- In Storybrooke, Cruella takes matters into her own hands concerning the Author and her happy ending. (This seems to be a trend with these villains, doesn’t it?)
- In a 1920s flashback, we learn Cruella’s story.
Out of all three Queens of Darkness (remember when that was a thing? LOL), Cruella’s story was the one that intrigued me most. Her origins are rooted in a contemporary story, rather than an enchanted one, and she is arguably Disney’s most eccentric villain. These qualities create the expectation of something fun and clever for a Once Upon a Time backstory. Unfortunately, Cruella’s story sorely disappoints.
There is a clear effort to make her story unique, although so many liberties are taken creatively that what remains has almost nothing from One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Absent are Roger, Anita, and the whole gang. The show instead uses Cruella as a vehicle to service its own plot, having the Author share an equal spotlight. It’s definitely not what was expected. But hey, at least we now know never to spill magic ink on ourselves for fear of wacko hair coloring. (I expected a consequence a little bit more… dire?)
Hopefully, this isn’t truly the last we’ll see of Cruella. Still unexplained is how she wound up in the Enchanted Forest. While it’s unlikely that an entire second flashback will be devoted to her, it would be nice to see how some of the events from One Hundred and One Dalmatians exist within Once Upon a Time.
Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, a lot happens all at the same time. Unlike the Snow Queen’s tale, for which the writers had to take an episode to have Ingrid literally sit down and recap her whole story for us, everything happening now isn’t necessarily confusing enough to warrant this kind of storytelling. It’s just a lot to keep track of. As a refresher, we have:
- The Author of Henry’s storybook writing happy endings for the villains.
- Emma becoming… #DARKEMMA.
- Zelena impersonating Maid Marian.
- Henry being kidnapped by Cruella.
- Pinocchio transforming to August and becoming wood again. (Is that still going on, or is he gone?)
- Maleficent’s search for her daughter, Lily, who Emma unknowingly befriended as a child.
- Snow White and Charming’s secret of ensuring Emma’s goodness at the expense of Lily’s darkness.
- Belle’s relationship with Will Scarlet.
- Somehow a dang Sorcerer works into all of this.
And that’s not to mention what’s happening in the flashbacks. The stories taking place are simple, but they are all happening at the same time and it’s becoming difficult to remember what the common thread is between all of them. Heroes, villains, and the decision to accept or make your own happy ending appear to be the baseline.
A pattern in the show appears to be that of villains dropping off one by one in their own respective ways (the first being Ursula’s reunion with her father and the second being Cruella’s death). I was kind of hoping for an epic villain army posse or something, but, at this rate, it looks like that might not come to fruition. I could gripe about Emma becoming aggravatingly annoying, but I don’t suppose I expected her to get to the whole “dark” thing any other way.
- The What-The-Heck Moment: I must admit, I was just dying to know if Cruella enjoys Angry Birds.
- The Magic Moment: Nowadays, these are becoming the most difficult to pin down each week, which might say something about the tone of this season as a whole. Having Cruella’s theme song as an instrumental in several scenes was a nice touch. If used sparingly and appropriately, undertones of familiar Disney tunes would be a great regular addition to the show. Coming just a few weeks after “Fathoms Below” was featured in Ursula’s episode, this has me optimistic about future music opportunities.
- The Whoa Moment: …was there one? No huge surprises this time around. The twist of Cruella being evil, instead of her mother, was unexpected (but then again, was it really?), but I wouldn’t qualify it as a “whoa” moment.
Comment below and get discussion flowing! Use these questions as starting points:
- Are you happy with Cruella’s backstory?
- How do you think the story of One Hundred and One Dalmatians fits into everything?
- How badly does the CGI Maleficent dragon make you want to find your old PlayStation 1?
- How is the “Queens of Darkness” arc as a whole stacking up for you in comparison to previous seasons?
- Which villain do you think deserves their happy ending the most?
- What kind of happy ending should the Author write?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes