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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “The Evil Queen”

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On this week’s Once Upon a Time, the entire town of Storybrooke is under threat from Regina (Lana Parrilla) as she plans her escape into Fairytale Land alone with Henry (Jared Gilmore), only to leave Storybrooke a ruin. She believes that in so doing, she will leave Henry with no other social support but herself and he’ll have no choice but to turn to her for family. It is this twisted notion of love that’s caused the Evil Queen much of her heartache both in Storybrooke and in Fairytale Land.


In the meantime, Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) switches sides as suits his advantage, going from the dangerous mortals Tamara and Owen (Ethan Embry) who “know how to kill magical creatures.” They promise to assist Hook in getting his revenge on Rumplestiltskin if he will help them find Owen’s father, was taken by Regina 28 years ago. 

“The Evil Queen” is a morality tale about the cost of hate and thirst for revenge. Hate is toxic. It may have a legitimate trigger: a terrible injustice or a misunderstanding, but held onto, hate corrodes the heart until there is nothing left but bitterness and the thirst for vengeance.

Regina’s thirst for revenge against any who oppose her ultimately prevents her from believing that it is not too late to give up her hatefulness and find peace and redemption, and maybe love and family. She finds this in the presence of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), who comes to her aid not knowing she is the Evil Queen. Snow explains her understanding of why Regina is the way she is, and that all she needs to do is to let go of the pain and the blame and she can alter her path. That is, until Snow uncovers Regina’s mass murder of an entire village. This is too much even for the kind-hearted Snow White!

Regina is unknown at first to Snow because Rumple (Robert Carlyle) has put her under a spell making her appear a peasant. The cost is merely the temporary sacrifice of her magic and the promise to Rumple that she will bankrupt King George (whom we know Rumple will later need to place David in position to find Snow White for the first time!).

In the Storybrooke story, Hook also remarks about the emptiness of vengeance, brooding about the fact that once he takes his revenge upon Rumple and kills him, there will be little left to live for. His entire life has been about getting his revenge. He has nothing else to show for his existence: no love, no family, no friends. Only his hate of Rumple.

Regina is also treading close to this line, and even when she enlists Hook as an ally, she almost immediately betrays him, sending him into a pit with now even more monstrous Maleficent. (Of course, Hook does betray Regina just as easily; I think they are quite made for each other!)

And speaking of betrayal, what about Tamara? That girl has a list of everyone in Storybrooke and their fairytale names. She and her buddy Owen (AKA Greg Mendell) have nanobots to kill the magic in magical beings.

Aha! So now the name Greg Mendell begins to resonate with me. If his device “science, not magic,” he explains uses tiny creatures/devices absorbed in through the skin, it makes sense that they do something to the genetic makeup of the host. I really love this little crossover into hard science fiction. I can just imagine the little nanobots working their way through Regina’s system working away at the magic embedded into her genes. Cool.

And what is Greg’s true mission? He’s not telling. I can’t wait to learn his agenda, and who he really is! 

Next week? It’s off to Neverland as Baelfire (Dylan Schmid) is back, and I’m pretty confident that he is in fact Peter Pan. And who is it that ultimately deals with Captain Hook, setting upon him the crocodile? I can’t wait to see how this plays out between Bae, Hook, and Rumple!

Tune in tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. ET to Let’s Talk TV Live on Blog Talk Radio to continue the discussion of this week’s Once Upon a Time. 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her debut novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse comes out October 11 from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • WML

    A very interesting episode – a bleak backstory about the Evil Queen and yet, there is still the possibility of redemption. And why not? The most noble part of man is to be able to forgive. Not forget, for how will one ever avoid making mistakes if things are forgotten. But to truly forgive. In the purity that is in Snow’s heart, we find the very best of what we as creatures can do. Love. And true love, after all, doesn’t count the ways one has been wronged. It is always ready to forgive.

    Lana was fantastic. Carlyle stole the scenes and his Rumple was the trickster that we’ve always loved. Snow was great – now we know she went to another forest to learn how to fight and shoot – another setup for the eventual return of Robin Hood.

    The burning love between Emma and Neal is really smoldering. Both actors are fantastic in showing how much their characters love the other person. Through stolen glances, body language, what they say. It’s great.

    I miss Rumbelle.

    And then at the end of the episode, a pointer to the extended promo for next week. It looks like Lacey won’t turn into Belle until the last episode. But it’s possible that Neal is the new Casanova. The young Baslfire and Wendy in London! That was a very well acted scene and really wets our appetite for the last two episodes.

  • Connie

    This was a very interesting episode. I agree with your point on Regina’s backstory, it was a bit of a morality tale on the cost of hate and thirst for revenge. Thinking back to it, all this time she has had this sense of hate festering inside her, and as viewers we see the results of her bitterness in the beginning of this episode and throughout the show. Her sense of hate and blind vengeance has driven her to hurt innocent people, those who have nothing to do with Snow White; she even ordered her soldiers to kill all the villagers after questioning them, just because they didn’t know Snow’s whereabouts (or they were too fearful to say anything). Consequently, the people start to resent her thus giving her the title “The Evil Queen”. The only person who cares about her is of course Henry, but she shows Henry that she is still clinging to her bitterness and her lack of empathy when she reveals her plan to destroy Storybrooke, killing everyone in the process. I think the only way Regina will be able to redeem herself is if she lets go of her past. If she doesn’t let go of her past, she will never see her future and she will lose Henry. I think Hook made a good point, once he’s sated his thirst for vengeance he will have nothing to show for it, and no reason to exist. It was a little ironic for him to say that since he’s spent centuries plotting his revenge on Rumplestiltskin.

    I am looking forward to the season finale. I got a chance to watch the first 8 minutes of part one and it looks interesting. I especially enjoyed the part where Neal confronts his father on his latest outburst and the fact that he’s been avoiding him. I’m a little worried about the narrative, it seems to be going all over the place, but hopefully it will all come together by the season finale.