The second half of Once Upon a Time's season four started off with a weak episode - but the story has been picking up momentum in the subsequent weeks, and with episode 14, "Enter the Dragon," things start to get really good - and SPOILERIFIC! You've been warned.
Regina goes undercover to infiltrate the Queens of Darkness, we thankfully get very little of Ursula, and our flashbacks are to the first team-up with Regina and Maleficent. Let's be honest, Maleficent's back story benefits greatly from the recent Angelina Jolie movie, although it gets in own twist - Aurora is not the original sleeping princess, that is her mother, Briar Rose. Interesting stuff...
We don't get any further details on last week's revelation of Maleficent's pregnancy, but we definitely get a more rounded character, thanks to excellent acting by Kristen Bauer van Straten. It's not anyone who could deliver a worthy follow-up performance to Jolie's big screen portrayal, but van Straten does an excellent job.
We also get a small appearance from Aurora, with good reason to expect more from her over the rest of the season. We also finally get to see more action on Hook's part... only to discover that, in a very clever ruse, it is actual Rumple disguised as Hook, manipulating Belle once more. Colin O'Donoghue does a wonderful job of infusing his face with Rumple, so that the clever watcher can figure out the truth before it is revealed onscreen.
We still don't really get any backstory on how Belle and Will are now dating, just six weeks after she cast Rumple out. It's not that it doesn't make sense (she explains why it is good to be with someone who is straightforwards with her), it just seems very sudden.
But all this is overshadowed by the return of a long-missed character. In a dramatic turn of events, Gold transforms the boy Pinnochio back into the adult August. Huzzah! Of course, that puts our villains a step closer to achieving their goal - force the Author to switch the happy endings of the heroes and the villains, and that isn't a good thing at all.
Now all we need is Robin Hood to come back (but with a morally good reason for being with Regina and not Marian) and things'll be hopping in Storybrooke once more!
Next week's episode is due to turn the spotlight on Ursula and Hook... while it's high time this happened, they're going to have to pull off something pretty spectacular to make Ursula shine more than her costume stinks.