Like it or not, this seems to be one of the themes running through the current arc of OUAT. We, as viewers, tend to want to assume that within their universe, the characters are acting organically. We know that they are doing only what the writers make them do, but we do not like to be reminded of that. This Author storyline is controversial at least partly because we now must question how much free will these characters have had in their lives. I am beginning to think there might be an overall reason for this, something yet to be fully explained. I am not at all sure, if I am right, that everybody’s going to like it. It’s very unsettling to have a story line about an Apprentice who can facilitate the removal of two infants’ free will, especially if his own free will is compromised in the process by the Author. However, it’s appearing to me, for better or worse, that this is what the writers of Once Upon a Time now expect us to believe. I hope they aren’t using the Author as an excuse upon whom to blame some of their own less successful ideas, but that may be a matter for a different post.
In the past, we are told that Snow and Charming somehow managed to stuff all of Emma’s darkness in Maleficent’s egg. This doomed child, whom we now know to be Lily, was then sent to our world with no guardian to protect her. At the time that we first meet her, she is a warm friend to Emma, but she’s also deceitful, and her lies ruin that friendship because Emma cannot forgive her.
Emma says later of this decision that she regrets abandoning Lily. “Once you screw somebody over, there’s no going back.”
All over the internet I am seeing people protest the idea that Emma was forced to grow up good, that her heroism is not an inherent byproduct of her own desire to be virtuous. I understand. Given her nightmarish childhood, the constant betrayals and opportunities for despair, Emma’s choice to be a good person was always a big reason for her enormous appeal. It’s an attribute bordering on sacred for Savior, and we want to believe that it was self-made. If the arc persists on informing us that her parents forced her to be virtuous, it’s going to be really disappointing to a lot of people.
I must assume for the moment, whether we like it or not, that this is actually the direction the narrative is headed. You see, I think Lily isn’t just here again because the writers decided it would be nice for Emma to get a chance to reunite with her friend. I think there’s more to it.
If Emma has been forced to be good, then Lily has been forced to be bad. Now, listen to the description of her character from TV Line.
” a charismatic and fiercely independent woman who “easily wraps others into her schemes.” Yet despite her “penchant for troublemaking,” the casting notice reads, “Autumn” “just wants to be loved.” Alas, her misguided methods typically wind up alienating those she loves most.
So, what happens to a character who has been forced to bear more than her share of darkness? She schemes, causes trouble, and drives people away from her, even as she longs for love.
That’s not just Lily, folks. She’s been cursed with darkness, but she’s not the only lonely person out there with this problem. She’s a guest character, appearing for a handful of episodes, but he’s been here all along.
Lily is mirroring Rumplestiltskin.
She had darkness forced into her against her will, and so did he.Snow and Charming essentially gave her a diluted version of the Dark One Curse. (If you don’t like it, don’t throw the tomatoes at me! I did not write this arc! I am just trying to figure it out!)
I have been firmly of the opinion for some time now that we are in the middle of Rumplestiltskin’s final redemption arc, the chain of events that will lead to Belle breaking his Curse and setting him free. The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale is finally concluded. I think the writers will be using Lily, forced into darkness, to illuminate his situation and help the audience understand that he’s not a Villain by his own choosing. The Curse has poisoned his soul as the nasty little antics at Lily’s egg have poisoned hers, and mercy is in order for both of them.
Emma will forgive Lily for lying to her, and Lily will forgive Emma for abandoning her. There’s a direct mirror here, too: Belle will forgive Rumple for lying to her, and he will forgive her for banishing him.
I also think Lily and Rumplestiltskin will also have the excessive amount of darkness in their souls released at last. Lily will go off with her mother, and Rumple will hang out in his shop with his wife and get ready for all the crap about to go down in Season Five.
It’s an arc about forgiveness - not just about killing the Big Bad du jour. (Although I think that’s probably Zelena; I’ll be stunned if anybody lets that dangerous sociopath out alive this time.)
Since a lot of people would prefer to be that Rumple is a Villain because of his own choices as well, this may not be a universally acclaimed decision, but it does fit my vision of what I think that Curse means for him. Still, he’s been dogged with the question of free will his entire life, hasn’t he? The Seer told him he’d leave Baelfire fatherless. He became the Dark One to save his kid, and lost him anyway. He’s got an artifact that can take away his free will entirely. He spent an entire arc in a cage. Now, it all seems to be coming to a head.
Rumplestiltskin - Doomed to be a Villain, no matter what he does. And when he turns to prophecy, what does he foretell? The birth and coming of a Savior, also fated to a certain role without her permission or knowledge.
Emma - Forced to be the Savior, no matter what she wants.
Ying and yang, light and dark, female and male, young and old. Bound together by three people. One was Baelfire, later Neal, whom they both loved. The other is Hook, Emma’s (likely) True Love, and Rumple’s most hated, ancient enemy. The last is Henry, the only blood relative of them both, the boy who ties together all the quarreling strands of this strange and fractious family.
Remember also those spoilers we saw of Emma up against some CGI horror as yet to be revealed, poking at the damned (literally) thing with the Dagger. There’s some speculation that she will be the Dark One in Season Five, and if that’s how it turns out, then the circle will have come all the way around. The Savior will be the Dark One, and the former Dark One…(possibly now the Sorcerer), might just have to figure out how to save the Savior.
Oh, yeah, there you go, poking at dark things because you’re trying to save the people you love, and now look what a mess you are in, Emma.
Been there. Done that. Got the leather pants. You’ve got the jacket.
Of course, if that happens, she’ll have an advantage in battling the darkness that no Dark One has ever had before. Not only does she have a LARGE circle of people who love her, who will stay by her side, there’s going to be somebody in her family who understands exactly what she’s facing and might just have a clue as to the best way to battle it.
And the Final Battle Will Begin!