Once Upon a Time 4x20
May 3, 2015
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"Mother" is the 86th episode of Once Upon a Time.


Emma returns to Storybrooke wanting to reunite Lily with Maleficent, while Regina and Robin struggle to cope with the implications of Zelena's pregnancy. When Gold's health takes a turn for the worse, Isaac looks to a new ally for help procuring the magic ink he needs to re-write history, and in an Enchanted Forest flashback, Cora returns from Wonderland to beg Regina's forgiveness on the anniversary of Daniel's murder. The Queen of Hearts vows to help her daughter find true love, but Regina remains suspicious of her mother's true intentions.


Previously on Once Upon a Time...

Queen Regina takes Snow White to Daniel's grave. ("An Apple Red as Blood") Daniel is killed by Cora in front of Regina. ("The Stable Boy") Rumple explains that all the dark deeds he's done have poisoned his heart. ("Heart of Gold") After being approached by Maleficent Emma asks who she wants found. Maleficent tells her she wants her daughter found. ("Lily") Emma and Lily meet after years apart. ("Lily") Rumple warns Maleficent that Lily might be the one to keep Emma on her dark path. ("Lily") Emma and Lily fight and Emma pulls out a gun. ("Lily") After discovering Lily knows about they Enchanted Forest, Emma realises she wants revenge. ("Lily") Regina tells Robin that Marian is Zelena in disguise, but Robin also reveals that she's pregnant. ("Lily")


420 01
Regina is touchy today.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Queen Regina's carriage is riding through the forest when it comes upon a group of peasants in a field and the queen orders her men to stop. The confused peasants watch as the queen approaches them and greets them kindly with a smile, asking if they're enjoying the meadow. An old man states that it seemed perfect for a wedding ceremony, causing the bride and groom to smile. Regina feigns interest before explaining that they're on royal land and she doesn't recall giving them permission to marry here. The groom tries to explain that he didn't know, but before he can finish Regina rips out his heart, shocking the crowd. Regina's father tells his daughter that she might be overreacting because of what day it is, but the evil queen warns him not to talk to her about this day. He urges that she shouldn't alienate her subjects as it'd be short-sighted and weak, but this only angers Regina, who yells that she's not weak. She then turns to the groom and tells him that she was going to spare him, "But someone made me angry" she adds before crushing his heart into dust. The bride and everyone else is horrified at the sight of the dead groom. "Next time there's a wedding book the church" she warns the peasants before walking back to her carriage. As she steps inside, Henry tries to follow, but she tells him to make his own way home as she's got somewhere to go. As she rides off in her carriage, her frustrated father is left to walk home alone.

420 02
Re Cora.

A while later, the carriage, after arriving at a new location, has stopped again and Regina is out of it, walking towards the grave of her long lost lover, Daniel, only to find a yellow rose already placed atop of it. A look of rage comes upon her face and then a shudder is sent down her spine when she realizes who placed it, "Mother..." she hisses, turning to her side to see Cora stood smiling at her. As Cora looks back at her daughter, smiling, she tells her that it has "been too long". A shocked Regina is left speechless, confused about how her mother is back after being banished to Wonderland through a Looking Glass by her.


Act I

420 03
Regina and Robin have a real talk.

Over in New York at night time, Robin and Regina are sat in a bar together, glumly drinking alcohol. Regina awkwardly comments that Robin has moved on with her, but he tells her that's not fair as she understood and agreed. She tells him that understanding and seeing it are different things, but Robin claims that's not the most important point here, Roland is, because Zelena won't keep wearing the glamour and he'll wonder where his mother has gone. Regina suggests a forgetting potion that will take him back to before the fake Marian showed up and Robin agrees that this is a good idea, thanking her. He then begins to think about how Zelena could kill Marian like she was nothing and so she could play out her sad farce with them. He grows frustrated and realizes now that he knew things weren't right, but he didn't know why. Regina apologizes because this was all about her, because for Zelena it was about making sure she didn't get her happy ending. Robin tells her that if her happy ending is each other then it's still possible, but it's messy. Regina points out they have a huge obstacle that will get bigger every day, and not just for nine months either, because it's for a lifetime. She states that no matter what happens from now on, there's going to be this child that'll tie them in a way that they'll never be. A saddened Regina comments that she was stupid for thinking life wouldn't kick her in the teeth again, so Robin comforts her, saying he hears her before asking what they do now.

420 04
Zelena tries pushing Emma's buttons.

Over at Neal's apartment, Emma is holding a dream-catcher when she comments her surprise at it lasting all this time. "This place that belonged to your..." Lily comments, before Emma explains that his name was Neal and he was a lot of things to her, but now he's gone, thanks to Zelena. Zelena, who overhears this, turns and feigns an apology. An angry Emma approaches Zelena, but the witch gasps, pretending to feel a kick, telling the blonde that she wouldn't want to rattle an expectant mother. With that, the door to the apartment opens and Regina and Robin enter. The former mayor tells everyone, including Zelena, to pack up as they're leaving for Storybrooke tonight.

420 05
Hook comes to gloat.

The next morning, in Storybrooke, Rumplestiltskin and Isaac are sat in Granny's Diner as the latter questions what the food is. After Rumple explains he's holding a bagel, Hook enters the diner if they've heard. "This is why I hate this place" Rumple comments as Hook sits with the villains. He asks Hook if he wants to start his day tangling with the Dark One, but Hook points out he's a Dark One who can't strike back without charring his heart. He tells Rumple he's toothless, which means he can tell him the good news that Emma is coming back and she didn't turn evil after all. He gloats that he'll be able to find his happiness, while Rumple will never find his, and for him "never" is a long time. The pirate then pats Isaac on the back before getting up and leaving the diner. Once he's gone, Isaac comments that that's bad news as Emma's in charge of happy endings around here because the ink must contain her blood, as it must be governed by her dark impulses, and if there's no dark savior then there's no ink. Rumple coughs, seeming unwell, so Isaac asks if he's okay and what Hook was saying about his heart. A weakening Rumple assures the author he'll be fine once he finds a way to get that ink, leading Isaac to ask if he thinks there's a loophole. "There always is" Rumple tells him before asking him to leave. As they both stand up, Rumple struggles to walk as he's in pain, but refuses help from Isaac. "Forget walking, I've got a better idea" he says before teleporting them both away in a cloud of magical smoke.

420 06
Maleficent finally meets Lily.

A while later, Emma and everyone else from New York finally arrives in their cars. Snow, Charming, Hook and Henry make their way towards the cars, walking past Maleficent, who is stood waiting with anticipation. She watches as Emma gets out her car and hugs Henry and Hook. Snow tries to give her daughter a hug, but she steps back, not ready for that yet. Charming comforts a saddened Snow. They then watch as Lily exists the car and walks towards her mother. However, she catches a glimpse of Snow and Charming on the way and gives them a vicious glare. Emma steers her away, leading her towards Maleficent, and then she introduces the long lost mother and daughter to one another. Lily seems nervous, finally meeting her mother, but Maleficent is overjoyed and her face is filled with a smile and tears of joy.

Act II

420 07
Cora regrets her past actions.

"You show up on the anniversary of killing the man that I loved? To what? Rub salt in the wound?" a disgusted Regina asks Cora in the Enchanted Forest of the past, "To apologize" Cora claims. Regina asks her mother how she got out of the Looking Glass, so Cora tells her she "borrowed a rabbit", stating that Wonderland is an amazing place. She goes on to tell Regina that she understands why she sent her away, because without her she's become her own person and she's very proud. Regina angrily asks her mother what she wants, so Cora tells her she wants to help, for she has beauty, strength and power, so she wants to help her find the "final piece", which is love. Regina snarls that she had that and she took it and tore its heart out. "The stable boy..." Cora says, angering Regina, who tells her he was called Daniel. Cora confesses that she made a terrible mistake as she was fine with a loveless marriage and she assumed Regina would be too, but now she's realized Regina feels things more deeply than she does and she deserves more than she had. Regina tells her mother it's a bit late for that, but Cora claims they both know that's not true as she had an encounter with a "wingless fairy" who told her of a failed attempt to connect her with her soul mate. "You met Tinker Bell..." Regina groans, leading Cora to assure Regina there is someone out there for her and she's here to find him. "I'll believe it when I see it" Regina tells her mother, looking at her in a calmer mood now.

420 08
Zelena is shown to her new home.

Back in Storybrooke, Regina, who is shortly followed by Zelena, enter the asylum part of the hospital where the Severe Nurse is seen at her desk. As she is led to her cell, Zelena comments that she has no reason to escape, but Regina points out that with the cuff she's wearing she won't have the magic to do it either. They eventually reach their destination and Regina introduces her sister to her new home, "Hmm, dank isn't it?" Zelena comments after the door has been opened. Regina smirks that she's glad to have thought of it, commenting that OB Dr. Whale resides upstairs so she'll be perfectly cared for and it's a perfect temporary home. "Yes, this home is temporary, but me being in your life is not" Zelena taunts Regina, rubbing her belly, "Because this means forever". Regina asks her sister why she's so confident and what makes her feel safe at night once that baby is born. Zelena points out that if Regina kills her then Robin will always know that she murdered the mother of his child. "You underestimate me Zelena. Enjoy your new home" the evil queen tells the wicked witch, both sharing grins, before closing the cell door. Regina then casts a protection spell on the door and the severe nurse watches on from the distance.

420 09
Total eclipse of the heart.

In Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Rumple tells Isaac, who is looking through a collection of books, to get "anything on blood magic", but to be quick as he's just remembered about something in the back of the store which could help. He goes into the back room and then struggles to stand from the pain he's in. He falls to the floor and then pulls out his heart, which is dark black with a tiny remnant of red in it. Suddenly the bell to the shop rings and Isaac is heard asking "What're you doing here?". He shoves his heart back into his chest before limping back into the main room to discover Regina standing there. He asks her what she wants, so she tells him she wants the Author, reminding him that finding him was her idea before he stole it. Noticing Rumple in pain, she asks what's wrong with him, but he assures her he's fine. She realises that it's his heart, commenting that it's "finally happening".

420 10
Regina gets herself an Author.

Rumple confirms that he is dying, but tells her it's bad news for her too. Regina recalls that he told her it'd kill his ability to love and then she realises that the Dark One can't die this way. He points out that "Rumplestiltskin" can and he warns that she doesn't want to be near the Dark One "when there's no one else at home". He suggests she don't antagonise him, but she explains that it won't matter, because when she get's her happy ending she'll be happy, so she won't care what he'll be up to. Rumple tells her she's being short-sighted and then takes out the Author's quill, stating that he has it and they could work together to figure out a way to get the ink. At this point Rumple is growing even weaker and Regina notices this so she simply walks up to him and takes the pen from his hand, sarcastically commenting that he looks like he's up for some serious collaboration. She thanks Rumple and explains that she'll figure out the ink on her own before taking Isaac's hand and teleporting away. Rumple tries to stop her but ends up falling to the ground unconscious, growing weaker and weaker.


420 11
Cora gets herself a man.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, in a busy tavern, Cora enters and begins looking around at everyone inside. The Sheriff of Nottingham, who is sat nearby, gets up and drunkenly tells her that she's too good for this place. "You'd be surprised" she comments before asking who he is. He introduces himself and then orders two drinks before escorting Cora to the bar. She introduces herself in return and explains that she's looking for a man. He points towards himself, suggesting she can have him, but she laughs and explains that she's looking for a specific man who has the tattoo of a lion on his arm. The sheriff realises that she's talking about Robin Hood, leading her to ask him to tell her more. He warns Cora that she doesn't want him because he's a "sanctimonious blowhard" who thinks he's better than the other thieves because he steals from the rich to give to the poor. Cora chuckles that he sounds insufferable but adds that her daughter has her heart set on him, "The things we do for our children". The sheriff reveals that he's married now, but Cora adds that wives can be gotten rid of. The sheriff laughs and offers his help to Cora "for a price". Cora laughs and then states that she's closer to finding what she's looking for than she realised, "Let's talk some more".

420 12
Regina and Isaac talk.

In Regina's Mausoleum, the Evil Queen gets straight with Isaac that they wanted Emma to turn dark, but she didn't, so the whole operation is dead. He confirms this, explaining that the energy of her darkest potential has to charge the ink. "Okay...let's think" a puzzled Regina says, trying to come up with a solution. Isaac points out that it's a shame to write a happy ending for the Evil Queen as she was always his favourite to write about, adding that she was always the one to get "screwed over the most"; she snarls that she's aware of that. The Author goes on to explain that he was only working with Rumplestiltskin because he was able to protect him so she can trust him. Regina asks if he can really do as he says, so he nods, leading her to show him the ripped up page from the storybook that shows her and Robin kissing. She asks if the page shows her happy ending is possible, insisting it must exist for a reason. A shocked Isaac explains that he wrote this as an experiment for another book that he never got the chance to write. He then asks where she got it, so she tells him that it turned up one day in Robin's things. Isaac tells her he doesn't know how that happened, but it does suggest something is looking out for her. She asks him if he could be more vague, but he tells her that she knows as well as he does that there are forces greater than all of them. He goes on to say that he'd be more than happy to write what she wants if only she had the ink, but she assures him that she already figured that out as she knows exactly where to find it.

420 13
Lily and Maleficent have clashing opinions.

Meanwhile, at Granny's Diner, Lily and Maleficent are sat in a booth together, eating food as they "catch up" with one another. "You're so beautiful..." Maleficent comments as she watches Lily eating, making her daughter uncomfortable. The mother apologises, stating that she just is. Lily ignores this comment and immediately asks how they're going to get revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming, but Maleficent explains that now she can see her, she doesn't want to waste their time on revenge. She tells her daughter that she can understand why she'd want it, but it's important that from now on they only look forward. A annoyed Lily asks if they're going to let them get away with it, but Maleficent points out they can be happy in the future or angry about the past. "Let's do both" Lily suggests before explaining that for all the years after learning what happened she's been trying to figure out how two humans could take her away from a dragon, "But now I get it, you're a pushover. What they do, rub your belly? Give you a dragon treat?" she mocks. An upset Maleficent insist that she did all she could and now she simply wants to enjoy their time together, "I'm your mother". Lily points out that she's grown up now and she doesn't need "grooming advice from Annie Hall". She gets up to leave, but Maleficent quietly stops her, explaining that if she leaves town she can't get back in and she can't leave town because she'll turn back into the dust she was before Rumple revived her. "Man, that's a bummer" Lily says before trying to leave. Maleficent grabs her daughters arm, stopping her and asks her to wait a little while longer, supposing things could look differently in a week. "Send me a postcard" she tells her mother before leaving the diner. Maleficent is left devastated.

Act IV

420 14
Maleficent requests assistance.

Snow White opens the door to her apartment and is terrified to see Maleficent standing at the other side, "David..." she timidly calls out. Charming comes to the door and the witch assures them that she's not here to kill them as she just wants her daughter. A confused David asks if Lily isn't with her, so Maleficent explains that she's leaving. "And you think we can help" Snow realises before inviting the witch into their home. As she enters, she points out that the couple enacted the second curse before asking if there's a way to seal the border like Regina did. Snow explains that she doesn't know how to do what she wants, but it wouldn't be the right way anyway, because if Lily is upset then you have to get to the heart of what's wrong. "I don't know what's wrong, I don't know her" an upset Maleficent states. David recognises that she's acting like Emma did when she first arrived and her "walls" were always up. Snow explains that Emma was worried to open herself up to her because she was afraid she'd let her down like everyone else had...even though she ultimately did. Maleficent begs if they have any way to help, because they didn't bring her back "back then", but if they can help they should do it now. Snow agrees to help and then tells David to come with her.

420 15
Regina comes to talk.

Meanwhile, Lily is sat at a bus stop outside the Dark Star Pharmacy. "Thought I might find you here", Regina says, approaching her, "Fair warning, bus service in these parts can be spotty. It's going to be a wait" she goes on to warn her. Lily rudely tells the former mayor that it isn't her problem before telling her to "shove off". Regina points out that "that mouth" must have got her a lot of attention at the group home before explaining it doesn't work here. She sits down beside the girl as she tells her to "listen up", explaining that she's got some talking to do. Lily looks at Regina with slight worry in her eyes.

420 16
Regina gets herself a new dress.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Regina is in her chambers in the Dark Palace, sat in front of a mirror as her father brushes her hair. The sound of footsteps approach them and a puzzled Henry turns and is left speechless to see Cora approaching them, back from Wonderland. "Yes, hello, get out Henry" she bluntly tells him before approaching her daughter. As Henry leaves, Regina asks why her mother is here. She explains that she found her "man" and he's on his way. Regina is left shocked and speechless as she's not ready. Cora smiles and brings her to a mirror before using her magic to change her hair and outfit. Regina is left in awe as she looks at her new dress, realising her mother remembered she adores the color of the dress. "I can't believe you did all this" she tells her mother, who assures her in return that she's learned. Regina thanks her mother for the dress so Cora tells her she's welcome before telling her to turn around and meet the man. Regina turns to see a man with a lion tattoo approaching her, but it's not Robin, it's the Sheriff of Nottingham dressed in disguise...but she doesn't know this. "Your majesty" he says before greeting her with a kiss on the hand. Cora claims she'll leave the two of them alone and tells them to enjoy their evening together. As she walks away, Regina smiles before heading off with her "true love".

420 17
Cora's plan is foiled.

A short while later, Regina and the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is disguised as Robin Hood, are stood in the gardens of the Dark Palace as the former explains the apple tree they're stood under used to be planted near where she grew up and there was a stable boy she used to like and they used to meet underneath it. The sheriff laughs that she's come up in the world since consorting with a lowly stable boy. "Have I? I don't feel like I've gone anywhere but down" she expresses, leading him to explain she just needs some manly arms to lift her up. He holds out his arms and she walks into them as he tells her to let him be the strong one so she can be weak when she wants to be. "Weak?" she asks, offended, leading him to explain he meant "feminine". "Manly arms like these?" she asks, grabbing his arms. He begins to get aroused and leans in for a kiss, but is stopped in agonising pain when she uses her magic to make his lion tattoo glow. It turns into a small black lion on his arm and as it roars, she comments it wasn't a real tattoo, but it was magic, asking who put it on there. As the lion crawls up his arm, causing him pain, she asks if it was her mother and he immediately confirms it was and that she told him to pretend to be her soul mate so he could be king. He begs for her to get the lion off him, but Regina simply questions what her mother would get out of this. He begs again for her to get rid of the lion, but she demands to know what Cora would get from this. He explains that she wanted Regina to have a child, and with that, she gets rid of the lion, asking "What?!". He repeats that she wanted Regina to have a child but he doesn't know why. Regina is furious.

420 18
Regina gets herself some dark blood.

Back in the present, Regina is still sat with Lily at the bus stop as the former explains the latter knows about Snow and Charming banishing her and putting Emma's potential darkness inside her. Lily continues that they sent her through a portal in her eggshell like baby Moses in his basket, "And unless you have any ideas about giving them what they deserve..." she growls before being cut off by Regina, who tells her not to worry about what they deserve, "Let's work on what we deserve". Lily claims that she deserves them dead, Regina smiles, realising that she really does have darkness inside her. She points out that some of that darkness belongs to Emma and right now it's getting riled up, and riled up savior darkness is exactly what she needs. "The only thing you need, lady, is to get out of my way" Lily hisses, leading Regina to sarcastically comment that she thought they could have a civil conversation, "I should just cut to the chase" she says before suddenly pulling out a knife and cutting Lily's palm with it. Lily groans in pain and tells the witch she's out of her mind. Meanwhile Regina dips the blood covered knife into an ink pot, causing it to sparkle magically. "Welcome to Storybrooke" Regina smiles before puffing away in a cloud of smoke, leaving Lily behind in pain. She then begins to get angry and her eyes glow yellow.

420 19

A short while later, Charming and Snow are driving down a road on the outskirts of Storybrooke in the former's truck with Maleficent as their passenger. They're all quiet as they drive along the road, but suddenly the silence is broken when there's a massive roar in the distance. All their attention is turned to the sound and they begin looking for the source, but they don't seem to see anything...that is until David turns a corner and sees a huge dragon stood in the middle of the road. He slams on the breaks, stopping right in front of the dragon, which roars at them. "Lily...?" Maleficent asks, shocked. The dragon stands on its hind legs and then lets out another massive roar before taking off in the the sky, shaking the car as it does. As it flies away, Snow, Charming and Maleficent all look out the rear window, "Lily..." Maleficent calls out sadly.

Act V

420 20
Regina confronts Cora for her trickery.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Regina is sat in her chambers in the Dark Palace stirring a liquid in a glass cup as Cora walks up behind her, asking how the "it" went, wondering if "he's" still here. Regina confirms that he is and then uses her magic to show footage of the Sheriff hanging in the dungeon above fire from a mirror. Cora moans that she's having a tantrum and uses her magic to free the Sheriff, sending him home. Regina asks why she let him go, because surely she'd want someone else to suffer for what she did like usual. A puzzled Cora says she thought things were going well, but Regina explains that despite not having much love in her life, she knows he's not what a soul mate feels like. Cora tells her daughter that her actual soul mate is a "married, moralising sap" and the one she found is much better. Regina shakes her head with disappointment, "You were never interested in my happiness" she snarls.

420 21
Zelena lets her fears show.

Back in the present, Zelena is sat in her cell fiddling with the cuff that prevents her magical powers from being used when Regina and Isaac enter the room. As Regina greets her sister, the latter sarcastically acts pleased to have visitors and claims she'll put the kettle on. Regina gloats that she now has the author and the ink and she wants Zelena to witness the moment he writes her hearts desire, "See, this is my town. And this is my story. You've just been a supporting player this whole time" she adds. Zelena feigns a laugh and then points out she's not here to support Regina, as she's here to replace her, "Out with the old and in with the new" she creepily smiles. "Really? We'll see about that" Regina smiles, unnerving Zelena, who stands and asks what he's going to write. Regina smiles that she's given it a lot of thought and there's so many good options, but after much deliberation she's come up with the perfect ending for her.

420 22
Hook gives Emma some advice.

Meanwhile, Emma and Hook are sat by the coast looking onto the ocean when the former asks what she's looking at. "The horizon" Hook answers, leading Emma to ask if it's doing something. He tells her he thought she'd find it calming and she confirms it is, but adds that rum is too. He pulls out a bottle from his jacket and as she takes a swig, he explains that he can tell her heart is easy and he hopes its his job to protect her heart, even when nobody is physically trying to steal it. She assures him he won't have to stop her going after Gold because she's smarter than that, "He didn't turn my heart dark and I'm not going to fall into one of his traps". He reveals that he wasn't worried about him getting to her heart, but her parents. He tells her he wants to know if anything will be enough or if she'll be willing to lose them just to spite them, "Gimme back the rum" she sighs. As she continues drinking, he reminds her that her parents did a lot of good and turned themselves into heroes, and despite not owning up to what they did, it was because they were ashamed and wanted her to like them. Emma says she'd like them more knowing they turned themselves around, confessing to liking people who find their hearts along the way, referring to Hook. He continues to explain that they were trying to protect her twice, as before she was born they wanted to make her happy, and when they found her again they wanted to make her proud, "Do you want both those to be failures?" he asks, however Emma doesn't reply.

420 23

A while later, David, Snow and Maleficent are walking through the woods, tracking Lily in her dragon form. "It went this way" Charming points out, but Snow corrects him by saying its a "she", "Thank you" Maleficent says before expressing her worry, stating that you need to be taught to fly and she was way too low, "If one wing tip hit a tree she could be badly hurt". They come into an opening and stop when they eventually find her, laying in the grass in her dragon form. "She looks like me" Maleficent comments with some joy before walking towards her. The dragon slowly awakens and turns its attention to Maleficent so Snow warns her to be careful, "She's my daughter" she states. She begins running towards Lily, but Snow runs after Maleficent to stop her. David in turn runs to stop his wife as the dragon begins breathing fire uncontrollably. Maleficent stops as she reaches her daughter, but Snow runs past her, only to be pushed back by the dragon's tail, slamming her head into a rock. David and Maleficent attempt to run to an unconscious Snow's aid, but Lily breathes a line of fire in their way. She then takes off flying into the sky.

Act VI

420 24
Emma decides to forgive her mother, but what about her father?

David is holding a cloth to Snow's bleeding head as she lays against the rock she hit. Emma and Hook arrive at the scene and rush to Snow's aid as David explains she hit her head hard. As Emma looks at her mother's injury, she tells her to stay still as she heals it with magic. After being told the internal injuries will take time to heal, a concussed Snow apologises to her daughter for letting her down; Emma assures her she didn't. Snow points out that she was selfish and although Emma agrees, she says it needs to stop at some point. Snow promises that she'll never stop trying to protect her and Emma states that she needs to stop punishing her. "You do?" Snow asks, shocked, leading Emma to tell her mother that she's a hero and what happened doesn't change the good people they've become and what they are, "Which is what?" Snow asks. "My mum" Emma replies, understanding that she wanted to make her proud and even though she omitted the truth, she's only human. She explains that cutting Snow out of her life has only made her miserable, "Anyway, I miss you and I forgive you" she adds. Mother and daughter embrace in a hug, pleasing Charming and Hook who watch them.

420 25
Maleficent and Lily have a heart to heart conversation.

Meanwhile, Maleficent is walking through the woods following Lily. She comes across her daughter, still in dragon form, but losing control. As she breathes fire and roars, purple smoke surrounds her and she eventually turns back into her human self, sitting against a log holding her hand in pain. "Are you alright?" she asks Lily, who responds that she's not sure just yet. Maleficent sits beside her daughter and shows her the rattle, explaining that she was going to give it to her earlier but never got the chance. Lily takes it and looks at it, not knowing how to respond, "It's too late, isn't it?" a sad Maleficent asks, "You're too grown up for everything. You don't need me and I know that I'm not...not what you were hoping for" she finishes. Lily tells her mother she thought she'd be some "scary dragon bitch" and they'd go get their revenge, blasting those who did them wrong, "But you're just...this real person and you're so freakin' open it kills me" she adds, confusing Maleficent, who asks why it "kills" her. Lily explains it's because she wants a relationship and a future, "And anyone who's ever wanted that with me,'s never worked out. I've always let them down. I destroy everything that I touch. That darkness they put in me it's serious business". Maleficent assures her that she doesn't mind a little darkness before leaning in for a hug. After their embrace, Maleficent suggests her daughter stay for a week, "And I can teach you about being a scary dragon bitch" she promises jokingly. A happy Lily nods and agrees to stay for a week.

420 26
Regina tells Zelena what she plans on doing with her.

Back in Zelena's cell, the wicked witch tells Regina that she's just mad she has with Robin what she's always wanted; a child. Regina explains that she already has one; Henry, before explaining that she's mad Zelena is coming between them and trying to hurt her, "Now I'm going to see to it that you can never hurt anyone else again" she warns, scaring Zelena. She explains that Isaac will write her out of the story forever. Zelena smiles, thinking she's called Regina's bluff, stating she'd never take away Robin's baby. However, Regina says that's not how she'll look at it, because as far as everyone will be concerned, it'll be as though she never existed. A nervous Zelena asks if he can really just change their memories, so he confirms he can, stating that the "pen is mightier than the, well, everything". Regina smiles wickedly as she watches her sister begin to fear for herself, "I never knew our mother" Zelena begins, "But I imagine I'm getting to know her right now". Regina asks if that's so, so Zelena explains Cora put her in a basket and sent her to Oz, "She gave up a baby without even blinking an eye. And look at you now, you are exactly like her!" she yells, causing Regina to think.

420 27
Cora tries giving Regina some motherly advice.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Cora tells Regina that she'll never be happy as she doesn't know how, "But you understand power, and you're about to lose it. Your people want Snow White to be queen and unless you start building a dynasty she'll take back the kingdom and you'll lose it all" she goes on to warn. Regina then theorises that when she dies from a mysterious illness, her mother will be the one to control the child. "Well guess what mother, I found a way to keep that from ever happening" she reveals, holding up her glass. Cora asks what it is, so the evil queen explains that it's a potion to take away her "future claim on the royal line". Cora points out that her daughter isn't pregnant, but Regina tells her she never will be, "I won't be a baby mill for you, mother" she finishes. Cora laughs nervously, attempting to call her daughter's bluff, but Regina points out that she made it clear she doesn't think anyone is going to love her, "So why not make it official? After all...'love is weakness" she adds mockingly.

420 28
Regina makes herself barren to hurt her mother.

Cora admits that she was wrong about that and she thought the man was a good match, "I'm very sorry" she says before telling her daughter they both know she won't drink the potion, "So put it down and we can fix this". Regina asks her mother if she doesn't think she's strong enough to do this, but Cora calls her stupid if she thinks it'll make her strong to hurt herself. "Oh, it does if it hurts you more" Regina snarls before downing the potion. Cora watches with shock as Regina starts to feel the pain from the potion. She sits down and Cora rushes to her aid, but she screams at her to get out of her life. As Regina groans in pain, Cora explains that she really did come here to help her and she does love her, "I wanted you to have a child for your own sake, if I wanted to take your power I'd find a much more direct way. Now please take one last piece of motherly advice, I hope you learn what it's taken me a lifetime to realise about myself; the only one standing in the way of your happiness is you" she says before finally walking away. As Cora leaves, Regina stands and tells her go back to Wonderland because she doesn't need her.

420 29
Regina decides to spare Zelena.

Back in the present, in Zelena's cell, Isaac, as he holds his pen, asks Regina what she wants him to do as the ink is drying. "Nothing" Regina replies, giving the wicked witch a sight of relief. "You didn't know our mother Zelena, but I did, and yet we both suffered. She hurt you and she hurt me too. But our own worst enemy isn't her or each other, it's ourselves" she explains, giving Zelena food for thought. Suddenly, Robin enters the cell asking if everything is all right as he's been looking everywhere for Regina. She assures him everything is fine before stating she's tired of standing in the way of her own happiness, "And I'm not going to do it anymore" she promises. Zelena moans at the fact Regina is defining her happiness relative to the love of a man, but Regina tells her she's got it wrong, "Robin isn't my happy ending. My happy ending is finally feeling at home in the world" she explains, adding that Robin is just a part of that world. "A world that you're going to be forced to watch from a distance" she tells Zelena, "With the most restrictive visitation rights in history. See you at the next ultrasound" she smiles before turning her attention to Robin. Isaac clears his throat and asks if Regina doesn't want him writing anything, "No. I already have everything I need" she explains before kissing Robin. "Well I don't" the author claims, turning to his paper and writing something. When he rips the page out, he vanishes in a cloud of smoke, leaving the page he wrote behind. The trio are shocked and Regina reads the page which has "Vanishing in a cloud of smoke the author slips away with the ink to where Mr. Gold waits" written on it.

420 30
The story begins...

Over at Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, a weak Rumplestiltskin sits on the floor of the shop as Isaac, who has now appeared to him, holds the ink in front of him. "How?" the Dark One asks before changing his mind and saying he doesn't care how as it'll waste time. "That's what I thought" Isaac says before asking if Rumple is okay and going to his aid as he struggles to move. Rumple snaps, telling him to let go of him and go write. Isaac walks to a desk and asks what he'll write on. Rumple clicks his fingers and causes a black storybook, similar to Henry's storybook, to appear, titled "Heroes and Villains". As Isaac opens the pages and prepares his pen, Rumple states that it's time villains finally win. The Author begins writing into the book, starting his story with "Once Upon A Time..."

Deleted Scenes

"Things Can Change"

420 DS 01
Zelena in custody.

Zelena, with the anti-magic cuff having been slapped onto her wrist, is removed from a car by Regina and David, the latter of which continues to hold her in place while the Mayor reunites with her son. While she and Henry hug, he welcomes her home, and she smiles before he adds that he heard about what's going on and offers his condolences. She thanks him and he assures her that things can change, to which she says, "We'll see." Zelena tries and fails to remove her cuff and Robin asks his true love if she's sure the Wicked Witch can't get out of it, and the witch herself responds, "I would if I could, sweetheart." This last words invokes quite the angry reaction from Robin, who Regina assures of the cuff's validity. Robin then hugs Henry at the same time as Emma reunites with Hook, before being approached by Maleficent and Lily, the former of which explains that she's taking her daughter to Granny's Diner to catch up. Emma says that this is a good idea, before requesting a moment alone with Lily. It is then that she takes her old friend aside and reminds her that she's in her home now; she knows she has issues with her parents, but if she so much as makes a move against them then she is done.

420 DS 02
Lily gets a talking to.

"You expect me to believe you're gonna kill me?" Lily asks, "We just played that game, Emma." "I might not kill you," Emma replies, "But I have magic here and I think you'd make a lovely toad." Lily points out how much Emma's "grown up" before telling her to relax; "I hear you." She then approaches her estranged mother while Regina tells Robin that he can take Roland to her office; she keeps some basic supplies in the filing cabinet, and the forgetting potion is labelled with a question mark. He comments on the cleverness of this before requesting that she come with them; however, she refuses to let Zelena out of her sight until she's locked up with a few dozen protection spells between her and them. "Sheriff's station?" David asks, still clutching Zelena's arm, "Let's go." However Regina drags her sister by the other arm in the other direction, saying, "Sorry, I'm taking her alone. This is family business." "Technically I am your stepson-in-law," Charming tries, wanting to be relevant, but Regina tells him to back off, declaring that this is on her. Robin can be seen carrying Roland out of the car as Regina begins to haul Zelena over to the hospital. Robin approaches her quickly and says that he thinks they can still work out, and Zelena just laughs, sarcastically commenting on how "peachy" that would be. Regina tells him that if he thinks it's that easy then he doesn't know the story of her life.


420 Title Card
  • The title card of this episode features Lily in her dragon form, flying towards the screen.
    • Similar title cards involving different dragons are featured in the episodes "The Shepherd" and "Unforgiven".
  • Although credited, Emilie de Ravin (Belle French/Belle) and Michael Socha (Will Scarlet) are absent from this episode.
    • However, the former had been featured in promotional pictures of the episode, so her scenes were likely cut along with that of Raphael Alejandro (Roland).
    • Furthermore, Beverley Elliott (Granny) is credited in the episode's official press release but not in the episode itself, despite appearing in the background of one scene.
  • According to Jane Espenson and Lana Parrilla in DVD commentary, the original opening scene to this episode was the present day exchange between Regina and Robin in the bar (which was meant to be the same bar in which Emma talked to Neal in "Manhattan"), but it was swapped around in editing. The final flashbacks where Regina drinks the infertility potion were originally one long flashback as well.
  • According to DVD commentary, it was the idea of Lana Parrilla to have Prince Henry be brushing his daughter's hair, because she wanted to emphasize their personal relationship. In the original script, he was simply looking over contracts and such.
  • Also according to DVD commentary, Regina's date with the Sheriff of Nottingham originally took place out in the meadows where the Queen earlier ruined a wedding. The Sheriff would have inquired as to why there was rice on the ground, which was seen being dropped in the opening scene.




The episode remained flat from the previous episode but had an increase with a 1.7/6 among 18-49s with 5.31 million viewers tuning in, retaining its lead among scripted programs in the 8 p.m. timeslot, although they were second among Sunday Night programs.


The episode was met with positive reviews.

  • Hilary Busis of Entertainment Weekly noted "The Once team sure loves an antepenultimate episode that neatly wraps up a half season's-worth of story arcs, then pivots at the last second to pave the way for a two-hour finale that's meant to feel like its own semi-standalone movie—don't they? That strategy makes sense, of course; if you're going to spend the last two hours of a season writing alt-universe fanfiction about your own alt-universe fanfiction, you may as well make sure that it won't get bogged down with resolving issues like Emma's relationship with her parents and Maleficent's relationship with her daughter and Regina's relationship with her sister. (Pattern alert!) Getting all those things out of the way mean that next week's mega-sized blowout will be free to follow its own path, maybe even without having to waste time on a fairyback. Unfortunately, it also meant that this week's hour felt more like table setting than a main course."[2]
  • Amy Ratcliffe of IGN said of the episode, "Tonight's Once Upon a Time melded the past with the present seamlessly and made Regina a more layered character. Even though we watched her crush a human heart with her bare hands, the flashback also managed to make her more relatable. She and others acted in unexpected ways but because it made sense and not merely for the sake of switching it up." Ratcliffe gave the episode a 8.4 rating out of 10.[3]
  • In a review from, Nick Roman cites "“Mother” is a bit subdued when you consider this is the penultimate episode of the season. But taken in isolation, it's one of the best standalone episodes of Once Upon A Time this season, at least from a thematic standpoint. The notion that happiness is couched in the connections we make, and the love we foster through family ties, is significant enough, but it becomes far more profound when you consider that, ultimately, the only Author that can write our happy ending is us."[4]
  • Christine Orlando of TV Fanatic gave the episode a 4.7 out of 5 stars.[5]


Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.

External Links


  1. Adam Horowitz tweet.
  2. "Once Upon a Time recap: 'Mother'" from Entertainment Weekly (May 3, 2015)
  3. "Once Upon a Time: "Mother" Review" from IGN (May 3, 2015)
  4. "‘Once Upon A Time’ Review: 'Lily' Brings Dragons, Fire, and Blood" from (May 3, 2015)
  5. "Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 21 Review: Mother" from TV Fanatic (May 3, 2015)
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