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Once Upon a Time: Sympathy for the De Vil

“People always underestimate a girl in diamonds and furs, don’t they?”

It’s been apparent for a while the Once Upon a Time has been playing by a certain set of rules. It never really crosses certain boundaries even when it hints heavily that it will. ‘Sympathy for the De Vil’ surprised me even more so than last week when it changed all that and took an oddly disturbing turn.

It’s an impressive choice to have Cruella take a different path to the multitude of villains before her, who had some epiphany or another and realised the error of their ways. It is the Storybrooke way after all. Instead, we learned that she’s not some misunderstood and mistreated orphan; she’s just a plain psychopath who killed her own father (for whatever reason) and every other man who came after him, before eventually offing her stepmother.

Part of me is disappointed that she ended up dying at the close of the episode. What we learned here was leaps and bounds ahead of Ursula’s flat back-story. It could have proved fascinating to have her wandering around Storybrooke, completely defenceless and unable to do what comes naturally to her, with everyone aware of the fact that she can’t do anything to hurt them. Would it have changed her? Given what we know about psychopaths, probably not, but I’m going to miss Victoria Smurfit more than the majority of past guest stars this show has had.

Cruella’s death did push Emma into the darkest territory she’s ever been in. Thanks in part to Snow and Charming’s betrayal, Emma was in the right frame of mind to do anything to protect her son, just as those other two numpties did for Emma 30 years (?) ago. It’s convincingly brought this whole turning the saviour dark thing into more conceivable ground. Things seem to be playing right into Rumple’s hands now.

Everything about what the author can do is a bit of a mess. It’s hard to understand the whole “realm of story” thing, but it does help to explain the whole Wonderland/Victorian England/Storybrooke confusion from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I liked how the author fit so well into Cruella’s history as well, and what he did to pacify her was pretty clever. I’d like to see him get fleshed out as much as possible before he leaves.


I loved that scene where Cruella provoked Maleficent into turning into a dragon.

Regina is on her way to New York to save Robin. Or at least, she was until she was sidetracked with Henry’s kidnapping. I can’t wait for the two sisters to face off again.

I’m a little unsure about how Zelena has magic in New York. Emma made sure to remind Regina that she would be powerless when she got there. Was it the clover necklace that gave Zelena the ability to do magic outside of Storybrooke?

Cruella playing Angry Birds is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on this show.

He Said, She Said

The Author: “I spend too much time recording life, and not enough time living it.”

‘Sympathy for the De Vil’ is one of the strongest episodes of Once that I’ve seen in a while. Confusing mythology aside, it was still an intriguing and exciting exploration of a completely different side to the worlds, or “realms of story” that we’ve seen. It was also the darkest and most compelling character driven episode the show has ever produced. I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about Cruella and her amazing car for a while.

4.5 out of 5 magic quills

Originally posted at PandaTV.


  1. RIP Cruella, you will be most missed.
    (Although odds are she might show up in flashbacks, ala Lost"

  2. Keep in mind folks, we thought Zelena was dead too. I'm not saying they're gonna be bringing her back, but Cruella became very popular in a very short time, I've got to think if one of the writers pitches an idea to bring her back, they'll give it some thought.

    I wasn't keen on Regina threatening to crush Belle's heart, though a part of me wonders if Belle volunteered to be used in that way. The Regina we know now isn't the sort to be ripping out someone's heart against their will and holding it hostage.

    Oh, and the question of Zelena using magic in New York, pretty sure they covered that. I don't think we've seen Zelena us any magic in NYC except for being able to shapeshift, which is what that pendant lets her do. She said something in the last episode about magical objects retaining their power(I don't know if it only applies to objects that arrived through certain means or what, I'd have to re-watch).

    As for how Regina would get back in, I assume she'd use that same scroll they loaned to the Queens Of Darkness to allow their entrance into town. Hopefully Our Heroes weren't so foolish that they didn't demand its return...

  3. Patrick, I thought that about Zelena too, but I kept coming around to the idea that magic doesn't exist outside of Storybrooke, period. Maybe the pendant thing is some sort of loophole since its self-contained. Will she be able to accomplish more than just shapeshifting with it?

    Agree with what you said about Cruella coming back. Is her popularity a common thing in the Once fandom?

  4. Panda, everything I've seen suggests folks have been enjoying Cruella. I know I did, Victoria Smurfit seemed to have a blast playing her and it showed on screen, same with Rebecca Mader & Zelena.

  5. That's good to know, and I'd personally love to see her back, but if Cruella did return it might ruin the brutality of what happened here.

  6. That'd be my concern too, Panda. Emma being pushed to the point where she'd kill like that is a Major Event, if they undo it they risk trivializing the event itself. Now, one could argue that bringing Cruella back doesn't change the fact that Emma's heart was darkened enough that she could kill like that, but it still takes some of the impact away. Plus, it would be easier for Emma to recover if she knew the consequences of her act weren't permanent.

    It's different with the undoing of Zelena's death, because it really wasn't so shocking that Rumple would secretly go back and kill her, especially considering what happened to Neal.

    My biggest concern right now is how they're going to conclude this whole storyline about the Author(s). A lot of this story seems to have to do with the idea of free will and people having their fate determined by others, rather than being given the freedom to forge their own path. The Author has been imposing his will on characters rather than simply recording their stories, the Charmings tried to determine Emma's fate for her rather than trust in their ability to be good parents and teach her to make wise decisions for herself. As much as I want Regina to get her Happily Ever After, what I really want is for her to have the freedom to attain it, without anyone putting their thumb on the proverbial scale.

  7. I think that's something that the show is kind of going for. With everyone "forcing" their happy endings, and the author tampering with them, it'll probably be made clear that happy endings are only given to those who deserve them. That's how Regina will get hers, when she stops trying to make it happen and just does what's right. Maybe saving Robin Hood from Zelena will give her what she wants.

    Great comments Patrick, always nice to read them.

  8. Rumple said in a previous episode that magical objects retain their magic even in a world without magic. Zelena is using the clover thing to turn herself into Marian. (Although I find it odd that she looks like herself in a mirror. Has Robin never spotted her reflection this whole time?)

    The thing that bothered me about this episode was that Emma is supposedly darkened by killing Cruella in order to save Henry's life. That's not dark; that's doing her job as sheriff. Because she didn't know that Cruella couldn't kill, the fact that Cruella was "helpless" is irrelevant. If someone has a gun to another person's head and you kill the person with the gun to save the other person, you didn't commit murder regardless of whether or not the gun was loaded.


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