The villains are back on “Once Upon a Time.” The hit ABC series, which went on hiatus in mid-December, finally returned to the small screen Sunday. The winter premiere kicked off with the folks of Storybrooke finally getting their happy ending. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) was back to her sheriff duties, Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) returned to teaching, and Regina (Lana Parrilla) got her job as mayor back. But while the town was finally experiencing normalcy, the Queens of Darkness -- and Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) -- were plotting to take their own happy ending.
After being exiled from Storybrooke, Rumpel became roommates with Ursula (Merrin Dungey). He promised her he knew how to get their happy ending -- but that was something she heard him say in their past lives in the enchanted forest. She let him sleep on her couch and eat her Ramen Noodles, but she wanted results. Fortunately after weeks of waiting, Rumpel caught his first big break -- Cruella Fineberg, aka Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit)
Cruella had been living a life of luxury in Long Island. But her luck in this world ran out when her husband was arrested and the government took all her possessions (adios, fur coats). Rumpel and Ursula paid her a visit, and she wasn’t thrilled to see them. However, after a little persuasion from the Dark One, Cruella decided to play along. The trio hopped in the de Vil mobile to begin their journey to Storybrooke.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) unearthed a spell to free the fairies from the Sorcerer’s hat in which Rumpel had trapped them. Regina successfully freed them, but she also accidentally let loose a hell beast. This wasn’t any old hell beast -- this one has a history of devouring dark harts. In a flashback to the Enchanted Forest of the past, “Once Upon a Time” viewers discovered that the Queens of Darkness -- Ursula, Cruella de Vil and Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten) -- fell for Rumpel’s plan for a happy ending. They followed his every word, but it was a trap. He tricked them into getting him a powerful curse, and in return, he locked them in the room with the hell beast.
Regina and Emma combined their power to destroy the beast, but it wasn’t enough. The monster was stunned; however they needed another plan to rid it from the town. As they tried to map out an attack, they received a call from Rumpel’s cell phone. But it wasn’t the dark one -- it was Cruella and Ursula.
Although Rumpel was with them, they told Regina a tall tale about “changing” in this new world and ditching Rumpel. Needless to say, Regina didn’t trust the “squid.” However they had something Regina and Emma needed -- details on the hell beast. They agreed to exchange information, and if that information helped Regina get rid of the monster, then they would be granted access to Storybrooke.
Thanks to Ursula and Cruella, Emma and Regina were able to lead the hell beast to the town border. The monster crossed the town line, and disappeared into the world without magic. Emma was about to give the Snow Queen’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) magic scroll to the villains to allow them entrance, but Mary Margaret and David (Josh Dallas) showed up to stop her. Mary Margaret argued that it was a bad idea and that Ursula and Cruella couldn’t be trusted. David added that they could be worse than Rumpel. But Regina made a good argument – if she got a second chance then they deserve the same. Regina tossed the scroll across the town border, and Cruella and Ursula entered in the de Vil mobile.
“Thank you, Regina,” Cruella said as they pulled away. “You won’t regret it.”
Later that night, the two villains returned to the town border. They crossed the magic scroll to Rumpel, who was ready to put their plan in action: “Reunite the band.” He revealed they were going to resurrect Maleficent, and that Emma was the one the hell beast was after.
But that wasn’t the biggest jaw dropper of the “Once Upon a Time” winter premiere. In the final moments it was revealed Mary Margaret and David had a history with the Queens of Darkness -- and they didn’t want anyone to find out.