We’re going to make the assumption that collectively most Once Upon A Time fans uttered something along the lines of “OMG” at the end of this episode.
Minnesota Flashbacks (1999): Abby Ross returns as young Emma in 1999 where it appears she’s finally found a foster home she really feels she’s a part of. As the family is planning their camping trip, Emma comes to find that her old best friend Lily is sleeping in the garage because she’s found herself in trouble again. Lily has dinner with Emma and her family and then asks Emma to help her take back a necklace she left behind at her boyfriend’s house that originally belonged to her birth mother. When Emma leaves the house to retrieve the necklace, Lily steals her foster parents’ money and flees. After Emma returns and finds out what Lily did she runs away when her foster parents refer to her brothers as “our kids” implying that she isn’t one of them. Lily finds Emma at a bus station and takes the necklace from her. Emma states that this time, she’s done helping her for good.
Present-Day Storybrooke & New York: After learning that Cruella was defenseless, Emma plots to go after Gold since he’s the one who’s manipulating everything. However, when Maleficent states that she wants Emma’s help in finding her daughter, Emma agrees to do so learning that Lilith is actually her old best friend Lily. Regina tags along with Emma in order to save Robin Hood from Zelena and the two of them learn a lot more about Zelena’s schemes than expected. Snow and Charming attempt to make amends with Maleficent. Rumplestilskin gives his blessing to Will and Belle.
Basically, tonight’s episode was one heck of an adventure, leaving us with tons more questions than we’ve previously had but also a lot more hope for what’s to come in the final few episodes.
Question number one (more so a concern we have), did anyone else get the impression last week that Belle had consented to Regina using her heart in order to have leverage on Rumple? The episode implies that she hadn’t but how on earth did she not feel her heart in her chest before it was returned? Rumple’s choice to give back her heart and give her his blessings was interesting. As you all know, we aren’t entirely fond of his character but good grief do we love the work Robert Carlyle does? He is a genius in every sense of the word when it comes to portraying Rumplestilskin. But we’re still not sold on the matter that his love for Belle is true, for if it was, wouldn’t it be more than enough?
Additionally, another question that we’re now wanting to be answered more than ever — what brings Will to Storybrooke? And again, what happened to Anastasia? If this is prior to what we’ve seen in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland then that’s fine but if it’s after (though it seems impossible because it would have to have been a huge time jump). And if it is prior to the shenanigans in Wonderland, what does he want from Storybrooke? There’s got to be something he’s after. Are his feelings for Belle genuine or does his heart not even beat in his chest yet? Thereby making it impossible for him to adore her fully. Or, are we supposed to forget what occurred in Wonderland entirely? As we said — we have questions and lots of them.
One of the things we’d been waiting to see is Snow and Charming’s sincere apology to Maleficent, and we couldn’t be happier with the execution of it. Snow’s right, while they may have hurt Emma with the lie, their act has mostly harmed Maleficent and her daughter. And their genuine apology said everything about the purity in their hearts — the fact that they’re two people who’d do anything to assure anyone’s happiness because they’re that good. Though they’ve made a terrible mistake, their primary concern was their daughter and at the end of the day, no matter how good a person is, their child will always come first. We are certain that the earnest remorse and heartfelt concern will give Snow and Charming the determination to truly do whatever it takes to make matters right.
One of the things we miss tremendously when it comes to Once Upon A Time is the two of them fighting to make matters right for those around them. It’s who they are and it’s what they’re good at. Because while it doesn’t justify what they did, we all know that if they knew Maleficent was having an actual child as opposed to a dragon, they wouldn’t have gone through with their plans. Maleficent and her daughter have spent 30 years without each other — a timeframe Snow and Charming are very familiar with for they suffered the same fate because of someone else as well. At the end of the day, however, better late than never and both families can hopefully move on with their children.
Before we get into the primary storyline this week, we need to discuss the concept of fate and free will (without going into too much detail because thinking too much of the matter can seriously give one a headache). In many ways fate and free will are intertwined thereby, the question lies between which is more powerful. And our thoughts on the matter may be our own bias, but we feel the most powerful is free will. Let’s take Emma for example and look at this entire scenario — she isn’t purely good. We’ve seen her slam a man’s head onto a wheel for ruining his family’s life. We’ve seen her threaten Regina countless times during season one. We’ve seen her push Lily away more times than not instead of welcoming her completely. If someone had all of the darkness taken away from them and thus declared just good wouldn’t they constantly forgive and handle things differently? Wouldn’t Emma be singing to birds just as Snow White does in the Disney cartoons? Wouldn’t she feel less inclined to react angrily in situations? Because here’s the issue — when speaking to the Sorcerer, the Apprentice calls Emma the savior and that has us wondering that if she was always destined to be the savior then was the act really necessary? Did the author seriously just manipulate the entire thing for the sake of his story because Emma was always destined for goodness? All we’re certain of is that at the end of the day when it comes to Emma Swan, her life at the moment is a result of the choices she’s made. The sorcerer clarified that the author can no longer alter fate but only record what occurs, thus authenticating the fact that everything that’s happened thus far has been a result of the choices that were made.
The concept of fate vs free will is extremely complex but it also comes down to right and wrong. Whether you’re meant to be an astrologist, a dancer, a doctor, a police officer, etc. — it’s impossible not to believe that the honorable choices we make lead us down our destined paths. Whether you believe there’s a God above or nothing, no one is destined to become a murderer because while the balance of light and dark must remain in the world, extreme darkness is a choice that no God or universe would condone. There’s much more that’s involved than just fate for environmental and biological factors also play immense roles in peoples’ lives.
Let’s take Emma and Killian for example because who doesn’t want to use every opportunity possible to talk about the show’s most adorable couple?! Their meeting was entirely an act of fate but being together was a choice the two of them made. It can be classified as the universe’s doing because what are the odds that Emma’s accidental fall into a portal would lead her to a place where she’d be of use to Cora and Killian?
At the time, Storybrooke’s curse was already broken thereby giving the two the opportunity to find the wardrobe’s remains + the compass that’d secure their passage into our land. They never needed Emma or Snow. However, Killian and Emma were clearly meant to meet because they were meant to fall in love. And we saw that even in the past when their paths crossed, the two were completely enamored with one another — though Emma knew what was going on, her attraction to past Killian was still strong. You don’t choose if you’re attracted to someone, but you choose what to do with that attraction. And for so long Emma pushed Killian away while he willingly chose to change himself in order to be worthy of her. It was Killian’s choice to become a hero as opposed to remaining a villain, and it was Emma’s choice to open her heart to his adoration. Emma could’ve fallen in love with him and become a villain also couldn’t she have? Instead, she chose the honorable path only to find that she was most drawn to the sincerity and kindness he’d shown her despite his notorious moniker.
In another perspective of fate vs. free will — Snow and Regina. It’s fate that Regina so happened to be the one to rescue Snow, but everything that occurred after that was a result of their individual choices. Snow was manipulated to believe that Regina would get her happy ending with Daniel if she told Cora the truth thereby making it a consciously good choice that resulted in Cora’s horrible choice to ruin her daughter’s happiness as opposed to letting her have it. This results in Regina’s choice to hold a grudge against a 10-year-old for nearly 30 years and ultimately become the Evil Queen. It all boils down to the fact that our choices and destiny are intertwined in more ways than we can probably grasp.
Moving on from the topic because as stated, it’s too complex to get into during a TV review (even though we just spent basically two pages talking about it). Oops — totally said in Zelena’s tone.
Alas, we are finally on the topic of Emma and Lily. It may have been fate that Lily and Emma met, but at the end of the day the choices each of them made are what’s granted them the life they have now. While Lily lied because she never really felt as though she was a part of a real family, Emma pushed her away because lies have always been something she was weary of. Furthermore, this takes us to the young Lily we saw today and how she claimed she felt she was cursed because her good choices never gave her a good life. And here’s the thing with teenagers, they all screw up — it’s inevitable.
Although there’s a commonly known attraction to bad boys, the choice to actually be with one is once again entirely up to the person. While not having proper guidance may have influenced her leaning on someone who was willing to give her a chance is understandable, consciously it seems as though Lily is aware that her decisions don’t seem to end well. Therefore, it’s somewhat safe to assume that at the time where they met, she probably knew he wasn’t the best choice for her but went along with it anyway. And even if that was a naïve teenager believing she’d found love, the choice to steal the money says a great deal about what power is at its strongest for her. She’s fully aware of the fact that her life isn’t exactly the most admirable and here we have a moment where she could’ve had a fresh start with Emma. A chance to be honest and a chance to grow, but instead she chose to screw Emma over again. Although the robbery was a result of being held at gunpoint, the choice to steal the money from Emma’s foster parents was entirely hers. There was no divine power at hand forcing her to make the wrong choice because as we stated, while the darkness has apparently been removed from Emma, the spell only works to a certain degree because she’s clearly made choices that aren’t exactly good.
Additionally, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree and Lily could have just as many awful traits as Maleficent does. She is part dragon after all, isn’t she? And whatever spells are at work here, considering who Emma’s parents are, prophecy or no prophecy she was bound to genetically inherit at least a few incredible traits. If this spell was meant to take away the darkness in the sense of there being very little goodness, the sole fact that Lily’s admired Emma and genuinely cared for her despite not being the kind of friend she deserves showcases the fact that the tremendous amount of darkness within her doesn’t take away compassion entirely.
The concept of compassion remaining even with the amount of darkness that seemingly resides in heart is what reminds us of the fact that on a show like Once Upon A Time, there is no power stronger than true love. And perhaps for Lily, her adoptive parents have instilled that in her though she isn’t consciously aware of it.
It was Charming’s willingness to die for Snow that inspired her not to give in to the darkness in her heart that tempted her to kill Regina. It’s that same love that continuously gives the two of them the strength to endure anything and everything by remembering the goodness within them when they’ve landed on the wrong path.
It’s that same kind of true love that’s inspired Killian to happily change himself for the better in order to be worthy of Emma. It’s the kind of adoration that’s eclipsed pain so gracefully, it’s made room in his heart for love as opposed to vengeance. Killian’s given in to the darkness within him multiple times in the past, and although he was once a nobleman with great honor, the temptation was much stronger than the light. And as he declares beautifully this week, it was meeting Emma that gave him the strength to turn against the temptation — to remain on the path of nobility.
Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison were once again on top of their game as they brought raw emotions to life masterfully. What we loved most is that while O’Donoghue delivered his lines with remarkable sincerity and an ever-present tinge of fear, Morrison played Emma with a mirroring sincerity complimented by a poise that’d give Killian the confidence and tranquility he needs while she’s gone. Killian would go to the end of the world or time for Emma and though the three words still haven’t been exchanged, the two of them do an enamoring job of illuminating a colossal amount of adoration in the little ways they substantiate just how profound their feelings truly are.
When asked why he couldn’t ignore the temptation in the past, Killian states that it’s because he had nothing to live for subsequently reminding her of the fact that she’s got her parents and Henry (excluding himself in the same way he always does because he choices to never overstep his boundaries with her). Thus, Emma’s choice to say “you” and add him to the list of people she lives for was stunning. The confidence Morrison carried Emma with brilliantly did a gorgeous job of assuring Killian of the fact that he’s someone she’d honor, protect, adore, and give the world for. And we know this because it’s how she feels toward her parents and Henry. When Emma Swan cares for someone, she cares deeply — when she opens her heart to you, it’s wider than imaginable.
True love is light and strength — it holds the immovable power to ground a person’s heart in a place of absolute serenity and elation. By choice, neither of their hearts could ever go dark because the goodness they’re filled with through the adoration they feel stands guard as the heart’s unparalleled shield. Much like Snow and Charming, at this point, it’s safe to state that if darkness were to fully tempt Killian or Emma, the other’s love would serve as the light that brings them back home.
Emma’s friendship with step gram gram Regina was really great this week. We loved watching Regina try her very hardest to remind Emma of the fact that she’s truly too good — she’s better than the darkness that’s tempting her. The game-changing scene somewhere in the middle of the road was full of incredible performances making an intense scene that much more powerful. Agnes Bruckner plays Lily with a furiously carless restraint and a nuance of fear followed by Lana Parilla’s portrayal of Regina’s genuine concern and understanding — the two of them did a fantastic job of intensifying the moment. And Jennifer Morrison’s ability to channel a full range of emotions simply through her eyes reminded us of why her performances are always the most noteworthy. Morrison harnesses body language to showcase, that while Emma is used to and comfortable holding a gun, at this moment she isn’t.
Emma’s fears, confusion, agony, vulnerability, and desperation to remain on the path she promised she would be delivered most exceptionally through Morrison’s expressiveness — strengthening the notion that speaking with the eyes makes a performance powerful and brilliant. This was a moment that put Emma to an ultimate test because last week, the choice was clear – Henry over Cruella no matter what. Though Lily threatened her parents and Emma made certain she’d never let her harm them, pulling the trigger could’ve meant taking the easy route. Insuring her parents’ fate by getting rid of Lily for good. Nevertheless, just as Snow didn’t want to let Regina die in “And Straight On Til Morning”, Emma chooses the hard honorable path with Lily. She chooses to save a life even though uncertainties lie ahead for people she deeply cares for. When young Lily begged Emma for help at the bus station, she refused because she couldn’t handle her lies anymore. She refused because loneliness was safer than Lily being a part of her life. But this time, no matter how hard and unpredictable the future appears, Emma’s choosing to help Lily. Emma’s choosing not to let the darkness consume her.
And even when Emma angrily attacked the man in Lily’s apartment, it’s evident that her genuine need to protect someone who’s screwed her over is a result of her immense heart. That’s who Emma Swan is, a beautifully caring soul because of the choices she’s made in her life. And also, she’s the product of the ultimate true love, we refuse to believe she’d ever turn out completely evil.
And lastly, on tonight’s episode of Once Upon A Jerry Springer, Zelena’s pregnant with Robin Hood’s baby. It’s so tragic, but Rebecca Mader does such a fascinating job of playing Zelena that it’s almost hilarious. It’s unfortunate for Regina, but good grief, it’s hilarious because Zelena is legitimately insane. Also, has Robin actually seen the pregnancy test himself because the homegirl’s track record for telling the truth isn’t exactly A+. We are actually very excited about this storyline for two reasons. One, we really want Regina to stop wishing for an author to determine her happy ending. We still don’t believe that villains are destined for a horrible life because of look at Ingrid. Yes, she passed away, but she rejoined her sisters, and there’s nothing more she’s ever wanted. Time and time again we’ve seen that honorable choices lead to the best life. And if Regina continues choosing the high road as she’s doing now, then she’s bound to have a happy ending as well.
Snow and Charming have been separated numerous times. Killian and Emma have almost lost one another to death numerous times — they too have been separated. The road to true love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Robin and Regina are soul mates thereby their connection is stronger than the hindrances in their path. We want her to learn that you can’t write an easy way out of life ––sometimes you just have to endure the heartaches and live an honorable life in the midst of it to be rewarded. #GoodKarma #Yo. And the second reason we love this storyline is that maybe, just maybe this will give Zelena the opportunity to really redeem herself. Either way, we love Rebecca Mader’s work with the character so it’s ultimately why we want her to stick around.
A few more questions we’d like answered — what inspired the Sorcerer to confront Lily with the truth at such a young age and why not Emma? If it’s the fact that he felt bad, it’s understandable, but if he found her, he could’ve also found Emma and attempted to tell her the truth at the same time. We know her destiny was to be at Storybrooke at 28 but she could’ve known about it prior. Also, if Lily’s known the truth all along and her heart is so completely filled with darkness, why didn’t she seek out Emma early on? Back at the discussion of fate vs choice — this is proof that they’re intertwined because had she chosen to get vengeance on Emma sooner, she would’ve altered everyone’s fate today. But we cannot be certain so we’re left with questions, questions, and more questions.
We’d like to apologize for the fact that this review is full of so many questions and a choppy analysis of fate vs. free will. Frankly, we’ve never been so confused with Once Upon A Time to a point where we’re left in a state of “wait what” after an episode.