Things get meta. Enter the dragon has so many meanings. And everyone involved proves once and for all that they are master shipwrights.
Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”
Enter the Dragon (1979)
The Deadly Three? Seriously!
They actually could have used this in 4A. Look at all those mirrors!
Oh! Okay, while Maleficent’s If You’re So Evil, Eat This Kitten(s) could come from pretty much anywhere, Enter the Dragon has a bathetic moment of its own involving a cat and a guillotine.
To be honest, the plot on Enter the Dragon involves Bruce Lee acting as a secret agent infiltrating the evil Han’s organization in order to obtain proof of his nefarious deeds or take him down. Sometimes the titles are just clever puns, and this one is, too. Sometimes they’re minor pop cultural references, and this one is, too. And I guess sometimes they’re freakishly intertextual, though I’m not sure one’s ever been quite so precise.
Speaking of freakishly intertextual, Maleficent’s recent makeover seems to come with reverberations. Not content to riff on the Maleficent costume, Eduardo Castro has subtly referenced several of Jolie’s films, including Changeling and Girl, Interrupted. But you’d never notice if not for Kristin Bauer van Straten’s incredible physical control.
Regina: I’d be careful questioning my commitment…
…to Sparkle Motion?
Journey Into Imagination
Maleficent: So there’s a tree I burned that’s still on fire. Who cares? What does it matter?
Regina: That’s your spark. That’s what’s going to reignite the dragon inside you.
Epcot Center’s attraction featured Dreamfinder and Figment, the dragon, performing “One Little Spark.”
Sleeping Beauty (1959) Maleficent (2014)
Enter King Stefan, exclusive to the Disney version(s) of “Briar Rose.” Briar Rose has become Aurora’s mother in Once Upon a Time, as in last year’s Princess of Thorns.
Gold: Sometimes you need to fall very far to finally see the light.
Rumpelstiltskin’s reinvigorated villainy stems from being cast both out, of Storybrooke, and down, stripped of power, love, and agency. All of which he sought to regain. Now he seeks to upset the balance. In a sense, that line condenses both his arc and Lucifer’s monologue at the beginning of the epic poem.
The addition of a literal burning bush in the form of Maleficent’s tree as part of the Enchanted Forest flashback might also obliquely nod toward the theme. It’s purpose inverted to inspire Maleficent to more and greater wickeness, its metaphorical weight reifies, “And out of good still to find means of evil.” Regina providing the impetus for Maleficent’s transformation provides a nice mirror for Maleficent’s temptation of Regina in Storybrooke.
“I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” (a Special Bonus Round)
Maleficent: What are you doing?
Regina: I’m not going out like this.
She proceeds to light up some presumably hemp rope, ’cause “Let me see what you’ll do / It’s a sin to kill a man / But I’ll be damned if I don’t take a stand.” The first track and the third single from 1992’s Black Sunday by Cypress Hill also includes the line “I’ll huff-n-puff and blow ya head off!” And let’s face it, not since the Whale episodes have more characters appeared in black, Sunday.
Once Upon a Time
Again, depending on how you wish to define significant, here are some of the more overt references to past episodes.
Maleficent’s brooch is the same shape as the symbol on the shields of the folks guarding the bridge to the Tree of Wisdom. Actually we might have a theme here. So are Cruella’s earrings.
“Selfless, Brave and True” 2×18
The power of the Dark One is apparently at least equal to Reul Ghorm. Gold was able to undo the memory wipe and restoration of youth that Mother Superior performed on a ligneous August Booth. Rumple’s been walking in and out of shadows these last few episodes, but nothing says evil like taking away innocence and a second chance. Incidentally,
“Hat Trick” 1×17
This is the episode with the best image of the portal room inside Jefferson’s, or the Mad Hatter’s, hat. Henry scrutinizes the page from August’s book with a magnifying glass. The tragedy is that if only Regina had looked, she might have recognized the location.
“The Thing You Love Most” 1×02
Regina: You know how much I wanted my revenge.
Of course Maleficent knows. Regina assaulted and stole the dark curse from her. And enacted it despite Maleficent begging her not to.
Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments
- Not a lot here this week. The two weren’t together much, and then it was mostly business. Hook did get to be the Charming Team’s Pirate mascot, and he did get to exposit to Emma the damage the Queens of Darkness did to Granny’s.
- Emma is seriously concerned about Regina going undercover. Likewise, Regina doesn’t want Emma to put herself in danger by becoming part of the scheme. That is some love there, folks.
- In fact, bails bond Emma is either terrible at undercover side-kicking or she’s far too blinded by her concern for Regina to follow the normal rules. She follows Regina far too closely in the truck, comes in to save her far too soon at Marco’s, and causes Regina to drop her cellphone so that Emma can no longer follow when Regina leaves.
- I mean, truly, its rare to see Emma get this uppity about Killian in danger. This was the episode for Captain Swan fans to jump ship.
- Rumple decides to also go undercover by making himself appear like Killian to get close to and manipulate the dagger away from Belle.
- This starts with some major cock-feather fluffing with Will in Granny’s.
- This moves to Rumple-Killian talking Belle into giving up the dagger (at which point I kinda loose my suspension of disbelief). But Colin O’Donoghue does a pretty bang-up job nuancing his performance to give the facial expressions and head movement of Robert Carlyle.
- After “hiding” the dagger, Rumple-Killian returns to the shop where Belle is smelling a red rose which we all assume is from Will. (Though considering his broken-heart from Wonderland, I sort of doubt Will would get her a red rose.) Anyway, Rumple-Killian tells her they will make a “pirate’s oath” to never speak of this to anyone, including each other. But this is all in the name of touching her collarbone and hand. Considering Rumple is in Killian’s body, this plays with a touch of awkward.
- He also asks if she’s serious with Will and if she’s over Rumpelstiltskin. It’s all a little junior high, except instead of sending a “friend” in to ask these questions, Rumple sends himself appearing as a friend. To her credit, Belle admits that Will makes her laugh and that she’ll never be over Rumple. She’s an interesting foil to Rumple–he’s all subterfuge and she’s nothing but honest.
Captain Beauty (I prefer Captain Librarian)
- I know that in these scenes Killian is actually Rumple, but for a shipper that makes no difference. For instance, on The X-Files there were a couple of episodes where, due to a shapeshifting ability or an Area 51 tech body swap, men appearing as Mulder attempted to seduce Scully. These were some of the Mulder/Scully shippers’ favorite episodes, because there were near kisses in those scenes. So Captain Librarian shippers, er, I mean, Captain Beauty shippers will still appreciate Killian’s jealousy displayed towards Will in Granny’s and his ham-handed moves to touch Belle via “pirate oath.”
- The key romantic lines about how serious Belle is with Will or if Belle is over Rumple take on a new meaning when seeing this as a Captain Beauty scene, but they’re still full of tension and longing.
- Speaking of near kisses, this ship went from off my radar to one of the most overtly sexual pairings on the show in this episode. Must be the influence of Maleficent actress Kristin Bauer van Straten, who played lesbian vampire Pam on True Blood. Maleficent threatens to eat the flesh of Regina and then nearly kisses her. That is a page straight out of the million-times more sexually explicit True Blood.
- In the flashbacks, Regina brings Maleficent back from a drug haze, encouraging her to get back her dragon powers and take her revenge. In turn, Maleficent’s revenge inspires Regina to take the long view on her own and quit being so impatient. When Maleficent realizes the two of them have the loss of someone they cared about in common, there’s an immediate physical and emotional intimacy sparked. (There’s your spark, Mal.)
- Back in Storybrooke, Maleficent is the one who clearly has some faith, or at least strongest desire, to see the return of evil Regina, making quite the interesting little love triangle between Maleficent, Regina, and Emma.
- Maleficent’s costuming in Storybrooke, with the gray fedora and masculine necktie, was both stylish and evocative of 1940’s film noir. In this kind of film, an otherwise good person is pulled into an underworld of corruption. This is perfectly in line with the Regina “going undercover” plotline of the episode and the larger themes of good versus evil and potential redemption. And while the costuming places Maleficent in the role of gangster or detective, she’s clearly Regina’s Femme Fatale. Noir gets its name from the use of heavy contrast and shadow in a traditionally black and white format. The art design of the Storybrooke scenes with Maleficent in them all had a monochromatic effect thanks to black, white, and gray costuming, heavy use of nighttime, and sets that were lit to look more gray in tone than normal.
- [Paraphrased] Rumple: “You made it back quickly.” Regina: “I rode a dragon.” Is that a metaphor?