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Maternity takes center stage in parallel plots that follow two very different mother/daughter pairs

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April 30, 2015 at 08:48 PM EDT

Avast, Oncers — it seems that Never Land is in our sights. Kitsis and Horowitz revealed during Once‘s Paleyfest panel today that the season’s last two episodes are titled “Second Star to the Right” and “And Straight On ‘Til Morning” — an obvious Peter Pan allusion that dovetails nicely with Bae’s revelation that he made “other stops” before coming to Earth. But the path to Lost Boys, pixies, and questionably PC “Indians” will be long and winding… or at least paved with enough mommy/daddy issues to make Oedipus look well-adjusted.

Tonight’s fairyback marks the return of Ginnifer Goodwin clone Bailee Madison as Little Snow White. The ravages of age make this slightly awkward, since Madison looks and sounds notably older here than she did in “The Stable Boy,” even though the earlier episode takes place later in the show’s chronology — but when the sad-eyed actress tears up, which she does at multiple points throughout the episode, you’ll be moved enough to suspend your disbelief.

Snow’s sad because her gentle, gracious mother, Queen Eva (played by the gorgeous Rena Sofer), has come down with a mysterious illness on the eve of the young princess’s birthday. If I didn’t know better, I’d guess the queen’s a victim of Disney Mother Disease — you know, the same fatal plague that wiped out Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas’s maternal parents. For all we know, Bambi’s mom suffered from it too. (Maybe that hunter’s shot was a mercy killing.) Anyway, the sickness comes on strong and fast, and there seems to be no medical cure for it. There may, however, be a magical cure, courtesy of the Blue Fairy. Will jellyfish dresses be involved? For Eva’s sake, let’s hope not.

Back in Storybrooke, it’s also Snow’s birthday — but the grown-up princess isn’t exactly celebrating, since it also happens to be Eva’s deathday. She perks up a bit, though, when she sees that someone has sent her a present: a glittering tiara that once belonged to Eva. The gift comes courtesy of Johanna, a kindly palace servant whom we might as well call Mrs. Patmore. Snow sets off to find her old friend and thank her for her thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, their emotional reunion is interrupted by some noises in the woods that turn out to be Cora and Regina, helpfully explaining their evil plan in minute detail as Snow eavesdrops. That was surprisingly considerate.

After learning that the tiger mother and her wicked cub are plotting to steal Rumpelstiltskin’s dagger, Snow races to the sheriff’s station to tell Charming. David is floored — mostly because Hook just broke in, knocked out the prince, and stole back his second-favorite appendage. After the prince comes to, he and his wife discuss their options. Snow wants to talk to Regina, giving her one more chance to switch sides. David sighs and points out that Snow has given Regina like, a million “one more” chances, and perhaps it’s time to reevaluate her tactics. Nah, I’m joshing; David trusts Snow’s judgment, of course, and sends her off to parlay with the Evil Queen. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go well.

NEXT: Yo ho ho and a hook filled with poison

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Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.
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