(Beware, spoilers below – and scroll down to the last paragraph if you want to skip the recap!)
How gorgeous is Maleficent’s Storybrooke modern look? This week on Once Upon a Time Regina goes off undercover amongst the Queens. In the diner (doesn’t Granny listen in more?) she comes to see Maleficent and proves to the Queens that she’s one of them. We flash back to the Enchanted Forest as Regina fumes at the riding success of Snow White. Rumplestiltskin pops up to say hello and she fumes at him for his lessons not being very useful. He tells her to bide her time but she decides that going to Maleficent for help is still the better option.
In Storybrooke Snow and Charming reveal the plan to Emma, who’s none too pleased about it … and is even less so when its revealed she didn’t check in when she was supposed to an hour ago. Its revealed that the Queens are driving Regina to some train tracks where the Queens test wether or not she’ll save them so they can prove she hasn’t gone completely soft. This fails, but she still manages to convince the queens not to give up on her.
Meanwhile Henry’s being the dutiful son in Belle’s shop looking for more clues in the page left behind from August. He’s a lot more hopeful that the others, who go hell for leather looking for Regina until she shows up and tells them that she got them to trust her.
This is a contrast to the Regina of old in Storybrook where she desperately goes to Maleficent to help. However the woman she finds in the castle takes drops of sleeping curses by way of numbing the pain from her previous problems with Bariar Rose. When Regina is walking home she finds out that Briar Rose’s daughter is getting married and finding her happy ending. In anger she furiously goes to see Maleficent but she has no other words for Regina other than telling her to give up. When Regina tries to spur her into action he admits that she lost her ability to turn into a dragon. Back in the town the Queens go to tell Rumple that Regina was about sniffing for clues – but they didn’t give anything away. Rumple isn’t bothered, though, as he says that the war they’ll unleash on Storybook will mean Regina has to pick sides. Maleficent goes to visit Regina and give her some aspirin because she needs Regina sharp because they’re looking for the author.
However, before she decides to tell Regina she goes to meet ‘the entire Charming softball team and their pirate mascot’ where she tells them that they Queens want to change the balance against the heroes as opposed to just find their happy endings. As night rolls on Regina and Maleficent drive together in Cruella’s car. In the diner Hook crashes Will and Belle’s date in order to talk to Belle in private because he suspects Rumplestiltskin is involved, and that the Queen’s are after the dagger. He tells them that they have to hid it where no one would ever suspect.
Regina and Maleficent stop outside Marco’s house and she tells Regina that the only way she can truly prove herself is to go inside and steal Pinocchio so that the Queens can question him more forcefully. As Regina comes inside Marco’s home, she reluctantly sends the father and son duo to sleep. With a heavy heart she’s about to steal the boy until Emma comes in and tries to persuade her not to do it. Regina says they have a better shot at protecting the boy if she’s there to keep him safe as opposed to if they try and make things better at present. Back in the Enchanted Forest we see as Maleficent finally gains back some of her magic with the help of Regina. As Stefan shows up to precent Aurora’s big day from being ruined Maleficent has to use her magic to escape – but it doesn’t work. Regina refuses to go down without a fight, however, and she attempts to cast a fire ball to ward them off. As she can’t do more than one ball Maleficent finally manages to turn into a dragon and defeats Stefan and his troops. Furthermore, she manages to prick Aurora’s finger an and send her to sleep. She thanks Regina for her help in reminding her who she was.
Emma tries to track Regina but realises that she’s left her phone out on purpose so that she can’t be followed. Meanwhile Hook and Belle meet together in order to trade the dagger so he can hide it. As the transfer is about to take place she tells Killian that she has a horrible feeling that Rumple could be in the town right now, but Hook assuages her fears by telling her to use the dagger to call him. When Rumple obviously doesn’t show up, she gladly hands over the dagger. As Belle drives away it’s actually revealed that Rumple’s been conferring with Belle the whole time … in the guise of Hook! He carries on in Hook’s skin to go to Belle’s shop and make her take a Pirate’s oath to never talk about what they did to anyone ever again. She talks more about her relationship with Will and Killian/Rumple’s questioning, and it’s clear that Belle is very happy.
In the Enchanted Forest she talks to Rumplestiltskin about her adventure with Maleficent as she sends Snow White’s pony off to sleep for a hundred years. She tells Rumple that she’s finally ready to learn. Present day Regina also comes face to face with Mr Gold in his cabin again. As the queens bring Pinocchio back into the cabin Mr Gold turns him back into August Booth, memories and all.
Regina and Maleficent were front and centre of this episode – which was fabulous in terms of its character study of Maleficent, Regina and (to a lesser extent) Mr Gold. Our heroes took a back step as Regina struck out on her own in order to make decisions in both past and present. Emma’s development by trying to support Regina was a nice peppering at the team up between the two that’s been hinted at since the start of the second half of this season. We’re used to seeing Emma struggle with being a team player but to see her so determined to help Regina is a big sign of how far she’s come. A lot has been made as to wether or not Regina will turn to the dark side but this episode shows that she’s a determined woman who just has to deal with conflicted sides. When her mind’s clear, she’s able to make good calls and hold her own. The side plot with Rumplestiltskin was fascinating, and it almost seemed a little strange the Belle didn’t put two and two together given that she knew Rumple so well. For some hardcore Belle/Rumple fans I think this might seem like a little too much for the sake of drama, and I for one personally believe Belle’s a whole lot smarter. But with Regina utterly stealing the show that’s a by the by, and she’s getting even more screen time next week!
(photo credit: spoilertv.com)