Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.15: The Queen Is Dead

 

[spoilers ahead]

Written by: Daniel T. Thomsen and David H. Goodman

Recap: Fairytale Land That Was: Young Snow (Bailee Madison) shows off her party dress to her mother, Queen Eva (Rena Sofer). She’s excited because she is to have a ball for her 13th birthday. The Queen tells her that she is going to receive something special – an heirloom tiara. As the two go to see it, a servant, Johanna, is trying it on. When Johanna tries to apologize, Snow brattily berates her and tells her that a servant shouldn’t be trying to wear a tiara – only royalty should. Queen Eva stops her daughter. She admonishes young Snow that she is being rude, that they are all the same, royalty and non-royalty alike. She tells Snow that her coming birthday is not to celebrate Snow, but for Snow to celebrate her people, to show them her love and appreciation for all of them. She puts the tiara on Snow and tells her that when she wears this, she is promising to be a just and loving ruler to her people. Just then, Queen Eva collapses, seriously ill.

Later, Johanna comforts Snow as the Doctor looks over Queen Eva. While Snow and her mother talk, the Doctor urges Johanna to get the King back, hinting that Queen Eva doesn’t have much time. As the Queen starts to violently cough, Johanna takes Snow away. She tells the devastated little girl that she might know someone who can help Queen Eva, a confidante of the Queen. All Snow has to do is wish upon a star.

That night, Snow goes out to the forest to find the right star to wish upon. But before she can, the Blue Fairy appears, claiming to have heard

When Johanna tries to apologize, Snow brattily berates her and tells her that a servant shouldn’t be trying to wear a tiara – only royalty should. Queen Eva stops her daughter. She admonishes young Snow that she is being rude, that they are all the same, royalty and non-royalty alike.
her before she even wished. The Blue Fairy knows what Snow wants, but tells her that even her magic has its limits. Snow begs her to save her mom. The Blue Fairy “reluctantly” admits that there is a form of magic that could save Queen Eva, but fairies are forbidden to use it. However, if Snow promises never to speak of this, the Blue Fairy will help her. Snow promises and the fairy produces a candle. She tells Snow that the only way to save someone from death is with dark magic. Snow is scared of that. The Blue Fairy explains that it will save her mother, but it will cost a life for a life, one that Snow has to choose. Snow protests that her mom wants her to be good most of all, but the Blue Fairy says that this the only way to save her.

Sometime later, a tearful Snow rushes in to see her mother, telling her that she did something to try and save her. She admits to her mother what happened, but tells her that she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t sacrifice someone, even if it meant saving her mom. However, instead of being disappointed, Queen Eva is proud of her daughter for remaining true to her morals and being a good person. She praises Snow and tells her that even if she won’t be there to see it, she knows her daughter will be a good and just ruler. When Snow begs her not to leave her, Eva whispers that as long as Snow is good, she will never leave her. Then she passes away.

On the day of the Queen’s funeral, and what looks like Snow’s birthday, a somber Johanna hands Snow the tiara her mother was going to give her and tells her that the people need her to be strong. When Snow asks where she is going to get her strength, Johanna tells her from her mother. Snow appears in front of the people and places a flower on her mother’s body as it lies in state. She leads the people in mourning. When everyone finally leaves and the body is left alone, the Blue Fairy appears. Only, it turns out it’s not to be the real Blue Fairy, it’s Cora in disguise. She admits to the body of Queen Eva that she poisoned her and pretended to be the Blue Fairy in an attempt to turn Snow to evil, but it didn’t work. She plans on continuing her plot to make her daughter Queen and she promises Eva that she will turn Snow’s heart black. Her hatred of Eva seems very personal.

Present Day, Manhattan: Neal is taking his newfound son out for pizza, with Emma and Gold tagging along, there but not quite invited. Neal and Henry go into the restaurant, while Emma and Gold bond a little over Henry being upset about Emma’s lie

She remarks that Henry will eventually be let down by Neal and realize that she lied about Neal to protect him. Gold cautions her that now she’s sounding like Regina. He also tells her that he knows she wants another chance with Neal. Before she can sputter a denial, Neal and Henry come out.
about Neal. Gold reassures her that Henry will forgive her. She tries to do the same about Neal, but Gold tells her it’s more complicated than that. He wants her to get Neal to come back to Storybrooke. When she asks why should she, since their deal is concluded, he reminds her that she will do it for Henry’s sake. Henry ran away once to be with one of his biological parents; he might do it again with his other one.

She remarks that Henry will eventually be let down by Neal and realize that she lied about Neal to protect him. Gold cautions her that now she’s sounding like Regina. He also tells her that he knows she wants another chance with Neal. Before she can sputter a denial, Neal and Henry come out. Henry makes a dig to his mom about liking the pizza, since it “doesn’t lie.” Neal changes the subject by asking Emma whether it’s okay if they go to the museum. Emma agrees.

The trio head back to the apartment, with Henry asking Gold whether it’s okay if he calls him “Granddad.” Gold tells him, semi-coolly, that he can call him whatever he likes. Neal tries to talk to Emma and points out that he’s trying. She admits that he is – they all are – and then talks to him about coming back to Storybrooke to spend time with Henry. She points out that he doesn’t seem to have much going for him in New York. But Neal tells her that things are complicated for him. He’s been trying to tell her something, but hasn’t been sure how to bring it up. However, before he can, they arrive at the apartment. He and Henry go upstairs to get his camera, leaving Emma and Gold downstairs in the lobby.

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As Emma and Gold are talking about whether or not Neal will come back to Storybrooke, Emma is pushed out of the way by an enraged Hook, who stabs Gold in the chest with his namesake instrument. He tells Gold that this is for Milah. Emma knocks Hook out and Neal comes rushing out to his father, calling him “Papa.” Emma explains that he was attacked, but before she can tell him Hook’s name, Neal already names him. It seems he knows Hook!

Emma and Neal take Gold upstairs. Emma mentions the map she found on Hook, concluding that he sailed his ship to New York from Storybrooke. While Emma goes to grab her phone and Neal gets some clothes, Henry goes to see Gold. Gold pushes him away, telling him that it’s his fault that he is in New York and to stay away from him.

Emma sends Henry to go find a phone charger, since her phone is dead. Neal comes in and talks about taking Gold to the hospital. It’s too late, Gold says. Hook poisoned him with a special poison he has and Gold is dying. There’s no antidote in this world. But Emma knows of one: in Storybrooke, where there’s magic. Neal says he will get a car, but Gold tells him it will take too long. Hook came by the way of his ship and that’s the only way that will get them there in time. When Emma points out that the only one who knows how to pilot the ship wants Gold dead, Neal admits that he can pilot it, shocking both Gold and Emma.

While Neal is texting someone to get access to a car to take his dad there, Emma quizzes him on knowing Hook and knowing how to pirate his ship. Neal admits that this wasn’t the first world he came to after he left Fairytale Land. Otherwise, he explains, he would be a few hundred years old. When Neal goes to take a phone call, Henry rushes in to show Emma a text from David and Snow. Emma asks Gold about the dagger, but Gold reassures her that it’s safe. When she tells him that Cora and Regina are trying to find it, he brags that it’s not left his possession in several centuries; it won’t leave his possession now. Emma points out to him that this is a dangerous time. If there ever was a time to start trusting people, this is it. He might as well start with family.

Later, Neal and Emma head off to his friend’s car together. On the way, Emma asks him about his desire to save his father, after he was so angry. He tells her that there’s a difference between running away from your father and watching him die before your eyes. She calls him on the fact that deep down inside, there’s a part of him that hopes they might eventually be able to reconcile. He doesn’t deny it. She tells him that she’s glad he will visit and get to know Henry a little bit better. They arrive at the car, but she balks for a moment, thinking he’s trying to steal it. He tells her that he’s not. He starts to explain about what he had tried to explain to her earlier. Neal tells her that things are complicated right now, but before he can get any more out, a woman calls out to him and rushes up. It’s clear that she and Neal are more than friends, even before Neal introduces her to Emma as Tamara, his fiancĂ©e. Emma looks disappointed.

Storybrooke: It’s Snow’s birthday, something she refuses to celebrate, despite David making her breakfast. Seems it’s a painful time for her and she hasn’t wanted to celebrate it for a long time. When she sees a present on the table, David quickly tells her that it wasn’t from him. Someone left it on the doorstep. She opens it and finds the tiara from when she was a little girl inside, with a note telling her “Happy Birthday” from Johanna, her old lady’s maid. Snow is shocked, since she didn’t know Johanna had made it to Storybrooke. She decides to go find her while David goes off to work.

Snow tracks down Johanna and they have a happy reunion. They bond over missing Snow’s mother, the Queen, but the women are interrupted

Regina asks why Snow thinks that she isn’t good, since it was Snow who added the moniker “evil” to her name. Snow refuses to fall for Regina’s pity act and points out that no one good would do the things that Regina has done to everyone.
by a noise coming from the woods. Snow sends Johanna inside and goes to investigate. She spies Regina and Cora looking for Gold’s dagger, digging using the map that Hook made them. Cora suggests that Hook tricked them with a fake map and reassures her daughter that she can recreate it if she has a bit more time. Then they can use the dagger to force the Dark One to kill whomever Regina wants.

Snow rushes to the police station and finds David just waking up from being hit unconscious by Hook. David explains he was ambushed by the villain, who stole his hook back and went after Gold. Snow tells him what she overheard from Regina and Cora and about their plans. She called Emma and left a message. Until they hear back from them and can warn Gold, they have to stall Regina and Cora, and prevent Cora from getting her hands on Rump’s dagger. Snow says she has an idea.

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Snow calls Regina to meet her at Granny’s, with the tease of having information about Henry. Regina arrives and Snow reassures her that Henry is okay, but that this meeting isn’t about him. She tells Regina that there will be no more lies between them; she knows everything. Regina tries to deny it, but then eventually admits the truth. Snow asks her why she would risk everything for a mother who doesn’t care for her, especially when she was trying so hard to be good. Regina asks why Snow thinks that she isn’t good, since it was Snow who added the moniker “evil” to her name. Snow refuses to fall for Regina’s pity act and points out that no one good would do the things that Regina has done to everyone. She tells Regina that Cora doesn’t care about Henry and that Regina knows that. Regina refuses to admit the truth and goes off to work with her mother.

Snow and David go to see the Mother Superior, AKA the Blue Fairy (and why is she still acting as if she’s a nun?) to help find the dagger. The three go to Gold’s office, where the fairy tries to use her magic to sense out the dagger. She’s unsuccessful. Turns out that Gold has a powerful protection spell around his shop. Snow tells the fairy that she knows she promised never to mention that childhood incident, but if ever there was a time to use dark magic, this is now. The Blue Fairy has no idea what Snow is talking about. Before they can get into that, David receives a phone call from Emma, telling him that Gold has given up the location of the dagger.

Snow and David go to the clock tower, where they find the dagger strapped to the hour hand of the clock. The good guys finally have the dagger, but, alas (and unsurprisingly), Cora and Regina appear in front of the two. Snow points out to Regina that Good has won, just like she promised, and Regina picked the wrong side. Then Cora uses her magic to make Johanna appear with them. Regina rips out Johanna’s heart and the two threaten Snow with Johanna’s life, in exchange for the dagger. Cora mocks Snow about all her mother wanting for her was for her to be good.

Snow finally realizes that Cora was the Blue Fairy that she met all those years ago. She puts the pieces together that Cora poisoned her mother and pretended to be the Blue Fairy to get her to kill someone else. Cora admits it and says she did it all so her daughter could be Queen. Regina is startled, but continues to stick with her mother. Snow finally breaks and drops the dagger, letting the women have it. Regina puts Johanna’s heart back inside of her, but Cora shows her true colors by throwing the woman out of the clock tower window, killing her. Regina mocks Snow about Good winning and the women disappear with the dagger, leaving Snow sobbing in David’s arms.

Regina and Cora take the dagger to Regina’s office, where Regina puts her own pieces together and realizes that Cora set her up to save Snow so that she could marry the King (Didn’t she already realize this shortly after it happened?). Cora admits it. Regina tells her that she got what she wanted – she is Queen – so what else could Cora want? Cora realizes her daughter is suspicious of her and reassures her that her wants align with Regina’s. Regina says the only thing she wants is Henry. Cora tells her that with their control of the Dark One, Regina can have whatever she wants.

Sometime later, Snow and David are standing alone at Johanna’s gravesite, David trying to comfort Snow that they will get the dagger back. But Snow has had an epiphany that being good has done her no favors. Good people keep dying and they keep losing, when all she wants is their happy ending. David starts to get worried, but Snow keeps talking, telling him that doing the “right” thing has brought her nothing but heartache in the end. She finally comes to the gist of it: She’s tired of being good and of it getting them nowhere. She is going to kill Cora.

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Review: So many things happening in this one – where to start?! I guess I’ll begin with my personal favorite: Who is Neal? Or who was he when he left Fairytale Land and before he came to the “real” world? He knows Hook; he knows how to pilot the Jolly Roger. So, the two possibilities are a Lost Boy or the original Lost Boy himself, Peter Pan. Personally, I’m really hoping and betting on Peter Pan.

Think of it: This brings the whole original fairy tale and show storyline full circle, with the “crocodile” who cut off Hook’s hand actually being Peter Pan’s father (since, in the original fairytale, it was Peter’s fault that Hook lost his hand). Peter Pan is Rump’s son, the one who cut off Hook’s hand in the first place. Rump and his son will both be Hook’s sworn enemies. And on top of that, all this time that Hook and “Peter” were hating each other, it was Hook hating his beloved’s son and Peter hating the man who helped his mother abandon him. Some powerful stuff there!

Plus, I just really like that the show is making all of these connections so interesting in the context of the show and the fairy tales, themselves! I think that is my favorite part of the show, how they twist the fairytale stories around a little, bring these characters into this world, and then rework everything to fitting back into the original fairy tales, connecting all of these characters in their own unique way. Sure, I’ve had a few issues with some of the changes they have made (Their Cinderella version quite frankly sucked), but overall, the mystery and the puzzle pieces of all of these stories fitting together are really quite good.

If Peter Pan and Neal are the same, I am kind of wondering if Tamara might be Tinkerbell. Perhaps Neal is with her out of an obligation to who

This brings the whole original fairy tale and show storyline full circle, with the “crocodile” who cut off Hook’s hand actually being Peter Pan’s father (since, in the original fairytale, it was Peter’s fault that Hook lost his hand). Peter Pan is Rump’s son, the one who cut off Hook’s hand in the first place. Rump and his son will both be Hook’s sworn enemies.
she was and the fact that she came with him. Though that does beg the question that if she is Tinkerbell, where was she when Neal was first in this world and was stealing things and falling for Emma?

I was kind of surprised that Emma was calling Neal out on wanting to save his dad. It made sense to me: No matter how much anger and hurt Neal still has for him, it’s still his dad, and he still has just as much wounded love for him, as well. And I like that deep down inside, Neal does long for a day when he can reconcile with his dad. But perhaps it was meant to be less surprising that he was doing it, rather than just pointing out to him that he obviously still has feelings for his dad.

I liked Emma naming her, Snow, David, and Henry as “family” to Gold. Because now they all are. One big, messy family!

This episode really did seem to be about the bonds of parents and children, and what parents want for their children, and how far they will go for their children to be what they want the most. Most obviously, Eva and Snow, and Cora and Regina. But less glaringly, Emma and Henry, and Gold and Bae/Neal.

I liked Queen Eva, though she was a bit thinly drawn, with one lesson to her daughter before she died. I wonder at her determination that her daughter be “good,” as if it was a real fear for her that Snow might be anything other than that. I could understand her teaching her daughter to be a good ruler, and wanting her daughter to grow up to love her people and be a just ruler. But she seemed a little more concerned that her daughter be “good” than seemed appropriate. It seemed a little strange. But it was sad when she died and little Snow grieved so hard for her.

Maybe they couldn’t get Richard Schiff back for the part of the King, but I have to admit it seemed a little disconcerting that the only time we saw him was his back when he was looking for a new wife. They couldn’t even get a standin to play him at the funeral? I would have been happy to take a recast, as well. It just didn’t paint a very positive picture of their so-called love match, even if the excuse was that the King was out of town. And it seems like Eva was a Queen in her own right, if she was handing down tiaras. Could it be that she was really the progenitor of the throne and not her husband?

That last scene with Cora over Queen Eva’s corpse seemed to hint at a personal connection between Cora and Eva that went beyond Eva just being in her way. The fact that Cora wanted to not just kill Eva, but destroy her daughter as well, seemed very personal. I wonder why she hates Eva so much? Perhaps that will be explained in coming episodes.

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Regina seems to have firmly moved to the dark side again, though I really don’t think she ever left. Her whiny attempts to turn herself into everyone else’s victim in her conversation with Snow were incredibly annoying and I’m glad that Snow called her out on it. Though I would have liked a bit more calling out on that. I have to laugh at her delusions that as long as Henry doesn’t find out that she killed his biological family, he will love her. Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s going to have a problem with her ripping the heart out of an innocent woman and then being an accomplice to her murder. I have to laugh over her also thinking that being bad and having power mean she is a winner. She should clue in on that falsehood with the fact that the only way she can get a man now is to mindrape him, her son thought she was evil enough to be the Evil Queen, and no one actually loves her for herself. Snow and her family might be miserable at times, but at least they have each other’s love honestly.

I think the show is going to try to portray Snow’s determination to kill Cora as her going darkside, but honestly, I think it’s the only safe thing. There is a point that has to be reached when good people stop, draw a line, and say “no more,” and that point has more than been reached with Cora. Snow lost her chance with Regina, when she foolishly let Regina go from execution back in fairytale land, and I’m glad to see that she’s determined not to make the same mistake with Cora. Letting these people continue to walk away just means more innocent people die by their hands later on and how is that in any way “good?” It’s not and I’m going to be aggravated if the show tries to portray Snow’s determination to kill Cora as a bad thing. The people around Snow need to remember that no matter how many times they give Regina and Cora a chance, they still keep choosing evil. If you choose it, then you accept those consequences. It’s more than past time for innocent people to stop being forced to pay for those choices.

Next episode: We find out more about Cora’s past and her connection with Rumpelstiltskin.

You can watch “The Queen Is Dead” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.15: The Queen Is Dead