is gentle in reminding the dragon queen that neither she nor Charming have that power and Maleficent must get to the heart of the problem. Maleficent is frustrated because she doesn’t know what that is; she doesn’t know Lily. Charming offers advice from his own experience, pointing out how similar Lily is acting to Emma when she first arrived in Storybrooke. Emma had her walls up, afraid to open up to anyone for fear of being let down and Snow quietly realizes that unfortunately she and Charming did just that. Maleficent is desperate, seeking the Charming’s help to get Lily back since they were the ones who sent her away in the first place. Snow agrees and the group sets off. Seeing the darkness in Lily put a spin on her reunion with Maleficent is interesting. Would this have been what happened if Emma wasn’t stripped of that evil? The contrast between Emma slowly allowing her walls to come down and Lily keeping them up shows how far Emma has come, but also paints a painful picture at what the Charmings are currently going through. All that progress seems to be gone now.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, we see Regina approaching Lily at the bus stop. Lily tells the former Evil Queen to take a hike and is waiting for a bus arrive, so clearly the anti-savior doesn’t really get how things work in that town in Maine. Regina is undaunted, telling Lily to listen well. The mayor reminds Lily of what the Charmings did, and as Lily wishes death upon Snow and her husband, Regina remarks at the darkness beginning to boil under the surface in Lily. That darkness belongs to Emma and Regina needs it, so without further ado, the mayor cuts open Lily’s palm, mingling the spilt blood with the ink and poofs away, leaving Lily in shock and pain. There’s that loophole Rumple was looking for, though was the Dark One aware of Snow and Charming’s mistake? I don’t think so, meaning he might have never figured out how to activate the ink if it weren’t for Regina. The anti-savior is upset and we will soon see to what extent as her eyes begin to magically change to a more feral color.

In the Enchanted Forest, Regina is in her chamber as Cora sweeps in. I love Cora’s interaction with her husband, a clipped “Yes. Hello. Get out.” Never change, Cora. Mommy Dearest has news for her daughter; she has found the man with the lion tattoo and this stranger is on his way as they speak. Cora poofs Regina into a beautiful dress and stresses that she’s learned from her mistakes. Regina appears to be grateful to her mother. I was still giving Cora the side eye at this point and for good reason as it turns out the man with the lion tattoo who arrives is not Robin Hood but the Sherriff of Nottingham. Cora gives them some privacy and the pair take their date to the courtyard. Nottingham is just, for lack of a better word, gross here. He’s very callous, pushy, and touchy-feely. He tells Regina how she is in need of his “manly arms” and that he will be strong so she can be weak. Regina doesn’t seem to like that last bit and is finally beginning to see through the smarm. The Evil Queen magic’s Nottingham’s fake tattoo, causing the lion to leap to life and attack the sheriff while Regina demands answers. Nottingham spills the beans, magic or otherwise, and Regina finds out that Cora has been pulling the strings because she wants her daughter to have a child. To say the Evil Queen is upset would be an understatement.

Later on we see Regina in full on Evil Queen wardrobe, mixing a nightcap in her chamber. Cora once again comes in wanting to know how her daughter’s date when. Regina casually shows that Nottingham is currently enjoying the castle’s dungeons and Cora reacts to a man dangling over fire as if Regina is being a petulant child. I loved her “tsk tsk” reaction. Cora sets the Sherriff of Nottingham free with a flick of her wrist. Regina knew something was off, she could feel that Nottingham wasn’t her soulmate. Cora thought the sheriff would be a better fit for Regina, especially since the real man with the lion tattoo is now married. Regina knows that Cora was never interested in her happiness. I love that I now know Cora is without her heart as it makes these selfish choices more interesting to think about. Without her heart, Cora is without empathy and doesn’t realize her actions are more harmful than good. She is being evil, don’t get me wrong I’m not excusing her dastardly behavior, in fact I revel in it, but knowing that there is a reason behind the level of her skullduggery makes it more engaging to watch.

We break away from the flashback of Regina and Cora to see another Mills family interaction as Regina returns to Zelena’s cell with the Author in tow. Zelena doesn’t miss an opportunity to sass, saying she’ll put the kettle on for her guests. Regina is there so that her sister may witness the Evil Queen finally getting her happy ending. Regina is adamant that it’s her story and Zelena is just a supporting player. However, Zelena seems to have other things in mind, telling the mayor that she isn’t there to support her, but replace her. So Zelena is still stuck on the idea of taking over Regina’s life as she was with her time travel scheme. We know Regina’s past is certainly no picnic, so would Zelena have had the Author tweak a few things, perhaps use that unfinished story he mentioned? Despite her quips, the Wicked Witch does seem nervous as she eyes the Author, asking what exactly Regina means to have written about her. Regina smirks as she assures her sister that she has the perfect ending in mind.

On to a calmer scene as we find Hook and Emma at the docks taking in the horizon. And rum. Hook takes the opportunity to have a heart to heart with Emma. He knows she is uneasy and wants to protect Emma’s heart. While the savior assures the pirate that she has no plans to go after Rumpelstiltskin, it’s Emma’s relationship with her parents that concerns Hook. He questions Emma’s recent actions, wondering if she is willing to lose her parents after all they’ve been through just to spite them. Hook points out the good Snow White and Charming have done, how they learned from their mistake and turned themselves into heroes. Emma’s parents are ashamed of their actions, which is why they hid them; they just wanted Emma to like them. Hook knows that Snow White and Prince Charming were trying to protect Emma and wanted to make her proud and asks the savior if Emma wants those efforts to be a failure now. Hook has become a font of wisdom this season and I think that’s because we are finally seeing the man he was before he became a pirate. We know little of his life before he lost his brother, but instead of flashbacks I think his actions are teaching us about the real Hook.

In the woods surrounding Storybrooke, Maleficent, Snow White, and Charming are piled into Charming’s truck, searching for Lily. They hear a dragon’s roar and screech to a stop as we see the magic of Storybrooke has taken effect on Lily, allowing her to go full beast mode. Dragon Lily is full of rage and quickly takes flight. We soon see Maleficent and company searching the woods for her. The dragon queen is such a protective mother here, insisting that even though her child has transformed she shouldn’t be referred to as “it” and worrying herself over things like teaching Lily to fly correctly. The trio finally comes across Dragon Lily and Maleficent is enraptured, commenting how her daughter resembles her. This is so oddly touching, that a mother can see her child as a monster and love that part of her so freely. Maleficent approaches Lily, but in dragon mode Lily is raging and out of control. The Charmings follow close behind Maleficent to help, but Snow gets on the wrong side of Dragon Lily’s tail, goes head first into a boulder and is badly injured. Charming also barely misses being roasted by Lily’s flames before the dragon flies off again.

A short while later we see Charming tending to Snow White’s head wound as Hook and Emma arrive. Despite her frustration with her parents Emma is concerned for Snow and rushes to her side, magically healing her wound. Emma remarks that though the cut on the surface is healed, it’s going to take time to heal inside. I believe she is speaking more of her current feelings than Snow’s injury and I enjoy that the writers slipped that in the dialog. As Snow rests, she apologizes to Emma for letting her down, while Emma assures Snow that she did no such thing. Snow goes on to say she was selfish and while Emma acknowledges that, she lets Snow know that what’s been going on between them has to stop. Snow White vows to never stop trying to protect Emma and Emma says that she must stop punishing Snow. Even though her actions came at Emma’s expense, the savior knows this doesn’t change the good person Snow became, the mother she became. Emma echoes Hook’s words at the harbor and elaborates that while Snow White omitted the truth, it was a human mistake. Trying to hurt Snow was actually hurting Emma and she forgives her mother. The pair finally hug.

While this reconciliation goes on, Maleficent is still searching for Lily. We see some beautiful CGI as Lily sheds her dragon form and turns back into a woman. Lily is shaken and Maleficent crawls down on the ground to comfort her daughter. She gives Lily the rattle she has been carrying this half of the season and acknowledges that it’s too late, Lily is grown and doesn’t need Maleficent. But it seems Maleficent needs her, even though she isn’t what Lily was hoping for. Lily admits she thought Maleficent would be a “scary dragon bitch” and they would go off and fireball everyone in a blaze of revenge. But Maleficent is a real person, a person who wants a relationship and a future. This scares Lily because anyone who’s gotten close has let her down. Her inherent darkness has always caused her pain. Well, Maleficent doesn’t mind a little darkness and we are treated to another tearful mother-daughter hug. Maleficent asks Lily to stay for a week and try Storybrooke on for size, even offering to teach her daughter how to be a “scary dragon bitch”. You know who else was only going to stay a week and try out Storybrooke? Emma Swan.

These two reconciliations are so important in this episode because they showcase what we saw in the beginning with Robin and Regina, the normal aspect of these fairy tale characters. These reunions were about children seeing past the storybook hype and realizing their parents are human. They are more than just pristine heroes and cackling villains and this is the root and heart of Once Upon a Time, the shades of grey behind these famous stories. The emphasis of the mundane with the magical, the fact that we love scenes like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Snow White hanging out at a bar, being people, is what makes this show great and Once Upon a Time circling back to that is what makes “Mother” a great episode.

Back at the hospital, Zelena and Regina are still at each other’s throats with the former telling her sister she is simply mad the Wicked Witch has what Regina always wanted, a child. Regina mildly reminds Zelena she has a child, Henry, and what she is angry about is Zelena coming between her and Robin. The Author is all set to do Regina’s bidding and that’s to write Zelena out of the story. Forever. Zelena thinks Regina is bluffing because of the baby, but Regina isn’t worried as no one will remember the baby or the Wicked Witch even existed. Zelena grows more nervous as she learns the extent of the Author’s power and in a final gambit informs Regina that while she never knew their mother, she’s getting to know her now through Regina. Cora gave up a baby without batting an eye and practically screams that now Regina is just like Cora. Such a great scene for Zelena and a low blow to stick to Regina, who is now reconsidering her plan.

Flashback to the Enchanted Forest, where we left off with Cora and Regina. Mommy Dearest is instructing Regina that she must build a dynasty or else she will lose the kingdom to Snow White. But Regina knows her mother well, hypothesizing that she will mysteriously pass away and Cora will come into power, influencing any child left behind. Cora is still single-minded when it comes to having the power to rule. However, the Evil Queen has found a way to keep this from happening. Her nightcap is actually a potion, one that will leave her barren and unable to provide an heir. Cora believes Regina is bluffing, thinking her daughter weak and stupid if she thinks the solution to her problems is hurting herself. Regina counters that this isn’t the case if the results hurt Cora more and downs the potion. So in the opening scene when Regina told Robin that Zelena could do what she couldn’t, she meant it literally. The potion has an ill effect on Regina, but the Evil Queen orders Cora away when the Mother of All Evil steps forward to comfort her child. Cora tries to assure Regina that she really did mean to help and leaves her daughter with one more piece of advice; the only one standing in the way of your happiness is you. What happened here between Regina and Cora is the exact opposite of Lily and Emma’s resolutions with their respective mothers. All three women were metaphorically, or in Regina’s case literally, drinking poison and hoping to would hurt the other person and unfortunately that self-destructive streak the Author mention caused Regina to be the only one to take the plunge.

Back at the hospital, the Author is impatient to begin writing as Regina continues to hesitate, no doubt remembering the encounter we just saw in the flashback. Then, Regina commands that the Author do nothing. Cora made both sisters suffer and Regina acknowledges that their worst enemy isn’t each other but themselves. Regina is tired of standing in the way of her own happiness. Robin has arrived in the meantime and Zelena makes a snide remark on how Regina is defining her happiness relative to a man. The mayor corrects her sister; her happy end isn’t with Robin, it’s finally feeling at home in the world. A world Zelena is going to have to watch at a distance. While I’m not pleased the writers are still going through with this pregnancy storyline, I like that Regina is willing to take in the baby and keep Zelena at a distance from her family. It seems to be the best result that could come from this. Also, I am so pleased that Regina finally realizes how far she’s come and the happiness that’s been before her. And that Once Upon a Time is making a stance that not giving birth doesn’t make Regina less of a woman or a mother. The Author questions if he should write anything and Regina tells the scribe that no, she has all that she needs. Too bad the Author doesn’t have what he needs and scribbles something on a page before poofing away. We see that the Author has used his power to transport himself and the ink to Rumpelstiltskin’s side.

Cut to a hazy point of view shot, where the Author is dangling the ink in front of the ailing Rumple’s face. The Dark One doesn’t care how it was gotten, he simply commands the Author to not waste time and write. But write on what? Rumpelstiltskin, ever prepared, snaps his fingers and with a wonderful swell of music a dark version of The Book appears before the Author. Only this one is titled “Heroes and Villains”. I have to say, this was my favorite part of the episode. Even though the idea has been tossed around that is was the outcome we’d see eventually, it was so exciting to see that book and know what possibilities lie ahead. Rumple declares that it’s time for the villains to finally win and the Author turns to the first page of the new book, writing those immortal words, “Once upon a time…”

Just… wow. That was “Mother”. How did you like it, readers? Leave a comment!

How this episode handled Lily and Maleficent’s reunion is something I appreciate. It’s true things weren’t easy for Emma and Snow White, but with Lily and Maleficent there was the added factor of that darkness within them both. I love that even though Maleficent wants to move on and have a happy ending, she’s not afraid of the darkness and is unashamed to admit it exists, especially since it is a fundamental part of Lily now. Seeing a villain express such unconditional love is the crux of Once Upon a Time, it showcases quite well the theme that heroes and villains are people. Like Emma said, heroes can be selfish, and as we’ve seen villains can be tender. What Once Upon a Time is about is people, their problems, and their relationships. I’m so glad the show is returning to this more and more.

We also had Snow and Emma’s reunion of sorts. I think what Emma has been doing is struggling with that perfect picture she painted in her mind of the Charmings. Just as Lily envisioned Maleficent to be the “scary dragon bitch”, Emma saw Snow and Charming as their perfect Disney selves. A large part of growing up is understanding that our parents are people too, not just “mom and dad”. Emma missed out on her adolescence, so everything is rushing at her at an accelerated rate. And it doesn’t help that a new curse or monster rolls into town every few weeks. I’m glad Emma resolved her issue with her parents as she really was just punishing them after the initial shock wore off. Lily and Emma’s reunions with their respective mothers are contrasted by Regina and Cora’s interaction in the flashbacks, but one theme flows throughout all of this; standing in the way of your own happy ending. The episode is masterful in weaving this theme in and out of these three women’s stories as we see their unique ways of moving past the barrier they themselves put up.

And finally, Rumpelstiltskin, what have you done? This alternate take on the stories of the heroes and villains is something fans have been speculating, theorizing, and hoping for since the second half of season four began. Seeing a new version of The Book spring forth will give the audience greater insight to the mysteries of how these stories are recorded and influenced. Everything surrounding that “Once Upon a Time” book has kept fans wondering for seasons and now we are finally getting answers. And this new “Heroes and Villains” book should prove to give us a wealth of entertainment as we see the world go topsy turvy, as well leave us in an interesting place for season 5. With two hours to explore this story next episode, I think long time viewers will be in for a treat, but ultimately left with the mother of all cliffhangers at the end.

Be sure to tune in next week for the two hour finale with “Operation Mongoose Parts 1 and 2”!

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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