Regina strives to get rid of Emma in Storybrooke, while we see the terrible deeds the Evil Queen performed to ensure the Dark Curse came to fruition.
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Raphael Sbarge, Jamie Dornan, and Robert Carlyle
The Enchanted Forest
We see the Evil Queen return to her castle after her confrontation with the Charmings at their wedding. She heads off to see Maleficent, of Sleeping Beauty fame, in order to demand the Dark Curse off her, after previously lending it to her in exchange for the sleeping curse that she used upon Snow White. Using Maleficent’s love for her black unicorn against her, Regina goes to attack it, which diverts Maleficent long enough for Regina to subdue her. Breaking Maleficent’s staff, Regina takes back the curse, but Maleficent warns her that it will create an unfillable void within her.
To carry out the curse, the Evil Queen requires locks of hair from the darkest souls of the land, so takes them from the other assembled dark forces (I don’t think any of them ever appear again). She uses her favourite horse’s heart as the final ingredient, but the curse fails.
She seeks out Rumplestiltskin in the Charmings’ dungeon cell, as he was the one who gifted her the Dark Curse. Rumple arranges for a good life in the new future, in exchange for helping the Evil Queen achieve it, as well as the guarantee that she should do what his counterpart requests so long as he says “please”. Safe in the knowledge that he will not remember this life, the Evil Queen agrees to this request. Rumple reveals that in order to enact the Dark Curse, Regina must sacrifice the heart of what she loves most. She initially believes that what she loved most dies, but soon realises that there is one she loves enough for the curse to work.
Returning to her castle, the Evil Queen speaks to her Valet and explains what she has to do. The Valet realises that he is the one who she loves most, as the Evil Queen admits that she doesn’t know what to do, asking her “Daddy” for help. While he beseeches her to move past Snow’s betrayal, Regina says that she is unable to, and, crying, stabs her father in the heart.
Tossing it into the fire, the curse rampages through the Enchanted Kingdom, while Regina lays a flower at her father’s grave, bearing the name Henry.
It has not gone unnoticed that the town clock has started to move, including Regina, who is startled by the clock chiming. She immediately sets off to gift Emma an apple, suggesting that she enjoy one on the way home. Emma has had enough of being told to leave, however, and makes it clear to Regina that the more she attempts to warn her off, the more she will want to say to protect Henry.
At Granny’s Diner, Henry asks Emma to walk him to school and conveys to her his plan to free everyone from the curse. He explains that a side effect of the curse is that the inhabitants of Storybrooke live in a haze. He has also removed the incriminating pages from the storybook that would reveal Emma’s identity as Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter. He beseeches her to read the missing pages to learn the truth of her identity.
Emma heads off to meet with Archie Hopper, who is Henry’s therapist, to ascertain why Henry believes that all of the townspeople are fairytale characters. Archie believes it to be a coping mechanism to deal with his problems, but Emma points out that he only received the book a month previously, while his problems evidently precede it. Archie allows Emma to see Henry’s file, which strikes her as a suspicious breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. He warns her not to break Henry’s imagination. Immediately, Archie phones Regina to tell her that he gave Emma the file as Regina wanted.
In her room at Granny’s, Graham arrests Emma for stealing the file from Archie. Regina immediately reports this to Henry, claiming that Emma stole the file from Hopper’s office as she is a con woman trying to take advantage of them, but Henry does not believe this story. Arriving at the police station with Mary Margaret, Henry believes that Emma stole the file in order to gather intelligence to break the curse, and Mary Margaret bails Emma out.
Emma immediately takes a chainsaw to Regina’s prized apple tree, making a powerful proclamation to Regina that she is not going to be scared away, despite Regina’s best efforts. Emma is promptly kicked out of Granny’s due to a previously forgotten no-felons rule, while Regina pressures Graham to arrest Emma, though Graham has worked out that Emma is innocent and that Archie was lying about the file being stolen.
Regina calls to offer Emma a peace and tricks her into saying that she has no interest in taking Henry away, but instead that she is sticking around to make sure Henry is okay, given his troubles. She speaks about her concerns about his inability to discern fantasy and reality. Henry overhears them and runs away, upset, as Emma realises that Regina engineered this on purpose.
Emma pays back Mary Margaret and they bond over cinnamon hot chocolate and cookies. Mary Margaret expresses to Emma the sense that they have met before and persuades Emma to stick around for Henry, and that having her in his life is better for him than leaving it.
Emma bursts into Henry’s therapy session with Archie and tells Henry that she wants to stay and get to know him. She acknowledges that she believes that the curse is crazy and she finds it difficult to believe, but that does not believe that it is not true. She plays off her talking with Regina as playing a vital role in breaking the curse, by tricking the Evil Queen into thinking that she is a nonbeliever. Henry burns the incriminating pages in Archie’s fireplace to ensure that Regina never sees them, while Emma promises that even a curse will not prevent her from helping him.
Mr. Gold pays Regina a visit as she tends to her apple tree, in high spirits, believing that she has successfully scared off Emma. Mr. Gold warns her that he spotted Henry and Emma walking together. He suggests that Regina should have come to him for help, and reminds her that he found Henry for her, goading her by asking how she picked his name. Regina is suspicious of Gold, demanding to know where he found Henry, curious as to why Gold would want Emma to be in Storybrooke. Mr. Gold asks Regina to let it go, using the word “please”.
- This episode is a wonderful glimpse into the psyche of the Evil Queen/Regina. While we still do not quite understand her motivations behind trying to ruin Prince Charming and Snow White’s happy ending, beyond simply the stereotypical fairytale connotations of Snow White being younger and prettier than her, we still understand that there is something that Snow has taken from her, even though we do not know what yet. We see the desperation as she seeks the Dark Curse, as well as the extreme lengths that she goes to ensure it. We see that the Evil Queen is capable of emotion, as she sobs over her father’s body, and we understand when she names Henry after her father. It’s tricky, therefore, as an audience, to reconcile this glimpse with her actions from that point onwards. It’s a wise move from the writers, and makes great strides to making Regina a more compelling and sympathetic villain. Though we do not understand her fully yet, there is a sense of a story ready to be unearthed.
- In this episode, we are introduced to the toerag that is Sidney Glass. I’m sure that Regina was greatly amused by that pun, as his Enchanted Forest counterpart is her own magic mirror. Sidney runs the newspaper in Storybrooke, and is one of Regina’s minions in her crusade against Emma Swan.
- It’s nice to see more connection between Mary Margaret and Emma here. Firstly, it’s nice to see Emma connecting with anybody, let alone another woman and somebody who the audience knows/suspects is her mother. Considering that Snow was never able to actually be there for Emma, it’s nice that, in some way, she gets to be there for her now, even as more of an equal role than a parental one.
- Even more hints are given towards Mr. Gold and how much he truly retains about the Enchanted Forest, as well as giving the audience definite hints that the visions we see of the Enchanted Forest are real events instead of imaginings by Henry. The revelation that he was the one who found Henry is significant, as it appears that he purposefully – however unconsciously to himself – engineered the events of Henry coming to Storybrooke such that Emma herself would come. Quite how Gold knew that Henry was Emma’s son, or indeed knew that Emma would even have a son is quite another matter, unless Rumple had a highly detailed understanding of the future. Perhaps that revelation is yet to come.
- Even though Emma and Henry are getting closer, she is still yet to believe in his tales, merely saying that she is in on his plan in order to preserve the relationship. I’m not sure if dishonesty is the best way forwards, but it is important that Henry feels heard, even if this isn’t entirely truthful. I suppose there’s always an element of indulging with one’s children, after all.
- Another delightful instalment, for sure. Not much headway is made in the way of many of the cursed characters, but we learn a lot more about our central villain, and a plot is only as compelling as its antagonist. Besides, who doesn’t love seeing Lana Parrilla slay every scene that she’s in?