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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “Into the Deep”

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As the first half of Once Upon a Time‘s second season drives towards its conclusion December 2, this week’s episode “Into the Deep” finds Regina (Lana Parrilla), Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), and Charming joining forces to defeat Regina’s mother Cora (Barbara Hershey) to prevent her from entering Storybrooke.  Snow, Emma, and dubious compatriots Mulan and Aurora remain trapped in the ruins of Fairytale Land, and still seeking a way to come home, but they find a glimmer of hope when Aurora sees Henry in the fiery netherworld. But Henry (Jared Gilmore) only brings back a message that Emma and Snow have a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in the evil Cora.

Mr. Gold believes he has a way to overcome Cora and get the pair back to Storybrooke. The key lies in the magic ink used to paralyze and imprison Rumplestiltksin (“The Price of Gold”). The resourceful Rumple had kept a vial of the stuff in his cell for just such a rainy day. But getting that message back to Snow and Emma is problematic. The netherworld is a wall of flame, and Henry cannot quite get to Aurora before he’s forced out, awake and injured. He cannot go back; it would be too dangerous for him, even after Mr. Gold heals Henry’s burned arm.

Neither Regina nor Charming want to send him back even after he’s had time to recover, but Gold warns them that without going back to send a message to Emma and Snow, they will all be faced with confronting a real monster in Cora. None of them will be safe in Storybrooke.

Charming (Josh Dallas) volunteers to go, but in order for him to do it, he must be put under a sleeping curse, something from which he might never recover. But of course he goes as he must, and finds Snow (as he always does). But because neither of them are actually in the netherworld, Snow cannot really kiss him to wake him up. And as the episode ends, Charming is still under the curse, waiting for Snow and Emma to return. Only then will he be woken from the spell.

“Into the Deep” has lots of interesting goings on, and although the plot is simple enough, its rich texture moves the story ahead while giving us little glimpses into some of the series most pivotal relationships both in the present day and ancient Fairytale Land timelines.

Although it doesn’t have an impact on the immediate plot, it is lovely to see Mr. Gold and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) together enjoying a simple meal and each other’s company. Even in this short scene there is something quaint and genteel to this quiet courtship. We see glimpses of Gold’s difficult relationship with the good people of Storybrooke, and he seems almost apologetic about it, even accepting Granny’s slight without challenging her as he might have before Belle’s return.

Their date is interrupted by news of Cora’s existence, and her desire to cross into Storybrooke, something, Regina intimates to Gold, that would complicate both their lives. But Gold is confident he can handle the evil Cora. But, as Regina points out, Gold now has a weakness — someone he loves, someone that can be used against him. 

I found the interplay between Mr. Gold and Regina fascinating. Although they are far from friends, the two sorcerers can find common ground in defeating her. Cora is powerful, yet, insists Gold, he is more powerful, something Regina doubts. But more interesting is how they are collaborating despite their distaste for each other to help Emma and Snow, and not for mischief or to create havoc. 

I really loved how we observe both of them using magic now in our “real” world. It seems slightly incongruous, since we are accustomed to seeing them work their magic only in their magical environment of Fairytale Land, but it works. Their magic is now out in the open, not secretive nor sinister (at least not for now).

As Rumple reveals what he had known about the spell used to trap and imprison him, telling Henry how to find the magic ink hidden in his cell, Regina and Charming share a look. They must wonder why, if Rumple had know all of this, he had submitted knowingly to the spell, and why, with the powerful substance in his possession why he never used it during all the many years of his captivity. (I assume it’s been many years just from the terrible state in which we find Rumple when first we meet him.)

On the opposite side are Cora and her new ally Hook, and the two are perfectly matched, and make Gold and Regina look positively tame. Killian is master of the double and triple cross, playing both sides to suit his own agenda. He makes a great, very much black and white villain, and not in the least sympathetic.

He will be a great nemesis for Rumple as the season moves forward, just as Cora will make Regina’s (and probably Rumple’s as well) life a misery. I can see the potential of Rumple and Regina becoming the protectors of Storybrooke life defeating a foe that would destroy or oppress them all. 

Hook really show his true evilness by taking Aurora’s heart, something Cora must have taught him, or perhaps something he picked up after he’d seen Rumple do the same thing to Milah. But it is obvious that Hook is driven by revenge and his own desires, just like Cora. And while Rumple and Regina have also been driven by revenge, it is revenge born out of grief and love. Interesting counterpoint, I think.

Next week is the final episode before the series takes a break until January. The conclusion to next week’s episode, according to the preview will set up the entire second half of the season. 

Be sure to tune in to Let’s Talk TV LIVE tomorrow night to continue the discussion live. What will happen next week and after the show returns in January? Will Emma and Snow make it back? And who will be with them? Will Cora be defeated before she comes knocking on her daughter’s door? Or will she come to Storybrooke and endanger all their lives? And what about Hook? Will he confront Rumple, possibly using Belle to hurt him? 

Stay tuned! Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

NOTE: For all you Robert Carlyle fans — Robert’s new film California Solo opens November 30 in New York. I had a chance to interview the film’s writer-director Marshall Lewy last week. My interview and review of the movie will appear on Blogcritics this Friday.

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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.
  • Betsy

    Hi Barbara!

    I really liked the episode, but I’ll have to watch it again because it was complex. I’ll just comment on Rumbelle now.

    First off, I have to mention that that first shot after the commercial, where it appears Gold/Belle are having a conversation? That’s Bobby and Emilie, Bobby wearing a huge smile, lol. My friend works and did work behind the scenes and she noticed that the camera was not on them…they were supposed to be quiet at that point (presumably the director had requested that), but Bobby and Emilie continued to talk about some game they’d been playing, lol. I had to mention it because I’m sorry, I totally ship their friendship and it’s nice to see that they get along SO well. Actually, it’s adorable!

    The actual scenes? SOOO short, but so much was crammed in.

    I loved how Granny got her zinger in, but Gold was blase and actually joked about it with Belle, saying how he has a complicated relationship with everyone. Belle’s response referring to Skin Deep, about how it took her awhile to get to know him and that people will too, was wonderful. I loved how Gold leaned in, almost conspiratorially. I swear, that impish Rumple is coming out in him.
    The condiment comment was hilarious and sorry, that was definitely a sexual innuendo. They looked completely relaxed with each other.

    I particularly loved how Gold didn’t take Regina to the side when she annoyingly interrupted them, lol. They had their conversation in front of Belle – Gold is not going to hide anything from her. That honesty is huge…..Belle gave Regina a stare that could kill, lol. I suspect we’re heading for a blowup soon, and I’m glad to finally see Belle show anger about it. She has to release that at some point.

    Great review – and my god, Rumbellers missed these two. We were SO desperate for something, lol.

    Thanks! Can’t wait to finally watch SGU, lol

  • Betsy

    Oh, and I LOVE Gold so much anyway, but I love how lately he’s been trying to be different. I truly believe he is tired of being alone and wants to be more connected to people. Regina’s comment 2 weeks ago about how everything has a price for him and Maurice’s in the Croc about how he’s a monster really got to him – did you notice how he looks down both times? Those are people he hates – and normally he’d not care what they think. BUT….since Belle’s return, his basic and core goodness and humanity are beginning to emerge again. He knows he can be happy as opposed to being “not unhappy” and being happy means not being alone. You can’t turn your humanity on and off like a light; all those emotions he’s buried for so long are emerging.

    He cares about Henry and wants to help and I think he genuinely wants to help Charming/Snow/Emma. Of course he doesn’t want Cora coming…and Belle, as Regina said tonight, is his weakness because he loves her, but this is different Gold. This is a man who is not expecting any sort of object or favor in return.

    I really love Gold’s progress this season. What do you think?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    Liking where they’re headed.

  • Laura

    Sorry, but Hook’s revenge is also born out of grief and love too. I’m really failing to see the difference here. He obviously loved Milah and she him. How does that make the motivations for his actions any different than that of Rumple and Regina? Yeah, he was the ‘other man’ but Rumple killed his wife, which act is more evil? Seriously…

  • WML

    I guess no burgers together this time around. I like the continuity of the Rumple and Belle storyline. And the softening around the edges of both Regina and Gold. I like the fact that Granny charged Gold extra for the pickle. I like where the Gold/Henry relationship is going – maybe a foreshadowing of the Rumple/Bae/Henry relationship. I thought Lana Parilla looked beautiful tonight, the motherly instincts that she is showing suits her. And of course, it’s good to see Charming and Snow back together again, sort of.

    Looks like Regina and Gold will have a handful to deal with in Cora. It appears that she has become more powerful and maybe Gold does have something to worry about. And Hook taking Aurora’s heart? What was that about? Still smarmy.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    Laura–I agree, he is grieving the loss of Milah, but he was incredibly cruel to Rumple from the start. I don’t actually think Hook is capable of the same sort of sorrow. We don’t know Hook from his pre-pirate days, but what we’ve seen thus far is not pretty (except, he is very pretty to look at, I’ll admit!)

  • WML

    And as unpopular as it might be around here, I am not crying a river at Milah’s fate. Cook is clearly a scoundrel, but she preferred that kind of life over the “humiliation” she suffers under the old Rumple. Fair enough. It doesn’t mean she deserved to have her hear ripped out, but it would have been more appropriate if Rumple did try to rip it out and found nothing there.

    I like Cora controlling Aurora’s thoughts through her possession of her heart. That would mean that she knows everything the quartet is doing. And Mulan? Yeah, her price is dead, but does she have to be so daff?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    I’m not too bummed about Milah’s fate either. She seemed a pretty shallow person. I also like the idea of the heats carrying through with Cora and how she controls Aurora. makes her eviler.

  • WML

    It’s good to see the rivalry between Regina and Gold is still on. It’s quite clear that they’ve managed to find a certain distaste for each other. I like the fact that Regina keeps egging Gold on – “that’s not what I heard” (in reference to Gold saying that he can beat Cora), “that’s before you have someone that you actually cared about” – right in front of Belle. I do think that Gold is REALLY worried about Cora. I am liking the fact that Henry is really softening his stance towards Regina – that he is capable of really caring for her after all (and she really caring for him). What happens when Gold and Regina turn nice? Well, it looks like there are always more baddies to bring forth into the woods, so to speak.

  • Laura

    Hello again. Hook is a pirate, his actions against Rumple are basically what pirates do. He is a bully, there’s no denying that. That doesn’t make him evil. And, yes, we know nothing of his back story pre-Milah. He bullied Rumple, but even on the ship he seemed to be trying to get some sort of honor out of the man. Yes, he bullied Rumple, but he didn’t brutally murder his lover and chop off her husband’s hand. Rumple and Regina have both done very terrible things, and we have their motivations for them and that doesn’t totally excuse their actions. We still know very little about Hook. Also, not capable of the same sort of sorrow? What’s that based on? Currently, his entire existence revolves around avenging Milah’s death and he was obviously extremely upset when she died. To call him unsympathetic and a black and white villain, is to completely ignore the patterns set up for the character and within the show itself.

  • WML

    Actually, we’re missing about 328 years of backstory on Hook. I think of Hook as a rogue, a rascal – to say that he’s never killed a guy or gal in a brutal manner is somewhat of a stretch. The great thing that OUAT has done with Hook is make him a handsome man. If Hook looked like a dastardly swine, do you think the feelings of empathy for him and Milah would be as strong? Sometimes, the man behind the mask is not as glamorous as the mask. The contrast between Rumple and Hook will be interesting to watch.

    I think it’s about time that bullies get their comeuppance.

    I find Barbara Hershey deliciously over the top, even more so than Parilla’s EQ. Well, maybe not, but this seasos has been a marked improvement over season one, which was already good.

    Now, bring Bae back into the picture, please!

  • WMG

    Just a quick note: Rumple was in the cell for a few months at most, as one of the writers confirmed that Snow’s pregnancy hadn’t started showing yet at the ball earlier. I imagine mine cells aren’t the cleanest places to be :)

  • Barbara Barnett

    Ahhh, but WMD, time is an elusive thing, and relative.

  • TNK

    Hook has always been a bully, in my estimation. As you point out, the Neverland years, at least according to Barrie, were full of murdering lost boys, and fellow pirates. So, this combined with the manner in which he treated Rumple makes me think that he and Milah might have been perfect for each other in many ways. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I have less pity for Hook than Rumpelstiltskin. Never smile at a crocodile seems to fit Hook much better. Never trust a pirate, especially a pretty one.

  • Becky

    Personally, I couldn’t stand Milah. If she was so unhappy and not attracted to old “cowardly” Rumpel, why did she marry him in the first place? Also, what kind of person leaves their kid alone to go to a bar at night and then abandons him without so much as a word about it? If you ask me, Milah was the coward. A spoiled rotten coward. Sure, Rumpel shouldn’t have murdered her. Still, it only bothered me because I wanted Rumpel to be bigger than that. Guess he just had to wait for Belle to show him how to control that Dark rage.
    Also, I do not care for Hook at all. He thinks he’s so awesome and sexy…uhhh…I so don’t see that at all. He gets on my ever-loving nerves. It’s like he’s OUAT’s Bad Boy/Frat Boy. Gross. No thank you.

  • Becky

    Oh yes and what Barbara said, I noticed that conversation too. Robert was saying something like, “He did. Again.” then Emilie said “Oh, That’s the third time.”. Robert, “Third time in a row. Yeah.” I couldn’t make out the first part though. But it was definitely cute.

  • Becky

    Correction: I mean Betsy! Oops.