Synopsis of 4×19: Cruella’s backstory is told, and her past comes back to haunt her. Henry is kidnapped, and Emma is having trouble dealing with her forgiveness issues.
Young Cruella is seen running through the woods from a pair of dalmatians. They easily corner her, and her mother shows up to take her back home. Cruella is resistant and her mother uses her dogs as a way of persuasion. They make it back to a grand house, where her mother takes her up to an attic like room. Cruella is locked up in her new room, until she learns to do what her mother says.
Back at the Charming apartment, Emma is questioning her parents about the author, and naturally it turns into why they condemned Maleficent’s child to ensure her goodness. Regina busts in and tells them what has happened to Robin, and that Marian is really Zelena. She tells all of them that she’s going to New York to save Robin. Hook asks her about Gold, as he’s not going to just let her ruin his plans. Regina says she has a plan for that.
Belle has summoned Gold to the well in the forest. She asks him if he remembers what he said on the night of their wedding vows, and asks him to just tell her the truth. Gold pulls out his heart, which is darkened except for a faint glimmer of red. Belle asks if he will die, and he says yes, in a way. He will lose all capacity to love. Belle says she understands him and his fears. She begins to cry, and they kiss.
After the kiss, Belle drops the bomb that Will is just a better kisser and that it’s pathetic that Gold came groveling back to her. Gold is bewildered, until Regina steps out of the woods. She threatens Gold, saying he will do what she says or she’ll kill Belle. Gold agrees not to tell Zelena anything, so he might save Belle.
Cruella walks into the cabin and tells he Author that studying the greats will never make him one of them. She tells him to give back what he took from her, but he is unable to. She threatens to send a pack of snarling dogs after him. The Author isn’t moved and tells her that even with all her magic she doesn’t have enough power to hurt him. Cruella concedes that fact and asks if he can help a girl out, just for old time’s sake. The Author says that there is an interesting story developing as Gold doesn’t know that they know each other, which means Cruella lied to him.
Back to Young Cruella, who is now late teenage/young adult Cruella. Her mother bursts into her room to find Cruella listening to a stolen radio. Cruella says she wouldn’t have to steal if her mother would just let her out. Her mother is pulled away by someone at the door. It is the author coming for a story. He pushes his way in, curious, and is quickly tossed out for his questions.
Younger Cruella is called to the window by rocks, and finds a key to let her out. She rushes down to meet the Author (now known as Isaac), he says they can go some where quiet to talk, but she says she prefers somewhere loud. Isaac whisks her away to a speakeasy, where they drink, dance, and talk. He says that Cruella’s story is a classic Cinderella story in the making. Cruella says that she was locked up for her mother’s self preservation because she’s afraid Cruella will tell everyone she knows that her mother poisoned her husbands.
Emma confronts Regina about leaving for New York, and tries to convince her not to go. Regina is set on going, so Emma gives her a gun to protect her since Regina will have no magic. They both receive a video message from Henry. They open it and see Henry being held kidnapped by Cruella. She tells them to kill the author and bring her the body, or she will kill Henry.
Gold gets back to the cabin, he tells the Author that he knows the past. The Author freaks out and tells Gold he didn’t think it was relevant. Gold says it is absolutely relevant, and that Cruella is completely bent on revenge. He tells the Author that Cruella has kidnapped the Savior’s son, and is now out for the Author’s death. Gold tells him he wants to know exactly why Cruella wants him dead. The Author gives him a note that seems to appease Gold.
Back to Younger Cruella, she and Isaac are dancing the last dance at the club. He tells her that he can make the night even more memorable, and shows her the pen. He tells her that he travels across realms. That this one place exists out of time, and that this is a realm of story. She doesn’t believe him, so he shows her how he can change the stories. Isaac tells her that he can whisk them away to where she’ll always be safe from her mother. Cruella says it can’t be that simple. Isaac gives her the power to control any animal she desires, but before they leave together she must face her mother alone. They agree to meet at the hotel, and he gives her the keys to his car. She kisses him and leaves.
Isaac finds Cruella’s mother behind the hotel door. She asks him where Cruella is, and demands to know where she is. Isaac says that Cruella is far away now and out of her mother’s reach. She tells him about how her first husband died, and how Cruella was actually smiling about the death of her father. Later she found the flowers that Cruella used to poison her father. She warns him to stay away from Cruella, as she will take what you hold most dear and destroy it. Cruella’s mother returns home to find Cruella there. Her mother sics the dogs on Cruella, and Cruella takes them over, using them to kill her mother.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, and Regina hear Henry calling for help and run after the sound. Regina and Hook stumble upon conch shells that are projecting his voice like speakers. Henry is running from Pongo when he comes to the edge of a cliff. Cruella finds him just as Emma does. Cruella grabs him and tells Emma to stay back or she’ll kill him. Emma hangs back as Cruella points a gun at Henry.
Back at Younger Cruella’s world, Isaac finds Cruella hard at work at a sewing machine. He asks her where her mother is. She turns around, and says that thanks to him, her mother is dead. He looks around for the dogs. Cruella tells him that he doesn’t need to fear the dogs anymore, as they are with her mother. She puts on the coat she was making, a gorgeous spotted fur. He asks how she could do this, and that he thought she cared about him. She says he was just a means to an end. They both dive for the pen and in the struggle, Isaac accidentally dumps the ink on Cruella. The magic of the ink turns her into our modern Cruella.
Isaac goes to write a new story to stop her, but is able to write down something before she can grab her gun to shoot him. She asks why she is unable to pull the trigger. He tells her that he learned that trick from her, to take away the one thing someone loves most.
The Charmings find the Author in the cabin, and tell him that they need some information. He tells them that all he wanted was to protect the world from Cruella. Snow asks him what the end of the story is, and he tells them that it ends with the Saviour turning dark. He pulls out the note he showed Gold earlier and gives it to the Charmings to read. It reads “Cruella is no longer able to take the life of another.” They realize that Henry is in no danger, and that Emma does not realize this. They run to find Emma, but show up too late. Emma had used her magic to toss Cruella over the edge of the cliff, killing her.