Going back in time is nothing that is new to ONCE UPON A TIME. But this flashback was different. Because it showed us how it all began – in Storybrooke.
Usually, when shows go back to the very beginning of a story, it comes along within a special episode, like the 100th. THE MENTALIST did it, as well as BONES, for example. Of course, waiting for the 100th episode to reveal the first days of and in Storybrooke would probably have been a bit too long. So episode 2×17 it was that gave us insight in how it all began… 29 years ago.
We start with a father and a son, camping in a forest. It’s the 1980’s and it very much looks that way (don’t know why, it just did ^^) when Kurt Flynn and his young son Owen are suddenly hit by a strange purple fog/cloud rolling over them. When it is gone again, there is a bit of a mess left behind – but that doesn’t really matter to father and son when they find something else that is left behind: A whole town that, according to what they say, wasn’t there before.
So only a few minutes into the episode and even before the title card, my mind was reeling again. First fact: SB was indeed created by the Curse. Until now, that could only be speculated about; after all it was possible that the town was already there, maybe as ghost town, and only reestablished by the Curse. But nothing of the same – every single house, street, shop, stone, came from magic. It was never there before, and this could explain why also no one passed through; probably is this town far off any bigger road, and the only reason Owen and Kurt were there is that they wanted to get away from civilization.
But then the questions arose.
Where did the fog came from? How did it come to our world? Is again the well the passageway here? But which way did it take from FTL then? Through Lake Nostros? For all we know – and after what we’ve seen before – there was no water in their anymore, and we know that water is needed to create the portal. So how did it work? Was the Curse itself powerful enough to reinstate the Lake for just as long as it was needed to complete the Curse?
If SB was made by the Curse, then why didn’t it vanish when the Curse was broken? Technically, and for all we know, the Curse, the original one, is gone. Whatever keeps the people in the town now is a new curse, or some kind of the same. Unless… well, unless the Curse isn’t broken, after all, not completely. It is possible that it was only partly broken, for whatever reason; maybe because Emma didn’t believe in what she was doing, still didn’t believe in magic and all that when she broke the Curse. That she told Henry that she loved him and thus broke the Curse could also have happened without her knowing all the other stuff, without her having to fight a dragon before and so on. Seeing is not always believing.
So should the Curse indeed not be broken, then what remains to be done? Emma is supposed to be the Savior, the one who rights it all. Maybe her job isn’t done yet and only when she actually admits herself to everything she has now learned, when she fully accepts that she is a fairytale character, all this will end. For now, she sees much of this as madness; she’s not yet fully in her role as the princess daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
The other question is – what will happen when they all return? Will the town vanish? And this though was accompanied by yet another theory. Maybe the reason the town is still there is that the people are also still there. No matter why they didn’t return when the Curse was broken; but
the town may just be a holding bowl that depends on the people existing in it. So if whatever keeps them in our world is broken/gone/resolved/whatever and they return to FTL, the town could just disappear as well. It would make sense that it doesn’t remain; what for, anyways?
Okay, so why are people still there. Apart from the possibility that there is still some curse – or Curse – active, I had that thought that maybe people from *this*, our, world, as long as they are in SB, work like an anchor that keeps SB and everything related to it around. Like, a whole stack of balloons filled with helium can’t fly away as long as someone holds them, even if they are already half flying and ready to start off as soon as they are “freed”.
Who knows what it could mean if the town suddenly vanished when a stranger was in there? Stranger as in – everyone who was never a part of FTL. It works also, in theory. From the moment the Curse is broken, there is always someone in SB who’s never been to FTL; who belongs to our world. In the beginning it is Henry, who, even though he may be the child of two people from FTL (Emma, born in FTL, and Bae), was still born here and thus is associated with this world. When Henry, Emma and Rumple leave for New York, another person who’s never been to FTL or doesn’t originate from there is already there: Greg Mendell.
Whatever it is, I expect an elaborate explanation, because I can’t see an easy solution for this. This also applied when the anchor theory is right – because it would mean that Henry had to leave SB, and something tells me that going to FTL wouldn’t help much then. But Emma would never part from her son, and I can’t see the Charmings leave their daughter behind. I also don’t see Emma staying back now that she knows that everyone who matters to her comes from FTL.
Anyways. SB comes to existence and Regina wakes up in her bed… in her mansion. “I did it,” she says when she looks out of the window and sees the town, “I won.” What I thought was funny then is that the first thing she does is checking out her hair and clothing. This is cliched, really. Of course is Regina shown to be very aware and conscious of her style and appearance, but this was a bit… I don’t know. Too unimportant ^^
What comes next reminds a lot of Groundhog Day, the movie classic with Bill Murray reliving the same day over and over again. I remember having exactly that thought when I watched the first Sneak Peek, showing Mary Margaret in her class – in the same scene we also know from the pilot, with the birdhouses and the little blue bird.
Whereas at first Regina loves this new situation – no one except her can remember, and especially little teacher MM cowers before Regina, the mayor, she soon is fed up with the situation and everything repeating every goddamn day. Bringing MM to the comatose David also brings her only short satisfaction; Regina is bored and also lonely.
The revenge doesn’t taste as sweet as she thought it would, because no one except her knows anything about it. Ultimately is the person suffering the most from the Curse Regina herself. Which could have proven to be interesting, but I’m not sure if it isn’t too late for that now. The longer the Curse lays past them, the less sense it makes to have Regina confront Rumple about it, should she, one day, understand that everything she did was to help him, to find Baelfire. I don’t know, but it would lose its effect and importance such accusations come three or four years – or technically even then 31 or 32 years after everything went down.
The only bit of fun and a change Regina allows herself is her affair with Graham that obviously even started all those years back. It doesn’t answer the question, though, why she chose Graham, of all people. Okay, well, technically he’s the only good-looking guy who also isn’t in a coma, so it’s not like she did have much of a choice. Plus she has his heart and can control him. Nevertheless it bears the questions if there really weren’t any other people around, and why she should choose someone who’d clearly resent, even hate her, when they’d ever get their memories back.
The affair with Graham also shows that not everything is similar to Groundhog Day – otherwise he wouldn’t have been there the morning after. And obviously Regina – and unconsciously also the townspeople – is able to change a bit of the course of the day(s). Their clothes, to start with. And then we have, for example, MM deciding to volunteer in the hospital, something she didn’t do at first. And course do I think that Owen and Kurt couldn’t have stayed.
And speaking of which. Regina is anything but happy about the strangers in town. She’s very hostile in the beginning, practically interrogates Graham (even though he wouldn’t have had the chance to do anything about it), and takes care of their broken car being repaired a lot quicker than it was originally said it would. I just wondered that Graham didn’t become suspicious of Regina’s behavior, what with all her hostility against strangers for no obvious reason. But I guess his following her orders can be explained by her having his heart… and maybe also them sleeping with each other (question is if he remembers that, though… the affair, not the one night stand).
Regina slowly realizes that her whole plan backfired – this is not what she wanted. No one knows her, no one really fears her, no one knows of the revenge and that they’ve all lost their true home, their lives. So unhappy, Regina goes to Gold, to have him help her. Now, remembering or not, the “dead-panning” seems to be so deeply anchored in Rumple’s core that he capable of it, no matter what.
Regina: “I’m not happy.”
Gold: “I believe Dr. Hopper’s office is down the street.”
Yep, I laughed. Regina, not so much. She’s anything but amused – even less when she realizes that not even the one, once very powerful, man who created the Curse remembers now. Who is, in the end, just another victim. Of his own magic, mind you.
This is the thing that really had me suspicious; since the beginning of the show actually. Only in “Skin Deep”, Regina learns that Gold remembers his Rumple identity. We know it before already – what we don’t know though is how and when he got his memories back. Now, Ed&Adam said in an interview that it happened the moment he met Emma (in the pilot in Granny’s Inn) and heard her name. It would make sense – the thing with the power of names still stands in the room, plus he had her name written down countless times on the scroll in his cell (although that was used to open said cell when the Quartet was stuck there because of Cora and Hook), which could also have had the purpose of him memorizing the name, really chiseling it into his brain and subconscious as his very personal failsafe.
For me, however, it is always the issue of what I don’t see hasn’t happened. And I’d very much like to see that Rumple actually remembers the moment he meets Emma – because contrary to what we saw of the other ones in the season finale, he showed no reaction at all. No shock, no moment of hesitation, nothing. He just went on like nothing had happened. So I don’t yet see that he really remembered then, or only then; either he had his memories already back the moment Emma crossed the town line (there was this theory somewhere before, I think), or it only came a moment later, maybe when he was out of the door. But the classic surprise reaction I doubt he is immune of was missing.
Despite her unfriendliness towards Greg and Owen, the boy still gives Regina his braided key chain thingy – and melts Regina’s heart. Now, as she realizes that Gold can’t help her, she decides to try her luck with the strangers – she invites them to dinner at her house, making her famous lasagna (no wonder it is so famous if this is the only thing she ever made… she must have real good practice with that dish…).
Now she learns that Owen and Kurt sort of fled from their daily life after the death of Owen’s mother; their father/son trip was meant to give them some time away from all the places, back home in New Jersey, that remind them of the lost loved one. Kurt is telling Regina how he tries to start a new life with his son, to get over their loss; and Regina bites where Kurt obviously never had bait in mind.
“What use is a new life if you don’t have anyone to share it with?”
Suddenly, their idea of strangers doesn’t seem to be that bad, especially not after she bakes a apple turnover with Owen hand he tells her that she’s make a good mum. An idea is born, and Regina offers Owen and Kurt to stay in SB. Start their new life there. Is it the wisest decision Regina has ever made? I doubt it. Because what would happen if Emma indeed came back and broke the Curse? What would happen if Kurt and Owen realized that people in SB are not aging, and that they also show no… development?
Kurt, however, declines; they do have a life to go back to, after all. What happens next can only be called a panic reaction of Regina’s. At every cost she wants to stop Kurt from leaving town with Owen, and she goes at great lengths to accomplish that. She even makes use of Graham’s heart – and is, unfortunately, found like this, talking to the heart as she gives orders to Graham to bring Owen to her, by Kurt. Who is of course confused. Nevertheless he’s pretty quick at reacting when suddenly Graham appears – to arrest him on charges that would only apply had Kurt been sitting in a car in that moment, showing how brainwashed our dear Sheriff is – and knocks, during a struggle with Graham, the box with the heart down. Effectively stopping Graham, whose heart is momentarily hurting due to the fall.
But Regina and Graham don’t give up. They chase Owen and Kurt through the town by car, and finally get them at the town line. When Kurt is arrested by Graham, he tells his son to run – across the town line. This whole scene is very dramatic; almost a bit too dramatic. For me, the whole thing was a bit overdone; don’t know if it was just bad judgment, or if this was supposed to show how different the worlds and their people’s thinking is.
In any way answers this episode a question I’ve actually never thought about before – why Regina suddenly wanted a child. Everything we’ve seen of her in FTL never indicated that she wanted a child. I’d even go as far to say, quite the contrary. But in SB she, seemingly out of the blue, she adopts Henry. And I think here it is the combination of two situations – for one, Regina feeling alone and unhappy because of the Curse, something that was supposed to bring her ultimate revenge and make her feel good and victorious. And two, meeting Owen who showed her what it could be like to have someone around to love her unconditionally, like only a child is able to.
A child can be formed and taken influence on; it can be raised with a unique understanding for SB and Regina without asking the wrong questions. The people of SB always only respected, if not even feared her, and they didn’t have a real memory of their lives; just an “excerpt”. They are like puppets on a string, with the Curse holding that string and limiting them to a minimum of themselves. And every outsider will soon notice that something’s off in that town. So neither of these is really an option. A child though, one that grows up in the town and never gets to know anything else, will just accept it as it is.
Obviously, how Regina got Henry is a whole other story, and one that would have been too long to be just one side plot in that episode. So I guess we’ll go back yet again to early Curse(d) SB, most probably to a time around 2001, because that has to be when Henry was born. I also hope that we’ll see a bit more of that in general; unless of course it was the same bleak routine for more than a decade before Henry.
It should be interesting that SB came to existence in the 1980’s and Regina also met Owen then already; but that only 18 years later Regina finally adopts a child. Sure would it have been difficult, what with them being unable to leave town and all, but still… there has to be more to this story yet. Could it be that, in the end, Regina even tried to get pregnant? Possibly by Graham, because as far as we know, he’s the only one she was sleeping with? I can imagine that because of the Curse and the whole time freeze thing this didn’t work: even if Regina was able to remember, her body was still affected by the Curse, since she isn’t aging either. Then add to that “trying-time” the time she needed to figure out how to get a baby from outside of SB and it could make a wait worth of 18 years.
Apart from that, surely Regina’s heart had been broken – because Owen tells her that he would have wanted to stay, but not like this. Still doesn’t she seem to realize that she is doing it all wrong, since later she doesn’t change much, seeing how she acted towards, well, everyone. Including Henry then (during the Curse) and now.
A bit later, we find Owen back with the police – and the town gone. At least from what he and the policemen are seeing. It’s interesting that they don’t even try to walk forwards a bit, or that Owen doesn’t make them; though I can understand that he wouldn’t want to and thus it would have been hard for him to convince the police. More interesting, however, is that they don’t see anything. Not even the sign with SB’s name. Now, if I remember right, it was visible when Emma came to SB in the pilot. Question is, did she see it as well, or was it only for us? Or was it just visible from the moment she crossed the town line?
If we look at the car chase scene, we see that there are two signs – both green with white letters, one saying “Entering Storybrooke”, the other “Leaving Storybrooke”. In the pilot, we had, when Emma drove into the town, a white sign with black letters that said “Welcome to Storybrooke”. Unless someone changed the sign some time during all those years – but really, why would they? – this is definitely a plot hole. It’s not so much about the signs, but about their visibility. This doesn’t become clear in my opinion; of course they are visible from inside the town line where the Curse is active, but what about outside? The policemen don’t see anything, and Owen doesn’t either. Also do we not see anything from the perspective outside of the town. So what’s with the sign in the pilot? And why did it look different? Was it just for Emma?
That the town is “gone” also answers why father and son were able to see the town in the first place – I think we can assume that the forest they were camping in belonged to the area that then became Storybrooke’s. Plus it would explain why they were also hit by the purple fog. And speaking of. Did the fog just vanish into thin air – literally – at the town line? I’d very much liked to see how all this looked from above.
As Owen is standing dangerously close to the town line and shouting, fist punched into the air, “I’ll find you dad, I promise.”, Regina stands right before him; only behind the town line where he can’t see her. But she can. And hello.
Owen can’t see anything and anyone behind this magical barrier we see Regina touch as she reaches for Owen (did she know it was there or did she only discover it then, I wonder?). But as we know, Rumple was able to see Belle when he crossed the line, just as Smee was able to see Rumple. And as he said so himself, Greg did see Rumple using magic, forming this ball of fire I his hand, right before he crashed into the town (so to speak). Each of them who was seen by the one outside was definitely behind the town line, or better, inside the town area. So how did they see the others? Or is this new curse that makes people forget when they leave not as strong in a sense that it can hide a whole town; it just keeps people from leaving without affecting those looking from the outside?
Now, about Owen standing so extremely close that he’s almost crossing the line, but only almost: is it luck or is this the magical barrier keeping him away? Because that is what I thought had happened to Greg as well, that just like before with people who wanted to leave and crashed (like two magnets with the same polarization), now people can’t come in. At least no people who don’t belong there, i.e. are not in any way connected to FTL.
The problem is that as long as there is continuity to it – before the Curse was broken nothing behind the town line was visible, now it obviously is, and it is shown always the “right” way according to the recent time frame were in – all is fine, or should be. But this transition was never shown, explained or closer looked at, it was just there, all of a sudden, and this is what is so irritating. And of course this now bears the question whether SB in general is visible – say, from a satellite (Google Maps ;)), or from a helicopter/plane should they fly over SB.
As said before thought we definitely have to return to this early SB again, what with Regina getting Henry and all. So maybe then we’ll learn what happened, and how SB is perceived by the outside world.
The happenings in SB in our time are a direct follow-up of what happened in the past episodes. In the first scene we find Regina mourning her mother in the vault; standing there alone before the casket that, I’m afraid, this time won’t hold a Cora that is still alive and just pretending to be dead. I feel very, very sorry for Regina, and also for Cora; still think it is a shame she had to die, and that she never got the chance to learn to feel love for her daughter that they never really had time together. It’s such a high price Cora paid for her revenge, and it’s almost a lesson that is taught us and whoever else will listen: In the end, revenge will only hurt the person who’s taking it.
Little side note: Cora’s last name is revealed to have been “Mills”, showing us that this is not a name Regina adapted after coming to SB, but had all the time. I have to admit that I never really wondered about why Regina should have chosen this name, of all possible, since in the beginning we didn’t know her background and how she is connected to something including a mill – because all the other names have some meaning, like Blanchard means “white” and “brave”, Nolan “noble”, Gold and Hopper are pretty clear what background they refer to, and so on. Mills so far never made much sense, but of course it’s clear now that Regina just kept her name she also had in FTL, or would have had, according to how names developed in history.
While it was expected to see Regina there, Rumple appearing certainly is a bit of a surprise. No big one, mind you – we know he loved Cora, and him wanting to pay his respects is nothing that comes as a surprise, not really. And as he says – “Cora will always have a place in my heart.” The red rose he lies down then speaks volumes also. I loved that scene, since I I’m totally okay with Cora and Rumple’s past love story, and in the end this is the essence of OUAT and of fairytales – that, no matter what happens, love will always remain and help you forgive, while all the bad things will be forgotten after the death of this other person one had a feud with.
Next we learn that Regina knows what has happened – that it was Rumple’s doing to make Snow “infect” Cora’s heart so that Regina would effectively kill her own mother when she did what she may have wanted all that time – give her her heart back. It’s interesting that nevertheless Regina’s wrath stays with Snow, and fully so it seems. But then, I guess, she never really had a reason to hate Rumple, while her hate for Snow almost has tradition…
And speaking of. Rumple here actually insinuates that Regina gives up her hate, her desire for vengeance. She’s had had her revenge, sort of, through the Curse, and now it’s time to let it go. Which is a surprising notion from Rumple, to say the least. On the other hand, he may just have a few reasons for wanting this all to end. Snow now technically being family, for one. Being Henry’s grandmother; and yes, I still believe that Rumple would never harm Henry, even if it has been implied that he has every reason to (or he could believe he has because of what the Seer said). Quite the contrary, I think he really loves his grandson, the son of his boy he never stopped looking for and literally moved time and space for. It’s this sheer fact that makes the whole “the boy will be your undoing – then I have to kill him” thing unbelievable.
The other thing – and he says so to Regina also – is that of course Rumple knows all too well that not only magic, but also revenge comes at a price. And he’s paid that price probably a bit too often – and more importantly: Her mother paid that price as well. All Cora did was out of vengeance; all she gave up also. She never loved her daughter, never could love her daughter, so she could have her revenge. Now, Regina probably wouldn’t rip out her own heart, especially not now (or would she…?), but nevertheless is vengeance about to take from her what she holds most dear – Henry. Respectively it has already been taken from her. So in the end Rumple warns her so she wouldn’t do that mistake and end up like Cora.
Wants he to protect Regina? Maybe. She is Cora’s daughter, after all, and he’s changed a lot. It wouldn’t even (really) surprise me if it was Rumple who brought peace in the end. In his very own way, but still… (“Time to count your losses” are not exactly the reassuring words that are made to stop someone from wanting revenge, but he’s getting there ^^). It’s almost as if it would have to be rumple, because he’s the source of everything that has happened; everything we’ve seen somehow resulted from Rumple, so why shouldn’t he also be the one to right the wrong(s)?
Regina wants to hear nothing of what Rumple tells her, warns her about. She’s still holding to her plans for revenge, now more than ever, and it is even understandable – Snow killed her mother. Who wouldn’t want revenge for that, especially after everything that has happened before?
Meanwhile, Henry insists on learning the truth of what happened and why his grandmother is so ‘depressive’ (really, Snow lying in bed all day and sulking in self pity is a bit pathetic in my eyes…), so Emma tells him. His reaction? – “But she is Snow White, she couldn’t hurt anybody.” And here I wondered – is she really? Maybe she has the name of Snow White, but is she indeed the person in a classical sense? Or is it proven here that all fairytale books always only ever tell half the truth, and Henry’s does as well, because it shows the good side of Snow, but not the diversity of people, and that good persons also can be bad? It’s the general problem of fairytales, so why not of this one as well? Good can be bad and wise versa; we’ve learned that much countless times in OUAT. If Rumple and Regina can become good ones, then Snow can as well become… well… evil, sort of. And wouldn’t that be a game changer.
Right on time and thematic cue Rumple appears at the Charmings’ doorstep to warn them about the looming threat of Regina’s stronger-than-ever desire for revenge. And for once, we see a pretty clever Charming when he tells Rumple that just telling them doesn’t pay the debt he owns Snow for saving his life. This had me very surprised, really didn’t expect him to have that in him. On the other hand, if anyone was to say that, it had to be David, because he and Rumple seem to have a special understanding (we even saw that in earlier episodes, most notably when Emma and Snow were in FTL and David needed Rumple’s help, and later the other way around with Belle) that makes them respect and ultimately also help each other if necessary.
So what does Charming tell Rumple? – “And you always pay your debts, don’t you?” It’s a very clever way to bind Rumple to his words and actions, because here it seems as if this also falls under the whole Power of Words thing, so that Rumple is not only reminded, but also put under an obligation to fulfill/pay his debt. It also shows us that no signed paper is needed to close a deal – just like law tells us – but that an oral agreement is enough, and that’s what Snow and Rumple had, sort of. He never promised her anything, but she did something for him, which, in all logic favors come with, put him in debt.
Now, seeing what he does to repay his debt in comparison of what Snow did makes me wonder if this is all or if there’s still to come something more; if the Charmings will ask for more help. Could be very interesting, even more so if Belle remembers and supports the idea of Rumple being on the ‘good’ side by helping the Good Ones. Then we have Bae and Henry and… well. Many reasons for Rumple to leave behind his old sins and try to change for good, become once again the man he was, brave at heart because he didn’t want to let down his family, even if it meant deserting the war and living with the shame of that action.
Rumple’s and Charming’s getting in action comes a bit too late, though. Right before they arrive at the vault, Regina has already been there – ransacking the place, tearing her mother’s clothes (and I hope it’s it out of anger, because that wouldn’t make any sense, but that she does it to find what she’s obviously looking for) and finally coming across a small scroll – a Curse. A few minutes later when David and Rumple find the place as Regina left it and Rumple also sees that potions are missing he knows what she is up to: She wants to cast the “Spell of the Empty-Hearted”. As Rumple explains does it have the power of make someone love you – only that it isn’t real love, the person will only think he/she has these feelings. Now, there are probably worse curses… if, to complete the curse, Regina wouldn’t need the heart of the person she hates most. Guess it doesn’t need saying who that is.
Again the Charmings demand Rumple to help them, but he refuses – saying that the only way to end a blood feud, one that has been going on for such an incredibly long time, is by spilling even more blood. Shockingly enough, he may just be right. If something goes on such a long time, if hate and rage had so much time to infest themselves, then it will be very hard to correct it by changing a person’s thinking and feelings. It could even be impossible. All this will only end when those part of it are dead; or at least one party is dead, which, in this case, means either MM or Regina. Not sure if the rest of Charming family would also count; imo all Regina wants is MM’s death, as her feud is with her. So yes, unless either MM or Regina die, this won’t end.
The one who isn’t ready and willing to accept this is of course Henry. Not much of a surprise there. What is interesting is his reaction, what he says to David and Emma:
“You used to be heroes, what happened to you?!”
This would be the second instance in one episode where it becomes clear that fairytales (in books) only tell a small part of the story. That not everyone described as a hero, a good-hearted person who always does the right things, is actually one. Which brings me back to what I wrote about earlier already – Good becomes Evil, and Evil turns Good. What if Snow and Rumple change roles, in some way? Now that would be interesting. Because if Rumple finds his own goodness, his interest to help his “family” might just grow, thus making him help the Charmings and especially Snow, until everything’s set right, and everyone is back to their real self – good, but always with that bit of evilness we all need to have inside of us to balance us out.
The next important sentence comes from Rumple:
“Cora was dangerous because she didn’t have heart. Regina is even more dangerous because she does.”
Actually, there is not much to be said about this (and don’t I have a habit of saying that, only to then write half a page about it? lol…), because it’s pretty much an all-telling quote. Still, what does it, essentially, tell us? That Regina is dangerous because she is a heart. Yes. But she have all the others in SB, too. Everyone there has a heart. So everyone is capable of real bad and evil actions, because what makes us act like this? Passion. Strong anger, hate, love, all of which can only be felt when one has a heart. Cora was still rational; she had an obligation and she was heading towards it, but with cold calculation, never emotion. On the other hand is she the one who killed people in cold blood, people who were never part of her path of vengeance, whereas Regina only ever aimed for those she hated – namely Snow and maybe Charming. So that leaves the question if, in the long run, someone with a heart really is more dangerous. The emotions connected to a heart can make you do unspeakable things; but the heart can also keep you from doing just that. Can remind you that you have a heart, literally and figuratively.
At the moment, Regina may be led by her emotions, her grief and desperation and hate. But sooner or later, when this settles down – and it will – having a heart will be what makes her realize that what she is planning to do won’t bring her peace of mind, or fulfillment.
In any way is Henry in danger, for now. The plan – send him with Bae back to New York, away from the soon-to-be-battlegrounds Regina can’t leave. And here comes the rather funny scene: Henry tells Bae that he agrees, but wants to go to the bathroom for a moment… and runs off. Emma is shocked when she realizes that Bae let Henry get away – “He’s your son!”, she tells him, in a tone that seems to say: you should know he’d do it, because he’s probably got it from you. This may just be my interpretation, but it was almost as if Emma was telling Bae that he did the same, sort of, when he left her behind to be caught by the police. Not so much fun when you think about it, but the way she said it sold it for me… and the fact that Bae thought he was doing really good by convincing Henry that fast on “day three of being dad”. ^^
In the same scene, shortly before, we get a notion of just another danger waiting right among them – Greg Mendell. He’s still there whereas Emma, as she tells him thought he’d be back in Pennsylvania by now, but he seems it like it in SB. Only later we’ll learn what’s all this about – starting with him coming across Henry as the boy runs through the forest. Interestingly enough the first thing Greg does is calling Regina to tell her that he’s seen Henry, anywhere. And you wonder – why Regina? I’m not quite sure how much of what has happened in SB, what is going on in general relationship-wise, he had the chance to find out, but if anything he should have noticed that Henry belongs to the Charmings and not Regina. I think I may just have missed something here, but right now it doesn’t make much sense. Not even knowing how the episode ends (I’ll come to that though).
Speaking of Regina, right before the call reaches her, she’s been at the Charmings’ – about to get Snow’s heart. And who’s stepping up when she’s closing in on Snow’s bed? Rumple. Huh. Short scene, not many words, except for that he can’t be her guard dog forever (and Regina’s right with that), then she’s gone again. Leaving us with a more or less open scene.
Anyway, Emma, Bae, Ruby and David have to take the long way of investigation, at first suspecting him in the mines. Good idea – at least they find out that the dynamite is missing, and Bae remembers that Henry said he wants to get rid of magic because it would solve all their problems at once. As if. Yeah. Things is that at first they have no idea where this idea would bring him (could very well have been the crystals in the mines, right?!), contrary to Regina, who arrives shortly after Henry… at the well.
And this is where I started to get really confused. Okay, so the well is a portal and all, and Henry wants to blow it up. How Regina first magicked out the match and then made the dynamite disappear (really, for such a clever boy as Henry was introduced to us, taking a bundle of dynamite to blow up the well is beyond stupid, since it would destroy half the forest – including Henry himself – as well…) was sort of funny, but then…
Why should destroying the well also destroy magic? I can imagine that this will forever shut SB off from FTL. But that magic is in SB has, as I understood Rumple, its reason in the waters from the well that are flowing everywhere beneath the town. So even if the well itself was destroyed, it wouldn’t destroy the waterways that allegedly hold the magic. And anyway it is the question if bringing magic to SB isn’t a finished job that can’t be undone; I’d think of it as strange if the well was a constant source of magic, like a… don’t know, a air refresher or something, periodically giving magic into the town’s air.
From what Regina says – “You can’t just blow it up” – we can assume that Henry was just wrong and that destroying the well wouldn’t have changed anything. Still is put a lot of focus on it and it makes one wonder what destroying the well would have done to the town. But destroying magic like this definitely seems very illogical.
One thing Henry didn’t consider – what I said above – that the well is one passageway to FTL. On the other side, it obviously is not the only one, since Cora and Hook didn’t use it; with Magic Beans a passage can be formed everywhere, on soil as well as on/in water. And that’s the next thing that is unclear – what exactly does it need to cross worlds? Just the Beans? Or water? Or Lake Nostros and the well as connection between worlds? We’ve seen everything, and everything worked just fine; still there’s put a lot of emphasis on the well, which I think is extremely confusing.
Then there is the emotional part of the scene. Once again Henry gets in the line of fire (literally) to stop the adults from fighting, from doing something stupid. And once again he demands that they get rid of magic; that someone helps him doing so. But, as Emma says – magic isn’t the problem, it’s Regina. This is where I beg to differ. Regina isn’t the only one using magic, and Regina’s magic is all bad; it’s just the fact that she uses it for bad things (mostly). All of them, Regina, Rumple, even Cora before, and of course Emma, have a choice – they can use their magic for good or bad causes. Getting rid of magic won’t help anyone, especially because it’s part of their fairytale life, of their personas from FTL. If anyone, Henry should know that – more so that they would never be able to return to FTL once magic is “destroyed” in SB, in our world. And that can’t be what Henry wants; I assume that sooner or later he’d love to go back to FTL with everyone else, including his family, including his parents.
Then there is this other thought – Henry says that “magic is ruining everything”. By now he’s outright resenting magic, especially the evil kind, whereas before he still seemed curious about it. Remind you of someone? I think it was just a joke, but still got me what Emilie de Ravin said at the Paleyfest to think. Isn’t it possible that Belle and Henry find themselves brothers-in-arms (more like siblings-in-arms ;)) in a fight against (evil) magic? Henry has a reason because of Regina, and Belle because of Rumple; although the Rumple part applies for both, sort of, since Rumple is Henry’s grandpa. I’d very much like to see that; if all goes well those two are family of sorts anyways, what with Belle theoretically being Henry’s step grandma and all (but being not that much older than him… sighs… Rumple and his young women…).
In the end, Regina of course can’t and won’t help Henry get rid of magic – but at least she burns the curse that was supposed to make him love her and kill MM. It’s a start, and I very much hope that not only Henry, but also the others will recognize this, that there’s still capability of being good and doing the right thing inside her. Even though I doubt that we’ve seen the last of her willingness to have revenge.
As the scene is resolved, we switch to the Charmings’ place where Rumple is informed via phone that for now, the threat is gone. So as Rumple’s, his task of protecting MM fulfilled, is about to leave, Snow asks him how he does it – how he lives with all the bad he’s done.
“You tell yourself you did the right thing. And if you say it often enough, one day you might actually believe it.”
Back in February I wrote an article on Rumple’s guilt and how he deals with it – and that, among other things, his leg is best prove that he seems to feel said guilt, that he is even punishing himself. Even if my whole theory isn’t right, I kind of doubt that Rumple really believes that everything he’s done was right. He’s saying this because he wants to believe that; he saying it to MM to once again convince himself because at the end of the day, being convinced is what he isn’t. All the things he’s done – the search for his son, his desperation to reconcile with Bae, his rejection of Belle and her love because he obviously thought he’s not worthy of it (“No one can ever love me”), even him helping the Charmings, something he, considering his powers, wouldn’t need to do (and pretends to do out of generosity) – prove that he’s also just trying to get rid of his guilt, redeem himself, even though he probably knows that he doesn’t have a chance to do so because of his centuries full of wrong-doing. Don’t get me wrong, I think he can redeem himself, I even think it’s possible that he will be one day in the eyes of the others (especially of Belle supports it) – but Rumple himself may carry around this burden of guilt until the day he dies.
What comes next is totally open for interpretation. I say it shows that Rumple is a much stronger and sort of better character than Snow. Others would claim that he’d just never do that because he’s a coward, but really – if Snow was no coward and strong enough to deal with her guilt, she wouldn’t ask Regina to end her life, to take her heart as she does. She’s either live with what she’s done – like Rumple does – and maybe try to make up for it (also as Rumple does in his very own and admittedly sometimes questionable way), or she would just end it herself – thus commit suicide. Instead, she goes to Regina to take the burden and decision from her. In my eyes, this makes her a much bigger coward than Rumple, even if people could say that he’d never choose to be killed or kill himself if he can help it, because his own life means too much to him. I say that dying is something everyone can choose to do – but that it takes courage to live.
So Regina gets her heart’s desire (bad pun, sorry), and even though she refuses at first – why, does she expect a trap? – she ultimately rips Snow’s heart out. But she doesn’t crush it. Because she discovers something: The Curse of the Black Spot. … Hold on, wrong show, sorry. So, she discovers a black spot in Snow’s heart. Huh.
Of course was what I wrote above in the wake of the revelation about Snow’s heart. What does it mean when the heart turns dark? What does Regina’s heart look like, or Rumple’s? Wouldn’t we see the same, if not even darker hearts, with a much bigger black spot? Now, I don’t think their hearts would be completely black; because they’ve both shown that they can be good, even now, and I guess once the heart is completely black there’s no turning back. As long as one is capable of True Love – and both Rumple and Regina are, as we’ve seen and see – the heart can’t be entirely darkened. Plus I guess the heart itself may just prevent itself from that, but who knows…
Regina is having a field day with that, of course. She knows that Snow’s heart will continue to darken – so she gives it back to her. Regina looks thoughtfully when she tells Snow that the heart will continue to darken; that she knows it all too well. Which partly answers the above question. Now I’d really like to see Regina’s heart. And I’d like to know if the effect can be reversed.
Whatever happens in the future, Regina believes that Snow’s turn towards the Darkness will bring down the Charmings family (everyone included), and ultimately Henry back to her. Why she believes that I’m not sure. Only because Snow changes it doesn’t mean that the others will as well. Maybe it has an effect on David – but the others? I’ve not yet seen much connection or love between Henry and his grandparents (if anything, there is something between Henry and David, but not between Henry and Snow). Nor do I see it between Emma and Snow, despite them being mother and daughter. Added to that, Emma has only known her parents for a short while, I it doesn’t seem to be much of an influence on her when something bad happens to them; it’s more that I see Emma getting stronger and fighting harder then. She’s not the one to stay at home and hold her mother’s hand; she’d rather go out and do something. With support of Bae (hopefully), Henry will have a family, no matter what happens to Snow. In short, I don’t see that all this will bring Henry back to Regina.
And honestly? From what we see here, how Snow behaves, how she begs Regina to kill her, end her suffering, she’s the weakest and most pitiful character of that whole show at the moment, and not in a good way. I don’t feel sympathy; just pity. And for a character like Snow, who is supposed one of the most important characters here, this is a very bad development. That’s life – that’s when you have to live with your decisions, and she made that decision by herself and only on suggestion of Rumple.
It will be interesting to see how this all continues to develop, and who’ll prove to be the real hero(es) here.
Last but now least: Greg. He’s filmed the whole scene with ripping-the-heart-out… and now he’s texting the video to “her”. At least he’s not sharing it on Twitter. Anyways. When he gets in the car, we finally see who he really is – after this was easy to suspect from the beginning of the episode on.
As for me, I knew from the very beginning, the moment they announced a stranger, an outsider coming to SB, that it wouldn’t be just a random person. He had to be connected to the town in some way. Actually I thinks it’s a bit of a shame; a random person without any connection whatsoever could have provided a very interesting plot also when he had seen what is going on in SB, with magic and all.
Greg is no stranger though, not really; although it’s been a while since he’s been in SB. And although by now he’s changed his name from Owen to Greg. The questions is – what does Greg want? His father, of course. We haven’t learned yet what became of Flynn, if he is still in SB; if he is still alive. It would also be interesting if he has aged should he indeed have been in SB the whole time. The only place I can imagine he has been locked away is the asylum, but who knows. Maybe he isn’t there anymore.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t explain why he is so interested in magic – and in telling someone about it. Why he is so interested in SB. Is it just to have something to blackmail Regina? Someone has prove outside SB in form of pics and vids, and if you don’t give me back my dad, I tell everyone? And even if you kill me, people will still get to know? Everything else doesn’t make sense to me at the moment.
So that’s something I think we have to wait for and see in next week’s episode… or the following, but hopefully before the end of the season…