‘Once Upon A Time’ S4 Ep 14 recap: A mother’s instinct

Maleficent’s motives are revealed! (Photo credit: Disney.ABC Press via Twitter)

Sunday’s (March 8) “Unforgiven” shed light on Snow White and David’s history with the Queens of Darkness. The hour felt like it dragged on a bit until we finally learned the Charmings’ shocking secret. Just when you think “Once Upon A Time” can’t get any darker, they have our iconic heroes do the unthinkable. By episode’s end, we fully understand why Maleficent is hellbent on revenge and we can’t really blame her for it.

Fairytale Land, past: “Your child might turn out to be just like us.”

The Queens of Darkness approach Snow White and Prince Charming with a plan to thwart the Evil Queen’s Dark Curse. The Queens need these two valiant heroes to unlock the Tree of Wisdom and get some answers. Given that Regina’s curse will surely destroy countless innocent lives, the Charmings have no choice but to trust them.

Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent escort the royal couple through the woods. Their journey goes smoothly until they reach a bridge and the guards refuse to let the Queens pass. Maleficent enters dragon mode and eliminates their obstacle. The Queens are willing to sacrifice a few lives for the greater good, but our noble heroes disapprove of their methods. That night, Snow and David sneak out of their camp and visit the Tree of Wisdom.

The Charmings place their hands over the designated prints and the tree illuminates with white light. Suddenly, the light turns red and blasts the Charmings back. The Queens of Darkness arrive just in time to witness this unexpected sight. If Snow White and David are valiant heroes, then why would the Tree of Wisdom refuse to help them? Maleficent has the answer: Snow White is pregnant! But there’s a catch.

A baby born out of True Love has the potential for Good or great darkness. All along we’ve assumed that Emma was born to be the Savior and was only destined to do good. Now we realize that what Rumple said in last week’s episode is true: Emma is capable of being the greatest villain we’ve ever seen. After dropping this bombshell of truth, Maleficent warns that there will be great suffering in the Charmings’ future.

Once it looks like the Tree of Wisdom is a bust, Maleficent takes matters into her own hands. She creeps into the Charmings’ bedroom in the middle of night and has an unexpected heart-to-heart with Snow White. Mal reveals that she is also expecting a baby and tries appealing to Snow’s maternal sensibility.

In a sincere plea, Maleficent wants to work together to find a way to stop the Dark Curse, for their babies’ sakes. She is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her child. Similarly, Snow is willing to go to great lengths to protect her own little one, which is why she turns down Mal’s offer. She will not resort to darkness to defeat the Evil Queen. Snow doesn’t want to take any chances of corrupting her unborn child, especially since Baby Charming has the potential for great darkness.

We can understand why Maleficent would be upset over Snow White’s rejection, but that isn’t really bad enough to hold a life-long grudge. As we will soon learn, Snow’s decision somehow sealed Baby Mal’s tragic fate.

Storybrooke, present: “Her magic is as light as it gets.”

Mary Margaret and David are haunted by their transgressions. They wronged Maleficent in the worst way possible and they are afraid of what would happen if the truth ever got out. They desperately try stopping Mal’s resurrection and by doing so, they end up giving Cruella and Ursula exactly what they want.

The cat and mouse game between the Charmings, Emma and the Queens grew a little tiresome and silly throughout the episode. MM and David play right into Cruella and Ursula’s hands all while lying to Emma’s face. To be honest, it was annoying to watch because we expect these characters to be better than this. So let’s just cut to the endgame and big reveals.

The Charmings enter the cave right on cue. Once they awaken from Ursula’s tentacle knock-out, the Queens reveal that they took Maleficent’s box from Gold’s shop as a misdirect. What they really need to resurrect the dragon lady is the blood of those who wronged her the most. MM and David’s blood does the trick and Mal is back in action. She tells the Charmings that she doesn’t care about revealing their secret, she’s only concerned with their pain. She knows that living with this secret, the knowledge of Emma’s true potential, and their guilt has been torture. Unfortunately, Mal has plans to make their lives even more unbearable.

The Band of Villains has reunited. The Charmings still don’t know that Rumple is back in town, but they realize that the only way to get ahead of Mal is to tell Emma the truth. David and MM head to the police department to confront Emma. Unfortunately, they change their minds when they overhear Emma’s conversation with Hook.

When Hook refused to tell Emma about his mysterious and dark past with Ursula, we thought it would mean more trouble for Captain Swan. Surprisingly, Emma chooses to ignore her instincts. She always looks for the worst in people, but she wants to see the best in Hook. No matter what happened in the past, she knows he isn’t that villainous person anymore. She doesn’t condone lying, but she is fine with waiting for Hook to tell her the full story when he’s ready to do so. Hook assures Emma that he has no intention of letting her down. Aww.

Once they start smooching, the Charmings awkwardly make their presence known. After hearing Emma’s heartfelt resolution, they decide to keep their dark secret about her potential destiny. Mary Margaret and David only reveal that Maleficent has been resurrected. The Queens of Darkness have completed their trio and they will surely be up to trouble. Since Snow can’t confide in her daughter, she turns to Regina for some covert assistance.

During the Charmings’ escapades, Regina has been trying to make progress with Operation Mongoose. Henry scours through the storybook and realizes that August added new pages to Pinocchio’s tale. The boy must remember something from his days as August, so Regina calls him to her office for questioning.

Regina is desperate to learn the Author’s identity and attain her happy ending. She harshly interrogates poor little Pinocchio. Then she calls Emma in, hoping she will help jog Pinocchio’s memory. When that doesn’t work, Regina’s blood boils. She finally crosses the line with a cruel quip about his wooden head and Marco shuts her down. No one has the right to treat his child that way. Marco says Regina’s quest is ill-fated and tells her to stay away from his boy. Way to stand up for your boy, Marco! He handled the situation well and clearly left an impression.

Regina feels bad, so she visits Marco and apologizes for her poor behavior. The Mama Bear admits she would’ve done much worse if anyone ever treated Henry that way. Marco appreciates the apology and offers something that might help. He kept August’s belonging just in case one day Pinocchio remembered his time as an adult. Hopefully Regina and Henry can find a few clues that will lead them to the Author. Just when things are starting look up for Operation Mongoose, Regina is asked to take on another mission in Storybrooke.

Mary Margaret meets with Regina and asks for a huge favor. Years ago young Snow made the mistake of revealing Regina’s secret, which led her down a dark path. Now MM confides in her step-mother and hopes the reformed Evil Queen can be trusted with very sensitive intel. Mary Margaret explains how Emma is capable of great darkness. The Charmings went to extraordinary lengths to make sure Emma was Good. Whatever actions they took somehow caused Maleficent to lose her baby. Poor Maleficent! How horribly heartbreaking.

Now we understand why the Charmings were so afraid of Mal’s resurrection. MM is worried that the Queens of Darkness are going to jeopardize everything they worked so hard to achieve. If the troublesome trio reveals the truth about Emma’s destiny, Storybrooke’s Savior could lose faith in her parents and tumble down a dark path. In an effort to prevent this from happening, Mary Margaret asks Regina to go undercover with the Queens of Darkness.

Whoa! That is a big ask. Regina has been working so hard to be a hero. She has been fighting some of her dark instincts to be a better mother to Henry and to earn good karma points so that she can have the Author write her a happy ending. Entering the lion’s den could bring out the worst in Regina. This mission will be the ultimate test to see how much the Evil Queen has truly changed.

As the episode wraps-up, a montage reveals the changes that are taking place in Storybrooke. Henry finds an illustration of a mysterious door which will lead them to the Author. Rumple longingly watches Belle close up shop. Suddenly, Will enters the frame and gives Belle a kiss. Rumple is utterly devastated by this sight. He cowers in the corner, demoralized and on the cusp of weeping.

Phew! They cut away just in time. No matter how horrible Rumple can be, it is always heartbreaking to see Robert Carlyle cry. Still, Will better watch his back. Rumple wants to keep a low profile while he lets the Queens do his dirty work, but we all know the Dark One will not let the Knave swoop in and steal his girl. Once again, Belle will probably pay the worst price for Rumple’s selfish desires. Tensions will be rising, that’s for sure. If that’s not despairing enough, “Once” leaves us with the episode’s most haunting image.

The Queens of Darkness stand on a cliff overlooking Storybrooke. The camera zooms in on Maleficent and she’s holding that little dragon orb that David found in Cruella’s car. Tears stream down her cheeks as she gently shakes the object, revealing its true purpose: a baby rattle. Ouch. Now our hearts truly ache for Maleficent. What an incredible performance by Kristin Bauer. That chilling moment left us all with goosebumps. Bravo!

Overall, “Unforgiven” was an unpleasant and disturbing episode that shattered our perception of these so-called heroes. We don’t know the specifics yet, but we can understand why the Charmings would go to extremes to protect Emma from great darkness. However, the bitter truth is that Snow White and Prince Charming are being reduced to deceitful baby killers. Maleficent reached out to Snow, mother-to-mother, for the sake of all children in the land. The dragon lady was trying to act like a hero by sparing their babies from great darkness. There was no guarantee that Emma would’ve turned to the dark side if Snow accepted Mal’s help. Nonetheless, the Charmings were so fearful of the possibility of birthing a villain that the end up doing a villainous act of their own to protect their child’s future. Now, that’s messed up.

What did you think of this heavy episode, Oncers? Are you shocked by the Charmings’ secret? Do you think Emma will go Dark? Do you sympathize with Maleficent now? What do you think happened to cause Mal to lose her baby? How do feel about Regina’s new mission? Is Mary Margaret asking for too much? Will Regina lose herself to darkness once more? Or will Henry’s love and the hope of reuniting with Robin Hood keep her grounded in Good? Do you think the Charmings crossed the line by taking such extraordinary measures to keep Emma from becoming a villain?

Share your thoughts below!

“Once Upon A Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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