'Once Upon A Time' Recap – 1.18: "Stable Boy" or "How We Met Your Mother"

I won’t lie, I was uncommonly excited for this episode. It’s no secret that my favorite character is Regina, and let’s not delve into the psychology of being attracted to villainesses, shall we? Let’s just put that to one side and get a bit giddy, because this was the episode that would finally tell us why the Evil Queen hates Snow White. I think the placement of this episode upped the ante as well; I mean, we’re only four episodes away from the end of the season and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve felt an increase in pace over the last few episodes. As we draw near to the finale, it feels a little like the writers of the show are shoving plot developments at us left, right and center. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but since Mary Margaret got arrested, the time lapse between episodes has decreased and we’re almost following it on a daily basis now.

We open on Regina in her Mayoral office (and have you noticed all the trees and horses she likes to have in her décor?), touching a gold ring to her lips and looking sorrowful. Wait – what? Regina has FEELINGS? And lots of them, by the look on her face.

But she’s interrupted by Gold who brings her a proposition. A deal, if you like. Yes, writers of the show; I see what you did there. Cunning. And we’re using flashbacks to “one week ago”, too, just to confuse us all a bit more. I mean, come on guys, we know you used to write for LOST, but how many side/back/forwards swipes are you going to throw at us in one episode?

Anyway, Gold offers to help Regina with her “Mary Margaret problem” if she helps make the charges of GBH against him go away. This is the explanation to the little scene at the end of the previous episode, where Gold is obviously in cahoots with Regina to frame Mary Margaret.

The main thing I got from this episode was that Gold touches Regina’s apples. No…not like that. But he’s quite comfortable taking liberties with them, isn’t he? I mean, the apples are the Evil Queen’s thing, obviously, but Gold’s handling of them indicates just how little he fears her, whether in Storybrooke or in Fairy Tale World. He’s even a little cavalier, throwing the apple to Regina at the end of the scene. Does anyone else think he’s totally playing her? That these little schemes to “help” Regina are all part and parcel of some greater plan he’s had going for years? More on that later.

Scenes with these two are always somewhat Shakespearean; there’s a constant push and pull between them that Carlyle and Parilla bring out so very well. Their animosity towards one another is a constant reminder that they are adversaries, not friends, and their scenes are always fraught with delicious tension.

It’s somewhat telling that Gold ends the scene by telling Regina that he “always honors” his agreements, which usually end up with the bargain playing into his hands one way or another. And the other participant of the deal always seems to be worse off than they were before. I kind of want to remind Regina of that, because the woman might be conniving, deceitful and impossibly angry, but she’s also a complete slave to her emotions and makes rash decisions because of them. And this is when I realize that I’m watching a TV show and can’t warn fictional characters of their fictional predicaments and fictional consequences. Damn you, show.

And now we’re in Fairy Tale Land and Regina’s riding bareback! Again, not like that. Come on. This is Fairy Tale Land. And she’s all giddy and her dad’s all proud of her and she’s a young, tomboyish, fun-loving girl, and it’s all lovely and wonderful until –

Regina’s mommy

Mommy Dearest shows up. Suddenly I’m transported back to when I was 12 and made tuna casserole in cooking class and my mother went to town on my culinary skills – or lack of. There’s something about a wicked mother that brings out the child in all of us, isn’t there? No? Okay; just me then. But Cora Mills is a perfect amalgamation of all the mothers we’ve loved to hate. Yes, I know it’s a trope in fairy tales, but Barbara Hershey pretty much plays the hell out of that stereotype. I half expected her to break into “Mother Knows Best” (thank you, ‘Tangled’). Instead what she does is criticize Regina right off and tell her that she rides “like a man”, that she’s becoming an “old maid”, and that nobody will ever want to marry her if she acts like a “commoner”. Nice. Mommy issues, anyone?

Regina’s dad tries to speak up for her, but is quickly shouted down by Cora, who tells him to “stop coddling her”. Right, because nobody whose parents ever loved them grew up to be something good. At least, not in Cora’s eyes, it seems.

It’s interesting here that Regina chooses to snap at the stable boy. “Don’t ever interrupt me and my mother again”. I suppose if you’re constantly bullied that way, your only outlet is to seek out the weakest person in the pecking order of your household. Poor Daniel. Regina can’t bite back at her mother so she turns on him instead. I see Freud nodding his head and muttering “transference” to himself here. And let’s not go into the fact that Regina’s father is clearly afraid of HIS OWN WIFE.

Regina’s attempts to question her mother are met with the age old “I’m not criticizing you; I’m helping you” response. That sort of emotional manipulation scores Cora a 10 on the ‘bad mothering’ scale. And we see her use magic on Regina to make her stay and force her into acquiescing to Cora’s will. What’s fascinating is that Regina tells her mother that she doesn’t like it when she uses magic. Oh, the irony. To which Cora says “I’ll stop using magic when you start being an obedient daughter.”

I think we’re all on the same page here as to where Regina’s messed up ideas of family and motherhood come from, yes? They do say that you tend to learn behavior from your own experiences, and model certain values and methods on your parents. At this point, I’m just kind of amazed that Regina’s a functioning human being at all, to be honest. Growing up with Mama Mills must have been a real treat.

Regina asks her mother why she can’t just be herself and says that she doesn’t care about status. Cora tells her that she could be “so much more” if she’d just let her help. Oh dear. Because a mother who is unfulfilled and wants all the things for her child that she never achieved is kind of a bitch, to be honest. And I’m starting to think that Fairy Tale Land kind of sucked for everyone in one way or another; little wonder that Regina wants to hold on to her life in Storybrooke.

Regina and Daniel

Teen Regina promises to be “good” in this pained, little girl fashion that breaks your heart, and runs off to the stable as soon as her mother releases her clutches. She apologizes to Daniel for snapping at him and he tells her that she’ll need to find a way to make it up to him. And then there’s kissing and embracing and tenderness and my heart breaks just a little bit more. Also? If THAT happened every time I bit someone’s head off, I’d need several new tubes of chapstick.

Now we’re in contemporary Storybrooke – TODAY – although I don’t trust these writers and I feel like “today” has a wealth of possibilities, timewise. But I can’t dwell on that; Emma is tying back her hair and being all grim-faced and badass and determined. I have to laugh at David, trotting along behind her with his umbrella. Emma Swan doesn’t care about the rain; she’s a hero and heroes don’t need umbrellas, DAVID. You should maybe get on that.

David wants to see Mary Margaret and tells Emma that he might have made a mistake. Right, because when you ask the love of your life if it’s possible they killed someone, I’m not entirely sure you can deem that a “mistake” and move on. Emma tells David that Mary Margaret doesn’t want to see him and that she doubts she wants words of advice from him. You tell him, Emma! His heart might be in the right place but his courage? Not so much. I like James, but David, quite frankly, is a bit of a douche.

Mary Margaret wakes in her cell and sits up, seeing Regina watching her. Seriously, how creepy is that? I love how threatening Regina is without even saying anything. Scares the crap out of me, and obviously it does Mary Margaret, too.

Mary Margaret in her prison cell

Regina tries to convince Mary Margaret to confess to spare herself and the town the “messiness” of a trial. She cites a list of evidence to refute Mary Margaret’s claim that she didn’t kill Kathryn, and tells her that, “confession or not”, she’ll be leaving Storybrooke. Mary Margaret states her innocence again (we know you didn’t do it, MM!) and asks why Regina is so intent on making her seem like a criminal. Oh, Mary Margaret; you’re sweet, but don’t try to reason with Regina – it’s clear that the Mayor has ordered up a whole plate of revenge with a large side of crazy in this episode. “What did I ever do to you to make you hate me so much?” Mary Margaret asks. Yes, dear, we’ve all been asking the same question since the Pilot Episode. What indeed?

I love scenes between these two. They have a natural tension that just jumps off the screen and Ginny Goodwin is a perfect foil for Lana’s Regina. And I also like that we’ve seen Mary Margaret’s confidence increase over previous episodes. Nobody’s going to forget her kicking Jefferson out of the window in a while, are they? But it seems like Mary Margaret has this kind of determination inside her that clearly belongs to Snow, but is coming to the fore in every episode that airs. I’m putting it down to the fact that Emma makes her drink Scotch at home instead of hot chocolate. Oh – and that the curse is most definitely starting to fray around the edges. I really want Mary Margaret to get her memories back because seeing her face off against Regina would be brilliant.

Now we’re back in Fairy Tale Land and Regina’s riding again. This time she’s using a saddle; good girl. She meets Daniel under a tree and there’s yet more kissing and embracing. Considering she’s the fairy tale equivalent of an abused child, Regina is fairly open with her affections. Daniel tries to convince her to tell her parents about them, but Regina points out that it’s her mother who’s the problem. I mean, really, Daniel? You’re the stable boy and you don’t even notice what an almighty, overbearing bitchy mcbitcherson Cora is? Please. He does, however, point out that Cora started off as the daughter of a miller, and we all heave a collective “Ohhhhh”. Yes, we understand. Because we all know what happened to her, don’t we?

Daniel tells Regina that love is “the most powerful magic of all”. Yeah, I must have missed the show telling me that the first three hundred times. And I know it’s one of their biggest themes, but do you have to keep reminding me of it as I sit alone in a darkened room watching your show and stuffing chocolate into my mouth? Do you?

Still, there’s no time for contemplation as Regina hears a cry and sees an out of control horse with a screaming child on its back. Without a second thought for her own safety, brave Regina leaps onto her horse and rescues the little girl. And this is the moment I know this show is going to remove my heart, throw it onto the ground and grind it into little pieces. Regina is courageous, caring, concerned for other people and manages to be all of that even under her mother’s particular brand of care. Not fair, show! This is NOT fair to give me all of this and then take it away again.

Regina and little Snow

The little girl Regina rescues is adorable. ADORABLE. She’s perfect, in fact. “You saved my life!” she gushes, with just enough of a lisp to make my insides squish a little. She tells Regina that she’s never riding again, and this is where I start to tear up a little, because Regina tells her that the only way to overcome fear is “to face it. To get back on that horse as soon as possible.” I kind of feel like this has been Regina’s mantra all her life, in light of the way her mother treats her. So sad.

Regina introduces herself and the little girl is revealed as Snow White. And then they hug. THEY HUG. All my feelings wind up in a hard bunch in my throat and I kind of hate the show right now. We know how they ended up, but what the show is giving us is this purity of emotion between them – this bond that they strike up right away. And how different would both their lives have been if this had typified their relationship? It doesn’t help that Bailee Madison and Lana Parilla are both so gorgeous in this scene, either. The music strikes an ominous note to tell us that this is all going to hell in a handbag. And soon. For a show that likes to make a big deal out of happy endings, it really doesn’t give us that many, does it? Or, you know, ANY.

Now we’re in Storybrooke again, and Gold, Emma and Mary Margaret are talking about a possible interview with the DA. Gold thinks it’s a good idea to focus on their “most valuable asset” – Mary Margaret’s personality. Emma seems dubious but Gold tells her that “perception is everything…not just in the courtroom but in life.” I actually like that the show drops in these themes for us to ponder about later, because the whole of Storybrooke is based on perception, isn’t it? Not to mention the people in it. And our perspective changes with each and every storyline that’s focused on in an episode. Gold is telling us what we need to know in order to figure out what the hell is going on – he’s telling EMMA, too, but in her usual pigheaded way she fails to pick up on those cues. Sometimes I have to wonder if Emma’s the most dense Sheriff in the history of Sheriffdom; she never really seems to see what’s staring her in the face. Sure, it’s a stretch to believe that everyone she knows is a fairytale character but come on, Emma, use your head!

Emma’s keen on blaming Regina, but Gold tells her they have no evidence to suggest that Regina planted the skeleton key in Mary Margaret’s cell. And you have to admit, it’s a genius scheme that he and Regina came up with, particularly as he’s playing both sides off against one another. Regina’s crazy with the need for revenge, but Gold seems to be going for the ‘long con’ in order to get whatever he wants…and what that is, nobody knows. Yet.

Sidney Glass turns up looking like Inspector Gadget (I think it’s the hat) and bearing some waxy-looking flowers in a vase that he thought might “brighten up the place”. Like anyone cares! Have you noticed how Emma works in a place with lots of empty desks and appears to be a Sheriff’s department of one? Besides, I don’t think she’s the flowers type of girl. If Sidney had turned up with alcohol, it might be a completely different story…

Sidney’s been trying to collect information that might help put Regina under suspicion, but he claims to have found nothing. He says that he talked to people at the Toll Bridge and checked phone records but didn’t come up with anything. He promises to keep digging. With that non-existent spade, right, Sidney? Because WE all know that you’ve done squat to help Emma. Is it because Regina gave you one of her apples as a reward?

After he leaves, the DA turns up with Regina. And it’s no other than King George! AKA Alan Dale. I have a strong affection for this man – I have to, I’m British and he’s somewhat of a national treasure over here because of “Neighbours”. Plus, I always get excited when I see LOST alum showing up. My dream is to have Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell turn up in Storybrooke. I don’t care what they do. I just want to see them.

And so begins Mary Margaret’s interview with the DA. She says she has nothing to hide and that she needs to show people who she is. But we know this isn’t going to go well, don’t we? Because King George wasn’t a very nice man in Fairy Tale Land and he’s clearly on side with Regina in Storybrooke. He asks leading questions that try to trap Mary Margaret, watched from behind a mirror by Emma and Regina. There’s a moment when Emma turns to look at Regina and it’s all glowering and angry and hateful. Or, at least, it’s supposed to be, because honestly, the heated looks those two exchange could start a forest fire. I’m pretty certain that if they were a man and a woman, they’d have made out by now. More than once.

The DA – Spencer – keeps goading Mary Margaret, resulting in her admitting (albeit sarcastically) that yes, she wanted Kathryn gone and yes, Kathryn was the only obstacle between her and David getting together. Ooops. She realizes instantly that she shouldn’t have said that and Gold looks pained. The only people pleased with themselves are Spencer and Regina, who gives one of her little ‘evil’ smiles from behind the mirror. I believe, Madame Mayor, the word is ‘gotcha’.

Interesting little parallel when the scene changes, where Regina is looking at herself in the mirror, decked out in her riding clothes. Aw; cute. She’s making sure she looks pretty for her riding lesson with Daniel, which we are told has been cancelled once Cora appears and magics up a pretty, poufy, girly dress for Regina to wear. “We have a guest,” Cora tells Regina. “Smile. We don’t want to disappoint him.” Uh, what’s with the ‘we’ here, Cora? The only person likely to be disappointed with Regina is YOU.

So it turns out that the little girl Regina rescued was the king’s daughter. “You’ve finally done something right!” Cora trills as the king is brought in and introduced. Now don’t get me wrong; I love The Schiff, but when he’s in this show he seems a bit…’off’. I’m not even sure why, but there’s just something about his delivery that feels like he’s phoning it in a bit. Or high. I can’t decide which.

He makes a big deal out of meeting Regina and plays the widower card for sympathy: “You’re lucky to have a mother who looks out for you.” Hm. Okay. So I don’t expect him to immediately know what Cora’s really like but seriously? THAT’S what you get from Cora ordering her daughter to speak to the king? Weird. But, like I said – phoning it in or high. You choose.

King Leopold says he’s been scouring the land to find a wife and, subsequently, a mother for Snow. And as Regina’s the only woman who’s ever shown an interest in her (is saving her life showing an interest? I don’t think it really is but…anyway…let’s go with it) he wants to offer his hand in marriage. Honestly, Leopold, there are easier ways of securing childcare, you know? How about a nice au pair or something? Check the local nunnery; I’m sure there are plenty of volunteers with a guitar and a natural joie de vivre just aching to take care of – oh. Wait. That’s The Sound of Music. Not this show AT ALL.

Regina is stunned. Or, as I like to think, appalled. Trading up socially means trading down in the looks department. Not that The Schiff is an unattractive man per se, but when she’s got a hunky stable boy (who bears a passing resemblance to David Bowie) waiting for her in the barn, it’s not really so much a choice as a forgone conclusion which she’d prefer. But Cora accepts on Regina’s behalf and that pretty much seals the deal. Oh, Cora, when are you going to learn that forcing your child into a loveless marriage won’t do her any favors? Yes, I know it’s how Fairy Tale Land works but it sucks for Regina. I’m betting Leopold isn’t half as charming as Toby from The West Wing. Possibly not as funny, either. Just a thought.

Regina goes running off to the stable again – nice poncho, by the way – and tells Daniel what her mother has arranged. Then she makes a stand for Fairy Tale Feminism and asks Daniel to marry her. You go girl! She decides that “the only way out is to run” and never come back. Daniel has some reservations, of course. Well, he’s a stable boy, not an idealistic rich girl with lofty ideas of true love. Oh, reality, even in Fairy Tale Land you suck.

“Being queen means nothing…all I care about is you.” Again with the irony, as Regina decides to abandon anything and everything her mother wanted for her in the face of losing her true love. And this is kind of the point of her character, isn’t it? Not having true love for herself means that she can’t abide seeing it in anyone else. But she’s pushing all the right buttons with me – bitter, twisted, jealous woman are my favorite kind. Just in case you’re thinking of wooing me.

So Daniel finds a ring on his saddle (I know, I couldn’t figure out if it was a ring or something you put into a horse’s nose but let’s just ignore that, it’s the big romantic scene after all) and puts it on Regina’s finger. Then Baby Snow appears as they’re kissing one another, going on about “getting back on the horse”. Uh, sweetie? It’s probably way past your bedtime. No wonder Regina had to save your ass if your father lets you out of the house at all hours of the day and night, unsupervised.

Baby Snow is visibly upset at seeing Regina and Daniel and runs off. There’s some flailing going on underneath those ponchos as Regina sets off after her, finally catching up when Baby Snow trips and falls. Snow doesn’t understand why Regina was kissing Daniel – she makes the point that Regina was to be her mother and you know, I took note of that. Baby Snow really wants Regina to be her mommy. Ouch. That hurts a little, given what we know.

Snow finds out Regina loves Daniel

Regina explains to Snow that she’s in love with Daniel. I adored this scene, because the girl who grew up to become the Evil Queen seems to understand love so much better than anyone else and talks about it with such joy and reverence in her voice that it kind of killed me. But then, that seems to be Lana Parilla’s job these days. I must thank her for it one day, if I ever survive.

“Love, true love is magic. And not just any magic – the most powerful magic of all. It creates happiness.” Dammit, Regina. Stop that right now or I’m going to have tear out my own heart and put it into a box where you can’t break it.

Regina says that the only way their love can survive is if Snow keeps their secret. She can’t tell anyone and, above all, not Cora. Snow promises, but I think we all know what’s coming, don’t we? Because secrets in a show like this are kept almost for the express purpose of being shared at the most inopportune and dangerous times. But seeing Regina and Snow together is squishworthy, and again makes you wonder what they might have been, you know, without the whole Evil Queen thing.

We cut to Emma reading Henry’s book and it’s open on a picture of the Evil Queen. Yes, I see what you’re doing here, show, especially based on Gold’s words of “perception is everything”. August turns up and persuades Emma to change her perspective, which is actually kind of ironic as Emma is one of those characters who’s particularly shortsighted when it comes to people. And when I say ‘people’, I mean Regina.

August accompanies Emma to the scene of the crime in case they missed anything and kind of slip/slides down the hill, blaming it on shin splints. I dunno – has this got something to do with the theory that he might be Pinnochio? Honestly, I was perplexed. But I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I don’t really know what shin splints are. Answers on a postcard, please.

He tells Emma that, apart from Henry, Mary Margaret is the closest thing she’s got to family. At this point I managed to dodge the falling anvil from above, and instead focused on the fact that Emma finds a shard from a broken shovel.

What happens next kind of surprised me. After all her posturing about how badly Regina treats Henry, Emma really abuses her relationship with him by getting him to spy on his mother and use those damn two-way radios to tell her the coast is clear. Clear for what, you ask? Well, for Emma to ONCE AGAIN break into Regina’s property. She really does take some liberties, doesn’t she? Even if Henry left her the key and even if she does find a broken shovel that the shard fits perfectly, it’s still not the best mother/son bonding activity. But Emma’s all giddy because she thinks she’s found a way to prove Mary Margaret innocent so clearly a bit of child manipulation is okay if it’s all for a good cause. Not exactly what I’d call ‘heroic’, Emma.

The next scene between Baby Snow and Cora is really chilling. I’m not sure if it’s Cora’s intro speech about not “plucking” a flower before its time, or whether it’s the outright emotional blackmail she uses on an innocent child, but it’s a testament to just how little Cora cares about anyone else that she brings up the memory of poor Snow’s dead mother in order to get the girl to share Regina’s secret. She tells her she’d do “anything” to make Regina happy and Snow can’t help herself. Well, come on, she’s obsessed with mothers. Plus, I think Cora’s jealous of the relationship between Regina and Snow and saw it as a perfect opportunity to scupper Regina’s plans (like she didn’t already know about Daniel) and manipulate Snow.

Snow spills. I make sure I have tissues on standby. And a large alcoholic drink.

Emma goes to Regina’s mansion with a search warrant to look in her garage. You know, the one she illegally entered only the night before. Nice way to uphold the law, Sheriff. But alas, when she marches right to where the broken shovel should be, there’s a brand spanking (and very shiny) new one in its place. Emma tells Regina that she must have known she was coming and that Mary Margaret “doesn’t deserve this”. But Regina tells her that “that woman has destroyed the last life she’s ever going to destroy”. Way to hang onto a grudge, Madame Mayor.

Poor August gets the blame for blabbing to Regina and he tells Emma that he’s not a liar. Oh…right. Pinnochio reference again, right? But Emma doesn’t believe him and stomps off. Like she does.

Regina admits to Snow that she knows she didn’t kill Kathryn.

Regina goes to visit Mary Margaret in her cell again and struts up to her, staring through the bars with that shit-eating grin on her face. I love how her voice changes in this scene – the way she spits out the word “innocent” as Mary Margaret cries and apologizes. She even uses her Evil Queen voice and grins as Mary Margaret cries some more and protests that she didn’t kill Kathryn. Regina tells her that she knows. SHE KNOWS. But it doesn’t matter, as Snow does deserve this. Wait. No. Not Snow; Mary Margaret. Snow. Both of them. Either way, Regina gets happier the more distressed Mary Margaret becomes. Again – way to win my heart, ladies.

In Fairy Tale Land, Regina prepares to run away with Daniel when Cora appears in the barn, magicking the doors shut and blazing fury at them both. Regina pleads with her. Cora says that she’s made “sacrifices” and “deals” to get them out of poverty and push Regina to the cusp of greatness. Okay…living through your children is really unhealthy, Mama Mills. And wait…DEALS? You mean the sort of deals that Mr. Gold claims he always honors? Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I can’t help wondering if Rumpelstiltskin planned this all along, plotting through the years. But why? Why would he want to have a hand in creating the woman who is surely his nemesis? Seriously, this show is just chock full of people who do things that hurt themselves. It’s like a masterclass in emotional self harm.

Regina stands up to her mother, telling her that she’ll have to keep them there forever to stop them being together and Cora seems to relent slightly, asking if this will make her happy. Regina says it already has. Cora looks like she’s going to let them go, and tells Daniel that the most important piece of advice she can give him is that a parent must always do what’s best for their children. Daniel tells her that he understands because that’s what she’s doing now. And then Cora reaches into his chest and pulls out his heart.

Wait. What? She PULLS OUT HIS HEART AND CRUSHES IT TO DUST IN FRONT OF REGINA’S EYES. My mother wasn’t overjoyed at some of my choices in partner but I’m pretty sure that Cora’s taking “overreaction” to a whole new level.

When Regina asks her why she did it, Cora tells her it’s because “this is your happy ending”. Yep, it’s a direct mirroring of the scene in the pilot, where the Evil Queen has Snow in much the same position, cradling James in her arms. I like the symmetry, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong or hurtful.

“Love is weakness, Regina. It feels real now. At the start it always does. But it’s an illusion. It fades and then you’re left with nothing. But power…true power endures. And then you don’t have to rely on anyone to get what you want.”

Pretty much sums up the Evil Queen, right? And Cora pulls Regina up from the floor and tells her to wipe away her tears because now she’s going to be queen. Just like that.

Regina finding out Snow told Cora about Daniel.

The next time we see Regina she’s being fitted for her wedding dress and her eyes are dead and empty. Sigh. Poor thing. Even when Snow tells her she’s the “fairest in all the land”, Regina barely notices. Snow says she’s glad she told Cora about Regina and Daniel because Cora is such a wonderful mother and only has Regina’s happiness at heart. When Regina turns to her, shocked, Snow is alarmingly saccharine as she asks if Regina’s “mad” at her. There’s a moment when it looks like Regina might be, but instead she tells Snow that her love with Daniel wasn’t real; that it was an infatuation. She tells Snow that “love can be found in the most unexpected places” and that she’s going to be Snow’s stepmother and “couldn’t be happier”. I can’t help wondering if this shapes Snow’s later declaration to James that she doesn’t believe in love at first sight, or first kiss. Either way, it’s pretty clear that the romance is gone.

When Cora appears, Snow trips off in the knowledge that she’s getting a new mommy at last. All she ever wanted. Meanwhile, Regina – who’s getting flap all, quite frankly – gets praised from her Cora: “I’m so proud of you.” She asks her mother if she planned this all along, what with the king being in the area. She wonders if Snow’s horse didn’t go wild on its own, but Cora feigns innocence and we all boo her big old fairytale lie. See what I mean about plans and deals? I can’t help feeling like this was already written before it happened.

As she leaves, Regina says in her Evil Queen voice, “I should have let her die on that horse”. Cut to Regina holding the ring and saying “We got her, Daniel. We got her.” Honestly, I could have done without that window scene. Cheesetastic. But also, completely and utterly Regina. That woman knows how to make a drama out of anything, even looking out a window.

Mary Margaret is taken away and Gold tells Emma that perhaps it’s time for him to work a little magic. Hey, Mr. Gold, I see what you did there! Magic, right? (And another anvil is successfully dodged. Come at me, show; I’m ready for you)

Emma throws Sidney’s incongruous vase of flowers against the filing cabinets in a fit of rage. Seriously, Emma? Someone’s going to have to clean that up – oh! There’s a BUG in the vase. Sidney, you rat! Emma finds August at Granny’s to apologize and tells him that Sidney’s obviously working for Regina. Just then, Ruby screams and when they go to investigate, she tells them “she’s in the alley!”.

But just who IS it?

Racing around the back of the diner, Emma sees a body lying on the ground, covered in mud. It looks like…well, like it’s been dug up from somewhere. Now, let’s think, who have we seen digging in the woods before now, hm? Could it be Mr. Gold, perhaps? I’m having some terrifying flashes of “The Walking Dead” here. Someone hold me.

Emma turns the body over and Kathryn stares up at her: terrified, filthy but most definitely alive. The game, as they say, is afoot.

With only four episodes left, this recent hiatus has been torture. But knowing that we’re nearing the end of the season only seems to make the anticipation of the finale worse.

Does anyone have a spare Xanax?


1 comment

  1. Wonderful review of a very important episode I feel most people didn’t get. Everyone seemed so focused on Snow betraying Regina that they missed the point here; The reason for Regina ‘turning evil’ is her mother and the abuse she suffered at the hands of that woman. I can’t help but feel that making the choice to follow her mother’s wishes and give up on Hope and Love was her only way to survive…

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