OUaT 4.12: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Subtitle: Love darkness, hate the Dark One. 

There is a lot to love this week. And then there is Rumplestiltskin. I think if you like our Mr. Gold, maybe don’t read this. That’s how strongly I feel against him. But I will try to be fair — and I welcome alternate viewpoints.

So, many years ago (I love how even the writers have given up trying to make sense of the timeline — this is BEFORE, sometime BEFORE), Rumple invited Ursula and Cruella to Maleficent’s house

Ursula: I am fierce and have two tentacles.
Cruella: I am sassy and have two rottweilers. Also magic.
Ursula: I have magic!
Cruella: Yes, dear, but everyone knows that. It’s new intel about me.


Maleficent: Why are you in my house tho?
Rumple: I invited you to join me in my quest for a happy ending!
Maleficent: So you are responsible for our bad girls club?
Rumple: Of course. I am responsible for everything. I am the author of your fates and everyone else’s!
Ursula: When you say author…
Rumple: Spoilers, sweetie.

In Storybrooke of the present, all is right in the world. Snow is teaching, Regina is Mayoring, Emma is Sherriffing, Henry’s in school, Belle’s at the library and Mr. Gold’s shop is closed.


Hook apparently spends his days in the library helping Belle research ways to release the fairies he vacuumed into the hat. This gives them the opportunity to bond over being manipulated by Rumple, and blinded by love. It’s a good scene, especially for these characters. They are both trying to move forward but still dealing with their past, and how it affects their present. Hook admits to weakness and shows regret, anger and compassion and Belle is her beautiful, vulnerable, steel souled self. I like their blossoming friendship.


Over in New York another friendship is blossoming, except not because Rumple’s incapable and Ursula deserves better. He ate all her ramen!

Luckily they find Cruella when her new husband’s Long Island estate is seized by the FBI or something (ngl, want to know more). Cruella, hilariously, looks exactly the same as she did in the Enchanted Forest which is exactly the same as she does in the original cartoon. And she has her car so away they go.


We flash back to their first meet up which goes the way every flash back to meeting up with Rumple ever goes.

Rumple: Trust me.
Queens of Darkness: Why?
Rumple: Because.
Queens of Darkness: OK.

And then (Spoilers, sweetie!) he double-crosses them.

Back to now and we get the most absurd (but delightful) scene ever seen on this series:


Cruella and Ursula get fast food chicken at Mr. Clucky’s. Also eating lunch:


So….what’s the deal with food and eating in this episode?? There’s Rumple’s ramem, Cruella & Ursula’s Mr. Clucky’s, Regina’s kale…plus I think 3 scenes at Granny’s. I feel like it must MEAN SOMETHING but I cannot think of ANYTHING that would be????

Anyway Belle and Hook run in with the solution to the hat trap, a spell. Cue Regina saving the day (again) and getting dirty looks for it (again). But also Emma standing up for her (again!).


Back to the Rumple-Trap, he selected these three Queens of Darkness based on their abilities.

Cruella commands the guard beetles to leave


Maleficent sublimates the dragon fire


And Ursula has a long reach


Dark Curse Scroll (the one Regina eventually casts) obtained, Rumple bounces, leaving the Queens to a demon who eats dark souls.

Forward almost in Storybrooke Rumple admits that he can’t get into the secret magic town of Storybrooke but he has a plan.

Rumple: Trust me.
Queens of Darkness: That’s what you said last time!
Rumple: This time is different.
Cruella: How?
Ursula: Is this about your girlfriend?
Rumple: It’s different because I have to trust you, too.
Queens of Darkness: Are you sure that’s different?
Rumple: Trust me.
Queens of Darkness: Why?
Rumple: Because…?
Queens of Darkness: OK.

Meanwhile inside the magic bubble they’re having a welcome home party for the fairiy-nuns. Hook is still feeling guilty about the whole thing and I have to say I’m pleased about this. My Hook feels are back in play.

Anyway, Emma convinces him to come to the party. And there we get what I think is the most layered scene in the episode despite it being nearly overwhelmed with plot exposition.

Regina shyly approaches Blue to ask about the author/sorcerer. 


Henry adorably supports her, including sliding in next to Blue so she can’t just leave.


Emma’s Spidey Swan Mills Family Senses alert her to potential drama slash important plot exposition slash Regina needs her and she pops over too.


Blue explains that the Author and the Sorcerer are two separate people and she doesn’t particularly want to have anything to do with either. 


And then the Smoke Monster/Dark Heart Devouring Demon attacks.

Okay pause. Look at this shot:


I saw an off-hand comment on twitter that Once Upon a Time “needs more men to balance out the women”. Wrong. I love that Hook’s a token boy in this shot. That Regina and Emma spend the entire episode working together to solve problems big and small. That Belle and Snow are shown using their smarts AND running into the street to help fight the monster. I love that Snow is here and Charming is not, that it’s reasonable to believe he is offscreen taking care of the baby. And I hate that everything Rumplestilskin does in this, and every other, episode undermines all those things I love about the power of women on display in this series. I think Once Upon a Time needs at least one fewer man, but that’s just my opinion. (Also: what the show does need is more diversity.)

Unpause. In the past the Queens make a plan to force the demon to choose which of them has the darkest soul and then the other two can get away, and once out of his reach, rescue the remaining Queen. Chernaborg chooses Maleficent and she prepares herself.

In the present Swan Queen stun the monster, buying them time to figure out how to defeat it. Belle and Hook run off the library while Emma and Regina head to the Mayor’s office. Thus is Emma there when Regina gets a call from Ursula on Rumple’s phone. 


Their silent communication levels astound. Also: eye sex. The Queens claim to be on paths of redemption and when that doesn’t work say they know how to defeat Chernabog. Regina (with Emma’s urging) agrees to let the villainesses in if their dark-demon-destroyer intel works out.

We flash back to Maleficent staring down the demon like a boss and it looks like the other two are going to leave her to her fate but since we’ve seen them working as a trio in flash backs that happen after this, obvs they don’t. Ursula snatches Mal up with her tentacles and carries her to safety.

Forward in Storybrooke, Regina and Emma come up with a plan to lure the monster to the townline since he’s made of magic and should therefore be zapped immediately upon entrance into our world (what if not, though? And he was free to roam the Northeast looking for the darkest hearts….). Regina volunteers as the lure since there’s no dwarf named Evilly.

Emma and Regina hop into the yellow bug and zoom off. They proceed to bicker like every couple in the first part half of every romantic comedy ever despite the evil flying demon on their tail. But as the monster catches up they move from the bickering stage to surprising self sacrifice stage. Though it actually surprises no one who’s been paying attention when Regina zaps herself out of the car. Despite her best efforts


the monster stays with the car. Luckily, Emma drives the way she does everything else  – reckless/heroic – and she’s able to vault the demon over the line and he immediately dissipates. Hurray!

Snow and Charming arrive and launch into Reasons Not To Trust Cruella and Ursula.

Snow: They can’t be trusted!
Emma: But…you look for the good in everyone? That’s your thing?
Snow: They’re villains!
Regina: Uh.
Snow: They’re evil!
Regina: Uh.
Snow: They’re evil villains!!!
Regina: Look, I had qualms myself but this harangue has convinced me that if I deserve a chance at redemption, they do, too.
Snow: Are you saying I oversold it?

Snowing pout and look shifty while Regina tosses the magic whatsit (the Snow Queen’s scroll) to Cruella and Ursula so they can enter Storybrooke. Then she takes the scroll back because it’s a pretty handy spell and also powerful so it shouldn’t just be out in the population/in the possession of very new to redemption villains. Right?

Wrong. They let Cruella and Ursula keep the scroll and later that night they toss it over to Rumple so he can (re)enter Storybrooke. Evil wins because Good is stupid.

Rumple: Now you two go do all the work while I hide.
Cruella: How’s that fair?
Rumple: Puppets don’t get to talk back.
Cruella: I resent that!
Rumple: In addition to the plan we just enacted, I translated the spell that set the demon free in the first place. Everything that happened this episode, I made happen!
Ursula: What are we gonna do about Regina?


Shouldn’t we be worried about how dark and powerful she is?
Rumple: Nah. Dark hunter wasn’t after her, it was after Emma Swan.


Ugh. I am all for Emma dancing with the Dark Side and I’m fine with it being because she has the Most Dark Potential. I am super for Regina explicitly NOT being the most Dark/Evil! But I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate that Rumple is the puppet master responsible for literally EVERYTHING. 

I hate it.

I hate it. 

I hate it. 

Okay, so, they go off to find not-quite-dead Maleficent and we get a cute little coda about Henry never giving up and finally a meeting between Snowing and the Queens. Sometime BEFORE (but AFTER earlier) they did something not good and Snow wants to be certain the Queens don’t tell anyone, especially Emma. Or else. 


So, I guess we know where Emma gets it from.

Leave a Reply