- Maleficent is reunited with her daughter, Lily, but Lily seeks revenge for the past rather than a constructed happiness for the future.
- In the Enchanted Forest flashback, Regina (as the Evil Queen) is reunited with her mother, Cora. The Queen of Hearts returns from Wonderland to help her daughter find happiness.
Once Upon a Time exists to re-examine characters we know so well. Its best twists come, not from mind-boggling surprises (of which there are plenty), but from simple shifts of perspective. Sometimes these perspectives are given up and disappear before they really have a chance to go anywhere (Ursula, I’m looking at you). Other times, a character receives a larger spotlight, time for growth and explanation, and, most importantly, time to change. Maleficent is one such character and the payoff for her story is the highlight of this week’s episode, “Mother.”
As a character, Lily is unstably annoying (although I imagine this is by design). The way Maleficent still cares for her despite her failures is inspiring and touching. It seems she’s become one with her inner “Jolieficent,” after all. Seriously, though, Maleficent has come a long way. She’s moved from just another pawn in Gold’s scheme to an endearing character that the audience legitimately want to root for.
While the potential for a multi-villain army has all but fizzled away, we’re back to square one with Mr. Gold and Zelena as the primary baddies. Everyone else either dead, doing their own thing, or confined to flashbacks. In an unexpected return, the flashback this episode features Cora (instead of the Maleficent-based flashback we might have predicted). With Cora following behind a string of other faces we haven’t seen in ages, this spring the writers truly have brought back a vast collection of characters from the past. Thankfully, they resist the urge to resurrect Cora in the present day (a first for the show, am I right?), and her appearance is simply in flashback. Her return is a bit muddled. This point in the timeline is fuzzy and hard to place, and the information we learn does not necessarily add any value to the present day story (other than to remind us Cora is Regina and Zelena’s mother). Sure, we find out that Regina can’t have children, but this discovery seems thrown in “just because” and does not really change anything about her present situation.
In this episode, one line of Regina’s prompts some serious analysis. As she taunts Zelena in the hospital cell, the Author by her side, Regina hails, “This is my town, and this is my story.” Could this be interpreted as a big picture statement for Once Upon a Time as an entire television show? Whose story is this? Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White is billed first and foremost in the cast, yet her character hasn’t been the central focus in over two years. Half the time the guest characters play a more important role than random characters listed as part of the main cast. In this ongoing epic of good, evil, heroes, and villains, is Regina the focus of the story throughout its ever-changing contents? This is just something to think about.
- The What-the-Heck Moment: Watch out, or green-eyed Lily will getchya.
- The Magic Moment: For all the dead weight he’s been this season, Hook comes in the clutch in one of the most smartly written scenes all year. As he takes Emma to the shore to simply relax under the gaze of the horizon, we’re reminded not only of Emma’s conflict that she must face, but also Hook’s growth as a character (even if it’s been displayed in small doses as of late).
- The Whoa Moment: The Author whisking away in the final moments was not necessarily surprising, I suppose, but it was still invigorating. The Heroes and Villains book should lead us into next week’s finale quite nicely. We’re almost there…
- Were you happy to have Cora back?
- What would you do if you were Lily?
- Is Aurora just not concerned that Maleficent was gallivanting around Storybrooke this whole time?
- How often do you think Robin is going to need an appointment with Dr. Hopper to make sense of all this?
- Is it possible for everyone to have a happy ending?
See you next week for our final gathering of the year… it’s the big one. The two-hour season finale airs Sunday, May 10, at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes