(Beware, spoilers below – scroll down if you want to skip the recap!)
This week on Once Upon a Time we finally meet the titular Lily, but first off we begin in the Enchanted Forest. The Apprentice lights a cauldron which he uses to speak to the Sorcerer about the Author and the voice tells him about the the entwined fates of the girls. He tells him how the author must never again be allowed to toy with fate. Said man watches as Cruella is buried in Storybrooke but Mr Gold says that someone had to die at the Saviour’s hands. Emma watches from the sidelines.
In Granny’s Diner she says that she’s going after Gold because of what he’s done. Maleficent shows up and says that it seems that they have a common enemy in Rumplestiltskin. She enlists Emma to find her daughter and tells her that she would be hindering Gold by helping her. She tells Emma the clues she was give and Emma realises finally puts two and two together.
We flashback to 1999 with Emma spending her first family vacation with her foster family. She goes into the garage to pick up a sleeping bag and finds Lily hiding in the garage. She tells Emma that she didn’t have anywhere to go and that she’s in big trouble. Her foster father shows up and Lily manages to get herself invited to dinner. Back in the present Regina gives Emma a pep talk about pushing back against fate and Regina proposes a roadtrip, just the two of them.
In a car the Author and Gold discuss the duo leaving town but Rumple isn’t concerned because it doesn’t matter where she turns dark. Meanwhile Hook tells Emma to stay true on her path and as Henry’s moms set off we flashback to the past. Emma gets really uncomfortable as Lilly lies to Emma’s new foster parents. As she goes to talk to Lily about it we see a police report about two shoplifters – and one is clearly Lily. Emma and Regina’s trail seems to grow cold when they show up at Lily’s old apartment block and find out that she died in a car crash a while off. Their informant insults her and Emma lashes out, about to punch the guy until Regina reminds her that it’s not worth it.
In Belle’s shop she sets out to watch the baby and Will looks after the shop – and Gold emerges. Gold says he needs Belle’s heart stolen. He tells her that Maleficient is caring for it in the Mayor’s office and he wants the former thief to get it back… and it’s not an option. On the road Emma is still reeling over everything that happened until Emma almost hits a wolf and their tyre goes flat. They’ve stopped near a gas station and the ladies decide to roll with fate. The girl that serves Emma coffee has the birthmark and she realises its Emma.
Back in the past Lily tells her that it was all her boyfriend’s idea and Emma offers her her allowance to leave but Lily tells her that her mother’s necklace is with her things and she needs her help. In the present day Emma finally confronts modern day lily but the woman says that she has a great husband and daughter, so she doesn’t need Emma’s help. Regina comes round and points out to Emma that Lily has a great life. However as she picks up her ‘daughter’ we realise adult Lily has been lying about her family.
In the Mayor’s office back in Storybrooke Maleficent is sitting looking at the rattle when the Charmings come to talk to her. They’ve come to apologise and she says that they ought to apologise to her daughter, who probably won’t forgive them. The old Emma goes to steal back Maleficent’s necklace and her foster parents catch her where everything is revealed and she ends up walking out when things get tense. In the present day Emma and Regina walk into Lily’s apartment where they realise that she’s figured out everything… and that she wants revenge.
Unfortunately Lily jacks Emma’s car (with the now Queen’s scroll inside) and they chase after her. Gold goes to see Maleficent in the Mayor’s office and he hints that Lily might turn Emma dark. As he’s talks he’s distracted Maleficent fast enough for Will to steal it. Emma and Regina talk furiously about Emma’s anger. In the past Lily finds Emma sitting alone and the latter tells her that since they met everything that happened in her life has gone wrong. She says that it seems that everything seems brighter to her when Emma is around but Emma says she’s done helping her.
Emma proves to be quite the ferocious driver as she catches up with Lily in the present. She tells her that Emma’s parents deserve to be punished and Emma ends up pulling a gun on Lily. Regina tells her to put the gun down because this is an uncrossable line which would be playing into Gold’s hands. She lowers the gun.
Back in the past we watch as Lily sits on a bus to be taken away. A man sitting next to her on the bus compliments her necklace and it’s the Apprentice. He says he can give her answers about who she is and whilst she says he’s crazy he tells her about her mother. In the present day Emma invites Lily to come along with them as they go to sort out Regina’s problems with Robin Hood. In the shop Will reveals Belle’s heart to her and Gold appears because he wanted to make sure that her heart was returned to her.
In New York Robin opens the door safe and sound. Regina reveals the truth to him and he doesn’t believe her until Zelena reveals herself. What’s more he reveals why – Zelena is pregnant.
This episode saw the much anticipated introduction of Lily, who was hinted at as a power player so many episodes ago. At the same Emma’s descent into darkness is ever so slowly hinted at via little actions and inflections which play off well against Regina’s more determinate personality this time around. It makes for a good role reversal on behalf of the women. Furthermore it helped play some of the highest stakes yet; we’re familiar with dark things happening in Sotrybrooke but we’ve always played on the lighter side with the fantastical elements of the show. When Emma has the gun pointed to Lily’s chest it’s some of the most palpable tension felt. The show ups the ante with the costuming and colours; Storybrooke has never been so dark – literally.
After all, even though we’re talking about wether Emma is light or dark we know that at the end we’re talking about morality and what we see to be as right or wrong. In this sense Once Upon a Time has dug deep into its moral fairytale roots. A bun in over also throws things off course for our favourite redeemed villain and this is a much harder moral fix to get out of that will shove Regina into her already dazzling spotlight. However, all spotlight is on Lily – and the potential she has as a future character. This is becoming a pretty messy battleground, and it’s time to pick sides… can I just sit it out with Henry?