Snow White stretches her crazy muscles.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's review/breakdown of Once Upon a Time. I hope that the weather where you are didn't knock out your cable (like mine did) and send you scurrying to the ABC website to watch the episode. I find that TV loses its luster when I can't fast forward through commercials. Let's get down to it, shall we?
**Warning: Spoilers and excessive jubilation over the return of Archie ahead.**
"Heart of Darkness" pushes a few storylines forward and shows that we are quickly approaching the season finale, which should be appropriately explosive and bombastic. Last episode, Ruby found Kathryn's heart in a box by the t(r)oll bridge. Emma found Mary Margaret's fingerprints on the box and took her away for questioning, which is where this episode kicks off. Mary Margaret protests her innocence while Emma takes her mug shots, although I have to admit those pants are a crime against fashion. Emma tries to talk some sense into her, saying that she has to go by the book otherwise Regina will fire her and bring in a new sheriff that she owns. I agree with Emma, but Regina kind of wrote the book here.
Emma leads Mary Margaret into an interrogation room where a visibly calm Regina sits, ready to pounce. When Emma pulls out the box that Kathryn's heart was found in, Mary Margaret identifies it as her jewelry box. She immediately concludes she's being set up, which is when Regina intervenes with what appears to be empathy. She says that she lost someone once too and that it changed her (I can easily hear the Queen inside of her, cackling in triumph) but Mary Margaret doesn't fall for the sympathy act for one simple reason: she didn't do it.
In the hallway, Regina says that there would be signs of a break-in if someone stole Mary Margaret's jewelry box, prompting Emma to search the apartment for clues. Henry ditches school to join her and suggests that Regina set the whole thing up because she hates Snow White. Where does Emma sleep? I mean, this is a shabby chic loft that appears to have only one bedroom. Where did Ruby sleep when she stayed with them? I digress –the important thing is they found a big-ass dagger in the heating duct of Mary Margaret's bedroom.
At the diner, the drinking motif continues when Henry tries to drown his sorrows in cinnamon-sprinkled hot chocolate. August W. Booth joins him and suggests that Henry find the solution to this case in the book of stories, revealing that he believes those stories actually happened and his endgame is to get Emma to believe that as well. Emma, unlike Henry or Booth, can only trust evidence or proof – she has no faith. The tension between faith and fact runs throughout this episode. Incidentally, Henry doesn't seem to question how Booth knows about the book or the stories, but this just strengthens my theory that Booth is the originator of the curse and that Henry isn't half as smart as he thinks he is.
But he's still pretty smart. After searching the book for clues, he takes the huge ring of skeleton keys with him to Emma and Mary Margaret's house, and they try each one until they find one that fits. Regina has had keys to everyone's house this whole time, making her the perfect suspect for framing Mary Margaret. Also, does she even have the time to be Mayor when she spends her days starting shit like this? Girlfriend needs to get her priorities in order.
Meanwhile, Regina is creepily peeling apples when David stops by to talk about the murder investigation. He says there's no way that Mary Margaret could have murdered her, but Regina says that everyone has a dark side. She's trying to plant a seed of doubt in David, but he refuses to believe her statement that "evil is not born; it's made." He thinks that he could have done something during his blackouts, or that he might remember something that would prove her innocence, so he goes to see Archie for some hypnosis.
At the station, Mary Margaret is seriously freaking out about the knife. She didn't even know she had a heating vent! Because she's just a poor helpless woman! What, did you think your apartment magically maintained its normal temperature? Mary Margaret is so helpless and victimized that she clearly needs a lawyer; cue Mr. Gold! YAY GOLD! He offers his legal services (clearly the source of his gift with contracts) and despite Emma's protests Mary Margaret accepts his help. In a departure from his usual procedure, Gold wants no payment because he is "invested in her future."
I squeal some more because YAY ARCHIE! Under hypnosis, David remembers talking to Kathryn on the phone and her telling him to be happy with Mary Margaret. But, he also remembers a scene from his fairy tale life where Snow declared she was going to kill the Queen, which he does not recognize as the fairy tale because he doesn't know that is a thing, and so another seed of doubt is planted.
James visits Mary Margaret at the station and tells her about his newly acquired memories. Proving that he is truly Emma's father, he brings the evidence before her and insinuates that she might have done it. Mary Margaret, instead of saying "no" like a sane person, gets manipulative and guilt-trippy to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if she did do it. She tells him to leave and cries alone in her cell. Later, while making her bed, Mary Margaret finds one of the skull keys tucked away in her blanket. It unlocks her cell – think she's gonna run?
When Emma shows up with bagels and coffee, she tells Mary Margaret that the DNA tests on the heart they found came back: it belonged to Kathryn. With all the evidence against her, Emma is certain of one thing: Mary Margaret is being framed, and Regina is behind it. All my years of Law & Order viewership concur. Emma has to keep her suspicions secret and make it seem like she is prosecuting Mary Margaret like Regina wants. Emma asks Mary Margaret to have faith in her, and she tells her she does. It's a lie: she's totally going to run.
Emma goes to Gold for some help in the crusade against Regina. He gets her to confess that she needs his help, despite his methods, because she needs to save her friend. He agrees to help her, and even admits that she might be more powerful than she knows. I'm... I'm confused, R-stilts. You don't compliment with that glint in your eye without a reason. WHAT ARE YOU NOT TELLING US?
On to the fairy tale storyline: Ruby and James are camping when they are attacked by King George's men. James flees while Red transforms to fight the men and we don't find out what happens to her – I' m assuming she just scared them enough to run them off. Or she ate them, because turning into a wolf is a great way to boost you metabolism.
James is, of course, searching for his sweet beloved, Snow White. And what is she doing? Living with a houseful of dwarves (including the delightful Lee Arenburg as Grumpy) and trying to kill bluebirds. Oh, right, since she drank the potion that took away her love for James she is now evil and single-minded to the point of cruelty. Please note that "drinking" the potion is about to be not-so-subtly twisted into a metaphor for actual drinking because it makes her angry and irritable while simultaneously helping her forget. Actually, writers, that's not bad. Kudos.
The dwarves, in their infinite kindness, stage an intervention for Snow led by OMG IT'S ARCHIE BUT HE'S ACTUALLY JIMINY BECAUSE HE'S A TALKING CRICKET. Raphael Sbarge's scratchy tenor comes from the mouth of a CGI cricket and I am happy, until Snow tries to swat him. Each of the dwarves read off the things that they don't like about the angry new Snow, including how she broke Happy's stein and aggravated Sneezy's allergies, until she realizes that in order to move past her anger she must kill the Queen. Right, that's the healthy response, Snow. To be fair, Ginnifer Goodwin manages to make that red headband look slightly badass – a pickaxe will do that.
After leaving the dwarves' house, she ambushes one of the Queen's knights. She question/tortures him and finds out that the Queen will be at the Summer Palace, then knocks the knight out to steal his clothes and weapons. Grumpy stages a second intervention – when he can't make Snow see her problems, he takes her to R-stilts to undo the forgetfulness potion.
James later stumbles upon the now-naked knight and questions him. The knight reveals that he was assaulted by Snow White, who is just the most bloodthirsty person he ever saw. I think the knight looks like a young Stephen Fry, so I imagine he's saying everything with a British accent. James denies that Snow could ever be that way and the knight, in what is surely a dick move, suggests that he doesn't. Thus continues a running question for this episode: how much can you take on faith?
At R-stilts's cottage, Grumpy confronts everyone's favorite Dark One about the potion he gave Snow. R-stilts would undo it, you see, but that would require a dose of true love: the one essence he has yet to bottle. However, he knows that's not what Snow really wants: she wants to kill the Queen and get her revenge. He gives her a bow and a map, so she can assassinate the Queen while she's on the road, but he doesn't charge her anything for both because he's "invested in her future." Oh, see what they did there guys?
R-stilts is a popular man; James pays him a visit shortly after Snow leaves. James tells him to undo the potion, but R-stilts insists that only true love's kiss can do that. In exchange for information on Snow White's whereabouts, James gives R-stilts his cloak. The reason? "It's drafty in here." Oh, R-stilts, you're such a card. R-stilts also warns James that if Snow kills the Queen she'll be come just as evil.
James finds Snow in the woods and kisses her – she does not take this well. She doesn't believe James's claims because words are not the same as actions, and her actions at this point are particularly violent. The chemistry that sometimes exists between Goodwin and Dallas is in full force here – I wonder what it is about the arguing scenes that make them work better together. She declares that she is going to kill the Queen, which is the memory David has in Storybrooke, and leaves him tied up against a tree.
Jiminy shows up the nick of time to free James from his bonds and tell him how to cure Snow's forgetfulness: make her remember who she is. As Snow takes aim at the Queen and her fabulous riding hat (seriously, her milliner is a rich man), James jumps in the arrow's flight path. He explains that she would have become as evil as the Queen, and he would rather die than let that happen. That's what true love is after all, ladies: it's nothing without violence. Snow realizes that he really does love her, they kiss, and my boyfriend makes his "aww isn't that precious" face until I can't breathe for laughing.
But, this is Once Upon a Time after all: no one can stay happy forever. The Knights of St. Cockblock, aka King George, gallop in to arrest James and drag him back to princehood. They do not recognize the most wanted criminal in the land, Snow White, and take James away in a primitive paddy wagon as Snow says James's favorite promise: "I will find you, I will always find you."
Snow returns to her dwarf buddies a changed woman, with apologies and fixed mugs in hand. The dwarves are happy to have their cheerful woman back and rejoice with a nice group hug. It's a good thing Gropey- I mean Stealthy – died in George's castle. Snow can't stay, though, because she has to go save James. The dwarves pick up their axes and offer to join her; suggested tagline: "Hi, ho, motherfuckers." It works for so many occasions.
Hey! Were you wondering why R-stilts needed Snow's hair and James's cloak? He was doing a little DNA-esque experiment of his own. In the final scene, he puts their hairs together and they light up like neon. So, maybe Emma is the synthesis of highly selective love-based experimentation by R-stilts? Was this whole thing a eugenics project? Where does that leave the dwarves?
Next week: Roger Daltrey! No, really, the former lead singer of The Who, the man behind blue eyes, will be on Once Upon a Time. Also, the Mad Hatter. Is shit about to get real or fall like a hot turd on a summer's day? Honestly, I can't tell. Stay tuned!
Written or Contributed by: Tricia Long