Beware: This will include spoilers for episode 2×09 in the form of what I’ve seen in the promo.
With this episode, I had made the big mistake of watching about two minutes upfront. Usually, I only get the episode in the morning, since it is the middle of the night for us here when the shows are aired in the US. However, last Sunday night, the episode was on rather early, allowing me to catch a first glimpse at night before going to bed already… which was a massive mistake. I needed two hours to get my brain to shut up (and down) so I can go to sleep. But as said, I only watched about two minutes… so I was prepared for this episode, knowing brain overload was once again to come.
I had no idea.

Actually I have no idea where to start. This episode ended with me turning into the Tenth Doctor by screaming (I mean it – my poor neighbors) “WHAT?!?!?!?!?” because I just couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. So much for trust and all that stuff and…
Until now, it seemed that Rumple was the one we never really knew what to expect with. How much he’d twist his words and promises and actions so that they’ll accommodate his needs and objections while the other may get what he/she wants, but is still in disadvantage. As of this episode, we clearly have now another character who is completely impossible to predict. Hook.
Cora expects Hook when he comes down from the beanstalk. Now we learn that he stole the protection spell (the bracelets Hook and Emma had to wear) from her and that she isn’t happy about it. The question is – why abandon Cora to start with? Clearly that she didn’t know anything about, nor did she approve it. In general does he seem to do much without her, or anyone else for that matter, knowing. He seems to be working solely for himself; whatever he does has first and foremost to serve his needs. Cora has the means to go to SB and help him get there to take his revenge on Rumple. But the Quartet is not less well equipped – especially now that they have the compass (he surely hoped to get when he went up the beanstalk with Emma, but that should only be a minor setback for him); they’re younger and more idealistic, and when he approached them, even if it was a plan he made together with Cora, he knew they’d never harm or even kill him, as much as they ever threatened him.
I still believe that there was at least some truth to everything that happened with Emma; that he has at least some sympathy for them and would help them – of course only if there’s something in for him as well. Hook’s more misled than really evil; much like Regina and Rumple, but for other reasons. It’s different from Cora who definitely has this pure evil vibe about her; surely this may be because we haven’t seen any other side of her so far, like we did with Rumple and Regina, but something leads me to believe that for a person to become like this, there had to be something there for evil to ‘work’ with before.
Whatever Hook did and does, he is very sure that Cora won’t kill him. And that’s one of the most interesting revelations of this episode. There has to be something to him that he knows will keep her from harming him for now. This was also obvious in the end – somehow I doubt Regina ever wavered as Cora did then with Hook, just as I don’t think that Cora hesitated for just a second when she killed all those people in the village by ripping their hearts out. Hook has to be still good for something for her, and for more than just getting back the compass.
In general are there a few things that confuse me about her. With her power, she could have long found the Quartet and gotten the compass from them. Why send some zombies? And why send and use Hook? Then, about those zombies, I wondered why they were dead and then could be turned into the living dead, while Graham, after Regina had ripped his heart out, behaved completely normal and, well, alive. Cora has to be so powerful – but on the other hand, maybe she isn’t.
Time for Ed&Adam to kill my hopes. Because here comes the jump to SB. And the conversation between Regina and Rumple. The first one in that episode, I mean – there were quite a lot afterwards, and I honestly loved every second of it.
But first: Rumbelle. Finally some Rumbelle again. And yes, a promise has to be kept – so Ed, Adam and Jane give us the burger date. Apart from this one being absolutely adorable because… well, because it is Rumbelle – it also showed some development in the characters of Rumple and Belle as well as their relationship. Rumple really tries to open up to her, act according to her wishes and needs so that she can trust him and believe in him. I highly doubt that he’d otherwise come to Granny’s for lunch; that he would’ve put up with people’s looks and Granny’s comments, and generally the atmosphere that is so much not him.
Here however he does go to Granny’s, and he’s having the burger him and Belle talked about in episode four, and they’re clearly comfortable in each other’s company. He even does appear to have loosened up a bit, and if only for the time he’s in Belle’s presence. What I also loved was seeing them joke about magic – the ketchup – which I think is a big step, seeing where they’ve come from (and I’m not talking about geographical aspects here).
Before Regina’s arrival and another ride to hell and back (not sure about the ‘and back’ part) for my poor heart and soul, there’s another thing that is more or less revealed and going according to one of my theories – the one about Rumple’s involvement with the wolves. Granny’s reaction to Rumple shows that there’s more to that relationship – or shall we call it association? – than we yet know. Not that this would be very hard – after all, we haven’t seen a single encounter between the Dark One and Granny – or Red – in FTL. For all we know, for all series mythology goes, there isn’t any connection between them yet. But I predicted before that he has to be involved somehow. And if the “wolf curse” doesn’t come from him, then at least the enchanted cloak Red wears does. And now we can wonder what price Granny had to pay for it.
In any way gives us her dislike of the Dark One an amusing scene – a remark from her and a perfect eye roll from him that had me almost fall of my chair because I had to laugh so hard. There was you’re comedy moment in an episode that can be easily called a horror episode otherwise.
Enter Regina, who has put up her base on Henry’s bedside – together with Charming, which I think is another sweet detail – and thus has just learned that not only Emma and Snow are alive, but that of all people her mother is their antagonist in FTL. Where there has before only been speculation, they now can be sure that the mother-daughter duo is in today’s FTL, which may open up a whole new realm (excuse the pun) of possibilities for further episodes, as they can now plan differently for their future; for returning to FTL, rebuilding it, staying in SB, finding a way to connect both worlds permanently…….
Not that any of that matters now – because first, they have to bring back Snow and Emma… and survive whatever, whoever, may follow them.
Regina entering Granny’s causes the old lady herself to start and usher the other guests out, expecting a big face-off. Here the two Rs provide us with another funny moment when Regina claims that this is a civilized encounter, to which Rumple gives back that is it for now.
My shipper heart wants to believe that his extreme defense comes not only from his usual adverse behavior towards her, but also from his desire to protect Belle; to show her that he can and will protect her. He even uses this directly by asking Belle if she remembers the woman who had locked her up for 28 years – and despite their recent collaboration that now becomes even more necessary to keep Cora out of SB and their lives, I don’t see that conflict solved yet. He’s still furious about what she has done to Belle and also to him, by telling him his love was dead, and in one way or another, he will take revenge; even if it won’t be in his usual way (such as summoning another Wraith).
What he doesn’t seem to see in that moment is that what Regina could do, other can do as well – namely Cora. A good week ago, I tweeted “If you really want to hurt someone, go for what he loves most.” Back then I was still thinking of Hook and that he’d use Belle to get to Rumple. That this could be Cora… well… that kinda ups the stakes, in every sense. Belle is the perfect aim for Cora. Before she goes after Rumple, she will rather go after Belle, because she can’t defend herself; not in the way Rumple could, at least.
So maybe Rumple would be able to protect Belle. But what if Hook attacks at the same time as Cora? Could he fight off the two of them? This I’m not so sure about; and especially not now anymore, after the ending of that episode and the revelation about Hook. So this could mean that Rumple will need Regina’s help after all; that they’ll be forced to work together, because – in some way, the same – all of it – also goes for Regina. Before Cora attacks her daughter, why not try her luck with Henry? Surely this will be harder, since there are also the Charmings protecting him, but the fact remains that Cora is powerful; more powerful than the Charmings, and most probably also than Regina.
I was hoping Cora’s bark would prove to be worse than her bite, in a greater sense. I was hoping she would be defeated before she would be able to come to SB, so that the other would only have to deal with Hook. Now I’m not so sure anymore… actually, I’m not sure, period. With everything they are foreshadowing here, I fear that Cora will indeed come to SB. Or, maybe she stays in FTL, but finds a way to have an influence on SB. The third possibility: Cora will just wait for the other’s to return to FTL – into the lion’s den.
One thing seems to be a scary fact here – Cora once before gave Rumple a hard time and however and whatever about they were fighting, the victory he claimed in the end was not an easy one to get. Obviously he had to lose before in the end, he could win, which already tells us that she is very dangerous; more than we may have assumed till now.
Theory time. My guess at the moment is that Regina was never the Evil Queen from ‘Snow White’. After Cora’s visit to Aurora in the pit, she sent off a raven. A raven was also the animal that accompanied the EQ in the Disney animated movie (in the Grimm fairy tale, the raven was one of the birds coming along to mourn Snow White when she lay in her glass coffin). So what if Cora is the actual Evil Queen, as much as Snow’s mother was the real Snow White? We’ve seen that Aurora is not Sleeping Beauty, but only her daughter (like in the original tale by Charles Perrault), where it is one person in the Disney movie, with Aurora being Sleeping Beauty’s name.
What if – and here it goes – Cora was Rumple’s first attempt to share his magic with someone willing to turn to the dark side, someone weak enough to be his emotional slave? What if something went wrong and Cora became more powerful than Rumple had ever intended her to be? What if Rumple could never have approached Cora himself to defeat her, and therefore needed Regina to push her mother through the mirror, so Rumple would get rid of her? What if Cora, contrary to Regina and Rumple, is evil, in every sense of the word?
Rumple’s plan when he made Regina push Cora through the mirror was to send Cora to a “specific annoying little world” that is “useless” to him. We don’t know what or where that world is, but we can be certain that it isn’t ours, since Rumple could have used that kind of magic himself then to get to Bae. Plus, Cora is still in FTL, so unless she’s way more powerful than, well, any of the others, she would have had no way to return from our world. That leaves us with quite the choice. Either it is a world we haven’t seen yet – or it is one we know, which would give us the choice between Frankenstein’s and… Wonderland. The theory that Cora is the Queen of Hearts still stands – and it would make sense, in my opinion. She came there, she waited, she ruled – and she somehow got her hands on Regina’s father’s heart – probably knowing full well that her daughter would come to get him. Which means Regina must have known who the QoH is (she also said in Hat Trick that she knows what the QoH does “better than most”). Aside from that is “Queen of Hearts” as name pretty much a shout-out to the one who takes hearts without second thought – and since it can’t be Regina, it would have to be Cora.
Well. We’ll know it after next week’s episode, fittingly named Queen of Hearts.
Cora herself told Hook that she “crossed through (too) many worlds”, revealing in order to get back to FTL, she had a journey to face. Surely this only made her even angrier, hungrier for revenge. Now one can speculate whom and what she also encountered on her way; and if that maybe increased her power.
What we don’t know so far is when the fight between Cora and Rumple took place. My best guess is that it was before he had Regina send her off; she obviously never reached FTL before the Curse was enacted. Question is what were they fighting about; and how come that Regina knows about it? Before she summoned Rumple, she didn’t seem to have known him; but the time span in which all three knew each other was too short to have a fight take place then, plus seeing that Rumple was all too eager to help Regina must have meant that he wanted to see Cora gone as well. Regina indicates that is was Cora who told about it; but if that is so, then why didn’t Regina know how to pronounce his name? And her not knowing him (not even having seen him, judging by her reaction to his first appearance) speaks against her (secretly) having witnessed a fight. So until now, something doesn’t add up here, and I’m curious how they’re gonna solve it.
The other element that remains questionable concerning all this is that Rumple says that Regina saw Cora’s dead body. But – where? And how? Until now we assumed that after Cora went through the mirror, she was never seen again. It seems, thought, as if Regina had gotten proof that Cora is really gone – dead even, although I don’t think the mirror was supposed to kill her.
So now Regina and Rumple have to work together to keep Cora from coming to SB – because she’s not only a threat for Regina (which was already made clear in 2×04), but also to Rumple, it seems… at least if it serves her a purpose. And knowing Cora as we do her now, it most likely does. If the other powerful magicians are gone, she automatically becomes the most powerful and influential – while being the only one of those three without a conscience. Horrible thought.
And the two Rs also have to work with Charming, which makes the whole thing even more interesting. I absolutely love the dynamic between them, and how they all come together because they care about Henry and because they need each other for one reason or another – Charming to get back his wife and daughter, and Rumple and Regina to keep everyone who could harm any of them away from SB. In the end, both parties may also just have an interest in the other being successful as well. Even if Emma speaking about blaming Regina for everything isn’t very encouraging.
What I thought was fascinating is that one, Aurora and Henry seem to sleep a lot, and two, coincidentally always at the same time. But of course, we don’t need to make that more complicated than it already is, so this is fine by me. We need them to meet in the nightmare; nothing else is important.
So they meet. And communication is engaged. And… new problems arise (all dreaming comes with a price, dearie…).
First of all I wondered why, when Rumple sent Henry to sleep (in the bed in his shop – so great! … only that I was totally distracted by all the trinkets and gizmos and thingamabobs…), Henry didn’t use his necklace power to minimize the flames. The fire was roaring and he didn’t do anything; at least not visible, whereas it worked perfectly in the last episode. And surely then had to go something completely wrong, with Mulan pulling Aurora from the nightmare and in the course injuring Henry – probably because of the raw power being applied when someone is woken instead of waking up themselves.
What is nice to see is that Henry isn’t afraid of magic. He doesn’t shrink back when Rumple heals his arm, and he is curiously watching Regina brewing the Sleeping Curse. He even claims that it is okay that she used magic – now that she does it for the good side. I assume that as long as she keeps that up, using her powers to help people instead of harming them, he won’t disapprove of her magic. He also seems to accept Regina’s care now, which is also a heartwarming side-note.
But speaking of Henry and magic. After everything they’ve just learned, after Regina practically slammed Rumple’s head against the truth, his willingness to send Henry back into the nightmare so that they can communicate with Aurora and the others may come from his desperation to find a way to keep Cora out and thus protect himself and Belle – all the while not really caring about what it would do to Henry. He already has pretty serious burns, and even if Rumple can heal them, the whole experience and the physical damage Henry takes are already exhausting; who knows what psychological damage has to be added to that.
On the other hand, I have an inkling that Rumple may sense that Henry is a lot stronger than any of them knows, that he is powerful and capable of controlling magic. Which would again go with the theory that Henry is his grandson; even if Rumple only acquired the powers after Bae was born (ruling out the possibility that it is some kind of genetically inherited skill), there could still have magic leaked from Rumple to Bae and therefore also to Henry.
Cora has Aurora abducted to lure the others in. Pretty good plan, because what she says here is right – the others wouldn’t leave her behind, even if the compass is more valuable at the moment. But they are the good ones, and they don’t sacrifice someone. So even if Cora doesn’t believe that they’ll bring her the compass and agree to the exchange; she may know that they’ll do everything to free Aurora and keep the compass, as the trio’s plan went, and therefore the compass would come to her, sooner or later.
All the while she has the one thing the others need to communicate with SB – or so she thinks. I assume Cora has no idea that Snow was under a sleeping curse at some time as well. This happened long after she was gone from FTL – a big advantage for Snow, Emma and Mulan. Well, for the time being.
The moment I read that Charming would step in for Henry I wondered how he would be able to wake up again. We know that this curse – as most curses – can only be broken by True Love’s Kiss. But his True Love is in FTL; and obviously they didn’t go for Henry to be the one to wake up grandpa, which I think could also be possible. (At some point I had that thought that maybe only Belle and Rumple – from the main cast at the moment – have a chance to be woken from this curse…) And this plan that Snow kisses Charming in the dream never sounded like it would work. How could it?
Very nice was how Charming was ‘poisoned’. A spindle – hello classic fairy tale. Also a curious way to close that circle back to Aurora, or probably her mother (we don’t know what happened to whom with them). The realm Charming is sent to is indeed a nightmare. Spending eternity there – when under the spell/curse – has to be horrible. And in any way were there a few horror elements used in this episode – the mirror room from Charming’s nightmare, the burning room, the zombies…
Now Charming is trapped in the burning room – without the potion necklace Henry gave him that we also saw lying broken on Charming’s chest back in Mr. Gold’s shop. Which then made me wonder if it was possible to simply put a new one there, and if he would get it in his nightmare. According to Snow, he might not need it because he should be safe for now – seeing what the room did to Aurora and Henry, however, I’m not so sure. But then, they surely won’t let anything happen to Charming. He just has to hang on until Snow comes back… which we by now know can’t take any longer, since they won’t leave Charming in his sleep for the rest of the season (or the midseason break, for that matter ;)).
Most important is that they got the information through. Information on how to defeat Cora – at least for long enough so that they can leave FTL and return to SB. And here we go back to season one and the ink that trapped Rumple – ink that, as he explains now in his bedtime story (I so had to grin at that…), one can only get from the “bottom of a bottomless ocean” – and to get it, one has to be a Dark One or a mermaid.
There was talk about the little mermaid before; speculation and hope that they’d bring her in. Knowing that nothing in this show is said or shown unless it has some meaning, this may be a much anticipated hint. Maybe she won’t be in this season, as there’s enough other stuff that needs to be dealt with first, but surely we’ll see her sooner or later.
As for the ink – well, now that adds to my question as to why Rumple stayed in the dungeon. Why he allowed himself to get caught to start with. Wouldn’t he have been able to sense the magic in the ink? I assumed before that this was all part of his plan – being caught and imprisoned. I highly doubt that, if Regina can turn into a mouse and back, he would have to stay in prison behind simple bars. Regina got her magic from Rumple, after all. So maybe the Charmings or whoever the quill came from never acquired it (and the ink) from a mermaid, but it somehow came to them and they just used it – not even suspecting that it was Rumple himself who gave them this opportunity. He also did seem quite calm during the incident…
Quick stop for a theory about the nightmare and the burning room. Already before I predicted that, seeing that the sleeping curse probably comes from Rumple, this world we see, this burning, also has something to do with him, or more, the Dark One. Maybe it’s the Dark One’s realm, maybe a realm controlled by him, or whatever. In any way he may just have something to do with it.
Now I went back and watched Desperate Souls from season one again (in parts). The room Rumple gets the Dark One’s dagger from is also completely engulfed in flames when we see it; and it looks quite similar to the burning room from the nightmare. Could there be a connection? Is it maybe even a trap for the Dark One himself? There is still the question what would happen if the dagger was destroyed. Would it free the “host” and kill the Dark One? Maybe the fire in the room when Rumple got the dagger was a danger to the same and could have destroyed it; so the fire manifested itself as nightmare realm where people under magic spells from the Dark One are sent to, like with the sleeping curse.
We’ve yet to see Rumple sleep – we haven’t so far, and even in 2×04 when Belle finds the bed beside her empty, Rumple appears to have never gone to sleep at all; or at least if he went to bed, he got up again shortly after and never intended to go back. So does he sleep at all? Or does he try to avoid it because then he would go into the same nightmare realm as his “victims”?
Back to the episode. When Hook freed Aurora, it didn’t surprise me. Actually, I was expecting exactly that. Not the outcome, but at least that part. He let her go to have her deliver a message to Emma – particularly Emma – showing his willingness to work with the Quartet again. Of course he’d follow however brought him to SB first. And Cora’s reaction afterwards showed once more that Hook is working only for himself and following his own plans, then using them with whoever makes most sense to him. That, after he freed Aurora, seemingly returning to their side, he just as quick is again on Cora’s side, is a pity, but also not that much of a surprise.
No, the biggest shocker so far – of all episodes – comes in a form probably no one would ever have expected: Hook can obviously rip hearts out as well. Hook can only have acquired that ‘skill’ from someone who already has the power. Which leaves, as far as we know, Rumple, Regina and Cora. Now we can safely assume that he didn’t get it from Rumple. The most logical conclusion would be that he got it from Cora. Because until now, we don’t know who else he encountered, as there’s still a big part of the story that happened in FTL pre-Curse we don’t know anything about. The promo for next week’s episode shows us that Regina and Hook did meet – so it is very well possible that it was Regina who planned to use Hook for her cause.
Which then brings me to my other theory: That Hook may not have a heart anymore. Only that until now I had assumed that it has to be Cora who possesses it to enslave Hook. But seeing that she threatened him in a way that seemed to have her indicate that she can rip his heart out, she obviously wasn’t the one if my theory is correct. Then it would be Regina who got it. And that could balance the power just again – or outbalance it – if Hook and Cora come to SB as allies, and Regina can control Hook because she has his heart in her vault. And to come back to the beginning of my review – this would also explain why Hook is so sure of himself when Cora threatened him. He told her to go ahead and try when she said she could kill him because he knew she would try the heart-ripping-out thing and it wouldn’t work.
Cora controls Aurora, something we’ve never seen before in that form; if Regina took hearts, we saw her either crush them, or, as in Graham’s case, use them as some sort of bail to assure loyalty. Controlling someone like Cora did is nothing Regina ever used, at least not in that part of Regina’s story that has been shown to us so far.
What Cora had Aurora say was now any less interesting. We don’t know how much Hook told Cora, but somehow I doubt that he said something about his and Emma’s special connection; and that Emma was not all that unaffected by his advances. His reaction after Cora’s speech through Aurora also confirms that more or less. Nevertheless knew Cora exactly what to say to make Emma listen – and probably confuse her, and if just the slightest bit. Which again makes me wonder how much Cora saw of everything that happened, and how much she could also have done – and why she didn’t.
Seeing all that, making next week’s episode not about Cora, including her being the Queen of Hearts, wouldn’t make much sense. There’s so much tension and thrill in the general mythology now that introducing another character who doesn’t have anything to do with the main characters would throw the show’s whole dynamic completely.
Ah well. I close this for today. I guess I have forgotten a thousand things, but I think the longer I write, the more confuse my writing gets…

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Tags: Belle, Curse, Emma Swan, Emma/Hook (CaptainSwan), Hook/Killian Jones, Once Upon A Time, OUAT, Regina/Evil Queen, Rumbelle, Rumplestiltskin, The Charmings
March 2020
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