The second half of season 4 returned strong Sunday night with an episode full of sass, Disney villains, intrigue and a healthy dose of Evil Queen/Savior bonding. Join us as we recap what happened.
In our backstory plot, we find that Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella (Queens of Darkness) have been brought together by Rumplestiltskin with the purpose of pursuing a happy ending for the villains. He tells them of a dark curse than can help them achieve this, one hidden beneath a mountain and protected by magical booby traps. Each villain is able to use their particular talents to bypass the traps and Rumplestiltskin retrieves the curse. In the process, he betrays the trio, escaping with the curse and leaving the QoD to deal with the final obstacle guarding the curse, the Chernabog, an ancient demon who feeds on evil, seeking out the heart with the greatest potential for darkness. It goes after Maleficent, who distracts the beast long enough for Ursula and Cruella to get away and rescue her at the last minute.
In Storybrooke, life seems to have returned to normal in the aftermath of the Snow Queen’s broken curse – Mary Margaret is teaching, Regina has been reinstituted as Mayor, Emma is still town sheriff and she and Hook are a happy couple. Regina and Emma are still on their mission to identify the author, although Regina has become discouraged over their lack of progress. Meanwhile Killian and Belle, bonding over their mutual betrayal by Gold, are trying to figure out how to free the fairies from the sorcerer’s hat. Reaching out to scholars via the internet, Belle finds a “professor of linguistics from Oxford” (whom we later find out is Gold) to help translate an incantation which will release the fairies. Using the incantation and the Dark One’s dagger, Regina is able to free them, unwittingly releasing a dark cloud in the process.
Meanwhile, while the heroes rejoice in Storybrooke, we find Gold living in a tiny apartment in NYC with Ursula, reduced to bickering over ramen noodles. Gold receives a mysterious email (presumably the incantation from Belle) which prompts him to set his plan in motion. He and Ursula visit Cruella Feinberg, who is in the process of getting a divorce and being thrown out of her cushy home in upstate New York. He convinces her to join them on their quest to regain what they’ve lost and they all jump in her fancy car (license plate ‘DEV IL) and head to Storybrooke. During the roadtrip Gold explains about the book and the author, and we get a little nod to Lost when the trio stops at Mr. Cluck’s drive-thru for some fast food!
PS – who else grew up thinking Cruella’s last name was Deville? Now looking at it, the De Vil makes sense, but I thought it was the former until now. The things you learn!
While celebrating the fairies release at Granny’s, Regina confronts the Blue Fairy about the blank books in hopes that she has some information about the author. Blue informs them that the sorcerer and the author are two different people and that the author hasn’t been seen in many years. She is able to tell them that he left hidden clues in his books, and Henry sets about searching his own book for said clues. The celebration at the diner is short-lived, as the dark cloud that was released reveals itself to be the Chernabog, loose in Storybrooke.
Once at the Storybrooke town line, Cruella and Ursula call Regina and talk her into let them in town, convincing her that they’ve changed and using their knowledge of how to defeat the Chernabog as bargaining power. After learning it’s feeds on evil, Regina is convinced the beast is after her (“Now that Gold’s gone, who else could it be? Is there a dwarf named Evily? It’s me!”). She and Emma lead the Chernabog to the town line and trick it into flying into the barrier, killing it. Emma and Regina then let Cruella and Ursula into Storybrooke using the Snow Queen’s magical scroll, much to the chagrin of Mary Margaret and David, who seem twitchy over the idea of the two villains entering. We later find out why, as the couple meets with Cruella and Ursula in secret. Mary Margaret tells the pair they can stay if they’ve truly turned over a new leaf, but on the condition that “no one must ever know what happened between us in the Enchanted Forest,” threatening to rip out their hearts herself if they tell.
As night falls, Gold waits at the town line, convinced he’s been betrayed by the QoD. As he’s set to walk away, they make good on their deal, tossing him the scroll, allowing him to cross the town line and cast off his cane once again. He details their plan – Cruella and Ursula act repentant and befriend the townspeople while he works behind the scenes. He plans to resurrect Maleficient and complete their evil quartet. When Ursula worries about their ability to defeat Regina given that the Chernabog was unable to, Gold fills them in on a shocking fact – the Chernabog wasn’t after Regina, it was after Emma!
Are we going to get a Dark!Emma out of this storyline? Will Regina have to act as the hero and save Storybrooke from it’s former Savior? And what exactly are Mary Margaret and David hiding? Stay tuned to find out!