Once Upon A Time: The Right Thing Will Rip Your Heart Out

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Episode recaps
Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

As with last week’s installment, this week’s title, “Lily,” pretty much gives away what this episode is going to focus on. Maybe I would complain about spoilers in another show but there are so many damn possibilities about what could happen and be revealed about a new character in a soap opera about fairytales, that I ain’t even worried about it.

This week opens with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice conjuring The Sorcerer through a cauldron and pillar of smoke. The Sorcerer needs to be made aware of the terrible things The Author has done, and also of his punishment for his misdeeds. The Sorcerer doesn’t appear to be too fussed about the outcome of The Author’s meddling—the two girls’ fates have always been entwined. The important part now, is damage control. They must stay out of the way and allow events to unfold from this point on. And above all, The Author must never be permitted to alter another story.

Well, too bad that’s exactly what Gold is expecting him to do, even at Cruella’s burial. The two men stand graveside, but while Isaac wants to mourn Cruella, Gold reminds him that it all needed to happen to blacken The Savior’s heart. From just outside the graveyard, said Savior glares at the two.

Emma then storms into Granny’s, where the Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust has gathered to discuss recent events. Emma, now aware that she killed Cruella even though she wasn’t actually a threat, wants to seek out Gold and get to the bottom of his plans. Killian and her parents encourage her to proceed with caution, but she dismisses them. She is, indeed, being cautious. She regrets killing Cruella but it was an accident and she isn’t consumed by that. She just wants to get to the bottom of everything, she swears.

She’s interrupted as Maleficent (presumably no longer under Cruella’s sleeping enchantment, as Cruella is dead) strolls in and announces that she wants to get in on whatever they’re up to. She has no more allegiance to Gold—he resurrected her for his own needs, not to help her, and she won’t be his pawn any longer. Instead, she wants to enlist Emma’s services as a Lady Who Knows How To Get Things. And Maleficent really wants to find her daughter.

No one seems to think it’s a very good idea to leave town with so much going on and Gold shoving her towards darkness, but Maleficent disagrees. Keeping her away from Gold will be the best thing for her. She continues to divulge the history she’s learned from Gold, that her daughter was adopted in Minnesota, and her adopted parents named her Lilith.

Lilith. Lily. The name immediately triggers Emma’s memories of her long-ago friend (because names mean something. Also this might be the *only* useful, satisfying plot point from the entire Frozen debacle so eat this up, kiddies). Emma rushes to the sheriff’s station to pull a bunch of stuff on microfilm that might help her confirm or disprove her suspicious. She finds Lily’s birth announcement in a newspaper article, complete with a picture showing the star-shaped birth mark on her wrist.

Emma sits in front of the screen, stunned. “Ain’t fate a bitch,” Regina remarks, standing behind her. Emma isn’t amused. How is it even possible that Lily, her only friend from so long ago, was Maleficent’s

daughter, linked to her Enchanted Forest past all along? Regina assures Emma that some powers are beyond anyone’s understanding, and can’t help but add that it’s more likely considering that Emma’s parents messed with those powers so much. Emma becomes more despondent—her only friend wasn’t even her friend, she was just another part of Emma’s ridiculously complicated fate. Regina can sympathize, being that the child she adopted wound up being the son of The Savior and Rumpelstiltskin’s long-lost son. Fate pushes all of us, she explains as gently as someone who used to be The Evil Queen can. Maybe, she continues to suggest, it’s time to push fate back a little.

Emma isn’t sure they can, but Regina outlines the circumstances. Regina needs to get to New York to save Robin, and Emma knows New York. In addition, she can help Maleficent find her daughter, and maybe put to rights a little what Emma’s parents did on her behalf. Emma thinks this may be a good plan after all. The two begin planning what I am hoping to be a truly epic road trip.

Isaac and Gold watch the two explain their plans to their families from across the street. Isaac is incensed that Gold is allowing the two to leave, but Gold rebuffs him. It doesn’t matter where exactly The Savior turns dark, it just needs to happen. It just may be that this little road trip will turn her even faster than the two of them could if they tried. Gold sees Will and Belle walking along the street and excuses himself in the most menacing way possible.

Emma has pulled her Bug in front of the mayor’s office, waiting for Regina to finalize her preparations (i.e., locking up Belle’s heart good and tight in her office with Maleficent to stand guard against Rumpelstiltskin). She bids goodbye to Henry. Mary Margaret and David try to offer their encouragement, but she refuses to reply. Instead, she cozies up to Killian for a very cute reaffirmation of Emma’s status as a hero, and also how much they mean to each other. Oh, and a really adorable kiss. Should pirate-kisses be adorable? Oh well. Anyway. As they pull away, Emma receives information about Lily from one of her contacts. It’s an address, but it’s five years old. And, it’s also the same small town where Emma was living five years ago. Fate, indeed, is freaky. Deciding to investigate the old address first, the pair depart on their trip, complete with The Snow Queen’s scroll, which they’ll use to regain entrance into Storybrooke once Robin is rescued and Lily is recovered.

At the pawnshop, Belle is debriefing will on how to look after things. She has to go watch Neal for Mary Margaret and David, and should be back in a few hours. She kisses him goodbye, and before the door can jingle closed, the camera turns and we see Rumpelstiltskin’s figure in the background.

Will notices him, and begins to give the cheeky remarks a cockney thief would give to the man whose ex-wife he’s currently seducing. Rumpelstiltskin is enraged, but he also has bigger things to worry about. Will is too thick to notice, of course, but Belle’s heart has been taken by Regina, and Gold needs a thief to get it back. A thief like Will. Will isn’t interested, but Gold makes it abundantly clear that he won’t take no for an answer.

Back on the road with Regina and Emma, they’ve found the dump of an apartment building where Lily had lived. Regina is disgusted by the squalor, but Emma is more concerned that her former friend had lived somewhere so terrible. They knock on the apartment door, but a nosy, half-dressed neighbor dude staggers across the hall, asking them what they want. They inquire about Lily, and the man informs them

that she died a few years back, using as much tact and sensitivity as he would have if he’d informed them that she stepped out for a cheese sandwich. He goes on. Ain’t no surprise Lily’s dead. She was a terrible loser, made horrible decisions, could never get her life together, and he’d probably continue except Emma grabs him by the throat and shoves him against the wall. Regina talks her down, assuring Emma that getting her hands dirty with a puke like this guy won’t be worth it. Emma is reeling, but she agrees with Regina. There isn’t anything more for them there. She turns and leaves.

The two continue driving towards New York. Emma continues to agonize over Lily’s ill fate. Regina tries to reason with her, but Emma can’t let it go. She feels guilty now that Lily is dead after such a terrible life. Regina continues to argue with her when Emma sees an obstruction in the road ahead and swerves to miss it.

In swerving, Emma runs off the road, flattening one of the tires. Before Emma can even get out to assess the damage, she looks back to the obstruction that caused the accident. It’s not just an obstruction. It’s a wolf who appears to be completely unfussed despite the fact that it had nearly been run over. It looks in the eye as she gets out of the car before trotting off into the forest. Seem familiar? It should. It’s how Emma wound up spending her first night in Storybrooke in the drunk tank after dropping Henry off and accepting a cocktail from Regina. Emma muses over the déjà vu, but Regina isn’t sure this is fate. It’s more like a traffic accident. A serendipitous one, maybe, since they’re right next to a diner/gas and repair station. Regina orders Emma to go get them some coffees while she sees about getting Emma’s car repaired.

Emma sits at a table and orders two coffees to go, so dazed that she barely recognizes that the waitress she’s been making small talk with has the same star-shaped birthmark that Lily did. Emma sees the waitress’ nametag reads “Starla,” but Emma isn’t fooled. Regina sits down as Starla turns away, and Emma tells her earlier guess about fate’s actions had been wrong. The waitress is Lily, and she was supposed to meet her here.

Emma goes to confront the server, who is no longer wearing her uniform and waiting in a parking lot adjacent to the restaurant, staring at her phone. Emma approaches her and confesses that she knows “Starla’s” real identity, and identifies herself as her long lost friend.

Lily is a little disbelieving and overwhelmed, but the conversation continues and she knows that Emma is who she says she is. Emma begins to apologize for abandoning her all those years ago, but Lily assures her that there aren’t any apologies necessary. She admits her life was messed up for a while, but she was able to make a fresh start. She likes her life in her little town. She has a husband, and a daughter, and hasn’t even thought of Emma in years. A school bus pulls up, and Lily excuses herself so she can fetch her daughter and walk her home.

Emma watches Lily walk towards the children streaming from the bus. Safely out of earshot, she kneels before a little girl with dark hair. She smiles at the girl. “You know me from the diner, right?” she asks. The girl nods. “Well, free burgers for a week if you hold my hand and walk around the corner with me. You gotta decide right now, though,” she offers with a smile. The girl gives her a grin, and the two walk away.

Emma may not have been in earshot, but she always knows when someone is lying to her. She’s certain that Lily’s troubles have continued to follow her to her new life as Starla. She’s equally certain that she bears some responsibility for her terrible life. Why’s that exactly? Well, turns out, the last time we saw Emma and Lily together (when Lily’s father had come to fetch her from their lake house) wasn’t the last time the girls saw each other, even though Emma swore she never wanted to see Lily again.

Not so long ago, in a land not very far away (Minnesota, actually), Emma has finally landed with a good foster family. They’re absolutely gooey over each other, planning a family camping trip. Emma seems to be on top of the world, until she goes to the garage to fetch a sleeping bag and finds Lily hiding in there. Lily! What in the world is she doing here?! Before Lily can explain further than “I am in so much trouble for real,” the foster parents walk in. Lily immediately spins a nonsense story about knowing Emma from a group home and just moving to the neighborhood herself, and gets invited to stay for dinner.

As the evening progresses, it’s clear that Lily is still Bad News Bears, and Emma is panicked about her sudden presence in her otherwise-maybe-going-okay life. And Emma has every reason to be concerned. Turns out Lily is wanted in an armed robbery of a convenience store. Lily tries to explain that it all happened before she could stop it, and that it was her boyfriend’s idea and he made her do it, but Emma isn’t having it. She wants Lily gone immediately. Lily agrees, but begs Emma to retrieve her birth mother’s necklace from the place where she and her boyfriend have been squatting. Emma isn’t happy, but, assuming that it’s the fastest way to get Lily out of her life, agrees and goes to the flophouse to retrieve the necklace.

She returns home, expecting to find Lily, but instead, she finds her foster parents, and they are super mad. It seems that Lily broke into her foster dad’s desk and stole their vacation money. Upon finding both the money and the girls missing, they called Emma’s social worker and found out that Emma and Lily had been arrested together. Emma, realizing that everything has unraveled, grabs a pack next to the door and storms out.

She’s waiting at a bus stop when Lily approaches her. Emma is irate, but Lily tries to explain. She’s saved Emma from a really boring life, and with the money Lily’s just stolen the two of them can go anywhere. Emma won’t have it, but Lily pleads a little. Everything’s gotten so much worse for her since Emma came into and then left her life. No decisions work out. She can’t help but make terrible mistakes no matter how hard she tries not to. She wants to start over again with Emma. Emma, enraged that Lily has cost her another chance at happiness, presses her mother’s necklace into her hand and storms off, swearing she never wants to see her again.

So, Emma has to do something to help Lily, and she wants to start with tracking her down and reuniting her with her mother. She manages to get Lily’s address from her timecard at the diner, and she drags Regina off to investigate where she’s now living. They pull up to a run-down trailer that isn’t any better looking inside. There are no signs of a husband or a child inside, confirming Emma’s suspicions.

What neither woman can account for, though, is the bulletin boards all over the walls in a back room, outlining all the events from Regina’s curse-threat to Lilith’s banishment to this land without magic.


I can only assume that the writers are making up for the dumb, barely-existing plot twists in the Frozen arc. I also heartily approve of this.

Okay, so Lily knows everything and by the looks of her serial-killer bulletin-boarding she wants revenge against Snow White and Prince Charming for dooming her fate. And she’s been waiting for Emma and Regina to show up. And they’ve just walked right into her trap.

There’s a crash and tires squealing outside. Emma and Regina rush onto the porch just in time to see Lily take off in Emma’s Bug (which has Regina’s purse, which has the scroll that she can use to enter Storybrooke.)

Emma realizes that Lily has destroyed every chance of happiness she had as a child, and she’s not about to let her interfere with her family again. She grabs a wrench and hotwires an SS Chevelle that happens to be sitting in a neighbor’s parking space. Regina, horrified but unable to stop Emma’s dramatic response, hops in as they go tearing off after Lily. Emma drives exceedingly fast, determined to stop Lily before she can reach Storybrooke and hurt her parents. Regina pleads with her to think things through. Emma won’t have such advice coming from someone who was on her way to New York to rip her sister’s heart out if need be in order to save her boyfriend. It’s not about heroes and villains right now, she snaps. They’re in the real world where real people have real problems, and she’s gotta put a stop to Lily.

They catch up with her and, after engaging in a longer car chase than necessary when pitting a Chevy Chevelle against a Volkswagen Bug (seriously, between these two cars, Cruella’s Roadmaster, and Gold’s Cadillac, I’m only assuming that someone on the writer’s staff has a car thing going on. I heartily approve), Emma pulls ahead and beaches her car ahead of the Bug. The three women get out.

Emma demands to know if Lily knew about their fates when they were children. Lily learned later, she confesses, but what does it even matter now? Lily has exactly what she needs to get into Storybrooke and seek her revenge, and without magic there’s nothing The Savior can do to stop her!

The two women scuffle. Energy crackles and a headlight on the Bug bursts. The scuffle ends when Emma pulls out her gun and draws it on Lily, who’s kneeling before her.

Lily goads Emma. Lily’s whole life has been nothing but pain and mistakes, and no good can come of Emma allowing her to live, since she’s just going to go to Storybrooke to destroy her family. Emma, shaking, doesn’t respond, but keeps the gun trained on Lily as Regina again tries to act as the voice of reason. It’s a tense confrontation, but eventually Emma lowers her gun. Lily is too stunned to move or run away. The two women sit on some nearby discarded drainage pipes and try to process what’s happened.

How, indeed, did Lily know everything? After being abandoned by Emma with only her mother’s necklace and a wad of stolen cash, Lily hopped on a bus to get out of town and beat her armed robbery rap. She’s on a bus to Pittsburgh (which made my little heart sing, being a Pittsburgh native myself, and everyone knows everyone from , the Burgh gets excited when we’re on TV), staring at her mother’s

necklace, and maybe mourning her fate a little. Then, there’s a man beside her, calling her by name, offering to tell her all about her mother and her origins. It’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice! Because, lord knows that a teenage runaway girl will totally not be freaked out by a scraggly-bearded man confronting her on sketchy public transportation, especially if he claims to know everything about her. 100% normal. Well, maybe it would bother other girls, but Lily (even though she doesn’t know it) is the daughter of a dragon and a yet-unnamed probably-magical baby-daddy, who has crossed realms and had had destiny stacked against her since before she could even talk. She has seen some shit. She allows the man to continue. Maybe we’ll find out what happened in that conversation next episode?

Back in Storybrooke, Will has successfully stolen Belle’s heart from Maleficent (with the help of a diversion by Rumpelstiltskin). He doesn’t hand it over to Gold, but rather meets Belle in the shop with it. He shows it to her, and she’s overwhelmed. Before Will can finish explaining, Rumpel emerges from the back. She tenses, but he assures her he means her no harm. He again professes his love for her, but, even as he places her heart back in her chest, admits that he’s unworthy of her. He won’t continue to hurt her with his presence. If Belle wants a future with Will, he won’t stand in her way. And, for the fourth? Fifth? Millionth? time this series, Bobby Carlyle says, “Goodbye, Belle,” and breaks my heart into itty bitty pieces.

He walks out the front door, and Belle turns to watch him leave, clutching her chest. Will grabs for her hand. She doesn’t turn to look back at him.

So! Belle’s heart being back in her chest means that Regina has lost her leverage with Gold, and Maleficent calls Regina to let her know what’s happened. Lily and Emma were having a very soul-affirming conversation about bad things happening even when it’s nobody’s fault, but Regina insists that they leave to find Robin immediately.

And find him, they do. Marian happens to be at the store, which is perfect because now Regina can rapidly debrief him about Marian being dead all along, and Marian really being Zelena, and everything being a trick. Robin is overwhelmed, as one would probably be. Marian, of course, returns just as he gathers the words to tell Regina that he and Marian have started a new life together. Marian first proclaims to have no idea what Regina is talking about, but Zelena can’t ever keep a secret when she knows she can drop a bomb. She transforms into her true self before Robin’s very eyes.

Regina orders Robin to escape with her as soon as possible, but Robin can’t bring himself to move. He can’t leave. He just can’t. “Why?” Regina demands.

Zelena giggles and encourages Robin to share their happy news. She’s pregnant.




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