'Once Upon a Time' Recap/Preview: Enter the...Unfortunate Soul

In the past:

"Enter the Dragon"

Although the title stirs memories of Bruce Lee, the reference is obviously to our recently resurrected femme fatale, Maleficent. After all, she is a dragon!

As we all know, the Enchanted Forest can be a very dangerous place, where nothing is ever quite as it seems. In this episode we see a relatively young Regina, not long married to Leopold, whining over Snow’s apparent successes. She becomes impatient with Rumple, and in haste to gain the necessary powers to exact her revenge ends up at Maleficent’s. Little did she know that Maleficent at this point in her life was a self defeatist.

It took a lot of prodding, a little begging, and the knowledge that the man who ruined her previous attempt at revenge was planning a wedding for his beloved daughter to snap her back. Perhaps it was also an unexpected emotional development between Maleficent and Regina that allowed Maleficent to regain her draconian form upon Regina’s imminent doom. Regardless of the regenerative cocktail ingredients, the old Maleficent was back, and for that she thanked Regina. This explains her willingness to accept Regina’s interest in joining their clique in Storybrooke.

Before we travel to the present, let’s stop by King Stefan’s castle along with Regina and Maleficent. Aurora is approached by Maleficent who tells her that she had planned to kill her along with her parents, but decided that it would be far worse for her parents to watch what she had in store for Aurora. Aurora futilely protests as Maleficent explains she has a terrible curse planned for Phillip, and before Aurora can finish declaring her future triumph, she is pricked with the sleeping curse endowed spindle.

Top image courtesy of Peter West/ACE/INFphoto.com

[new page = In the present:]

Regina undercover

The episode opens with Regina walking into Granny’s. Her goal is to get in on whatever the “Queens of Darkness” are up to. Understandably, they don’t trust her, but Maleficent is willing to give her a chance to prove herself. She begins by downing a shot without a blink and then crushing the shot glass in her hand. Meanwhile, Emma comes home to discover that her parents had enlisted Regina in a covert operation to uncover Cruella’s and Ursula’s plans. Why did they need Maleficent? Why are they really in Storybrooke?

However, there’s a problem. Regina hasn’t checked in with them, which not only has them concerned, but really sends Emma over the edge with worry. It turns out Regina seems to be a little hung over, after a night out with the girls.

Zooming around in her custom Zimmer Golden Spirit, Cruella took the crew for a joy ride to test Regina. Is she really still evil, or has she “gone soft?” There’s nothing like a good game of chicken with a train to test your strength as a villain, and if you play with Cruella, she calls it “Don’t Be A Hero!”

In an unplanned midmorning rendezvous, the Charmings are stunned to find out that Regina has learned nothing from the unwelcome “Queens.” Regina reminds them that it was only one night, and that their meetings need to be covert.

She later meets them in the library, where it is her turn to be miffed that so many people showed up. She knows now that the “Queens” are also in search of the author to rewrite their fates. It is at this point that the possibility of her switching sides becomes a real. We already saw the nasty coming out of her with Pinocchio last week. Will she do anything to get her happy ending with Robin Hood?

In a another turn of events, Emma decides she’s going to back Regina even though she thinks this is all a REALLY bad idea. They are both getting sucked farther and farther into Rumple’s schemes, and he is being refueled by Belle’s apparent lack of concern for him; something he didn’t have to rely on Cruella and Ursula to figure out. He saw it for himself, and if that wasn’t enough, he actually talked to her about it in the form of Hook.

Rumple originally took the form of Hook to convince Belle that the Dark One may be back in town, which meant that the dagger was no longer safe. He presented a good argument in that a pirate knows best how to hide treasure. She relented and took him with her to dig up the dagger, but she hesitated in giving it to him. He suggested that if the Dark One was indeed already in town that she can demand that he come and face her. She did, not realizing that he was already there facing her. After giving him the dagger, she left. After he, as Hook, supposedly hid the dagger somewhere safe, he returned to Gold’s shop and had Belle swear not to tell anyone about the dagger. Then he asked about Will. Her response was that he makes her smile.

If this frustrates you, you’re not alone. Some fans have commented that this seems very out of character for her, as she is usually more perceptive. It is also bothersome that she no longer seems to be pining for Rumple after only a little over a month. That being said, why can’t she be the strong and independent woman that she has been portrayed as instead of a person who needs a rebound “friend.” Regarding Will, the question of his love and devotion to Anastasia (from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) was questioned. However, it was made clear that he had given up his heart and had quite a few unsuccessful relationships prior to returning to Wonderland. That allows room for him to have a relationship in Storybrooke; I just don’t see it ending well!

In the end, Regina ditches Emma, who’s been trailing her to make sure she’s safe. This occurs after Regina kidnapped Pinocchio at the behest of Maleficent. Taking him back to Maleficent’s hideout, Regina realizes that Rumple is their secret dark magic. Now she’s in over her head. Rumple reverts Pinocchio back to August so that they can torture him into revealing what he knows about the author.

[new page = In the future:]

Who is the poor unfortunate soul?

*Spoiler Alert*

If you’ve ever seen Disney’s The Little Mermaid, then you probably remember Ursula as the evil sea witch who tricks Ariel under the pretense of desiring to help all unfortunate merfolk. If you’ve seen it countless times, then you may remember that Ursula’s serenade of Ariel was a tune aptly entitled “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” in which she refers to the unhappy merfolk as “miserable, lonely and depressed.”

So, it certainly appears that the “Poor, Unfortunate Soul” title of the up coming episode will have something to do with Ursula. But is she the poor, unfortunate soul? Hook did tell Emma that he did something worse than break Ursula’s heart. It’s hard to imagine what that might be, but to be that hurt could garner you the descriptor “unfortunate.” In fact, Zap2It quoted co-creator and executive producer, Eddie Kitsis regarding the Ursula story.

"You're going to see the entire flashback of what happened [and] you're going to see the origin of Ursula," Kitsis revealed. "We're going to meet Ursula at age 18 or 19." He also helped put the Ursula/Hook relationship into perspective. "It is not sexual. It is, as he said, far worse. When you think about what is worse than having your heart broken -- I would say having your soul crushed."

So, based on Kitsis’ comments and this synopsis of episode 15, Ursula wants to run away and decides to get help from Hook. The promotional photos not only show the beautiful young Ursula, portrayed by Tiffany Boone (The Following), and her god of a father, Poseidon (Ernie Hudson), but also a villainous Hook. Remember, he wasn’t always a sweetheart. Good looking, maybe, but not a sweetheart.

One can only imagine how suffocated Ursula must have felt under Poseidon’s rule, and what hope she may have seen in the dashing rapscallion of a pirate that Hook was. Somehow, a deal was struck that didn’t turn out so well for Ursula. As with all the villains we’ve met on Once Upon a Time, and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland as well, her backstory will show us how she became who she is and why. We’ve heard it countless times: evil isn’t born, it’s made.

The synopsis also explains that Hook is going to try to use his past relationship with Ursula to find out what’s going on. However, according to the video promo things don’t seem to go so well for him. It shows them meeting in the woods where Hook says something about offering her a deal. Before he can finish, Ursula snatches him up with her tentacles saying, “After what you did to me, I don’t think so!” Later it shows her throwing him overboard. When that happens isn’t exactly clear, but could Hook be the poor, unfortunate soul? I mean, here he is, finally gaining some redemption and seeing the light of a future full of love, but he just can’t seem to escape his past.

Of course, if we want to toss around the names of people who can’t escape their past, I suppose we could list just about everyone. Regina too is caught up in a seemingly hopeless situation. All she wants is to be a hero and have a happy ending, and just when we thought we could drop the “big E,” with her, she’s dragged into this undercover fiasco.

Then, there’s August. I don’t think things are going to turn out very well for him. He certainly is a person with much to regret.

What about Will? A knave without a heart, sort of. It was broken beyond repair and now he’s in Storybrooke as a way to escape both the pain of seeing his lost love and the wrath of those from whom he’s stolen, or who he’s double crossed. Out of all the characters from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, his story was the most lamentable.

We can’t count out Rumple. I know there’s a lot of anger with his selfish and misguided decisions, but his love for Belle was genuine. He finally gained total redemption when he sacrificed himself by killing Peter Pan, but then was resurrected and tortured by Zelena, which apparently brought back much of his Dark One vileness. Then he lost his son, lost his control over his desire for power, and was banished by his wife. He returned with the hopes of regaining her trust, only to find that he seemingly lost her to another man. Rumple has always been a character that elicits pity.

Also, we should keep in mind the previous promos that show the “Queens of Darkness” attempting to sway Emma to the dark side, knowing that she has the potential for the greatest evil. If she were to become a full fledged villain, that would be most unfortunate for her. However, think of poor Henry. With one mother caught up in an undercover scheme that’s putting her into situations where she must compromise her new found since of right and wrong, and the other being seduced by evil, how is he supposed to feel? What will happen to him if he has two villains for mothers?

Once Upon a Time does have a way with twisting things around, and presenting the unexpected. It was speculated that Rumple would be the one who would be unforgiven in episode 13, but it turned out to be Snow White and Prince Charming. So, there is no way to know for sure who the most unfortunate soul will be until the episode airs this Sunday.

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Carissa Shuman

Carissa is a writer, editor, and artist with a love for science and science fiction.

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