Once Upon A Time 4×13 “Unforgiven” Recap

Spoilers Ahead 

Secrets are never fun, but sometimes, they make for a great TV episode.

Enchanted ForestFlashbacks: When Maleficent, Cruella, and Ursula approach the Charmings in order to make a deal, things backfire when they learn the tree which only responds to “the most valiant heroes” refuse them. The Queens of Darkness then state that because their love is the purest to exist, their child could either grow up to be really great or the ultimate villain. However, Maleficent later visits Snow to tell her that she too is pregnant, and the two of them could work together in order to defeat Regina at the time. Refusing to team up with her because of her villainous status,  it’s later revealed that they’re the reason Maleficent loses her child. 

Present-Day Storybrooke: In order to keep their secret concealed, Snow and Charming plan to destroy whatever’s remaining from Maleficent so the Queens of Darkness don’t resurrect her. And when they fail to succeed, Maleficent states that she doesn’t care about revealing the secret, but she’ll ensure that perpetual suffering is in the cards for the couple. Regina continues to search for the author of the book. Emma and Killian grow even closer as a couple when they reveal they have no intentions of hurting one another.

“Unforgiven” did an excellent job of setting up the rest of the season, and we have no doubt it is going to involve fantastic character development and juicy storylines.

First things first, let’s discuss Regina’s moments this week because we found ourselves severely angry in the beginning but pleased later on. Regina yelling at little Pinocchio was downright terrifying — it’s one thing when a parent gets upset with their child, but it’s another when someone else uses their words to instill fear in another person’s child. It was probably one of the scariest moments she’s had, and there are absolutely no excuses for that kind of behavior. What we’ve always said is that the greatest lesson Regina needs to learn is that her choices are what’ll guarantee her a happy ending. Yes, we all have a temper here and there, but when you use your own unhappiness as an excuse to verbally harm a child, then there’s a long way to go for true redemption.

And Marco (Geppetto) reminding Regina of the fact that her curse was the reason everyone was unhappy for 28 years was gold. Atoning for sins such as the darkness Regina’s brought to everyone’s lives isn’t something that takes a day. It takes time — lots of it. However, her choice to seek Marco out and sincerely apologize to him was a great step in the right direction. Although telling a grown man to shut up isn’t ever okay, it’s nice that the rest of the conversation involves Regina acknowledging that she cannot make progress with her redemption if she goes back to her old ways. It’s great that it feels like she honestly understands that she was unbearably awful and that she must do everything in her power to put her pride aside and become better.

And we felt that the moment she held Marco’s hand after he gave her August’s belongings showcased even more remorse than her verbal apology. That moment was what exhibited that for the very first time, Regina isn’t looking at him as someone inferior, but someone greater than she. A man she respects — who’s entirely forgiving because of the goodness in his heart. And for now, the progress is great.

Secrets and lies. When will the world learn that they’re always wrong? Wait no, not always, the only exception is if you’re throwing someone an epic surprise party of some sort — in that case, lie your heart away. Snow White of all people has always been the most desperate to be a great mother. And we can now understand why her desires are so heightened. Any mother would want to shield their child from the cruelty of the world and raise them to be benevolently loving individuals. After all, that is how Queen Eva raised Snow White. And of course, Snow will follow in those footsteps because she’s always believed that people must do their parts to spread goodness.

It was always difficult to understand how Snow of all people could be so hesitant to trust Emma with baby Neal when her powers were crazy, but now that we’ve learned she’s known about what’s possible, her fears make complete sense. She’s always done everything in her power to be a great mother to Emma even when she’s not known how because she’s wanted to make sure her daughter knew how loved she was. She’s wanted to spread joy and kindness, and her desperate desire to be an inspiring mother has made some questionable choices. However, what we’ve always loved most about this show is that these characters are flawed — even the Charmings who are believed to be the greatest people in the world are capable of making mistakes. And that’s perfectly fine because that’s exactly how it is in the real world.

Throughout our lives, we will make countless mistakes, but the vital entity we must carry with us is that we have the choice to learn from our mistakes. And we have the choice to forgive those who have wronged us. Normally, we steer clear of theories in our reviews, but the latest buzz on the web is that Maleficent’s child could possibly be Emma’s old friend Lily. And if this is true, then my oh my have writers succeeded in stunning us in ways we never thought possible. All that aside, let’s get into the Charmings choice to lie to Emma after overhearing her conversation with Killian. Was it wrong? Yes. Is it understandable? Completely.

Think of it this way, if you overheard someone state that they’re certain you could never ever harm them, wouldn’t you be frightened of disappointing them? Snow and Charming are fully aware of the horrific slopes that Emma’s faced throughout her life, and as parents, it’s entirely fathomable that they wouldn’t want to be another barrier in her life — another reason she puts her walls up and feels unloved. Goodwin is an expert at subtlety – she does a magnificent job of manifesting pain and in each of Snow’s scenes this week, viewers could tell how much this secret terrified and broke her. And if her desperation wasn’t heartbreaking enough throughout the episode, she astounded us at the end even more. It’s one thing to showcase pain through expressions and it’s another to do it solely using the voice, and this week, Goodwin was at her strongest. Snow White is as pure as it gets, it’s what she’s always been known for, and the goodness along with the positivity within her is something she’s learned that inspires Emma. It makes complete sense that she wouldn’t want to ruin that.

As much as there’s self-regard in this secret, there’s also great selflessness. It’s painfully evident that Snow and David both feel that if the secret is exposed, it’ll not only taint Emma’s perceptions of them, but it’ll play a part in ruining the happiness she’s worked so hard to attain. We are not parents, but we’re certain that when the time comes, we will be afraid of disappointing our children as well. Snow and Charming are heroes to everyone, but to Emma, they are her loving parents — the people she’s grown to trust more than anyone in the world because they have shown her steadfast adoration, devotion, and respect. Goodwin’s voice broke us most when Snow states “you want to protect him so he doesn’t lose faith in the person you’ve become, the person he always believed you could be … she’s finally starting to open up heart.”

Emma Swan knows who her parents are — she’s seen their goodness and strength, and the Charming family is finally at a place where it’s easy to be close. There was a time when Emma couldn’t even call her parents “mom” and “dad,” but that has all changed. They’ve grown to love and respect each other as the family they’ve always dreamt of being and it’s entirely understandable that Snow still fears for her daughter’s life. No matter how old a child gets and no matter where they go in life, they never stop being their parents’ child. Emma Swan may be a grown woman but she’s still Snow and Charming’s little girl, and it’s still their job to protect her from the darkness in the world. It isn’t easy for Snow to lie to her daughter, but this is a woman who genuinely believes she’s protecting her. She believes that this lie is necessary because the openness and happiness in Emma’s life at the moment are worth keeping.

Surely the secret’s not going to be kept for too long because the truth always has a way of revealing itself. But something also tells us that it won’t take away Emma’s happiness for too long. Emma’s dreamt of a family her entire life and she’s always been an empathetic character, hence we feel that when it is revealed, the intentions will be understood. And we feel that her adoring boyfriend will also do his part to keep her heart grounded in a place where things are good.

Here’s the thing with good and evil — whether in the fairytale world or the real world, no one is born one or the either. No matter who their parents are we believe that children are always born innocent. It is the way their life unfolds and the choices they make which determine whether they’re good or evil. However, it doesn’t stop there because people are more complex than merely good or evil. It is the choices we make that define us. It isn’t the mistakes we make but the choice to apologize that showcases our true character. And that’s the thing with this season and these characters that we feel are being established. No prophesy can state how a person will become because we’re all fiercely independent and capable of making our own decisions. And it is those decisions that’ll determine whether someone is a hero or a villain. Emma’s life has been anything but easy; however, throughout the 28 years she’s continuously made the choices only true heroes would, and we don’t feel that brave beautiful girl will go down a dark path for long.

Every single time we sit down to brainstorm a review the initial thought is always: will we ever stop gushing over every little breathtaking moment between Killian and Emma? It seems the answer is no. And it seems that we’ll always have tons to say about the exquisite couple no matter how many reviews we write and how many times they do something. Ladies, you know a man’s a keeper when he knows you prefer onion rings over fries. As we stated in last week’s review, the level of casual intimacy they’ve reached is remarkable but even more marvelous than that is the warmth and comfort that exudes from Emma’s smile at the Sheriff’s Station.

Day by day her walls tumble down more and more thereby allowing light to make a permanent residence in her heart. Love is capable of immeasurable greatness and finding the right partner has the power to make everything right. While their adorable moment is cut short because of a conversation about Ursula, it speaks wonders that Emma chooses to put it aside because their relationship is much more than their past. After a long day of speculating that everyone’s lying to her and things are off, Emma chooses to look at the bright side and calls Killian to mend things with him. Killian’s unwavering adoration and altruism have shown Emma that there’s more to life than what the mind attempts to convince a person of. Although her instincts are correct, at the moment, they don’t matter.

At the moment, the only thing that matters is that the man who’s stood by her through it all knows that regardless of what demons reside in his past, she’s fully aware of who he is. She knows that his heart’s true, and it’s important that he knows whenever he’s comfortable, she’ll be there to listen. This is a defining moment between the duo because it’s the first time they verbally articulate just how much the other means to them, and where they stand in their relationship. By validating that regardless of what he’s done she’ll choose to see the best in him, Emma reveals an impeccable amount of adoration. While the two of them haven’t exchanged “I love you” yet, this is a scene that illuminates the beautiful fact that they’re the best kind of partners. Earnestness binds them in the most gorgeous way and what makes them so strong is the fact that they’re mirror images of one another — two lost kids who’ve found a home in one another, who grow together, and bring out the best in each other.

They’re both familiar with loss, betrayals, loneliness, and misunderstanding. They know what it’s like to be kept in the dark, but with each other, when it comes to their secrets, they both respect the other’s agency. They’re equals. They’re each other’s backbone. They’re each other’s safe place. They’re each other’s person — the other half that’ll perpetually be there to appreciate, protect, and adore at even the darkest times.

Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue are astonishing scene partners — the amount of words they’re able to speak through their expressiveness alone never fails to amaze us. And in this scene especially, while their words validated unconditional compassion for one another, their expressions authenticated lifelong promises. Morrison’s gorgeous delivery of sincere happiness and vulnerability was complimented masterfully by O’Donoghue’s delivery of admiration and serenity. They’re each individually so great at manifesting profound emotions; hence it’s only natural that together they make Killian and Emma an incomparable couple.

We love watching Morrison play a happy, comfortable, and open Emma because she’s so great at conveying raw contentment. And when it comes to delivering vulnerability, Morrison’s always brilliant — allowing the audience to wholeheartedly understand that Emma’s a complex character who’s endured a great deal of pain but continuously fights to conquer the battles in front of her. Emma’s grown so beautifully within the last year and day by day she continues to showcase immense bravery as she chooses to embrace all which life throws at her.

O’Donoghue never ceases to astound us with the sincerity he brings to Killian’s character. And in tonight’s episode, audiences could tell that the secrets of his past are ones he deeply regrets and fears. Killian Jones has done everything in his power to be a man deserving of Emma Swan, and once a demon from his past surfaces, O’Donoghue does a masterful job of revealing that Killian’s entire world crumbles at the thought of what he’s done potentially harming Emma. Even as he’s keeping the truth concealed, O’Donoghue conveys heartbreaking pain in his eyes revealing that for Killian, there’s no one more displeased and broken over the mistakes from his past.

It was beautiful that he made sure to let Emma know he has no intentions of ever letting her down — and although his actions have always spoken louder than his words, sometimes it’s necessary to verbally state just how greatly he cares for her. Killian Jones wants to cherish, protect, love, and be the best man he can be for her. And even though they left things off on a not-so-smooth note, when she called him to the Sheriff’s Station, he went to her without asking any questions. If she needed him, he’d be there in a heartbeat. And that selfless devotion continues to fortify their bond. It’s natural for couples to fight, and what’s beautiful about the way Killian and Emma have handled their misunderstandings is the fact that they don’t purposely try to belittle the other.

Choosing to always see the best in each other brings to light the very depth of their feelings while impeccably inspiring them to understand that at the end of the day, they can ceaselessly count on their person to help them find a home when they’ve lost themselves. It needs to be stated once more that growing together is effortless because of the exquisite understanding they share. Presumably, eyes are the windows to the soul and there’s a brief moment before they’re interrupted where they gaze at one another with complete and utter appreciation written all over their faces. It’s easier to fight our battles and see the best in ourselves when those we care for most believe in us with everything in them.

As heartrending as it may be, later on, we’re looking forward to Killian fighting for her heart’s goodness. We’re looking forward to him doing everything in his power to keep the beautiful woman walking arm in arm with him smiling as she does when they embrace the quiet moments.

Shockingly, they’re not the only couple cozying up as it seems that Belle and Will Scarlet have found something special with one another, and we’re very intrigued with where this relationship will go. Rumple sees them kiss and while it’s certainly not going to be pretty, we’re also wondering what kind of a relationship they could possibly be in. And also how it’ll inspire Rumple’s arc.

The Queens of Darkness are as fiercely engaging as ever — Smurfit, Dungey, and Baur van Straten are genius. Any actress who gets to play a villain let alone iconic ones like the ladies above must seriously be having the time of their lives because their roles look unbelievably fun. Now that the band’s back together, we honestly cannot wait to see what’s in store as they get on with their plans to attain their happy endings. We’re certain we’re in store for more than just epic one-liners. “Sheriff Chisel Chin” anyone? These ladies are indescribable and we’re very much looking forward to their centric episodes in order to see them tackle a variety of emotions and amaze us with their talents even more.

And Baur van Straten has already broken us in her final scenes as she held the baby toy while showcasing regrets and sadness in a way so subtly heartbreaking, we’re certain this story will be a magnificent one.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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