'Once Upon A Time' Recap: 'Sympathy for the De Vil'

This episode cuts back and forth between Storybrooke and another realm, but it’s not the Enchanted Forest. This time we get to see Cruella’s home. I, like many others, assumed that she was from our world originally, but somehow got caught up in the world of magic. That is not the case. As the author explains it, there are many magical realms (think of Jefferson’s hat), and he points out an interesting fact that I had not previously considered: time does not exist in these places.

In Cruella land

It appears that Cruella had a bit of a Rapunzel-style story. Her mother kept her locked in a room in the attic and wouldn’t let her out. Evidently she had 3 husbands (past tense) and is a renowned dog trainer. The author shows up as a news reporter to ask the mother how she is so good at training dogs. When her explanation is found to be dull, he admits that doesn’t make a good story, and there should be some magic invovled. That’s when he notices the portraits of her husbands, and he unsympathetically inquires, which gets him shown out of the house with the retort that he spends too much time leeching off of the lives of others, and should record his own story instead.

As he’s leaving, Cruella manages to capture his attention from a window. She tells the author that she’ll give him a good story, if he’ll get her out of her house. Next thing you know, he’s somehow managed to get the key to her room and tosses it to her, despite the dogs. This makes her ironically wonder aloud if he is magic.

He takes her to a club, and as they sit and talk, she tells him that her mother keeps her locked up because she doesn’t want Cruella to tell anyone that her husbands didn’t die naturally. The more they talk and dance, the more they seem to be falling in love. When the musicians retire and they sit back down, he shows her his magic quill and admits that he is not a news reporter. Rather than traveling across the country, he travels across realms of storytelling (worlds without time).

He also tells her that he doesn’t just write people’s stories, but can change them too. To prove it, he writes that she has fancy jewelry and no sooner than it is written, it appears on her. Wanting to rescue her and live his own life (as her mother suggested), he tells her that he wants to write them far away so they can be together. He begins by giving her magic over animals so she will always be safe. She doesn’t have to be afraid anymore. However, she wants to face her mother first, and insists on going alone, so he gives her his car keys saying it’s her car now.

As he rather impatiently waits in his hotel room, her mother comes looking for her. She tells him a very different version of Cruella’s story. She was “disturbed” as a child, and never grew out of it. She was the one who killed the late husbands. As the authors vehemently denies this, she warns him that Cruella takes the things you care about and destroys them. With the seed of doubt planted, he looks for his quill and ink to find that they are gone.

When Cruella’s mother gets home, Cruella does face her, just not how she implied she would. Instead of declaring her independence, she used her newly gained magic to control her mother’s dogs and had them kill her.

A little later, the author goes to her house and finds her sewing. He asks where her mother is and she replies that thanks to him she’s dead. She stands up and lifts up what she had been sewing. It was a Dalmation-fur jacket. When he asks her why she killed her mother and the dogs, she replies that people always try to push the darkness away, but she just jumped right in and splashed around. Yikes!

Well, I was feeling some sympathy for the “Da Vil,” but not anymore!

The author quickly realizes what an error he made and remembers what her mother said to him about Cruella taking the things people love most. He does just that. Understanding that she loves killing, he writes that she can no longer take the life of another. In the process they had a struggle that caused the enchanted ink to spill over her head, thus the crazy hair.

Image courtesy of Kristin Callahan/ACE/INFphoto.com

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In Storybrooke

Maleficent is understandably irate that Cruella and Ursula didn’t tell her that her child survived. Cruella begins to utter some nonsense about not being the motherly type, when she just blurts out that they left her brat to die in the woods (but not without taking the dragon egg...it kept them young). Maleficent gets in her face and tells her she will kill her slowly over the course of several days. With that, she turns into a dragon and Cruella seems ironically happy about that. Ironically that is, until she cast her animal control spell over the dragon and told her to take a nap!

She pays the author a visit, but he refuses to give her what she wants. Everything about this visit was cryptic, until the end of the episode, when you realize that what she really wants is the ability to kill again.

On the other hand, Regina just want Robin Hood back. Moving along with her plans to rescue him, she visits Belle and gets her to help out, but what or how is not explained. The next thing we know, Belle has summoned Rumple and is having a heart felt conversation with him at which point he shows her his lump of coal of a heart. He explains that his humanity will die when the last bit of his heart blackens. They embrace, and just when I started to think that they may be able to begin again, she starts talking smack! Not that she shouldn’t, it’s just out of character. Well, it wasn’t really her. Regina had taken her heart and was controlling her. Then, Regina threatens Gold that she’ll squeeze Belle’s heart and kill her if he says anything to Zelena about her coming to New York! I do not want Regina to backslide by any means, but Lana Parrilla is so good at being bad. It was nice to see that action again.

In another part of Storybrooke, Emma’s still mad at her parents. When she finds out that Regina is planning to rescue Robin Hood, she tries to talk Regina into not going alone. Of course, Emma can’t go with her at the moment because of the whole finding the author business. So, she ends up giving Regina a gun since magic doesn’t work in New York. At least the gun might keep her safe. Regina apologizes for keeping Emma’s parent’s secret, but Emma says that’s between them and her, not Regina.

Poor Regina, nothing goes as planned for her. She and Emma both get a video message from Henry, that is really a hostage demand. She tells them that they must kill the author, or Henry will not have a happy ending. At this point no one knows that Cruella can’t actually kill him. Huddle time: Regina, Hook, Emma, Mary Margaret, and David discuss the situation. Emma suggests that Mary Margaret and David use a locator spell on the flask the author dropped so that they can find him while she, Hook, and Regina look for Henry. Mary Margaret tries to protest, but Emma shuts her down by telling her that with Henry’s life on the line, she needs to be around people she trusts.

Meanwhile, Gold returns to author with the news of the hostage situation to find out why Cruella wants him dead. The author shows Gold a note that provides explanation, but we don’t get to see what it says. Just then, Gold says that he has to go. He was being summoned by Belle, or you could say Regina.

As the trio (Emma, Hook, and Regina) search for Henry in the woods, he manages to free himself and run away from Cruella. We hear him calling for help, but it seems to be coming from multiple directions, so the search party decides to split up. It’s a trick, though. Cruella used some randomly placed conch shells to echo his voice. I wonder if that’s something she learned from Ursula. Regina and Hook each find a shell. Cruella chases Henry to a cliff (with Pongo’s help) and pulls a gun on him. Emma finds them and Cruella looks pretty crazy telling Emma to back off or she’ll kill him.

Mary Margaret and David also find something, or someone: the author. They find out about the note the author wrote preventing Cruella from being able to kill him or anyone else, and that the story ends with the savior turning dark. What?! They run off to tell Emma, but in a way they’re too late. Emma already killed Cruella to save Henry. When they see this, Mary Margaret and David appear to be devastated. Emma has evidently done a dark deed (and she’s looking pretty bad).

I’m not sure I’m buying into this story line like I have the others. I’m still trying to figure out how killing Cruella makes Emma dark when killing the bad guys to save someone has been done by the good guys all along. Emma even killed Maleficent back in season one (or so she thought), and Walsh (when he turned into a flying monkey). When they were in Neverland, she even agreed with Regina to use all means necessary to save Henry (including taking a lost boy’s heart and using it to control him). If killing Cruella is dark, aren’t all those other actions? What’s the difference? Is it how many times she says, “I don’t care?”

What’s next?

Lily’s coming back, but not as a friend. She and Emma will be enemies as Lily says her parents deserve to pay for what they did to her. True, but what does “pay” mean?

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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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