Mother Review | Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 20

I’m so tired of standing in the way of my own happiness.


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

Season 4
Episode 20: Mother

“Mother” is the name of the game this week, and it’s certainly a pervasive theme throughout the episode.

Firstly, there’s the relationship between Regina and Cora. It’s always been one of the more compelling aspects of Regina as a character that she is largely shaped and moulded by her mother. It’s also been quite some time since we’ve seen a Regina flashback, so it’s nice to get our Evil Queen fix, as well as Lana Parrilla getting to flex her most villainous muscles.

It was a new story to be told, and the fact that Regina went to such extreme lengths as a way to free herself from her mother’s machinations and schemes was definitely shocking. It also helps the audience to appreciate Regina and Henry’s connection in a new light, seeing as we now know that Regina is incapable of having children of her own. It’s also useful in understanding her discomfort and unhappiness at Zelena and Robin’s connection. The only slight inconsistency in the flashback was that Cora’s previous departure through the Looking Glass was definitely made to feel permanent back in Season 2. There was nothing in those past storylines that suggested that Cora was able to have a little visit to the Enchanted Forest before continuing her role as the Queen of Hearts.

Having said that, there is little of direct importance or significance of this flashback to what is happening in the present, short of Zelena accusing Regina of being just like their mother. It’s a bit of a stretch, but clearly a massive insecurity of Regina’s, since it’s enough to make her give up on her plan to erase Zelena entirely from existence which, let’s face it, even if you’ve got the Author on your side, is one of the more villainous ways of handling a problem.

Regina reclaiming her happiness was a good move. She has spent so long being manipulated and affected by others’ decisions, it’s nice for her to claim it while she can. Instead of giving into Zelena’s plan and letting it drive a wedge between her and Robin, she decides to claim her happy ending regardless, which somewhat puts paid to the whole Author storyline entirely. I also liked how they addressed and made clear that Regina’s happy ending wasn’t a man, or a relationship, it was merely her finding her own place and comfort within the world.

Elsewhere, Maleficent and Lily’s connection comes into play, as Maleficent struggles to connect with her child and Lily struggles to reconcile Maleficent with who she expected her to be. Seeing Maleficent being vulnerable and sweet really continued to humanise her character; even though she is traditionally a “villain” and can turn into a giant dragon, that doesn’t mean that she is devoid of emotion. It was also admirable that she wasn’t afraid of Lily, and she wasn’t judgmental or disparaging. She was open, and honest, and listened to her daughter. It was hard not to compare this with Emma and Snow’s relationship. Of course, Emma and Snow have the benefit of both being series regulars, so there could be more of a slow burn with their relationship, but while Snow has always been quite insistent at Emma opening up to her and sharing every waking thought, Maleficent was much better at sitting back and letting Lily open up to her. It’s a nice relationship, and nice for that storyline to have closure. It was unexpected for Maleficent not to be after vengeance, but also refreshing that the pair have achieved what they wanted and are willing to let it drop.

There was also, finally, a reconciliation between Snow and Emma. I’m not going to lie, Emma repeatedly brushing off Snow was consistently hilarious to watch, and I still don’t feel that Snow has actually apologised enough, but then again I’m not certain that Emma has even given her enough opportunity. Fortunately, Snow’s (frankly dense) decision to throw herself into Lily’s dragon path and hurting her head was enough to bring the two back together. It was also nice that the show seems to have dropped the idea of Emma going dark. It wasn’t wholly believable in the first place, so I’m glad that she’s resisted it.

The more frustrating element of this episode came from the Author. Firstly, I’m still reeling that Emma even thought that it was a sensible idea to release him from his prison (speaking of which, have we even seen August since that happened? Is he alright?). Secondly, Regina stealing the Author from Rumple when she intended to use him to get rid of Zelena made sense, but she really should have seen that he was a dangerous person to keep around and that could bite them in the end. I’m still trying to keep a handle on his motivations, though? Why did he go back to Rumple to get told what to write? Why didn’t he just write whatever he wanted to? Is there something in particular that Rumple is going to give him?

Ultimately, this episode pretty much exists in order to set up the finale, but it gave us some more depth to Regina and a satisfactory resolution to her and Zelena’s conflict over Robin. What’s more, it allied Emma with her parents once more and put the Evil Saviour storyline to bed, as well as neatly tying up Lily’s story arc. With everything in such a neat bow, the finale can focus upon the fallout of the Author being at large, and the effect that he may have upon the happy endings of the inhabitants of Storybrooke.

Once Upon an Additional Brainthought

  • If we were meant to feel sorry for Rumple for dying because his heart is completely black, then I don’t. Not even vaguely. The fact that he’ll turn into the Dark One forever if Rumplestiltskin dies is interesting, but at least then the rest of the cast would actually be able to get rid of the Dark One once and for all as opposed to tolerating him.
  • Regina’s bedroom in the Summer Palace has no doors, and has an open balcony. That would be a ridiculous uncomfortable bedroom to sleep in.
  • There was literally no reason for Snow to run in front of Maleficent and get hurt by Lily. Maleficent wasn’t even remotely scared. Snow should have stayed out of it. She’s really stupid, it annoys me.
  • How come Regina only teleports when she finds it convenient? She’s perfectly fine doing it to get the Author out, but doesn’t immediately go to him when he goes to Mr. Gold’s? Seriously, just break the quill and destroy the ink and he can pose no threat! Time is of the essence!

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.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    A few random thought about a pretty boring instalment.

    This episode did remind me that I miss Cora as a villain — she was actually one of the more dangerous and intelligent adversaries, and I enjoyed her team-ups with Hook in season 2.

    Speaking of, I almost forgot that Hook was on this show — he finally got a few brief scenes in this episode. I guess I should call him Killian now, as there isn’t much of the original Hook left in his character. I don’t mind anti-heroes being redeemed, but that’s no reason to stop giving them decent storylines!

    I also wish the writers would put some care into the Charmings as characters again. Perhaps if the Charmings were given storylines that weren’t exclusively based on them being Emma’s parents, we could see a return of the three-dimensional, bad-ass characters the viewers fell in love with in season 1.

    Once again, the plot revolves around a character being stupid — this time the writers make Regina look like an idiot for not taking precautions to keep the Author under her control (sigh).

    I was disappointed that Regina chose not to write Zelena out of existence, because the rape baby storyline continues to make me sick.

    And finally, I absolutely agree that it makes no sense for the Author to be so loyal to Gold. Why keep Gold alive at all, let alone giving Gold everything he wants?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark Goodwin says:

      I’m really not sure where everything went wrong with how they wrote the Charmings, because they are so likeable and central in the first two seasons, and from that point they just sort of become intolerable nags who go around preaching about what everybody should do.


  2. Serena says:

    I wonder if the writers felt they had to disempower the Charmings so that Emma could be the “hero”? I mean, between the two of them they are badass warriors and leaders, so if the Charmings were allowed to do what they did in the Enchanted Forest (lead armies, run two kingdoms, go on heroic quests) they wouldn’t actually need Emma to be sheriff or the Saviour.

    Personally, I find that diminishing supporting characters to make the ‘hero” look better is just as lazy as writers requiring their characters to be as stupid as possible in order to fit their lame plots. The writers on this show are guilty on both counts on many occasions.


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