Heading into a two-week hiatus, Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 17 gave fans plenty to ponder, answering a number of questions and setting up what ought to be an exciting stretch run to come.
Via flashback, for instance, a peddler convinced Snow and Charming to visit the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He offered them a guaranteed way for their baby to be good:
By transferring any potential darkness into another “living vessel.”
So why not use the egg that dragon Maleficent recently laid, presuming it contained a small similar animal? However, a pair of tragic surprises ensued:
First, he’s transporting the vessel to another realm (making it impossible to return this tarnished egg to Mommy); and, second, there’s a HUMAN baby inside. They all discovered this just prior to the egg tumbling into a portal.
Answer #1: this is how Charmings lost Maleficent her child, and also how the other Queens of Darkness landed in our realm.
Following this incident, Snow is feeling pretty darn terrible, prompting David to comfort his love by saying all they can do going forward is to spread hope and faith and be the best people they can be.
Answer #2: this is why the Charmings are so darn pure.
In Storybrooke, Regina was pressured by Rumpelstiltskin to procure the illustration of the door. Unsatisfied with a cell phone picture of it, the Dark One insisted on the real item.
That lead to a showdown with storybook-toting “Henry Daniel Mills,” who (thankfully) understood his mother’s message and turned over the forged illustration that Emma conjured up previously.
But Rumple (who visited sleep-spelled Belle briefly and promised to return for her after he changed the rules) was not easily fooled by the fake-out.
He proceeded to have Maleficent knockout Regina, confident that when she awakens, he'll possess something that will force the Evil Queen to do his bidding forever.
Meanwhile, Snow and David came clean, telling Emma about her darkness. She got sad for a bitand then Hook lured Emma back to see August, who had woken up from his slumber.
From there, Emma showed August the illustration and the key Henry was led to inside the Sorcerer’s mansion, only for August say the Author is not a person… but a job.
It has been held by a host of witnesses and recorders of the greatest stories ever told. (Think of the Island Keeper on Lost.)
The last person to hold the gig ended up locked inside the book because the Sorcerer realized he was manipulating people/stories in a wicked fashion.
Still, Emma views this Author’s potential to change everything up, so they used the key to release him from the illustration… and it’s the peddler! (Answer #3: hello, Author!).
He quickly gave this roomful of heroes the slip and off her went... to who knows where.
Finally, as you’ll witness when you watch Once Upon a Time online, Maleficent forced Rumple to reveal the fate of her child. We’re then treated to another flashback of a man from our realm holding a newly-adopted baby girl. His names her… Lily.
Answer #4: WHOA!