Once Upon a Time “Darkness on the Edge of Town” Review (Season 4 Episode 12)


Once Upon A Time is finally back and if Rumplestiltskin has his way, it’s time for the rise of the villains. You immediately know from the idyllic music and how happy everybody seems (including Regina) in the intro that something bad is coming. While fairy tales are all about happy endings, they never seem to stick for the residents of Storybrooke. Let’s use the theme of good versus bad to break down this episode.

Many of the formerly contentious relationships have turned around. Emma and Hook are a solid, happy couple, Henry is being nice to Regina, and even Emma and Regina are pals. I really prefer this dynamic of the core group against the outsiders. I also may have uttered an “awww” when we saw Hook and Emma together.

I know it won’t last, but it feels like all is right in Storybrooke. Even though Belle’s heart is broken, she finally understands Gold’s true nature. Regina is mayor once again. The team is able to figure out how to release the fairies from the Sorcerer’s hat. The only thing missing was a reunion of Robin Hood and Regina. With the picture in Regina’s drawer, we at least got a nugget of hope that they’ll be reunited one day. The sweetest moment was Hook telling Belle that as horrible as Rumple was, he did love her. That was pretty generous of him to say considering his relationship with Rumple.

Of course, everything can’t stay happy in Storybrooke. Gold teams up with Cruella de Vil and Ursula. Victoria Smurfit is a fantastic Cruella. I loved her makeup, her wardrobe, and her car. I’m looking past the fact that 101 Dalmatians wasn’t at all magical and will just roll with this character entering the Once Upon a Time parade of Disney characters.

I also liked the use of Fantasia’s Demon in the Mountain, aka Chernabog, as the immediate threat to the town’s safety. The imagery of him on top of the clock tower was spot on from the original of him on the mountain. It was good that they didn’t string him out over more than one episode. The CGI was a little patchy. It was fairly obvious that he was going after Emma and not Regina. We saw with the Snow Queen that there’s a potential danger with Emma’s powers. I can see next season being about saving Emma from the dark side.

We see a similar darkness with Snow. She’s done some bad things in the past, like killing Regina’s mother, but it looks like there’s more we don’t know about. She and Charming had some kind of secret dealings back in the Enchanted Forest. It’ll be interesting to find out more about that.

There were more funny moments in this episode than we’ve had in the past. I loved Gold squatting in Ursula’s apartment, eating all of her Ramen. I also liked when Cruella drove them through the fast food drive-thru. Regina got several great one-liners, including, “I suppose we should go out and see what’s killing property values this time,” and, “Can we drop the ‘E’ word already?”

I hate the Enchanted Forest era Ursula costume. The wig is so ridiculous and it looks like a costume from a discount Halloween store. She looks more silly than scary. She looked even more ridiculous with the cheesy tentacle special effects in the cave. This show must be lucrative enough to invest in some better special effects.

I am super happy that we’re moving on from the Snow Queen and hope that the villainesses can reinvigorate the second half of the season. One thing you have to wonder, if Regina can change, why can’t the other three ladies? I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the author.