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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
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Once Upon a Time “Poor Unfortunate Soul” Previews and Predictions

 Coming Tonight: Once Upon a Time 4×15

CAUTION: subtle spoilers, sneak peeks, and speculations

“Poor Unfortunate Soul”Hook leverages his complicated history with Ursula to find out what she knows about Gold’s endgame. Gold and the Queens of Darkness torture August for information about the Author as Emma, Mary Margaret and David race to find them. Regina grows concerned for Robin Hood’s safety while she struggles to maintain her cover with the villains. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, when a restless young Ursula enlists Hook’s help to run away from home, she soon learns it isn’t wise to trust a pirate, written by Andrew Chambliss and Dana Horgan and directed by Steve Pearlman.

Here’s the promo from last week:

Sneak Peek 1

In the first sneak peek, Hook has the conch. He has a right to speak.

The second is Outlaw Queen fanservice. You’re welcome.

There’s an incredibly brief snot of Snow White dressed in red and black with teleport or transformation effects in the promo. Red is used as Regina’s transitional color in the Enchanted Forest flashbacks, signaling her descent into darkness. She eventually ends up in all black. Mary Margaret’s been switching colors depending on the scene all season, but the combination of of red and black with dark magic here is a direct parallel. We’ll see her bad by the end of the season if not sooner.

Regina dwelling on Robin isn’t exactly good news. Gold’s offering her a chance at finding the Author and forcing her happy ending when all the Charming crew can do it cheer and struggle. I was thinking last episode that Rumple probably knows she’s a spy and doesn’t care. Why would he?

We’ll definitely get to the bottom of the story between Hook and Ursula. The cat credits mention Ariel. The best turnabout would be giving her Ursula’s singing voice, wouldn’t it? I wonder if we’ll see the poor unfortunate souls?Poor Unfortunate Souls


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Once Upon a Time “Unforgiven” Previews and Predictions

Coming Tonight: Once Upon a Time 4×13

CAUTION: spoilage, peeking, and speculation

“Unforgiven”David and Mary Margaret suspect Cruella and Ursula have come to Storybrooke looking for something more than their own happy endings – something that threatens to reveal a secret they thought was long buried. Emma begins her own investigation of Cruella and Ursula, but she can’t shake the feeling that her friends and family are keeping something from her. Regina and Henry continue their search for the Author, turning to Pinocchio and Marco in the hope Pinocchio might remember a clue that will help them. Meanwhile, in a flashback to Fairy Tale Land, Snow and Charming cross paths with the Queens of Darkness as the threat of the Evil Queen’s Dark Curse hangs over all of them, written by Andrew Chambliss and Kalinda Vazquez and directed by Adam Horowitz.

Here’s the ABC promo that aired after “Darkness on the Edge of Town”:

Once again we got four sneak peeks of the upcoming episode. This will taper off in an episode or two like it did last fall, but it’s fun while it lasts. In the first, David and Mary Margaret discuss the implications of illegal search and seisure.

In the Enchanted Forest of the Past, Snow and Charming return to the castle to find everyone asleep on on the job.

Hook brings Emma lunch hot off the grill and Emma grills Hook.

Maleficent looms over a baby and teases a terrible truth. It’s her thing.

Producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis teased that two big secrets would be revealed in this episode. From the sneak peeks, we can be pretty sure they have to do with whatever the Charmings did to Maleficent and the secret about Ursula that Kilian’s keeping from Emma.

I’ll take an educated guess based on Ursula’s raison d’être in The Little Mermaid. Hook made a deal with Ursula whose subject was Milah, Rumplestiltskin’s wife. It won’t make his past much darker, but it will increase the enmity between our favorite nemeses.

For the Charming mystery I’ll just shoot an arrow in the dark. I imagine they tricked the stone in her staff away from her to use against Regina or the dark curse, perhaps even for the scheme to protect baby Emma. At the very least it helps explain the crystal globe’s inconsistent appearance in flashbacks. Again, it’s not an action so terrible or unjustifiable that it ruins them as heroic characters. But it’s bad. And, especially if it could have protected the Queens of Darkness in a similar way, it creates a reasonable enmity.

They’ve also continued a a useful visual technique from the first half of the season. With Snow White in particular, clothing is color coded. Check it out.

Here she is plotting to get rid of some bad, but maybe not as bad as her, elements.

4x13 Bad Snow

And here she is in mom mode, wanting nothing more than to protect her child.

4x13 Good Snow

What we really want to explore is if you’ve done a bad thing, can you come back from it? Can you become the person you want to be even if you didn’t start out that way? And vice versa? What makes a hero and what makes a villain is a point of view. – Kitsis

 


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Early Observations About “Shattered Sight”

@OED’s Word of the Day yesterday was Maleficent! First recorded in 1678.

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

Frozen

Of course Anna finds hitting someone in the face and trapping someone in a net romantic. Oh my gosh, why didn’t they get married right there!?!

David: “I’m callin’ you iceman. And you’re from Arendelle!  Whattaya doin’ sellin’ ice? The whole place is Frozen!”

Regina’s self imposeDYWTBASd imprisonment offers another opportunity to show the iconic back to the closed doors imagery reminiscent of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” used in the early episodes of the season.

The extent of Kristoff’s worst self was more or less “I hate it here and you put off the wedding.” Raised by love experts, he’s not the hating type.

Carrot Sherbert.  The Olaf reference you’ve waited all season for.

In the end, it’s Anna’s capacity for familial love that melts Ingrid’s frozen heart. Gerda’s letter and the memories it contains turn her around, but it’s the the younger Of Arendelle sister that lays it all on the line. I’m not gonna lie, it got a little dusty in the room. And it allowed for Ingrid’s act of true love to save everyone.  Once gets it.

Song of the South

Mary Margaret: “Still wanna hold hands and sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah?”

Written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1947. It was Disney’s second win in the category.  The first was “When You Wish Upon a Star,” slyly referenced in the last episode.  The controversial film has never been released on home video.

Swiss Miss

Snow points out Anna’s partial resemblance to the mascot for ConAgra’s winter institution. It might be random and it might not. Disney has a long-standing relationship with the food giant going back more than sixty years. Most recently, Disney’s Peter Pan became the official mascot for their peanut butter.

swiss miss

Snow White

And she asks for a poison apple which is iconic to the show, the Disney classic, and the original Tale 53, Sneewittchen.

Home Alone

4x09 Marbles

“Welcome to the Jungle”

It gets worse here every day.  Regina quotes here favorite terrestrial poet, W. Axl Rose, when she confronts Snow White. “I wanna watch you bleed.”

101 Dalmations

Young Emma grabs a stuffed Dalmation with the claw crane at the state fair. This is a subtle reminder that Pongo actually lives in Storybrooke and sets the stage for Cruella’s entrance next week.

Bonus: The ring around its neck can be seen during 4×05 “Breaking Glass” in Emma’s treasure box.

Harry Potter

The boy who lived gets another shout out from young Emma right before her unstable foster mom tries to get her hit by a car.  She wishes she could “poof home,” or Apparate.

Once Upon a Timetrue love

David and Mary Margaret recast the events of 1×03 “Snow Falls,” or I suppose 3×21 “Snow Drifts” and 3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home.”  Series co-creator Adam Horowitz is with Anna, hitting someone in the face is romantic.  He prefers rocks, but when timey wimey goes all wibbly wobbly, you make due.

Snow also references 2×16, “The Miller’s Daughter,” the episode where she effectively tricked Regina into matricide, sullied her own heart (and now Charming’s as well) and set the stage for the angry Mary Margaret we’ve seen this season.

The grand prize winner, though, is 1×18 “The Stable Boy.” Kristoff calls David “stable boy” instead of scruffy looking nerf her… shepherd.  David follows up by selling Snow out with his reference to the first of her many spilled secrets.  And during the climax of their duel, Regina calls Snow on it and she responds with, “I WAS TEN!” It’s also a good way to point out something the two queens have in common.

As usual, there are many, many more, but they seem to have done something special to close up the arc. Every episode of season four gets a visual or verbal nod, whether it’s the trunk on the beach from last week, the Kingdom Hearts door from “Smash the Mirror,” or the Any Given Sundae scene from the photo found in “Breaking Glass.”

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

With the Shattered Sight spell in full force, it was slim pickings for shipper moments. But it wasn’t completely devoid of great couple moments, even if some of them were antithetical to their normal relationships.

Kristanna

  • Kristanna fared the best of all the couples who actually talked to each other under the Shattered Sight curse. In fact, the worst Kristoff could come up with for aggravations with Anna was that she kept putting off their wedding and had a sister who brought about eternal winter. Perhaps if she hadn’t knocked him out, he would have gotten around to dishing out his Hans resentments, like: “You sang with him?!” Instead, he ultimately proved to be a pretty good guy, even when at his worst.once-upon-time_6

Snowing

  • Being the First Couple of True Love, of course the Shattered Sight curse was shown to hit them the hardest (and the funniest). Snow called Charming a fraud, and Charming called Snow a spoiled little brat. Charming complained to Anna that Snow hit him the first time they met, and Snow rebutted with the fact that Charming caught her in a net. Anna tried to point out the romance (odd though it was) in these gestures, but the spell kept them at each other until Regina arrived.
  • During the Regina-Snow fight, Charming helps Snow win, despite the curse still being in place.
  • And when the curse is broken, it is Snowing that gets the fantastic reunited kiss.tumblr_ng8rwkSe5f1u3pvl5o3_1280

 

Captain Swan

  • tumblr_ng8s7e2SHi1qdsjzio1_250Hook and Emma don’t share a single moment on screen, but even apart, their relationship gets more relationshippy. First, Hook goes to gather Henry for Gold. Henry: “I never liked you, and I like you even less now that you and my mom are together.” Hook: “Emma used that word? ‘Together’?”
  • In fact she did! When Emma goes to get the ultra-hatred unlocked from Regina, she gloats, “I wanted you to see Hook and I together and happy.”

Swan Queen

  • When Emma needs help, she goes to Regina. Sure, it’s to garner her hate like never before, but we all know how thin that line between love and hate really is.