The titular queen refers to the flashback story of young Snow (Bailee Madison) losing her mother (Rena Sofer) to an unexpected illness.
Snow tries to find help for her beloved mom from the Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor-Tracy). The Blue Fairy appears to offer a cure that would require someone else to die. Snow is unwilling to do that, and her mother dies.
We are all relieved when it is revealed that the Blue Fairy was actually Cora (Barbara Hershey), trying to sully Snow's good heart. Oh, and she also poisoned Snow's mother so that Regina could become queen. Modern-day Regina isn't sure how to feel about this news.
In Storybrooke, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) try to prevent Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Cora from getting their hands on the dagger that controls the Dark One (and is incredibly powerful by itself).
They get to it first, but Cora has an ace up her well-tailored sleeve and they are forced to give it up. This pisses off Snow, who decides she now wants to kill Cora.
And finally, in New York, Hook shows up and poisons Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). Bae (Michael Raymond-James), Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) decide they must take him back to Storybrooke and find a magical remedy for a magical poison.
Bae says he can sail Hook's invisible ship, and then he borrows a car from his fiancé. Yes, he's got a nice gal in New York, which is eminently awkward for Emma.
The gorgeous Rena Sofer was the epitome of regal grace and beauty in what must be the most "fit for a queen" dress in the whole series.
Once again, little Bailee Madison gives a terrific performance as young Snow. She captures Ginnifer Goodwin's mannerisms with subtleness. She also got a chance to portray a variety of emotions and reactions, with a nice range.
The Blue Fairy acted oddly cold, but it was hard to see coming that it had actually been Cora all along. That point when Mother Superior didn't recall the conversation with Snow was a true surprise. Ditto with the idea that Cora had poisoned the first Queen. There must be more to their story!
How about the admission that Bae has been to more than just this realm, since we last saw him? It was a revelation that was skimmed right over in this episode, but it opens up tons of possibilities. I doubt this is the last time we'll hear about his past adventures.
Regina was awesome, getting back to her evil roots after weeks of trying to play nice. And she did have a valid point about where being good had really gotten her. Her parting words to Snow were perfectly delivered.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
Where was little Snow's absent father the whole time her mother was dying and during her funeral? Yes, there was a brief lip-service given early to him being off on kingly business, but his glaring absence was particularly bothersome given the emotional storyline.
Poor Johanna (Lesley Nicol). If this were "Star Trek," she'd have been wearing a red shirt. It was obvious that she was never going to be long for this world. However, her loss would have been more moving if we had been allowed to spend more time with her before the writers created that no-win scenario for Snow.
Was giving up the key to incredible Dark Magic power to Cora in exchange for one life really "doing the right thing"? It seems that making the "right" decision as Snow laments in the end, would actually have been the opposite of the decision she did make.
Hook sure had no problem finding the gang in New York City. While it was good for a surprise, the writers might at least have made it look a little harder to do. And does anyone else worry about the giant navigational hazard he has moored up somewhere in the busy New York waterways?
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"The Queen is Dead" was written by Daniel T. Thomsen and David H. Goodman. It was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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