(My review of the last episode of Once Upon A Time, Tallahassee)
While on the run from the Queen’s men, Red’s hood rips. Since tonight is the night of the full moon, or wolfstime, Red panics, she has to get away from Snow White to protect her. When she awakes, a stranger named Quinn steals her cloak and threatens to burn it. He knows that she is “a child of the moon,” because he is one himself, and he knows how to tame the wolf. He brings her to a creepy underground castle hall that is filled with other werewolves. And the leader of the pack, Anita, was expecting Red, waiting for her daughter. Granny had taken her away from her parents when she was young to protect her from the horrid wolves, but she couldn’t be protected forever. Red is quick to learn the ways of the wolf, she just has to give in to the wolf and realize that she and the wolf are one. As this is explained there is a beautiful scene of the wolf pack running with Red staring at her reflection in a pool of water.
Snow followed the paw prints and made it into the wolf den. The wolves know better than to trust any humans, so Quinn attacks her on site, but Red calls him off. Red promised to run away with Snow, but she found her family, she’s part of a pack now. Snow is thrilled for her friend and is ready to leave her with her new family, but not everyone feels the same. The Queen’s men followed Snow into the den, before the wolves took out all of the men, Quinn was fatally injured. Anita blames Snow for bringing the men there and intends to kill and feast upon her as the wolves. When Red protects Snow she accidentally kills her mother, but insists that she didn’t choose Snow over her family, “I chose me! I’m not a killer!” But Red didn’t kill her family, she protected them. Snow is her only family, she is the only person who accepts her as both a human and as a wolf.
In the present, the dwarves strike riches: they uncover diamonds which can be refined into fairy dust. But before they have a chance to celebrate, Ruby builds a cage to keep the wolf locked up that night. She might have learned how to tame the wolf, but it’s been 28 years since she last turned and doesn’t know if she can contain herself. In the morning she had broken free from her cage and awoke in the forest. She assumes the worst and her suspicions seem to be confirmed when they find two halves of Billy (one of Cinderella’s mice from the tales). David decides that he has to believe in Ruby because he failed to believe in Mary Margaret when she was framed (those are two completely different scenarios though, David isn’t the brightest). David locks her up in the prison cell to appease her, though.
King George, known as Spencer in Storybrooke, rallies the citizens to kill the monster who roams the streets. If David won’t take action, then he will! But Ruby had already been moved to the library for her protection. If David has faith that Ruby is a good woman, then Belle does too. Which I find a bit strange since she knows Ruby better than she knows David at this point… Anyway, Belle insists that they can prove that she is innocent in the matter. Ruby is sure that she killed Billy and that she deserves to be executed for it, so she breaks out. When Ruby is about to surrender herself, David and Granny come to the rescue! David has evidence that Spencer set her up, and he can prove that Ruby is a tame wolf. He gets her to back down and reverts her back to her human self with the hood. When Ruby thanks him for saving her, he responds “No. You saved yourself. I just reminded you of what you already knew.”
Spencer doesn’t care that he managed to keep the wolf alive, because he knows David’s one true weakness, his family. Spencer tosses Jefferson’s hat into a fire, meaning that David can never get his family back. And he reminds him for the third time that David should have killed him when he had the chance. David pulls his gun on him, but Red eases him down. And in a reversal of roles, Ruby comforts David, she promises that they will find a way to get his family back. And until then, he isn’t alone.
Henry has been suffering terrible nightmares for awhile, but when he awoke this time, his hand was burnt. Gold lets him and Regina know that these aren’t just dreams, these are the side affects of the sleeping curse Regina accidentally put on him. He gives him a medallion to help him control these journeys. The next time he falls asleep, he has the same dream: a burning room and a mysterious woman. But this time he quells the flames and introduces himself to the woman, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). The same Aurora that is in the other land with Emma and Snow.
In the fairy tale world in the past, Rumpelstiltskin tried unsuccessfully at first to push Regina into dark magic. She refuses to remove a unicorn’s heart due to its innocence, which causes Rumple to do the deed himself. While he holds the heart he controls the unicorn, but when he crushes it, he kills it. When Regina announces her real motivation for learning magic: to bring back her fiance Daniel from the dead. Rumple snickers at this, unless she can forget about her past, there is no way for her to harness the true power of magic. Not to mention that there is no way to bring people back from the dead. Jefferson tells her otherwise, The Doctor, who uses something much more powerful than magic might be able to accomplish this (And sadly it’s not the Doctor from Doctor Who). Regina brings the preserved body to the Doctor, who is none other than Dr. Whale. All he needs to make this experimental procedure a success is a powerful heart. She won’t remove someone’s heart for an evil purpose, but luckily her mother left her a vault full of magically-powered hearts. Though the Doctor didn’t actually operate, he announced that the procedure was a failure. Rumplestiltskin, Dr. Whale, and Jefferson set up the fake operaton to each further their own needs. Dr. Whale received a magical heart, Jefferson received a royal passport, and Rumple got his ward back. And with her shorter, evil haircut, Regina returns to work with Rumple after swiftly killing his newest apprentice.
When Emma, Snow, Mulan, and Aurora return to their camp, every single one of their people were slain besides Killian Jones, the newly added blacksmith. Emma learned her lesson from trusting Cora the first time, and is quick to realize that this is probably a trap. After strapping him to a tree and calling upon the ogres, Killian realizes that they might be just as cunning as Cora, so he spills the truth: he was working with Cora, but will gladly switch allegiances (what a pirate!). He will help them get the enchanted compass that Cora is looking for if they allow him to return with them to Storybrooke, he still seeks revenge upon The Crocodile. Emma and Snow are still wary of him, but they think that they can stay one step ahead of Cora if they keep him with them. Hook leads them to a beanstalk that leads all the way to the clouds, if they make it up and defeat the giant at the top, they will gain control of the compass. Why hello there, Jack and the Beanstalk!
Regina genuinely wants Henry to love her for her, so she pays Archie the psychiatrist a visit to try to control herself. But Dr. Whale makes it hard for her to keep her promise to Henry when he barges in and demands to be sent back home to his dead brother. When she is driving through the rain, she notices her lover Daniel walking around town. After discovering that his body is no longer in her mausoleum, she realizes that it wasn’t a hallucination and the Doctor must have brought him back. If he did Regina a favor, he hoped that Regina would send him back home, but she doesn’t have the poer to do so. Dr. Whale admits to bringing Daniel back from the dead, but he isn’t himself anymore, he is a monster. Regina seems to be going soft, because she let David in on her entire history with Daniel and of his reincarnation. Since he was a stableboy in his past life, Daniel heads straight there to meet Regina. But Henry, taking care of the horse that David bought him, gets caught in the crossfire. When he tries to help the stranger out, he gets injured, but is quickly saved by his grandfather. Daniel instantly chokes Regina when he sees her, but when she whispers that she loves him, he remembers who he is and who she is. He needs her to let him go so the pain will be gone. She cries as she says her goodbyes and uses magic to vanquish him.
Dr. Whale steps into Mr. Gold’s shop, holding a cooler with one of his arms. Daniel ripped it off in his monstrous rage and he needs Gold to return it to its place. All he has to do to get his limb reattached is to whisper the magic words: he needs magic. This is no easy feat for Dr. Frankenstein. He was the only one who used science in the fairy tale universe, and continuously insisted that it was more powerful than magic. And equipped with the heart that he received from Regina, he managed to raise his brother from the dead (or create him). Though he used science to do so, he required the magical-infused heart. So what really won, magic or science?
In the first level of the story, in the past, Rumpelstiltskin is ashamed to find that his wife has left him. She left him for a life at sea with a group of pirates, because she couldn’t take Rumple’s cowardice any longer. Killian Jones, the captain of the pirates, agrees to return Milah to her husband if he is willing to duel for her. Killian astutely tells him that “A man unwilling to fight for what he wants, deserves what he gets.” The next time the two meet, Rumple has the powers of the Dark One. Killian only shows a little fear once he realizes who he is dealing with, and is quick to lie about Milah’s whereabouts, insisting that she is already dead. Rumple forces Killian to duel, but before he can kill the pirate, Milah returns to protect him. When pressed, Milah admits that she was the coward when she left Bae. An apology is not enough for the Dark One, so he plunges his hand into her chest and crushes her heart. Her last words are directed at Killian, expressing her love. Rumple refuses to kill Killian, he wants him to suffer the loss of his loved one, just as he did. Instead he chops off his hand and turns him into the Captain Hook we know from the tales.
William Smee approached Rumpelstiltskin with a proposal, for eternal life (he agrees to returning his youth), he can retrieve a bean that will work as a portal to another world. And since Rumple is looking for Bae, this is the perfect item for him. But before Smee can retrieve the bean, Killian gets a hold of it. Rumple believed that the bean was in the Captain’s hand when he chopped it off, but was not pleased at being duped. Instead, Killian tossed the bean into the water, creating a whirlpool. Captain Hook is off to Neverland to find a way to avenge Milah’s death. And to get there, he finds Cora, who has the purple potion she created from the remnants of the magic wardrobe. Together they can take over Storybrooke.
In the real world, Belle can’t stand that Gold is still practicing magic and confronts him. He insists that he needs the magic to fuel his power. Really all he needs is courage to let her in and he will find happiness, but since he won’t, Belle walks out on him. She confides in Ruby, who offers her a place to stay and a possible job at the library. When she visits the library, Mr. Smee kidnaps her. Gold is genuinely concerned for her, so he visits her brother, with whom he has bad blood. He is furious at her second disappearance. Gold knows that the only way to get any help is to push at David’s weak points: he has lost people too, he knows what it’s like. With Ruby’s wolf-y senses, they track Belle down to the local flower shop, the one Belle’s brother owns.
Smee had kidnapped Belle upon her brother’s request. When she refused to give up on Rumpelstiltskin, he sent her into the tunnels. He will do anything to make her forget that monster, even if she will forget him. When Gold saves his one true love, she still won’t take him back. His one true ailment is his cowardice, and if he can’t conquer that, then he can’t be with her. When he gives her the key to the library, she is sure that he did it just to win her back. But he took David’s relationship advice and was truly honest with her. He is a coward and he collects magic and power to make up for it, and it made him lose his son. He brought magic to Storybrooke so he could try to find his son, but if he leaves the city limits, he will completely forget who Bae is. And now he is trapped by himself in this town, and all he can do to keep himself upright is use magic and try to maintain his power.
It seems like Once Upon A Time is getting more complicated with each episode. We always had the “real world” of Storybrooke and the original fairy tale world. But now a second level of the fairy tales have been added. Emma and Snow White have been teleported into this new dimension, which contains the few characters that weren’t affected by the curse.
In the original fairy tale stories King George and the Leviathan are out to get Prince Charming and Snow White. Before Snow can escape, the Leviathan, Sir Lancelot (no longer) of the Round Table stops her and delivers her to the king. Because he lost all hope for having a family, he decides to do the same to her, cursing her to never have children. When Snow is thrown back out to the world, Lancelot stops her, he still has honor and wants to save her, Charming, and his mother. But by the time that Charming makes it home, King George is ready for him. Though Charming takes on all six of his men, his mother was struck with an arrow to the chest. They return to the lake of the siren to heal her. There is only one drop of water left from the dried up lake, and it didn’t appear to heal her. Because Lancelot has the power to marry, Charming and Snow have an impromptu wedding, so his mother can see her son in his happiest moment. The reason Charming’s mother never recovered was because she never drank the water of Lake Nostos, she had it placed in the wedding chalice. She knew that Charming having a child would mean more to him than anything, and Snow figured it out.
In the second level of the Enchanted Forest tales, Emma is much too quick to trust. Just because Cora says that she’s a friend, she believes her, and trusts her even upon Snow’s insistence otherwise. When Lancelot realizes that Snow is in his prison cell, he offers his assistance. Snow’s plan was to return to her old home and hope that the enchanted wardrobe will still be a portal back to Maine. Lancelot sends Mulan, his best warrior, to help them get there and avoid the ogres. Emma is completely out of her element, she understands very little about the strange world that she’s been sucked into. So when Aurora shows up to kill Snow, Emma shoots her gun to show that she is in charge of the situation. But ogres hunt by sound, and they are running rampant throughout the land. The ogre swats Emma’s gun out of her hand (should have taken off her entire arm) and pins her down, but Snow grabs his attention and shoots him directly in the eye with her bow and arrow. The things she’ll do for her daughter!
They find the wardrobe intact at Snow’s house. They need to bring it back to camp to try to uncover enough magic to use the portal, and just in time, Lancelot arrives to help out. Since he is far too interested in the world on Earth and his knowledge of their lives back there is too extensive, Snow realizes that this isn’t Lancelot, it’s Cora. In trying to save Snow, Emma ends up lighting the wardrobe on fire, leaving them stranded in the Enchanted Forest. But before they try to uncover another portal, Emma becomes incredibly emotional. She finally understands why her parents sent her to Earth, it was the very best thing they could do for her. And she just did the same to protect Henry. Those 28 years that she’s spent hating her parents are long over, now she just wants to spend the time she has left with them.
And in the “real world,” David is trying to keep Henry at bay, the farther away he is from magic, the safer he is. The stubborn ten year old isn’t going to be pushed away so easily. He cuts class to find Jefferson, begging him to talk to his daughter. Even if she’s mad at him for leaving, it’s better than her never seeing him again. And Jefferson is definitely pleased with this advice, because Grace is thrilled to see him. David realizes that maybe keeping Henry away from his true world with magic isn’t going to work when he catches him in Regina’s vault. He saves him from the two-headed snake and then offers to teach him how to sword fight. Now he can finally learn how to be the prince that he always thought he was supposed to be!
We are gifted with the story of Regina’s rise to evilness. When Regina tried to run away from her wedding with the king, her mother uses her magic to contain her within the kingdom. When the allusion of power isn’t enough for Regina, Cora insists that “power is freedom.” Regina quickly learns the truth behind this statement. She imagines killing Snow for having her true love executed. To avoid turning into her mother and succumbing to evil she steals the spell book and summons Rumpelstiltskin. Somehow he already knows her and is happy to see that they are back together, where they belong. Looks like dear Rumpelstiltskin knew that Regina would turn to the dark side much before she did. Though Regina brings the Dark One to her to make her purer, that’s not what he’s there for. All of her troubles will go away if she pushes Cora into a portal. And once she does it, she admits to Rumpelstiltskin that it felt amazing. She agrees to keep the spell book and follow his guidance, as long as she won’t turn into her mother. And since it was up to her to use her power for good, it looks like she failed. It is oh so easy to be corrupted by power, isn’t it Regina?
It looks like Regina finally sees the light of her own wrongdoings by the end of the episode. She tried to keep Henry by force and even offered to teach him how to harness the power of magic, but he refuses. It isn’t fair that he should be trapped in her prison just because she loves him. She realizes then that she has turned into her mother, exactly what she feared. She wants Henry to love her for her, not due to force, so she allows him to live with David/Charming until she can redeem herself. But with the Evil Queen, it’s hard to tell–maybe it’s all a ruse and she’s just using David.
While Regina is struggling with her identity as a mother and a magic wielder, everybody else wants to lose their own fairy tale personas. When Sneezy the dwarf crosses the boundary of Storybrook, he loses all memories of being Sneezy, he solely remembers his life in Storybrook as Dan. Though David promises to give them answers in the assembly room in two hours, he doesn’t show up. Instead, Regina arrives with her spell book charging her magic. After convincing Henry to go with her (this is before her realization), she lights up the town symbol with fire, the perfect emblem of her return to grace. Just as everyone is about to cross the border, David stops them and gives an inspiring speech about how he is both David and Prince Charming. He can’t be one without the other, and he wouldn’t want to be. He’s made mistakes in both worlds, but he made them, not some other man. This, coupled with the fact that the Enchanted Forest is still real somewhere keeps the townsfolk within the borders of Storybrook.
Instead of his attending his own town meeting, David was trying to track down the Mad Hatter to find a portal back into the other world to save his wife and daughter. He saves Jefferson from underneath a car, but he refuses to help him. When they have both world, they are stuck with double the pain and he doesn’t want to get involved with trying to teleport between the two. He doesn’t have the magic to do so, even if he wanted. And with that he bolts, and David has no time to recapture him.
Back in the story, we see very little of Emma and Snow. Mulan has them trailing behind the horses until they reach her camp. When Snow tries to fight back and escape, the two are thrown into the pit. And the only other soul inside the pit is “a friend.” I don’t think I would consider Cora a friend, but Emma and Snow will have to figure that one out for themselves.
The season opens with something rather curious that doesn’t get explained away (at least not yet). A random man in New York receives a postcard from Storybrooke delivered by a dove. The message only read: “Broken.” I think the only safe assumption is that this is in reference to the curse being broken. But what else could it mean? Is the man also from the fairy tales and if so, how did he get out of Storybrooke? If not, how does he know about the spell? I have a feeling we will have to wait a good few weeks before we get any answers as to who this mysterious man is.
Now that magic has spread throughout Storybrooke and the characters realize who they truly are, they are thrilled. There are cheers, hugs, kisses, and tearful reunions. Snow White and Prince Charming are thrilled to finally know their daughter, but Emma isn’t quite as pleased. She insists that they have to meet with Rumpelstiltskin before having a family discussion. Once Snow insists that they talk, Emma lets her true feelings out, she tells her parents that abandoning her was the worst thing they could do. She would rather be trapped in the cursed land with them than have been raised without them in the real (Fake?) world. If she knew what life was like there, she probably wouldn’t agree. But what I don’t understand is why she would do the same to her own son. If being away from her real parents was the worst thing that happened to her, why would she abandon Henry? It does, however, explain why she is so protective of him now.
In the fairytale world we are introduced to Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, and Phillip (I don’t know my fairy tales too well, so if Phillip is actually an important character, I missed it). Once the curse suddenly lifted and time returned to normal, Phillip and Mulan were able to return to their quest to find his love, Aurora. When he awakens her from her deep sleep, a wraith attacks the trio, which they manage to fend off. But mot without Phillip getting marked for death by the soul-sucker’s talisman. Phillip doesn’t tell the girls that he was marked to protect them (even though Mulan is a badass knight). When they discover that Phillip is missing, Mulan and Aurora (after quite a bit of insistence) hunt him down. When they find him, Mulan offers to sacrifice her life for his (she’s in love with him, too, of course), but he lets the wraith take him.
When we shift back to the now-magic-infused-real-world, there is a giant mob ready to kill the evil queen. And she has no problem returning the favor, she throws her hands into the air and screams, “You wanted to see your queen, well here she… IS!” However, magic isn’t the same in this world. She doesn’t seem to have her powers. When the mob realizes that she’s not a threat, they get even more insistent on killing her, but Snow, Charming, and Emma calm them down. In this world, they don’t condone violence or murder. To protect her and the people, they lock her up.
Rumpelstiltskin promised Belle that he wouldn’t kill Regina. She is trying to change him from the monster that he is, but he can’t change. Or at least won’t change. He finds a loophole to this agreement, as he always does. He pays the queen a little visit in the prison and shows off his talisman, marking her for the wraith. She tries to reason with him, saying that she didn’t kill Belle when she easily could have. Even if this were true, Rumpelstiltskin wouldn’t believe her, her motives are always rooted in her own self-interest and salvation. When Belle discovers this, she is furious and storms out. But she returns to check on him and notices her chipped teacup is still in his possession, and it is the only thing he cherishes. However, out of love, Rumpelstiltskin tells her that she needs to leave, “Despite what you hope, I’m still a monster.” Belle just smiles at him and responds, “That’s exactly the reason I have to stay.” Come on now Belle, stop being so naive! Unless someone else becomes the Dark One, he’ll never change. And, if I’m not mistaken, that can only happen if he is killed.
When the reunited family storms into Gold’s shop, they demand answers. Rather than give them that, he tells them that the wraith is his little gift to them and reminds Emma that she owes him a favor (Oh how he knows how to push her buttons!). When the wraith attacks, Snow manages to scare it off with a makeshift flamethrower. But once it finishes regenerating it returns to capture Regina’s soul, but they are ready for it. With the little bit of magic Regina can muster and Jefferson’s hat, they set up a trap to banish it into the world that no longer exists. Along with the wraith, Emma gets pulled into the portal. This time not planning to leave her behind, her parents jump in after, however only Snow makes it in.
When she is one-on-one with Prince Charming, she straps him to the wall with her magic (Still not sure how she got it back all of a sudden… Or did she fake not having her power before?). But when Henry shows up, she drops him, allowing him to live. For now. When Regina is “sorry” to break it to Henry that his mother and grandmother are dead, he is furious. If Regina doesn’t save Emma and Mary Margaret, he will never speak to Regina again. Regina’s one weakness was triggered, the only love she has is that for Henry. And she wouldn’t be able to live in either world without him and his love anymore, so she will be forced to oblige. Charming tells Henry that they are still alive, he has faith and he “will always find them.” Sound familiar? I thought so. And now, for the icing on the cake, Emma and Snow White land nearby to where Mulan and Aurora are mourning Phillip’s death. This should be an interesting conversation!
The episode was exciting, full of intrigue, answered many questions, and posed even more. I doubted that the appearance of magic in the real world could be both interesting and not excessive. But the different properties of magic in this world will definitely keep me guessing, which is exactly what I want in a fantasy show. The two major flaws that this episode had was the indecisiveness of magic, at one point Regina didn’t have magic, but soon after she regained it. And the other is the naming of the characters. Emma and Henry should be the only ones calling the fairytale characters by their other names (Mary Margaret, David, etc.), while Charming should be calling her Snow White, but this wasn’t the case. There was some awkward flip flopping between the names, half the time he called her Snow and the other half Mary Margaret.