By Meredith Loftus
Once Upon A Time’s “Unforgiven” takes us deeper into the show’s new arc of defining what makes a hero and a villain. Secrets keep piling up from our favorite heroes, while we find out that not all the villains’ motives are so sinister. It is also highlights major developments from some of our favorite characters. This episode is a fantastic installment in the latter half of the season, raising expectations for the weeks ahead.
Clashing With Darkness
After returning from their honeymoon, Snow and Charming cross paths with the Queens of Darkness at their kingdom. Maleficent reveals to the newlyweds that the Evil Queen has taken the Dark Curse from her and has intentions of enacting it. The Queens of Darkness seek to find a solution by visiting the Tree of Wisdom. The tree will only respond to those with valiant hearts, which is why they seek out Snow and Charming. The couple reluctantly agrees to join them on their quest. Snow and Charming attempt to distance themselves from the Queens of Darkness and find the tree themselves. However when asking for wisdom on defeating the Evil Queen, they discover they are rejected by the tree. The Queens of Darkness find them and are puzzled by the tree’s reaction. However, Maleficent is able to piece together that Snow is pregnant with Emma. Because Emma will be the product of true love, she has the potential to harness the most good or the darkest magic. Snow and Charming are willing to do whatever it takes to give Emma her best chance at being the Savior.
Back in Storybrooke, Snow and Charming are doing their best to hide their past association with the Queens of Darkness. Paranoid, Charming ropes Emma into tracking the whereabouts of Storybrooke’s newest residents. After suspicious activity in Gold’s shop, Charming and Emma follow Cruella’s Panther to the edge of town where they search her car for a missing box from the shop. Charming finds it, takes the object found in the box, and lets Cruella and Ursula go. Snow and Charming believe the object will help bring Maleficent back to life. After more lying to Emma, they set out to find Maleficent’s remains and remove them from Storybrooke once and for all. When they go down to cave under the library, they are ambushed by Cruella and Ursula. They take Snow and Charming’s blood, the blood of those who betrayed Maleficent, to complete the spell to bring her back. Maleficent comes back to life and has no intentions of revealing Snow and Charming’s deception to anyone; instead, she vows to torture them. The Queens of Darkness are officially reunited and ready to cause mayhem in Storybrooke.
While Snow and Charming are attempting to prevent Maleficent’s return, Regina and Henry find new leads in the Author’s whereabouts. Henry reveals to Regina that August (Pinnochio) added his story to the book in order to help Emma believe the curse so she could break it way back in season 1. Marco brings Pinnochio to the mayor’s office so that Regina, Henry, and Emma can question him about the book. The young boy does not remember his adult life, which makes Regina lash out at him. Marco chastises Regina for her behavior and they endeavor to find the Author, refusing to allow her to question his son again. Regina later goes to Marco’s shop and apologizes for her actions. She explains to him that the only way the Author is going to give her a chance at her happy ending is by continually striving to be good. She has grown so much from her days spent seeking revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming. Marco acknowledges this development and gives her August’s possessions of when he first arrived in Storybrooke. In his bag, Henry finds clues to finding more information about the author.
Emma and Hook have been in a comfortable relationship since Hook’s heart was returned to him. However, the past comes back to haunt him when he runs into Ursula. Emma questions him about his history with her and he lies about any major involvement with him. She knows that he is lying to her and it causes a slight bump in their original lunch plans in the Sheriff’s station. Hook returns later that night and Emma confronts him about lying to her earlier. He confesses that he does have a history with Ursula from his pirating days, and it’s something far worse than breaking the sea witch’s heart. Emma tells him that he can tell her the truth in his own time and this will not affect their relationship. She acknowledges that she does expect the worst in people because of her past, but she has taken a lesson from her parents and choosing to see the best in Hook. This heart-to-heart moment between these two take their budding relationship to a new level of trust, something both characters have not experienced in a long time. They are not letting their pasts define or burden them, instead choosing to be the better versions of themselves for the chance at real love.
Throughout the episode, Rumple continues to work in the shadows as he orchestrates Maleficent’s resurrection. He constantly asks Cruella and Ursula if anyone suspects his involvement in any of the recent events. Rumple seems to have everything falling into place, except he still can’t shake his love for Belle. As he is roaming the streets of Storybrooke that night, he watches Belle working in his shop. He is horrified to discover that Belle has moved on with Will Scarlett after he witnesses the two kissing. This new relationship is now going to fuel motivation to reclaim his life and happy ending with Belle.
In the Enchanted Forest, Maleficent appears to Snow alone in her castle. She reveals to her that she could recognize Snow’s pregnancy because she in fact is pregnant as well. Maleficent asks for Snow’s help, as another mother, to find a way to stop the Dark Curse for the sake of her unborn child. Snow declines her request. She is willing to risk the safety of the kingdom to keep Emma from becoming dark like Maleficent. The object in the box in Gold’s shop is actually a rattle that Maleficent had for her unborn child. This is real reason why Maleficent seeks revenge on Snow and her family in modern-day Storybrooke.
Burdened with the guilt of the secret and bringing Maleficent back to life, Snow seeks out help from Regina. She asks her to go undercover and join the Queens of Darkness in order to find out what they’re up to. Regina has worked too hard to not be a villain anymore, and she initially doesn’t want to be a part of this plan. Snow then reveals to her the truth about Emma’s potential for darkness and her hand in separating Maleficent from her child. It’s amazing to think how a secret between Snow and Regina created such fallout, and now this secret between them is solidifying a new level of friendship in these former enemies. Regina agrees to go undercover. This will prove challenging as she will now be tempted to fall back into her former evil ways with her magical frenemies.
- The montage in the final scene with the voiceover from Snow was truly beautiful! She perfectly describes the lengths we go to protect the people we love from the darkness of our past. Snow and Regina have equally worked hard for their children to see the better versions of themselves. Once that perspective is gone, the relationship changes and can lead to devastating consequences, as we see with Rumple watching Belle kiss Will in his old shop. Scenes like this exemplify what 4B is all about and I love it!
- Is it just me or does Cruella de Vil get the best lines? Her sass is completely on point!
- I refuse to acknowledge Will and Belle as a real couple until I find out what happened with Anastasia. Does Belle deserve to be happy? Absolutely. However, I need answers from Wonderland or at least where these current events line up in the spinoff timeline!
- It was great seeing Pinnochio again. We are expected to see a flashback of August in the near future, which means we are going to get closer to discovering the identity of the Author. Anyone else think Yen Sid (Fantasia) is somehow involved?
- One thing Emma hates more than anything is being lied to. It was hard watching her parents and boyfriend lie to her in an episode that featured so much of her own personal development. While her gut is telling her that something is off, she is choosing to believe her parents and Hook. This is a huge step for her and I’m so proud of her. However, it will make finding out her parents’ secret all the more heartbreaking.