Coming Tonight: Once Upon a Time 4×17
CAUTION: sneak peeks, spoilers, and speculations
“Heart of Gold” – Emma is still reeling after learning the truth of her parents’ history with Maleficent, but she must focus on finding the Author, who is running loose in Storybrooke, before Gold does. When Gold’s quest for his happy ending grows more urgent, he blackmails Regina into helping him. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Robin Hood learns what it means to be an honorable thief when he accepts a proposition by Rumpelstiltskin to travel to Oz to steal a valuable magic elixir from the Wicked Witch, written by Scott Nimerfro & Tze Chun and directed by Billy Gierhart.
Here’s the Promo that aired two weeks ago:
In the first sneak peek, Rumpelstiltskin offers Robin relief from penury.
In the second, Robin foils a purse snatcher.
Okay, first let’s clarify something about the last episode. Writer Jane Espenson noted on Twitter that the Author only controlled the Apprentice. So what Snow and Charming did was, and is, on them. Our toddler, who watched the first half of the season for Anna and Elsa, walked away from this one head shaking and asking a question we couldn’t answer. “Why would they do that to a baby?”
It makes their in-your-face self-righteousness and Charming’s Leroy Jenkins style understandable. They’re always struggling with themselves and desperate to do the right thing. Ultimately, it makes them deeper characters. But it’s hard to root for them.
I think that’s the point. To the extent that the heroes are undermined, that we understand them to have made questionable choices, they and the villains come to occupy similar symbolic spaces. A reversal of fortunes thus seems more sensible.
For the curious or obsessive, here’s the final page the author was transcribing. It details the last scene with Snow and Charming in the Enchanted Forest.
There was no way we could have known. The Apprentice hid the truth from us,” the prince tried once again to assure her. Inside, he felt as she did, but pangs of helplessness at the sight of his love so forlorn compelled him to comfort her. She was about to reply when a bluebird settled on a branch up ahead. The princess averted her gaze. She imagined its whispers of judgment in her ear echoing her own disappointment in her actions and was relieved when the bird flew off rather than perch on her shoulder. She had thought before that she had known true depths of sorrow with the heinousness of the evil queen’s betrayal of her family. But in that moment the princess knew that the greatest betrayal of all is that of a hero.
There are a couple frames in the preview that imply Zelena’s back in Storybrooke, so we could see the return of both the Wicked Witch and Robin as well as their flashback. Of course it could be recycled imagery from season three. But Zelena could have worked a failsafe into Snow’s curse when she tainted it.
It makes some sense. The Queens of Darkness seem to be getting happy endings that are fairly pedestrian. Ursula’s reunion with her father. Maleficent’s with her child. I’m calling it now; Cruella just misses Pongo. Their reunion will choke up dog lovers everywhere.
Zelena constitutes a real threat to the Dark One and everyone else. If he’s as vulnerable as he seemed last episode, and as the preview implies, someone else will have to take her on. My guess is that Emma will end up with the “wavy knife” in order to defeat her.
In this episode, I think her confusion and feeling of betrayal will work against her pursuit of the Author. Gold and Regina will find him first. Whether they’re able to compel him to do what they want is a mystery.