Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) takes care of a disguised Regina (Lana Parrilla).

Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) takes care of a disguised Regina (Lana Parrilla).

[rating:1.5/5]

And we’re back.

Hook has been carted back to Storybrooke by the two normal folk who wish to wreak havoc on the fairytale heroes of our small Maine town after very little plot development to explain why. They tell him that if he actually manages to kill Rumpelstiltskin this time (keeping up with the tradition of Captain Hook not being very successful in any of his capers) he gets to live, but he also has to find the man’s father.

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Why would Hook ever be able to help, he asks? Because he knows the captor very well: Regina.

Regina, who’s full force camp baddie now and in a flashback slaughters an entire town because none of them will tell her if they’ve seen Snow White. She believes that they don’t love her because Snow is alive, not because of her murderous outburst.

Rumple is the one who attempts to talk some sense into her. Snow is the fairest of them all and the people love her and look to her as a beacon of hope while with Regina, they only see destruction.

There are a number of problems with this characterization of Regina but the most offensive is the usage of Lana Parrilla’s talents. While Robert Carlyle thrives when being allowed to up the ante when it comes to playing Rumple as unhinged as possible, it’s detrimental to Parrilla when she does the same. It’s all leather outfits, severe makeup and smirks galore. There’s zero subtlety and all camp. All things considered, it wouldn’t be too out of the norm when it comes to this cast, but Parrilla has always been the bright spot in the cast who can do a number of emotions and characterizations so it’s always frustrating when she’s reduced to the most basic forms.

Rumple strikes a plan with her: he will disguise her so that she can kill Snow herself.

While disguised, the Evil Queen begins to realize the mentality held about her in a place of power. Her people hate her and play trivial games in order to deface her. However, she’s caught in a precarious position while trying to defend herself and is carted off.

In Storybrooke, Hook comes to Regina to ask for help. He tells her about his captor’s plans to have him align himself with her and then betray her but he’d rather skip the betrayal bit. He tells her that the thing her mother wanted the most was to see Regina win, so now he wants to help her since he cannot on his own.

She tells him of her reset plan and how the two of them and Henry will be able to escape unscathed as long as Hook promises to help her.

Emma runs into Neal’s Tamara and it’s quite the awkward little run-in but she tries to assure Emma she can trust her.

But Emma doesn’t and runs to Snow to try and convince Snow that she’s the girl August warned them about. Snow thinks that Emma’s just emotional about Neal which annoys Emma because she feels nothing and just doesn’t trust her. Henry hears everything and thinks they should now investigate Tamara.

Because it’s Henry and that’s what he does—pokes his head into business nobody wants him in.

In the Enchanted Forest, Regina is about to be beheaded before she is saved by Snow White (who would have ever guessed it)—which causes a very dramatic faint.

Being who she is, Snow takes her to care for her until she is well again. This is already a better version of Regina because even though she’s still playing up the evil bit, she’s subdued and tired from her wound and playing a part. She is allowed to mask the evil.

As Snow bathes her wound she tells a story about Regina when she was good and talking about how to keep good and love in her heart because if Once Upon a Time is anything, it’s heavy-handed.

I appreciate the sentimentality; the scene is well played by Parrilla and Ginnifer Goodwin, but trust your viewers to come to conclusions for themselves.

Regina brings Hook with her to help devise further into her plan. Hook wonders what will happen and what his revenge will bring. It’s all he’s been living for for so long. He tells her that this partnership is a means to end, not a beginning. Which is interesting in two senses: Hook is notoriously a villain in the tales and a ruthless one at that. And two it means that they’re setting the limits between him and Regina—are they trying to say one is redeemable while the other isn’t? That one has a higher sense of a moral code?

This question is answered mildly when Regina uses Hook as bait so that she can get around her ticket out of there. The monster in question? Malificent—yes the Sleeping Beauty version—one that is deranged, stuck half way between human and beast, and done with the typical CGI we’ve come to expect from this show. However, credit given where credit is due, if they’d upped their budget it would have been a terrifying sight to see. The concept is eerie and deserved more backing for it.

Emma and Henry are bonding by spying on Neal and Tamara and Henry bemoans the fact that they’re no longer having adventures. He wishes they could have a way back to the Enchanted Forrest and figures out by Emma’s face that there is which excites him.

They continue to find clues that Tamara is evil and Henry tries to concoct a way to get Neal and Emma back together. I do appreciate the showrunners trying to pretend that it isn’t going to happen even though it so obviously is.

Emma gets into the apartment and in one of the funnier scenes of this show and that I’ve seen Jennifer Morrison do she tells Henry to be the lookout which includes some cute moments of showing him how to kick the door to alert her if someone is there.

However, Neal comes by and recognizes the trick because he’s the one who taught it to her.

See, this funny little bit? More of this and less “heart-warming” moments, please, show. It’s better when they don’t try so hard to make an emotional moment. It helps that Michael Raymond-James’s delivery of the line was fantastic.

In the Enchanted Forest, Snow has continued to watch over Regina and offers to arm her and take her with her. Regina has her chance to take Snow’s life if she is so pleased but she won’t because that wouldn’t gel well with the story in progress now. She wants to know if Snow would kill Regina is she was in front of her now.

The easy answer is no.

Snow tells her that Regina has lived her life by hatred and regret and living with a need to control and always hiding her vulnerabilities. And for a moment, we see that Regina wants to be good and Parrilla plays it beautifully until they find the village Regina had killed the night before. And obviously, she takes back her statement and says she could never forgive her.

That wonderful, subtle moment is taken from audiences because of the extreme tonal shift.

Regina accidentally reveals herself and Snow targets her with an arrow. Regina tries to convince her for a second that she’s good but fails, just as her magic fails her as well. She runs away but Snow doesn’t shoot.

Hook in Storybrooke managed to surprise and while his character and the way he’s written is sporadic, Colin O’Donoghue has been one of the more enjoyable editions to the cast. He has the two norms with him and she realizes that she’s been duped.

It’s just twists and turns all over the place!

However, the ending is a bit too season five of LOST for me. There’s simply too much going on with too few of those little well-done moments to balance it out. This show is heading for a far more convulted path than it’s already on with the added villains and Regina’s yo-yoing personality.

The seeds are gone, Regina is kidnapped and Emma and Henry are bonding by plotting more schemes to catch Tamara in the act. These could be interesting developments, these could lead to a wonderful penultimate episode that could successfully entertain, if not showcase a well-developed show.

I want this show to be good, I’m sure audiences want it to be good, but the way they’re heading is messy. Regina is irredeemable, Rumple is on his way and everyone else who fights for the good has either unbearable (Charming) or heading in that direction.

They need to zero in on what they’re good at: adventure, subtleties, non-campy evil Regina and run as fast as they can away from the over-the-top need to explain every single decision that is made ever.

Maybe next week will be better. Maybe they’ll get their beans and something shocking will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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