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.

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