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Once Upon a Time: Darkness on the Edge of Town

“It’s time the villains got their happy endings.”

‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ was Once Upon a Time doing everything right. The dialogue felt comfortable, the character interactions natural and the new arc was set up in a fun and interesting way that makes it feel different than everything that’s been done before.

It’s been tradition for a sole villain to plague the series for an arc, but bringing together three bad guys (both new and familiar) gives the show an opportunity to go in multiple directions. Each villain has a lot of exciting potential in terms of history and past encounters with the established characters as well, if that ominous meeting between the Charmings and the Queens was anything to go by. I hope it’s something super seedy; make Snow and David interesting again, show!

Even though those two feel like a drain right now, almost everyone else is working incredibly well together. In particular Regina and Emma are a powerhouse when they’re brought together. Rumple’s warning about Emma’s potential for darkness could mean she and Regina will find even more of a reason to bond, and that’s a very good thing.

Rumple building himself up from the bottom is an interesting concept, even if it’s one that shouldn’t have been able to happen in the first place. That opening scene with him and Ursula cramped into a tiny New York apartment just goes to show how far he’s fallen, but like he said, he managed to bring himself and his team back from the dead, so to speak, and all without his magic and nobody to help. Who knows what he’ll do now that he’s back at full power.

He Said, She Said

Ursula: “How are you?”
Regina: “Mostly wondering how a plate of undercooked calamari ended up with the Dark One’s cell phone.”
The best fish pun of the episode.

Regina: “What make you choose yellow?!”
Emma: “What?”
Regina: “Your bug? Yellow? Bold choice.”
Emma: “I like yellow... I stole it... Is this really the time to question my taste?!”

I like this fresh start. We’ve entered a new chapter in Once’s history and I feel like it could be a lot of fun if it’s done right. Judging by this premiere I really think that’s possible.

4 out of 5 fish puns

Originally posted at PandaTV.


  1. I enjoyed this quite a bit too, and it definitely felt like the beginning of a new era for the show, but also contains the promise of new revelations about the origins of the story as well. Rumple teamed up with the "Queens Of Darkness" to obtain the Dark Curse in the first place? Interesting...

    I know some people aren't keen on the idea that Cruella de Vil is actually a sorceress of some kind, but I love it(c'mon, how could you not love that "desperation and gin" crack from the end of Season 4a?), and Victoria Smurfit looks great in the role.

    My favorite part of the episode was probably the camaraderie between Emma and Regina. I love that they're still snarky with each other but not actually hostile, and don't seem to be in any real danger of becoming so anymore. With everything they've been through, it was time to move past that. And with the themes it looks like they're about to explore in upcoming episodes, there's a chance for some real bonding between these two.

    This episode did have a couple of missteps, though. First off, we have an episode where our team of villains travels to Bald Mountain, and there's not one but TWO battles with Chernabog, and we don't hear the "Night On Bald Mountain" music from Fantasia? C'mon, guys! Even if for some bizarre reason you can't get the actual track from the movie, the music itself is public domain.

    Second, I know they wanted to surprise us with the fact that Emma is the one with the most potential for darkness, but even if the producers hadn't been telling us that relentlessly in interviews promoting Season 4b, I saw the twist coming a mile away, especially when Regina poofed out of the car and Chernabog kept smashing at the windshield. That being said, I look forward to seeing them explore what this means for Emma, and how Regina might be able to help.

    Third, the big "surprise" with regard to Snow & Charming and whatever past they have with Ursula & Cruella(and possibly Maleficent). Again, the producers spoiled the heck out of this twist in their press rounds. I suppose we can be grateful that these two big surprises they spoiled were revealed in this first episode back. And yeah, I do hope this leads to the Charmings becoming more interesting as characters. I just hope it doesn't feel forced. Like in a "hey, let's give this soap opera character a secret past as a crackwhore so they'll suddenly be all edgy & stuff" way.

    I also wish they'd widen the character base back up, especially now that some of the more recent additions have left town. More dwarves, more Dr. Hopper etc. and for heaven's sake sign whatever deal you need to and BRING BACK RUBY!

  2. >> heaven's sake sign whatever deal you need to and BRING BACK RUBY!


  3. I was actually surprised. Cruella was what I liked most of the group. The one bad..no.. Horrible thing is Ursula. My God what a miscast!!!. Ursula was big..not just phusically...in that she loved what she did and was a scene stealer. Very much like rumple in a way. This..ughhh just booooring. forgettable..awefull

  4. >> heaven's sake sign whatever deal you need to and BRING BACK RUBY!

    > Amen.

    Amen x 1000

  5. Oh, hey, look! A show I've actually caught up on and am viewing at the same time as you guys! Yay. (:

    I think one thing OUAT does wrong is that it introduces way too many characters and we do not get to spend enough time with each of them. So many characters just randomly dissapear (*cough* Red Riding Hood *cough*) and then reappear out of nowhere like oh! The fairies are once again important to our arc! Bring 'em in! And where have the dwarfs been? The Charmings themselves have been a bore for quite a while, and they don't get enough screen time. Considering the star studded cast this show has, you'd think characters would have more to do! On the other hand, though, I can comprehend the difficulty of managing to fit in all their characters into the forty minute time limit. It's just the gaping plot holes and inconsistencies and questionable character decisions are getting a bit much. Not to mention the terrible CGI quality.

    One more thing that irks me is that Rumple is evil once more.After his redemption arc last season, I find it tiresome that we're going back to the I'm-in-love-with-darkness bull crap once more. I far better enjoy Regina's arc this season, I love how much she has evolved from her first scene. Another thing the show IS doing right, I suppose, is the relationship between Hook and Emma. (SWOOON.) Like dayumn they're adorable! Casual hand-holding! Morning strolls and kisses! Doe-eyed looks! I'm eating up all the Captain Swan feels here guys.

    I like these 3 villianesses, let's just hope we get to explore their motives. OUAT takes it's villains very seriously, so much so that our main characters often take a back seat for the sake of villain development, let's just hope they do it right this time! I still hate the face that Cruella is some sort of animal-controlling witch. Like, um. Where did that come from? All she wanted was fur coats, right? Oh well. I'm not going to judge, and I can deal with bad CGI bc I'm a Buffyholic, so let's see where they take us.

  6. I loved this episode! Thought it was one of the best so far this season. Ursula so far is just okay but Cruella DeVille is amazing! Just perfect casting right there and everything she says is just so... Cruella.

    The moment where you see her car (sadly slghtly spoiled by it being the mysterious object in the title card this week) was such a "F**k yeah!" kick-arse moment! Kind of like when you see the Aston Martin DB5 in James Bond's garage in Skyfall... only without the continuity errors that went with that movie.

    Also her terrible driving of it brought such a smile to my face. I've always overlooked 101 Dalmations as the animation for it looks so cheap compared to the sheer perfection that was Sleeping Beauty the film previous, but Cruella here makes me want to go back and watch the Disney movie.


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