Sunday's "The Queen Is Dead" was probably one of the most upsetting episodes of the series. Snow White has overcome grave injustices due to Cora's sickening and severely selfish desire for unlimited power. Clearly, Cora will stop at nothing to get everything she wants and she is more than willing to corrupt Regina and take her down the same deplorably vindictive and evil path. Last night 'Once Upon A Time' reached a stalemate of sorts in this endless game of Good versus Evil. After suffering another unnecessary and merciless loss, Snow White reaches her breaking point. Her mother, Queen Eva, died knowing that her beloved daughter would always do the right thing by choosing Good over Evil. After decades of doing the right thing, Snow White is now tempted to overlook her mother's last words of wisdom. When Evil and Power prevails over Good, perhaps it is time to fight fire with fire.
Fairytale Land: "Always hold goodness in your heart and rule justly."
This week's fairytale flashback told the heartbreaking tale of Queen Eva's death. On her birthday, young Snow White's receives a very special gift from her mother; it is a beautiful tiara that has been passed down for generations from mother to daughter. When they go to get the tiara, they catch Johanna (Lesley Nicol) trying it on. We quickly discover that Snow started off as an entitled little brat. She chastises Johanna and claims that royals are superior to everyone else in the kingdom. Queen Eva immediately corrects her daughter and teachers her a long-lasting valuable lesson. She explains, "Everyone in the kingdom deserves our love and respect...we are all the same." Being royal doesn't make them better than anyone else. The queen tells the young princess to honor everyone in her kingdom "by being a kind and benevolent leader." As Snow begins to understand the importance of her mother's words, the queen suddenly falls ill.
The doctor doesn't know what is wrong with the queen, so Snow reaches out to Johanna for help. The kind servant offers another solution: If medicine can't cure the queen, perhaps magic can. Johanna tells Snow about the Blue Fairy's power to grant a person's wish if one’s heart is true. She tells Snow to go to the woods and wish upon the blue star.
Later that evening, the Blue Fairy finds young Snow in woods. She explains that fairy magic is the purest magic of all, but it can't cure death. However, Blue can conjure a remedy using magic forbidden to fairies, but Snow must keep it a secret. She gives Snow a candle infused with magic and warns her that all magic comes with a price. Sadly, the price is very high. In order for one to live, another must die. Snow faces one of the greatest challenges of her life. Will she take a life to save a life? Blue tells Snow that she must decide who will die and instructs her to hold candle to heart and whisper the name of the person who will die in her mother's place.
Snow reaches out to her mother with tears streaming down her cheeks. She tells Queen Eva about the Blue Fairy and dark magic. Snow confesses that she could not trade someone else's life for her mother's. Queen Eva is proud of Snow for making the right decision and she has passed the ultimate test. She wants Snow to remember this moment and always choose to do what is right and good. With her last breath, Queen Eva tells Snow: "With or without me, some day you will be a great queen...As long as you hold the spirit of goodness in your heart, I shall never leave you."
While preparing for the funeral and putting on the tiara, the princess laments, "Today was supposed to be a day of celebration." Johanna encourages the princess to find strength from her mother. Snow handles this grave day with grace, walking past those who have come to pay their respects and approaching her mother. She tells Queen Eva that she misses her so much and sobs uncontrollably. After the room has been cleared, Snow still sits before her mother. Eventually, Johanna comes to take her away, saying, "It's over my dear, it's time to let her go."
As soon as Sow has left the room, the Blue Fairy flutters in and transforms into Cora. Looking over Queen Eva’s lifeless body, Cora quips, "Poison looks good on you...Death is most certainly your color." Then with a pang of jealousy in her voice, Cora praises Queen Eva for raising Snow so well. Snow loves Queen Eva more than Regina has ever loved Cora. Clearly this has been a thorn in her side, so she vows to turn Snow White's heart black as coal and destroy their legacy. It seems that Cora did all of this so that Queen Eva can "know how it feels to be a miller's daughter."
Sure, we saw it coming, but it doesn't make the fact any less enraging. We will have to wait until next week to learn Eva and Cora's history and discover why Cora hated her so fiercely. With every breath, Cora takes being evil to a whole new level.
Storybrooke: "All I want is our happy ending. It's time, we've earned it. No more lives lost. No more hearts broken."
David prepares a special breakfast for Mary Margaret because it is her birthday, but she does not want any acknowledgment or celebration. David points to a surprise present on the table and says that someone in Storybrooke wants to wish her a happy birthday and they are both curious to discover who else knows. M.M. opens the box to see her tiara and a note from dear Johanna. She looks at the return address and pays her old friend a visit.
Cut to their warm reunion, hugs and kisses with tears in their eyes as they remember the gravity this day brings. In honor of Queen Eva's memory, Johanna has been planting a garden of beautiful white flowers that withstand the coldest of days, we learn that they are Snow White's namesake. Johanna tells Mary Margaret that she saw the tiara in Mr. Gold's shop and knew how much it meant to Snow. Suddenly M.M. hears a commotion in the woods nearby and goes to check it out. She finds Regina and Cora with a map, searching for The Dark One's dagger. She hears Cora tell Regina, "I'll use that dagger to force the Dark One to kill anyone you like." With knowledge of a new unholy alliance in town, Mary Margaret cuts her visit short and rushes to tell David.
She finds David knocked out on the ground. Hook jumped him in the sheriff's office and reclaimed his missing appendage before tracking down his crocodile in the big city. Once David comes to and enjoys the thought of throwing Hook's ass in jail, M.M. comes with a plan to stop Cora, she will make Regina doubt her malicious mother.
Mary Margaret lures Regina out to Granny's Diner, saying that she has word from Henry. Once Regina gets there, M.M. tries to convince her that Cora doesn't truly care about her or Henry. She says that Cora only wants power and knows that Regina is capable of being good if she just chooses the right side. But it is too late. Regina has already chosen her mother. Regina claims to have always been good, saying that Snow added "evil" to her name years ago. When Mary Margaret starts attacking Cora again, Regina goes for the low blow and snaps, "What would you know about mothers?" With that said, M.M. knows they must get to the dagger before the Evil Regals do.
The Charmings enlist the help of the Blue Fairy and hope her magic can pin-point the dagger's location. When her magic doesn't work, Mary Margaret asks her to make another exception like she did years ago, but Blue has no idea what she is referring to. With Emma’s help, they learn soon enough that the dagger is hidden in the Storybrooke clock tower. The Charmings run up and find the dagger attached to the hand of the giant clock. Once they posses the dagger, Cora and Regina appear with Johanna. Regina rips out Johanna's heart and Cora gives Mary Margaret a choice: The Dark One's dagger for Johanna’s life. The Evil Regals once again state that this isn't a matter of Good or Evil. It has always been about power and power always wins. The choice is Mary Margaret's.
While M.M. struggles with this decision, Cora reveals that she was the Blue Fairy all those years ago and admits to killing Queen Eva. Mary Margaret cries, "Why did you take her from me?" Cora coldly replies, "To make my daughter the queen." At this point, even Johanna is telling M.M. that it is alright to protect the townspeople for the greater good, but Snow must always do the right thing.
As predicted, Mary Margaret gives up the dagger for Johanna's safety, even when Johanna tells her not to. Regina replaces her heart and then Cora magically thrusts Johanna out of the clock window, where she so tragically plummets to her death. Before vanishing with the dagger, Cora and Regina leave the Charmings with food for thought: "You see where good gets you."
With the dagger in their possession, Regina has a chat with Cora and learns a little bit more about her past. She realizes that she didn't rescue Snow by accident and Cora has been orchestrating Regina's fate from the start. Cora asks her daughter, "What does this knowledge change for you?" Regina responds, "That you won mother... My only interest now is Henry." Regina does not want Henry to know that she is behind this vindictive plot in any way. She worries that they can't use Gold without Henry finding out, but Cora already has another plan in mind.
Meanwhile, the Charmings lay Johanna to rest in the Storybrooke cemetery. Mary Margaret reevaluates the choices she has made throughout her life. Snow White has always done the right thing, choosing good over evil: saving Regina's life, letting her mother die, etc. Snow could have stopped someone evil so many times, if she had simply decided not to be good. David encourages her to stay the course, "You can't let Cora make you lose faith in who you are." However, Snow White is having a change of heart. They've sacrificed so much and what cost? Mary Margaret says, "I don't care about justice anymore...What if I'm the one who has to change?" As Snow White loses faith in good, she declares, "I'm going to kill Cora."
This certainly clarifies a teaser we pondered last week. Will Snow White follow through with her declaration? Will she forsake being good and noble by committing the ultimate dark deed? Will she kill Cora? Or in a twist, will David take this burden off of her soul by killing Cora for her? Share your theories, Oncers!
New York City: "It’s a sad truth that the people closest to us are capable of causing the most pain."
Henry and Neal begin bonding over pizza, while Mr. Gold and Emma try to get back in their children's good graces. Gold tells Emma that she should persuade Neal to return to Storybrooke with them so that he can get to know Henry better. Gold says she should do it for Henry, but judging by her response, he senses there is something more to this situation. Gold calls Emma out, "You want a second chance with that man." It’s no shock that Emma still has feelings for the love of her life and the father of her child, but this is 'Once Upon A Time,' happy endings don't come easy.
When Henry and Neal come out from their lunch Emma asks how Henry liked the pizza. Henry, with the perfect deadpan delivery, quips that he liked it because it's "delicious, cheesy and doesn't lie." He then walks alongside Gold, while Emma and Neal chat among themselves. Henry asks Gold if he should call him grandpa now and Gold mutters, "Call me whatever you like." It doesn't look like Gold will be warming up to Henry any time soon. Unfortunately, Emma isn't having much luck with Neal either. When she suggests going to Storybrooke, he says he needs to tell her something. Suddenly, heir conversation is abruptly cut short when Hook comes crashing down on Gold in the gateway to Neal's apartment.
Hook stabs Gold in the chest with his sharp appendage, finally capturing his crocodile. Surprisingly, Neal recognizes Hook from his past. They quickly lock Hook up in the basement and learn that Hook sailed his ship to the city (sadly all of this happened off-screen). Then they tend to Gold's wounds in Neal's apartment. A genuinely concerned Neal instinctively calls Gold "Papa" when asking how he's doing (aww). As Henry tries to help his grandpa, Gold's voice fills with malice and he snaps at the boy, "Stay away from me! You caused this."
As we get a glimpse of the wound, we see that it is discolored, almost like Dark One coloring. Gold has been cut with poison, so they must get him back to Storybrooke to cure him with magic before it is too late. Neal says he can captain Hook's ship and take them back to Storybrooke. He tells Emma that he spent some time in Neverland and admits that he would be around 200 years old now, had he not stayed there for so long. He calls someone to borrow a car, so they can quickly drive Gold to the ship.
In the middle of all the chaos, Emma gets a text from Mary Margaret about Gold's dagger. She tells Gold about Regina and Cora's plan. He says the dagger hasn't left his possession for centuries and it’s not going to now. Emma reminds Gold of their circumstance and says he needs to start trusting people, so he might as well start with family. Given that the Charmings found the dagger without magic, we can assume that Gold pulled through.
As our time in New York draws to an end, we get one last surprise. When Emma goes with Neal to pick up the car, she meets Tamara, Neal's fiancee. The look on poor Emma's face says it all.
This was pretty heavy episode. There was a lot of heartbreak and angst. It also raises several questions: Was Bae one of the Lost Boys? Did he know his mother, Milah, ran off with Hook? Does he still have feelings for Emma? What is Tamara's backstory? Is Gold turning evil again? Did the poison bring out his dark side? Can Cora already be using the dagger to turn Gold against Henry?
Watch the embedded promo for next week's "The Miller' Daughter." It teases that one of our own will die. Do you have any early predictions, Oncers? Could it be Gold? Will someone finally kill Cora or Regina? Will Cora or Regina eliminate a potential threat and kill one of the "good guys"? Gold is on his deathbed for the time being, but he may be able to conjure up a cure and take someone out. Would Gold really be capable of killing Henry? Would he murder Cora or Regina to save himself and maintain the dagger’s power?
- Good vs. Evil: This is a common theme, but ‘OUAT’ has done a great job of keeping it real. It is a constant battle and evil comes in many forms. Right now, Snow’s self-doubt is a form of evil working its way into all that is good. Can’t wait to see what happens next week. Snow has sacrificed so much for the sake of good. Is she truly willing to throw it all away?
- Hook: At PaleyFest, they slipped that Hook would be locked in the basement for a bit. This was kind of poorly handled. Will we see him in the basement? Will he escape? Will anybody be keeping an eye on him in New York? Hook attacks Gold and we don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing Neal and Emma roughing him up? More was expected after that crazy confrontation.
- Neal in Neverland: This is an awesome twist. The concept of time is also interesting. How old is Rumple if Bae is in his 200’s? We found out yesterday that this season ends with a nod to Neverland. Will Neal and others travel to the magical land far far away? Will we learn about Bae’s history with Hook? Did he hang out with Peter Pan? So many questions! Love the endless possibilities with this story-line.
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‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.