Check out what happened in the latest episode of Once Upon a Time!
A colleague of mine holds the belief that a story is only as good as its villain. If that's the case, than Once Upon a Time has the potential to be a story for the ages. The show's latest episode, "The Thing You Love Most", shows the path that the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) took to achieve her goal of imprisoning the various fairy tale characters in the real world as well as her attempts to strong arm Emma (Jennifer Morrison) out of the town she now runs.
The episode opens with Storybrooke's mayor discovering that her son Henry (Jared Gilmore) has ripped out the final pages to the storybook detailing how the town's inhabitants wound up in the real world. Regina is even more incensed to learn that Emma has decided to stay in Storybrooke, despite the mayor's threats last episode. After Regina vaguely confronts Emma with a basket of apples in tow (nothing says dangerous like apples after all), the show flashes back to the Enchanted Forest to see exactly what the Queen did to enact the Dark Curse.
After confronting Snow White and Prince Charming at their wedding (seen last episode), the Evil Queen arrives back at her castle and is attended to by a valet (Tony Perez) and her Magic Mirror (Giancarlo Esposito), where she decides to enact the Dark Curse. However, the Queen no longer has the curse as she had previously traded it away to Maleficent (Kristen Bauer), which leads to the Evil Queen confronting Maleficent at the latter's Forbidden Fortress. The two briefly scuffle but the Evil Queen emerges victorious after the Queen attacks Maleficent's pet unicorn, forcing the Sleeping Beauty antagonist to put herself in a position that the Evil Queen can use to her advantage. The Queen then summons a council of evil, containing a gnome, a blind witch, a giant and a member of the Imperial Guard from Star Wars, and tries to enact the curse using evil hairs and the heart of the Queen's horse. However, the curse fails to work, leading the Queen to turn the gnome into stone after the poor little guy mocks her.
Jumping over to the real world, Regina is approached by Sydney (the Magic Mirror's alter ego) who was charged with finding some dirt to use against Emma. However, Sydney can't find any incriminating evidence, which leads Regina to resort to more desperate tactics. Meanwhile, Emma stops by Granny's Diner (I guess Granny owns multiple businesses in Storybrooke) to flirt with the Sheriff (Jamie Dornan) and bump into Henry, who tells her about his plan to break the curse, nicknamed Operation: Cobra, after a cup of cinnamon hot chocolate. Emma drops off Henry at school and then goes to see Henry's counselor Archie/Jiminy Cricket, who volunteers a thick file that describes Henry's past sessions and problems.
Of course, it's all a trap by Regina, who had put the idea to see Archie into Emma's head during their first talk and then had strong-armed Archie into giving Emma the files and telling the sheriff that she stole them. The sheriff then arrests Emma for theft, breaking and entering and wearing really nice brown boots with a really trashy white top. However, Emma is bailed out by Henry's teacher/Emma's mom/Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard. Emma uses her freedom to purchase a chainsaw and use it to attack Regina's prized apple tree.
Flashing back to Fairy Tale Land, the Evil Queen, frustrated by the curse's failure, goes to see Rumplestiltskin, who had originally given her the curse in the first place. Rumplestiltskin explains that the curse will only work if the Queen uses the heart of the person she loves the most. In return for his information, the Queen agrees to make Rumplestiltskin rich in the real world and to do his bidding whenever he says "please".
The show then jumps back to Storybrooke where Regina has Emma evicted from the inn (the town has a strict "No Felons in Hotel Ordinance") and then tricks Emma into admitting that she thinks Henry has mental issues within earshot of the boy, crushing his spirits. As if that isn't bitchy enough, the show quickly flashes back to show the Queen decide that her desire to make Snow White suffer is more important than the life of her father, who is revealed to be the valet attending to the Queen's every need and counseling her throughout the episode. Despite her father's attempts to dissuade her, the Queen stabs him, proving that she really is an evil, evil person.
The show concludes with Emma getting a pep talk from Mary over cinnamon hot chocolate about not giving up that leads Emma to tell Henry that she believes that Henry is telling the truth about the curse and resolving to continue Operation: Cobra. The show then flashes back one final time to show the Queen completing the curse and revealing that her father's name was also Henry before jumping back to her happily tending to her apple tree. Rumplestiltskin (now going by the name of Mr. Gold) arrives at her garden and tells the Queen that Emma is still in town despite her best efforts. Rumplestiltskin offers to assist Regina in evicting Emma from the town but she turns him down, but not before Rumplestiltskin reveals that he was the one who procured her son for him and that he was not a person to be threatened. The two briefly try to discover what the other knows, but Rumplestiltskin escapes by asking Regina to let him go, ending the episode with an ominous "please".
Overall, the episode was a great way of showing exactly who Emma and Henry were up against. While we don't know what the Queen's exact motivations are, namely why she blames Snow White for her husband/Snow's father's death, I couldn't help but be impressed that the showrunners decided to present a villain-centric episode so early in the season. Plus, we got some hints as to the other villainous characters that may populate Storybrooke, which helps offset my concerns that Once Upon a Time will have no where to go once they vanquish the Queen.
Some fun tidbits:
Malificent's staff had a dragon on its end. Maleficent had previously turned into a dragon in the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.
After sacrificing her prized steed early on in the episode, we see a noticeable effigy of a horse hanging above the Queen's mantle in her office at Storybrooke.
Cinnamon hot chocolate seems to be a common taste among the descendents of Snow White.
Archie/Jiminy Cricket has a lucky umbrella.
Emma and the Sheriff are so totally going to hook up by the end of this season. There's no word on who the Sheriff was in the Fairy Tale world, but the Queen hints that she's responsible for his current position, which leads me to guess that he might be the Huntsman from the Snow White fairytale.
Next week: Snow White and Prince Charming! Spontaneous hand movements!
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer