Recap by Zach Van Norman - @TheZachVan
We begin with a flashback to December 1966, when Isaac first chose the quill and became the Author. In present-day Storybrooke, Isaac and Mr. Gold discuss what to do about Baelfire while Emma and the other heroes free the Apprentice from the hat, but Isaac completes the new story and everyone except Henry disappears. Henry finds Isaac at a book signing/convention and uses the magic key to enter “Heroes & Villains,” learning from Isaac that bells will signal the end of the book and the new reality becoming permanent. He is rescued from an ogre by Rumplestiltskin the Knight and finds Regina living as a bandit, convincing her to find Robin Hood so that True Love’s Kiss can end the new reality and send them all home. Isaac, who also entered the book, finds the Evil Queen Snow White and her dark husband Charming and warns them about Henry and Regina before demanding their deaths as payment for knowledge of their location. Later, Regina tries to rob a carriage but finds Snow White inside, who nearly kills Regina with a magical fireball before Robin Hood rides in and saves her. They go to a local tavern and Regina seems to have feelings for him, but Zelena arrives and it is revealed that she and Robin are to be married that day. Regina leaves and tells Henry that Robin is to be married, and Henry realizes that the wedding bells are the signal Isaac spoke of earlier. He begs Regina to try again and she tells him to go away, but when he mentions Emma’s nickname of “the Savior,” Regina reveals she’s heard of a woman with that name, locked away in a tower by Snow White. Emma is revealed in her tower, chained to the floor and in great distress.
Recap by Lori Fitzgerald - @MedievalLit
"Mother" is an intricately crafted episode exploring the core Once Upon a Time themes of family relationships and happiness. It is amazing how many truths about the human condition are found "this side of the fictional realms," and it is truly a testament to the brilliant writing of Jane Espenson as well as the show's overall vision.
As soon as we see the black carriage thundering down the road, we know we are about to witness the Evil Queen in all her dark glory. True to form, Regina interrupts a wedding ceremony, taking the groom's heart because they are on royal land without her permission. Her father knows the real reason behind her actions: today is the anniversary of Daniel's death, and Regina cannot bear to see another couple gain the happiness that she lost. But when he tries to counsel her against her actions, saying that she needs the citizens' support and they may view her as weak and short-sighted, Regina flies into a rage. She crushes the groom's heart, just as callously as Daniel's was crushed.
Regina then proceeds to visit Daniel's grave and discovers a yellow rose...and Cora! The yellow rose is a symbol of friendship, and later in the episode Regina discovers that her mother has returned from Wonderland with a "friendly" peace offering: she wants to help Regina find her soul mate.
We cut to Robin and Regina in a New York bar, both looking positively devastated. Regina is upset because "understanding and seeing are two different things." (No kidding.) Robin is worried about his son, who Regina will help with a forgetting potion, and he is angry that Zelena killed Marian "like she was nothing." Regina seems hopeless, but Robin is the one who insists they can move forward from this. This conversation is almost a summary of a theme we have seen throughout Once: relationships are messy.
"What do we do now?"
Go back to Storybrooke, of course. Go back to home...and family.
Hook gleefully informs the "toothless old dog" (Gold) of Emma's imminent return as Gold and the Author eat breakfast at Granny's. This is a problem, as the ink needs to be governed by Emma's dark impulses. Gold is having serious heart issues now, and later in the episode we see it is almost completely black.
The yellow bug returns. I always love Once's reunion scenes; to me, they really portray the heart of the show... the characters finding each other, and finding themselves in the journey. Emma has hugs for Hook and Henry...but still not for Snow, who you can tell is hurting terribly but trying not to show it. And here is a new reunion: Maleficent's face is suffused with hope as she sees her daughter for the first time. Lily looks doubtful. It is almost a mirror of the "reunion" in Season 2 when Snow realizes who Emma is ("You found us") and Emma looks so uncomfortable.