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Once Upon a Time Recap: “Sympathy for the De Vil” – Crossing Over to the Dark

Photo: ABC


This week’s episode of Once Upon a Time has already stirred a frenzy among its viewers. Emma’s first step towards joining the dark side marks a pivotal moment in Emma’s story and adds a whole new level of complexity to this series. Prepare yourself for the intensity and drama. Oh, and you might want to put your hands over your child’s eyes and ears, because this episode gets a little psycho.


We finally meet young Cruella this week. She appears to be living in a 20s-era, Parisian version of the world of The Great Gatsby. We discover that at a young age Cruella’s mother locked her away in the attic, where she grew up with nothing but a few books and a radio.

RELATED: Highlighting Folk and Fairy Tales on Once Upon a Time

Jump forward a decade or so. One day the Author/Isaac comes to town. He gets his first glimpse of Cruella when he stops at her house, claiming to be a journalist going door-to-door asking for interesting stories. Cruella’s mom shoos him away when he begins sniffing a little too closely into her three late husband’s stories, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

Later, Isaac busts Cruella out of her cell and takes her to a bar where she spills on all the dirty details of her mom’s former marriages. Apparently, Cruella’s mother locked her up because she knows that her mother murdered her exes. In return for Cruella’s candidness, Isaac reveals that he’s actually a magical storyteller who can make things happen just by writing about them.

Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

As the night goes on, romance sparks between the two. The lovebirds make the rather sudden decision to run away together to a realm where Cruella’s mom can’t find them. However, before they can leave, Cruella wants to tell off her mother, something she must do alone. As a parting gift, Isaac gives Cruella the power to control animals with halitosis.


The story that Cruella told Issac about her murderous mother is false. The real murderess in the family is…you guessed it, Cruella. So, what about the fate of those late husbands? That was Cruella’s handy work. Cruella is not some innocent young woman being cruelly locked away by an evil mother. She’s a sociopath being kept prisoner by a desperate woman.

When Cruella arrives at her house, she uses her new power to force her mother’s prized dogs to tear her limb from limb in her own foyer. Not satisfied with merely murdering her mother in a sick and twisted fashion, Cruella then skins said dogs and uses their furs to make her iconic Dalmatian fur coat. Ever wondered where it came from? Well now you know.

The Author arrives in time to see Cruella for who she really is, but too late to save her mother. He tries to make up for this evil he’s unleashed by writing a rule for Cruella that will curb her craziness to some degree: she can “no longer take away the life of another.”

Whew…I think this may be the most disturbing and violent episode yet…


Back in the real world, Cruella manages to lure the seemingly gullible Henry into her snare and kidnap him. Her ultimatum to the Good Guys: kill the Author, or Henry gets a most unhappy ending. So Regina, Emma, the Charmings, and Hook immediately start forming a plot to save Henry. Their first plan of action is to split up and search for Henry as well as seek out the Author to get insider information on Cruella De Vil. Unfortunately, they are playing right into Rumple’s dastardly plans. Earlier, Rumple had actually planted a conch shell in the forest, which would split up the group and force Emma to face Cruella alone.

The Charmings manage to hunt down the Author/Isaac, who (after we’ve seen their past together, which is explained to Snow and David) claims he was just trying to save the world from Cruella. He didn’t imagine that it would result in Rumple using the sorceress to turn the Savior dark. Thanks to Rumple’s spell that split up the team, Emma doesn’t get the very important message that Cruella can’t actually kill Henry.

Cut to Emma and Cruella’s standoff at the Cliffside. Cruella is holding Henry at gunpoint, and without that crucial piece of information, Emma is forced to do what she believes is her only option. In a grand display, Emma magically blasts Cruella off the cliff to her death. This pivotal decision nudges Emma precisely in the direction Rumple wants her to go: to the Dark.

Just to touch on this monumental moment in the show, it would seem that even the big names behind the show are sharing their thoughts on this change in direction for Emma. Adam Horowitz, co-creator of OUAT, stated in an interview with TVLine, “The audience should be very, very concerned that Emma has irrevocably headed down a path” – yes, a path that is less than savory, and lacking in sunshine and rainbows. “If you thought Emma was in danger of going dark from learning what her parents did (to Maleficent’s daughter Lily), now we have to deal with the danger based on her own actions.” To put it simply, “Emma crossed a line.” Any possibility of detouring from this course or possible salvation will be seen in the weeks to come.

Extra Wishes

Rumple revealed to Belle that his lifetime of misdeeds have turned his heart almost completely black. If he loses the last bit of “red,” he will forever lose his ability to love. – that’s some pretty heavy news for our star-crossed lovers

We also learn the answers to two other mysteries:

–Cruella and Ursula left Maleficent’s daughter, baby Lily, “in the woods to die” simply because they are horrible beings.

–They also used Maleficent’s dragon egg to stay young after they traveled to our world. Because, apparently, our world is devoid of magic only in certain circumstances, which are decided upon by the show’s writers.

Cruella appears to be from a Gatsby-esque, Parisian realm that seems to be in a state of perpetual midnight. So, does this mean that there are “realms out of time” corresponding to other notable periods in history? Is there a Victorian steampunk realm? And if there is, how do I find it?

Did you enjoy last night’s episode of Once Upon A Time? What are your thoughts on Emma’s step towards the dark side? Considering the new possibilities, what magical realm would you want to visit (time, place, etc.)? Sound off below…



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By on April 21st, 2015

About Rebecca Lane

Rebecca Lane grew up in the hot desert landscape of Tucson, Arizona where she decided early on she wanted to write, if only to mentally escape her blistering surroundings. She has always been enamored of the arts and literature. As a child she often wrote short stories, and rewrote the endings of novels that she simply could not abide. She received her Undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she was lucky enough to also spend a year studying at Oxford University. While she began her journey dreaming of the day she would sing opera in a large Manhattan theater, she found in the end she could not stand waitressing and simply could not give up books and her hopes of someday writing them. She is currently working as a freelance writer/editor and earning her Masters in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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