Episode 18 “The Stable Boy” — Recap, review, etc.

Long-simmering questions get answers, and connections between characters, deep in the past, are uncovered in this excellent episode. We learn how Regina became evil and why she hates Snow White. We find out that Regina’s mother is the miller’s daughter, that August W. Booth does not lie, and that Katherine is still alive. There is much here to ponder during the break.


Regina’s mother

Regina’s mother, Cora, is no ordinary social climber. She’s a sociopath who won’t hesitate to kill an innocent person or ruin her daughter’s life in order to move up a notch on the social ladder.

Cora has the kind of magical powers that Regina will wield later in her life, but we don’t know yet how Cora got her powers or how they were transmitted to Regina.

In an earlier comment thread, several of this blog’s readers came up with the brilliant suggestion that Cora is the Queen of Hearts who we saw in Wonderland.

Regina, the stable boy, and Snow White

The younger Regina looks very different from the Evil Queen/Storybrooke mayor that we know and love (or love to hate) — almost as if she’s a different person — thanks to the acting skill of Lana Parilla and the skill of her makeup artist. It’s amazing what a difference the lack of red lipstick can make.

Regina, before she became evil, and Daniel

Regina saves the young Snow White who is clinging to a runaway horse — an accident waiting to happen, which was set up by Cora, foreshadowing the manipulations Regina herself will use after she becomes evil.

Bailee Madison, as the young Snow White, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ginnifer Goodwin as the grown-up Snow White and Mary Margaret

Cora accepts the marriage proposal, on Regina’s behalf, of Snow White’s father, the grateful King Leopold. Regina and Daniel plan to run away, but Snow White accidentally sees them kissing. When Regina explains that she loves Daniel, Snow understands. Snow really does care for Regina and wants her to be happy. Regina swears her to secrecy, saying that above all, she must never tell Cora.

Cora manipulates Snow, playing on the child’s grief at losing her own mother, to get Snow to reveal the secret. This, of course, is not Snow’s fault, as she is only a child who couldn’t be expected to outwit someone like Regina. Snow’s intentions are good. She is only doing what she thinks is best for Regina.

"I'd do anything to help Regina," Cora says, lying, to Snow

Cora kills Daniel in cold blood right in front of Regina, and says (suggesting something must have happened in her own past), “Love is weakness, Regina. It feels real now, at the start it always does, but it’s illusion. It fades. And then you’re left with nothing. But power — true power — endures.”

Regina flips out and blames Snow, starting the world-spanning epic of revenge.

Snow, in the understatement of the century, asks Regina, "Are you mad at me?"


In a flashback, we see Mr. Gold propose a deal to Regina where he would make something “tragic” happen to Mary Margaret, which seems to show that he orchestrated the whole thing for Regina’s benefit. But did he really? With Mr. Gold, things are seldom what they seem.

Emma finally realizes that Sydney is not on her side when she finds he has bugged her office.

Alan Dale (King George and, on LOST, Charles Widmore) makes what I think is his first appearance in Storybrooke as the D.A. Albert Spencer.

August W. Booth

August is back, wanting to help Emma clear Mary Margaret’s name. As they climb down to the supposed crime scene, August has a sudden twinge of pain that he calls “shin splints,” and he starts to limp — which supports the theory that he could be Rumpelstiltskin’s son, as Rumpelstiltskin had a pronounced limp. Later, though, August says, as he had in previous episodes, “I’m not a liar.” And that suggests he could be Pinocchio.

"I'm not a liar."

They find a piece of metal which they later match up to a shovel in Regina’s house, but the shovel then disappears.


Regina admits to a bewildered Mary Margaret that she knows Mary Margaret did not kill Katherine.


The very last shot of the episode reveals that Katherine is alive. Talk about a cliff hanger! We’ll have to wait until April 22, after the hiatus, to find out what happens next.

True love

In an early scene Regina tells Daniel that she’s afraid of her mother because her mother’s magic is so powerful. Daniel replies, “True love is the most powerful magic of all. It can overcome everything.” Later, Regina echoes those lines, telling young Snow that “Love — true love — is magic. And not just any magic, but the most powerful magic of all. It creates happiness.”

But Daniel and Regina’s true love, in the end, cannot overcome Cora’s evil. Cora’s magic is more powerful than true love’s magic.

The idea that true love is the strongest magic has been a recurring theme throughout the show. How do you reconcile that with Cora’s being able to kill Daniel?

Earlier predictions

This blog has smart readers. In an earlier comment thread, Robinsparkles14 predicted that Regina loved the stable boy, planned to run away with him, told Snow White, Snow White spilled the beans, and the stable boy was killed. Amazing prediction! Honorable mention to Khadija for predicting part of it — that Regina was in love with someone of lower standing, and that Snow White found out and accidentally blurted out the secret.


The Stable Boy was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the creators of the show. It was directed by Dean White, who previously directed Snow Falls, True North, What Happened to Frederick, and Heart of Darkness. He is also the director of the season finale, A Land Without Magic.

Barbara Hershey, who played Cora, Regina’s mother, has won and been nominated for many awards for her work in movies and on TV. In an off-screen LOST connection, she was romantically involved with Naveen Andrews (Sayid on LOST) for 12 years, from 1999 to 2010.

Bailee Madison, who played the young Snow White, is 12 years old and already has a long list of credits for movies and television shows, as well as award wins and nominations, including winning the Critics Choice Movie Award for her role in the film Brothers.

Noah Bean, who plays Daniel, the stable boy, won a NY Emerging Talent award in 2011, and has appeared in theater, television, and film.

21 responses to “Episode 18 “The Stable Boy” — Recap, review, etc.

  1. On True Love: “But David and Regina’s true love, in the end, cannot overcome Cora’s evil. Cora’s magic is more powerful than true love’s magic. ”
    I think you meant Daniel instead of David.

    I found it interesting how Regina’s true love was taken from her. This episode seemed to flip the most basic theme on its head. If this were a Greek tragedy, the reasons for this romances failure would be Regina’s (or Daniel’s) own fault for doing something wrong; not learning an important lesson quick enough; not knowing their own weakness’s or not finding moderation. But here, they didn’t seem to do anything differently then Snow and Charming. Basically, I’m still perplexed by this one. However, I wouldn’t call Cora’s magic stronger than true love, as Regina’s magic appears to be the same, and it hasn’t overcome Snow and Charming. Still, it may serve as a warning that they might might not get their happy ending after all.

    ” ‘I’d do anything to help Regina,’ Cora says, lying, to Snow.”

    I found this statement interesting, because I have to wonder if Cora doesn’t actually think she really is helping Regina. In fact, this same, twisted logic is what leads Regina to hate and blame Snow for Daniel’s apparent death.

  2. That’s a great comment. I think that after Cora killed Daniel and told Regina that only power, not love, will last, that Cora really believed what she was saying and really thought she had done what was best for Regina. There’s something very damaged about Cora — we may find out more about that later. When Cora spoke to Snow, though, I thought she was lying because she was being so manipulative in that whole scene — but you’re right, she may have been telling the truth there as well, at least in that particular line.

    Great point about how if this was a Greek tragedy, the terrible things that happened to Daniel and Regina would have been the result of their own flaws. I think fairy tales, though, may have more randomness than tragedies. Bad (and, for that matter, good) things sometimes happen in fairy tales for no apparent reason. It’s true the good pepole usually get rewarded and the bad people usually get punished, but often things happen along the way that seem to come out of the blue.

    One thing that puzzles me about this episode is how much Regina can be considered responsible for wrongly blaming Snow for what was clearly Cora’s fault. Was Regina so incapacitated by grief that she can’t be held responsible for what she thinks and what she does? Or was her blaming Snow a tragic mistake that will be punished in the end?

  3. I can see how Regina could choose to blame Snow, merely because she didn’t want to hate her mother. I believe she didn’t want to have to face how bad her relationship with her mother really was, and the fact that her mother would outright kill the person she loved. Besides, I’m sure it’s much easier for her to hate someone she barely knew.
    One thing I was curious about was that it seemed as though Cora already knew what Regina was planning. The way she tricked Snow, and the word choice she used, made it seem like she just wanted Snow to tell her. Maybe so she could make sure Regina blamed Snow and not her?
    All in all, I really liked this episode. I did actually feel bad for Regina, and I’m sure that was their goal for this episode. I’m also very interested in Cora’s story now.

  4. I don’t think I agree with your statement from above “I found it interesting how Regina’s true love was taken from her. This episode seemed to flip the most basic theme on its head. If this were a Greek tragedy, the reasons for this romances failure would be Regina’s (or Daniel’s) own fault for doing something wrong; not learning an important lesson quick enough; not knowing their own weakness’s or not finding moderation. But here, they didn’t seem to do anything differently then Snow and Charming. Basically, I’m still perplexed by this one.” I believe it was Regina’s own fault for Daniel’s death. Her inability to confront her mother and tell her the truth and to fight for love is what leads to his demise. Charming fights for Snow – refusing to marry Midos’ daughter. Snow fights for him. They are sneaking away during the night because of “mommy issues.” True love only wins if you are willing to fight for it and Regina wasn’t. She was willing to hide and be shamed. Even Snow told her “My father will understand” I get that Cora is evil and wouldn’t have understood but to then blame a little child is ridiculous! I love this show but I did feel like this story was weak and extremely predictable. So basically to get revenge on a girl who was twelve, Regina kills her own father and does all sorts of wicked deeds. Please!

    • It seems you disagreed with most of what I wrote! But at the same time, what I wrote was kind of a question, and you seemed to have answered it. Going back to Greek, there are four different words in the language for love; ‘Agape’ would essentially be the equivalent of true love. All the other loves are basically self-serving in some way, and the people/characters driven by those loves wouldn’t be willing to stand up for those loves. A willingness to fight for someone else is a sign of agape. Before, I considered what Regina did do for her love, and considered her decision to run as a fight in its own way. But what you just explained makes more sense to me.
      In short, I agree with you now on true love.

      What I disagree with however, is Regina’s hatred for Snow. If love is the most powerful magic, then hatred is the second most powerful. Even in real life, when people hold a grudge, they can take it very, very far. Regina’s logical is, well, illogical, but that’s what hatred does. She just lost someone she was infatuated with, and because it wasn’t true love, then she could have clung on to anything to blame. She could blame Cora, but now she has pretty much become her mother. I’m fairly certain Cora had something similar happen to her, and now she pasted that evil/hatred to Regina, and Regina came close to passing that on to Snow in ‘Heart of Darkness’ before Charming stopped her. If so, then this evil that Cora has is her magic, which somewhat explains why Regina’s ends up having the same abilities, even if not everything between them has been explained. Ultimately, the only reason why Snow didn’t receive this same evil and magic was because her own magic (true love) stopped it just in time.
      In conclusion, thanks for quoting my comment, what you wrote helped me make sense of this episode.

  5. I think that Regina does blame Cora, as well as Snow. In fact, I think she has already gotten her revenge on Cora, we just haven’t seen it yet! I don’t think Cora would ever relinquish her power, it’s all she holds dear in life besides status, so she would not be quick to teach Regina what she knows. So I think she gained Cora’s powers by stealing them (perhaps via a deal with Rumple) and then killed or banished her- to Wonderland, if she is indeed the Queen of Hearts. Snow is just phase 2 of her revenge…

    I don’t necessarily think that Cora’s power was more powerful than true love, I just think that without a heart, you are no longer able to love- there’s no coming back from that one.

    I’m not convinced that August W Booth is Pinocchio, I still think he is the writer of Henry’s book and/or narrarator. Though it would be pretty cool if he was Rumple’s son!

  6. Sorry, forgot to mention- huge props to the casting of this episode. That little girl did a tremendous job as young Snow, I hope we get to see more of her! It was truly uncanny how strongly she resembled Ginnifer Goodwin, even down to facial expressions- I was wondering if she is her daughter or niece in real life!

  7. I believe that he is going to be Rumples son and Pinocchio. My theory is that after Rumple became the dark one Baelfire did go to fight in the war. while at war he lost his leg. He then was found by Gapeto who adopted him and gave him a wooden leg. That’s where the “W” in his name comes in. We still dont know what it stands for, what if it stands for Wood. Just saying. :)

  8. Just sayin’ I posted on Feb. 02, August is rumpelstiltskin’s son and the reason he can go to, or be in Storybrooke is because the children of the Fairytale characters can be in Storybrooke and that is the way the curse can be broken. Emma is Snowwhite and Prince Charming’s child and August (the Stranger, the Author with the Typewriter) is Rumpelstiltskin’s son. Also, since true love is the key, isn’t the parent child a true bond of love – no matter what.

  9. I feel so proud to have been right about this episode :)
    So, I’m going to make another prediction…August is Bae.
    However, I could be wrong because (and I’m really sorry if this is a spoiler) the synopsis for the episode called “The Stranger” is about Geppeto and Pinocchio.
    Still, I don’t think August is Pinnocchio because Pinno was a child when the curse was inacted, so he should still be a child in Storybrooke.
    But Rumple created the cursse, so he could have made a little glitch in it for his son to get away.
    Yet Geppeto created the tree/portal thingy so he could have made a little glitch in THAT for HIS son to get away…
    Still, I’m putting my money on him being Baelfire.

    • i still think that he could be both pinocchio and baelfire. just like rumple is also the beast.

      • I agree he could be both. Rumple has a history of turning people into something else. If he can turn two people into shrunken puppets (now displayed in Mr. Gold’s shop), maybe he could have accidentally (or in a fit of rage) turned his own son into a different kind of puppet?

  10. Cora is the miler’s daughter in Rumplestilskin.

    • Which is why i believe that the evil queen and baelfire are siblings. In the episode Desperate Souls one of the guards told Rumple that he was his bastard son. what if Baelfire was Cora’s first born.

  11. My only question is…. how did Regina get her magic?

  12. I believe that the evil queen killed her mother; after all, when Rumple created the curse for snow to be able to kill the queen, he warned her that she’d inherit her power and all the hatred that comes with it. I’m sure Regina had to have gotten her revenge on her mother. With it came the power and hatred and that could explain the irrational hatred for an innocent young girl. At first I believe it was grief, then after killing her mother, it was twisted into pure evil.

    As far as August? I believe he could be Rumple’s son. Or as they suggested in Desperate souls, bastard son. I’m not sure where everyone got the idea that Cora was Rumple’s first wife?? Millers daughter, yes, but how then did she end up married to Regina’s father? So, there’s a bit of a recurring theme here… Grief and a broken heart propelled Rumple into an evil and powerful life, and then again, he had his heart broken when Belle left him. Seems that people werent able to get their happy endings even in Fairy tale land.

  13. Although it’s hard for most people to see why Regina blames Snow White, this was a sad episode in my opinion, especially when Daniel, the stable boy was killed. When Regina kept kissing him several times to see if “true love’s” kiss would work to bring him back and it obviously didn’t work, broke my heart (although this particular scene could have been so much more). No matter who she blames, could you imagine knowing that your true love is gone forever and there is nothing you could do, while everyone around you has there true love and happy endings. It’s beyond depressing. It makes me love her character even more.

  14. I’ve been wanting to come on here for a week to see if anyone noticed how uncannily the young actress resembled Ginnifer. Hubby and I just couldn’t get over it–even the facial expressions of the adult Snow. This girl Bailee is amazing.

    I just read an article that talked about how OUaT is getting lots of critical praise for being a “family show.” Considering how many brutal murders have occurred, plus a lot of other adult themes, I’m not sure how family-friendly it really is. But I guess compared to CSI, it’s fairly tame, especially as far as visuals go.

    I thought this was a good episode. In a way it reminded me of “Atonement,” with a little girl screwing up an adult relationship. Except young Snow is a lot more likable, and had the best intentions. She thought she was doing the right thing, and I thought all of that was realistic. I could see how a naive, sweet little girl would get tricked that way by Cora, and I could totally see how Regina’s rage could turn on Snow. After all, intentions or not, her true love wouldn’t have been killed if it weren’t for Snow–although if she’d been able to think rationally, it’s doubtless Cora would have found them eventually and done the same.

    I’m glad Emma finally realized Sydney wasn’t helping her. That drove me crazy, that she couldn’t see before that he was manipulating her–she seemed suspicious on a few occasions, but never followed it up. That was maddening!

    I thought it was a good, though very sad episode. And Barbara Hershey did so well I was filled with rage myself at her! 😛

  15. I love how in this show the producers created characters that you must love and hate. We understand Regina now and can feel for her, her mothers torment. The same creativity leaves us wanting more of Rumples’ story, and so many others. How many “good” characters are going to wind up having an evil side? In this episode however, I believe we are seeing the creation of Regina’s “hit list”. There are many reoccurring themes in the show, and one is ” evil is not born, it is made”. And her revenge I predict, will start with her mother. And that will give Regina her powers and her deeper evil as Karen stated earlier. The new speculation of Regina’s mother being the Miller’s Daughter is exciting, however the creators of the show have never left any traditional story perfectly intact: Rumple still spins straw quite often. Perhaps Cora really could turn straw into gold, perhaps his spinning talents as a mortal were useful to her and they learned together. Perhaps they traded, her spinning talent, for some of his magic. The new mystery of Cora is one I am looking forward to seeing unfold, I hope we do not have to wait until next season!

  16. This episode clears everything up! It makes me want to actually be sympathetic towards Regina and hate Snow for being such a naive girl.

    I am looking forward to finding out how Regina takes her mother’s powers.

What do you think?