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.”
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.
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.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
The Sorcerer sounds a lot like Palpatine, particularly with the diminutive, “my Apprentice.”
Several 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.
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.
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 Fables
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.
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.
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.
Will: If you’ve come here to hurt me, 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 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.
First things first. You cannot escape this car in a Volkswagon Beetle. Even if you’re the Antisaviour.
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.
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
- Although 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Why 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.