It’s time to get the band back together.
After a cold first half, season 4 of Once Upon a Time is back with the episode “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and a new batch of villains to look forward to. After a six month hiatus, we get a flashback of Rumplestilskin’s doings with the queens of darkness Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit), who’ve been invited to Maleficent’s (Kristin Bauer Van Straten) Forbidden Fortress. Once the gang is together, Rumple reveals that his intent is to get them their happy endings.
Meanwhile, the residents of modern day Storybrooke are finally getting used to the quiet of everyday life. That is, except for Hook, who is still trying his hardest to release the fairies from the sorcerer’s hat, and Belle who is still dealing with the loss of Rumple after she banished him from town. We get a sweet scene here between the two troubled characters who bond over how the Dark One tricked them.
Ahh Rumple. So where does this leave him in modern day? Well, apparently he’s been crashing at Ursula’s place (which by the way is full of aquariums), chowing on ramen noodles, and for the most part driving the sea witch up a wall. I have to admit, seeing one of the show’s most powerful villains slurping down a cup of noodles was pretty charming. Anyway, after nearly getting in an argument, the two are summoned to the estate of their old pal Cruella de Vil, who’s in the middle of getting all of her things seized except for, of course, her luxurious fur coats and classic car. (Yes!) After being persuaded to join Rumple’s plans, the three of them head out in the De Vil mobile in the direction of Storybrooke.
Back in Storybrooke, after Emma accidentally discovers the image of Regina and Robin’s happy ending, Belle and Hook burst in with news about the hat before she can question Regina. According to a translation by an Oxford professor (who they surprisingly weren’t suspicious of at all), all they had to do to let the fairies out of the hat was to have Regina reenact a spell. Luckily, the spell works and the fairies are free but that wasn’t all that made it out. A mysterious demon escaped and flew away.
A flashback set of scenes reveals that Rumple tricked the trio of sorceresses (Yes, even Cruella has magic, gag) into stealing a curse for him. After Ursula grabs the mysterious orb containing the enchantment in it, the Dark One grabs it and leaves the trio to face Chernabog, which if you’re familiar with Fantasia, you’ll recognize. Back in modern times, we find Rumple explaining his plan to return to Storybrooke to Cruella and Ursula on the outskirts of town.
Just over the town line, we find the townspeople celebrating the release of the fairies and Regina questioning the blue fairy about the Author. Though she thought she had figured it out, the fairy points out that the author of the book is not the sorcerer after all but an entirely different person. Luckily, the man behind everybody’s happy endings leaves behind clues in his books so there is still hope.
Cue the Chernabog. Yep, as suspected, the presence they accidentally released from the hat was indeed the winged Chernabog. After Belle mentions that they won’t be able to put anything back in the hat once it is released, Emma and Regina work together (yay frenemies) and combine their powers, but only end up stunning the creature.
Then, on the outskirts of town, Ursula uses Rumple’s cell phone to give Regina a call. She claims they’ve turned over a new leaf and that she knows how to stop the demon that’s been rampaging all over town. After discussing it, Emma’s conclusion that they need to somehow lure the beast over the city line prompts Miss Swan and Regina to hop in the yellow beetle–which Regina hilariously questions Emma about the color of the vehicle–and head to the edge of town.
Regina teleports to the edge of town in the nick of time. Chernabog follows and evaporates once it hits the city limits. After the beast is gone, Regina uses the Frozen scroll to let Cruella and Ursula in. The two go back later to bring a rather disappointed looking Rumple back into the town he was banished from. He then reveals to the two that the Chernabog–which is said to crave the darkest potential for evil–wasn’t after Regina, but Emma Swan. This honestly would have been a better reveal if it weren’t for the promo we reported on last week.
The juiciest part of the episode however was actually the last few minutes. Snow White and Prince Charming meet with the wicked ladies on the edge of town to threaten their lives if they revealed anything about what transpired between them in the enchanted forest. Whatever it is has the usually benevolent princess telling the witches that she will personally rip out their hearts if they utter a word.
Aside from the cheesy VFX and how dull Ursula was, the episode kicks off the second season with a bang. Do you have any guesses at the Charmings’ secret? Let us know in the comments below.