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'Once Upon a Time' recap: 'Best Laid Plans'

Answers fly thick and fast as both the Author and the identity of Maleficent’s baby are revealed.

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Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time

TV Show
Fantasy, Drama
run date:
Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla
Current Status:
In Season

Next week, Once will be preempted for a very special Eastover showing of The Ten Commandments—so it’s a good thing that tonight’s episode gave us both big answers and a bit of a cliffhanger, all the better to keep us both satisfied and intrigued during the next 14 days. Ursula and Cruella fell into the real world while trying to save Maleficent’s baby! Maleficent’s baby is, in fact, Lily, the Earth-dweller Emma befriended as a wayward youth! And the coup de grâce: The Author is none other than cuckolded midcentury Utz Potato Chip spokesman Jimmy Barrett!

Normally, when an episode of television is titled “Best Laid Plans,” it’s because someone in the cast is going to get lucky. On OUAT, though, the name refers to the elaborately decorated egg that Fairyback Maleficent has just laid—one she’s stowing in a nest made of rocks (charming!), guarded by her best pals, Cruella and Ursula. Fairyback Snow and Charming first learn about the draconian ovum from a humble peddler with some killer eyebrows. He informs them of its whereabouts, then suggests that they consider moving in the opposite direction—not only because Mal has decimated everything surrounding her cozy rock nest, but also because the other path just happens to wind past a certain cottage, where lives a man who might be able to tell them exactly where they need to be.

Snow and Charming are in a particularly vulnerable spot right now, mostly because they’ve just had a pair of unicorn-assisted visions. See, according to Enchanted Forest legend, touching a unicorn’s horn will give expectant parents a cryptic vision of their child’s future, staged entirely within leftover fronds from the Never Land set. Sure, why not! Upon touching the creature, Charming sees nothing but a sweet, happy baby. Snow, however, sees Surly Teenage Emma in a pretty pink princess dress, who proceeds to backtalk her mom before ripping her heart out. Damn—that’s usually a thing teenage girls only do to their parents metaphorically. (Also: Leave it to Mom to see only the worst in her daughter.)

So the royals take a stroll down the eastern road, where they do indeed find just the man they need: the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who happens to know a thing or two about juvenile good/evil composition. The magical Dr. Spock assures Charming and Snow that having a baby with the potential for great evil is perfectly normal. But being typically anxious first-time parents, the couple’s not quite soothed by his words. Instead, they perk up when he reluctantly explains that there is a way to ensure that their child is nothing but sweetness and light: by transporting all her dark potential into “another vessel.” In sum: The only way to make a perfectly good baby is by turning another baby evil.

Which, to Snow and Charming, seems like a perfectly good deal—especially since they know where to find a baby who’s, like, probably already going to be plenty evil. (Like, how much more black could she be? The answer is “none.” None more black.) Cut to the duo overpowering Cruelsula and egg-napping Mal’s kid, not pausing even after the sorceress changes back into her human form—clad in her nightie and with her hair down, for maximum vulnerability. “Please, mother to mother: Have mercy,” she pleads with Snow. Snow responds by coldly turning her back and delivering the egg to the Apprentice.

The fetal wicked-ectomy goes off without a hitch, until the Apprentice conjures up a portal. Why? Because he can’t in good conscience leave a baby this evil in a land filled with magic. (It might, like, spit up all over everybody.) Snow and Charming are distraught by this turn of events, especially after the egg cracks and they see that the thing inside it is a regular-looking human infant rather than a lizard beast. But there’s nothing they can do to stop it—and there’s nothing Cruelsula can do either, when they appear to try to get Maleficent’s baby back. The two baddies fall through the whirlpool and into the real world, as does the bouncing dragonbaby. Snow and Charming are left with nothing but guilt—and, of course, the perfectly heroic soul in Snow’s womb. Silver lining?

NEXT: Author, author!