In the "Mothers" episode of "Once Upon a Time," the mommy-daughter relationship is played up in three very different ways with Snow White-Emma Swan, Maleficent-Lily and Cora-Regina taking center stage.
The first takes shape in the past, in the Enchanted Forest. It's just another whimsical carriage ride by Evil Queen Regina when she spies a wedding. A wedding on land that she oversees and a wedding not approved by her. The Evil Queen kills a guy (the groom?) because they're using "the royal lands." She takes his heart out and, for a second, is not going to kill him. Then Regina's father interjects, telling her that she shouldn't. Bad idea. She squeezes, then tells her dad to make his own way home for "advising her" that she wouldn't want to appear weak. Oh, yes, it's also the anniversary of the death of her beloved stableboy, Daniel.
Then she runs into her mother, Cora, the queen of hearts, whom she had banished to Wonderland.
Back to Regina in the present, as she sits with Robin pondering their situation. Now that they've found out that Zelena is Marion and that Marion is dead, Regina offers to give Robin's son a forgetting potion so as not to traumatize him further. Robin still sees a possibility that he and Regina could be together, now that he knows Marion is truly dead and since he actually never felt much of a kinship with her when she returned. Ummm ... he felt enough of one for Zelena to now be pregnant, so Regina thinks it's impossible now that her wicked sister is pregnant with Robin's child. Rejoinging Emma and Lily, who are reminiscing about Neal, Regina wants them all, including Zelena, back in Storybrooke.
Hook sits with Rumpelstiltskin and the Author at Granny's diner, happily giving them the bad news: Emma has found Lily but did not sucuumb to the darkness and is on her way back. Rumpelstiltskin's heart is going to continue getting black until there's nothing left.
Emma, Regina, Zelena, Robin, Lily and little Roland return to Storybrooke from New York. Emma hugs Henry. Emma hugs Hook. No hugs for you, Snow and Charming! She's still mad at them for lying to her -- and there are more important things to do, like introduce Maleficent to her daughter Lily. Lily meet your mom, Maleficent the dragon sorceress. Let's have eggs! Meanwhile, Regina marches Cora's other daughter, Zelena, right to the basement, where Belle and the Magic Mirror are held. She'll be cared for there until her baby is born but will also be magically sealed in.
Regina, searching out the Author at Mr. Gold's pawn shop, sees that the Dark One's heart is giving way -- actually turning black and weaker. Rumpel is in a very bad way, so much so that Regina is able to just walk up and snatch the magical quill from him. Maybe this is another of his tricks? Doesn't seem like it, but this is Rumpelstiltskin we're talking about. Regardless, the Author is willing to write anything for Regina -- see, he's actually a big fan of the Evil Queen. Her trgic backstory, etc. But she will need the blood of the savior's darkened soul since "the energy of her darkness potential has to charge the ink." He tells her that he really likes her, one of his favorites -- she "really gets screwed over the most."
Back in the past, Cora has shown up on the anniversary of her killing the love of her daughter's life. Cora got out of Wonderland by borrowing a rabbit. She wants to help Regina find love, or so she says. She met Tinkerbell, who told her that Regina had a destined true love. Cora wants to help her find the man with the lion tattoo on his arm. To do this supposedly altruistic thing, Cora goes into a tavern and meets the Sheriff of Nottingham. He tells her that the man that she is searching for is Robin Hood. But Robin is said to be a thief and a scoundrel, of course, so Cora instead wants to make an offer to Nottingham.
Maleficent and Lily at Granny's. Eggs, then to the point for Lily: "So how are we going to get revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming?" Maleficent wants to just move on and enjoy her daughter, but Lily really wants to get Snow and Charming. She calls Maleficent weak for letting her egg be taken from her in the first place. Harsh. Side note: Didn't really think about it, but Maleficient mentioned that she'd crumble to dust if she left Storybrooke, since that's where Rumple revived her.
Maleficent goes straight to Snow and Charming for advice -- because they've been stellar parents lately. They're eager, though, to help Maleficent reunite with her daughter and rectify any bad feeligns they may have caused. Regina finds Lily first, though, seemingly wanting her to cooperate with a plan to ... oh, it doesn't matter. Lily's standoffish attitude leads Regina to just cut to the chase, literally, slicing her hand and getting the blood that she needs to revive the magic ink. She spirits away, and Lily seemingly taps into a power she didn't know she had, becoming a dragon! Charming and Snow and Maleficent see her in the scaly flesh on the outskirts of town. They go after her, but Dragon Lily smacks Snow silly as Maleficent tries to calm her down.
Cora enters Regina's chambers in the Enchanted Forest past. Hello, Henry, now get out. That poor man -- married to Cora and father of Regina. Anyway, Cora whips up a dress -- remembering Regina's favorite color -- and tells Regina that she's found her man. Presumably it's Robin Hood, but nope, it's Nottingham. Oh, this switcheroo seems destined to backfire -- especially with Nottingham's overconfident attitude. Regina sees through his ruse easily and turns his lion tattoo into a little actual lion. It roars and scratches him and bites him while walking up his arm until he reveals that Cora put him up to it. Also, he says that Cora wanted Regina to have a baby and heir to the kingdom -- probably one that she would somehow guide a la "Game of Thrones." Probably would've been a Joffrey-type anyway.
A self-destructive Evil Queen Regina actually takes a potion that makes it so that she can never give birth to a baby. She does it really just to spite Cora, not thinking so much about herself, and believing that there's no way for her to ever find happiness again anyway. Cora tells Regina that the only one standing in the way of her happiness is her.
It's a lesson that she has learned over the years. Now, as she gloats to Zelena by telling her that she may have the Author write some kind of horrible ending to Zelena's life, she thinks about it. Continuing to be wicked, even in the face of a rewritten life, Zelena tells Regina that she's just like their mom, spiriting her away. Robin runs in to make sure that things are all right, and Regina says that they are and that she's choosing her own happy ending with him, and chooses not to do anything to Zelena or to her own life by rewriting it. She's fine, but the Author is not, and he writes himself an escape route right to Rumpelstiltskin.
With the forgiving mood spreading, Emma has gotten a change of heart as well. She and Hook, looking out over the sea, make some points about why Emma should forgive her parents. They chat over Emma's distrust of her parents. Hook tries to smooth it over by saying that they were just trying to be good, protective parents -- and they made a mistake. He gets through to her just as they hear the dragon roar. Emma and Hook rush over to find an unconscious Snow. Emma heals her wound superficially and forgives her and Charming for their well-intentioned, but wrong, act in the past.
Along the same lines, Maleficent has found a now calm Lily, who has apparently figured out how to take on a regular human form after her romp through the countryside as a dragon. Maleficent sits beside the confused Lily and gives her a rattle -- a toy that she'd meant to give her when she was born. It's a little late but a cool gesture. They are at least cordial now, and she'll show Lily how to control the dragon inside.
The Author is at Rumpel's side, ready to write him a healed story, but Rumpel wants him to get started on their new book. Poof, and a book titled "Heroes and Villains" pops up. Time for the Author to rewrite history, and it starts with the words "Once upon a time ..."