So many secrets in this "Unforgiven" episode of "Once Upon a Time." Snow White and Prince Charming have one. Captain Hook and Ursula the Sea Witch have one. Rumpelstiltskin is behind the scenes with many. Will Scarlett and Belle look to be a bit more than friends.
Yeah, Will and Belle. Had to say that one right up front because ... wow. That could be a huge blow, but we'll get to the reveal later.
Maleficent, Cruella de Vil and Ursula threaten little baby Neal in Snow White's dream. Whatever this secret is that Snow and Charming are keeping -- and that's apparently driving Charming to drink and Snow to have nightmares -- is intriguing. Intriguing enough for us to get a small glimpse of their first meeting when, in an Enchanted Forest flashback, we see that the evil trio is attempting to make a deal with Snow and David.
Basically, Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella, seemingly fast friends after Rumpelstiltskin brought them together last episode, need help. Evil Queen Regina has stolen the dark curse from Maleficent -- you know, the one that led to Storybrooke existing in the first place. The evil trio needs information from a powerful fairy tree, but the tree will give that information only to valiant and virtuous heroes. This is where Snow and Charming come in. It's for the survival of all that they thwart Regina's plans to use the dark curse.
Back in modern day Storybrooke. Ursula and Cruella visit Mr. Gold's pawn/curio shop. Belle is on duty and is none too happy to see them. As Cruella keeps her occupied, a tentacled Ursula slides her way to something -- a box -- which she promptly steals right under Belle's watchful eyes. Might it have something to do with what Rumpelstiltskin has planned for resurrecting Maleficent? Of course it does. In the next scene, Rumpel is seemingly gathering the dusty remains of Maleficent in a cave. "It won't be long now," he says.
Henry and Regina are still on the hunt for the Author. After a bit of a testy exchange with the duo at Granny's diner, Regina doesn't like that Ursula and Cruella remind her of her villainous past. It makes her think that her happy ending will be harder than ever to achieve. Henry tells her to cheer up, and as they go through another one of the storybooks, she notices it has different paper. They happen to be at Pinocchio's story, and Henry remembers that motorcycle-riding, typewriter-using, wooden-boy-all-grown-up August added Pinocchio's story himself somehow.
Regina, Henry and Emma question Pinocchio, or rather the little boy who was created when August faded away and was magically transformed -- but he remembers nothing. Regina loses her cool, almost reverting back to her pre-Storybrooke monarch days when Pinocchio can't remember how to take apart and reassemble the Author's book. She and Marco/Geppeto have words, and she later goes to the toymaker's shop to apologize for yelling at the little boy. Geppeto sees that she is genuinely trying to do good and sympathizes. He hands her a satchel full of things that August left behind before becoming a real boy. Maybe she'll find answers there.
Meanwhile, Snow and David won't give up trying to find out what the evil duo -- Ursula and Cruella - are planning. They know it's something bad, but they also want to make sure that whatever secret there is between them remains a secret. With Emma in tow, David pulls Cruella over and searches her car for stolen merchandise. He finds, and promptly hides, a totem of Maleficent's that was in Cruella's car. Later, Charming and Snow know that they need to gather Maleficent's remains so that no one will be able to resurrect her. They're smart, but then they go after them, which isn't smart.
They're pretty driven to find them and protect a secret that was acted out in the Enchanted Forest in the past. When Snow and Charming tried to access the fairy tree, it cast them away. Maleficent deduced that it was because Snow was pregnant -- heck of a way to find this out -- and that the baby would be powerful. But that baby also has the potential to be a great champion, or a great evil. The tree didn't like that. "Perhaps you two aren't as valiant as we thought," said Maleficent.
In the present, Charming and Snow find Cruella and Ursula, and are promptly tentacled -- knocked out by Ursula. Rumpelstiltskin, still pulling strings, sees the unconscious bodies of Snow and Charming, and hands Cruella a knife. She doesn't kill them, though, instead just cutting them and using the blood to revive Maleficent. Apparently, the trinket that Charming took from Cruella's car was just something to put them on the right track, delivering them to the cave to help revive Maleficent.
It worked, but Maleficent didn't automatically kill the Charmings for helping kill her. She instead wanted them to suffer and watch as others suffered after their takeover.
Time to bring Emma -- who actually slayed Maleficent -- up to speed, but Mary Margaret and David listen in on her conversation with Hook first about her never needing to lie to them despite her trust issues. Even after feeling guilty about hearing that, they lie right to Emma's face. They do tell her that Maleficent is back, and though they may not actually know the plan -- they know that something is going to go down.
Both the Charmings and Hook are keeping secrets from Emma. Emma knows that Hook knows Ursula somehow from their past through "his pirating days," as he says. But, even with their newfound love, he's not willing to tell her how they know each other. And she seems OK with this.
Secrets continue as Snow brings Regina up to speed later, telling her that Maleficent is back. This news brings out the best line of the entire episode when Regina refers to Ursula and Cruella as "fish sticks and pound puppy." Just let that marinate.
So, even with Maleficent back, Regina's still not worried about them. Snow gives her reason to be. She lays out the whole "Emma has the potential to be evil" thing, but also says that Maleficent visited her long ago, again trying to strike up an alliance. Instead of appealing to her heroic side, she appealed to her maternal side. Future mom to future mom.
Wait ... Maleficent was pregnant?! Uh-oh. Continuing, Snow says that something that was done in the past -- something that possibly she and David did -- caused Maleficent to lose her baby. Maleficent's not only evil, but tragically evil.
As part of the final unraveling, we see that Rumpelstiltskin, who has been keeping his presence in Storybrooke a secret, watches his lady love Belle through a window as she works. Innocently enough, Will Scarlett, knave of hearts and general merry man, seems to be helping. Then there's a kiss. Not just a playful peck, but a lip-to-lip lock that throws the viewers and Rumpelstiltskin stumbling back into the shadows.
It could be us misinterpreting it. Maybe Belle will check him later, saying she's not over Rumpel yet. Who knows, but the deed is done, and Rumpbelle is on the rocks. Also, Will doesn't know it, but he might not be long for this world.
A lot of motivations have been made clear, and some new ones are surely yet to come. But, now that Rumpel has assembled the villainous trio, we'll still need to know the plan for them to find the Author and get their happy endings.
Fish sticks and pound puppy.