"Best Laid Plans" is the sixteenth episode of Season Four of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Kalinda Vazquez & Jane Espenson, and directed by Ron Underwood. It is the eighty-second episode of the series overall, and premiered on March 29, 2015.
A unicorn is shown galloping in the forest.
In The Characters' Past
In the Enchanted Forest before the first curse, both Snow White and Prince Charming come across a unicorn and touch its horn to see what the future holds for their unborn child. However, as Charming does see a happy baby Emma, it's Snow who fears what will become of her daughter after she sees a vision of Emma ripping her heart out and crushing it to dust. Later on, the couple run into a merchant, revealed to be the Peddler, and tells him that Maleficent has transformed into a dragon, and eventually gave birth to a child that was conceived via an egg during the transition. The merchant then advises the couple to follow a path that leads them to the Apprentice's cottage. As the Apprentice welcomed the Charmings, he tells them that either one of their premonitions could come true but adds that it is possible to banish the darkness from a child, and in order to do that they would have to find another vessel that contains the darkness that dwells within the child. Snow begins to believe that the egg containing Maleficent's unborn child would become the one who would be born evil.
The Charmings later return to the cave where Maleficent, still under her state as a dragon, is guarding her egg with assistance from Ursula and Cruella. As they attempt to take the egg, Maleficent awakens and pleads with Snow not to take her egg away, but the Charmings go ahead and take the unborn child anyway, and bring the egg to the Apprentice, who then transfers the darkness to the unborn child with a powerful curse that eventually opens up a portal. At the same time Cruella and Ursula appears and are furious to stop his plan, only to see the portal open up and send the egg, Cruella and Ursula into the realm where they will not hurt anyone again.
The events of what happened afterwards would later take shape after Snow told Charming that she won't accept a unicorn-themed mobile for the baby's room, while Charming believes that they can become the best possible people that they can be.
With August now in a deep sleep because he has been changed by magic too many times at the Fairies' nunnery, Regina is left with no choice but to take a photo of the illustration of the door that was torn from the book, then shows it to Gold, Maleficent, and Cruella. The foursome then notice a glare on the image, leading Gold to believe that the Author is actually hidden inside the page. Maleficent then casts a sleeping spell all over Storybrooke so Gold and the Queens can steal the page, and as a favor for Gold but uses it as a bargaining tool; in exchange for her help, she requires Gold to find out what happened to her child after Mary Margaret and David "got rid of it."
Before Maleficent placed the curse on Storybrooke, Hook informed Emma about what they plan to do to her so she would become dark and no longer be the Savior, and are then placed under the spell just in time for Gold and the Queens to steal the page, only to discover it missing. They eventually learn that the person who has the book, Henry, is immune to the curse and has escaped. Henry later calls Mary Margaret and David, who are also immune to the curse because they can only be under the spell once, to tell them he is hiding at the Sorcerer's mansion. David believes that the only way they can keep Emma from going dark is to destroy the page, but that would mean it will keep the Author trapped inside the page forever. As Henry waits for his grandparents, he notices a light that begins to shine from the door after the page starts glowing, and it shines a light to a desk drawer that reveals a key, but as he takes the item out, Regina and the Queens arrive, with Regina demanding her adopted son to hand over the page and he complies, unaware that he gave them the fake page, which was actually forged by Emma. Mary Margaret and David then arrive to see an excited Henry as he shows the key to his grandparents, but after they tell Henry to leave them the key and for him to leave the couple become embarrassed that they had to lie to their grandson about they are planning to do, which is planning to toss the page into the fireplace, only to have Mary Margaret stop David because they can't destroy everyone's chance of a happy ending and that heroes should do what is right. The couple believes it's time to tell Emma the truth.
At the pawn shop, Gold decides to see Belle, who also fell under the sleeping curse, explaining that the reason for searching for the Author and change the destiny of the villains is to be safe in a world that is free of all villainous evil and vows to come back to her. Gold then steps outside to meet up with Regina, Cruella and Maleficent. Unfortunately he noticed the forgery and is onto Regina's deception, so Maleficent places her under the sleeping curse. Since the deal has fallen through, Gold decides not tell Maleficent about what happened to her child, saying that the pain would become worse if she knew the truth, but she begs him to tell her and he complies, as he shows Maleficent a vision that 30 years earlier that a man had adopted a baby girl, who he would eventually name Lily, the girl who would later befriend Emma.
Hours later, Mary Margaret finally comes clean to Emma, and it leaves Emma disappointed and she leaves angrily. And as August awakes, Hook chases after Emma with the news and they return to see August about having found the key, which could help Emma learn more about her past. August however reveals that there was more than just one author and the person who was trapped inside the book was the last Author, who eventually manipulated the stories that resulted in the Sorcerer and the Apprentice condemning him and other authors to the book. As Emma opens the door with the key, a person emerges, and the Peddler, who encountered Emma's parents back in the Enchanted Forest, escapes before he can answer Emma's questions.