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Early Observations about “Unforgiven”

They were raised to be Charmings not sincere. Is there a Hook up he’s not talking about? And the death rattle is way sadder this way.

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


I’m going with the 1992 Eastwood film, here. Based primarily on the themes of buried secrets, folks who cannot change, and hard choices. Even doing terrible things to ensure the future of one’s children. And anyway, the Metallica song is “The Unforgiven.”

Unforgiven 1


David: Maleficent!Maleficents

Maleficent: I was afraid you wouldn’t recognize me.

Finally! A lamp shade for the costume change. I do like it receding into the flashbacks to provide some reasonable continuity.

Maleficent looming over Queen Snow’s baby and the implicit threat hearkens back to both Sleeping Beauty and last year’s remake.

Not to mention the deeper touchstone of a secret betrayal revisited on the family of the betrayer. Where the Frozen arc maintained the story of the movie, this seems to pull more on the themes. Plus they’ve created a sympathetic twist for Maleficent incredibly efficiently.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (101 Dalmations)

Cruella: If that old bag still wolfed out I would make her into a coat for my collection.

Noted in both the animated classic and the Dodie Smith novel that inspired it, Cruella has a collection of animal skin coats. But the one she wears on the show outshines the rest.


ReginaShould have known fish sticks and pound puppy were here for more than a second chance.

A classic toy from the eighties. Similar to Cabbage Patch Kids they came with an adoption certificate kids could beg their parents to frame, thereby increasing the cost. They were revived by Funrise last year, but since the producers had to resolve the lack of knowledge about Frozen by saying Storybrooke was behind the viewing public by a couple years, the reference has to be to the Tonka line or the silly cartoons.

Once Upon a Time

Too numerous to count, which is sort of standard practice this season. The writers are exploiting parts of the timeline that aren’t entirely accounted for to weave the new arcs into the existing story. I reckon some folks balk at apparent inconsistencies, but it’s television.

Of particular note is 2×18 “Selfless, Brave and True”, wherein August Booth reverted back to the young flesh and blood Pinocchio with the help of Reul Ghorm’s magical meddling. Blue was awfully shady last episode, so bringing this in immediately afterward adds some gravity.

4x13 Regina Book 2


And what they’re really after in this interrogation is how and why August was able to alter Henry’s Once Upon a Time book in 1×13 “What Happened to Frederick” and whether that’s significant.

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments


  • 2:38 a.m. Snow wakes to find Charming gone. But Maleficent is there instead, with the other Queens of Darkness, threatening Snow’s family. But it was just a nightmare! 2:38 a.m. again. Snow wakes to find Charming gone. Again. (Is this going to be a Groundhog Day loop?) Except this time it turns out David is sitting on the stairs being an insomniac and trying to drink his way through it (a sign of their secret villainous past).
  • Through the episode, the two act together to hide the secret of Maleficent’s prediction about Emma and Maleficent’s lost child. Though their motivations and actions are questionable–lying is the stuff of villainy–they do act in tandem, bringing them closer together, even as they screw everything up.

Captain Swan

  • Hook brings Emma her craved for grilled cheese. With it he passes her test by giving her a ring, actually, several onion rings.
  • Emma’s superpower is telling when people are lying to her. She uses it on Hook when he feigns forgetful ignorance of how he knows Ursula. But Hook isn’t budging. He leaves with a rather meaningful, “Enjoy your witch hunt.” The line suggests the questionable motives behind David’s gung-ho attitude towards Cruella and Ursula, and how Emma’s being pulled into it without knowing what’s actually going on.
  • Later that evening Hook comes back, perhaps with the intent of coming clean about his relationship with Ursula, but Emma has also had a change of heart. Not wanting her distrust of people to get the best of her or her relationship with Hook, she tells him that while it’s not okay to lie to her, he can have the time he needs to be ready to tell her. “You’re not that man anymore,” she tells him. “It’s not going to change anything between us.” “That’s quite a lot of faith you’re putting on me, Swan,” he responds, showing that doubt, once again, that he can live up to being the boyfriend of a hero. Hook tells her he has no intentions of letting her down. She says, “No matter what, I will always choose to see the best in you.” “And I with you.”
  • As Snow reveals the truth to Regina, there’s a slow-mo walking shot of Emma and Hook walking on the street being uber-cute and happy.captain swan walk

Scarlet Beauty

  • These two are shown together in Gold’s (now Belle’s unofficial) shop. They smile at each other then KISS! scarlet beauty kiss


  • gold reactionAnd Rumple sees this kiss from across the street! He is shocked. Takes a staggered step back into the shadows, suggesting his recession into further villainhood.
  • Earlier, when Ursula and Cruella come into the shop to steal the MacGuffin, Belle responds with sincere care and curiosity about how Rumple is doing. “You’ve seen him?” When the ladies give her a line about how terrible and miserable he was, they ask if part of her didn’t want to see him suffering? “I would never revel in his suffering,” Belle proclaims.
  • Ursula and Cruella also lie to Rumple when they tell him that Belle didn’t mention him and that clearly she had moved on. Well, I guess she has, considering the kiss.

Swan Queen

  • There’s one wonderful moment for this ship in the ep. When Emma finally shows up to assist in jogging Pinocchio’s memory, Regina exclaims, “Where the hell have you been?” Then her face shows total relief that Emma is there.

Snow Queen

  • Snow meets Regina in the rain in the dark. Despite having failed to keep Regina’s secret in the past, now Snow wants to share her secret with Regina. It’s a nice moment of growth between them. Snow certainly needs Regina’s help, but there is a leap of faith there that Regina is trustworthy.

Sea DeVil

  • The two bond over their joy at seeing Maleficent back alive and in action against the Charmings.

Cruella DaVid

  • Welcome, new ship! cruella DaVidRight now, this ship largely consists of some tasty comments by Cruella concerning David’s good-looks. But shippers have worked with less.
  • In an Enchanted Forest flashback, Cruella quips after Charming proves a bit obtuse, “If only your wits matched your looks.”
  • When David pulls Cruella over to search her car, she rolls down her window with a “What can I do for you, Sheriff Chisel Chin?”

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Early Observations about “Darkness On the Edge of Town”

Welcome back, Once Upon a Time! We’ve missed you.

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

“Darkness On the Edge of Town” – Bruce Springsteen (from 1978’s Darkness On the Edge of Town)

Everybody’s got a secret… something that they just can’t face.


4x12 Chernabog

Chernabog! From Bald Mountain, folks!


When confronted with the intrusions of Ursula and Cruella, Maleficent remarks, “And you know what I do with trespassers.” We’re assuming she isn’t suggesting she’ll fall deeply in love with these two.

101 Dalmatians

Once has come up with a really clever use of the green smoke that followed her original template around throughout the film. It was only teased at the end the last arc, but it’s definitely her power signature.


Cruella and Ursula get their fast food on at Mr Cluck’s Chicken Shack:


Rumplestiltskin’s bringing “the good news” to the Queens of Darkness. The first time seemed like a bit of a gag, but later he remarks that he’s “the answer to [their] prayers.” And Cruella hangs a bell on it when she says she’s not the religious type. It’s a sly inversion that ties into…

Paradise Lost

‘Cause here’s Rumple talking like a prophet while planning to corrupt the savior. And that theme is recapitulated in Chernabog’s selection of Emma as the individual with the greatest potential for darkness over Regina. The whole arc is gonna rock the evil from good/good from evil angle.

 Once Upon a Time 4×10 “Shattered Sight”

The scroll Ingrid used to enter Storybrooke in 2001 reappears as a useful method of getting people into, or back into, town.

Ingrid's Scroll

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Captain Swan

  • cskisscoffeeDuring the hiatus, apparently this couple got comfortable. The first indication of this is Hook’s coffee and kiss waiting for Swan as she stops by the library on her way to the sheriff’s office. Both are smiling. They appear genuinely happy and in love. It’s adorable. They’re doomed.
  • During the ceremony to let the fairies out of the hat, Hook and Swan are holding hands and looking to each other for comfort. It’s all very sweet. Seriously, doomed.
  • Emma finds Hook in the back hallway of Granny’s, thinking. “Lurking and brooding. That’s a classic combination.” Also totally something she digs in men, this, exactly this, is her potential for darkness writ large.
  • She exhorts him to go party. “We should buckle some swash, or, you know, whatever.”
  • cpceremonyHe’s struggling with his involvement in trapping the fairies in the first place, having difficulty forgiving himself now that they’re freed again, because it was a choice of his, just a really, really bad one. And one he’s now got to live with. Emma, however, attempts to absolve him of his guild. “Trust me, this is a mark in the hero’s column.”
  • At the end of the episode, Hook and Swan sit at Granny’s having a nice little dinner and looking just tickled pink to be in each other’s presence. Incoming doom in 3, 2, 1…cpdinner

Swan Queen

  • For all the surface level lovey-dovey goo-goo we got in the shared moments between Hook and Swan, we got just as much intense, magic-infused life-saving between Regina and Swan.
  • Swan brings Regina root beer thinking she could use a break. Is this the counter-point to the coffee moment from earlier?
  • Swan finds the Robin/Regina picture. Regina opens up to her about it, saying Robin said it was “hope.”
  • The two share shoulder touches, use their magic together again against the chernabog.
  • reginalookThinking Regina is the target of the chernabog, the two pile into the VW bug and head to the edge of town. Although Regina complains about the car’s color and coffin on wheels nature, we all know what she was really saying: “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Regina poofs herself out of the car declaring she won’t let the both die and places herself as the bait before the magical town border. Emma speeds up and then steps on the breaks, throwing the chernabog over the city line and into non-magical oblivion. And then there’s a brilliant shared moment where the two appreciate the other’s part in saving her life.


  • Unfortunately, I knew Rumple was our “linguist” as soon as he got mail. I wonder how much he was peppering his behind-the-scenes email to Belle with invisible little I-love-yous and I’m-sorrys. Fanfic writers–GO TO!
  • Belle hoped Rumple found what he was looking for, even after all the hurt he’s caused her.
  • Rumple insinuates that Belle is the happy ending he wants. Man, too bad he didn’t realize that before she kicked him out of town.

 Captain Beauty (I prefer Captain Librarian)

  • Although Belle and Hook have never been copacetic in the past, post-hiatus they seem to have grown to care some about each other now that they share a particular kind of experience: having Rumple get the best of them. Belle attempts to assuage Hook’s guilt over the trapping of the fairies and Hook likewise tries to minimize Belle’s pain over Rumple’s betrayal. Hook makes a particularly interesting comment when he says, “Love is a weapon.” A repetition of Rumple’s statement from way back.

Sea DeVil

  • Ursula, on the phone with Regina, referring to Cruella: “We’re back together.” Yes, those implications are pretty clear.