“Once Upon a Time” introduces the yin to Emma Swan’s yang in the “Lily” episode, bringing back a childhood friend who had more than a passing connection to the princess. As the daughter of Maleficent, she houses Emma’s darkness, but it seems like Emma is doing a pretty good job of bringing back her own.
It starts off, as many things may have, with the Sorcerer and his apprentice. We get our first look at the Sorcerer, a being who appears as a purple and red wisp of wind. The author has done bad in changing things to his liking, and he must never be allowed to toy with fate again. Who knows what his tampering could’ve done?
The author himself will actually miss Cruella. He stands over her grave site, with Rumpelstiltskin not the least sentimental. She played her part, and has started the savior Emma down a dark path that, Rumpel hopes, will lead her to having a dark heart.
Maleficent also desires the savior, but doesn’t specifically care about her heart. She wants her daughter, her Lilith, to be found, and thinks that Emma may be able to help with that. She strolls into Granny’s like she’s not an evil mastermind -- like she’s a mom wanting to get her kid back, her kid who was dumped on the magicless world with a touch of evil in her soul, put there by heroes Snow White and Prince Charming. Maleficent won’t touch them yet. She needs Emma.
And Emma knows exactly who Lilith, or Lily, is, having grown up with her for a time. That funny fate thing brought them together many times, the last of which was an ‘80s encounter in Mankato, Minn. Lily breaks in on little Emma and her newly adoptive family. Seems that they’ve been friends for a while, and Lily needs her help once again.
Regina busts in as Emma is reminiscing: “Ain’t fate a bitch.” She finds out that Emma does know who Lily is, and that she’s feeling down on herself. Emma: “So the only friend I ever had wasn’t even my friend by choice.” Regina proposes a super team-up/road trip to help rescue Robin from Zelena and go find Lily. Regina: “How about we make today the day we both beat fate.” New York and Minnesota, here they come. Wait, actually, it’s New York and Boston -- even closer for some reason. Rumpel thinks their road trip will darken Emma’s heart, and as Hook says goodbye, he gives Emma this warning: “Vengeance is tempting. The darkness always is. Resist it.”
When the duo reaches Lowell, Mass., it’s not the most hospitable neighborhood. Regina: “Why did I go through the trouble of cursing people to live in Storybrooke when I could’ve brought them here.” Emma flies off the handle a bit when she hears that Lily died in a car accident a few years back, and that she was a head case. She almost knocks out the guy who tells her. Dark, savior. Dark.
Maybe there’s a tinge of regret. Back in ‘80s Minnesota, Emma pushed Lily away. They met as Lily was giving Emma tips on how to shoplift Pop Tarts, and Lily lied about them meeting somewhere else to Emma’s new parents. Lily is actually on the run, again, when she drops in to ask Emma to go get a necklace that her mom gave her from her boyfriend. Then she’ll leave town since the police are looking for her after a robbery in which she was caught on video.
Back in present-day Storybrooke, Snow and Charming go to apologize to Maleficent for darkening the soul of her child and sending her to another dimension. Hmmm.... Maybe tough to forgive? Could be on the dragon sorceress’ side this time, and she is not forgiving them. Nor, she thinks, will Lily once she gets there.
But first Emma and Regina have to find her. A wolf appears in the road, and the VW bug gets a flat tire. While getting the car repaired, fate steps in, and Emma sees the supposedly dead Lily in a bar under a new name: Starla. Emma sees Lily’s birthmark, which gives the name a kind of spot-on irony. We’re not sure why she’s hiding yet. She says she was trying to get away from a bad element, and just wants to move on with her daughter. We see that it’s a fake daughter, but Emma and Regina do not.
Of course, Emma’s lie detector is not fooled, and she finds Lily’s address to go confront her about it. Lily lied in the past, too, about getting the necklace back from her boyfriend. Lily stole money from Emma’s new family while getting her out of the house so that she could do it. In the present, Lily steals Emma’s car, with the Snow Queen’s entry scroll in it, with Emma and Regina in hot pursuit. It seems that somehow, Lily knew that she was the daughter of Maleficent, knew that Prince Charming and Snow White were involved, and knew about the existence of Storybrooke. How the heck ...?
Anyway, back in Storybrooke, Rumpel was doing something nice. Well, it served him, too, but it was still nice. He planned on getting back Belle’s heart that Regina took, and that Maleficent was guarding while Regina was out. Quite against his will, mostly, Will Scarlett joins with Gold to go steal Belle’s heart from Regina’s vault of hearts. Maleficent and Rumpel speak. She or Regina has put up a spell to keep him out. But Rumpel knows some things about spells. They’re very specific, so while he chatted up Maleficient, Will slipped into the vault and got back Belle’s heart. Wasn’t even hard. So, back in the shop, Gold puts Belle’s heart back in, but tells her that Will is going to watch over it. Oh, a crack in the Rumpbelle mold. (We should still wonder if she didn’t give up that heart just to play into Regina’s plans -- just saying).
Back to Minnesota past. Lily set up Emma, stealing from her new parents while Emma tried to help her out by getting her necklace for her. The parents find out that Emma knew Lily was a criminal and react badly. Emma leaves, a runaway once again. But Lily knows where to find her and says the split was for the best. Emma doesn’t believe that and wants Lily to go. Lily says that she can’t. Lily: “It’s like my whole life is darkness. And when you’re around, it’s all brighter.” How right she was, but neither knew that. Emma leaves, not looking back.
Back in the present, Emma and Regina catch up to Lily, forcing her to stop. There’s a little hand-to-hand fight, then a gun is pulled by Emma. As Lily is down on her knees and Regina cautiously approaches her, for a split second, didn’t you think ... what if? So many twists and turns actually make that fleeting thought possible. Wow. Anyway, no gunshot. And, the headlights blowing out when Emma and Lily fought? Magic OUTSIDE of Storybrooke was happening there. Interesting ...
So, how did Lily know about magic and Storybrooke? Back in the ‘80s, after she and Emma split, the Sorcerer’s apprentice meets Lily on the bus. A captive seatmate, he tells her the whole story. She’s at first reluctant, but soon wants to know. Lily: “OK, Yoda. Enough riddles. What’s the truth?” So, there you go.
In the present, Regina and Emma have to finish leg two of the road trip, going to New York to rescue Robin. Lily tags along, a little calmer than she had been. Maybe their friendship is rekindling? We’ll see. First, nab Robin. Regina meets Robin at their New York apartment, relieved that he isn’t hurt. She tells him that Zelena killed Marian and has been impersonating her. Even when Zelena arrives as Marian, he still doesn’t want to believe it, but Zelena doesn’t care anymore. She shows off her crystal from Oz, and turns back into herself, freaking out Robin and Lily, who hasn’t really seen magic as far as she knows. Robin, though, still can’t leave the Wicked Witch alone in New York.
Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, is pregnant with Robin Hood’s child. Dang.