Recap by Zach Van Norman - @TheZachVan
We begin with a flashback to December 1966, when Isaac first chose the quill and became the Author. In present-day Storybrooke, Isaac and Mr. Gold discuss what to do about Baelfire while Emma and the other heroes free the Apprentice from the hat, but Isaac completes the new story and everyone except Henry disappears. Henry finds Isaac at a book signing/convention and uses the magic key to enter “Heroes & Villains,” learning from Isaac that bells will signal the end of the book and the new reality becoming permanent. He is rescued from an ogre by Rumplestiltskin the Knight and finds Regina living as a bandit, convincing her to find Robin Hood so that True Love’s Kiss can end the new reality and send them all home. Isaac, who also entered the book, finds the Evil Queen Snow White and her dark husband Charming and warns them about Henry and Regina before demanding their deaths as payment for knowledge of their location. Later, Regina tries to rob a carriage but finds Snow White inside, who nearly kills Regina with a magical fireball before Robin Hood rides in and saves her. They go to a local tavern and Regina seems to have feelings for him, but Zelena arrives and it is revealed that she and Robin are to be married that day. Regina leaves and tells Henry that Robin is to be married, and Henry realizes that the wedding bells are the signal Isaac spoke of earlier. He begs Regina to try again and she tells him to go away, but when he mentions Emma’s nickname of “the Savior,” Regina reveals she’s heard of a woman with that name, locked away in a tower by Snow White. Emma is revealed in her tower, chained to the floor and in great distress.
Recap by Lori Fitzgerald - @MedievalLit
"Mother" is an intricately crafted episode exploring the core Once Upon a Time themes of family relationships and happiness. It is amazing how many truths about the human condition are found "this side of the fictional realms," and it is truly a testament to the brilliant writing of Jane Espenson as well as the show's overall vision.
As soon as we see the black carriage thundering down the road, we know we are about to witness the Evil Queen in all her dark glory. True to form, Regina interrupts a wedding ceremony, taking the groom's heart because they are on royal land without her permission. Her father knows the real reason behind her actions: today is the anniversary of Daniel's death, and Regina cannot bear to see another couple gain the happiness that she lost. But when he tries to counsel her against her actions, saying that she needs the citizens' support and they may view her as weak and short-sighted, Regina flies into a rage. She crushes the groom's heart, just as callously as Daniel's was crushed.
Regina then proceeds to visit Daniel's grave and discovers a yellow rose...and Cora! The yellow rose is a symbol of friendship, and later in the episode Regina discovers that her mother has returned from Wonderland with a "friendly" peace offering: she wants to help Regina find her soul mate.
We cut to Robin and Regina in a New York bar, both looking positively devastated. Regina is upset because "understanding and seeing are two different things." (No kidding.) Robin is worried about his son, who Regina will help with a forgetting potion, and he is angry that Zelena killed Marian "like she was nothing." Regina seems hopeless, but Robin is the one who insists they can move forward from this. This conversation is almost a summary of a theme we have seen throughout Once: relationships are messy.
"What do we do now?"
Go back to Storybrooke, of course. Go back to home...and family.
Hook gleefully informs the "toothless old dog" (Gold) of Emma's imminent return as Gold and the Author eat breakfast at Granny's. This is a problem, as the ink needs to be governed by Emma's dark impulses. Gold is having serious heart issues now, and later in the episode we see it is almost completely black.
The yellow bug returns. I always love Once's reunion scenes; to me, they really portray the heart of the show... the characters finding each other, and finding themselves in the journey. Emma has hugs for Hook and Henry...but still not for Snow, who you can tell is hurting terribly but trying not to show it. And here is a new reunion: Maleficent's face is suffused with hope as she sees her daughter for the first time. Lily looks doubtful. It is almost a mirror of the "reunion" in Season 2 when Snow realizes who Emma is ("You found us") and Emma looks so uncomfortable.
Recap by Samantha Lee - @SamsJag
Last week Once Upon a Time returned with an action packed episode that saw Rumple and the Queens of Darkness talking themselves into Storybrooke. This week in “Unforgiven” Rumple continues to guide Ursula and Cruella from behind the scenes as they work on resurrecting Maleficent. We also discover the dark secret that Snow and Charming have been hiding about Emma.
The clock changes to 2:38am. Mary Margaret awakes to find David is missing. She goes and takes Neal out of his cradle. Suddenly, Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella are then in the apartment. Just as quickly Neal is gone from her arms and appears in Maleficent's grasp. Mary Margaret begs, “Please don't hurt my family!” Maleficent replies sweetly, “When I'm finished you won't have a family left to hurt.”
Then Mary Margaret awakes again. It's still 2:38 am. It was just a dream. David is not in bed. She finds him awake, alone and drinking. He is worried about Ursula and Cruella being in town. She tells him about her nightmare and that Maleficent was in her dream. They are worried that the other two will reveal their dark secret about what they did to Maleficent in the past. They must get them out of town.
We are left to wonder what terrible deed the Charmings did so long ago in the Enchanted Forest. What did they do to Maleficent?
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Snow and Charming return home from their honeymoon only to find everyone in the castle under a sleeping curse. They call out for Regina, but it's Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella who step out of the shadows. They want to make a deal with the Charmings.
In present day Storybrooke, Mary Margaret and David have coffee at Granny's while Cruella and Ursula stand at the counter waiting for Granny to wait on them or even acknowledge them. Will Scarlet walks in and Granny hands him “the usual” which is two coffees to go. Cruella comments that if Granny still “wolfed out” she would turn her into a coat for her collection. Regina and Henry arrive. Ursula and Cruella suggest that Regina could help them get some service by ripping out Granny's heart. Regina sends Henry to her office and then tells them they'd better not bring up her dark past in front of Henry again or she'll kick them out of town.
David and Mary Margaret ask Regina about getting rid of Cruella and Ursula, but she says she wants to give them a chance to redeem themselves. David says they must be watched and Regina tells him that's a job for the Sheriff's Department, not the Mayor. Emma and Hook arrive for lunch. Hook and Ursula exchange a meaningful look as she passes by. David rushes to Emma and says he's sure they are up to something and he wants to follow them right now. Emma whines about missing lunch, but she goes with David anyway.
Recap by Zachary Van Norman
Our return to the Enchanted Forest begins with a trip to the Forbidden Fortress. An unsuspecting guard stands at his post until he is swept aside by the tentacles of Ursula, doing her best runway walk down the hall. As she approaches the chamber she is stopped by the voice of Maleficent asking who she is; Ursula spins, launching her tentacles at the Mistress of All Evil, but is blocked by Maleficent’s staff. Ursula replies that she may be referred to as “Your Majesty,” hinting at a sure-to-be-revealed-in-flashback royal lineage. Ursula asks who Maleficent is before revealing that she was invited to the Fortress. Maleficent tells her that this is her home, and that she did not send for Ursula. The sound of barking dogs interrupts their argument as they turn to see two Rottweilers on the attack, and Maleficent prepares her staff for a magical blast. The dogs stop just short of the villainesses and we are treated to the sight of Cruella de Vil sauntering towards them. She advises that she wouldn’t use magic if she were them, assuring the other two that they don’t eat fish or dragon...unless she tells them to. She crouches to the ground, blowing green magic at the dogs which fells them silent before asking what she’s doing there. Maleficent reiterates that this is her home and she didn’t ask for visitors; the other two declare that they received instructions but Maleficent refutes them, saying they’re trespassing.The three of them are interrupted by Rumplestiltskin, who reveals that it was he who gathered them together. His reason: they’re villains, and it’s time for the villains to get their happy endings.
In Storybrooke, the clock tower’s minute hand moves from 8:15 to 8:16, and we see the town is at peace and back to normal: Regina drops Henry at the school bus outside Granny’s then destroys Snow’s bird painting in the mayor’s office with a fireball as she unpacks items to reclaim the mayor’s office, Snow teaches a class (including Henry) about birds, Granny holds baby Neal while Emma grabs her sheriff’s badge and a dark red jacket before going outside to meet (and kiss) Hook. The two of them walk past the closed pawn shop before greeting Belle outside the library; Hook goes inside with Belle while Emma departs.
Inside the library, Hook has assembled a board with information about the missing fairies, the hat, and the Apprentice’s house. (A post-it note says that records indicate the Apprentice’s landlord is Yensid, known to Disney fans as the Sorcerer from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia.) Frustrated, the dear Captain knocks the board down before exclaiming that it’s been six weeks and the fairies are still trapped in the hat. Belle assures them that they will find a way to release them and that she’s reached out to some of the finest linguists in the world to help them translate runes. Hook says that it’s all because he was tricked by the Crocodile, to which Belle replies that they both were, and that she should have seen through Rumplestiltskin. Hook tells her that she was blinded by love but he has no excuse; Belle tells him that he was blinded by love too, but for someone else, and Hook says that love is a weapon as dangerous and persuasive as magic. Belle agrees, saying that Rumple had both of their hearts, but Hook tells her that Rumple loved her. Belle expresses hope that he has found whatever he was looking for.
Episode Recap by Samantha Lee - @SamsJag
Hello Once Fans! Now that we've had a few days to recover from the Once Upon a Time Mid-Season Finale, let's take a look back at how it all played out. In this recap I'm going to do something a little different and do each storyline separately. But I'll still start at the very beginning.
Our Friends From Arendelle
New BFF's Emma and Elsa along with Anna, Kristoff, The Charmings, and Hook are gathered at the road out of town. The Snow Queen's ice wall still stands, but this time Elsa is able to melt it away. Anna makes a dash for the town line, but Emma holds her back. She senses there is still magic there. Sure enough, there is still a curse on the town. Quelle surprise! Based on her knowledge of the Snow Queen's plan, Emma declares that the new curse is a one-way ticket to our World Without Magic. Anyone can leave Storybrooke, but they can't come back. Ever. Got that? Those are the new rules. Of course this doesn't really matter to the Arendelle gang since they need a portal to get home.
While everyone else goes off to Granny's, Hook reports back to his master, Rumple, with the news of the new curse. Rumple isn't too bothered. He is still focused on his plan to use the hat to free himself from the dagger and get out of town. Rumple accidentally lets it slip that he does not want to meet Anna face to face because she knows about the hat and his plan and he doesn't want the town Heroes to find out what he's up to.
Since getting rid of Anna is in his interest, Rumple uses the magic broom to find the portal that the Sorcerer used to bring Ingrid to Storybrooke. Then he uses Hook to disclose the location of the Door to Arendelle. Rumple knows that Hook is a loose cannon now, and he speaks directly through Hook's heart putting words in his mouth, literally. Emma senses that something is very wrong with Hook, but he is unable to give her any warning about Rumple's plan.
Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and the Charming's go the lakeside mansion and find the portal door waiting for them. They say their farewells. Even prickly Emma hugs Elsa. Elsa asks Charming to thank Mr. Gold and Hook for all their help, and then she and Kristoff walk through the portal. Anna stops to ask about Mr. Gold. She wonders if he was a Fairy Godfather in the Enchanted Forest. Charming explains that he was really an evil wizard named Rumplestiltskin. Anna tells them that she met him before and she knows that he's a dirty liar! She warns them about Rumple's plan for the Sorcerer's Hat before she leaves for Arendelle too.
The Arendelle story closes out with a small flash forward. Elsa admires a portrait of her mother and aunts. Anna enters wearing her wedding gown. They have saved Arendelle from Hans and his brothers and now Anna and Kristoff are finally getting married. They tell each other that all the trouble they went through was worth it for them to be together again as sisters should be. Elsa takes Anna's hand and prepares to walk her down the aisle.
So ends the Frozen story on Once Upon a Time. I enjoyed getting to know these characters. My compliments again to the guest cast who did such an amazing job of bringing their characters to life. I loved seeing Elsa and Emma become friends and draw strength from each other. My only regret was that Elsa never got to wear modern clothes! I'm sure this was dictated by some Disney licensing rule, but I would have liked to see her out of the blue dress just once. Yet, Ingrid lived in our world wearing our clothes for decades and when given the chance she reverted back to her Snow Queen gown. So maybe there's something special about wearing glittery gowns with long trains that we all need to try?
Episode Recap by Amy Hood - @Amylia403
With Once Upon A Time rushing forward toward the mid-season finale, this week’s episode proved to be one of the strongest yet in Season Four. There were moments of laughter and lightheartedness, as well as some definite tear jerkers. The themes Oncers hold dear were very much at the heart of this episode. Family, love, faith, forgiveness and hope were at the core of the stories. What makes a family? Can forgiveness really bring peace and does it matter how long it takes? Is hope really enough to carry you through when everything seems dark?
This week the curse of Shattered Sight hit the town full force and we saw the repercussions everywhere. In the streets Doc slaps Dopey, yelling at him to “Talk!” Dopey is mute and doesn’t fight back. Happy, who should by the very definition of his name be Happy, tries to kill Grumpy with a crossbow. Granny, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy and most of the townspeople run through the streets completely bent on hurting each other. At the jail some of the funniest moments of the episode took place between Snow and Charming as they argue between the bars of the cells. When Snow says she can’t believe she ever had a baby with Charming, he suggests that perhaps she didn’t, and that the baby could be Dr. Whale’s. After all, they did have that one night stand waaaaaaay back in Season One (We were cursed!). Reveling in all the chaos is our Snow Queen, Ingrid, who walks down the street almost giddy with what is happening.
All this season we have seen what we now know is Ingrid’s struggle to replace her sisters. In childhood, they were the best of friends. As we saw in a previous instalment, Ingrid accidentally froze and killed one sister and was trapped in the urn by her other sister immediately after. No chance to explain, no chance to grieve for the sister she lost. Alone and trapped for years, she became consumed by the need to get back a family; a family who would love her. While she has indeed seemed crazed and unstable, you can understand how her mind could drive her to this point after the isolation. Emma and Elsa are her best chance to get back to the place that she remembers as the only time she was happy and accepted. Elsa is blood, but Emma is not. As we’ve seen on the show, and (many of us) in our own lives as we connect with others, know, family isn’t always a bond made by blood relation. Ingrid has placed those ribbons that once were worn by her own sisters onto Emma and Elsa to cement the bond. Neither thinks for a moment that they will ever or could ever feel anything for Ingrid, but then we see the flashbacks. Neither Elsa nor Emma can remember their interactions with Ingrid in the past. We have seen Elsa’s, but finally we got to see Emma’s this week.
by Zach Van Norman - @TheZachVan
The Snow Queen stands in the forest, watching her Spell of Shattered Sight approach, when she is joined by Mr. Gold. He congratulates her on her victory, and she thanks him while commenting that his words are a welcome change considering he’s usually so confrontational. Gold wants to make a deal, but the Snow Queen declines, as he has nothing that she wants. With a touch of subtlety he questions when the spell will hit (sundown) and reiterates the spell’s effect: it will bring out the darkness in every Storybrooke resident. The Snow Queen replies that it will do more: they will tear each other apart until they’re all dead. He says that not everyone will die: she will remain, along with her “sister” Elsa and Emma, but so will he, spending every waking moment of his immortal life trying to rip her heart out. She says he does have something she wants and asks what kind of deal he wants to make. Gold, ever looking out for his own interests, says he wants to leave. With a sardonic tone she half-asks/half-reminds him that they already made that deal, but Gold says he has an eye for a loophole and he’s spotted hers: Belle and Henry will be destroyed by her spell. He wants her to spare them, and in return he will spare her misery. She tells him to enjoy his trip.
Our fearless heroes watch the spell coming from the clock tower. Charming suggests they open the mines and the vault for shelter, but Regina reminds them that this is magic: it doesn’t care about ceilings. Regina estimates the spell will arrive by sundown and everyone will start tearing each other apart; Emma says they shouldn’t be in town anymore. They travel to the wall, where David tries to ascend using climbing equipment, but he is blasted back as a new pair of icy stalagmites appears. A crack appears in the ground and Elsa finds Anna’s necklace, declaring it a miracle and a sign they’re going to win. Regina asks if everyone is into this “hope” thing now. Emma instructs Charming, Snow and Leroy to warn everyone of what’s coming so they can separate from their loved ones so they don’t hurt each other, while Hook is to go to the docks and attempt to ferry people out on boat. Regina intends to warn Robin Hood and the Merry Men while Emma and Elsa take Henry with them to find Gold to mine him for ideas. Regina insists on taking Henry with her instead, and Elsa lets it go that the ribbons will make her and Emma immune to the curse; Emma wants to take Henry but Regina, viewing Emma as part of the nut job Snow Queen’s plan, insists he come with her. Henry agrees to go with Regina, hugging Emma as Regina looks back at the coming curse.