ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 13 (Unforgiven)
As the plot for the second act thickens, Maleficient is resurrected in the present and we learn about how in the past, Snow White and Prince Charming used (and were used by) the three Queens of Darkness. Some viewers seemed upset that the writers are elaborating on events from the first season and changing them. Rather, I think that the writers are trying to tell a complex and intriguing story and, in so doing, they are giving their characters layers of motivation. They are explaining why or how characters acted in the earlier episodes, not changing what they did. So far, nothing has been introduced that is wildly inconsistent with what has already been shown. The more episodes they have, the more details they can add to the story. When you meet someone for the first time, they tell you a bit about who they are. As you get more acquainted with them, they tell you more about their past, their family, their interests, etc. Sometimes, new stories cast new light on the brief biographical statements you got earlier in the relationship. It is no different with television characters!
Forgiveness was the big theme of the episode, and not just pertaining to redemption for villains. In this episode, Emma has finally forgiven her parents for what happened to her in her past and thus her parents feel that they could never let her know what awful things they had done in the past – or even in the present. They keep secrets from her ostensibly to protect her. However, such secrets seldom end well. It is one thing to not bring up someone’s past sins in front of their children, particularly in order to shame or insult them, and quite another to purposely lie or hide the truth from one’s children. Snow equates her situation with that of Regina not wanting Henry to find out about all the evil acts that she committed in the Enchanted Forest (apparently forgetting that he has read the book), but it is not the same at all. Emma is an adult while Henry is still a teenager. Henry knows that Regina did evil things in the past, albeit not their full extent; Emma believes that her parents are heroes who always act selflessly and in the best interest of the kingdom.
Speaking of forgiveness, Maleficient is unforgiving of Snow and Charming’s past actions as they resulted in the loss of her child. Maternal love is fierce and strong, but taken to its extreme, it is no longer a virtue but a curse in of itself. Putting your child above all else ultimately destroys you and the child. In this case, I highly doubt Maleficient’s child wants to be avenged. However, I am very much looking forward to finding out more of this storyline. Is Lily, Emma’s supposed non-magical friend, really Maleficient’s long-lost daughter?
I really appreciated this quote from Snow: “Because when you betray the people you love, when you make them see the worst parts of you, what you’ve done changes everything. There’s no going back. You’ve shattered the bonds you worked so hard to forge. And the stronger those bonds once were, the more difficult they are to put back together… If they can be repaired at all.”