I think this was a fairly strong episode, one that actually did a better job of getting me excited for the “Queens of Darkness” arc than last week’s mid-season premiere did. That being said, I don’t think it was perfect, which I’ll get into a little bit below. Here are ten thoughts I had while watching “Unforgiven”.
1. Emma and Hook were again super sweet in this episode, and continue to show all the signs of being in a mature, committed relationship. I wasn’t a huge fan of Hook hiding his past with Ursula, just because even though I agree with Emma that it’s fine for him to have secrets, I didn’t like the way that he so obviously pretended that he didn’t remember, even knowing it was clear to Emma that he did.That being said, I’m glad that it doesn’t sound like he and Ursula’s history is romantic, and I’m curious to see exactly what happened between them. And really, whatever did occur is almost worth it for Emma’s lovely moment of emotional honesty and Hook’s assurance that “I don’t intend to let you down” at the end. I absolutely love the faith that these two are slowly building in one another.
2. As much as I like the author storyline (and as a huge Regina fan, I definitely do) it’s moving so darn slowly! It’s great that it’s giving us moments of character development (more on that later), but I think I would be enjoying it even more if it wasn’t taking so long to get to the author reveal. I do like having some storylines that last the whole season, but I think this one would have been much better paced as an arc.
3. I hope we find out how Belle and Will become a couple, or whatever they are. Since I didn’t watch Wonderland, I don’t know very much about his backstory, so I’m hoping that if the two of them pursue a real relationship, we’ll get to hear a bit about that. At this point I don’t feel like I know enough about him to know if they would be a good match, but I’m definitely intrigued by the possibility.
4. I’m pretty sure Regina has a worthy opponent in Cruella for Queen o’ Snark and I kind of love it.
5. Anyone besides me think that Rumple is doing a TERRIBLE job of hiding his appearance in town? Last week he was walking down the middle of main street, and this episode staring at his shop while standing in plain sight. Do we have some kind of cloaking spell in effect, or is the Dark One just losing his touch?
6. One of the greatest pains of being a television fan is watching characters that you love make decisions that you just know are going to bite them in the ass later, so I was really frustrated watching Snow and Charming in this episode. I get that what they did was bad, but I’m not sure I totally buy that they would have lied to Emma as blatantly as they did, given her past trust issues. I’m also not a fan of the whole “character overhears something and changes their mind at the last second” trope, and here it felt like kind of a cheap way for Snow and Charming to continue keeping their secret. However, I am excited about the idea of tarnishing these heroes a bit (reminding us of that edge they had when they first met), and seeing just how tempted Emma will be to turn to the dark side when she learns the truth.
7. Even though I was frustrated with some characters this episode, I was so, so pleased with Regina. It’s been heartbreaking to watch her desperation grow each week as it takes them longer and longer to find the author, and I think that was at a peak this episode. It’s also what made me weirdly love the flash of anger we saw in her when she yelled at August, because it showed just how important her happy ending is to her, so much so that the old Regina resurfaced for a moment, that women who will do whatever she has to do to get what she wants. But it also showed that she has changed because now what she wants is happiness not revenge, and she realizes that she can’t go back to her old ways to get it. Her apology to Geppetto was such a great moment, because she went to him because she genuinely felt bad about how she had treated August (and I loved the mirroring of that moment with Henry, Ursula, and Cruella earlier in the episode), not because she expected anything from him. Regina is seriously rivaling Emma for most honest and well-earned character development this season, and it’s been really wonderful to watch.
8. No one does a montage quite like this show, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this week’s becomes one of my favorites. Even though I wish she had been honest with Emma, I loved Snow going to Regina with the truth; their relationship is so layered already, and I love that this secret is going to make it even more so. I also think it will be interesting to see the impact that it has on Regina’s budding friendship with Emma. In the voice over itself, I love that Snow (and meta-ly, the show) acknowledged the importance of Emma finally letting someone in, and what it could mean for her to learn that her parents aren’t the perfect heroes that she thinks them to be. Rumple watching Belle with Will was also a good point of comparison; a sign that people don’t wait for you to turn good again once you have let them down. And of course, Maleficent’s confession to Snow was a very cool reveal, one that I never saw coming, but makes total sense in hindsight. The rattle as part of Maleficent’s staff was also a neat component of that; another instance of this show taking a traditional fairy tale object and turning it on its head.
9. Like I said, this episode did a great job of getting me excited for the rest of this arc. I’m very interested to see just how Snow and Charming made Maleficent lose her child, if it was merely through a mistake that they made, or something that they did intentionally. I also like that they’ve set up Maleficent’s revenge as justified; I find her character much more interesting now that we know what motivates her. Regina going undercover has a lot of potential; it’s going to be the ultimate test of her character development, and I’m really curious to see how she handles it. And looking to the end of the arc, I can’t wait to see how they handle Emma’s potential for darkness once she learns the truth.
10. Finally, there’s no way that Lily isn’t Maleficent’s daughter, right? I can’t think of another reason that they would have brought that character in, and really, unless I’m totally off-base about her parentage, I’m impressed that they did so in a way that had an impact on both of the season’s arcs. Once Upon a Time, always thinking ahead!
Thoughts on this episode? Theories about what’s to come? Put ’em in the comments section!