The Dinglehopper

You've Probably Never Heard of Us


1 Comment

Early Observations about “Lily”

There’s almost too much of everything in this episode. Too many references to do them all. To many shipper moments to catch your breath.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

Lily

The Flower symbolizes friendship and devotion. Which helps explain why every other word launced a ship. And ties in nicely to the Emma/Lilith relationship over time.

The opening scene is a smorgasbord.

Once Upon a Time “Best Laid Plans”

This scene picks up immediately after Isaac’s imprisonment.

Fantasia – “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

As always, The Apprentice is accompanied by theme music based on the film.

4x20 Apprentice - stairs

Mickey The Apprentice traipses down the stairs to the Sorcerer’s… what is this place anyway?

According to The Disney Audio Archive and Sterling Holloway, “Once upon a time, in a deep dark cave way down underground, there lived a mighty sorcerer.” So that’s cannon anyway.

The Sword and the Stone

The Sorcerer finally manifests himself as blue smoke with white stars and red lights. It’d be an incredibly interesting coincidence if this weren’t intentional.

4x20 The Sorcerer and Merlin

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The Sorcerer sounds a lot like Palpatine, particularly with the diminutive, “my Apprentice.”

The Invisibles

Ragged Robin Ganzfeldt Tank SmallSeveral works of fiction have dealt with authors entering into or getting trapped in their own stories, but few have dealt with them continuing to write inside. In Volume 2 of Grant Morrison’s magnum opus, the reader learns that Kay actually wrote herself into the story. A feat which required technology, magic, and time travel.Tom O Bedlam Small

Being trapped inside might not be inherently bad; though Isaac doesn’t seem to have been too fond of it. Coincidentally, The Apprentice looks an awful lot like Tom’O’Bedlam, greatest sorcerer of his age.

 

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Jennifer Morrison actually mentioned this title on Facebook and Twitter a couple weeks ago.

Gold: We won’t have what we need to rewrite the book, to secure our happy endings, until Ms. Swan has completed her journey.

We’d be forgiven for assuming he means only the dark path he mentions next. But in a sense, that’s just the latter phase(s) of the hero’s journey, dramatized below by Ryan Dunlavey in Action Philosophers.

Hero's Journey

 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Gold (again): The savior has taken the first step down a dark path.

Led Zeppelin and Jack of Fables4x20 Lilith Page

Lily’s adoptive parents are James and Priscilla Page. They’re named page to tie in with all this author stuff, The first names are clever. Jimmy Page’s guitar could scream for Adam and Eddie as easily as Tolkien. But Priscilla Page is a bold move. Fables is an ongoing comic book series with a conceit similar to that of Once Upon a Time. Priscilla Page handles retrieval, capture, and return of Fables to the Golden Boughs Retirement Village.

Paradise Lost

With Lily explicitly noting the savior.anti-savior setup they have going, it’s probably safe to revisit one of the greatest stories of hubris in the Enlish language.

Regina: How about we make this the day we both beat fate?

Nether of them actually do, of course. Emma picks up an embodied nemesis and Regina finds Robin bound by his sense of honor to remain with Zelena.

Lost

Emma’s foster family serves Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack for dinner despite having a two thousand dollar espresso machine,

Once upon a Time in Wonderland

A chess board with the white pieces closest to the camera and more to the left than their black counterparts dominates the foreground while Belle says goodbye to Will, recalling the White King.

4x20 White King

Scooby-Doo

Will: If you’ve come here to hurt me,Will Scrappy you best get on with it. But I warn you, I’m scrappy.
Gold: All right, Scrappy.

Scrappy is the original Poochy, added to the ABC series Scooby-Doo in 1979 in an effort to bolster ratings. It worked, but oversaturation ultimately squandered fans’ goodwill. He’s a universally unpopular character and the trope namer for characters with hatedoms rather than fandoms.

However, the reference here is both to Will’s boxing style and his willingness, even eagerness, to begin a discussion with fisticuffs. The image is from 4×11 because even he knows punching the Dark One is silly.

Weekly World NewsWeekly World News – The World’s Only Reliable News

Once a supermarket checkout aisle staple, The Weekly World News published its last issue in 2007. Consisting of mostly fictional material, the tabloid occupied a sort of fairy tale space in American culture for nearly three decades. Pinocchio’s story would not have seemed out of place on the cover as “Toy Becomes a Real Boy.” And it would have ran without a disclaimer.

Maleficent

First things first. You cannot escape this car in a Volkswagon Beetle. Even if you’re the Antisaviour.

4x20 Sylvia

Other than that, we mostly want it for the license plate that connects Lily to Maleficent via the 2014 movie. Rhea Sylvia conceived Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome with the god Mars. She was a minor forest diety, a spirit of the forest, like the movie Mal.

Disney Descendants

Snow and Charming have a dateughter. And a son. The Evil Queen has a son. Maelficent has a daughter. Zelena’s pregnant. What does it all mean? Hopefully not this. (Although Kristin Chenoweth is always a delight.

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Captain Swan

  • killiannothingtoliveforAlthough Hook himself isn’t in much of the episode, he and Emma have a key romantic scene. As Emma is saying her good-byes to the fam before she and Regina road trip it to New York, Killian gives her one last encouragement on how to keep from the dark side as a man who started as a hero, turned dark, and has had to work his way back. She asks him why he gave in to the dark path of revenge. “I had nothing to live for. You have your parents, Henry…” “You,” she supplies wryly. “Aye, me. And I you. That’s what’s kept me on my path now. Use whatever it takes to stay on yours.” If Emma does go dark, or on the brink of it, and all signs seem to point that way, I’m hoping Killian will be the one to bring her back.

Swan QueenReginaSmilesatEmma

  • This is a Swan Queen episode if ever there was one. Regina is the one to comfort Emma when she finds her staring at the microfilm article about baby Lilith Page, empathizing about being fate’s plaything–Emma’s only friend may have been her darkside doppleganger, but Regina managed to adopt the Savior’s son. In the first half of the season, this role was being filled by Killian, but now Regina has stepped in. Regina suggests they road trip to New York. Emma says she doesn’t need a babysitter, but Regina responds by saying perhaps she needs Emma. “But maybe I need you. You lived in New York; I’ve barely been outside of Storybrooke. How ’bout it, Swan? How ’bout we make today the day we both beat fate?”
  • On the road trip, Regina attempts to find out more about the story of Emma and Lily, leading to the various flashbacks, although it doesn’t seem that Emma shares the information from those flashbacks with her. Instead, as Emma is challenged by her feelings of anger, fear, and aggression (the Dark Side of the Force are they), Regina is constantly trying to pull her back, make sure she’s okay and not crossing lines she can’t come back from. Most noteably this happens when Emma has Lily on her knees at a point of a gun and Regina talks her back from killing her. What’s at stake for Emma: Lily knows the whole story and wants revenge against Emma’s parents. By killing Lily, Emma would be protecting her family. This was the Cruella justification. But this time, Emma knows Lily can’t kill anyone, at least not at the moment. There is time for other options. Regina points this out and makes it clear that if she crosses this line, the path back is not easy. “Your parents need a hero, not a murderer…Cruella was an accident. But if you cross this line, the journey back isn’t easy. Trust me. I know.” And Regina reaches her.

Lily Swan

  • Of course, the other major ship that got play this episode was Lily Swan. All of the talk of fated, entangled lives. All the discussion of Lily being in darkness and life being lighter when Emma is around. All of that can easily be read as soul-crossed lovers stuff. Among the best of these lines: “Emma was the first person who really understood me. You know, like we were meant to come into each other’s lives.”
  • But also: “My life is filled with darkness. When you’re around, things are brighter.”
  • And the set designers are fine leaving the ambiguity there. When Emma and Regina enter Lily’s mobile home, there is a colorful banner hanging over her couch. It’s one of those multicolored prayer banners with the many different religious symbols to guide a person to enlightenment–clearly a character-building detail–but it also reads as a gay pride banner to anyone looking for clues of that sort.

banner

Dragon Queen

  • Regina looks truly excited and impressed when Malificent crashes the family meeting to get Emma on the case of finding her daughter. “I knew Gold couldn’t keep the dragon on her leash for long.”

reginasmilesatmal

Rumpbelle

  • Gold enlists Will’s help to retrieve Belle’s heart. But the banter that opens the deal is priceless. While Will certainly doesn’t want to work with Gold, he does want Belle to have her heart.
  • The mission is a success, and Rumple gives back Belle’s heart while also seemingly bowing out of the love triangle. Gold: “We [he and Will] share one thing in common–we both care for you… I’m not asking for forgiveness. I spent every day of our marriage deceiving you when I shoulda been trying to make you happy. Now it’s too late. My heart is nearly black. If I continue hurting you, then there’s no hope for me. I’m going to return this [her heart] to you, Belle. But he’s [Will] the one who is going to protect it, because I’ve proven unworthy.” When he leaves, she turns to go after him or say something at least. Will tries to take her hand but she pulls it away. Now, on the one hand, this could be sincere change in Rumple, a move that deserves Belle cracking her heart open to let him back in. But, on the other hand, this could be a calculated move to sully Will in her eyes by teaming up with him, magnanimously giving back her heart, both literally and figuratively, and showing repentance and a lack of jealousy.

Scarlet Beauty

  • The same scenes that play into the Rumpbelle fandom play here, but less well. The scene opens with Belle and Will kissing before Belle goes off to babysit for a bit. Will, when originally approached by Gold, readies himself for a fight. Although he doesn’t trust Gold, he cares enough about Belle to take a chance to get her heart back.
  • But why does he back up so when Rumple gives her heart back? Rumple gives a line that might be a clue to another twist in this story: “But he’s the one who is going to protect it, because I’ve proven unworthy.” At face value, it would seem Rumple is talking about Will making her happy. But there’s another option, a more literal one. Perhaps Rumple put Belle’s heart in Will’s body and Will’s heart in Belle’s body. Thus he would literally be protecting her heart, and the one in her chest, the one that Regina might seek to remove again for leverage, would actually be Will’s. He would take the chance rather than her. It’s a bit convoluted, but not outside of the range of plausibility.

Outlaw Queen

  • Good grief. Where to start? This story line went from bad to worse in the span of five minutes. But let’s begin at the good. Regina travels to New York to save her love Robin Hood from her insane sister. I like the twist of the normal trope here–the princess needing to be rescued from the evil king.
  • The bad. Then, at the end of the episode, she finally makes it to New York, gets reunited with Robin, tells him Marian is actually Zelena, and (conveniently) it was Zelena who killed Marian (not her). She can’t understand why Robin is so reticent to believe her, to grab Roland and make a run for it.
  • The ugly. Then Marian returns home, and all hell breaks loose. First, Zelena attempts to play Marian and get Robin on her side. This works for a while, until Regina makes a move to find the magical artifact allowing Zelena to look like Marian and Zelena brings down the illusion to reveal to Robin the truth. Robin is aghast. Zelena is pregnant. He can’t leave her.
  • robinreactsWhy is this ending so ugly? Because Robin was raped (or merely sexually assaulted by some state’s definitions). It’s bad enough for OQ shippers that he would consent to sex with Marian, and certainly that is one of the implications of Zelena’s pregnancy. But the fact that he was consenting to sex with Marian, not Zelena, means that Zelena raped him. The ugliness of this is that the show runners won’t likely treat it as such. Already, he means to stay with Zelena out of honor. I understand him wanting to make sure the baby is healthy and protected, but the whole turn of events, besides being needlessly soap-operatic, is likely going to do little justice to telling a story of male rape. And that’s a damned shame. Treat it respectfully, or find another way to challenge the Regina/Robin relationship.
Advertisements


1 Comment

Early Observations about “Best Laid Plans”

The Author shines a light on things and brings down the curtain. Even our toddler has had it with Snow White and Prince Charming. And Rumpbelle is resurrected.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

“To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” (1785) – Robert Burns

This classic poem draws parallels between a farmer’s situation and that of a mouse whose home is destroyed as he plows. It’s a leveling of the field, as it were, ennobling the mouse and humbling the farmer. While the tone of the poem is companionable and its message universal, it’s useful to Once Upon a Time because it reverses the existing order, the theme of 4B.

http://www.bartleby.com/6/76.html

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
                    Which makes thee startle         10
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
                    An’ fellow-mortal!

Specific to this episode, “Best Laid Plans,” references lines 39 and 40, often translated into modern English as, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We’re meant to note that for all Snowing’s efforts to ensure Emma’s future, they still ended up at the same verbal exchange Snow witnessed in her vision. It’s extra special because the Apprentice, our mouse, was involved.

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
                    Gang aft agley,         40
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
                    For promis’d joy!

The title is also, again, an hilarious pun. Maleficent’s best laid egg…

Bonus: Jacob Grimm, the elder of the Brothers Grimm who recorded scores of household tales including many of those reinterpreted in Once Upon a Time, was born in 1785.

Was he an Author?

August: There have been many Authors throughout time. It’s a job, not a person. And the one trapped in here was just the last tasked with the great responsibility.
Emma: Which is?
August: To record–to witness the greatest stories of all time and record them for posterity. the job has gone back eons,1 from the man who watched shadows dance across cave walls and developed an entire philosophy,2 to a playwright who told tales in poetry,3 to a man named Walt.4 Many have had this sacred job–great women and men who took on the responsibility with the gravity that it deserved… until this last one.

Eion Baily1

August Booth is played by actor Eion Baily. There’s a chance, however slight, that the word choice here was subtly hinting that he’s the current author or at least a journeyman in training. after all, he was able to add his own story to Henry’s Once Upon a Time book. And he knows more about the Author(s) than anyone outside the Apprentice or the tricksie Peddler himself.

Plato2

In The Republic, Plato has Socrates desPlato's Cavecribe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to designate names to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.

William Shakespeare3

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. His works have been translated into every major living language. His inclusion in the mythology opens up a huge roster of potential background characters.

Walt Disney4

Often suggested as the Author who’d appear this season, Walt Disney founded the company that owns ABC and has produced several popular interpretations of classic fairy tales. But you knew that.

It’s not entirely unreasonable to suggest that the Author trapped in the book is James Lapine, writer of the postmodern revisionist Into the Woods, the film version of which Disney released last year. It makes Charming’s, “As long as we have each other, we can be the best versions of ourselves,” slyly metatextual.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Snow White plays Lady Macbeth pretty much straight here. Unable to shake her vision, she pushes herself and her husband to ever more egregious acts of evil until, eventually, she cannot take the consequences anymore.

Isaiah 34:14

Lilith, variously a female demon or wicked fairy. In Jewish folklore she became Adam’s first, equal, wife who refused to submit and rejected Eden. So Maleficent’s exiled daughter has a powerful, resonant, ominous name.

Paradise Lost

Finally, some of the juxtapositions in the Comic-Con trailer make sense. What had been useful as a broad metaphor now has specific referents. The first portion in particular.

Snow: I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you.
Charming: And I’ll love you until my last

Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,(163)
Our labour must be to pervert that end,(164)

Emma: It’s time for all of us to believe; to believe in each other

And out of good still to find means of evil;(165)

Zelena: I tried to be good once but it wasn’t in the cards.

Snowing sought to secure Emma’s good destiny through an act of evil. Zelena managed to twist several benevolent acts toward her own ends. And, of course, as long as you’ve seen the preview, she’s coming back.

The Poetic Edda

For whatever reason, the building to the left of Gold’s Pawn Shop, if you’re facing it, is fronted with “gudrun.” It could have been there all along, but I only remember seeing it twice this season. In one of the stories in the Edda, Guðrún feeds her husband their sons and burns down his hall.

Once Upon a Time

The non-Frozen portions of 4A really come back in force this episode. We revisit “The Apprentice,” “Breaking Glass,” and “Smash the Mirror” all weigh pretty heavily here. But since we open on Snowing tracking a unicorn for clairvoyant visions, I want to focus on that.

Emma Swan has always been associated with the unicorn and it’s nice to see it brought back into the mythology and reality of the show. The unicorn is a traditional Christian salvific symbol, so it’s entirely appropriate that it be involved with every aspect of her story.

1×01 “Pilot”

This is where we first see the unicorn mobile.  It reappears in Gold’s shop in 1×06 “The Shepherd.”

Unicorn Mobile

In addition to the potential Into the Woods connection above, the acknowledgement that the mobile was a gift from Cinderella opens her, via the recent live action Disney release, as a potential focus next season.

1×02 “The Thing You Love Most”

When Regina confronts Maleficent in order to retrieve The Dark Curse, Mal has a diminutive pet unicorn by her side. Ultimately, it’s her concern for this pet that decides the fight against her. It’s interesting that the other unicorn in the story is at least tangentially linked to Swan’s counterpart, Lily.

Unicorn Title Card1×12 “Skin Deep”

This episode reuses the title card from “Skin Deep.” In that episode the unicorns appear on tapestries in Rumpelstiltskin’s Dark Castle.

The first “Sight” from the series The Lady and the Unicorn. The second only appears after Belle attempts to break Rumple’s curse with true love’s kiss. He tears the cover from the mirror and rants at Regina while “The Unicorn in Captivity and No Longer Dead” from the series The Hunt of the Unicorn overwhelms the background. It’s a subtle scenery clue that the savior is integral to his convoluted plans.

At this point, Rumpelstiltskin, Ingrid, the Sorcerer, the Apprentice, Snowing, and the Author all have designs on Emma Swan. With all that pressure, how much control does she have over her own destiny?

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Captain Swan

  • Killian is clearly deeply concerned about the plan to turn Emma into a villain. Emma emphatically reassures him she will not go dark, though Killian speaks from experience when he tells her darkness can creep up on a person. The two share a long comfort hug where clearly they are oblivious to everyone else around them because one foot away Charming and Snow are discussing the thing which cannot be told to Emma and use Emma’s name. That’s a helluva hug.
  • Killian asks how “the wooden man-child” was as a dual conversation starter. Certainly he knows she’s thinking about August’s well-being, but he’s also attempting to dig a little into her feelings for August. Emma sees immediately what he’s up to and tells him, “Now is not the time to be jealous.” “Why would I be jealous?” Killian responds, adding that he knows she’s partial to men in leather jackets. Emma explains that August is just a friend, but since she’s had a rough time making friends, she holds him dear. Then they notice the sleeping curse coming at them and land in the cutest sleeping pose possible, with Emma laying on Killian’s chest.
  • When her parents finally come clean, Killian attempts to comfort Emma by asking if she’s alright and moving to hold her hand, but she pulls it away quickly before he can touch her. She leaves shortly after.
  • Killian finds her later by the pier. She tells him she just needs some time. He knows to skip the discussion of how she’s doing and goes straight to what will relieve some of her anxiety: “August is awake. Your parents are with him.” “Is he?” “He’s going to be fine. Your friend is going to be fine.” Then she hugs him, bringing back the intimacy and comfort she had rejected earlier and allowing him to carry her emotional burden. It’s quite sweet and says much about how much vulnerability she has allowed herself to have with him.

Rumpbelle

  • Finally, a truly substantive moment for the Rumpbelle shippers out there. Rumple takes his opportunity to be close to Belle during Maleficent’s sleeping spell. He lovingly moves her from the floor to a divan, holds her hand, and speaks softly. “My love,” he begins. He goes on to confess that all magic comes with a cost and he’s wracked up so much magical debt, he’ll never be free of it. He has to change the rules altogether, and quickly. He promises to come back for her if he can and kisses her hand before leaving.

Runaways (Emma/Lily)

  • Emma explains the dearness with which she carries August by reminding Killian of her lost friendship with Lily. Later we find out Lily is Maleficent’s child and thus also Emma’s heart of darkness mate. They are now officially two halves to a whole! The two are meant to be together.

Swan Queen

  • Regina intervenes on Emma’s behalf when Cruella makes a comment about wanting to wring her neck while she sleeps.

Snowing

  • Although the role these two play in the episode is largely antagonistic, that doesn’t mean that their intentions weren’t motivated by love. The concern they share for their child’s well-being brings them together. In all actions, they are united, though their visions of the child diverge.
  • After they go through with the nefarious plan to imbue another child (Maleficent’s baby) with their child’s darkness, they are haunted by what they’ve done. Snow notes they are no longer heroes, but Charming is more concerned with their relationship: “But we’re still here, so how do we fix us?” Snow again shows her concern is with them being good again. She asks, “Do you really think redemption is possible?” Charming says they must “spread hope and faith everyday” and be the best version of themselves. The two commit to being better heroes to raise their child and keep her on the right track.

Wooden Swan 

  • August falls ill from so many recent magical transformations. Emma is deeply concerned. She is so concerned, in fact, Killian becomes jealous.
  • When August wakes and Emma returns, he asks her what’s going on. She dodges the question, but he sees right through it, reminding her that he knows lying. When she makes a connection about the powers the Author would still have, he comments that she’s come a long way from the woman who wouldn’t believe. There is clear affection and intimacy in his understanding of who Emma is


Leave a comment

Once Upon a Time “Best Laid Plans” Previews and Predictions

 

 Coming Tonight: Once Upon a Time 4×16

CAUTION: spoilers (no, really, the sneak peeks are wild)

“Best Laid Plans”Hook tells Emma that her fate is at stake in Gold’s plan while Regina leads the villains on a wild goose chase. Henry makes a breakthrough in his search to find the Author, but Mary Margaret and David need a moment to reconsider the best course of action. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Snow and Charming search for a way to ensure their child will grow-up to be a hero. When a travelling peddler directs them to visit a kindly old hermit, Snow and Charming are presented with a choice that could secure their child’s goodness, but at a price that will haunt them for years to come,  written by Kalinda Vazquez and Jane Espenson and directed by Ron Underwood.

Here’s the ABC promo:

In the first sneak peek, Snow and Charming seek some equestrian augury.

In the second, Henry discovers a secret.

If those are the scenes they’re teasing us with, the episode should be dense and surprising. In fact, they’ve already given away a pair of the complementary moments. Snow’s, “I’m your mother,” and Emma’s, “I don’t care,” are present in the unicorn-induced vision and in present day Storybrooke.

Once Upon a Time’s social media accounts released this image yesterday, which is another spoilery bit.

4x16 Emma Poster

She’s totally going dark. I don’t know if she’ll undergo a full transformation tonight, but it’s coming. And whatever Snow and Charming did, it was ultimately their best laid plans, and those of a certain mousy magician, that lead to this.

The season’s been teasing it. The first half ended with a curse that brought out the worst in everyone followed by devastating heartbreak for both of the show’s primary antagonists. It was also heavy on mirror imagery. And in a sense that’s what we’re seeing now. Rumple’s renounced romance and redoubled his quest for power. A happy ending no matter what the cost.

I’m reminded of the trailer shown at ComiCon.

There’s a lot to unpack, but the notable quotes are, “Evil isn’t born. It’s made.” and “Magic isn’t about what you seem. It’s about what you feel, inside.” The extent of her parents’ betrayals (that’s an egg they’re stealing from Maleficent in the promo) in her name will sour the savior. This episode is the first step toward a situation where the heroes and villains swap positions. Rumpelstiltskin and Maleficent are going to succeed. They’ll find the Author and the stories will change.