'Once Upon a Time' Says Goodbye to 'Frozen' and Hello to the Queens of Darkness

Once Upon a Time - Cruella de Vil - H 2014
Courtesy of ABC

[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Sunday night's episode of Once Upon a Time.]

Once Upon a Time ended the first half of its fourth season with a farewell to its Frozen arc, and said hello to its newest foes: the Queens of Darkness, aka Maleficent (Kristin Bauer Van Straten), Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smurfit).

With the Ice Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) taken care of in the last episode, the main priority for Anna (Elizabeth Lail), Elsa (Georgina Haig) and Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) is getting home. Elsa is OK with taking their time getting home if it means doing it right — until she hears than Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore) has conquered Arendelle. Rumple (Robert Carlyle) — fearing what Anna knows about him and wanting to get rid of the people as soon as possible — has Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) (who is under Rumple's control) lead Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to a portal in the nearby mansion, which can lead the Arendelle trio back home. They go through the portal, but before they do, Anna asks who "Mr. Gold" was before they came to Storybrooke; when she's told he's Rumple, she confirms they used to know each other, which tips off Emma that Rumple was lying about his motivations for helping them.

See more The Making of 'Frozen'

In the past, Rumple returns from his trip to Camelot with a prize: a gauntlet that reveals the thing a person loves the most. It could be a powerful weapon, and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) is almost immediately kidnapped by the Queens of Darkness in an attempt to get it from Rumple. He reluctantly trades it to the women to spare Belle's life. Later, when he confronts them about their blackmail, they tell him they want it so they can change their story: The heroes always win, so this way, the gauntlet can help reveal their enemies' weaknesses so they'll stand a chance.

Meanwhile, in present day, with Marian (Christie Laing) on the mend, Robin (Sean Maguire) finally has to make a choice between the two women in his life. He chooses Regina (Lana Parrilla), but her joy is short-lived: There's a remnant of the spell left in Marian, and the only way to save her is for her to cross the town line where the magic can't hurt her. But once she leaves, she'd never be able to return … so Robin and their child must go with her, too, so she's not alone in a strange new world. No happy ending for Regina yet, so her search for the author must continue.

Emma and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) find Rumple and Hook at the clock tower in the midst of Rumple trying to free himself from the dagger, and Rumple freezes the women. He tries to crush Hook's heart, but he can't: Belle is there, holding the dagger that controls him. She commands him to stop and let go of Hook's heart. When he does, she asks her husband to take the two of them to the town line.

Read more 'Once Upon a Time': Lana Parrilla Teases the "Remnants" of a Spell, Robin Hood's Choice 

Rumple tells her he wanted them to have it all, but Belle used the gauntlet — which was among the knickknacks in his shop — and it led her to the dagger; it made her realize that his greatest love will always be his power. Heartbroken, she demands he leave Storybrooke.

Regina — miserable in her own unhappy ending — agrees to have a drink with Emma, when Henry (Jared Gilmore) runs in: He found something in the mansion where the portal was. He leads his mothers to a room full of blank books that are just like the storybook the mysterious author wrote … the mansion might belong to the author. Emma says she is game to help with Operation Mongoose.

Unfortunately, they're not alone: Six weeks later, Rumple finds Ursula in New York City. He proposes they find the author to get their happy endings — and that they'll need to make two more stops before they set about their mission.

As Rumple and the Queens of Darkness start their own search for this mysterious author who penned the fairy tales, it will pit him up against Regina, Henry, Emma and the rest of the heroes. And while Regina is now on the side of the heroes, her past with the women will make things complicated.

"These are familiar faces for Regina; she knows who these women are," Parrilla tells The Hollywood Reporter. "She's crossed paths with them in the past. One of them was a very dear friend. So you'll see there's an episode [in the second half of the season] where we'll learn about Maleficent and Regina's relationship, and how they met. We'll see a bit of that. We'll see they were real friends, which goes back to the second episode of the first season, where she said to Maleficent, 'You're my only true friend.' And that was genuine. So it'll be interesting to see Maleficent coming back, especially having been trapped by Regina for 28 years in the form of a dragon, living in the tunnels."

Watch more 'Once Upon a Time': Shattered Sight Spell Turns Snow and Charming Against Each Other

"I'm wondering what Maleficent is going to do to Regina once they are face-to-face," Parrilla adds with a laugh. "Maleficent definitely has a big reason to want to take Regina down. We'll see a little bit of that as well. The other two, with Cruella and Ursula, they have a history. I don't think it's as evolved as Maleficent and Regina's history. And Regina is not as much concerned with the other two. Maleficent is a powerful sorceress, and she's a formidable foe. So I would say their story, moving forward, is going to be quite compelling and fun to watch."

And even if somehow the team of heroes was able to sway the Queens of Darkness away from Rumple, Parrilla isn't convinced they would work well with Regina and her quest to find the author. "I think Regina has very little faith in these three women and their motives," she says. "I think finding the author is a big secret for Regina, so if anyone else were to get involved, it would probably make it very difficult for her. Especially if one of them got to the author before she did."

Come back to Live Feed on Monday for a postmortem with the Once Upon a Time producers.