This is proving a rather difficult review to write. There are a lot of things in this episode that I really like. However, there are also parts that concern me, particularly in how it relates to the direction of the show as a whole. It’s only the first tingling of concern; my trust in the writers is still reasonably strong. That said, this episode – and the last few, for that matter – have been quite dense adventures that really demand a second viewing.
We were previously left with a family tree for Emma and Henry that looks more like a Bradford Pear after the tornado. We had the unholy trio of Regina, Cora and Hook seemingly plotting death and destruction to half of Storybrooke. And who knows what’s been going on with Red, the dwarves or the rest of the “royal council.” Though we’ve been got answers, it seemed like every answer led to two new questions.
First of all, Snow White? WHAT. A. BRAT! Who would have though? Both the Queen and Johanna were wonderfully acted. You connected with them almost as soon as they first came on screen. Likewise with young Snow. She looks and acts so much like Gennifer Goodwin’s character that it is scary. These performances were critical to the story if any of the drama was going to be effective and all three came through in spades. These weren’t just guest appearances that died and the plot moved on. This was our Snow suffering through the turmoil of what would she do to save the life of someone she loved. Once again the writers took a huge chance — this time trusting much of the emotional tie and plot setup for the back-end of the season to guest roles. They were truly impressive performances.
What really get’s my curiosity going here is why is Cora so intent on corrupting her? There’s clearly more to her whole plot than simply making Regina the queen. There is obviously a connection between Cora and Snow’s mother. Could they be sisters? The Queen and the Miller’s daughter, with Cora feeling slighted of the status she felt she deserved? Is everything that is happening entirely about Cora’s revenge? That may be a part of it, but I think there’s more. At first I wondered if this was the only time Cora has disguised herself as Blue; giving Bae the magic bean sticking in my mind. However, in afterthought, I realized that wouldn’t have been the case since the bean was given a couple hundred years prior. So that would mean that Rumpel was on his path long before Cora was even born.
My biggest confusion in the series right now is Regina. She’s obviously walked away from the light; at least for the moment. I’m taking her at her word when she asks Mary Margaret what good did goodness get her? Yet I still don’t know the extent to which she’s embracing evil. She’s clearly not in the same league as Cora any more with respect to her willingness to kill. I’m sure she wants to beat Snow and Emma insofar as gaining Henry’s love is concerned, but she’s not acting as if she is really committed to killing them. Her conversation with Mary Margaret though hostile, doesn’t seem disingenuous. She really comes off as warning Mary Margaret to stay away from her business, not like she was planning another round of mass murder. Likewise with the murder of Johanna, Regina had a look of shock initially though she did pull herself together. If this had just been Regina, I really do not think she would have killed Snow’s nurse. I had to do a rewatch, but after that I’m sure. It’s also quite clear from the look on her face at the end that she is not pleased with Cora’s plans, but what is Regina up to? Is she going along to gain her mother’s approval? It seems that Cora somehow knows everything that is going on, so perhaps Regina is doing what must be done to hide her true intent? How much of Regina’s actions is trying to survive Cora and how much is it a true re-submergence into evil?
The other obvious question for this part of the story is what about Snow? It seems that Cora has gotten her wish of sending her down the dark path. What will Mary Margaret do when she learns what Cora is really up to? While I’m expecting to see temptation and even those first steps down that dark path, I also expect to see her abandon it. I just cannot see her willing to pay the price for winning under Cora’s terms. One last thought before turning to the other part of this episode’s story… Will Cora be willing to sacrifice Regina in order to corrupt and ruin Snow? There are not many episodes left this season, so I hope we will soon see.
Back in Manhattan, the situation for Emma seems to be going downhill. Gold is quite “grumpy” where Henry is concerned, though with last week’s prophecy running through his head that is understandable. It seems that regardless of what he quipped to the Seer in the past, he has no intention of killing Henry. That doesn’t mean he is going to be happy about it. Gold does need to remember what he told Henry just a little while ago; prophecies are never what they seem. Who’s to say that the Dark One being “undone” is a bad thing? It may well be the only way of getting what Rumpelstiltskin truly wants.
We certainly see a first hints of that. There has already been a shift in the relationship between he and Emma. There seems a bit more cordiality in it already. Even more significant is the way she refers to her, Bae and the Charming’s as Gold’s family. It also looks like that, deal or not, Gold owes Emma a favor now for saving him from Hook. Incidentally, in case anyone is keeping score I think this makes it Hook – 0, Emma – 3. For a ruthless pirate he sure has this bad habit of getting the tar beat out of him by Emma.
Of course, this family question has become, as Neal said, “complicated.” Right. Understatement of the season. Ok, Neal knows Hook. He can control Hook’s ship. He’s also a couple hundred years old – and the look on Emma’s face at that confession was priceless. The producers/writers have confirmed in the official podcast that he spent time in Neverland. Can we get any more complicated than that? It seems we can.
Neal is engaged. I actually feel sorry for Tamara.
I mean, think about it. This beats the family get together I mentioned a couple of posts prior. If finding out he has a son isn’t bad enough, just consider the family!
“Hey, uh, Tamara? I’d like you to meet my father, Rumpelstiltskin. Some people know him as the Dark One, the most powerful sorcerer in all the land. And this is Henry’s mother, Emma. She’s the prophesied Savior and it turns out a fairly powerful sorceress herself. Yeah, and I forgot to mention… Umm, I’m two hundred years old and had this fling with a fairy named Tinkerbell? You may have heard of Peter Pan? Uh, nice to meet you?”
Getting back to Hook… So he’s just strolling around our land in pirate garb with nobody batting an eye? Well, I suppose since we are talking about New York City, that may not be much of a surprise. Assuming they get his ship, I wonder how long it’s going to take for him to get back to Storybrooke? Honestly, I’m not going to be upset if he is gone for awhile. His fixation on killing Gold is getting a bit old.
As far as killing Gold is concerned. I thought that the Dark One’s dagger was supposed to be a secret. Remember that he was quite upset to find that August knew about it. Why? It seems that pretty much all of Storybrooke knows about that thing and what it does! Both “Team Cora” and “Team Snow” were fully up to speed on it and racing to find it. In the end, it seemed that Cora ended up with it far too easily. I think we may find it not quite as easy to control Rumpelstiltskin as Cora may expect. I know I have heard some people question if this was the real dagger. I would reject the possibility of a decoy. Knowing Cora is still alive, it would be a smart thing to do. However, it may have more to do with the Dark One’s “undoing” that was prophesied. It could be that this becomes part of what will be happening to remove the dark magic from Gold.
If that is the case, also remember that the prophesy points to a boy being responsible. Sure it could be August — i.e. Pinocchio. But it could also well be that Henry is going to be the one who saves his grandfather, thus undoing the Dark One. Indeed, this “final battle” that Rumpel predicted years ago could end up being Henry defeating Cora. That would certainly put Regina in a difficult spot. I do still think that there is going to be True Love’s Kiss involved, however, between Rumpel and Belle. I don’t see why they would foreshadow it then just drop the idea.
Finally, there is a growing list of arcs that have been set aside. There is Mulan, Aurora and the wraith. There is the book of dark spells that Regina has hidden. And let’s not forget that Emma has magic of her own, as well. Add all this into the coming war, magic beans, Neverland and all the other characters that seem to have been set aside lately (where have you been Red?) and there is the potential for a huge roller coaster ride to end this season.