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Recap / Once Upon A Time S 4 E 16 Best Laid Plans

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Season 4, Episode 16:

Best Laid Plans

Hook tells Emma that her fate is at stake in Gold’s plan while Regina leads the villains on a wild goose chase. Henry makes a breakthrough in his search to find the Author, but Mary Margaret and David need a moment to reconsider the best course of action. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Snow and Charming search for a way to ensure their child will grow up to be a hero. When a travelling peddler directs them to visit a kindly old hermit, Snow and Charming are presented with a choice that could secure their child’s goodness, but at a price that will haunt them for years to come.



  • Adult Fear: Rumple realizes that Henry would be immune to the sleeping curse and starts talking to Regina. The next shot of this scene has Henry holding the book and running to the Sorcerer's house while Rumple in a voice-over heavily implies what will happen to him if he gets found by the villains.
  • All-Powerful Bystander/The Watcher: What the Authors were supposed to be.
  • An Aesop: It's better to take the right path than to take the easy one. Also a Call-Back to the second season finale.
  • Angst Coma: Well, not a coma exactly, but August becomes very ill and doesn't recover until near the end of the episode, not because of the torture per se but because, as Mother Superior puts it, he'd been through so many changes and several powerful magics that his body needed time to recover.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Gold warns Maleficent that she may not like the truth of what happened to her daughter.
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  • Bigger Bad: The Author, it turns out, since for the sake of drama he had been deliberately twisting and manipulating everyone's stories rather than simply recording them.
  • Call-Back:
    • Remember when Regina ripped out Snow's heart and it was darkened? Regina thought that it was blackened by her (at the time) recent murder of Cora, but now Snow figures it was darkened all along by their actions in taking away Maleficent's baby.
    • The unicorn mobile that hung over Emma's cradle way back in season 1 acquires new significance (to the audience and to the Charmings).
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fact Lily had a star-shaped birthmark on her wrist screamed it to be this, but it's here that it's finally used to identify Maleficent's missing baby.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The peddler turned out to be the Author, explaining how he happened to be in the right place at the right time to direct Snow and Charming to the Apprentice, and give them the information about Maleficent and her egg.
  • The Chooser of The One: The Sorcerer is the one who chooses the next Author.
  • Curse Cut Short: "It's as cold as a witch's... foot... out here."
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The Author was pretending to be a peddler.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Queens of Darkness are appalled that the Charmings would steal someone's baby.
    Ursula: Cradle robbers!
    Cruella: What have you done?!
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Apprentice speaks of this when he reveals to Snow and Charming that both visions they saw through the unicorn's horn are true—because thanks to free will, until Emma chose her path both futures were equally viable.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: When Regina first tells the heroes she needs to take the page with the Author's door back to the Legion of Doom, Emma creates a perfect replica (it even reflects magic, when Regina takes a picture of it with her cell phone). Later, when the Queens confront Henry and he is forced to give up the page, Regina gives him a significant look which he interprets correctly; to Mary Margaret and David he reveals he switched the real page with the fake. Unfortunately, Gold catches on instantly.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: "Henry Daniel Mills", from Regina (incidentally also revealing his middle name for the first time).
  • Genre Savvy: Turns out Gold knew all along that Regina was the Reverse Mole (probably because he knew how determined she'd been to be a hero, prior to his exile) and was just waiting for her to give herself away so he could take her out at the right moment. Whether Cruella knew too and thus claimed it was Ursula to give Regina a false sense of security, or was actually ignorant, is yet to be seen.
  • It Amused Me: The current Author's justification for meddling with people's fate.
  • It Only Works Once: The sleeping curse. All who had been previously under it are immune.
  • Jackass Genie: Played with. The Apprentice tells Snow and Charming of the spell to ensure their child's heroic status, but neglects to inform them either that the egg they bring contains a baby or that the 'vessel' he puts the darkness into will be sent to another world (presumably because they didn't ask). However, this too was enforced by the Author, and the Apprentice was quite displeased once he realized the truth.
  • Just Friends: Emma has to give a speech about it to Killian regarding August; it's actually true.
  • Legacy Character: The Author turns out to be a title passed down through the eons.
  • More Than Mind Control: The Author is able to manipulate events for a "better" story and nobody save the Sorcerer and his Apprentice is any the wiser.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Snow and Charming's reaction when Maleficent's baby is banished.
    • Likewise, the Apprentice when he realizes what part the Author made him play in his plans.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the previous Authors was a man named Walt.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Everything Snow and Charming do to ensure their baby will be good is what guarantees Maleficent will never forgive them and seek revenge, keeps the Author from changing the villains' endings (i.e. ruining Regina's life and Rumple's), and turns Emma against them once she finds out the truth. And in the end, it still doesn't prevent the Dark Curse from being cast, just gives them a loophole out of it (not to mention guaranteeing Henry's existence later for Pan to exploit). Enforced, however, by the Author.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Snow and Charming when they realize Maleficent's egg is hatching and instead of a baby dragon, there's a baby human inside.
    • Also, their reaction when they realize the peddler who led to their fateful decision was the Author all along.
    • And Emma's, once she realizes that in her quest to find answers, she just released someone with no morals or scruples who can change reality at a whim if he gets his hands on the magic quill again...and he's now loose in Storybrooke.
  • Pet the Dog: Gold shows Maleficent what happened to her daughter, understanding that she's been in enough pain, and before he does so he asks her if this is what she wants: after all, pain dulls in time but seeing what happened to her daughter might make that pain worse.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Laid", because of Maleficent's egg.
  • The Reveal:
    • Maleficent's long-lost daughter was Lily, Emma's former best friend.
      • Likewise, Cruella and Ursula came to our world by falling into the same portal that the newborn Lily fell through.
    • "Author" was a job title. The one that was trapped by the Sorcerer and his Apprentice was only the newest. He was also a Jerkass who meddled with people's fate because it would make a better story.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Or in this case, self-fulfilling vision. Snow White's action to protect her daughter from the darkness led to her vision coming true.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: The way to release the Author? Using a real key to unlock a drawn door.
  • Unicorn: In the Enchanted Forest, touching one's horn after taming it with food will allow you to see a vision of your unborn child's future, revealing whether ill or good lies in store for them.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Cruella and Ursula interfere in the Apprentice's ritual just in time to stop Snow and Charming from having any chance of saving Maleficent's egg, leading to everything that is happening in the present day.
  • Villain Has a Point: Depending on when the current Author assumed the position and the extent of his meddling, the villains may be right in blaming him for their lack of happy endings.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Snow and Charming's justification for using Maleficent's egg instead of a baby as their vessel.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Snow and Charming assume that when Maleficent's egg hatches it will hold a baby dragon; when it does hatch they are horrified to find out there's an actual child inside.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: It isn't clear why yet, but based on his words to a sleeping Belle and the way he clutches his chest, it seems the reason Gold was so determined to break free of the dagger and is now equally determined to have the Author change his story is because he doesn't have much longer to live.

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