A Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin)-centric episode returns us to the world of Storybrooke as Once Upon A Time draws battle lines for its impending war.
Let’s bitch it out…
After a few weeks off, not much has changed in the world of Once Upon A Time. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is dealing with a petulant Henry (Jared Gilmore) now that he knows that she lied about his father, Neal (Michael Raymond-Jones). Rumple (Robert Carlyle), meanwhile, is using his arsenal of tricks to manipulate Neal back to Storybrooke, most notably playing on Emma’s insecurities in order to get her help. It’s a savvy play – I particularly liked his comparison of her lies to Lana Parrilla’s Regina (nice touch!). If we’re being honest, though, this is very much the bland B-storyline of the episode, even with a run-by hooking by Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). Hurry back to Storybrooke, crew!
The real action is the everlasting conflict between lovebirds Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) and mustache-twirling evil mother-daughter combo, Regina and Cora (Barbara Hershey). It’s hard not to think that Snow and Charming, by trying to find and hide Rumple’s dagger, end up doing exactly what Cora and Regina want them to do. Rather than trying to read Rumple’s map, all the evil pair needs to do is wait for someone else to do the legwork and kidnap their loved one to use as leverage in the inevitable exchange. This is why it’s easier to be evil, folks: all you have to do is outsource.
The innocent caught in the middle is Snow’s childhood caretaker,
Mrs. Patmore Johanna (Downton Abbey‘s Lesley Nicol), the woman responsible for turning Snow into the good natured, kind, forgiving woman she is today. Johanna ushered Snow through the difficult period when her mother (Rena Sofer) fell ill and ultimately died. In a surprise that fails to shock anyone, it turns out that Cora poisoned Snow’s mother to ensure Regina eventually becomes queen. The problem is that this is the equivalent of a narrative shrug: we don’t learn anything new about Cora and it fails to do more than expand the circumstances in which Regina took power. If we didn’t know this additional piece of background, however, it wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. As a result this feels underwhelming, a warmed over background story meant to flesh out a storyline that doesn’t truly need it.
Ultimately Johanna’s death (again, hardly surprising, though well-done) and the knowledge that Cora killed Snow’s mom will have two impacts: 1) Snow is now ready to play dirty (supposedly – I’ll believe it when we see it) and 2) Regina will ultimately reconsider her allegiance with her mother, who clearly has no interest in Henry. Both are necessary to build-up to the dramatic confrontations at the end of the season, but when we look back on ‘The Queen Is Dead’, I doubt we’ll remember it as a milestone. There’s certainly enough here to lay the groundwork for what’s to come in these remaining S2 episodes and it’s generally well-done. And for Once Upon A Time, that has to be considered progress!
- Child actress Bailee Madison’s third appearance as young Snow is by far her worst yet (she previously appeared in 2×02’s ‘We Are Both’ and 1×18’s ‘The Stable Boy’). I know she’s a child, but where is the director to tell her to tone down the histrionics and the lispy dialogue delivery? As though we needed further proof that Once‘s child actors suck after Jared Gilmore’s woh woh Manhattan scenes
- One plus side to this week’s overwrought flashbacks = Young Snow’s kick-ass funeral gown. Way to rock the public grieving, sweetie!
- So Rumple is poisoned by Hook’s poisoned appendage and only a hasty retreat back to Storybrooke for a magical cure can save him? Umm…alright, I guess.This is an example of the joys and pitfalls of having “magic” as a cornerstone of your narrative. It means you can introduce these storylines whenever they’re convenient, but it also becomes really obvious whenever you do (whenever you need an explanation, it’s because it’s MAGIQUE!)
- Only Neal can pilot Hook’s pirate ship? Gee, is this because he was a Lost Boy? Snooze. Once really needs to work harder to defy our expectations and familiarity with these stories
- Neal has a girlfriend/lover/wife/beard. Are we supposed to care?
- I’ve never been a huge Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) fan, but is it a pre-req to have absolutely huge pushed-up boobs to be a wish granter? Those things are the blue stars Young Snow is meant to wish upon, right? I mean they fill up the whole night sky
Mrs. PatmoreJohanna’s death, although expected, is still pretty fantastic as Cora whisks her out the clocktower window with a flick of the wrist. The only thing that would have made it better is if Regina’s head had spun around a few times and she vomited pea green soup on Charming.
- Henry (talking about his pizza to Emma): “It’s delicious, cheesy and doesn’t lie.” Smack him, Emma. Just give him a little taste of the back of your hand!
- Snow (to the Blue Fairy): “You’re our only hope.” Alright, we get it: Disney has acquired LucasFilms and therefore the Star Wars franchise. Can we tone down the obvious references already? They’re full-on groan inducing
- Cora (morphing from her Blue Fairy disguise): “I hate that outfit. I don’t know how that Faerie stands it”. My guess: sucking it in?
What did you think of Once‘s return: are you rooting for Snow to take out Cora, or do you think that this is simply another ‘test’ to try and turn Snow’s heart as black as coal? Did we really need that flashback? Are you excited to learn Neal/Bae’s backstory as a Lost Boy? And who is the worse children actor: Young Snow or Henry? Comment away below
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC