By Meredith Loftus
Once Upon a Time’s “Best Laid Plans” spoiled audiences with highly anticipated reveals last night, ranging from Snow’s secret to the identity of the Author and more. It connected several smaller subplots together with these answers and set the stage for the latter half of the current arc. Hopefully, these revelations will be enough to satisfy audiences during Once’s week off.
Preserving the Future
Snow and Charming are desperate to find a way to ensure their future daughter’s goodness. They find a unicorn whose horn could show them Emma’s future. Charming proceeds to see his daughter as an innocent, beautiful baby; Snow sees her as a vengeful teenager who rips Snow’s heart out. With conflicting visions of the future, they set out to find more answers. On their way, they run into a simple peddler whose cart is stuck. Charming helps him out and the peddler redirects them from Maleficent’s castle to the Infinite Forest to avoid her wrath. While in the forest, they meet the Sorcerer’s apprentice. Snow and Charming confide in him about the visions they saw about her future. According to the apprentice, their visions were divided because babies are like blank canvas, and capable of anything. The Apprentice tells them the only way to guarantee their daughter’s pure heart is to transfer the dark potential to another blank canvas. However, once the spell is cast, it cannot be undone. Snow comes up with the idea of using Maleficent’s unborn child to achieve this. They manage to steal the unhatched egg from Maleficent even after she begs them not to. The Apprentice casts the curse and proceeds to send the egg to our realm as it begins to hatch with a baby inside. Snow and Charming were under the impression that it would be another dragon so they try to save it from entering the portal. Ursula and Cruella arrive at the scene to try to stop them but end up falling into the portal with the baby. Although they feel incredibly guilty for their actions, Snow and Charming decide to redeem themselves by spreading hope to others and becoming parents that strive to be good.
The Search Intensifies
Now that Regina knows the Author’s whereabouts, Operation Mongoose must find a way to protect August and the storybook page from Rumple, Maleficent, and Cruella. August is hidden with the Blue Fairy as he recovers from the overuse of magic his body has endured. Regina takes a picture of the page to show the villains; however, Rumple successfully deduces that the Author was trapped in the page. In order to take the page for themselves, Maleficent places Storybrooke under a sleeping spell. After searching the Charming loft, the villains come up short until Rumple realizes that the only ones who are unaffected by the spell are those who have been under the sleeping curse before; this means Snow, Charming, and Henry are out and about. Rumple commissions Regina to procure the page from Henry and Maleficent and Cruella to intervene if necessary. Henry goes to the Sorcerer’s mansion and finds the key that will unlock the Author from the door he’s trapped in. Regina, Maleficent, and Cruella arrive at the mansion and demand that Henry surrender the page to them. Fortunately, Emma earlier made a duplicate of the page so Henry gave them the fake.
While the Queens of Darkness are off to get the storybook page from Henry, Rumple takes a visit to his pawn shop where he finds a sleeping Belle. He places her on a couch in the shop and proceeds to tell her his current predicament. In order for him to succeed, he has to change the game for good. However, he confesses that something has changed and he might be racing against time. He bids her goodbye and meets Regina, Cruella, and Maleficent in front of the shop. Rumple immediately recognizes the page as a fake and Maleficent places Regina under the sleeping spell. They take her back to Regina’s vault while they figure out their next action. Rumple decides that they still need her but he will need to retrieve something (or someone) to help coerce her to do their will.
Another search that’s just beginning is Maleficent’s search for her child. She makes a deal with Rumple to retrieve the page in exchange for information on her child’s whereabouts. Although she does fail to produce the real storybook page, Rumple uses the rattle she retrieved as a talisman to find out where the child is. We find out that her child is Lily, the same Lily who was Emma’s first friend, and that she is here in our world. Maleficent’s new happy ending is to hopefully be reunited with her daughter. It’s just a matter of how.
Hook wastes no time in telling Emma and the Charming family Rumple’s true plans for ensuring villains get their happy ending. Even though Emma declares that no one is going to darken her heart, Snow and Charming are fearful of this coming to pass. After the sleeping spell takes over Storybrooke, they set out to find the storybook page for themselves and destroy it once and for all. Snow and Charming find Henry after his run-in with Regina, Cruella, and Maleficent. After Charming raises his tone with him, Henry reluctantly gives them the real page. Charming is about the burn the page when Snow decides that the lying needs to end. They need to tell Emma the truth and be the good example they originally set out to be. After Emma wakes up from the sleeping spell, her parents tell her the truth. Emma feels betrayed by her parents and horrified by their actions to keep her goodness intact. She leaves the loft with no intention of forgiveness anytime soon.
Hook finds Emma at the docks and informs her that August is awake and ready to talk. He takes the opportunity to comfort her and encourages her to go see August even though her parents will also be there. Emma goes to August with the storybook page and key. Now with the new information from her parents, she’s eager to ask the Author questions about her story. August tells her that this might not be that author. Apparently, there have been many authors to write down the tales of the Enchanted Forest, from its beginnings all the way to the present. The Author is a job, not a person. The particular Author who is trapped behind the door was a trickster because he started to manipulate the stories, instead of just letting them unfold. The Apprentice, on behalf of the Sorcerer, trapped him in the page to stop his meddling. With all of this knowledge and against the warnings of Snow and Charming, Emma releases the Author from the page. When released we find out it is the same peddler Snow and Charming crossed paths with in the Enchanted Forest. The Peddler thanks Emma for freeing him and proceeds to run away.
- There were many reveals during this episode but my favorite revelation was the mythology of the Authors. The Sorcerer and the Apprentice select a new author to transcribe the incredible stories we love. One of the authors mentioned was a man named Walt; this was the show paying tribute to Walt Disney, the original animator and storyteller of many of the characters on the show. I was hoping Disney would be part of the Author mythology and this satisfied that for me!
- When Regina demanded Henry to give her the storybook page in front of Maleficent and Cruella, she used his full name: Henry Daniel Mills. Henry was the name of Regina’s father, whose heart she used to enact the original dark curse; Daniel is the name of Regina’s first love, whose death was the catalyst for Regina’s revenge against Snow. Her son, the one she loves most in the world, is named after the two men Regina loved and lost. Cue the tissues please!
- So was anyone else not completely surprised that Lily, Emma’s first friend we met in 4A, is Maleficent’s long lost child? I’m glad it all connects together but I definitely saw that coming.
- One of my favorite scenes from “Best Laid Plans” took place between Emma and Hook before the sleeping curse hit Storybrooke. Hook asked Emma about August, and he was clearly jealous of her past relationship with the “wooden man-child.” Not only did Emma assure him that her relationship with August was simply platonic, she continued to open up to Hook by confiding her difficulty in making friends. August is a close friend to her, and she is growing closer to Hook by sharing her past with him. Scenes like this remind us that on Once Upon a Time friendships carry as much weight as familial and romantic love.
- A recurring object on the show is a unicorn mobile that hung over Emma’s crib in the Enchanted Forest. We found out that Cinderella gave this to Snow and Charming, and we must commend her for her excellent gift-giving!
The promos for April 12th’s “Heart of Gold” tease a Robin Hood-centric episode that will shed light on his activities in New York, as well as his past in OZ?! That’s right: Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, is back and I couldn’t be more delighted. She is returning in the flashback, but there’s a strong chance that she is still alive. You know what she used to say: wicked always wins.