This week’s episode title refers to the object of young Regina’s desire: Daniel, the family’s stable boy. Unfortunately for them both, Regina’s (Lana Parilla) domineering mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), has much higher aspirations for marrying off her daughter. She’s eyeing bachelor King Leopold (Richard Schiff). He just happens to be looking for a mother for his sweet little daughter, Snow White.
In all her childish ignorance, sweet little well-meaning Snow reveals to Regina’s mother her secret love for Daniel (Noah Bean). This goes over particularly badly with Mommie Dearest, who rips out Daniel’s heart — literally! — to keep Regina from running off with him.
Regina reluctantly marries the king. Her mother is delighted. And Regina blames little Snow for completely ruining her life.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Regina continues to railroad Mary Margaret for the murder of Kathryn Nolan (Anastasia Griffith). And she is doing an exceptional job of it, too. Even Mary Margaret realizes that Regina has a terrible axe to grind; although, she cannot fathom what it is.
Fortunately for Mary Margaret, the murder charge is thrown for a loop when Kathryn suddenly shows up in town, dazed and confused and most definitely alive.
The scene between Regina and the desperate Mary Margaret was fabulous — and Lana Parilla captured the Evil Queen perfectly for a few moments. Young Snow (Bailee Madison) bore a marked resemblance to Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow White, as well as reflecting her mannerisms and speaking patterns. It was nicely circular that Cora used the same facets of magic that Regina uses.
And since Cora survived the story, there’s an excellent chance we’ll get to see more of Barbara Hershey’s deliciously warped helicopter parenting.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
It’s often a little disappointing to learn too much about why a villain is a villain — their mystery is part of their appeal. Such is the case with Regina. After all the buildup, her tale of true love lost just seemed a bit predictable.
And blaming so much on a clueless child? Even though it allows Regina to have reason to hate Snow passionately and Snow White to still remain innocent, it does seem like a bit of a stretch.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“The Stable Boy” was written by series creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. It was directed by Dean White.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC It will return with new episodes April 22.