Friday, September 25, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Operation Mongoose Part 1 & 2)

I freaking LOVE this two-part episode!!!!  In fact, it’s tied with ‘Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home’ for my absolute favorite episode to date.  Maybe it’s just seeing a whole adventure in the Enchanted Forest that makes it so appealing to me.

Before the main action begins, we get a quick flashback that shows how Isaac became the Author.  It’s revealed he was actually from our world, where he worked as a salesman at a store that sold TV sets in the 1960s.  However, he wasn’t that great of a salesman, with his boss not hesitating to say so, and his dream of becoming a writer wasn’t going anywhere, as all he ever got were rejection letters.  But on one fateful day, he gets a letter from the Apprentice, which instructs him to come to a certain address for a meeting.  Upon going to the meeting, the Apprentice presents Isaac with a test by showing him five different writing utensils, instructing him to pick one.  This test was designed to determine who would be the next Author, as only the person best suited to the task would be ‘called’ to the magic quill.  When Isaac passes the test, the Apprentice explains about the importance of the Author’s job to record the stories from all the different realms.  To prove his words, he shows Isaac a magical portal door that leads to one of the realms, stating that the fact that Isaac can see the door is proof that the role of the Author was his.  This scene also contains a blink-and-you’ll miss it inside ‘joke,’ if it can be called a joke.  The Apprentice explains to Isaac that he is being selected as the next Author as the previous one has just died.  Notice the date on the letter Isaac got from the Apprentice states that this happened on December 15, 1966, which was the day when Walt Disney died from lung cancer.  (Remember what August said, about how the Author before Isaac was ‘a man named Walt?’  Well, played OUAT!)

As we’ve left off last episode, Isaac is currently creating a new story entitled ‘Heroes and Villains,’ which will ensure the villains will be the winning side.  But the Nevengers are at a loss as to how to stop him, let alone figure out what exactly he’s planning to do to them.  Not really sure why they’re looking through the Sorcerer’s hidden library, however.  I admit I don’t know much of the intricate rules of magic, but I doubt whatever Isaac tried to write would appear in those other blank books.  That’s when August shows up, explaining that while he never met the Sorcerer, he has met the Apprentice during his time in Phuket.  It turns out that was how August learned all about the book, and possibly knew Neal was Baelfire.   My real question is why he didn’t mention this before.  Anyway, August shows them a drawing of the Apprentice so they’ll know who they should be looking for, which helps Killian figure out exactly who Gold had trapped in the hat in ‘The Apprentice.’  Using one of the broomsticks at the Apprentice’s cottage, Blue is able to free the Apprentice, who somehow already knows that Isaac is on the loose.  Is someone who is trapped in the hat able to remain conscious of what’s going on outside?  Because the Apprentice’s brief pause when he saw the visibly remorseful Killian standing there gave the impression that he was possibly not aware of his presence until that moment, even though Killian was speaking regretfully about the unwilling part he played in the Apprentice’s entrapment half a minute ago.   Either way, the Apprentice announces they must once again trap Isaac inside his illustrated prison before he can do even more damage.  To accomplish this, Snow, Charming, Henry and Killian head back to the loft apartment to retrieve the page while Regina, Emma and the Apprentice start making their way to Gold’s shop to stop Isaac from completing his new story.  Although, why no one thought to go right to Gold’s shop to begin with is beyond me.  They already knew that Isaac and Gold are in cahoots, and Regina clearly saw last episode that Gold is in no condition to stop them, so there was nothing preventing them from going up and physically restraining Isaac earlier.  Maybe if they had done that instead of messing around in the Sorcerer’s secret library of blank books they might have gotten to Isaac in time.  But because of their delayed action, Isaac is able to complete ‘Heroes and Villains.’  The moment he completes the book, everyone in Storybrooke instantly vanishes.  All except Henry, because unlike everyone else in Storybrooke, he was conceived in the Land Without Magic.  This is a potentially creepy scene, seeing Henry walking around the completely deserted town.  It’s like a scene out of a rapture movie.  Remembering the one driving lesson he got from Grandpa Charming during the Wizard of Oz arc, Henry commandeers a car and drives to a diner outside of Storybrooke, hoping someone there had some idea of where his family is.  However, while the waitress was not much help (and I’m not sure why she thought Henry was a runaway, as he was clearly looking for his family) Henry does see something that provides a clue- multiple copies of the book Isaac was writing is on full display on a sale rack inside the diner.  Finding this book leads Henry to New York, where Isaac is having a book signing.  Basically, when he wrote the original copy of ‘Heroes and Villains,’ Isaac made it so his book would be an instant bestseller with a huge fanbase.  When Henry goes to the book signing, he confronts Isaac, demanding that he fixes things and brings everyone back from the Alternate Universe Isaac has trapped them in.   Isaac insists that he can’t do anything, because he automatically stopped being the Author when he used his position to secure his own happy ending, something that’s always been against the rules.  But Henry has inherited a stubborn refusal to give up from his mother’s side of the family, and despite Isaac’s ridicule, he enters the book to save his family himself.  That’s right, it’s Henry’s turn to be the hero, which I consider the show’s way of apologizing for how Henry has been utilized during this entire story arc.  Ever since the Author arc began, Henry has pretty much done nothing except stare at a page, eat doughnuts and get kidnapped by Cruella.  It’s about time they gave him something worthwhile to do.

It doesn’t take long for Henry to get acquainted with how topsy-turvy this AU version of the Enchanted Forest is, as Isaac has followed him into the book and, after knocking Henry out for a short time, has him tied up as a sacrifice-of-sorts for an attacking ogre.  Henry is saved at the last minute by a knight who wields light magic.  This knight is quickly revealed to be AU Rumpelstiltskin, who not only defeats the ogre, but also frees Henry and sends him on his way.  And this is where I raise an eyebrow.  Oh, not because of Rumpelstiltskin being a great, brave hero who wields light magic, as I was already aware that things were going to get weird.  It’s the fact that no one ever acknowledges the fact that Henry is wearing modern-day clothes.  Back in ‘New York City Serenade,’ Henry was able to vocalize the unusualness of Killian wearing full pirate regalia in the Land Without Magic.  But no one is doing the same for Henry now, even though his modern-day clothing is just as out of place in the Enchanted Forest as Killian’s pirate look was in our world.

Once Henry is free, he sets off to set things right.  Believing that everything can be fixed with True Love’s Kiss, Henry uses his copy of ‘Heroes and Villains’ to locate AU Regina, who is essentially filling the runaway bandit role that Snow did in Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest.  Despite Henry’s best efforts to convince her, AU Regina refuses to believe his story that she’s actually his adopted mother and that nothing is supposed to be this way.  When he shows her his copy of ‘Heroes and Villains,’ AU Regina just dismisses it as some sort of dark magic and proceeds to scoff at Henry’s insistence that everything should be set right if she finds Robin and utilizes True Love’s Kiss.

Meanwhile, Isaac has been bumbling around, trying to stop Henry from setting things right.  In his attempts, he gets captured by the AU Dwarfs who take him prisoner and bring him before Evil Queen Snow (*GiggleSnort* Nice hair, Snow) and AU Charming.  In this version of the Enchanted Forest, Evil Queen Snow’s True Love had been Charming’s twin brother, James, and when he died tragically, Evil Queen Snow had forced AU Charming into the same fate Evil Queen Regina had inflicted on Graham.  Isaac convinces Evil Queen Snow that Henry is a threat to her and must be eliminated.  To make sure to cover all the bases, he also pays a visit to AU Rumpelstiltskin, who is living in a cottage with AU Belle and their baby (who might be the AU Baby Neal.  It’s never really determined).  He tells AU Rumple that Henry and AU Regina pose a danger to the realm, and if he wants to continue living happily with his family, he must get rid of them both.

To eliminate the ‘danger’ Henry poses, Evil Queen Snow sets a trap for AU Regina, on account of how Isaac told her that Henry would most likely be with her.  AU Regina’s life is saved just in time by AU Robin.  They end up at a tavern and, after sorta ripping off the Captain Swan hand-bandaging scene, the two begin to talk, with AU Regina feeling an obvious instant connection with AU Robin.  But it doesn’t appear as if anything could ever come of it, as AU Robin is to marry AU Zelena later that day.  (And if you listen carefully, you can hear me violently throwing up in reaction to that.)  When Henry hears about the wedding, he realizes that that must be their deadline, and the only way to set things right again is to stop the wedding.  Earlier, Isaac made a rookie mistake by practically informing Henry that when they hear the church bells toiling out, they will have reached the last page of the book, and will no longer be able to fix things.  But AU Regina refuses to even consider listening to Henry any longer, and tells him to try finding the other mother he mentioned.  The problem is Isaac had claimed that he didn’t write Emma into the story, but when Henry states that Emma was supposed to be the Savior in the true reality, the title clearly strikes a chord with AU Regina.  Reluctantly, she tells Henry that there used to be rumors of someone who called herself the Savior, but Evil Queen Snow had her thrown into prison in an impenetrable fortress.  Now knowing that Emma is in this alternate reality after all, Henry sets off to find her, using a map he ended up finding in his copy of ‘Heroes and Villains’ before Regina had burned it.  (That was a little too convenient, but I can live with it.)  When he figures out the impenetrable fortress is located in the Bottomless Sea, he realizes that he needs a ship to get there and therefore seeks out AU Killian so they can venture out to save Emma with the Jolly Roger.  But upon finding AU Killian and the Jolly Roger, Henry learns the hard way that Gold had gotten Isaac to turn Killian into a cowardly deckhand who has to answer to Blackbeard (ugh, him again).  If Henry was disappointed by this, he doesn’t let it get to him, and he cleverly deals with Blackbeard pretty quickly, allowing him and AU Killian free reign of the Jolly Roger.  He convinces AU Killian to help him sail the Jolly Roger to where Emma is being kept.  It’s here we get confirmation that Killian had been spending quite a lot of time with Henry off-screen, as Henry had gotten enough sailing lessons to aid AU Killian in manning the Jolly Roger.

They eventually reach the impenetrable fortress where Emma is being held, and after dealing with the solitary guard by utilizing the ‘Wookie prisoner gag’ (even in the alternate universe, we still get a great Killian vs. the Modern World moment), Henry manages to locate where Emma has been chained up.  Upon finding her, it’s revealed that Emma is essentially this world’s version of Jefferson, in the sense that she has maintained her memories of how things are supposed to be.  So she is able to instantly recognize Henry, resulting in a really sweet reunion scene between them.  But even though Emma admits she doesn’t have her magic in this Alternate Universe,  Henry is quick to reassure her that they can still put things right again if they manage to stop AU Robin from marrying AU Zelena.

Before they can do that, however, we get the meeting between AU Killian and Emma.  And it is just so ADORABLE!  Remember how Past!Hook was all taken aback when he saw Emma?  Well, AU Killian is so flabbergasted upon meeting Emma, he can barely string two words together.  You really get the impression that, unlike the real Killian, AU Killian has had absolutely no experience with women prior to this.  So as you can imagine, his encounter with the woman who is his True Love in the true reality really floors him.  Even in this completely warped version of reality, Killian is just so besotted with Emma, especially after seeing how quick she is to rely on him when the solitary guard is revealed to be AU Lily, who transforms into Dragon Lily to try and stop their escape, an effort that ultimately fails because of Emma and AU Killian’s joint effort.  I’ve recently became aware of a story called The Chaos of Stars.  While I’ve never actually read it myself, I am familiar with a particular line from that book.  “And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”  After seeing how quickly AU Killian seems to fall for Emma, I really feel that quote just fits these two so wonderfully.

Now, I gotta discuss something about AU Killian which makes me appreciate the real Killian even more.  Throughout this whole adventure in the alternate universe Isaac created, every time Henry and Emma try and tell someone that this world isn’t real and that things are supposed to be completely different, they’re met with skepticism and disbelief.  Everyone just thinks they’re completely bonkers.  All except AU Killian.  It’s clear in the scene following the defeat of Dragon Lily that Emma and Henry has told him about how things are supposed to be.  And he completely accepts their story, and even asks Emma to tell him more about that other reality after Emma gives him a brief sword fighting lesson.  Despite the best efforts of Isaac to make things different, it’s clear that at his core, Killian is still the same man, right down to his complete faith in Emma and her son.  It’s just like how Killian is one of the only people who have never doubted Emma’s superpower.

Okay, now the thing with the sword fighting lesson.  Watching it play out is a complete treat for any Captain Swan fan, as the sexual tension is just off the charts.  But you wanna know what makes this scene even more enjoyable for me?  Think about all the other times we’ve seen Emma wielding a sword on-screen.  I think the last time we’ve seen her using a sword was in ‘Dark Hollow,’ and she was more or less just swinging that thing around like a club.  The fact that she’s now giving AU Killian lessons suggests someone had given HER some sword fighting lessons at some point.  Now, who do you think covered those lessons?  I’ve now got a head cannon of Emma and Killian standing in those exact same positions at one point, only with the roles reversed.  Think of that and smile like a loon.

Unfortunately, things start going downhill when Evil Queen Snow and AU Charming shows up, because AU Lily, who apparently survived getting hit with a cannon, helped them find Emma, Henry and AU Killian.  Wanting to make sure Emma and Henry can escape capture or death, AU Killian decides to stand and fight AU Charming and Evil Queen Snow, despite knowing that doing so would most likely cost him his life.  And that’s just one more reason why I like Killian so much.  I’m sure everyone remembers how Rumple reacted when he was given the opportunity to fight for the chance to get his wife back and keep his family intact.  In a glaring contrast to that, AU Killian had only just met Emma and Henry a few hours ago, and here he is, completely ready to risk his very life for them by fighting a battle he can’t possibly win, just so Emma and Henry can get their chance to escape and restore things to how they were supposed to be.  Even in a world where they tried to make Killian a coward, he’s still a braver man by far than Rumpelstiltskin was.  Of course, this leads to one of the episode’s heartbreaking scenes.  For one brief moment, it looks like Emma’s talk of ‘muscle memory’ might be truer than even she knew, as AU Killian’s swordsman skills come to the surface, helping him defeat AU Charming almost effortlessly.  But when AU Killian turns his attention to Evil Queen Snow, AU Charming literally stabs him in the back.  (I believe the real Killian would say that was ‘bad form.’)  Emma’s reaction of watching AU Killian dying is just devastating, and it really gets you in the feels when you notice how AU Killian keeps his eyes focused on Emma right up until the moment he collapses.  But Emma is unable to stick around to mourn, as she and Henry have to hightail it out of there to avoid getting hit with Evil Queen Snow’s fireball.

Henry brings his two mothers together, hoping that Emma can convince AU Regina to have a bit of faith in what they’re telling her about how everything in this world is supposed to be completely different.  At first, AU Regina is just as skeptical of Emma, but in the end, Emma is able to convince AU Regina to open herself up to the possibility of finding love with AU Robin.  To drive her point home, Emma finally verbally admits that she’s in love with Killian, but voices her regret that she was always too afraid to come out and say it to his face.  She urges AU Regina to not make the same mistake.  Her words do the trick, and Henry, Emma and AU Regina head off to the church to stop AU Robin from marrying AU Zelena.  But before they can do anything, AU Rumpelstiltskin appears to stand in their way.  Keeping him busy so AU Regina can stop the wedding, Emma engages AU Rumpelstiltskin in a duel.  Watching this duel only solidifies the possibility that Emma learned how to properly wield a sword from Killian.  She even utilizes that same overly-flashy twirl move that Killian did during their fight at Lake Nostros way back when.  But much like with his duel with Killian back in ‘The Crocodile’ flashback, AU Rumple ends up cheating, and uses his magic to push Emma backward.  When Henry steps in and picks up Emma’s fallen sword, AU Rumpelstiltskin very quickly overpowers him as well.  But right when he was making the killing blow, (because that’s totally the act of a real hero; cutting down an unarmed 14-year-old) AU Regina jumps in, choosing to save Henry instead of stopping AU Robin’s wedding.

So it looks like Emma and Henry has failed to fix things, as the church bells start to ring out, signifying that they’ve reached the end of Isaac’s book.  As if to pour salt on the wound, they can do nothing to save Regina, and have to simply watch as she dies in Robin’s arms (while Zelena runs off after starting to turn green upon seeing how the dying AU Regina was ruining her day).  Emma angrily rounds on Isaac, who chose that moment to appear and gloat, demanding he fixes things.  Again, Isaac says he can’t as he’s no longer the Author.  But that’s when Henry’s attention seems to be drawn to the magic quill that Isaac dropped when Emma punched him.  In the episode’s big reveal, it’s shown that Henry is the new Author.  I can’t really remember if I actually saw this coming, but I do remember that it didn’t catch me by surprise.  Using some of the blood from Regina’s fatal wound as ink, Henry uses his new position to hit the magical reset button, restoring everyone back to Storybrooke.  And, after a brief scare when Emma races into the loft apartment to find Killian seemingly unaccounted for, it’s revealed that everyone who died in the alternate reality was restored to life after all, including Killian.  And how sweet was it that the moment he woke up back in Storybrooke, his first instinct was to try and locate Henry?  That man is so ready to officially be Henry’s stepfather. 

The reunion scene between Emma and Killian is played out really well, and it’s made even better when you realize the moment when Emma throws them onto the bed was not only ad-libbed, but, much like how actress Jennifer Morrison hadn’t realized actor Colin O'Donoghue was going to tighten the makeshift bandage with his teeth in ‘Tallahassee,’ actor Colin O'Donoghue reported that he had no prior warning that the throwing on the bed thing was going to happen when they did the actual filming of that scene.  Anyway, Emma is presented with the perfect opportunity to finally tell Killian she loved him.  And she very nearly says it, too.  But in the end, her nerves fail her, and she instead thanks him for sacrificing his life for her and Henry in the alternate universe.  But the moment isn’t totally ruined, as you can see in his face that he knew what Emma had wanted to tell him, and even though she wasn’t ready to actually say the words, he knows how she feels and therefore is not going to push her.  Like always, he’s simply going to wait until she’s ready.  And just to throw a cherry on top of this moment, we also finally get to hear Killian refer to himself as a hero, which his such a satisfying moment considering how long it’s taken him to overcome his deep-rooted feelings of self-loathing, which made him always view himself as the worst person imaginable.  So great to get an indication that he’s grown past that negative view of himself.

Meanwhile the Apprentice has a friendly chat with Henry, who seems to be processing the fact that he’s the new Author.  Henry admits he’d considered trying to use his new position to resurrect Neal, but the Apprentice gently informs him that not even the Author can bring back the dead, and the best way for Henry to honor his birth father is to simply record his story.  Henry, deciding that the ability to manipulate lives is too much power for anyone, breaks the magic quill.  Which leaves me wondering if Henry destroying the quill is putting an end to the lineage of Authors or simply means no one will be able to manipulate anything the way Isaac did.  It’s not really explained too well.  But this scene is also noteworthy to me because it’s the second time in this two-part episode someone discussed the possibility of the Author resurrecting Neal.  I might get flamed for this, but I’m really hoping that this isn’t them foreshadowing someone finding a way to actually bring Neal back.  Because that would just be overkill.  He’s, dead, he’s alive, he’s dead, he’s alive; quit yanking our chains!  If they absolutely HAVE to bring that character back, please, please, PLEASE bring him back as Boy Baelfire.  I’d be perfectly fine with that.  Just no more Adult Neal.  I’m begging you.

As for Isaac, his attempt at escaping Storybrooke is cut off by Snow and Charming, who take him into custody.  They ask him why he was so determined to cause everyone harm, and he then reveals that he was just going postal.  Isaac’s essentially that kid who got picked on a few times in high school and now thinks the whole world is out to get him.  With him taken care of, everyone heads off to Granny’s, just like every other time a crisis is averted.  Robin and Regina are happy and decide they can deal with the whole issue of Zelena’s pregnancy together before heading off for a moonlit walk.  Snow and Charming (who finally are shown with Baby Neal in tow) apologize to Killian for killing him in the AU world, Emma once again emphasizes the fact that she forgives her parents for what they did in the past, and Lily voices a desire to locate her father, whose identity is unknown even to Maleficent because their copulation occurred when they were in dragon form.

But of course, this is Storybrooke.  Nothing can stay happy for long.  While all this was going on, Belle had marched into Gold’s shop to confront her estranged husband, only to learn that the man Rumpelstiltskin was going to die any second, and once Rumpelstiltskin died, there’d be nothing to stop the Dark One from having unparalleled control.   When Gold loses conciseness, Belle races over to Granny’s and storms in, saying ‘hey, Rumple’s about to die, and that’ll just give the Dark One unbridled reign.  We should do something about that, or stuffs gonna go south pretty quickly.’  They go back to Gold’s shop and the Apprentice decides the best option would be to syphon off the darkness in Rumple’s heart into the Sorcerer’s Hat.  At first, it seems to work, even though Rumple’s heart is now bleach white, which doesn’t look the least bit healthy, and the Apprentice places Rumple’s body in a state of suspended animation until they can figure out a way to revive him.  But then, the Sorcerer’s Hat starts to reject the Dark One’s essence, because it’s apparently too much darkness for the hat to contain.  I can’t be the only one who finds this questionable, as we’ve seen that hat was able to contain Chernabog.  Are you telling me that the hat could handle Chernabog’s dark power but not the Dark One’s essence?   That sounds a bit iffy to me.  But in any event, the Dark One’s essence escapes from the hat and tries to enter the Apprentice until Emma drives it away with her light magic.  While Snow and Charming head off after the Darkness, Emma, Killian and Henry stay behind to try and tend to the Apprentice, who instructs them to track down the Sorcerer, who is finally revealed to be Merlin.  Turns out the Darkness is this ancient entity that Merlin fought against eons ago.  To stop the Darkness from pretty much wiping out everyone and everything, Merlin had the Darkness tethered to a living vessel, which was how the very first Dark One came to be.  Only Merlin can stop the Darkness once and for all, so the Nevengers are going to have to seek him out.  (Oh, does this version of Merlin have Archimedes?  Please say yes.  Owls are awesome.) 

Once the Apprentice gives Emma, Killian and Henry the task of seeking out Merlin, he dies.  I mean, I think he dies.  It’s not very clear.  While Henry, I guess, stays behind with the Apprentice, and possibly to help Belle with the comatose Rumple, Emma and Killian hurry out to join Snow and Charming, who have had no luck in locating the Darkness.  (The fact that it’s nighttime during this scene probably doesn’t help much.)  Regina and Robin appear as they’re returning from their walk, and they’re quickly filled in on what’s just gone down.  Although, Regina shouldn’t have acted so surprised, as Gold pretty much had warned her that this was going to happen back in ‘Mother.’  In a related story, one has to ask why Regina hadn’t let anyone else know that Gold had informed her he was dying.  Oh, that’s right; she was too wrapped up in her own problems to even think about how Rumpelstiltskin dying would mean the Dark One would be unleashed in full force.  For someone who has previously griped about Snow and Emma never thinking of the consequences of their actions, she sure doesn’t do much of it herself.

That’s when the Darkness makes its presence known again, as it essentially attacks Regina.  Emma, realizing that the Darkness is just going to continue attacking everybody until everyone’s life has been snuffed out, decides to sacrifice herself to save everyone.  Remembering what the Apprentice said, about Merlin tethering the Darkness to a living vessel, Emma volunteers herself to be the new vessel for the Darkness, despite Snow, Charming and Killian beseeching her not to.  However, Emma knows there’s no other choice and, after reassuring her parents that they’d be able to figure out how to take the darkness out of her, and finally confessing her love to Killian, Emma allows the Darkness to absorb into her, becoming the new Dark One.  However, the only evidence there is of Emma’s new status is the fact that the Dark One’s dagger now bears her name, as Emma vanishes from sight.

And thus ends season 4 of Once Upon a Time.   And I honestly, don’t know how to take the thought of Emma being the new Dark One.  I refuse to believe she’s going to be dragged down to Dark One Rumpelstiltskin’s level of ruthlessness.  After all, this is Emma we’re talking about here.  But then again, Rumple’s the only Dark One we’ve ever actually seen in action.  We never saw enough of Dark One Zoso to actually gain an understanding of what he was like.  There’s no way of knowing what the Dark One’s essence will do to Emma, or if it will make her do something that can’t be overlooked.   I’m also wondering how long this plotline is going to go on for.  I don’t believe for an instant that Emma is going to be the Dark One for too long, but are they going to follow the current pattern and have it resolved half-way through season 5, or is Emma’s stint as the Dark One going to continue all season or longer?

As we prepare for season 5, which will air this Sunday, please enjoy this list of things I want to see happen in Season 5:

  • Reappearances of old favorites.  It’s already been confirmed that Ruby and Mulan are returning this season, and while that’s awesome to hear, especially if they’ll give an in-show reason for their unexplained disappearances from the show, I’d love to see more old faces coming back.  Like more of Jefferson.  The fact that they’ve brought in Will Scarlett from the Wonderland spinoff really gives them a perfect setup for Jefferson to come back.  Maybe with Jefferson helping Will find a way back to Wonderland, which he was clearly trying to do in the Frozen arc but seemed to have forgotten about during the Author arc.  Plus, having Jefferson come back also means that Grace would, too.  I think it’s about time we get to see Henry making friends his own age.  Season 1 made a point in saying Henry didn’t have friends in Storybrooke.  I imagine he purposely kept himself from making any once he noticed none of the other kids were actually aging because of the curse.  Now that the original curse is broken and time is moving again, the other children must be aging now, too.  So nothing’s preventing Henry from making friends with his classmates.  So it would be great to see him hanging out with Grace sometime.  Or with Nicholas and Ava/ Hansel and Gretel, who we haven’t seen in AGES.  Also, how about Anton?  What exactly happened to him after his beanfield was destroyed at the end of season 2?  I know he’s still around; they mentioned him in one of the Frozen arc’s deleted scenes.
  • More new locations.  So far, we’ve visited the Enchanted Forest, Wonderland, Neverland, Oz, Sherwood Forest, Arendelle, and now we’re going to see Camelot.  Are we going to Narnia, next?
  • More of the friendship between Killian and Belle.  I can just picture Belle becoming something of a rock to Killian during the upcoming Dark Swan arc.  After all, Belle knows all too well what it’s like to have your True Love be the Dark One, so she’s perfectly placed to help Killian through the tormenting times he’s about to face now that Emma’s been possessed by the Dark One’s essence.  I can also see a lot of potential for more interaction between Killian and Henry as they work together to save Emma.  After all, both Henry and Killian share a True Love connection with Emma.  Those two teaming up to save their shared True Love would be the perfect stepfather/stepson bonding moment.
  • A little less Regina, please.  I know she’s got a pretty big fanbase, but I’m starting to get tired of how she seems to be taking over the show’s limelight.  The main character of this show is supposed to be Emma, but as of late, Regina seems to be becoming the focus and stealing Emma’s thunder.  And just look at most of season 4.  While there were a few moments when I was able to approve of Regina’s actions, she always turned right back around and bugged me again soon afterwards.  At the very least, let her actually have the lessons she learns stick.  Because one moment, she’ll be saying ‘I can’t go back to my old ways if I want my happy ending’ and the next, she’ll be back to saying ‘as long as I get what I want, I don’t care about what happens to anyone else.’ Which makes me ask if Regina is supposed to be an actual character or simply a human yo-yo.
  • I’m also wondering what’s going to happen to Gold if/when he regains consciousness.  Do you think he’s going to remember what he did during his reign as the Dark One?  Or is everything he did after killing Dark One Zoso going to be permanently erased from his memory?  Just imagine what that would mean!  It would mean he’d have forgotten all about what happened to his son.  While that would be a bit tragic, a part of me does feel like it would be poetic justice.  Sorta like forgetting all of that is his punishment for every horrible thing he’s done as the Dark One.  Actions do have consequences, after all. Also, would he go back to how he was before becoming the Dark One?  You know, that whimpering, weak-willed coward who couldn't even try to fight for his wife's return?  It would be interesting to see how Belle would respond to that old/new personality.
  • More of Killian’s backstory.  So far, out of all the main characters on this show, he’s the one whose backstory has been explored the least.  (Unless you count Henry, but seeing how he was 10 in the pilot episode, he doesn’t have much of a backstory to explore anyway.)  And that kinda bugs me as Killian really has become my all-time favorite character on this show, particularly since he’s the only star player who has yet to do something that considerably irked me in some way.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Mother)

With their road trip/mission of mercy complete, Emma and Regina return to Storybrooke, bringing Lily, Robin, Roland and the captured Zelena with them.  (They’ve once again utilized the magic-nullifying wrist cuffs we last saw at the end of the Neverland arc to keep Zelena’s magic in check, which was pretty clever, but didn’t Zelena lose her power when her emerald amulet got taken away?)  And Killian cannot resist going up to Gold directly to tell him his plans to turn Emma’s heart dark had failed.  While it could be argued that Killian was being overly-cocky or immature by gloating, I say he’d earned this, particularly after everything Gold’s done to him and the people he loves.  While there’s really no question that Killian has moved on, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’ll always feel a certain degree of resentment over what happened to Milah, but more importantly is what Gold’s done recently.  Gold tricked and manipulated Killian into helping him imprison the Apprentice within the Sorcerer’s Hat and then blackmailed him into helping him in the future, attempted to also trap Emma inside the hat, magically captured Killian’s heart when he arrived on the scene to try and save Emma, turned him into a puppet and made him do his bidding, was perfectly willing to sit back and do nothing when Storybrooke was nearly wiped out by Ingrid’s curse, came THIS close to crushing his heart, and then tried to corrupt Emma’s heart with darkness.  And then there was the issue of him repeatedly lying to and tricking Belle, who has pretty much become Killian’s new BFF.  After all that, I really feel Killian rubbing Gold’s failure into his face was warranted.

When Emma and Regina return to Storybrooke with their list of passengers, we see there is still a dark cloud over the reunion.  Emma is still not ready to forgive Snow and Charming, and Lily, even though Maleficent is visibly overjoyed at seeing her daughter for the first time, is not really receptive to her mother.  Now that they’ve been reunited, Maleficent is so grateful, she’s willing to put her grievances with Snow and Charming behind her and simply focus on building a future with her daughter.  Lily, however, cannot get past her grudge, and this places a giant wedge between the two, with Lily refusing to stick around town, even though she and Maleficent might never see each other again if Lily leaves Storybrooke.  If Lily leaves, she can't come back without Ingrid's scroll.  Maleficent can't leave at all, because if she tries, the magic keeping her alive will be severed, and she'll return to ash.  

So, how does all this family drama get resolved?  Well, to explain that, I’m going to have to go off on a brief tangent, so please be patient with me.  Okay, I said in my analysis of ‘Sympathy for the De Vil’ that I would discuss my thoughts on Regina getting her happy ending later, and this is the episode when I feel I can properly discuss my feelings on the subject.  For some time now, people have been saying she’s not a villain anymore and deserves to get a happy ending and what not.  From time to time, I do agree she seems to have improved her attitude and I can get behind her efforts to aid Emma and the Charmings.  But then, we get episodes like this that proves she hasn’t really changed at all, and still acts like everything revolves around her.  We’ve just found out that Zelena is pregnant with Robin’s child because she’d been impersonating Marian for weeks, and Robin’s realized he was essentially being raped by Regina’s psycho B-word of a sister who knows how many times.  Imagine how he must feel about that.  I suspect he’d possibly be feeling betrayed, violated, unclean, and all the other emotions rape victims would experience.  But Regina doesn’t even consider what Robin might be going through.  No, all she can talk about is how Zelena’s pregnancy inconveniences her, and how hurt she is at the proof that Robin had moved on and slept with someone else.  Lady, come on!  You really need to remember that not everything is about you.  As cute as their scenes together can be, I sometimes wonder what Robin sees in Regina.

And then we have the flashback story, which makes me disappointed with Regina on a whole different level.  In this flashback, we see Evil Queen Regina getting into a funk on the anniversary of Daniel's death.  So much so, she takes it out on a hapless young couple who are about to get married and ends up killing the groom-to-be.  But things get worse when we see that Cora has somehow gotten back from Wonderland, because she got help from a ‘white rabbit.’  (Then why did she seem to be otherwise trapped there during the ‘Hat Trick’ and ‘Queen of Hearts’ flashbacks?  Both times, it was suggested that she could only return to the Enchanted Forest with the aid of Jefferson’s hat.  Now you’re telling me she could have just recruited the White Rabbit again?  So why didn't she just do that?)  Anyway, Evil Queen Regina is reasonably ticked off upon seeing her mother again, and even more so when she sees Cora actually placed a rose on Daniel’s grave (which really was impudent of her, I must say).  Cora goes off on her usual spiel of how she now sees she was wrong and now wants to help Regina.  Yeah, like we haven’t heard that one before.  But this time, Cora has somehow met up with Tinkerbell and learned of the Man with the Lion Tattoo/Robin.  To try and prove to Evil Queen Regina that she’s changed, Cora attempts to locate Robin, but instead meets the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Deciding that the Sheriff would be a much more suitable match for Regina, Cora attempts to pass him off as Regina’s fated soulmate, but upon their meeting, the Sheriff proves he can’t fake his attitude, and his poor choice of words tips Regina off.  After learning from the Sheriff that Cora’s ultimate plan was to get Regina to produce a child, Evil Queen Regina surmises that this was actually an elaborate plan to help Cora take over the throne by means of her biological grandchild.  To make sure this never happens, Evil Queen Regina drinks a potion that will forever leave her barren.  Which explains why she ended up needing to adopt a son.  And it sorta explains why she’s taking Zelena’s pregnancy so hard- because she knows she will never experience that with Robin.  (Although, that’s no excuse for completely ignoring the fact that Robin is just as much of a victim in all this.  Plus, it could be possible for Regina to get her magical hysterectomy reversed.  I’m pretty sure Lake Nostros is filled with water again.  If they found a way back to the Enchanted Forest, Regina could just drink some water from that lake, and have the potion's effects nullified.  After all, it helped restore Snow’s fertility after she was cursed to remain barren back in 'The Lady of the Lake' flashback.  For all we know, the same could work for Regina.) But the thing that makes me disappointed with Regina after seeing this flashback is the fact that, even AFTER she went through the experience of having her mother try and set her up with a fake soulmate because the real soulmate wasn’t suitable enough, Regina STILL allowed herself to fall back into believing her mother’s phony claims during the second half of season 2.  Hate to say it, Gina, but that’s really pathetic.  It’s like that scene from Animals are Beautiful People when the baboon keeps looking under the same exact rock and constantly fainting when he sees the snake is still beneath the rock.

But getting back to the episode, Regina is so focused on how Zelena’s pregnancy inconveniences her, she decides to force Isaac to simply write Zelena out of existence, without even taking a moment to think of the consequences her actions could bring about.  Remember how Gold’s heart is now almost entirely black, and the only thing that can save his life is if Isaac writes him a new happy ending?  When Regina finds out that Gold’s heart is starting to give out, and once it does, the man Rumpelstiltskin will be dead, resulting in the Dark One to pretty much be let out of his cage, she’s all ‘not my problem,’ and teleports out of there with Isaac and his magic quill.  Even though having an undiluted Dark One running around town should be EVERYONE’S PROBLEM!  She then goes up to Lily, who’s waiting at the bus stop (how are busses able to service Storybrooke?  Because it’s not like they can come and go freely, due to the magical barrier around the town), and forcibly takes some of Lily’s blood, stating that since her body contains what should have been Emma’s dark potential, Lily’s blood would serve the job that Emma’s blood would have had she gone dark.  Yeah, it’s finally revealed that the enchanted ink Isaac needs to write requires a sample of Emma’s dark potential, which is why Gold wanted to turn her dark.  That seems to be a bit iffy to me.  What did the previous Authors use for their ink before Emma was born?  They've more or less implied the role of the Author has been around since the birth of mankind.  Seriously, what did they use for ink in the past?  Either way, Regina just up and leaves Lily without even a by your leave after taking her blood.  Regina’s actions at this moment force Lily into such a frenzy, she instantly transforms into her dragon form and runs (well, flies) amok.  So, thanks to Regina, there’s now an emotional, angry dragon on the loose.  Who must also be confused and scared, too, as this is most likely the first time she transformed in her whole life.  And this is why I’m hesitant to say Regina really deserves a happy ending.  While I won’t deny she’s made some effort to change, she just keeps going back to this whole ‘it’s all about me’ mindset, and shows no regard to how her actions in securing her own happy ending might negatively affect other people.

When Maleficent, Snow and Charming, who seem to have decided to truly let bygones be bygones, try to locate Dragon Lily and eventually track her down in a field somewhere (with Baby Neil completely unaccounted for again), Snow ends up getting hurt with a really painful looking head wound because she, for some stupid reason, decided to try running towards Dragon Lily, despite knowing full well Dragon Lily had wanted her dead.  Really, Snow.  What were you thinking?  When Emma and Killian stumble across the scene, Emma is finally able to forgive her mother for omitting the truth, because she’s taken what Killian had told her earlier to heart.

In the scene in question, Killian had taken Emma down to the coastline, feeling that sitting by the water will be calming for her.  The fact that he does this indicates that Killian has been paying attention and took note of Emma’s obvious penchant for coastlines.  When she was worried about Henry’s odd behavior, and wanted to avoid her lunch-date with Neal at the end of the Neverland arc, Emma went down to the beach to think.  After first learning about what her parents did to Baby Lily, Emma retreated down to the Storybrooke pier.  And some of her old childhood drawings that Ingrid kept depicted a coastline.  Emma really was made for an old seafarer like Killian.  Anyway, as Emma and Killian talk over sharing Killian’s flask of rum, Killian discusses the rift that has been growing between Emma and her parents, encouraging her to remember that Snow and Charming were simply trying to make sure Emma grew up happy, and even though they did a bad thing, they’ve worked hard to make up for it and become the parents Emma could be proud of.  A line I particularly enjoyed during this moment was the following exchange:

Emma: Oh, we talked about this.
Killian: I talked, you walked away.

That was such a married moment between the two, which made the scene even more believable.  In the end, Killian’s words do the trick, and Emma is able to forgive her parents.  As for Lily, she also manages to mend her relationship with Maleficent, with Maleficent offering to help Lily master her dragon form.

Now, what happened with Regina?  In the end, she decides against erasing Zelena from existence, deciding a better punishment for her sister would be to simply force her to watch Regina move forward with her life and make her own happiness that way.  But that’s when Isaac is all, ‘see you, suckers!’ and he returns to helping Gold by writing a brand new story called ‘Heroes and Villains,’ which would allow the villains to come out on top.  And so, the stage is set for the two-part finale of season 4.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Lily)

So, we’ve dealt with two of the Queens of Darkness.  Ursula has returned to the Enchanted Forest with Poseidon and Cruella is dead.  The episode even begins with her funeral, which was quite sparse in attendance.  The only people who bothered to actually show up were Gold and Isaac, which just goes to show how nobody liked this person, anyway.  They even burred her in what had to be the next step up from a cardboard coffin.  Not to be a nudge, since I really don't care either way, but you'd think Gold would have sprang for a nicer coffin.  He's certainly rich enough  But maybe he lost his access to his small fortune when Belle kicked him out.  Well, technacly, there were three people at the funeral, if you can count Emma, who was standing a short distance away, just staring at them,  Not really sure what vibe they were going for there, to be honest, but it was slightly creepy.  I don't think she was even blinking.

What makes the funeral even more pathetic is that Isaac still seemed to have feelings for her for some stupid reason.  He's even held on to that old napkin from the jazz bar they went to in last episode's flashback..  Isaac, you went on one date with her.  And she wasn't the slightest bit into you.  Get over it.

Now we've only got one Queen of Darkness to contend with.  Except Maleficent’s no longer interested in helping Gold, since she’s figured out that he’s only interested in helping herself.   Instead, she approaches the Nevengers to ask for Emma’s assistance in reuniting with her daughter, Lily.  And Emma is completely stunned at the news that Malifecent’s lost daughter was her childhood friend.  Though the episode flashback, we see that the events in the ‘Breaking Glass’ flashback wasn’t the only time their paths crossed.  During Emma’s childhood, she actually had a shot at getting a good life, as she got placed with a picture perfect family who really seemed to accept her into their home, and was even going to include her on their family camping trip.  But then Lily pops up.  While at first it looks like the two girls might be able to mend their fences, Emma then finds out that Lily was involved in a recent armed robbery and is currently wanted by the police.  Needless to say, Emma is not pleased, fearful this could mess with her chances with this new family.  She tries to tell Lily to leave, saying she’ll give her some of her allowance for a bus ticket.  But Lily says she can’t just leave town, as she’s left her prized possession, a necklace that had belonged to her birth mother, at the hovel where she’d been staying with her boyfriend.  Emma, so desperate to get rid of Lily, doesn’t question why she wouldn’t just always wear the necklace if it was so important to her, and goes off to retrieve it for her.   But when she returns, she finds out that Lily had actually sent her on a wild goose chance and had taken advantage of her absence to steal money from Emma’s foster family.  In the resulting confrontation with the foster parents, they don’t really give Emma a chance to explain her side of things and for a brief moment, they assume the worst of Emma.  Feeling understandably betrayed, Emma runs away again, and when she runs into Lily at the bus stop, she angrily lashes out at her.  And I have to say, while adult Emma seems to voice her regrets for pushing away Lily for the second time, I cannot fault her at all for it.  Emma was happy with that foster family, and Lily’s interference brought that potentially good life to a halt.  What’s more, Lily was actually acting like she did Emma a favor.  Never once did Lily stop and ask what Emma wanted.  Real friendships are supposed to be a two-way street, but Lily just seemed to primarily focus on what she wanted out of the friendship with Emma.

So, during the present-day storyline, deciding to kill two birds with one stone, Regina suggests that she and Emma leave town together, so Emma can track down Lily and Regina can go to New York to save Robin from Zelena.  After saying goodbye to Henry, Killian, Snow and Charming, the latter two Emma is still mad at, they both leave Storybrooke, taking along Ingrid’s scroll to ensure they can both return home.  The search for Lily brings them to this really run-down looking building, the kind you’d except to see drug deals and other illicit activities going down.  From the landlord, they learn that Lily died a few years ago.  But when he starts talking about how much of a horrible person Lily was, Emma lashes out and nearly punches the guy.  The thing is, when Regina questions her about it later, it’s like they’re implying that Emma’s reaction was potentially dark or something.  Again, I have to disagree with that.  What these people keep calling ‘darkness’ is really just Emma reacting like a ordinary human.  Let’s discuss that landlord guy.  If someone shows up looking for one of your former tenants, it might be possible that they’re an old friend of that tenant.   They’re probably not going to react too well if you just bluntly tell them the person they’re looking for is dead, and then immediately are all ‘yeah, let’s talk about how horrible that person was.’  That guy should consider himself lucky that he only just nearly got a black eye.

So, the mission to locate Lily seems to have ended in failure.  However, before they can continue to New York to at least save Robin, a wolf suddenly appears before them, and when Emma swerves to avoid the wolf she gets a flat tire.  They end up going to a nearby gas station to call for a tow truck, but when they get there, Emma steps into the attached restaurant for some coffee and notices the waitress currently working there  has the same birthmark that Lily had.  She immediately realizes that this is her long-lost friend, living under an assumed name of ‘Starla.’  

Okay now, I’m asking.  What is with the wolves?  Back in the pilot, Emma ended up staying in Storybrooke because a wolf was standing in the way of her car, which forced her into an accident.  They even make a point of mentioning that incident in this episode to emphasize how important that moment is.  Here, a wolf appears again, once again forcing them off the road, which leads to Emma and Regina heading to that gas station to call for a tow truck, which results in them finding Lily’s alive and well.  Is there someone commanding these wolves?  Is that something that’ll be addressed in a future episode, or is it just going to be a plot point that goes nowhere?  You can’t just say ‘oh, it’s just fate’ and expect us to go with it.

When Emma confronts ‘Starla,’ revealing who she is in the process, Lily insists that her life turned out fine and she doesn’t need Emma to try and make amends.  To make it more believable, she pretends that one of the kids getting off a nearby school bus is her daughter and pretends to walk her home, which makes me wonder what happened when that kid’s real parents showed up and saw their daughter walking off with a stranger.  Nitpicks aside, Lily apparently either never was told about or forgot about Emma’s internal lie detector.  Because Emma knows that Lily was lying about how great her life turned out.  Using the address listed on Lily’s time card from the diner, they track down her apartment, where Regina finds a room that contains this whole serial killer wall of death that revealed that Lily somehow already knew about Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest.  Turns out that the Apprentice had actually approached Lily after her second fallout with Emma and filled her in on the truth of her past.  I guess he wanted to make up for the part he played in disrupting Lily’s future or something, but his intentions of simply helping Lily understand her burden seems to have backfired somewhat, as the knowledge of the truth has only nurtured resentment  in Lily’s heart.  The moment Emma and Regina find out that Lily already knows everything, and must want revenge on Snow and Charming, they discover a little too late that Lily had commandeered Emma’s car.  Which is bad, since Regina had left Ingrid’s scroll inside the bug, meaning Lily can enter Storybrooke.  To stop her, Emma and Regina hijack Lliy’s own car, and give chase.  Which takes a bit longer that it should have.  From what I understand, bugs like the one Emma drives are not generally very fast vehicles, so Lily made a poor choice of a getaway car.  So of course they’re able to cut her off before too long.  Determined to protect her parents, Emma pulls a gun on Lily, but Regina manages to talk her down, reminding her that this is what Gold wants her to do, and once she starts down this path of violence, it’s not easy to come back from it.  (Although, Regina, for future reference?  You don’t get to call Emma ‘Swan.’  Only Killian can do that.  Unless that was a conscious choice on your part to help her remember what Killian told her before they left Storybrooke, about resisting the darkness by remembering that she has something to live for- namely the people she loves.)  In the end, Emma decides to spare Lily’s life and help her instead, inviting her to come back to Storybrooke with her and Regina.

However, there’s one last stop on this little road trip, and time is now of the essence, since Gold had teamed up with Will to get Belle’s heart from Maleficent, who had been keeping it safe for Regina.  (It really was a lucky break for Regina that Maleficent became her ally in this episode, If she hadn’t, what would Regina have done with Belle’s heart when she left Storybrooke with Emma?)  Anyway, upon making it to New York, Regina tries to tell Robin that ‘Marian’ is actually Zelena in disguise, but he refuses to believe it.  Until Zelena decides to drop the charade and reveal herself.  But even after being confronted with the truth, Robin is still unable to leave.  Because Zelena is pregnant with Robin’s child.

Okay, writing staff?   WHAT THE HEY!  Why did you think we’d be interested in this rape baby subplot!?  Because that’s exactly what this is- a rape baby subplot.  Zelena is only pregnant because she tricked Robin into thinking she was Marian.  I’m pretty sure sex under false pretenses counts as rape.  What, you think that just because the victim happens to be male, it doesn’t count?  Rape isn’t just a female-exclusive crime.  Male rape does exist.  It just doesn’t get addressed as much because males are generally more reluctant to report the crime out of fear that people will question their sexual orientation or because they live in a society that traditionally views males as strong and masculine.  While it’s great that this show has made such an effort to present women as strong, independent people, it’s not cool when they do so at the expense of the male characters.  It’s bad enough that they had Evil Queen Regina rape Graham for thirty years and then not only never address it, but kill off Graham and rarely even mention his existence again.  Now, we’ve got Robin, who is going to quite possibly have a constant physical reminder of his own sexual violation in roughly nine months, give or take.  Seriously, show writers, NOT COOL!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Episode Analysis (Sympathy for the De Vil)

I love it when the show actually answers my questions!  Granted they don’t answer ALL of them, but still, it’s nice that they make an effort to tie up loose ends.   As I theorized earlier, there really isn’t loyalty among villains.  At least in regards to Cruella, who admits to Maleficent that after they all fell through the portal into the Land Without Magic, she and Ursula left Baby Lily to die in the woods, only taking the shards of the dragon egg to sustain themselves at their current age.  While I’m not surprised that Cruella did this, I am wondering why Ursula went through with that plan, however.  For some reason, she didn’t strike me as someone who would leave Baby Lily behind.  I don’t pretend to know why.  Maybe she was the one who notified someone where to find her so Baby Lily could be taken to an orphanage?  That would make sense to me, but since Ursula has already disbanded and returned to the Enchanted Forest with her father, Poseidon, we may never get her side of the story.  However, since Cruella is still hanging around, Maleficent is able to confront her, and she is TICKED, because Cruella had told her Baby Lily hadn’t survived the trip through the portal.  But now Maleficent now knows, thanks to Gold, that that was a lie.  Unfortunately, Maleficent was prevented from killing Cruella in retaliation because Cruella’s green vapor breath works on Dragon Maleficent, giving Cruella the chance to walk off unscathed.  However, this could still be a good thing, as Maleficent now knows her former alley betrayed her horribly.  I could see this leading her into calling a truce with the good guys, but that remains to be seen.

However, Cruella is the main focus in this episode, as it’s revealed she has a personal history with the Author, whose name is revealed to be Isaac.  Cruella is presently put out with Isaac because he did something to her.  What he did is revealed in the episode’s flashback, which shows Cruella grew up in a dimension that was essentially stuck in the Roaring 20s era.  I gotta ask, just how many worlds are there?  Because it’s been stated by the show’s writing staff that the Victorian London Wendy, John and Michael came from was not our Victorian London but some other parallel world.  So did Cruella come from the same dimension that the Darlings came from, only during a different era, or is it a completely different one?  Are there different parallel worlds for each set era in our world’s history?  Like, is there a currently unseen realm that’s stuck in the 70’s hippie era?  And how exactly did Cruella manage to travel from whatever world she came from to the Enchanted Forest?  Anyway, Cruella grew up under the regiment of a seemingly strict mother who kept Cruella locked up in the attic.  This changed when Isaac came to their mansion, looking for more stories to write about.  When Cruella’s mother throws him out when he tries to inquire about the fact that she’s had three husbands, Cruella, who SOMEHOW overheard Isaac saying he was looking for interesting stories despite being up on the third floor of the mansion (does she have supersonic hearing?) convinces him to help her escape from her attic room.  In exchange, she’ll tell him an interesting story.  They go to this jazz club, where Cruella tells Isaac that her mother poisoned her father and two stepfathers.  As for Isaac, he ends up falling completely in love with Cruella for some reason.   Which is really dumb, because come on; they went on one date together.  But then again, it’s implied that Cruella was the first girl Isaac ever spoke to, so his level of maturity in this area is basically at the teenage level.  He ends up revealing his status as the Author to Cruella, also giving her the power to control animals to prove what he’s saying.  Of course, it’s then revealed when Cruella’s mother shows up at Isaac’s hotel room later on, looking for her daughter, that it was Cruella who really killed her father and two stepfathers, by poisoning their tea with toxic flowers.  Because Isaac is blinded by misplaced love, he refuses to believe Cruella’s mother, until he sees that Cruella has stolen his magic quill.  He immediately goes back to the mansion to find Cruella has already murdered her mother and even killed her mother’s two dogs, making coats out of their skins.  And I am once again asking how this can be considered a family show, because that whole scene when Cruella uses her control over animals to force those two Dalmatians to maul her mother to death is really chilling to watch, even if we don’t actually see anything happening.  Horrified upon seeing Cruella’s true colors, Isaac takes back his magic quill and uses it to make it impossible for Cruella to ever kill anyone again.  Also, in the struggle to stop Isaac from getting his quill back, Cruella gets splashed with the enchanted ink that compliments the quill, resulting in her trademark two-toned hair color.

Meanwhile, now that Regina knows that Zelena has been impersonating Marian and Robin is in danger, she plans to head off to New York to save him.  The problem is Gold, who would undoubtedly tip Zelena off the instant Regina left the town limits.  In order to blackmail him into keeping quiet, Regina decides to take Belle’s heart hostage.  Okay, that’s a bit questionable, especially since Regina took Belle’s heart without her consent.  It would be one thing if Belle agreed to Regina’s plan, but the fact that Regina used the heart-control thing to order Belle to forget her heart is in Regina’s possession suggests that Belle was an unwilling pawn in all of this.  So, now that Gold knows that Regina is holding Belle’s heart hostage, he knows that Regina could very well kill Belle if he tried to warn Zelena about Regina’s rescue mission.  However, what exactly did Regina plan to do with Belle’s heart when she set off?  I don’t think she can actually take the heart with her, so she’d have to entrust it to someone else while she was gone.  But at the moment, the only options were Snow, Charming, Emma and possibly Killian and Henry, and I highly doubt they’d be cool with Regina holding Belle’s heart hostage, especially after how Gold pretty much did the same with Killian’s heart during the Frozen arc.  So, Regina’s plan is possibly a bit flawed, and we never see what her plans for Belle’s heart were going to be, because before Regina could leave, a crisis arises.  Cruella has used her control over animals to force Pongo to help her kidnap Henry.  I totally get that Henry would be concerned over the fact that Pongo is wandering around on his own, with Archie nowhere in sight, but it was arguably easy for Henry to get kidnapped here.  You’d think that a boy who spent an entire year living in New York would have a sense of street smarts.  Anyway, Cruella notifies Regina and Emma that if they don’t kill Isaac, then Henry will die instead.  To rescue Henry, Regina, Emma and Killian all venture off to track Cruella down while Snow and Charming get tasked with trying to locate Isaac with a tracking spell using the flask they’d given him back Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest.  You know, guys, the whole locater spell thing isn’t really necessary.  Has everyone forgotten that Ruby and Granny have Wolf Senses?  I mean, they’re right down the street at the town diner, and I’m sure Granny would love it if you came to her for something other than babysitting duty.  (I’m guessing she’s watching the baby again, since he’s once again unaccounted for.  If Snow and Charming keep pawning off their son on other people like this, Baby Neal’s gonna grow up so confused over who his mommy and daddy is.  His future parental issues might even end up rivaling poor Emma’s.)

Anyway, Regina, Killian and Emma are all led astray when they try to track down Cruella, because Gold, whose goal is to turn Emma dark, has swiped these voice-recording shells from Ursula’s bag of tricks, which gets the three of them headed off in different directions.  As a result, Emma is alone when she catches up with Cruella, who then threatens to kill Henry with her handgun.  To save Henry’s life, Emma uses her magic to push Cruella off the cliff to her death, which seems to horrify Snow and Charming, who had just learned from Isaac that Cruella literally couldn’t kill anyone, when they arrive at the scene immediately after the deed is done.

So, the ending seems to suggest that since Emma has killed a person who was actually defenseless, it has put her on the path to becoming dark, which is what Gold wants to happen, as he believes it will help him get his happy ending somehow.  To be honest, however, I don’t see how what Emma did at the end could necessarily be her going dark.  It was just her being a good mother.  That woman was pointing a gun at Henry.  While it is revealed that Cruella was literally unable to actually kill Henry, Emma didn’t know that at the time, so she just did what any proper mother would do to someone who was threatening their child’s life.  Just ask any mother what they would do if someone was aiming a gun at their child.  I guarantee they’ll all say they’d do exactly what Emma did.  There is a huge difference between Fairy Tale evil and a mother going to any length necessary to protect her children.  Besides, if Cruella was stupid enough to threaten Henry’s life when she was standing on the edge of a cliff, she was simply ASKING to be killed.  In fact, it’s entirely possible that she actually did want Emma to kill her deep down, so she could be free from the cursed life Isaac imposed on her.  Not being able to kill must have been torture to someone like Cruella, so she probably subconsciously saw death as a way to be free from that.  If that was the case, what Emma did was put an end to a very sick woman’s prolonged suffering.   That’s not dark, that’s mercy.   And besides, Cruella’s statement that a hero doesn’t kill?  Yeah, horse bunk.   I seem to remember a few instances when Snow and Charming clearly killed people in Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest when they were fighting against Evil Queen Regina’s soldiers.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw Charming snap some guy’s neck in the ‘Lady of the Lake’ flashback.  Like I said in my analysis of ‘The Miller’s Daughter,’ there’s a difference between coldblooded murder and justifiable homicide.

In a related story, I’ve had an issue with this current story arc for some time now, and its time I talked about it.  This whole Operation Mongoose thing that Henry and Regina have been working on was about helping the villains get their happy endings.  My issue with this is that at no point does anyone stop and ask WHY the villains should get happy endings.  Because I say they shouldn’t!  Not if getting their happy endings involves killing or hurting people, which usually tends to be the case for most villains!  That’s why we CALL them villains!   Besides, why should anyone get a happy ending when they’ve done nothing to deserve it?  It would be like rewarding a child for throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.  Let’s take Gold for example.  He had his shot at a happy ending, but he blew it in his attempt to gain more power.  But even having Belle kick him to the curb didn’t make him realize his mistake, as he’s still resorting to manipulation and seeking to harm others in his quest to get his way.  So why should he get his happy ending when he keeps proving he doesn’t deserve one and doesn’t seem sincerely repentant for all the horrible stuff he’s done?  As for Regina, I have my thoughts on her, but since those thoughts are partially built on stuff that happens in later episodes, I’ll discuss them on a later date.  So, my point is, Operation Mongoose, while good in theory, really is a pipe dream, and Henry should really think about what his new mission in securing happy endings for the villains could mean for his family.  Thankfully, for the most part, the ultimate happy endings for the Queens of Darkness were reasonable enough, and didn’t involve harming someone else to get what they wanted.  What was Ursula’s happy ending?  To get her singing voice back and, on a deeper level, to make amends with her father.  What’s Malifecent’s happy ending?  While she initially voiced a desire to punish Snow and Charming for what they did, as of late, her ultimate wish seems to be the chance to reunite with her long-lost daughter.  Both are reasonable requests, and I can’t find fault with them.  So, fine.  Give those two their happy endings and be done with it.  Cruella, on the other hand?  What would her happy ending be?  To be free to continue killing people indiscriminately again?  Yeah, I’m thinking no.  This woman was certifiably crazy, and if she got what she wanted, then everyone’s lives would be at risk.  And I don’t think she was capable of being redeemed or rehabilitated.   Especially after seeing the episode’s flashback.  Cruella was insane from the very start.  While this show has made an effort to present the viewpoint that evil is made, not born, this whole backstory proves that Cruella was the exception to the rule.  This woman was already a seasoned serial killer at the age of nine.  She killed her father and her two stepfathers.  And these deaths weren’t the result of an accident or anything of the like.  She poisoned those men’s drinks.  We’re talking premeditated murder here, folks.  And if her own mother couldn’t manage to rehabilitate Cruella from her murderous impulses, despite spending years to do so, I don’t think it was possible for anyone.  So the only two realistic fates for Cruella was death or a lifetime being locked away in the psychiatric ward beneath the hospital.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Episode Analysis (Heart of Gold)

This episode is essentially a recap filling us in on what happened after Robin left Storybrooke with Marian and Roland at the end of the Frozen arc.  They end up in New York and settled into Neal’s old apartment, which Regina had given them the keys to.  This just raises so many questions.  First of all, how’d they reach New York?  They weren’t given a car when they left Stortybrooke.  Did they just hitchhike to New York all the way from Maine?   If that’s the case, no wonder Roland was so tired and wanted to be carried.  His little hobbit legs are just not long enough to make a trip like that on foot.   Second of all, how did Regina get the key to Neal’s apartment?  Even if Neal had managed to keep it on his person after getting shot, falling through the magic bean portal, venturing to Neverland, and getting captured by Pan and the Lost Boys, I’m pretty sure he would have instantly lost it when everyone went back to the Enchanted Forest when Regina had to erase Storybrooke from existence to stop Pan’s curse.  So how did Regina, or anyone else for that matter, manage to find it again?  Finally, and most importantly, WHY IS THAT APARTMENT STILL STANDING EMPTY?  It’s been over a year since Neal set foot in that apartment, let alone paid the rent.  You can’t tell me the landlord hasn’t leased it out to someone else after an entire year’s worth of rent has gone unpaid.  Especially since this is in New York City, where I’m sure the demand for apartments is quite high.  You know, for a story about fairy tale characters being real people living in our world, this show is pretty unrealistic at times.  Anyway, as Robin and his family are settling into Neal’s old apartment, Gold suddenly strolls in.  Because yeah, Belle’s just kicked him out of Storybrooke, so he’s gallivanting around in the Land Without Magic, too.  (I wonder where he managed to obtain a new cane, as Belle didn’t seem to give him one when she was exiling him.  Did he just crawl his way to that diner down the road where Pinocchio took Baby Emma years ago and swipe some old man’s cane?)  There’s a brief power struggle as both Gold and Robin try to lay claim on the apartment.  Gold insists that he needs the apartment because of his self-imposed mission to find the Author, stating that Robin should be willing to help him because it might be the only way for Regina to get her happy ending, too.  But Robin refuses to even consider helping Gold, because he knows nothing good can come from associating with Rumpelstiltskin.  Finally, someone gets it!  But it turns out Robin is speaking from experience, as they have met and done dealings in the past.  Turns out, when Robin and Marian had first started out as a married couple, Robin attempted to give up being a thief and opened up a tavern with Marian.  But when the Sherriff of Nottingham threatened to shut them down due to unpaid taxes, Dark One Rumpelstiltskin appeared and offered to solve Robin’s money trouble if Robin ventured to Oz and stole a potion from the Wizard.  This potion is supposed to help heal a broken heart, but they don’t really explain why he wants this potion to begin with.  Maybe he was just having a particularly bad day and was missing his son more than usual?  I don’t know.  Robin agrees and makes it to Oz.  How, I don’t know, unless Jefferson offered his services despite not actually appearing in the episode.  But I don’t think that would be possible, as this event might have occurred after Evil Queen Regina’s nasty trick got him trapped in Wonderland.  So, yeah, no idea how Robin got to Oz, but he does anyway.  Robin manages to get the elixir, despite the efforts of Zelena to stop him, and he even got that enchanted bow that never misses its target in the process.  Nice to see them explain how he got that.  However, in the end, Robin decides to give the potion to Will Scarlett (who also got into Oz somehow), who he met for the first time during this adventure, so Will could recover from the pain of losing his precious younger sister, who drowned years prior.  So, since Robin didn’t return with the potion Rumple wanted, he was unable to get the money the Sheriff of Nottingham was demanding.  But that’s okay, because Robin’s decided to go back to being a thief.  Only this time, he’s decided to begin his legendary M.O. of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.  He also decides to drop the whole Robin of Loxley title and adopts the new name of Robin Hood.  Because he’s Robin the Hoodlum, now.  And he reveals he’s brought back a souvenir from Oz- a pendant containing a six-leaf clover, which can make the wearer disguise themselves as anyone.   Was this the writers’ attempt to explain why Robin was played by a different actor during the ‘Lacey’ flashback?  If so, that’s creative, so brownie points.

Anyway, fast fording a few decades, Gold and Robin’s argument is put on hold when Gold seemingly has a heart attack and collapses, and Robin brings him to a hospital.  Upon coming to, Gold explains that his condition came about because his life as the Dark One has directly infected his heart.  The only thing that can save his life now that he no longer has the magic within Storybrooke preserving him is that potion Robin was supposed to steal in Oz, which is currently at the Wizard of Oak, the shop that Walsh, the Wizard of Oz/Flying Monkey ran while spying on Emma during the Lost Year.  Much like with Neal’s former apartment, that store has remained virtually untouched, even though the person who owned the place has been dead for some time now.  Why haven’t looters ransacked the place by now?  Regardless, Robin breaks into the store, and after searching the place (coming across a hidden Mickey in the process) he eventually finds the potion and barely eludes capture by the New York police, who had a surprisingly fast response to the burglar alarm going off.  Robin brings the potion to Gold, instructing him to never come near him or his family again, and to allow them to stay in Neal’s old apartment.  Gold agrees, but it turns out the potion Robin gave him wasn’t the real potion.  Because Marian had switched it with ordinary children’s cough syrup.  Why would Marian do such a thing, knowing that it would undoubtedly condemn a man to die?  Well, it’s because ‘Marian’ isn’t the real Marian.  This whole time, she’s actually been Zelena.

Yeah, I know what you’re all thinking.  She’s dead!  She died!  Well, apparently, she didn’t.  Because when Gold seemingly killed her in her cell at the Sheriff Station, Zelena decided to do this whole astral projection thing at the last minute and ended up following Emma and Killian when they fell through the time portal.  She then took Marian’s place in that brief window of time when Emma and Killian left Marian alone to assist Past!Snow and Past!Charming at the Troll Bridge, using a Six-Leaf Clover Pendant to disguise herself as Marian.  (Was that the same pendant Robin used in the past, or a completely different one?  Eh, I guess it doesn’t matter.)  This does explain a few things, really.  Like how Emma and Killian were able to bring Not-Marian back through the time portal when they returned to Storybrooke.  If that portal followed the same rules as Jefferson’s hat, having two people go through and then having three people make the return trip shouldn’t have been possible.  But since three people had made the journey through the time portal, three people were able to make the return trip.  And again, I am wondering how no one picked up on that.  Particularly Killian, since he’d heard that rule before.  It also explains why True Love’s Kiss couldn’t save Not-Marian when Ingrid’s magic started to freeze her.  (If they had just tried to use Roland to initiate TLK, perhaps they would have realized something sooner.  But no one ever listens to me, so why do I bother?)

Zelena wastes no time after her big reveal and immediately starts monologing (why do they always do that?  So annoying), explaining her evil scheme to make sure Regina remains miserable for the rest of her life, but then tries to bribe Gold to get the Author to write a happy ending for her once he finds him.  Because apparently, making Regina miserable isn’t good enough for Zelena anymore.   In exchange, Zelena will allow Gold to have the real potion.  The bribe is enough to convince Gold to not warn Robin about how his ‘wife’ is actually Zelena when he gets the chance, which was a bit of a jerk move on his part, but then again, it’s Gold we’re talking about.  We can’t expect anything better from him.

Fast-forward again, this time to the present day.  Gold, who had learned last episode that Regina was a spy, has chained her up in her vault.  Instead of killing her for her deception, he decides to bribe her to help him turn Emma dark so the villains could get happy endings, which he believes is possible now that he’s managed to get his mitts on the Author after Emma released him from his imprisonment, despite the Nevengers best efforts to find him first.  To get her to comply to the bribe, he suggests that Regina try calling Robin using the phone number she’d gotten from Emma off-screen sometime earlier.  When Regina does so, she learns about the whole issue of Marian actually being Zelena in disguise.  Gold tells Regina that unless she agrees to help him turn Emma dark, he’ll contact Zelena and instruct her to kill Robin.  The episode ends with Regina’s final decision unstated.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Best Laid Plans)

Snow and Charming’s dark secret is finally revealed.  Because Snow was so unnerved by what Maleficent said, about how unborn Baby Emma could grow up evil, she convinces Charming to help her track down a unicorn, because apparently there’s this legend that says touching a unicorn’s horn could give you a glimpse of how your child could turn out.  This legend does seem rather random to me.  Almost like someone just pulled it up out of nowhere.  But I guess they had to get the plot rolling somehow, so whatever.   The weird thing is that the unicorn horn gave them different visions.  While Charming saw a precious baby, Snow saw a corrupted child who had no qualms about literally crushing her mother’s heart.  I do wonder how Snow and Charming got different visions, but I suppose it’s possible that unicorn horn prophesy, or whatever it’s called, is subjective, and what you see will depend on your current state of mind.  Kind of like a magical Rorschach test.  After all, Snow was the one who was the most fearful about the possibility of their child ending up evil.  If she had shared Charming’s confidence, she might have seen something different.  But then again, who knows.  However, when they meet the Apprentice after being directed to his cottage by a peddler they happen to encounter on the road, he gives another explanation which makes just as much sense.  As I said in my last episode analysis, all babies are born as blank slates, and the unborn Baby Emma is no exception.  But Snow can’t accept this, so she’s very quick to listen to the Apprentice when he explains that there’s a spell that can transfer Baby Emma’s potential for darkness into another unborn vessel.  They decide to select the egg that has just been laid by Dragon Maleficent, using the warped logic that anything that hatches out of the egg will be evil anyway.  Because apparently, even though a reputed hero's child has the potential to be born evil, it's impossible for a villain's offspring to turn out good.  Yeah, I’m sorry.  I can’t really defend Snow and Charming on this one.  While I can totally get behind wanting to do what’s best for your child, you don’t just go around sacrificing someone else’s kid.  This really was a boneheaded move on their part.   Particularly when the full nature of the Apprentice’s spell is revealed.  The spell wouldn’t just place Baby Emma’s dark potential into Maleficent’s egg, but it would also banish the egg into another dimension, because nothing with that much dark potential could be allowed to remain in Fairy Tale world.  Meaning they’ve now also broken the promise they made to Maleficent to bring her egg right back.  Okay, Snow, Charming?  THIS is what happens when you jump blindly into something without asking questions!  This is the same lesson that Greg and Tamara will one day learn at the cost of their lives.  This whole mess might have been avoided if Snow and Charming had just taken a second and asked the Apprentice about what would happen to the egg afterwards.  But of course, they don’t ask the right questions, and Maleficent’s egg is yanked through a portal into another world.  And so are Ursula and Cruella, who chose that exact moment to pop up and start yelling at Snow and Charming.  Which was kinda stupid on their part.  Instead of biting off Snow and Charming’s heads, which wasn’t exactly uncalled for at the moment, wouldn’t it have made more sense to try and save the egg first?  You know, since it was clearly right next to the swirling portal vortex that led to who knows where.   Regardless, Ursula, Cruella and Maleficent’s egg all fall through the portal together, which we know brought them into the Land Without Magic, which finally explains how Ursula and Cruella ended up in our world (but doesn’t explain how they hadn’t aged in the past three decades).  We also learn in this episode that Maleficent’s baby wound up in an orphanage, where she was later adopted by a couple who named her Lily.  As in Emma’s childhood friend, Lily.  (Plot twist, ho!)  But how come Ursula and Cruella didn’t raise Baby Lily when they reached the Land Without Magic?  They were sorta friends with Maleficent, after all.  So you’d think they would team up to raise their friend’s kid.  Is this just some ‘there’s no loyalty among villains’ thing?  Eh, whatever.

In present day Storybrooke, Killian fills in Emma, Henry, Snow and Charming about how Gold was plotting to turn Emma dark to ensure the villains would finally become the winning side.   Emma is quick to wave off the news that has everyone else visibly concerned, stating she’s the only one who can decide who she is.  This confidence goes back to what she said in ‘The Price of Gold.’  We all remember her famous speak to Ashley/Ella, right?  ‘People are going to tell you who you are your whole life. You just got to punch back and say, ‘no, this is who I am.’  However, despite Emma’s words, Snow is still feeling uneasy due to that incident in the past.  She pretty much runs out of the house, with Charming going after her, leaving Killian and Emma visibly confused over what Snow was so upset about because they were obviously so absorbed in their hug, they didn’t hear the conversation that was going on a few feet away.  (Almost like how they didn’t notice Past!Charming walking right by them as they danced at King Midis’ ball.  Gotta love these two besotted idiots.)

Meanwhile, Regina has been tasked by Gold, Cruella and Maleficent to obtain the page containing the illustration of the Author’s door from the rest of the Nevengers.   Knowing that the illustration IS the actual door and that Gold mustn’t ever get his grubby hands on it, Emma magically conjures up a counterfeit page, but they quickly realize that won’t work, as Gold would spot the switch in no time.  So Regina takes a picture of the door with her phone’s camera and brings that picture to the Anti-Nevengers.   But because magic can apparently show up in photographs, Gold figures out immediately that the illustration is the door.  So the plan to keep them from learning that particular detail backfired pretty quickly.  To obtain the actual page, Maleficent places a sleeping curse on the whole town, which gives them free reign to infiltrate the loft apartment.  Except when they arrive, all they find is Emma and Killian passed out together on the couch.  The page containing the Author’s door is gone.  Because Henry took the page and hightailed it out of there right after the sleeping curse hit.  It turns out that people who have already been under a sleeping curse cannot ever be affected by it again.   Which means Henry, Snow and Charming all escaped the town wide curse.  Come to think of it, Aurora should have been left untouched, too.  But since she has no purpose in the current storyline, she doesn’t even get a passing mention.  Which kinda stinks, considering her history with Maleficent.  If Ariel could get a cameo in the episode that focused on Ursula, shouldn't Aurora also be appearing in in this story arc, too?  Was actress Sarah Bolger busy with another project during the filming of the Author arc?  I honestly don't know; I don't make it a habit to keep track of stuff like that.

So, Henry, taking advantage of being one of the only people who escaped the town-wide sleeping curse, makes his way to the Sorcerer’s mansion to hide out.  While there, the door illustration suddenly becomes animated because the key that can be used to open the door is nearby.  Before Henry can use the key to open the door, Regina shows up, with Maleficent and Cruella tailing her.  Now this obviously places Regina in a tight spot, as she has to continue making the other two women believe she’s on their side, but she cannot betray Henry.  So, after a brief nonverbal conversation, Regina gets Henry to pass over the counterfeit page instead of the real one.  But, true to their earlier fears, Gold realizes it’s a fake the moment he gets the page in his hands, resulting in him figuring out that Regina’s been a spy this whole time.

As for Henry, after Regina, Cruella and Maleficent left the Sorcerer’s mansion, Snow and Charming show up, and Henry shows them that he found the key to the Author’s door.  But Charming stops Henry before he could unlock the door, instructing him to simply give the page to them, pointing out that releasing the Author was what Gold wanted.  When Henry leaves, Charming is all set to simply burn the page, thinking it is the only way to ensure Gold won’t get near the Author and darken Emma’s heart.  But that’s when Snow decides she’s had enough.  She’s done with trying to cover up what they did through non-stop lies and rationalizing.  She points out that they’d promised long ago to stop acting the way they have been and justifying it by saying it was for the greater good.  And so, they decide to reveal their sordid past to Emma, who takes the news about as well as you’d expect her to.  She is positively livid that her parents not only condemned another person’s baby, but also lied about it.  I imagine the lying thing only made the situation that much worse for Emma to deal with.  As she said in a previous episode, she’s felt her superpower going off since the moment Ursula and Cruella arrived in town.  Now she knows it was because her parents had been lying to her repeatedly to cover up their past sin.  As angry as she is at her parents, there’s got to be a small part of her that’s angry at herself.  Once again, she must have been ignoring her superpower going off because of Snow and Charming’s lies, because she firmly believed her parents wouldn’t lie to her.  Since this arc began, she’s probably been telling herself that her superpower was just being faulty again and thus purposely ignored her instincts. which was quite possibly a huge leap of faith for her, considering how following her instincts was how she survived the first 28 years of her life.  And now, she's found herself in a position where she chose to go by faith instead of those instincts and got rewarded with this bombshell.  So, this could have the potential to disrupt all the progress Emma's made in lowering the walls surrounding her heart and allowing herself to trust and love again.

In any event, Emma storms out of the loft apartment, needing to be alone to process what she’s just learned.  She retreats to the Storybrooke Pier, where Killian later finds her to inform her that August has woken up after spending the majority of the episode in a feverish sleep.  (Apparently getting repeatedly de-aged and then aged again can put a strain on you.)  If you’ll forgive me for going off on a tangent, I really loved Emma and Killian’s interactions this episode.  Earlier, when they were pretty much alone at the loft apartment (it’s more or less implied later that Henry was on the apartment’s upper level during this scene), Killian attempts to casually bring up August, inquiring about his well-being before asking Emma if she cared about ‘the wooden man-child.’  Emma, however, is very quick to reassure Killian that he shouldn’t be jealous, as she thinks of August as a friend, and nothing more.  To which I say, thank you, show writers.  Thank you for letting us know there’s not going to be another ridiculous love triangle.  It’s also nice that they included Emma stating how she considers August a friend, because if he’d kept his promise to Geppetto and remained with Baby Emma, August would have essentially been Emma’s older brother in all the ways that count.  And then there are Killian’s actions when Emma learns of what Snow and Charming did to Maleficent’s child.  When Emma pulls her hand away when he tries to reach out to her in comfort, he immediately backs down.  And when Emma storms out, he doesn’t go after her until he’s tasked with the job of informing her that August had regained consciousness.  (In a related story, I really appreciated how Snow and Charming actually had Killian go to Emma.  Through that act, they're basically showing they're finally accepting the fact that Killian has a  permanent place in Emma's life, which is a satisfactory 180 from Charming's attitude at the start of the Neverland arc, when he verbally announced his intentions to keep Killian away from Emma.)  Killian just knows Emma well enough to know that what she needed the most was her space, so he willingly gave her that space and didn’t try and make her stay or force his presence on her.  And when he did approach her later on, he simply hugged her, to let her know he was there for her to give her strength and comfort.

And that brings us to what August reveals to Emma at the end of the episode.  It turns out the Author wasn’t just one person.  It’s a title that’s been passed down from person-to-person throughout the years, and the long line of Authors ultimately included a man named Walt.  (As in Walt Disney?  Because that just explains so much, particularly since this show is not always subtle with the Disney movie references.)  The position of the Author was originally supposed to be about simply chronicling the lives of the people in the Enchanted Forest and neighboring kingdoms.  However, the last Author broke that rule and actually began to manipulate the stories to play out the way he’d wanted them to.  The final straw came when the Author in question forced the Apprentice to perform the above-mentioned spell on Maleficent’s child.  As punishment for breaking the rules tied to his position so horribly, the Apprentice imprisoned the Author within the page of the book.  For some reason, even after being told how this current Author was a bit of a jerk and pretty much deserved his imprisonment, Emma still decides to release him from the page, because she ‘wanted answers’.  Shock of all shocks, the Author was the very same peddler who directed Snow and Charming to the Apprentice’s cottage during the episode’s flashback.  Which wasn’t a complete surprise, as I had a feeling even the first time I saw this episode that that wasn’t a normal peddler.  Something just seemed off about him, so I wasn’t too surprised to see I was right.  And of course, the Author doesn’t stick around to give Emma the answers she was so desperate for, as he immediately does a runner.  Because Emma very quickly loses him, there’s now a possibly unstable person who can manipulate everyone’s life paths running around Storybrooke unchecked.