Darkness on the Edge of Town Review | Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 12

It’s time the villains got their happy ending.


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 4
Episode 12: Darkness on the Edge of Town

So, Once Upon a Time is back from its mid season break, and they certainly don’t waste any more time before everybody in Storybrooke is in jeopardy once more. Can’t we just have a simple life? No. Don’t even think about it.

The Queens of Darkness is, of course, our new story arc, because we love a hashtag. What’s a story arc without a hashtag? Well plotted and coherent? Ahem. Moving on.

Regardless, it looks hopeful so far. Cruella de Vil is an absolute delight. Her characterisation is absolutely spot on, and already the twists to her traditional story is intriguing. She can seemingly control all magical creatures, which makes her more of a threat than a barmy canine murderess. Every single one of her lines just oozes glamour and deviousness. Victoria Smurfit is absolutely sublime here, even if she plays the role so well that the character seems somewhat out of place in the Enchanted Forest. Somehow I just can’t imagine Cruella without her car or electricity.

Next to her, however, Ursula somewhat pales in comparison. She hasn’t made so much of an impression thus far, seeming fairly generic when standing next to Cruella’s foreboding presence – which is bizarre, considering Ursula’s cartoonish persona definitely holding more weight as a villain. Yet, there’s just something missing so far. Whether that’s in the writing or performance, I can’t quite tell, but I’ve yet to get a stable grasp on Ursula’s character. Obviously, this being Once Upon a Time, I doubt it’s too long before I’m being clubbed over the head with it. Also, her fairytale costume just looks cheap. I’m pleased that they didn’t go the too-CGI route of giving her all of her octopus tentacles instead of legs, but that green, shimmery number with the hideous peplum and flared bottom? No sir. Burn it.

Aside from the introduction of our new villains, this episode is notable for its character interactions, and this episode finally gave us some closure and a glimpse into poor Belle’s mental state. It’s appropriate that she have that scene with Hook to admit that she was fooled by Rumple. It feels like a natural response, for her to feel like she was taken for granted and walked all over because, well, she was. Plus, it’s nice for Belle to actually be forming relationships with the rest of the main cast and having something to do other than just babysitting Neal.

Elsewhere, it’s lovely to see Emma and Regina’s dynamic shining through at the centre of the Author story. Both of their characters have come on tremendous journeys and they’re definitely the most compelling of our heroines. Over the six week gap between episodes, they’ve clearly grown much closer, even down to Emma’s knowledge of Regina’s lunch order. Hopefully this pairing continues to receive this level of focus. It’s intoxicating.

It seems that there are intriguing plots to be unravelled too, as Charming and Snow seem to have some past dealings with Ursula and Cruella. While Snow and Charming lying and acting shifty is probably just going to make them more irritating than interesting, it’s nice for them to be acting in areas of moral grey, considering they’re normally so nauseatingly pure. Definitely an exciting opportunity to entwine the villains and heroes backstories once again.

On top of this, Rumple’s revelation that Emma is the one with the greatest propensity for darkness was deeply unsettling. This is definitely out of the blue for the show, considering Emma’s narrative so far has been defined by her role as the Saviour, and her powerful light magic. It’s bound to be an interesting character development, though feels like it could potentially be a rehash of Emma’s out-of-control power storyline only a few episodes ago. Hopefully they find a way to make it interesting and new, and expand upon the ideas of Emma’s feelings of abandonment from her parents. That’s the only way that I can see her turning evil, though considering the Snow Queen tried unsuccessfully for half a season to turn her, I’m not sold. It feels more like they drew a “what’s the most unexpected thing that we can say to make people interested” card out of a hat, and have then based the story around that.

It was frustrating how Rumple is already back in Storybrooke (and, despite wanting no one to know that he’s there, just casually walking down the Main Street in full view). Considering he was only pushed over the town line in the previous episode, it’s disappointing that his quest to come back took practically no time at all. Credit to him, though, he manages to get Cruella and Ursula on side with incredible ease.

Moreover, it was a bit of a stretch to retroactively insert this “villains can’t get happy endings” storyline in as far back as Rumple procuring the Dark Curse. That just wasn’t something that was floating around. The first time Rumple has even acknowledged that concept is this season, and Regina was the one who brought it up. To pretend that these villains have been thinking this for an age because Rumple suggested it to them, and now they’re all at odds competing to get the attention of the Author is bizarre. How do the villains even know about the Author, considering they haven’t been exposed to the Once Upon a Time book the same way that Regina has? It seems overly convenient to force them to be in competition with each other. It was also somewhat of a stretch for Chernabog to be both in the flashbacks and in the present day, considering the massive hole in logic as to how Chernabog ended up in the hat, and how Rumple knew that he was in there.

Once Upon an Additional Brainthought

  • Rumple coming back into town seems strange, considering that Regina still has his dagger.
  • That library returns cart was overflowing for a library that never actually seems to have anybody in it other than Belle and her friend of the week.
  • My main thought when Snow, Charming, Ursula and Cruella met up was: why do they all have black umbrellas? Seriously, who has a plain black umbrella? I mean, it would slightly dull the moment if Snow turned up with a Hello, Kitty umbrella, but at least there’d be more realism. Also, how did they know that Ursula and Cruella would even by there? Weird.
  • I love that Hook, Belle and Snow know exactly what to do in the case of a giant monster attacking Storybrooke.
  • I really hope that Belle takes an active role in this storyline considering it’s acting against Gold. I think that she needs to be a massive part of stopping his plans.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    I absolutely agree that Rumple needed to suffer more before getting back to Storybrooke. He should have had to spend more time exiled in New York — plus I enjoyed his hilariously miserable living situation. It is a shame that the writers can’t seem to recognize when they have a good idea that could be expanded on. Delaying Rumple’s return would have also given extra time for the Storybrooke folk to have more wonderful and necessary character interactions, such as between Hook and Belle, about coping with the emotional fallout of these traumatic situations.

    I am wary about where the writers seem to be heading with Snow and Charming. Please don’t let this secret be something illogical or out of character just for the sake of “proving” the writers’ pet philosophy that every hero has a dark side comparable to the villains.

    I did laugh at the show poking fun at the never ending parade of monsters…
    Regina: “I suppose we should go out and see what’s killing property values this tine
    Hook:”This isn’t our first monster bash.”

    Liked by 1 person

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