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

(Beware, spoilers below – scroll down to the bottom to skip the recap!)

This week on Once Upon a Time we start off with Snow and Charming running in the woods until they find a unicorn. They aim to touch its horn and get a glimpse of the child’s future. Charming get s a vision of a beautiful little baby but snow gets a different image: one of teenage Emma crushing her heart. In present day Storybrooke Emma and Regina are figuring the mystery of the drawn door when Henry realises that something is wrong with August. After taking him to see the Blue Fairy Regina takes a photo of the door in order to have something to produce to Gold and the Queens.

When Emma returns back to the apartment she finds her parents and Hook. Killian tells her what Ursula told him about the plan to turn her dark, but Emma assures everyone that she’ll decide to be whatever she wants to be. Afraid that something is wrong Snow leaves and Regina is having just as much trouble as Gold quickly figures out that the picture contains the author. Just as Emma has finished tell Killian that he has no reason to be jealous of August a powerful sleeping spell washes over them: Maleficent and the team are out to get the page.

Back in the Enchanted Forest Snow and Charming are dealing with Snow’s fears of her dream. They help a poor pedlar and he tells them that Maleficent turned herself in to a dragon and laid an egg. He advises them to not go west in the direction of Maleficent but east to find the kind old man – who turns out to be the Apprentice – the would help them. Back in Storybrooke Maleficent and the crew go looking for the page but they find that Emma doesn’t have the page. However Gold quickly susses out that Henry (immune to the curse) has the book – with all its contents. Regina demands that the only person that can talk to or approach Henry is her.

Caught up in fear for Emma Charming decides that the only way to sort it out is to destroy the page and end the whole quest once and for all. We flashback to Storybrooke where Snow pleads with the Apprentice to tell her how to banish the darkness from her child forever. He tells her than the only way to do it is to find another blank slate to absorb the darkness, which would mean dooming another child. Snow decides that they must use Maleficent’s child, because it’s not likely to be different. In the Sorcerer’s Mansion Henry finds a key which was hinted at from the lights coming from the door in the page but just then Regina comes in, tailed by Maleficent and Cruella. With no choice, Regina demands that Henry relinquish the page and he reluctantly does so.

In Maleficent’s cave in the Enchanted Forest Snow and Charming manage to sneak their way into Maleficent’s cave where they find her nestled around her egg. Snow manages to grab onto the egg and Maleficent asks her for mercy, mother to mother, but the duo run out straightaway. Back in Storybrooke Mary Margaret and Charming find Henry, who tells them that he gave the Queens the forged page. He orders Henry away and Snow worries about the goodness of what they’re doing,

In the shop Gold confesses to Belle (in her sleeping state) that he can feel that something is changing, and that he’ll come back for her if he can. He leaves the shop only to run into the Queens, who give him the page. Gold’s not stupid though, and he instantly knows the page is a fake. Time is up for Regina, who is quickly put to sleep; her orders her to be taken to the vault. Back in the past Snow and Charming take the egg to the Apprentice who enacts the curse but he tells them that there’s the darkness sent into the child is so bad he must send it to another realm where it cannot hurt anyone. As he opens the portal to send the child away the egg cracks open to reveal a baby’s hand. Ursula and Cruella come at the last moment but the portal sucks them and the baby through, taking them away.

Back in Storybrooke Charming is about to burn the page but Snow tells them that for they cannot do more lying and have to tell Emma the truth. Back in the apartment they finally tell Emma the truth, and she’s horrified. Emma pulls away to leave, feeling let down after she tried so hard to believe in her parents. In the town vault the gang decides what to do with Regina whilst Hook goes to see Emma to tell her that August woke and that everything is alright.

Back in the Enchanted Forest Snow is getting more and more distressed about what they did for Maleficent’s baby. She tells Charming that they aren’t heroes any more but Charming tells her that they have a chance to earn forgiveness and redemption once more. Back in the town Maleficent goes to talk to Gold, saying that now Regina is taken care of she finally wants her answer about her baby. Gold looks at the baby’s rattle and they find that baby Lily is her daughter, and is alive after all.

As Emma rushes to August’s bedside she tells him that Henry has figured out secret behind the page and that she has so many questions that need answering. August tells her that there have been so many authors and the one they free may not be the one that wrote her story. Nevertheless, Emma opens the door with Henry’s key and the imprisoned author emerges – who was the pedlar that Snow and Charming helped on the road. However, he quickly flees the scene and Emma rushes after him… only for him to be nowhere to be seen.

This week’s Once Upon a Time gave us a deeper look into Snow and Charming. We know them usually as the noble parents that will do anything for love and their child, but we explored the flip side of this: when their love for their child might lead them to do things that aren’t good at all. The episode confirmed a great fan theory about the identity of Lily, and it’ll be interesting to see her appearance in Storybrooke, especially since her and Emma have the potential to be two halves of the same coin. While we finally got to see some semblance of the author we also managed to see and learn more about the process of the story writing, which opens up to a whole new world of magic which we haven’t even touched on yet. Whilst there’s definitely more to the pedlar than meets the eye the greatest character discovery is perhaps which path Emma will end up going down and to see Hook embrace the parth of heroism in order to support her was a great lead on from last episode. However, leave it to Gold to give us a new drop of mystery in an already full episode: what will he do to Regina in order to get her to cooperate, and what is happening to him. Robert Carlyle has always managed to portray Gold as a wily all-knowing being, but today we saw some rare glimpses of doubt, ones which seem to have much greater consequences for both himself and Storybrooke…

(photo credit: screenspy.com)

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