TV REVIEW: ONCE Takes a Road Trip in “Lily”
By Meredith Loftus
Once’s “Lily” took Emma and Regina on a road trip to find Maleficent’s daughter and Regina’s true love.
This trip was an adventure with its fair share of twists that left audiences shocked. This episode helped maintain the plot’s current momentum as it gets closer to the epic two-hour season finale in a couple of weeks. With all the action of this episode and the crazy twist at the end, this road trip is far from over, and it will be interesting to see what will happen next.
The Savior and the Anti-Savior
Long ago in the Enchanted Forest, the Apprentice talks with the Sorcerer after trapping the Author in the story book. The Apprentice is uneasy about the Author’s manipulation of Emma and Lilith’s fates. Unfortunately the Sorcerer offers no solace; he tells him that there is no way to reverse the damage. Emma and Lilith will continue to remain connected to each other. All they can do is prevent any more alterations from the Author by keeping him trapped.
Years later, things are starting to look up for young Emma Swan. She’s living with a new foster family that cares for her in Minnesota; she’s about to go hiking for the first time; she might actually have a chance at being happy with this family. All of that changes when Emma discovers Lily (aka Lilith) hiding in the garage. Lily needs Emma’s help, but she is slow to help her because of their last encounter. Her foster dad finds the two of them and invites Lily to stay for dinner. During the dinner, Lily lies to Emma’s foster family about her history with Emma; Emma doesn’t want to lie to her new family because she thinks she found a loving home. She then catches a glimpse at the local news and sees that the police are looking for suspects in a recent robbery of a convenience store and one of the suspects is Lily. Emma tries to send Lily away before her foster family finds out the truth. Lily agrees only if Emma gets back an item from her ex-boyfriend’s place: a crescent moon necklace that belonged to her birth mother. While Emma is retrieving the necklace, Lily robs Emma’s foster family and disappears into the night. Her foster parents feel betrayed by Emma after finding out about her real past with Lily and Lily’s involvement with the recent robbery. Feeling unwanted by her foster parents, Emma runs away from them and her chance at a happy life. Lily finds Emma at the bus stop on the edge of town and tries to explain how her life has fallen apart since Emma walked out on her a few months prior. Lily was kicked out of her home. She got caught up in crime and nothing has seemed to go right ever since. She begs Emma to stick with her. Because Lily has lied to her a few times, Emma sees this as another lie, tells her to go back to her family (something she never had), and leaves her at the bus station. Lily hops on the bus to Pittsburgh, and the Apprentice, burdened with guilt from the Author’s actions, tells Lily the truth about her mother, her intertwined fate with Emma, and Snow and Charming’s actions that sent her to our world.
Emma begins to face the repercussions of killing Cruella. She regrets what she did but she will not apologize for doing what it took to save Henry, which makes her parents and Regina look at her like a time bomb ready to explode. Maleficent interrupts the hero group meeting because she needs Emma to use her bail bondsman skills to find her daughter. The only thing Maleficent knows about Lilith is that she was adopted by a family in Minnesota and was born with a star birthmark on her wrist. Emma is able to piece together that Lilith is actually Lily, her childhood friend, further solidifying fate’s role in her life. Regina asks Emma to fight back by suggesting a road trip to find Lily and Robin Hood; Emma agrees as she is eager to rectify her parents’ mistake.
After Emma’s departure from Storybrooke, Snow and Charming try to make amends with Maleficent by apologizing to her and asking for her forgiveness. Maleficent makes it clear that the only person they should be apologizing to is her daughter. Their attempt to make things right is noble but how can they expect Lily to forgive them for taking away her life with her mother? Snow and Charming leave to wrestle with this and Maleficent makes herself comfortable in the mayor’s office, now that she has decided to work on her own to get her happy ending.
While Emma and Regina are gone, Rumple and Isaac bury the late Cruella. Rumple is counting on Emma and Regina’s road trip to be the final push for Emma to embrace her inner darkness. While he waits, his next course of action is to to get Belle’s heart back in order to remove Regina’s leverage over him. He enlists Will to help him do this. Due to his past of living without a heart and Rumple demanding his help, Will agrees to help the Dark One. Together, Rumple distracts Maleficent while Will steals the heart from the mayor’s office. They give Belle her heart back, and Rumple finally tells her the truth about his actions since their marriage. He tells her about the condition of his heart and that he doesn’t want to lie or hurt her anymore. He doesn’t consider himself worthy of protecting Belle’s heart and gives Will his blessing. Belle is happy in her new relationship with Will, but this confession from Rumple reminds her of the goodness she’s seen in him and the love he still has for her. This is a glimmer of hope that reconciliation may be possible for Rumple and Belle.
Emma and Regina follow a lead to Massachusetts. They reach a dead end literally when the landlord of the apartment building tells them that Lily died a few years ago. Emma’s darkness begins to come out when she almost punches the landlord for talking badly about Lily, which Regina stops her from doing. Frustrated, they continue their way to New York until the yellow bug almost runs into a wolf in the road and get sa flat tire. While Regina calls someone to fix the tire, Emma orders coffee in a diner on the side of the road. Her waitress has a star birth mark on her wrist, and Emma pieces together that she found Lily. She tries to talk with her and begin explaining their complex past, but Lily brushes her off and attempts to get Emma off her trail. Emma knows she’s lying so she and Regina find her new place to confront her. At Lily’s trailer, they discover that Lily has known the truth about her real past for a long time after finding a wall with detailed maps and information on different fairy tale characters and their connection to Storybrooke. Lily steals Emma’s car and races off to Storybrooke.
After an intense car chase, Emma and Regina cut off Lily on the road. Lily tells Emma that her parents need to pay for what they did to her. Even though Emma is mad at her parents, she still wants to protect them from Lily. The former friends begin to fight and the fight escalates quickly when Emma pulls out her gun. Lily taunts Emma to pull the trigger, but Regina intervenes. She reminds Emma of what will happen if she does. Emma may be able to justify killing Cruella to save Henry but killing Lily would be her conscious decision; there would be no turning back. This is enough to get Emma to lower the gun. Regina and Emma have come a long way from their tumultuous beginning in Season 1. Here, Regina acts as a true friend to Emma by helping prevent Emma’s darkness overcome her goodness.
Big Drama in the Big Apple
Regina gets word that Rumple stole back Belle’s heart, losing her leverage over him; Emma invites Lily to join them as a gesture of moving on from their past and making a better future. Emma, Regina, and Lily make it to New York successfully. Regina and Robin finally reunite, and it’s clear that Robin missed her. The beautiful reunion is cut short as Regina tells him the truth about Marian’s identity. Robin initially doesn’t believe her and accepts his life with Marian. “Marian” comes back to the apartment and Regina exposes her for the liar that she is. Instead of keeping her disguise hidden, Zelena reveals her true identity to everyone in the apartment. Regina tries to get Robin to get Roland and leave with her immediately. However, he remains still and in a state of shock. Regina demands to know what is going on and Zelena shocks her and the audience with the news: Zelena is pregnant with Robin’s child! The episode ends, leaving the audience with the same face of shock that Robin Hood had. This takes the Mills family drama to a whole new level.
- We got our first Star Wars reference on the show when Lily calls the Apprentice “Yoda.” Emma’s current struggle with darkness is similar to Anakin Skywalker’s downward spiral to the Dark Side. Let’s hope for Emma’s sake that she doesn’t go Darth Vader on us. Disney owning the rights to Lucasfilm does have its perks!
- Next on Jerry Springer: “I Got My True Love’s Sister Pregnant” starring Regina, Zelena, and Robin Hood.
- One of the highlights of this episode was Emma’s goodbye scene with Hook. He advises her to do whatever she can to resist the darkness. She asks him why he wasn’t able to avoid it, which he tells her that he didn’t have anything good to live for. Hook tells her she has Henry and her parents to live for, and she tells him that she also has him now. Hook smiles and responds that she is his reason for living and his goodness. What made this moment even more special is that Emma was the one bring this up. Hook still doubts his worthiness of Emma, but this validates the depth of their relationship. They are each other’s rocks, inspiring one another to bring out the goodness in the other. This scene showcases that deep care that Emma and Hook have for each other beautifully.
- Say what you will about Cruella, but I found it incredibly sweet that Isaac buried her properly. Even though she manipulated him, he did love her at one point and I’m glad the writers acknowledged that.
- Because of the Sorcerer, the Apprentice had the power to open a portal for Ingrid to find Emma years ago. With his appearance in Lily’s life this begs the question: did the Apprentice come to our world by the curse or the Sorcerer?
- The scene of Emma almost hitting the wolf in the road with her car is a parallel to the pilot; she tried to leave Storybrooke only to hit the welcome sign after avoiding hitting a wolf in the road.
- Belle leaves in the episode to go babysit Baby Neal. At least we now know he wasn’t just left alone in the Charming loft. Speaking of small children, where was Roland during that final scene?