One of the last episodes of Season 2 takes a vaguely unnecessary trip down Regina and Snow’s memory lane.
In the Enchanted Forest, Regina (Lana Parrilla) takes on a magical disguise in order to see how her people really feel about their Queen. But it turns out they pretty much hate her guts and love Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). This annoys Regina to no end. Realizing that she can’t be loved by her subjects, she embraces her role as The Evil Queen instead.
Somewhere in the middle of her journey to epiphany, she meets up with Snow White while still disguised. Snow almost convinces Regina to try being good. Then Snow has a change of heart, declares that Regina has no good in her, and Regina’s redemption is stamped out before it even begins.
In Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) try to find evidence that Tamara is “up to something.” They fail pretty spectacularly.
Regina destroys the dwarves’ bean plants, starts her own cutting and embarks on a plan to take Henry back to the Enchanted Forest alone. After destroying the town, of course.
And finally, Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Greg (Ethan Embry) get Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) on their side (kind of). They use him to block Regina’s magic and capture her. Greg also reveals that this might just be about more than just his missing dad.
Captain Hook’s brilliant use of the truth in order to fool Regina. He pretty much came out and told her what he was going to do, and she still managed to be surprised by it.
Speaking of Hook, he’s always so much fun when the audience doesn’t really know what side he’s on. Who would have thought that we would actually root for the villainous Captain Hook to win a dungeon battle with a monster?
Maleficent.Can we please know more about her? She’s such an interesting bit player in this series, and we know so very little about her. Can we fix that next season, writers? Thanks.
A subtle, almost passed-over aspect of these last few episodes is Emma’s internal debate about returning (or not returning) to the Enchanted Forest. In the middle of all the magical machinations, this small plot is relatable and riveting.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Was the backstory in this episode really necessary? Aside from the use of the traditional “Evil Queen disguised as a peasant woman” from the classic Disney tale, there wasn’t much point to it. A year ago, it might have been a big reveal to see Regina struggle with being “evil,” but at this point, that’s old news. It seems high time to move on past the much-rehashed Regina/Snow White story.
This episode seemed to be both rapid-fire “speeding toward the end of the season” and “running in place.” The redundant flashback wasted much of this week’s precious 42 minutes, leaving too little time for the important plots in Storybrooke. Hook’s arrival, Regina’s plan, Emma’s suspicions, the loss of the beans, Greg and Tamara’s plans – everything that mattered got short-changed at a time when it all deserves the focus.
Greg’s ability to counteract magic with good ol’ science.Not buying this idea at the moment, writers. You’ll really have to have a good explanation for something that seems incredibly implausible.
Not that it is of any importance, but … they have highlights in the Enchanted Forest? Really? Can anyone say, “anachronism”?
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“The Evil Queen” was written by Jane Espenson and Christine Boylan, and it was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton .
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.