As Regina struggles with being a parent, we explore her own relationship with her mother in the Enchanted Forest of the past.
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Meghan Ory, and Robert Carlyle
Regina attempts to escape her marriage to King Leopold, though she is stopped by her mother Cora’s magic. Regina is desperate to be free, though Cora argues that the power that she will be given as Queen is freedom. Regina struggles against the idea of becoming her mother, as she fantasises about murdering Snow, and her father tells her about a man who helped her mother learn magic. This inspires Regina to take the book of spells that her mother received from the man and uses it to summon Rumplestiltskin. Regina explains to him the struggle she is having with her mother, and he gifts her a looking-glass, which is a portal (presumably to Wonderland). As she prepares to get married, Regina tries to push Cora into the mirror, but Cora defends herself with magic, trapping Regina with a magical restraint. With the help of an apparition of Rumple in the mirror, Regina manages to use magic to push Cora through the mirror into whatever lies beyond. Free at last, Regina flees once more, but is stopped by Rumple, who demands to know if she liked using magic. Regina accepts that she did, and Rumple offers to teach her about magic and, in exchange, she will owe him a favour…
Charming is desperately trying to find out how to return Emma and Snow back from wherever Jefferson’s hat sent them, but with Regina not proffering anymore information about the hat, and the Blue Fairy powerless without fairy dust, he reaches a slight dead end. It also transpires, via an experiment run by the Seven Dwarves, that crossing over the city limits results in reverting to their Storybrooke identities exclusively, as has happened to Sneezy.
Gold refuses to help Regina win back Henry, but does give to her the book that Regina took from her mother in the past, telling her that she is becoming more like her own mother. Gold then helps Charming find Jefferson using a locator spell, but is enraged to find out about the consequences of crossing the city border.
At the meeting where Charming had intended to tell the town how they were going to move forward in these times, Regina arrives and demonstrates her magic, but she is stopped by Henry, who agrees to go home with her. Charming has managed to locate Jefferson, who doesn’t think that there’s any way for him to help, as he believes the Enchanted Forest to be destroyed. When Jefferson runs away, Charming is stopped by Red, who informs him that Regina has Henry and that the citizens are attempting to leave Storybrooke to erase their pain at being displaced from their loved ones and their old home. Charming drives off to stop them, and explains to them the importance of those memories, and both of their identities. The speech is enough to convince the residents, and they return to Storybrooke once more.
Regina, meanwhile, has resorted to magic to keep Henry in the house, entrapping him with tree branches when he attempts to escape out of the window. When Charming arrives to liberate Henry, Regina is looking mournfully at her mother’s book of spells, and she gives Henry over willingly, telling Henry that she wants to change and that she shouldn’t have tried to force him to stay using magic. Regina confesses to Charming that the Enchanted Forest still exists, but she has no idea how to get there. Despite trying to distance herself from her mother, Regina cannot bring herself to destroy the book of spells.
Geppetto, who has been trying to find Pinocchio and has been leaving posters over time – unaware that August is Pinocchio – is finally told by Henry where to find him, but Geppetto finds Pinocchio’s room deserted.
Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Emma and Snow are brought to the refuge camp by Mulan and Aurora. They attempt to escape, but are thrown into the pit. Snow is knocked out in the escape attempt, and while Emma tries to rouse her, she is surprised by a voice, who offers help. As she emerges into the light, she is revealed to be Cora, though she only introduces herself as “a friend”.
- Regina first used magic to rid herself of Cora’s influence.
- Rumple offers Regina the opportunity to learn magic.
- Regina tries to use magic to bring Henry back to her, but realises that she does not want to become her mother, and relinquishes him to Charming.
- Emma and Snow are imprisoned by the survivors in the Enchanted Forest, where they encounter Cora.
- It was great to see Red taking more of a leadership role in Storybrooke, especially while Charming is trying to get Snow back. A lovely demonstration of her skills, and great to see her having a bit more to do.
- I loved the symmetries made between Regina and Cora’s characters here, all the way down to the exact same method to restrain their children. It’s also nice to see Regina making the choice to distance herself from the choices that her mother made, which caused the level of resentment and hatred as they did within Regina. It is strange, however, that Regina seemed to learn the moral and express the sentiment twice within the same episode. The worries she had far in the past about becoming like her mother are worries she now also is reminded of, and yet in the past she still ultimately made the choices that made her like her mother. I suppose it was the book of spells that served her to remind her of the symmetry between her and Cora’s behaviours and controlling natures, which may go some way to explain the development she experiences in the present.
- As for Regina’s back slide in the past, I wonder what events led to Regina ultimately returning to get married to King Leopold, as she was ready to flee and give up her revenge on Snow until Rumple’s intervention. I do wonder whether, considering Rumple is trying to create the Dark Curse so that he can get to Bae, if he actively manipulated Regina into becoming the Evil Queen so that she could enact it. She was definitely read to leave and not give in to her temptation to exact revenge upon Snow, until Rumple intervened.
- It’s nice to see some development for Charming while Snow isn’t around. Charming, apart from his couple of central episodes last season, hasn’t enjoyed much progress. David Nolan certainly did not have very much to do aside from his relationship with Mary Margaret, so it’s nice to see him taking the role as leader of the community, as well as him trying to rescue Snow and Emma.
- The scene with Regina explaining to Henry her feelings, and not wanting to use magic to make him love her was really powerful. Brilliantly acted. You could really see the sincerity with Regina, and it makes you realise how much of her other behaviour is a veneer and a mask to conceal this genuine side. She really does love Henry, and she does have that longing and that loving side, especially towards family, so it was nice to see this displayed, even if Regina did not ultimately decide to give up magic (which is entirely a wise choice. I don’t think that she would last very long without her magic, so it’s necessary for self defence, but I don’t think that magic itself is a corrupting influence, even though we haven’t actually seen any good people in the programme who have magic).
- I am quite fond of how this season, with its multiple locations in the present storyline, as well as the flashbacks, feels a little less episodic and more serialised. The overarching story of trying to get Snow and Emma back already feels more purposeful than trying to break the curse did last season, so I’m definitely enjoying this much more than last season. It’s delightful the meaningful character development that we can now see from the lead characters now that they remember their fairytale selves.
- I love how contextual this flashback was. It didn’t feel superfluous, or “gosh we’ve got to have a flashback this episode, quickly!”, but it slotted in quite nicely as an exploration of Regina’s current self and how she got there.
- I think it was a good decision to sideline Emma and Snow in this episode. They were such massive parts of the last season, and having them to the side allowed a better exploration for Charming and Regina, as well as Red to a lesser extent. It’s nice to see all of these parts nicely shared out, though I was disappointed not to see Belle in the episode at all. It would be nice for her to take more of a role outside her relationship with Gold moving forwards.
Click the links below to navigate to other Once Upon a Time reviews.