TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.19

Title Lily

Two-Sentence Summary When Emma discovers that Maleficent’s daughter is the same Lily she pushed away when she was a teenager, she embarks with Regina on a road trip to find her before they go to New York City to rescue Robin from Zelena. Along the way, surprises are around every corner—from Lily’s knowledge of her true identity to Robin’s rationale for not being able to leave Zelena behind.

Favorite Line “If you pull that trigger, you’ll be the one who destroyed your life this time.” (Regina, to Emma)

My Thoughts Sometimes an episode of a television show comes along that gives you everything you wanted as a fan. That was exactly what happened with “Lily.” The past couple of episodes of Once Upon a Time have felt bleak and sometimes frustrating, and I was growing tired of the characters believing that outside forces control our actions and decides our goodness or evil or happy endings for us. And then this episode came along with its brief but lovely doses of hope and warmth, reminding me that this show has always been about finding good moments amid hard times. Even more than that, though, I was so impressed with the way writers Andrew Chambliss and Dana Horgan managed to take an episode about a pair of girls fated to be connected and use it to tell a story about the power of choice.

“Lily” was an episode about free will. And the strong undercurrent of hope in this episode came from the way so many characters in it chose to be better than their darkness and help people. This was the first episode in a long time where it felt like all (or almost all) of the characters were actively working to make good choices instead of just accepting darkness, and that made for my favorite episode of the show in quite some time.

One character who didn’t seem eager to act like their best self at any point in the hour was its title character. I found myself slightly annoyed at the implication that Lily couldn’t do anything right because of reasons beyond her control. Accountability matters, and watching so many other characters take responsibility for their actions made me want to see the same from Lily. I’m still hoping her story with Emma ultimately unfolds with the discovery that choice and free will did play a role in their lives; how they turned out as people isn’t all because of a spell. We know Emma wasn’t perfectly good throughout her life, so I don’t think Lily had to be completely dark, either. Instead, Lily continued to choose darkness. Fate might have put her in situations that allowed darkness to thrive, but I’m hoping we learn she had the ability to still choose what to do in those situations. Otherwise, it would feel like a pretty big copout to say she isn’t accountable for her actions.

While I found myself a little irked by the implications of Lily’s story and what it says about accountability and choice, that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel for her as a young girl. I thought Nicole Muñoz did a great job of channeling Lily’s desperation and hopelessness in the flashbacks. And we all know from watching this show that hopelessness and loneliness are the keys to darkness taking root in a person’s soul. And it was that same sense of hopelessness we saw on young Emma’s face at the end of the episode. Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break for young Emma any more than it already has, Abby Ross finds a new way to make me want to cry. Her joy at having finally found a home and a family only made her grief over losing that family more painful to watch.

By the end of the episode’s flashbacks, it was hard to argue that Emma was a vessel of pure goodness and Lily was the personification of evil. They simply felt like two real, broken teenage girls who were much more complicated than those labels. (It reminded me of the moment in the episode when Emma told Regina that in the real world things aren’t as simple as “heroes” and “villains.”)

However, once Lily became aware of those labels, she seemed to buy in completely, which makes sense because they gave her an excuse for her inability to make good choices. I was genuinely shocked to see the Apprentice tell Lily about her true identity, essentially informing her that nothing she did was her fault. I understand that was his way of trying to make up for what he did in the past, but it still felt suspicious to me. There’s something fishy about him, and I’m not just saying that because I’m angry he told Lily the truth and let Emma suffer alone for another 15-ish years not knowing her true identity. In telling Lily the truth, he actually pushed deeper into darkness, as we saw with her creepy “revenge board” that outlined her plans to kill Snow and Charming.

After discovering she was always meant to be dark, Lily seemed to simply accept her fate and—much like Cruella did in last week’s episode—let the darkness in. In a way, she reminded me of what’s been going on with Rumplestiltskin this season. He seems to have given up all hope of ever being better than his dark heart, so he let the darkness win. His dark, decaying heart is a sign of the loss of his humanity and the evil taking over his entire being. However, this episode reminded us that he hasn’t lost all of his humanity yet. While he may still feel fated to be lost to the darkness (either by death or by doing whatever it takes to stay alive), there’s still a spark of light left in him. No one is all good or all evil, not even the Dark One. And in this episode, Rumplestiltskin was the most complex and interesting he’s been in a long time.

I was initially terrified when Rumplestiltskin sought out Will, but that story did not go the way I expected at all. It was kind of cool to see the two of them working together to get Belle’s heart back (which I guess Regina did take without her consent—it would have been nice to have that made a little clearer last week). Love has always helped these characters be their best selves, and if this was Rumplestiltskin’s last gasp of goodness before evil overtakes him, then it was a beautiful thing to see. He was honest, he was gentle, and he put Belle’s happiness above his own. It was a rare moment of Rumplestiltskin choosing to act with sincerity and love for a person instead of power. And Robert Carlyle played it with characteristic brilliance. While I still don’t know if I will ever be someone who advocates for Belle taking him back, I could understand why she looked longingly in his direction after he left. This was the man a part of her will always love and believe in—the man capable of moments of genuine goodness even when his heart is being overtaken by darkness. That’s what makes him such a compelling character—the flashes of humanity while he’s plotting something as horrible as corrupting Emma’s heart to save his own.

Rumplestiltskin putting Belle’s happiness above his own desires was something I’d wanted to see for weeks. Another long-awaited moment “Lily” gave us was Snow and Charming finally realizing they needed to apologize to Maleficent for what they did to her and her child. It had felt like a glaring omission for them to make promises to be better people to make up for what they did and to be so concerned with Emma forgiving them, when they never apologized to Maleficent. In that moment, they chose be better people by trying to directly make up for the pain they caused instead of hiding behind their “heroism.” Apologizing to someone can be an act of heroism in its own way—it requires courage, selflessness, and an open heart. And while I was proud of them for finally understanding the best way to atone was by actually going to the person they hurt most directly, it made sense for Maleficent to be less than enthused by their attempt. She was right; they need to apologize to Lily, too (which might be hard to do since Lily will probably try to kill them before they can apologize). I love that Maleficent has become another strong, protective mother to add to the long list of them on Once Upon a Time.

“Lily” was the episode in which Rumplestiltskin lost his final Queen of Darkness. Maleficent chose not to let herself be manipulated by him any longer. She knows what her happy ending is, and it made sense for her to go the woman tasked with bringing back happy endings to get it. Maleficent chose to trust Emma’s ability to do the right thing, and it made me happy to know her belief in Emma wasn’t in vain. Emma might have been tempted by darkness more intensely than ever in this episode, but she found the strength to turn away. And in doing so, she was able to prove Rumplestiltskin wrong in a way so few characters on this show have.

Jennifer Morrison did a wonderful job showing Emma’s internal conflict. Her moments of strength and self-assuredness became more powerful because she also showed us Emma’s moments of weakness and self-doubt. Desperation is a tricky thing to play, but Morrison made me feel Emma’s desperation to find Lily and then to keep Lily from hurting her family. Emma has so much love in her heart now, but Rumplestiltskin was banking on being able to use that love as a weapon, when Emma ultimately used as a source of strength.

When the last episode ended, I was so worried that Emma was going to buy into the idea that she’s fated for darkness and use that to close herself off from the people who care about her. Therefore, I was incredibly happy to see that she felt remorseful about what happened to Cruella but wasn’t going to let that remorse cross over into belief that she’s now an evil person. And I think much of her confidence came from the fact that she was surrounded by people who support her (her parents, Henry, Hook, and Regina).

In fact, the times in this episode when Emma came the closest to losing herself to darkness were the times when it seemed like she was explicitly blocking out Regina, letting herself choose to be alone with her thoughts, her anger, and her fear. Emma had every right to be afraid—and not just of what Lily would do to her parents if she got to Storybrooke. From the moment Emma discovered that Lily was the one her parents sent her darkness into, Emma began to fear that nothing in her life had ever been hers to choose. A part of her worried that everything about her had been manipulated by forces beyond her control, and that’s a surefire way to become hopeless, which leads to—pardon the Star Wars reference—the dark side. However, this episode didn’t end with Emma giving in to her darker impulses; it ended with her choosing, as Regina said, to push back against fate and choose to tell Rumplestiltskin, “No, this is who I am.”

What gave Emma the strength to push back against forces trying to turn her toward darkness, when so many other characters on this show have given in? Hook said it best: She has people to live for—people who love her, people who believe in her, and people who help her believe in her best self. She has her parents and her son, but in this episode, the two people whose roles in her life were highlighted were the two people who could relate the most strongly to Emma’s struggle against darkness: Hook and Regina.

Hook and Emma’s goodbye was a bright spot in a fairly dark episode, and I can’t help but feel that was intentional. I loved that Hook was honest with Emma when she asked him why he wasn’t able to resist the pull of darkness, and what he said was what we’ve known to be true about him for a long time: He didn’t feel like he had anything or anyone to live for except his vengeance. A lack of love can do dark things to a person’s spirit, and Hook is the prime example of that.

But Emma doesn’t have a lack of love in her life now. She has her parents and her son, as Hook stated. But Emma wasn’t about to let Hook doubt his place on that list anymore. It was such a huge sign of character growth for Emma that she was able to tell him he’s as important to her as her family is; he’s someone she wants to fight to be her best self for. And it’s important to note that Hook is the only person on that list not connected to Emma by blood. In an episode that dealt with the role fate has played in Emma’s relationships, Emma’s scene with Hook was a strong reminder that fate may have allowed them to cross paths, but they made the choice to open their hearts to each other. Hook made the choice to give up his darkness because Emma offered him hope for the first time in centuries, and now he’s choosing to offer that same hope to her.

Hook’s smile after Emma told him he’s one of her reasons for living was a thing of beauty. Colin O’Donoghue brought such unbridled happiness to that moment, and it was wonderful to see Morrison answer that with a soft smile after Hook told Emma she’s his reason, too. For the first time in what felt like way too long, Emma was able to smile and let herself enjoy a good moment with Hook—however brief it was. She could have chosen to put her walls back up with him in the face of the darkness surrounding her, but instead she chose to tell him how important her is to her; she chose to make him happy and to let him make her happy. That one moment was hopeful enough to keep me going through the rest of the dark episode, and it was hopeful enough to remind Emma that she has people who believe in her and want her to believe in herself. Without saying the exact words, I think we know at this point that Hook and Emma love each other. And that love is a source of strength for both of them.

Hook wasn’t the only character to use their personal connection to darkness and their belief in Emma to help her in this episode. Regina was perhaps Emma’s biggest source of support as she fought against her darkest impulses. While it was fun to watch them go on a road trip, that whole storyline was designed to get them to one place: a lonely roadside with Emma pointing a gun at Lily and Regina fighting for Emma to choose the path she wasn’t strong enough to take so many years before.

Morrison was great in that scene, but Lana Parrilla stole the show and made me cry with the sincerity in her voice as Regina talked Emma down. Once Upon a Time is a show primarily about women, and I loved that this moment was all about the power of female friendship. This was a moment of one woman who was manipulated by Rumplestiltskin not wanting to see another go down that path. But, more importantly, this was Regina specifically not wanting that path for Emma. These two women went from enemies to reluctant allies to friends, and the strength of that friendship lies in their deep understanding of and empathy for one another. And while Emma has always seemed like the more empathetic one (that’s just her nature), this was Regina’s turn to be a good friend for Emma while she was falling apart.

Regina knows the pain of feeling like your life is spiraling out of your control, but she was right: If Emma killed Lily, it wouldn’t be something she could just explain away as an act of fate. It would be a direct choice to embrace the darkness, to give up any hope she had in her own ability to push back against the people who’ve manipulated her all her life. And Regina knows Emma is stronger than that; she knows Emma is better than that. In giving Emma the support she never got as she started down the path to darkness, Regina made a choice to be better than who she was. And that choice by Regina helped Emma choose her own fate—at least for that moment. Throughout the episode, we were given so many examples of the importance of knowing someone has your back and believes in you. Ultimately, only Emma could put the gun down; only she could save her own heart from darkness. But she was able to find the strength to choose her own path because of the love and support of those who care about her, especially Regina.

Regina is going to need some love and support for herself soon, after discovering that Robin got Zelena pregnant. (Who else screamed—or groaned—when they found out?) While I’m not convinced Zelena is telling the truth, what matters in this case is the impact it will have on Regina. Will she let her hopelessness drive her back to the darkness (which we already saw hints of with her taking Belle’s heart out of desperation)? Now it’s Regina’s turn to once again feel like fate is keeping her from happiness, and I’m honestly not sure how she’ll respond to that.

This episode reaffirmed my belief that Emma and Regina can never be happy at the same time. Emma is in a better emotional place now. She seems to have chosen to continue to help others find their happy ending, which is why she held her hand out to Lily—something she couldn’t find it in herself to do as a girl. The darkness seems to be at bay for at least the immediate future. But she’s going to need that newfound strength and belief to help Regina. Emma and Regina have always been two sides of the same coin (even more than Emma and Lily), and that’s what makes their dynamic so captivating to watch.

“Lily” made me feel hopeful about where the rest of this season of Once Upon a Time is headed. And that’s all I can ask for from a late-April episode of one of my favorite shows on television.


54 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.19

  1. [” It would be a direct choice to embrace the darkness, to give up any hope she had in her own ability to push back against the people who’ve manipulated her all her life. And Regina knows Emma is stronger than that; she knows Emma is better than that.”]

    Look . . . I realize that you love the Emma Swan character. I understand that. But I don’t agree with your comment that Emma is better than that. SHE’S NOT. Nor is anyone else on that show. I cannot view Emma in the same manner as you do. Regina is my favorite character on that show. But I cannot view her in that same manner, as well. No one is that good. And if Emma was truly better than what you say, she would have never cut down Regina’s apple tree in an act of vengeance back in Season 1. She would have never stood there and did nothing, while Snow attempted to kill Mulan in a fit of anger. She would have never shoved Cruella over the cliff in that manner without even warning Henry. And she’s damn lucky that Henry had the good sense to duck.

    Even before killing Cruella, Emma was not the epitome of goodness. And she made some bad choices in her life. She is still driving around in a stolen vehicle, pretending that she had not done anything wrong. When Lily drove off with the yellow bug, the only thing I went through my mind was that “payback was a bitch”, because Emma has yet to really pay the price for car theft and possession of stolen property.

    She’s not that strong. She is no more stronger than her parents, Regina or anyone else.

    • I don’t think she’s saying Emma is the epitome of goodness and she’s always been willing to bend the rules and play dirty but she hasn’t killed in cold blood either. And it was Regina who reminded Emma that she was “better than that.” Regina’s speech to Emma was very much a call back to Emma’s speech to Ashley/Cinderella way back at the beginning of Season 1 about punching back and saying this is who you are (bonus tie in: Emma referenced fairy godmothers and it was Rumple who sent Cinderella to the ball while Regina is telling Emma not to pull the trigger as a screw you to Gold).

      Emma owns the stuff she’s done in the past but she’s trying, like Regina and Hook, to be better and that was what Season 1 was all about — her trying to be better for Henry’s sake. She even tells Snow and Charming as much in Season 2 when they’re upset that Emma invited her to Granny’s for the welcome back party and when Emma is willing to give Regina the benefit of the doubt over the Cora/Archie situation. One of the main points of the show is that everyone has both strengths and weaknesses, that everyone can still do and be better, even the heroes.

    • Did you know that the statute of limitations for felony car theft is generally about 3 years? If real life prosecutors wouldn’t pursue a charge on a crime that old and relatively minor (it might have even been considered a misdemeanor seeing as the car was not expensive and it had already been stolen by Neal) maybe the fans of a fictional story on TV should just let that one go after 4 seasons…

      • Completely agree, though I thought it was hilarious a few episodes ago when Emma was flustered and admitted to Regina it was stolen. It’s got a clean vin, and the statue of limitations is up.

    • “No one is that good.” – No one is good enough to turn away from killing someone in cold blood? That’s a depressing mindset to have, but then again, people have often accused me of having too much faith in humanity.

      That’s the only statement I was trying to make about Emma here. I would never say she’s perfect. I would never want her to be. I love that she has flaws and makes bad choices. She was a thief (still is since she stole that car in this episode, too). She killed Cruella when she probably could have found a better way to rescue her son had she been thinking clearly and not letting her anger drive her actions. She’s not the epitome of goodness. Thank God for that. If she would be, she’d be profoundly boring.

      However, she is fighting to be her best self, and that’s a story I find great inspiration in. She was strong enough not to give in to her worst self, to fight the darkness Rumple wanted to bring out of her.

      It’s clear that you don’t like Emma, and I can respect that. No two people will ever have the same opinions of a work of fiction; it’s what makes discussion thrive. But to say she’s not strong enough to refuse to kill another person in cold blood seems a little over-the-top to me. Emma is no saint, and I don’t ever want her to be one. But she is strong enough to fight to be her best self; the scene where she put the gun down proved that. And that kind of strength inspires me to fight to be my best self. That’s why I love Emma so much, and I hope you can respect that—even if we agree to disagree on her character much of the time.

  2. I loved that the Apprentice was the one to tell Lily the truth about who she was and how she came to be where she was. It was such a great moment for both those characters and epitomizes the way that sometimes confessing is better for the confessor than the person on the receiving end (and that the Apprentice may be wise but doesn’t get teenagers). The way he presented everything was not as an excuse or to say that she could never be good, only that the deck was stacked against her and she’d have to work even harder to be good; of course, being a teenager and having a whole lot of ridiculous and unexpected truth dumped on her like that, she heard what she wanted to hear to an extent (that the things she did/does aren’t her fault).

    It was painful seeing Emma struggle so much but also wonderful seeing her actively overcome it. She’s had so much in her life that was out of her control for so long and managed to come to terms with it and now she’s learning just how much of what she thought was in her control wasn’t (one of my all-time favorite exchanges on the show was her and Neal in the bar in Manhattan when she first realizes just how much her life was affected by the Enchanted Forest, that it wasn’t just her popping through a wardrobe and waiting 28 years). I felt the development of the Emma/Regina friendship in this episode was handled better than in past episodes (also, Regina’s smile when Maleficent walked into Granny’s was one of my favorite moments of the night). Emphasizing to Emma that Cruella was an accident only makes me more frustrated with Snow and Charming for completely irrational reasons (why did they run to Emma to tell her about what they’d learned from the author rather than CALL her?).

    I’m still not convinced that Belle didn’t consent to having her heart taken by Regina last ep. She doesn’t remember because Regina instructed her to forget, but it doesn’t mean Belle wasn’t in on it. Of all the characters, Belle is the one I can see consenting to something like that. She felt so responsible for what Rumple did in the first half of the season and she’d be the one to go out on a crazy limb to be a hero in a situation like helping Regina prevent Rumple from hurting someone else. Doesn’t mean she did but I could see a scenario where she would. And the way Rumple worked with Will and his speech to Belle were the first moments in weeks when I could remember the really good Rumbelle days of Season 2. It was the first step in the right direction he’s taken in a while and shows he’s not completely hopeless (yet).

    If Regina’s smile at Maleficent’s appeal for Emma’s help was my favorite moment of the episode, the way she spoke to Snow and Charming was a close second. They’ve spent so long telling themselves that they’ve been making up for their mistakes that they had almost convinced themselves that the job was done (until the secret came out of course). I don’t think it occurred to them to apologize to her until she came asking Emma for help finding Lily. There was a definite moment somewhere off screen where they were asking themselves why they hadn’t thought of trying to find the kid themselves or even offering an apology. It highlights that what they regretted for so long wasn’t necessarily the action as the way it made them look; if they’d really regretted what they did they would have tried to make that situation right instead of just saying they wouldn’t do it again (there’s a line in Gone with the Wind where Rhett tells Scarlet she’s like the thief who isn’t sorry at all that he stole but who’s terribly sorry he got caught that keeps jumping to my mind).

    Most disappointing moment goes to the Zelena pregnancy reveal. Whether she’s lying or not doesn’t matter. They really didn’t need to add anything that crazy to an arc that is already so overloaded with plot. This whole road trip feels a bit rushed (as most of the season has). They left and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be gone from Storybrooke for very long in the next episode either. Even when Emma and Henry went with Gold to Manhattan in Season 2 they were gone for three or four episodes (hell, the first ep they were on the trip they only made it from Storybrooke to the plane). I am looking forward to seeing how they wrap this up with two weeks/three hours left of the season if only because they have so much that’s been tossed out there.

    Great recap and analysis as always. 😉

    • Thanks, Lauryn!

      Thanks especially for bringing up the fact that the Apprentice didn’t really absolve Lily of any wrongdoing; I think I just got caught up in my frustration that he never tried to help Emma that I blocked that out. You’re right; he simply told her she’d have to work harder to be good. But that choice was still up to her. Lily simply chose to take the easy way out (which seems to be motivating the quest to get the Author to change the book—everyone who wants that to happen seems to not grasp the idea that you can become worthy of your happy ending, like Ursula and Hook, by working to be a better person).

      I’m also happy you brought up Regina telling Belle to forget, because that command must have worked on me too! It adds a little more ambiguity to the situation once again.

      And I have to tell you I think you’re spot-on in saying Snow and Charming seem more concerned about how the actions they took made them look as opposed to who they actually hurt. Or at least that was the case for a long time. How else could you explain not trying to apologize to Maleficent for so long?

  3. So as an Emma Swan fan I loved that she was the focus of this episode. And I really like the idea that Emma and Lily have always been tied together (regardless of the Charming’s actions) and if both of them had grown up in the Enchanted Forest then they’d have either been enemies or best friends (it would have come down to what choices they’d have made), but they’ve always been destined to know each other.

    I’ve always been skeptical of the Regina/Emma friendship especially after episode 4×05 which did this story more harm than good, as we saw Regina being very harsh with Emma, and Emma just taking it and not fighting back which is very unEmma like, and while I think the show has done a better job of it lately, this is the first time I’ve really bought into their friendship. It was great seeing Regina admit that she needed Emma’s help to find Robin, and then I really loved that as the episode went on we saw Regina get more and more concerned about Emma, and it finally culminated in that scene with Emma holding the gun to Lily. The tension in that scene was great and while I’m obviously very happy that Emma didn’t shoot Lily, I don’t think the turning Emma dark storyline is finished by any means, Rumple is still determined to get his happy ending and I can see Lily teaming up with Rumple to get her revenge on the Charmings. So I think there’s still lots of twists to come yet.

    Finally the Charmings apologized to Malifiicent, and once again I thought that Kirsten Baur Van Straten was great in this episode. She is bringing so much empathy to Malificent – I really want her to get her happy ending. I love that she didn’t sugar coat it for the Charmings – they need to ask Lily for forgiveness, but if she’s full of darkness how likely is it.

    Regarding Belle and her heart, I think she did agree to let Regina take her heart, but then Regina did tell her to forget everything so I think that’s why she didn’t remember anything. Rumple definitely seemed to be sincere when he worked with Will to get Belle’s heart back, but then he was also sincere when he said he wanted to darken Emma’s heart so he can get his happy ending. So I still don’t want Rumple to get his happy ending or even his redemption at this stage.

    I’m leaving my favorite part for last – we only got 1 CaptainSwan scene this week but it was a good one! The best bit was when Emma told Killian that he is included with her parents and Henry as someone she will fight for, and his smile was just the icing on the cake. I don’t know why Killian isn’t glued to Emma’s side for the next 3 episodes as you can see he’s pretty much the only person who can make her smile right now.

    I can’t wait to see how this will all end.

    • I’m so happy so many of you are reminding me about Regina telling Belle to forget. I can’t believe I didn’t remember!

      I’m so glad you bought into the Emma/Regina friendship in this episode. I feel like this episode did a better job than any other at showing that it’s not just a one-way street; Regina does care about and care for Emma, which is a big deal for someone like her who isn’t used to being a friend.

      I am intrigued to see how the rest of this storyline goes because I don’t know if they could have Emma choose to give into her darkness at this point, now that we had this beautiful scene of her coming so close but choosing to turn away. That means if Rumple is still determined to turn her dark, it’s going to be more difficult. I think he never expected her to make it back from that trip without crossing over to the dark side, so it’s going to be telling to see how he reacts to her happy homecoming. (And how he reacts to Maleficent seemingly getting her happy ending.) I know he needs Emma to turn dark in order to get the Author to change the past, but now it seems to be Regina who might be the most easily manipulated back to the darkness.

  4. At the end of the last episode things seemed very grim, like we were about to see Emma slip a switch into being a bad guy. I didn’t think that was the way we were going, and I hoped it wasn’t how the writers would play it. So this week was a relief for me. I loved seeing Regina and Emma go out on a mission. I thought Emma had a good point when she offered to help Regina in NYC previously – their skills and temperament are a good balance for each other. I loved seeing Regina give good advice to Emma. It’s great to see where Regina is these days, making good choices, but still with her edge. I loved her in this episode.
    At the moment where Emma had the gun on Lily and we saw the scene from far away I honestly believed there was a chance that Emma might pull the trigger. Up until that moment I didn’t think she would, but during that wide shot I was waiting for the moment when the gun would fire and Lily would be thrown back. I was impressed that they were able to make me believe that (I wouldn’t have if you’d just told me about the scene). It made Emma choosing not to pull the trigger that much more powerful.
    I was a bit bugged by someone (Regina, I guess) characterizing Emma’s killing of Cruella as an accident. Self (child) defense is more like it. Using force against an armed, angry, crazy person is not an accident. It is generally thought to be justified. I mean, as Sheriff, based on the information she had, it would have been a justifiable response, even if it hadn’t been her son. It was a difficult, unfortunate, regrettable decision, especially after finding out that Cruella couldn’t kill anyone, but it wasn’t an accident.
    I get what Lily was feeling about making the right choices but things still going wrong. It might not really be that way, but a lot of people feel like whatever they do, they end up getting screwed over. Lily certainly seemed to be a pathological liar. I was so sad for young Emma when she lost her chance for a happy home because of Lily’s deceptions. I don’t know quite what to make of the whole Lily story yet. I’m interested to see where it goes.
    I have no idea wtf they’re going to do to wrap all of this stuff up, what with Zelena’s bombshell being thrown into the mix. They’re promising a series-changing finale? I’m up for that. I remember being utterly shocked when the curse was broken at the end of season 1, wondering what these guys were doing with this show because I would never have predicted that huge shift. But they just keep on surprising me, and they seem to know what they’re doing. So, I’m ready. Whatever it may be.

    • Regina wasn’t actually there when Emma killed Cruella, so maybe she just figured it was accidental as it’s not like Emma to deliberately kill under any circumstance.

      • It didn’t occur to me before, but maybe that’s what Emma and Henry said. No one else was there, so who’d contradict them?

    • I’m so glad you mentioned the wide shot of Emma/Lily/Regina. It was the perfect way to play on our expectations of the media to increase tension. In most shows, wide shots like that immediately precede a point-blank shot so we don’t have to get all the gore up close. Thankfully, that didn’t happen here, but I remember in the moment tensing up without even meaning to just because my brain is trained to think wide shot = fatal shot. It was a very smart bit of directing and camerawork.

  5. I liked this episode so much more than I thought I was going to. I wasn’t looking forward to a night of Emma pushing everyone away so I’m glad we basically got the opposite of that.

    I loved everything about Emma and Regina’s interactions last night. I feel like a broken record at this point but this is exactly what I wanted from their relationship. They can disagree and argue over what the best way to do something is, but they have each other’s backs and most importantly, they believe in each other’s goodness and potential. I also liked that Regina reminded Emma that if she killed Lily, she’d be playing right into Rumple’s plans. I’ve always liked the pragmatic side of Regina and it was really evident here. When appealing to Emma’s goodness (which she had admittedly lost track of for a moment) didn’t work, she went for the practical reason to keep Lily around and I appreciated that.

    In keeping with the theme of Emma not pushing people away, her conversation with Hook was perfect. Her determined look when she told Hook that he was a reason for her to fight was so perfectly Emma and his genuinely touched smile when he heard that was beautiful. She’s been his reason to fight and to do better than he has in the past and to hear that he could fill the same role for her must have been wonderful for him to hear. And that kiss was adorable 😉

    I’m glad that Snow and Charming apologized to Maleficent and wanted to make things up to Lily. I interpreted The Apprentice’s words to Lily very similarly to Lauryn. I don’t think he was trying to tell her that she was just destined to be evil, she just had to work a lot harder to be good than most people. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a level of distinction Lily was capable of understanding at the time. After continuously trying to make the best decision she could at the time, only to realize later how awful it was, I think it was easier for her to give up her choice in the matter and accept that she’d lost her potential for goodness.

    Finally, Zelena’s pregnancy makes me very uncomfortable. From a purely character perspective, I just want to yell STOP DOING THINGS THAT WILL CAUSE REGINA MORE PAIN. From a personal perspective, forced pregnancy storylines are not my favorite. This is a lot different than most of these types of stories, as Robin isn’t actually carrying the baby but it’s still a level of manipulation that really bothers me. The child was conceived under false pretenses, with Zelena’s knowledge that Robin would do the honorable thing and stay with his child no matter what. I’m still hoping that things aren’t what they seemed to be at the end of the episode, for both Robin’s sake and Regina’s.

    • And I completely forgot to talk about Belle. I do think that she agreed to Regina’s plan to take her heart. I think Regina’s come too far to use other people against their will and it just feels like something Belle would do to stop Rumple from hurting any more people.

    • I love what you said about Regina using her pragmatism once again to get through to Emma. Sometimes telling someone that what they’re about to do is wrong won’t work. Sometimes you have to challenge them, which is what Regina did with Emma. And Emma responded to that challenge much better than she would have if Regina had started moralizing like her parents most likely would have. That’s why Regina and Hook are so important in Emma’s life right now. They don’t preach; they offer advice based on experience with darkness, and they’ve never pretended to be morally superior to Emma.

      And forced pregnancy stories always bother me too. This one is different than most, but it still has some problematic consent issues wrapped up in it. And don’t even get me started on Regina having more pain to deal with because my heart is breaking for her right now, and I know it’s just going to get worse this Sunday. 😦

  6. Stand back, folks, I am jumping in the discussion pool! (Yes, it will be a belly flop . . . or maybe a cannonball . . .)

    — I, too, am annoyed by the idea that Lily can’t catch a break. I am curious about how this notion of Lily plays out. While she continues to claim that she tries to do the right thing, her actions say otherwise. Her lies and deceptions are her choices. Her decision to steal was a choice she made — not something she was manipulated into. The deck may be stacked, but she still makes terrible decisions with the cards she’s been dealt. I have trouble feeling sorry for Lily because of her choices and her desire to make others responsible for her happiness. She keeps saddling Emma with the responsibility of keeping her in the light. Lily lies with such ease, no wonder young Emma finally just said “enough.” I’m hoping it’s deliberate choice on the part of the writers for there to be such a such a disparity between Lily’s words and actions. We’ve seen that Emma has made (and paid) for some bad choices. She’s also had a stacked deck to deal with, but as someone else pointed out, Emma owns her choices.

    — I love the comparison between Lily and Rumple. Both remind me of Ariel’s comment that villains are villains because of the way they go about getting their happy ending. And of course there is Cruella’s bit of wisdom: it’s easier than blaming bad judgement and gin. Both seem eager to blame anything but the bad judgment and gin. (Of course, wouldn’t we all like to do that occasionally?)

    — As to Rumple . . . I had a different take on his actions, so I really want to see/hear (what does one do on a blog?) what everybody says on this. I assumed that Belle did give her consent, but forgot when Regina commanded her to “go home and forget about all of this” — that in that command, Regina inadvertently commanded Belle to forget her own consent. I also saw Rumple’s stealing back of the heart as just more manipulation on his heart. Stealing the heart back took away Regina’s leverage and could move Belle back in his corner. I just really have trouble trusting Rumple right now. (I feel like I’m the voice of crankiness sometimes. Honestly, folks, I’m really a very optimistic person.)

    — I wish we could have seen the Will/Belle relationship develop or even see them as a couple more now.

    — Please, Katie, no need to apologize for Star Wars references. And did the Losties catch the Geronimo Jackson and Mr. Cluck??

    — I had trouble understanding everything the Sorcerer said. The music covered a lot of it. Did anyone else have that problem? I feel like there was probably something significant. Do we know whose voice (actor) that was?

    — The Apprentice is feeling a little hinky. Maybe this is all a plot hatched by him and (shady) Blue . . .

    — Ahhh. I love a good Hook and Emma moment. He was the perfect person to warn Emma about the dangers of vengeance. Although, it would be nice if Hook had other story-lines sometimes. Can we send Hook and Charming on a road trip?

    — Regina. Oh how Regina rocked. Her comments to Emma were spot-on. (Unlike last week — where her comments were good, but she didn’t quite have credibility to pull it off.) My favorite was, “It takes a long time to come back from something like this. I know.” I do love the Emma/Regina friendship. I love Regina’s snark. Sometimes you need the friend who calls you on stuff.

    — Zelena has to be lying. I mean, seriously?? That’s just way too soap opera. (My evil sister impersonated my boyfriend’s dead wife and is pregnant with his baby!) But such a lie would be in keeping with Zelena’s deliciously over-the-top style, so it does make sense on that level. Speaking of over the-the-top, I have to admit to a certain disappointment in not getting a Zelena-Cruella scene. *sigh*

    Nicely done, as always, Katie. Can’t wait to see where we go from here.

    • As far as Rumple goes, I’ve been as critical of his actions as anyone around here lately, and I can understand how you’d see him getting Belle’s heart back as more manipulation. However, I feel like the fact that he directly addressed all of his lies to her and flat-out said he wasn’t asking for forgiveness made me feel like it was all less manipulative than it could have been. But maybe that’s just because I like Rumple so much more when he’s complex than when he’s full-on villainous like he’s been lately.

      And I’m so happy you brought up Cruella’s quote about using the Author as an excuse rather than blaming bad judgment and gin. Cruella may have been a legitimate psychopath, but she owned who she was. So many of these characters this season have been using excuses for their actions and their lack of a happy ending, and I really hope the season ends with definitive proof that yes, circumstances might be stacked against you, but how you choose to deal with those circumstances defines who you are/your ability to be happy. Happiness is a choice, just like choosing to wallow in misery. And for Lily and Rumple especially, they don’t want to choose to be happy because it means giving up their excuse to do bad things. At least that’s how I see it. While characters like Emma and Hook actively chose to stop holding on to negative emotions and let themselves be happy. It was only when Emma let those negative emotions back in that she started sliding deeper into darkness.

      • See, that’s what’s cool about the blog. I like getting the different perspectives on events and characters. (I fear,though, that I am becoming the blog Grumpy. I may need to change my handle to Leroy.) Your reasoning makes sense, so I’m curious to see how this plays out.

        • If you’re the blog Grumpy, then I think we’re all in pretty good shape! You never seem overly grumpy/negative to me. You just offer different perspectives, which I LOVE about my commenters! 🙂

  7. I think next to Desperate Souls and Manhattan, this was my favorite episode, and no surprise that it’s Emma centric. Her screen time with Regina was perfect, and I loved that it was Regina who talked her down, even when Emma was trying really hard to ignore her.

    Loved seeing the red jacket come back too, lol. I was wondering if the costume department would make that call, after last weeks episode. It seemed to signal to me, rightly so, that in many ways Emma reverted right back to who she was before Henry found her. Except that now she considers herself a murderer. I wasn’t thrilled with Regina calling it an accident – clearly it wasn’t – but I suppose knocking someone off a cliff would seem like an accident if you’ve slaughtered whole villages in a rage, so….

    I was a bit irritated that the Apprentice saw fit to fill Lily in on their back story, but left Emma to wallow in confusion all those years, which really contributed to her inability to accept Storybrooke for what it was for so long.

    The Zelena pregnancy reveal was hinted at already, I think in the week before last’s episode. It was the way she was standing at the end, and I thought right then, oh crap she’s pregnant, this will be interesting.

    There were tons of call outs to season 1 in this episode too. The fairy godmother reference, the wolf in the road, the punch back speech. I thought it was great and I really wish more episodes were of this caliber, but then we all know OUAT delivers with finales, so, next week is looking like a real roller coaster.

    Thanks for the review, Katie. On point and insightful as always. 🙂

    • Thanks, Dez!

      I loved reading your interpretation of the red leather jacket’s return, because I saw it as something completely different—and I love different perspectives! To me, the return of that jacket seemed to signify Emma putting her armor on to go to battle to try to make up for what she did to Cruella. I saw it as her trying to return to the self that fights to do the right thing; putting the armor of “the savior” back on.

      I also just needed to say I’m so happy to find another fan who loved Manhattan, too! I think there are a few of us here who consider that one of our all-time favorites.

      • ‘Manhattan’ and ‘Going Home’ get my vote for my two fav episodes so far! It’s hard to top Rumple discovering Henry was his grandson. Too bad he doesn’t really treat him as such these days.

  8. I loved the whole trip (minus New York 😒😤). Watching Regina draw from her own experiences to try to navigate Emma through her own turbulent emotional storm was really great to watch. For someone like Regina who has fallen far into the true depths of darkness and has really had to claw her way out while continuing to fight her demons daily, I’m always super proud of her. I know that it’s not easy by any means, and is a constant battle not to fall right back down especially as for Regina, the payoff for constantly doing the right thing seems to be pain. I absolutely love and simultaneously dread really beautiful moments of goodness from Regina, simply because they tend to always be followed by something emotionally horrible happening to her. It’s literally like she’s punished for being good, and maybe that’s the universe’s way of testing if she’s really changed, but it’s seriously kind of heartbreaking. I can imagine that probably makes her internally question if all this is even worth it, because the more good she does, the more heartbreak seems to come her way, and when coupled with the amount of energy she has to put into fighting all of her darker impulses, mentally & emotionally I can image she’s probably very tired. For someone who LOVES Regina’s character so much, its emotionally exhausting for me just to watch her constantly get broken down time after time. I really hope Zelena isn’t pregnant because that would just be a whole new mess, and another series of emotional blows for Regina that I really have no interest in watching. As much as I love Barbara Hershey as Cora and I’ve wanted more scenes with her for soooo long, I really hope she’ll only be back in flashbacks. With Zelena trying to break Regina and Rumple potentially attempting to get back at her, the last thing she needs is present day manipulation from mother dearest.

    Maleficent has always come across as the more rational of the villains. I don’t think she’s really into corrupting that much. When Regina first came to her, she told her to take her grief and let it go, and then again when Regina wanted the dark curse, she tried to stop Regina from casting it because she knew it would leave a darkness or a void in Regina (and I’m sure it was to do w/ Lily as well assuming she was pregnant already). Now again in Storybrooke, I’m not super surprised that she shifted from Rumple’s plan to corrupt Emma once she realized that she could work with Emma to get Lily back. I genuinely don’t think Maleficent ever cared or even wanted to turn Emma dark, she just wanted her kid back and she realized that turning Emma simply wasn’t necessary to achieve that. This also made we wonder why the Chernabog went after her, out of the trio I think it’s safe to say Cruella was the darkest.

    Glad Snow and Charming FINALLY remembered that they hadn’t apologized to Maleficent in the last 30 years and attempted to do so.

    Lily. When Snow and Charming took away Emma’s agency, they took away Lily’s too. Everyone is born with equal potential for darkness and light inside of them. Snow and Charming offset that balance in Lily by taking Emma’s (apparently great) darkness and dumping it in Lily. They technically gave her a double dose as she already had her own personal dose of light and darkness inside of her. So I guess the question is while yes, everyone can chose to be good or bad as they have a 50/50 make up of darkness and light, does Lily really have that same choice if hers is more like 100/50 dark/light? Does that affect her ability to make free will choices to be good because there is a much heavier influence (than any other normal person) inside of her to be bad put there by the Charmings? Also, should Lily come to Storybrooke, receive her powers and attack the Charmings, would them having to kill her to stop her be morally wrong on their part, considering they created that monster by doing something pretty monstrous to her while she was an unborn innocent? Also is Lily meant to be or have some connection to ‘Lilith’ from Jewish mythology & pop culture? That could be Interestingly scary.

    • This episode was so refreshing. I really needed an episode where the characters actually got to talk to each other and have meaningful conversations. I wasnt even bothered by the pregnancy reveal at the end. Regardless of if she is faking or not, playing the pregnancy card is the easiest way Zelena could ensure her own survival. She’s playing the game of thrones!

      At this point I am kinda buying into the idea that Lily doesn’t have complete control over her fate. The scientist in me knows that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it merely transfers. Lily has been living in an unnatural state of being her entire life. She was given this darkness she was never supposed to have, which is why no matter what decision she makes, things do not work out in her favor. The Apprentice simply told Lily things would be harder, not that she would always be destined to fail. But, in essence, her ability to have complete control over her own fate was robbed from her because of what the Charmings did. It doesnt completely absolve her of all responsibility, but it does warrant sympathy. People are supposed to have complete free will and control over their own fates, but Lily doesn’t, and I feel like the universe is out to correct itself. It could be that these women are drawn together because Lily literally is a part of Emma and perhaps that darkness wants to go back to its original host. In my head it would make sense that the only way to make things right is for Emma to once again retake that potential for darkness back from Lily. The universe would then be set back to its original state, and Emma would be responsible for having to overcome that darkness herself, which was supposed to be her burden to begin with. I am really intrigued by the implications of the current physical proximity between Emma and Lily. Perhaps Emma simply being close to Lily makes the pull towards the darkness stronger (Is this Rumple’s plan?)? Does being around Emma mean Lily has more control over her own fate? Lily did state things are better when she is around Emma “Its like my whole life is darkness, and when you’re around things are brighter”. Its sad to think that had Emma made the decision to stay, things would have been better for both of them.

      I also saw a parallel between Rumple and Lily, but I saw it in their lack of complete agency. They both have the cards stacked against them. They both are in a state of living they did not completely choose for themselves. Lily had this darkness transferred to her, and Rumple was resurrected by Neal. While Rumple’s dark heart is his own doing, his physical aliveness is not. Rumple also does not have complete control over his own destiny for as long as the dagger exists. In a season so consumed with the idea of having control over your own destiny (and the tragedy and emotional toll when that is taken from you), it would make sense that something important needs to happen with Rumple and his relationship with that dagger by the end of the season. We have three important threads related to free will going on here. Rumple and the dagger, Lily and her darkness (and Emma’s ties to that), and the writer’s manipulations.

      There was amazing stuff here with Regina and Hook and Belle (I also vote for Belle gave consent but doesn’t remember or didn’t know fully what she was consenting to), but I think thats been well covered by everyone. I just need more Emma smiles.

      I kinda cant wait to see Lily turn into a dragon (is her necklace actually supposed to be a dragon tooth? I think I remember the Apprentice saying something about a tooth in his spell). I have to think that turning into a dragon is something she will be able to do once she’s back in Storybrooke (she did start out in a dragon egg after all). I am also a little concerned about her level of power considering the Apprentice was so scared of it he had to banish the child to a realm without magic. Although, it would be awesome to have TWO CGI dragons at once, but that just might break the budget.

      And finally, I actually had a dream last night that I was watching a preview for the next episode and they teased some steamy CS action. I am so deprived my subconscious is making up its own TV previews now.

      • Oh and p.s., there is always the possibility that Rumple’s plan all along has been to manipulate Emma’s fierce heroic side, and he is banking on Emma not killing anyone, but voluntarily taking back the darkness that was transferred to Lily out of guilt or her belief it is the right thing to do.

      • I LOVE what you have to say about Lily! I agree that Lily’s goodness/darkness is out of balance and she has the deck stacked against her. And it makes sense to me that the darkness may need to be sent back to Emma where it belongs.
        Changing Rumple’s relationship to the dagger might be the “series changing” twist that’s coming up… maybe? I shouldn’t speculate – I can’t even come close to predicting this show!

        • Ok, I realized that just adding my love wasn’t enough. It made me incredibly happy to see Emma listening to people around her. Just last season she would have been throwing up walls like crazy and making a run for it in the bug. I loved watching Regina trying to gauge how much to say and when to be quiet. I(If I start talking about Hook, I’ll gush. It will be goopy. You can assume goopy love for how Hook deals with Emma.) Emma even hears Maleficent out on the issue.

          I also loved that no matter how angry Emma is with her parents, she moves into protective-mode when she thinks they are in danger.

    • I just want to throw out there that while I totally agree the Charmings needed to apologize to Maleficent, it hasn’t really been 30 years of negligence on their part. It was maybe 8 months. 28 years was under a curse,and Emma killed her in dragon form in season 1. So really, this was their first opportunity since Emma was born and they weren’t under a curse to do so.

    • I really liked the argument you made about Lily having to deal with a 100/50 dark/light ratio. That’s helping me see the situation in a slightly different light. And it’s making me hope that this season ends with the balance being restored—because I think Emma is strong enough to work through that 50/50 potential for great darkness/great light, while Lily deserves to have a fair 50/50 shot, too. I’m also still really intrigued by the fact that Lily’s part of the prophecy seemed to play out exactly as planned, but it’s clear Emma wasn’t predisposed to always make good choices the same way Lily was predisposed to always make bad ones. I wonder if that will ever get explained, or if we’re supposed to interpret that as the effect of Snow and Charming not being able to raise her to live out that full potential for goodness, like the Apprentice said they needed to.

      And as always, I loved your take on Regina, and my heart is breaking for her, too, right now. It does seem like anytime she does the right thing, she gets punished for it with more pain. It seems to be a way of testing her ability to keep choosing the path of goodness, and I’m so proud of her for facing all of these hardships and still working on being better than her demons. But this latest blow was tough to take. It feels like one final temptation for Regina to team up with Rumple, and I hope we get to see her choose to continue to be better than her darkness in the face of pain the same way she encouraged Emma to be her best self.

  9. I really loved everything you had to say about this episode but since I’m not the most articulate person I’ll leave my thoughts in bullet points. Overall I did enjoy this episode more than I was expecting.

    – First I really like how they brought out the overall arc regarding choice vs free will and redemption and forgiveness in terms of Emma’ s actions and struggles during this episode. You could really see how she struggled feeling like she had any kind of choice after finding out so much of her life had been influenced by fate. I do believe though in the end fate can’t pick who you are only you can and it’s something Rumplestiltskin will learn the hard way.

    -Secondly Emma and Killian. SO ADORABLE. I loved their interaction in this episode no matter how brief it was.cause frankly those two can make a lot of a little bit of (screen)time. Emma telling Killian flat out he was one of the people she lives for just…oh I was squealing seeing the sheer happiness and smiles from both of them despite everything going on around them. They really do make the most of their quiet moments now and I can’t wait to see how everything plays out in these last few episodes.

    -Emma and Regina BROTP FOR THE WIN seriously this was a really good showcase of how far each has come and how they’ve gone from pretty much hating each other to being real true friends. It was so nice to see that reflected in how Regina was trying hard to keep Emma from making the same mistakes she did when Rumple was manipulating her and just everything really.

    -Lily…I’m still holding judgement out on her overall as a kid I could really see her struggles and I loved how really good her and young Emma’s interactions were even though they both had no idea the hand they had both been given by fate and other’s choices. As an adult though it seems like she used the darkness being channeled into her as an excuse that she didn’t have any choice but to be “bad or evil” so I’m hoping she learns that despite the ‘brick wall” she’s got to climb she does have a choice in saying who she is. At least I hope so.

    -Rumple…as complex and as brilliantly Robert Carlyle plays this character I honestly cannot see a way out of this hole he’s dug himself into. Yes he did a good thing for Belle but beyond that I don’t see things ending well for him. I’m keeping an open mind to see what happens in the finale when it comes to him.

    -Snowing coming to apologize to Maleficent and acknowledging they need to apologize to Lily was nice to see cause apologizing to them is just as important as it is to Emma in my opinion at least. I just don’t know how open Lily will be to it given what I saw in the promo but I’m hoping I”ll be surprised in a good way.

    -Zelena….you are one twisted way over the hill INSANE witch (very entertaining but still) ….the looks on Robin and Regina’s faces my heart broke for both them when that last minute reveal came by. I admit though as much as I have all the faith that Robin and Regina will be alright and together at the end of the season this pregnancy twist had me thinking I DID NOT WANT TO WATCH A SOAP OPERA. But after my initial jaw drop (seriously I felt metaphorically sore lol) I am still holding out to see how this plays out cause I have a feeling it won’t be in any way typical or soap operaish if that makes sense.

    I’m hoping to see a little bit more Emma and Killian screentime, Regina and Robin, Emma and Snowing and frankly just to see how the overall arc plays out over these last few episodes and especially during this “series changing finale”…if the promos are to be believed 🙂

    • “I do believe though in the end fate can’t pick who you are only you can…” – This is a great quote, Sarah, and I’m really hoping that the rest of this season plays out in a way that proves it to be true. Yes, fate can put you in certain situations (as we’ve seen with both Emma and Lily), but it’s how you choose to handle the hand you were dealt that determines who you are. You can give in to the kind of person you’re fated to be and the kind of life you feel fated to have, or you can push back. And this show is always at its best when its characters push back.

  10. I forgot to say that, although Rumple didn’t give any specific details, I was pleased that he finally admitted that he had lied to Belle every day of their marriage. She may still end up forgiving him eventually, but I hated that he was constantly lying to her and she had no idea.

  11. Hi Katie

    Great review I completely agree with you especially after last weeks dark episode it was so nice to have some hope !! I think that seeing the Charmings being proactive and decisive helped. As we usually don’t see them so reactive to what is going on it has created the despair that we have been seeing. I loved the scene with Killian who again supporting Emma and reminding her of the support structure she has , the scenes that to me say I love you without using the words…anyway enough flailing about that. OK just one more, the kiss and smile was just so lovely.

    I have never been a huge Regina fan and have often felt after episode 4×5 that she had a lack of awareness of the consequences of her actions and by wanting to get the author to rewrite her story to give her a happy ending was a way to “cheat” the system,but after the support she has shown both Snow and Emma I am completely on board with her redemption and feel she is a good friend to the whole charming family. I suppose that’s why I am still puzzled about her taking Belle’s heart ? I hope this was with Belle’s permission because the Regina we are seeing doesn’t quite fit with the stealing of hearts again.

    Lily- well I got the feeling that once Lily found out about the curse of darkness that she mentally absolved herself of any wrong doing and has used this as an excuse since, by disregarding free will this was her way of justifying any bad choices she has made.

    Sorry this has gotten long… I am still in shock of Zelena’s pregnancy , poor poor Robin and Regina.

    • Hi Emma! No need to apologize for writing a lot; as you can see, we’re no strangers to long comments around these parts. 😉

      As someone who’s been rooting for Regina for a long time, it’s been lovely to see others start to get on board with her character development as she’s grown to be a better friend to Snow and Emma. I remember reading somewhere that the creators of the show have always intended for OUAT to be centered on those three women, so it makes sense that Regina seems to be at her very best when she’s showing how much she’s grown through her relationships with both Emma and Snow.

      And as a final note, there can never be too much flailing about Emma and Hook. That’s a life motto of mine.

    • I am a HUGE Regina fan, but I actually loved her taking Belle’s heart. It’s one of the few Regina 4B developments that felt set up and right. Regina will always have the darkness from who she became as the Evil Queen that lets her be an ends justify the means person to the point where she views taking on that role as her primary contribution to the Charming team. When she put Sidney back in the mirror back in 4A, her response to his anger was “It’s temporary.” And I think that would have been or would be her response to Belle, too, if challenged. She felt fine stealing Belle’s heart because Regina knew she intended no harm but she also knew she could use Rumple’s lack of faith in her [Regina] to make Rumple nervous.

  12. I just don’t get how everyone here thinks Belle would give that kind of consent in any manner. Especially since we know one of her biggest insecurities is being manipulated (via the mirror scene), so much so that she threw her own husband out of town for doing it to her and Hook. Yes, she wants to be a hero, and yes she stated that she was willing to help, but that doesn’t translate to “take my heart”. It’s just not in character for a woman who’s first lines are “no one decides my fate but me” and is constantly losing her autonomy anyway. I don’t think she would willingly offer herself up to be used in a cruel manner to a man she’s clearly not over, otherwise I think her heart wouldn’t have looked so pure. Regina has come a long long way but Lana stated in a recent interview that Regina is learning to use the darkness in a different way, to protect the ones she loves instead of just for selfish reasons, “even if that means ripping out someone’s heart to do it”. You can love Regina while still understanding that not ALL has changed. She was a good mother in Neverland, but still stole a child’s heart to thwart Pan. Also the combination of Regina “poofing” into the shop instead of using the door then telling Belle to forget everything just seemed way too suspicious. I think the only reason it was left vague was for shock value when Regina showed up in the forest (which wasn’t even that shocking since accidentally spilled the beans early by releasing half the recap for “A Heart of Gold” mashed with half the recap for “Sympathy for the De’ Vil” two weeks which the term “stole” was explicitly used).

    • I think this is one of those senarios where maybe the writers thought they were being obvious when they really weren’t. It’s clear they meant the whole Regina showing up holding Belle’s heart to be a surprise, it’s just unclear if that’s where the abiguity was supposed to end or not. In my head I just thought that Belle really didn’t want to see Rumple again, so much so it would seem understandable she would let Regina do the talking for her. I am interested to see the fallout (if any) when Regina is back in town.

      • I agree that Belle had been avoiding Rumple, but she probably also knew they would inevitably have to talk at some point. I feel from a different perspective that Belle asking “how can I help” could have been her way of gaining the courage to go speak with him on her terms and by using her willingness to assist Regina as a catalyst for that bravery. I think we’ve seen enough evidence that she can stand up for herself but that Regina needed an equal threat over Rumple for the RH situation. I also don’t think Belle was avoiding him out of hate or fear but more out of wariness, hurt, and the knowledge that he is her greatest weakness. Seriously, two minutes into his honesty and she’s all over him (and yes, I am implying that she had freewill at that moment, because if fans want to imply that Regina is reforming then that clearly doesn’t mesh well forcing a women to kiss her ex-husband)…not that the writers don’t go there… *shudders at Zelena*

    • I don’t think you’re alone in thinking Belle didn’t give consent. (Some others here had the same take on the situation.) While I think she did (or, at least I think so right now), your reasons make sense. I hadn’t thought about the Regina poofing in that context. (Random aside: that would be the first thing I would want to learn in magic. Give me “poof” lessons.)

      What to me is interesting is that whichever side anyone takes, everyone agrees that Belle would do the hard, heroic thing.

    • I can honestly see both interpretations of that moment. I do agree with you about loving Regina while still admitting she hasn’t changed completely. I don’t think she’s ever going to let go of the side of her that’s willing to do things “heroes” won’t in order to get the job done, and frankly that’s what I like about her. There’s a pragmatic side to her that I adore because she’s not bound by some almost paralyzing idea of nobility or goodness (like Snow is at times, for example). And that’s refreshing.

  13. [“I don’t think she’s saying Emma is the epitome of goodness and she’s always been willing to bend the rules and play dirty but she hasn’t killed in cold blood either.”]

    I don’t know. What do you call standing around and doing nothing, while watching your mother attempt to commit murder. And I don’t care if Emma has never committed cold-blooded murder. She has committed cold-blooded theft. She is still a thief. She obviously see nothing wrong with stealing someone else’s car and pretending that it has always been hers. Why do you keep brushing aside that particular crime? Because it’s not cold-blooded murder? That’s your idea of an excuse? Cruella’s murder may not have been committed in cold blood, but what Emma did was wrong. She used the wrong method to save Henry. Worse, she endangered his life in her effort to kill Cruella. But again . . . everyone turns a blind eye or pretend that she has done nothing wrong.

    Emma is no better or worse than anyone else on that show. Well, most of the characters, aside from one or two. What is with this pretense that she is?

    One of my greatest frustrations of “ONCE UPON A TIME” is the fans’ attempt to put Emma on a pedestal, while excusing her mistakes and crimes. This reminds me of how many “LOST” fans did the same with the Kate Austen and James “Sawyer” Ford characters.

    • They aren’t attempting to put Emma on a pedestal they are saying that Emma is a character many can relate to given how flawed and human she is. She’s really well written in my opinion you are free to have your own and disagree BUT they aren’t trying to compare her to anyone else on the show because frankly you can’t in the terms of “no better or worse.” there is no such thing no character is better or worse in terms of end be all on this show. Everyone is flawed and human but all of them for the most part are trying and that includes Emma.

      ALSO No one is justifying what she did to Cruella they aren’t making excuses or ignoring her crimes they are relating how she was clearly in a bad place when Cruella was threatening to KILL her son. Emma had no idea she couldn’t actually hurt him and if she did she never would have made the choice she had thats the point the writers were trying to make I believe. Emma had an incredibly rough past and life she grew up alone in the foster system with so many people letting her down and disappointing her so she made the choices she did to survive and not let life get the best of her because as we saw even way back in the pilot even underneath those sky high walls of hers was still a good heart compassionate and kind despite everything she’s been through. To see her go through these experiences of discovering her parents, letting them in after letting Henry in and now Killian has been amazing to watch and I’m sorry I will never stop defending her because despite all her “mistakes and crimes” she has never given up on living her life and now she’s fighting for everyone’s happy endings despite all the stuff thats been thrown her way, from curses to traveling realms. fighting dragons, being manipulated by the freaking Dark One and everything else.

      So yes she’s clearly made mistakes and doesn’t have a candy filled past but I’d like to think people are more than their mistakes and their past they are who they choose to be here and now and Emma is choosing to open her heart to love with Killian, to becoming real friends with Regina and I know she will choose to mend the rift with her parents and lastly I believe at least make a choice to be the savior not because it was predestined or fate designed it but because this is who she chooses to be.

      Whether you agree or disagree I respect your opinion competely. Good Day!

    • Nobody is putting Emma on a pedestal, nobody is saying she is a source of ultimate goodness, nobody is saying she hasn’t made mistakes or that she’s stronger than everyone else. Nobody is saying these things because they aren’t true. I think you’re missing the point of what Katie was saying in regard to Emma “being better than that”. She’s not saying that Emma is the epitome of goodness and therefore superior to everyone else, because she isn’t, she’s flawed just like everyone else. Saying “she’s better than that” simply refers to the decision she was about to make, we are all better than our bad decisions whether we realize it at the time or not. Even with Regina, she’s ALWAYS been better/stronger than her bad decisions/dark impulses, she just didn’t realize it at the time. Regina didn’t have strong people who cared about her telling her not to “pull the trigger” and reminding that she was better than whatever she was about to do, in fact she had Rumple on her shoulder telling her the complete opposite and it led her to a dark place. Current Regina, who has grown so much and has realized that she is much better and stronger than her past and past decisions is trying to do for Emma what should have been done for her, which is simply remind Emma that she’s capable of doing better. Again this goes for everyone, everywhere, not just Emma. Everyone has or will make mistake, Emma included, It’s simply about choosing to be the best you can be. Emma has made bad decisions and will make more in the future, as will Snow, Charming, Hook, Belle, Robin, Regina and even Henry and Roland at some point. It’s part of being human, but those mistakes will not define them as long as they are willing to learn from their mistakes and do better which I’m sure they will. That’s the point.

      In regard to the stolen car, she stole it when she was what, 17? She’s like 30 now, she doesn’t pretend it’s not stolen, she flat out said she stole it. Holding her to a crime she committed at 17 makes no sense especially as that was almost half a lifetime ago for her. People grow, people change. I doubt returning it at this point would even matter.
      Also, comparing grand theft auto to cold blooded murder is kinda extreme. “Cold blooded theft” is more like Snow and Charming stealing a baby, not Emma stealing a yellow bug.

    • I can’t add much that hasn’t been said, but I will add this. Most people like a character that isn’t perfect through which to view a fictional world. Someone flawed, who has made bad choices, done things we wouldn’t, been places we wouldn’t. They’re both a filter for the world itself, and their background is a filter through which we view their present actions in order to see character growth. In OUAT, Emma is that character. She’s from our world, she’s gritty, she’s made bad choices, she’s been betrayed, she’s been through the crucible of life without any love or support. And we’ve gotten to see her grow from someone who hyperventilated at the thought of being in the same room with her son to someone willing to do absolutely anything to save him.

      Almost every story of substance has a character like Emma for us to view the story through. VI Warshawski comes right to mind when thinking of Emma, with her Southside Chicago background, or Kinsey Millhone the orphan raised by her super stern and feminist aunt. Both strong characters who haven’t always made good choices, sometimes still don’t, but we root for them anyway, to be their best selves and resolve the problem.

  14. This review makes me happy because I typically comment on Once in a forum that is very anti-Regina and Regina’s redemption arc is very moving to me. I love seeing other people celebrate how far Regina has come and acknowledge how much Regina has suffered in her life.

    I disagree with your take on Rumple. I agree that he was genuinely selfless in how he talked about Will, but I think his getting Belle her heart back was as much about getting control back from Regina. It’s also hard for me to take any kindness as a meaningful gesture when it’s coming at the same time as him threatening Robin to try and force Regina to turn against Emma, him plotting to turn Emma dark, him manipulating Cruella to her death, him aging up August without Geppetto’s consent, him having just recently tried to kill Hook and capture Emma in the Sorcerer’s Hat. He’s always been kind to Belle while still being a monster to everyone else.

    It actually makes me think less of Belle that she seemed to be affected. I really struggle with Belle’s character because I know she’s supposed to be classified as one of the good heroes, but her heroic aspects all seem childlike and narcissistic to me. She reminds me of Henry when she talks about wanting to be a hero, but he has the excuse of actually being a child. Belle seems to like Rumple not doing bad things to people because she asks him not to, but she’s never seemed to care about him actually stopping doing bad things to people. Even her moment at the end of 4A was all about feeling personally betrayed by Rumple. Belle’s not a villain, but I don’t think she’s actually heroic.

    I loved this episode until the end, but it’s such crappy storytelling to make Regina’s story suddenly about Zelena, Robin, and a pregnancy when Regina has come so far and had so much depth that it’s hard for me to feel enthused about the finale. 4B was supposed to be about Regina grappling with questions of identity and fate–not some stupid soap opera thing. Also, it’s hard for me to root for Regina to end up with Robin when Robin moved past Regina so quickly and apparently didn’t notice that Marian wasn’t the woman he had fallen in love with for 9 weeks.

  15. Brilliant review!

    I loved that Snow and Charming actually apologized to Maleficent, which is a nice change from hearing them trying to say repeatedly for the last couple of episodes that they didn’t do anything wrong. They were trying to justify what they did, instead of thinking about the people that they hurt.

    Hopefully, Snow and Charming’s next stop (after apologizing to Lily), is to apologize to Emma; because that is something, they still haven’t done. And I hope when they do apologize to her, they don’t it make it about themselves but really, about Emma. That’s the kind of apology Emma deserves.

    I loved that Emma proved that she is in control of her own fate and decisions, and she’s pushing back against the darkness creeping up in her. That’s the thing about Rumple, he always underestimates the heroes. He did this with Killian in 4A and he making the same mistake with Emma with.

    (I can’t wait to see everything blow up miserably, in his face).

    It’ll be interesting to see how Regina reacts to this new obstacle in her relationship with Robin. First, it was Marian, then not Marian and now, it’s Zelena pregnant (which, I have my doubts if she really is). She could have a similar reaction to the temper tantrum she had in Breaking Glass, or she could deal with this new situation gracefully and in an adult manner.

    I love these little bits where Rumple is actually self-aware of the damage he’s caused, but at the time, it’s perfectly balanced with the continued chaos he’s causing to fix said damage. (I still don’t feel bad for him).

    Being evil, is totally a choice. No forces you to become evil. It’s all about choices. The Apprentice told Lily the truth, but it had the opposite effect that he desired. Instead of Lily rebelling against the darkness inside of her, she embraced it. She looked at herself and accepted it and I loved that Emma pushed back against hers, proving that evil is a choice.

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