"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.
Hook tells Emma that her fate is at stake in Gold's plan while Regina leads the villains on a wild goose chase. Henry makes a breakthrough in his search to find the Author, but Mary Margaret and David need a moment to reconsider the best course of action. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Snow and Charming search for a way to ensure their child will grow-up to be a hero. When a travelling peddler directs them to visit a kindly old hermit, Snow and Charming are presented with a choice that could secure their child's goodness, but at a price that will haunt them for years to come.
- The title card features a running unicorn.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on January 14, 2015.
- Kalinda Vazquez came up with the title of this episode, which is an egg-based pun.
- The title is taken from the saying "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry", which is adapted from the poem "To a Mouse by Robert Burns: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" (meaning "The best-laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry").
- REUSED FOOTAGE: The overhead view of the Infinite Forest is stock footage from the Season One episode "True North", but with a different color hue.
- When Hook sees the sleeping spell approach, the pawnshop is visible through the window, on the other side of the street.
- However, after leaving the apartment, David and Mary Margaret are shown to be walking away from the white picket fence next to the post office and across Main Street in the direction of Storybrooke Country Bread. Additionally, Mr. Gold, Cruella, Maleficent and Regina are also shown leaving the apartment from the picket fence. This fence is located at the other end of Main Street from the pawnshop, a couple blocks down from Granny's Diner.
- According to Jane Espenson, the Author was only controlling the Apprentice. Snow White and Prince Charming were still responsible for their own actions.
- CUT CONTENT: In the episode promo, Maleficent uses her staff to throw a fireball at Snow White and Prince Charming. In the actual episode, it is a purple blast of magic.
- The Enchanted Forest flashbacks take place after "Unforgiven", "The Price of Gold" and "The Other Shoe", and before the first flashback scene of "Lily" and "Pilot". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Poor Unfortunate Soul" and before "Heart of Gold". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The Land Without Magic quick-scene occurs a few months before Emma and Pinocchio's arrival in "The Stranger". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The title card is the same as the episode "The Thing You Love Most".
- Prince Charming and Snow White first learned about their child's potential for darkness in "Unforgiven".
- In her vision, Snow White sees the Idyllic Garden from inside the Vault of the Dark One from "The Broken Kingdom".
- Maleficent's pregnancy was first established in "Unforgiven".
- Regina and Emma discovered the Author is trapped inside the door illustration in "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- August was rescued during "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- Mother Superior notes August's body has been changed many times by magic. As a wooden puppet, he became human in "The Stranger", began turning back into wood during the flashbacks of "Selfless, Brave and True" and became a human boy later in the same episode, and was restored to his adult self in "Enter the Dragon". Additionally, he was forced to ingest a magic lie detector in "Poor Unfortunate Soul" that caused his nose to grow every time he lied.
- Regina began her undercover mission in "Enter the Dragon", and she was sent by the villains to retrieve the door illustration in "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- Ursula told Hook about the villains' plans for Emma in "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- Emma recalls showing Hook the video of herself and Lily in "Breaking Glass".
- Maleficent first cast a sleeping spell to affect multiple people at the same time during "Unforgiven".
- The reason why Cruella is unable to kill Emma is revealed in "Sympathy for the De Vil".
- Maleficent mentions Ursula leaving in "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- Mary Margaret feels guilty about lying to Emma ever since Cruella and Ursula arrived. Cruella and Ursula came to Storybrooke in "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and Mary Margaret and David lied to Emma in "Unforgiven".
- Snow White, Henry and David were all affected by the sleeping curse at different intervals. Snow White and Henry were cursed in "An Apple Red as Blood" and David was afflicted during "Into the Deep".
- After arriving in the Land Without Magic, Cruella and Ursula use the dragon egg to keep themselves from aging. Cruella leaves the baby in the woods to die as explained in "Sympathy for the De Vil".
- The fate of Maleficent's child, when she has grown to be a teenager, is explored in "Breaking Glass" and "Lily".
- Mary Margaret remembers giving Henry the storybook to inspire hope in him, which transpired in "Going Home". She also recounts telling Regina the secret about Maleficent's child in "Unforgiven".
- STORYBOOK CONTENT: The meaning behind the mysterious storybook page with the door is explained in this episode. The page first appeared in "Unforgiven".
- Emma sensed her parents were lying to her about something in "Unforgiven".
- Emma eventually forgives her parents in "Mother".
- The unicorn mobile first appeared in "Pilot".
- Mr. Gold mentions having something that will make Regina do his bidding. This secret is revealed in "Heart of Gold".
- Maleficent is stunned to learn that her daughter is still alive. The reason why Maleficent believed her daughter to be dead is revealed in "Sympathy for the De Vil".
- Maleficent's daughter is found in "Lily". Mother and daughter are reunited in "Mother".
- Two paintings of the Virgin Mary are inside the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Meissa.
- A shield lying on the floor in Maleficent's cave is emblazoned with a cross pattée.
- August Booth names one man who held the position of Author as Walt. This is a direct reference to Walt Disney, the famed American cartoonist, animator, film producer, and the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company.
- There is a close-up of Snow White and Prince Charming's eye when they touch the unicorn's horn. This is a recurring theme from Lost.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale, Snow White and the prince from the "Snow White" fairytale, the wicked fairy from the "Sleeping Beauty" fairytale, the sea witch from "The Little Mermaid" fairytale, Cruella De Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians story, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, and the apprentice from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".
- Snow White and Prince Charming track down unicorn, a legendary creature from worldwide mythology.
- Snow White gives the unicorn an apple, a reference to the fruit she was poisoned with in the fairytale.
- Maleficent puts everyone in Storybrooke asleep, a reference to the "Sleeping Beauty" fairytale, where the whole castle is put to sleep.
- Snow and Charming's use of poppy dust is a reference to the tale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- August states that the job of the Author "goes back eons from the man who watched shadows dance across cave walls and developed an entire philosophy". This is a reference to the Greek philosopher Plato, and his Allegory of the Cave.
- When August lists the previous Authors, he mentions "playwrights who tell tales in poetry". This is a reference to William Shakespeare, who used iambic pentameter in his plays and sonnets.
- REUSED PROPS: The Apprentice's wand prop was previously used as a wand on display in the pawnshop in Mr. Gold's dream in the Season Two episode "Lacey", and one of the wands in Rumplestiltskin's castle in the Season Three episodes "The Heart of the Truest Believer" and "Quite a Common Fairy".
As they trudged back toward their castle,
the [three illegible words] a [illegible word] of
[illegible word] in the middle of the road. But the
princess, [two illegible words] with a [illegible word] of regret
and shame, could not be burdened by
such a cursory thing, and walked right through it. "There
was no way we could have known. The Apprentice hid
the truth from us," the prince tried once again to assure
her. Inside, he felt as she did, but pangs of helplessness
at the sight of his love so forlorn compelled him to comfort her
She was about to reply when a bluebird settled on a
branch up ahead. The princess averted her gaze. She
imagined its whispers of judgment in her ear echoing her
own disappointment in her actions and was relieved when
the bird flew off rather than perch on her shoulder. She
had thought before that she had known true depths of
sorrow with the heinousness of the evil queen's betrayal of
her family. But in that moment the princess knew that
the greatest betrayal of all is that of a hero to have [illegible word] from
- HERALDRY: Prince Charming's royal crest is printed on the label on the bottle of brandy that the prince gives to the Author.
- SECONDHAND CLOTHING: The white baby cap Emma wears in Prince Charming's vision is the same cap worn by her little brother Neal in the Season Six finale "The Final Battle Part 1" and "The Final Battle Part 2".
- BRAND INFO: Emma is wearing an Oscar de la Renta Diamond Quilted Cardigan (no longer available).
- The interior scenes in the convent were filmed at the Cecil Green Park House in Vancouver and the OverLynn Mansion in Burnaby Heights. Both are Arts & Crafts-styled mansions and were built in 1912 and 1909 respectively.
- The Cecil Green Park House has also doubled as locations for other productions:
- The location of a wedding in the 2007 romantic comedy film Good Luck Chuck (a movie which features Once Upon a Time in Wonderland guest stars Heather Doerksen and Steve Bacic).
- The Candlewick Inn in Season One of Harper's Island (a show which features Once Upon a Time guest stars Adrian Hough, Beverley Elliott, Chilton Crane, Christopher Gauthier and Christopher Gorham and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland guest stars Ben Cotton and Sarah-Jane Redmond).
- The location of the Milton-Staller wedding in the Fringe episode "The Bishop Revival".
- The location of Carlton and Marlowe Lassiter's wedding in the Psych episodes "Deez Nups" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest star Sage Brocklebank) and "Right Turn or Left for Dead".
- The location of the Campus Administrator's Office in the Backstrom episode "Dragon Slayer" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest stars Jarod Joseph and Paul Lazenby) and the Portland Governors Club in the Backstrom episode "Corkscrewed".
- The location of a charity in the pilot episode of iZombie (a show which stars Once Upon a Time guest stars David Anders and Rose McIver and an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest star Ty Olsson).
- The home of the Santini crime family in The Flash episode "Rogue Time" and the location of the Merkel Charity Fundraiser in The Flash episode "All Doll'd Up".
- The office of Martin Stein in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Pilot, Part 1" and the home of Vandal Savage in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Pilot, Part 2".
- The home of the Darhk family in the Arrow episode "Blood Debts" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest star Ryan Robbins).
- The home of the Cigarette Smoking Man in The X-Files episodes "My Struggle", "My Struggle II" and "My Struggle III" (a series of episodes which features Once Upon a Time guest stars Annabeth Gish, Barbara Hershey and Giacomo Baessato).
- The location of the Church of the High Prince and Amenadiel's apartment in the Lucifer episode "#TeamLucifer" (a show which stars Once Upon a Time guest star Tom Ellis).
- The home of the Blossom Family in Season One of Riverdale (a show which features Once Upon a Time guest stars Alex Zahara, Barclay Hope, Bruce Blain, Liam Hall, Paul Lazenby, Robin Givens and Tiera Skovbye).
- The home of the Langmore family and the Laneview Country Club in the Imposters episode "Frog-Bikini-Eiffel Tower" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest stars Andrew Jenkins and Kip Pardue).
- The home of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the 2018 erotic romantic drama film Fifty Shades Freed (a movie which features Once Upon a Time starring cast member Jamie Dornan and guest star Catherine Lough Haggquist).
- The Phi Delta Upsilon fraternity house in the Charmed episodes "Pilot", "Out of Scythe", "You're Dead to Me" and "Switches & Stones" (a show which features Once Upon a Time guest star Rya Kihlstedt).
- The Luthor Mansion in the Supergirl episode "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (a show which stars Once Upon a Time co-star Andrea Brooks and guest star Sam Witwer).
- The Cecil Green Park House also doubles a location in Fairly Legal and in the 2013 short drama mystery film Feint (a movie which features Once Upon a Time guest star Tiera Skovbye).
- The Overlynn Mansion has also doubled as locations for other productions:
- The Derry Inn in the 1990 supernatural horror miniseries It (a movie which features Once Upon a Time guest star Gabe Khouth).
- The Santa Barbara Monarch Lodge in the Psych episode "Dis-Lodged" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time guest star Beverley Elliott).
- The Central City Orphanage on Earth Two in The Flash episode "Versus Zoom".Cite error: Closing
- The Peregrine Convalescent Home in The Magicians episode "The Writing Room".
- Kovar's mansion in the Arrow episode "Vigilante".
- The Zeta Beta Theta fraternity building in the iZombie episode "Zombie Bro" (a show which stars Once Upon a Time actors Rose McIver and David Anders and an episode which features Grayson Gabriel and Jonathan Whitesell)
- The headquarters of the Justice Society of America in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "The Justice Society of America" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland guest star Dan Payne).
- A hallway in the Castle Varlar in the Timeless episode "Party at Castle Varlar" (an episode which features Once Upon a Time starring cast member Sean Maguire and guest star Chad Rook).
|Finnish||"Valheessa vara parempi"||"Better Off with a Lie"|
|French||"La Licorne"||"The Unicorn"|
|German||"Fürchte die gute Absicht"||"Fear the Good Intention"|
|Italian||"Azioni e reazioni"||"Actions and Reactions"|
|Portuguese||"Os melhores planos"||"The best plans"|
|Spanish||"Planes bien trazados"||"Best Laid Plans"|