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TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ – ‘Bleeding Through’

This week's Once Upon a Time episode "Bleeding Through" revealed Zelena's (Rebecca Mader) plan, while giving us background on Cora's (Rose McGowan) youthful indiscretion. Of the two sisters, Zelena and Regina (Lana Parrilla), Zelena is certainly more like Mommy Cora. Cora had been spiteful, envious and so ambitious that she'd given up her daughter to further her own best interests. In the end, when Cora tells her baby she is abandoning her because she wants to give herself the best chance, it is a riff on a oft-repeated Once Upon a Time there: sacrifice for the good of your child…

Review Overview

Reviewer's Rating

Summary : Enough intrigue and family backstabbing to fill an episode of "Game of Thrones!"

User Rating: 3.53 ( 12 votes)
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This week’s Once Upon a Time episode “Bleeding Through” revealed Zelena’s (Rebecca Mader) plan, while giving us background on Cora’s (Rose McGowan) youthful indiscretion. Of the two sisters, Zelena and Regina (Lana Parrilla), Zelena is certainly more like Mommy Cora. Cora had been spiteful, envious and so ambitious that she’d given up her daughter to further her own best interests.

In the end, when Cora tells her baby she is abandoning her because she wants to give herself the best chance, it is a riff on a oft-repeated Once Upon a Time there: sacrifice for the good of your child or family. Cora has always been out for herself, and only for herself. Hard and cynical (probably even before she meets and hooks up with faux Prince Jonathan), envious and manipulative, Cora knows what she wants: to be queen.

But she has met her perfect match in Princess Eva, Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) mother, who at the time we meet her in “Bleeding Through” is a spoiled brat of a princess, willing to denigrate (and rat on) the pregnant young Cora to further her own goals of royal matrimony. Like Snow White, we wonder when and how she’d had that wake up call and became the noble, kind, and gentle Queen Eva. I would not be surprised if the series explored that life-changing event by the series end.

This week’s episode takes place in Storybrooke and in the Enchanted Forest before Cora meets Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), delivering a twisted tale with enough family intrigue and betrayals to fill an episode of Game of Thrones. So we have Eva betraying Cora, who then abandons her daughter Zelena. Cora assassinates Eva for the wrong she’d done her, leaving the path open for her younger daughter Regina to marry Leopold, who is Snow White’s father. Snow eventually kills Cora, but now we learn that Zelena wants vengeance for all she’s lost by having been abandoned as an infant–by Cora.

So. Zelena wants to conjure a spell that not only defies the laws of magic, but will essentially eradicate most of the lives of the good folk dwelling in Storybrooke. Zelena is no slouch when it comes to dark magic, and Rumple is quite impressed that the Wicked Witch has deciphered the laws of time travel. Collecting the needed ingredients: courage (from Charming), a heart (from Regina), a brain (from Rumplestiltskin), and a baby (from Snow White), Zelena hopes to return to the Enchanted Forest of many years ago. There she will kill Eva, who will never have Snow White as a daughter. Leopold will marry Cora, and Zelena gets to be a princess with a whole lot of dark magical power. Perhaps not even Regina will be born. And certainly not Henry–nor Emma.

When Zelena tells Regina that envy equals ambition she may as well be channeling her own mother, for whom envy of riches and royalty drives her to destruction and a whole lot of menace. Zelena’s envy no knows bounds and she will not be stopped until she acquires what she wants.

Robert Carlyle Once Upon a Time Rebecca Mader

But first Zelena needs Regina’s heart, and she sends Rumple to do her bidding under the control of his dagger. Rumple is a near automaton as he enters Robin’s camp, waring the bowman that if he could stand down, he would, but his actions are not his own, but Zelena’s. It appears Rumple has almost no will of his own, and nearly kills Robin’s young son before Robin gives up Regina’s heart.

The only way to defeat Zelena, however, is for all the town to work together. That means Emma must develop her magical mojo quickly, and the family must work together.

I really liked the coming to terms between Regina and Snow. It is a long-overdue conversation, and the acknowledgement that they live in one very twisted, screwed up family is a highlight of the episode. After all, Regina reminds Snow, “my mother killed your mother. Then you killed my mother.” I suppose it is synergy of some sort. But the best part of that conversation is the understanding Snow achieves about the darkness in her own past. Like Eva had done to Cora–destroying her life by telling a secret, so too had Snow ruined Regina’s life by telling Cora about Daniel. But there’s a big difference, of course. Eva’s act had been malicious; Snow’s out of friendship; she’d thought she was doing the right thing.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Connie Standish

    I personally really liked this episode; I gave it 5 stars on the user rating. I know it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it. Although the episode didn’t further the main plot, which is stopping Zelena, I think this episode could be considered a good filler episode, because questions were answered (i.e. what does Zelena want with Snow and Charming’s baby, why was Zelena given up), the characters (Regina, Belle, and Snow) had an opportunity to confront each other, and we got to see Regina really develop as a character. Take the confrontation between Regina and Belle for instance; I think this was the first time Regina apologized to someone. Also that scene where Robin was forced to give up Regina’s heart, she approached an apologetic Robin, telling him that it wasn’t his fault. Lastly, the confrontation between Snow and Regina, Snow apologized to Regina for killing Cora, and Regina acknowledged that Cora did the same thing to her mother; they came to a mutual understanding that their family is full of dark secrets. Plus, Snow and Regina had that heart to heart, which lead to Regina, afterward, to seek out Robin Hood (still guilty for failing to protect Regina’s heart); in addition, that was a great kiss scene (yay, for Outlaw Queen).

    Not only Regina, but Rumple has also gone through some great development. Before, I think, Rumple would have jumped at the opportunity to get his son back; now he’s accepted that his son made his sacrifice, and he is not going to go for the easy fix that Zelena offered. On a side note, Emma’s powers seem to be developing rapidly, I wonder if there is going to be a major price for her magic (OUAT isn’t always consistent with the price of magic, but for something this big there’s bound to be consequences), and I also wish that Hook would just tell Emma the truth about what happened, I think it would make everything easier if he told Emma about the magical kiss of death curse that Zelena placed on him.

    I learned that OUAT is going to have a 2-hour finale, so what I think what is happening is that the writers are trying to take their time with the characters before going into the final battle. Having said that I think the final battle will take place on the two hour season finale. One of the main criticisms I had about OUAT season 2 was the pacing, everything was happening at such a rapid pace that nobody had the time to really sit down and talk about everything that has happened to them (how they feel, what they have done, how they have been wronged). This episode truly had confrontations that were long overdue, for instance, since Season 2 I was waiting for Belle to call Regina out on all the terrible things she has done to her (I was beginning to wonder if the writers had forgotten about that, lol), and the fact that Belle flatly told Regina that she still has her sense of self-respect showed me, as a viewer, that Regina has failed to break Belle’s spirit (course that was pretty obvious), and the fact that Regina apologized to her (plus, her scenes with Robin Hood and Snow) showed me that she is willing to change. Overall I thought it was a great episode, it didn’t further the main plot, but it certainly addressed the things that needed to be addressed, and there was great character development.

    • WML

      They are going to integrate the Knave of Hearts into the story. He was the only thing from OUAT Wonderland that I liked (well, except for Miss Rigby, but for totally different reasons).

  • WML

    Robert Carlyle and Rebecca Mader were electric in their scenes together. I can only home that Zelena succeeds in changing history, if only to get Neal back. Note to showrunners. I am one of many who are still MOST SERIOUSLY DISPLEASED with your decision to kill Bae. Hook is beginning to be interesting, but the Emma/Hook romance feels forced and trite. He belongs with Tinker Bell. Seriously OUAT overlords, that was not the best decision you have ever made.
    As much as we need more Rumple/Gold, we need more Belle. I like the way that Belle is being portrayed as a strong, independent, smart woman willing to stand on her own and yet in love with her man. One good think about Belle. She’s a disney princess, and you don’t kill off Disney princesses.
    An aside. After watching Frozen this weekend, I say bring both Idina Menzel and Kristin Bell into the show. Make a musical episode. You’ve got one of the great iconic princesses there already of the modern Disney era. And as I remember, that was one heck of a Disney musical as well. I wish the great Angela Lansburry was younger. To hear her sing that song again.
    Okay, so I haven’t really talked about the episode yet. Rose McGowan did another great job as Cora. Jonathan was suitably annoying. Regina and Zelena were great. Regina and Snow’s bonding time was great. One thing is clear. Zelena is more like her mother.

    Did I say we need more Rumple and Belle?