Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 17: Best Laid Plans

Opening flashback to their sogginesses, before they were quite so drippy. They’re hunting a unicorn to fondle its horn (ok, they were still very drippy) to see Emma’s future and see if she’s going to turn evil or not. (I would have loved to see them run with the unicorn trying to impale them, but alas, not). David seems an innocent baby while Emma sees a teenager who rips out her heart

They angst about this for some time before a passing peddler helpfully provides some distraction – Draconic Maleficent has laid an egg. He advises them to go around and go to a cottage and get directions instead. This sounds sensible so it’s quite shocking when the Charmings follow his advice.

The cottage is owned by the Sorcerer’s apprentice who feels quite within his right to comment on their upcoming birth. He explains why the visions conflict and how the future can actually change – the only way to ensure Emma is all good and pure is to put all her potential for evil in another blank slate (another child). Effectively a child sacrifice.

Mary Margaret decides that Maleficent egg is ideal. Because a super evil DRAGON SORCERER is such a good idea. Fetching the egg involves knocking our Ursula and Cruella who have, bemusingly, decided to bodyguard Maleficent’s cave. They manage to stop Maleficent turning them to ash (alas) by threatening her baby- much to Maleficent’s utter horror (“what kind of people are you to threaten a child?”) Maleficent begs for her child but the Charmings refuse to listen

They take the egg to the sorcerer’s apprentice who transfers the evil – and banishes the egg to another dimension. After all, he’s not fool enough to want a super powerful evil dragon baby hanging around, to be that foolish you’d have to be a Charming. Mary Margaret, in all her sogginess, protests they only wanted to put an evil dark curse on the new born, not exile it! (this counts as moral justification in her world) but it’s too late and he banishes the egg (which starts hatching into a baby) through a portal. Cruella and Ursula are randomly dragged through as well. But their baby is now “pure of intent” and up to the Charmings to guide. Wait, wasn’t that what a blank slate meant anyway?!

Mary Margaret describes their acts of kidnapping, cursing and exiling a child a “mistake.” She is a terrible terrible person.

Back at the castle Mary Margret mopes over her guilt and how it’s with her all the time (except the last 3 seasons. Maybe she thought being married to David was punishment enough). She acknowledges they weren’t kind, they were selfish and they are no longer heroes. David decides the way to save this is to fix themselves (not Maleficent), but just making sure they’re good and pure so they can get over it and not give their child issues. REDEMPTION!

In the present, August falls unconscious due to too much magicy-stuff. For added problems, Regina still has to return to the villains with the page with the door on it which they can’t do now since it is the actual door. Emma pulls out a magical copy – she’s getting good at magic – but Regina rightfully scoffs the idea that Emma can manifest a forgery that will actually fool Rumple. Regina adds some sense and takes a photo of the picture – after all, if Rumple et al just want to know what the door looks like, they don’t need the actual page

Back to the villains after a touching goodbye between Regina and Henry.

Back at the Charmings, Killian tells the whole gang what Ursula told him – that Rumple wants Emma to come to the dark side. Emma is sure she won’t turn evil. Everyone else is more doubtful. Mary Margaret and David worry that Emma’s moral compass is in their hands and subject to their guidance

Well, they’re screwed. Mary Margaret storms off being all angsty because they’ve been bad, naughty mean people and may be corrupting Emma (oh please, like Emma would emulate Mary Margaret while Regina’s around).

Regina returns to the villains but, unfortunately, the pan doesn’t work and Rumple can see magic in the photo and realises the picture is the door. Damn Dark One being all magically skilled. He now demands the actual page.

There’s also some Killian jealousy over Augustus and Emma is forced to point out how a man can matter to Emma without her being romantically attached to them. This is interrupted by some sleepy woo-woo from the bad guys (sleeping curses are Maleficent specialty). Maleficent also wants to alter the deal with Rumple – because she knows she’s the one Rumple needs, not Ursula or Cruella (this is also used as a convenient excuse for why no-one cares that Ursula has left. She wants to know what happened to her child.

The only people immune to the sleep curse are Mary Margaret and David (the sogginess of Storybrooke just increased 10,000%)

While everyone else is asleep Regina and the villains search the Charming’s house for the page and Regina stops anyone hurting Emma. Another person is also awake – Henry – and he’s running with the book. Unfortunately, Rumple knows it. Regina makes it very clear what she will do to anyone who touches her son – Rumple sends Cruella and Maleficent after her anyway. Henry is clearly utterly desperate, because he calls Mary Margaret and David for help.

David also has an idea – destroy the page, possibly killing he author and preventing Regina from getting her happy ending. Because he’s David and all his ideas are terrible.

Regina and villains catch up with Henry and make him hand over the blatantly fake page (don’t even pretend that’s not the fake). The Charmings arrive and everyone pretends how very cunning it is to give the fake page to the bad guys (hey this is genius level deviousness from the Charmings). Henry is eager to use the magically-revealed key to free the Author but, of course, David stops him because he has his own not-so-cunning and rather evil plan. David yells at Henry until he gives up the key. Mary Margaret has the vapours because they’re no different than Rumple

Because yelling at a kid totally tops Rumple’s evil list. My gods this woman is such a wet lettuce.

Rumple himself goes to sleeping Belle to tell her about magic coming at a cost, the debt he has racked up and why he has to change the rules so quickly. That’s ominous

Of course, Rumple instantly recognises the magical fake Regina gives him. He accuses Regina of betrayal and Maleficent puts her to sleep.

David wants to burn the page but Mary Margaret can’t because that would be lying (seriously, can someone reset this woman’s moral compass? But lies are what makes her all teary?). Mary Margaret belatedly realises that the darkness in her heart started a while ago and she’s actually a terrible person

She dares to say “heroes do what’s right, not what’s easy.” Like child sacrifice.

So they confess all to Emma who is also shocked and appalled… by them lying. Ok can everyone please remove lying from the top of the list of mortal sins and kindly replace it with “child sacrifice” thank you. Emma is shocked and appalled and leaves – and adamantly says “I don’t care” when Mary Margaret protests she’s Emma’s mother

The same thing she said when she ripped out Mary Margaret’s heart in the vision. Alas, she doesn’t do any heart ripping here.

The villains decide to keep Regina hostage because Rumple is sure he can control her. Maleficent goes to Rumple for her answer and he shows some humanity with some excellent lines “pain fades unless you feed it” he’s worried that telling her what happened to her child may just make hr pain grow and last forever. Major acting chops also really makes it work. He shows Maleficent her baby was a girl and she was adopted by a family who called her “Lillith” 30 years ago – in the real world

Maleficent now plans to find her.

Emma goes to August to ask about the Author before they free him and learns there have been many Authors, but this is the Author who wrote Emma’s story. Being an Author is a job – to witness and record the great stories (and of course one is called Walt. Of course he is). Most of them did that but the last one didn’t just record the stories, he changed them

Including changing the story to make the Sorcerer cast the spell on Emma and Lillith – for doing so the Sorcerer’s Apprentice imprisons him in the book (it’s the Sorcerer who chooses the Author). But it confirms he can alter people’s stories.

Emma opens the book and releases the Author – the Peddlar who told Mary Margaret and David about Maleficent’s baby. In case you didn’t guess, he’s not a nice guy and he throws curtains at them so he can run away

Oh, the Charmings. One terrible idea after another. And can we go back on this series canon and remember Mary Margaret taking to her bed for DAYS because she blackened her precious precious pure heart by killing Cora? Remember that? She did reference that in this episode. Well this is a woman who sacrificed a child for her own ends – how was this woman remotely pure before that? How can we have had 4 seasons of the Charmings being the paragons of goodness and light with THIS in their past?  How can she only now have considered her heart blackened by that act?

I’m all for some shades of grey being introduced to the soggy ones – but this evil happened in their past and has been followed by numerous – sometimes magically proved – references to how good and sweet and pure and amazing they are… it doesn’t work. And Mary Margaret now spouting moral lesson so very belatedly? Nope, go to Jail, go directly to Jail, do not pass go, do collect an angry Regina and a hungry Maleficent.

Without the past 3 seasons of Mary Margaret operating the pedestal of purity and David being the One True Hero, this may have worked – all the acknowledgements of not being heroes, of the need for kindness as well as bravery when it comes to being heroic (I loved that part) – these would be absolutely excellent. But the last 3 seasons makes it a bitter pill to swallow

Actually, this episode had some great lines – trite and simplistic in fairy tale ways, but still excellent.

Rumple seems to be hinting at a whole new plot line we don’t know about – do Dark Ones have a shelf life?

I’m also bemused as to how a spell that removed evil intent left the baby open to the Charmings to guide. Wouldn’t that work without the evil baby banishing spell? Isn’t that hat raising a child means?

Irritatingly, but predictably, Ursula has fallen in the plot box. Just as she had some development, just as she had that great back story, she’s effectively written out and the cast loses one of it’s very very very few POC again.