Once Upon A Time – Season 4, Episode 14 Recap: Maleficent The Utterly Magnificent

We begin today’s tale with a nightmare – Snow’s nightmare, to be exact – in which the big three try to take baby Neal, and Maleficent in particular is vowing to steal all the happiness from Snow and her family. Snow awakens to see that it’s 2:38 in the morning – and it’s strangely light outside. Like, daylight-ish light outside. That’s a helluva street light shining in your window. Might want to buy some blinds.

It turns out David’s up too, stressing and drinking and thinking about the horrible, terrible thing they don’t want anyone to find out about. Which of course, sends us back to the Enchanted Forest, where we see Snow and David outside their castle. They see one sleeping dwarf and automatically assume there’s a sleeping curse in place instead of lifting his hat to see if it’s Sleepy.

Surprise! The big three are visiting, and they’ve come to tip Snow and Charming off about the evil curse Regina intends to enact. Snow and Charming are understandably leery, but they do realize that a curse this severe could screw with the bad guys as well as the good, so they agree to team up. Apparently, there’s some tree of wisdom in the forest (I do hope this isn’t going to be Grandmother Willow, though I guess that would be the only callout they could possibly give to Pocahontas that wouldn’t offend a helluva lot of people). The tree answers your questions, and you need two heroes to unlock it or whatever. Snow and Charming can ask the tree how to defeat Regina.

Meanwhile, back at Granny’s, two thirds of the big three can’t seem to get waited on, so they start throwing barbs. At least, Cruella does. I’m not sure what Ursula does other than stand there looking bland while the CGI department tries to liven her up. Why the hell didn’t they get someone with some moxie for this role? Too bad Patti LaBelle is dancing with the stars. Or how about Rue Paul? Wouldn’t Rue Paul have made a phenomenal Ursula??

Anyway, Regina shows up and gets pissy when her past is called out in front of Henry. Snow and David corner Regina after the Bore-sy Twins leave to express their extreme uneasiness with these two being in town, and Regina reassures them that Cruella’s no threat and Ursula “can’t magic her way out of a wet paper bag.”

And this brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves with this season. Ursula. And I’m not just talking about the bland actress, the bland lines, or the bad eighties prom gown with the CGI tentacles. I mean the whole character, as they’ve portrayed her. In season three, we learn that Ursula is over a thousand years old, and is somewhat benevolent, granting mermaids legs one day out of the year at a festival in her honor. Now she’s pure evil, and even after living three times as long as Rumplestilskin (and having learned a thing or two about magic, in those years, I’m sure), she “can’t magic her way out of a wet paper bag?” And in episode eleven, Rumple refers to her as a former pupil. What? She’s been around since before his great-great-great-great grandfather was born. It makes no sense and totally effs with the continuity.

But enough of my rant.

On their way out of Granny’s, Ursula bumps into Killian, who is obviously less than thrilled to see her. Emma corners him later at the station, wanting to know how he – a sea captain – knows the sea witch. DUH. Killian admits that he does but refuses to discuss the particulars.

In the mayor’s office, meantime, Henry is eating his chocolate frosted donuts and perusing the magical book. Regina tells him she doesn’t like that it’s captured her glorious villainous days, and she tears up nostalgically when she remembers how good it was back when everybody was all cursed and clueless, and it was just her and Henry.

(Sigh) Somebody give this woman some happily ever after.

Cruella and Ursula pay a visit to Gold’s pawn shop, where Belle has decided to spend her time instead of the Library, I guess. Way to show your dedication to education, Belle. While there, they steal a box. They high-tail (high-tentacle?) it out of there, only to have David and Emma (who are on a Daddy/Daughter stakeout) pull them over and search the car without any kind of due process or professed reasonable cause. Profiling is alive and well in The ‘Brooke, ya’ll.

Sheriff chiseled-chin finds the box in the car and inside is something that looks like the top of Maleficent’s staff. In a weirdly surprising move, David pockets it, and hides it from Emma.

Wow. What is this secret? What could make Prince Charming lie to his daughter’s face? Holy crap.

Flashing back to the Enchanted Forest, we see Snow and Charming stymied by guards at a bridge that needs to be crossed in order to get to the tree quickly. This doesn’t set well with Maleficent, who wants this crap settled already. She turns into a dragon and burns the guards to toast. And the only reason for this scene, really, was to show how big of a baddie she was, I guess. Duly noted.

Back in Storybrooke, Killian is bringing Emma a grilled cheese sandwich, and maybe it was just the TV I was watching on, but did the makeup people go nuts with pink lipstick this episode? Killian looks like he’s been eating cotton candy and so did David. Just wondering. Anyway, Emma knows that Killian, just like Daddy, is holding something back. Then they flash over to Snow, reiterating again that Emma can’t find out the truth. WHAT TRUTH??

On the other side of town, Marco is in the mayor’s office with Pinocchio, and Emma and Regina are doing their best to get him to remember something – anything – about the book, but to no avail.

“Remember, Pinocchio? Remember when you were hot??”

Regina starts getting a little evil at Pinocchio – just riding the delicious edge of it, and Marco has had enough. He and Regina get into it, and Regina learns what I learned in too many years of a failed marriage – never argue with an Italian. You can’t win.

Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Snow and David are now on a campout with the big three, but manage to give them the slip, leaving their rather ornate tent empty.

Three magical women. All kinds of crazy magic going on with three magical women. But they can’t poof them anywhere? They all have to walk and camp out like a bunch of boy scouts? Hellooooo continuity.

Anyway, while escaping, Snow and David learn that it’s really hard to run in a voluminous cloak. They get to the magic tree, (which looks just like the twisted tree portal from the end of “Prince Caspian – giving me an instant ladyboner memory of Ben Barnes and his cheesy Spanish accent. Why can’t we get Ben Barnes for this show?). They put their hands on the magical golden hero-sized handprints, and ask how they can defeat Regina. The tree glows ominously and then tosses them unceremoniously on their asses without giving an answer.

Freakin’ magic. So unpredictable.

Now we go back to Storybrooke to follow Snow and David down to the caves, where they intend to take Maleficent’s ashes and toss them in the harbor so they can be done with her once and for all. Ah, I’ve missed the caves. Haven’t been here since Elsa blew that whole wall out and ended up conveniently standing on the beach. Guess that just magically repaired itself, ’cause the wall is fine now. Once Snow and David reach the pile of ashes, Cruella and Ursula show up and knock them out cold. Rumple steps out of the shadows to make sure they don’t know he’s associated, and hands Cruella a knife.

Oh, Rumple. Just like with Killian, at least we get a glimpse of you here and there, but I need more of you. I really do. Rumple asks one question before he makes his exit: Has Belle asked about him? And the answer is, of course, that she didn’t even mention him.

Above ground, things are getting schmaltzy. Regina stops by Marco’s shop to give a tearful apology for her harsh words and formerly wicked ways. Marco recognizes true sincerity when he hears it, and shows Regina that he’s kept August’s motorcycle and everything that was his – including his leather satchel, which is plumb-full of plot-advancing goodness, I’ll wager.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, we learn the real reason the tree of wisdom refused our heroes’ request: Snow is pregnant, and since her kid is the product of true love, it’ll have the potential to be a hero – or to be a villain. Gee…that’s kinda like….everybody else in the damn world. Or is this the Enchanted Forest equivalent of two gorgeous movie stars having a really ugly baby? Like, I always thought it was for the best when Ryan Reynolds split up with Scarlett Johanson, because their child would have surely imploded at birth with those genes.

I’m digressing again, aren’t I?

Let’s move back to the tunnels, where Cruella slashes David and Snow’s palms, drawing blood and raising Maleficent, who (in her dragon form) still has a glowing chest for some reason even though Emma sliced that neon Faberge egg out of her in season one.

Maleficent promises them both “long unyielding pain” and Ursula responds with my pick for winning line of the episode: “I forgot how much I missed her.” Take your victory lap, Ursula. You haven’t had a memorable line yet.

After the baddies go away, Snow and David realize they can’t keep lying. They have to tell Emma almost everything about the big secret. They rush off to the Sheriff’s station, where Killian has just arrived, greeting Emma with a somber, “Why did you summon me?”

Nah. Just kidding. They don’t get to have sex. Ever, apparently.

Emma asks Killian if the bad blood between him and Ursula has to do with a broken heart. He tells her that what he did to Ursula was worse, and once again expresses remorse over his formerly villainous ways. Emma tells him she’s going to choose to see the best in people – especially him. Fully clothed. Because that’s how the writers torture me.

One last flashback to the Enchanted Forest, and it’s a doozy. Maleficent shows up in Snow’s bedchamber to talk to her alone, and there she drops the big bomb of the episode: she wants to get away from the curse for the same reason that Snow does. She’s pregnant. Snow refuses to work with her because she’s a villain. She will risk the kingdom to ensure her child grows up a hero. She cuts Maleficent cold and tells her she refuses to become “like her”.

And now, at last, we come to the big, big secret reveal. Snow meets Regina on a bridge in the rain to share a secret, and to ask Regina to go undercover in a guise of her old, evil self to get intel on what the big baddies (or Fish Stick and Pound Puppy, if you prefer) are up to.

The big secret – one that Emma can never learn –  is that Emma was born with the potential for great darkness, but Snow and David went to great extremes to ensure that she would be a hero. Those extremes included somehow being responsible for Maleficent losing her baby.

“Losing?” Hmmm. As in, baby could still be alive and out there somewhere? Wonder if her name is….oh, I don’t know….Lily?? Just a thought….

We end the episode with Rumple hanging on Main Street again, peeping in on Belle. Unfortunately, he sees her with the Knave. Wow Belle, that was fast! Six weeks and you’re already macking on somebody else. You’re not even divorced! Not that I wouldn’t mind rolling around with the knave, but damn. So much for true love. Guess she wasn’t as into Rumple as we thought.

And as the lights fade out, we see Maleficent’s totem is in fact a baby rattle. She gives it a shake, and her eyes mist over, and I really, really like Maleficent. Why the hell do we even have the other two, anyway? She’s fine all on her own.

I give this episode three hooks out of five. 


This trifecta just isn’t doing it for me, but Maleficent is rockin’ the house.

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