The Evil Queen obsesses about getting back at Snow White, who she believes had once destroyed her chances of love. Her first attempt to cast the notorious Dark Spell briefly unleashes a Smoke Monster lookalike, but then the spell fizzles out. She goes to consult the person who originally gave her the curse — Rumpelstiltskin.
From behind the bars of his rat-infested dungeon, Rumpelstiltskin tells the Evil Queen she must sacrifice the heart of the thing she loves most. I thought he meant that she loved herself the most, and I was wondering how she would cut out her own heart and still manage to live long enough to make it to Storybrooke — but no, Rumpelstiltskin meant the heart of her faithful servant who, it turns out, is her father.
Patricide! Echoes of LOST themes past.
Emma unleashes the curse, then puts a rose on her father’s grave, saying, in a creepy way, “I love you, Daddy.” The camera jumps to the front of the gravestone to reveal that her father’s name was Henry.
Meanwhile, back in flash-sideways Storybrooke, Regina frames Emma with a crime, and Emma goes back to jail. Regina also tricks Emma into saying that Henry’s ideas are crazy while the boy can overhear. Emma is about to give up and leave, but Mary Margaret talks her out of it by asking her who will protect Henry if she goes. Emma wins back Henry’s trust by saying they should pretend to be non-believers in the Evil Queen’s curse in order to throw her off the trail.
The dapper Mr. Gold, the flash-sideways version of Rumpelstiltskin, saunters into Regina’s yard while she is taking care of the tree with the exceedingly red apples. Mr. Gold reveals a couple of very interesting things: that he had arranged Regina’s adoption of Henry (“the boy I procured for you” is the phrase he uses), and that he remembers their previous fairy tale lives and knows they are living under a curse, which we understand because of his pointed use of the power-word “please.” Regina demands he tell her who Emma really is, revealing that surprisingly, unlike Gold, she does not know the full truth of their situation. How much she does know, though, remains unclear, as Gold tells her, “You think you know exactly who she is,” suggesting that the memories of her prior life might be just below the surface.
The nature of evil
Evil is presented as a choice, not as something inborn. The Evil Queen chooses power over love, and revenge over happiness.
The EQ’s thirst for revenge is all-consuming. She tells Maleficent, “The only comfort for me is Snow White’s suffering.”
Rumpelstiltskin asks her how far she is willing to go, and she replies, “As far as it takes.” Her father asks, “If the price is a hole that will never be filled, why do it?” and she says, “My power will disappear.” Her father says “Power is seductive. But so is love. You can have that again,” but she kills him anyway.
Evil is an obsession, a clinging to old grudges, an inability to accept the possibility of non-violent change.
The second episode, unsurprisingly, was not as packed with LOST shout-outs as the Pilot. There was a good one, though: When Regina looks at the clock at the beginning of the episode, the minute hand is on 23. (Hat tip to Susan in the comments.) Also, the Geronimo Jackson rabbit sticker (which appeared to have been deleted from the rerun of the Pilot) was visible in Emma’s rear window in that same scene.
While there were few direct shout-outs to LOST symbols, there were again significant echoes of some of LOST’s favorite themes: the battle of good versus evil, and children killing parents, which (along with the occasional parent killing a child) was a huge theme running all throughout LOST.
Things I liked the most
The before-and-after petrified garden gnome.
Emma’s reaction, in the scene where Mary Margaret tells her that Henry thought she was Snow White. A bolt of recognition goes through Emma. On some level, she knows she has met her mother, even if she can’t consciously accept it yet.
Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin, who steals every scene where he appears.
Things I didn’t like
The stolen-file plotline was implausible and took up too much time. Surely Regina could have thought of a more direct way to get rid of or discredit Emma?
Same thing with Regina’s arranging for Henry to overhear Emma calling him crazy. Too far-fetched, and someone as smart as Regina should have known it would backfire anyway.
Overall, I thought the fairy tale scenes in this episode were stronger than the Storybrooke scenes (with the exception of the last scene with Mr. Gold, which was fantastic), while in the Pilot, I thought the Boston/Storybrooke scences were stronger than the fairy tale ones.
Of the two episodes shown so far, which did you like best?
Do you agree with me that Robert Carlyle’s performance as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold is the best acting in the show?
There are a lot of strong non-passive women characters here. Do you think this is a departure from the original fairy tales, or do you think that was always in the stories themselves?
Is the Evil Queen beyond redemption?
No spoilers, please!