In Once Upon A Time’s first season penultimate episode, ‘Apple Red As Blood’, the audience was granted a look into the inner workings of the Evil Queen/Regina, as she scrambled to find a way to ensure that Emma does not break the curse. The episode opened with Regina’s nightmare: the townspeople had all ‘woken up’ and were dead set on executing her for her crimes. The dream was important as it revealed the one thing she truly cares about in this world: Henry. In her dream, Regina was most affected when Henry took Emma’s side over hers, leaving her to her death.
Regina’s fears were well founded; after all, as she was dreaming Henry was leaving Storybrooke with Emma. Naturally, they did not get far, with Henry taking control of the wheel, effectively driving them off the road before they even got past the town’s borders. Henry’s flair for the dramatic was in full force this episode, which was a pleasant surprise after all this time of sitting back and waiting for Emma to believe on her own. ‘Operation Cobra’ is heating up, and Henry seems to be getting a bit desperate.
An equally desperate Regina pays a visit to Mr. Gold, and is even willing to strike another deal with the infamous Rumpelstiltskin if it will get rid of Emma and keep the curse in tact. Yes, it was revealed that, if Emma dies (a.k.a. if Regina kills her) the curse will be broken. This loophole was put in place by Rumpelstiltskin, and it is suggested that Mr. Gold wants the curse to be broken–he always wanted Emma to come and break the curse. Mr. Gold refuses to make the deal, insisting that the Queen has nothing he wants. As the viewers know, however, this is not entirely accurate. Regina has Belle, Rumpelstiltskin’s one true love, locked away underneath the hospital, but, he does not know that, and the fact that she didn’t say anything makes me think she has something much more nefarious under her sleeve. I’m guessing that will have to wait for next season though, as Snow White and Prince Charming take center stage in these last few episodes.
In the fairytale world, The Evil Queen bartered for the Prince’s life so that she could use him as bait to lure Snow into a trap. This story line inspires Regina to use magic to find a way to neutralize Emma without breaking the curse. She calls on The Mad Hatter/Jefferson (using a White Rabbit calling card) to help her get to the fairytale world so that she can collect some magic. She believes that she has just enough magic in this world to make one last trip. In return, she promises to erase his memory of his life as The Mad Hatter, giving him and his daughter Paige/Grace a fresh start in this non-magical world.
As excited as I was to have Sebastian Stan back as The Mad Hatter (perfect casting), I was really disappointed by how quickly he agreed to Regina’s terms. Does he not remember the last time he made a deal with her? He found himself stuck in Wonderland, driven mad trying to find a way back to his daughter.
With some help from her friends, Snow planed an attack on the kingdom to rescue her prince, unaware that The Evil Queen had come for him earlier. Once warned, she is not deterred, and continues on with her plan. Along with the dwarfs, Red Ridding Hood and Granny, and a swarm of angry fairies (which I found completely terrifying), Snow stormed the castle. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty cool to see Snow White kick some serious ass while Prince Charming was stuck in a prison cell. GIRL POWER. I love it.
The excitement was short-lived, however, when Snow finally reached her Charming locked in a cell and found that he was not really there. The Evil Queen had taken him to her castle and replaced him with a magic mirror. She then makes her move, and invites Snow to a peace conference of sorts. Snow eagerly accepts The Evil Queen’s terms, against the advice of her friends, and meets Regina at the stables unarmed.
Snow finally learns the true reason for the Queen’s hatred: the murder of her fiancé at her own mother’s hands. The Queen had told a young Snow that Daniel had run away, but now the pretenses are gone, and The Evil Queen makes her desires clear: she wants Snow to suffer a fate worse than death. In return for Charming’s life, Snow takes a bite of the poison apple, which will render her a ‘prisoner in her own body’.
In the non-magical world, it turns out that Regina doesn’t have as much left-over magic as she thought, but, after sacrificing her ring from her fiancé, Daniel, she generates enough magic for The Mad Hatter to reach across into the fairytale world to retrieve one object: the poison apple.
Emma, after being lectured by Mary Margaret and Archie Hopper about what’s best for Henry, goes to Regina to strike a deal: she will leave Storybrooke, ending the conflict for Henry, but she will be entitled to visits. Regina agrees, and offers Emma an apple turnover made from the poison apple as a sign of good faith, which Emma accepts without question.
Believing that she has won, Regina goes to Mr. Gold to gloat, but, alas, she spoke too soon. In a (almost) finale-worthy twist ending, Henry bit into the apple turnover in an attempt to prove to Emma that the curse is real after Emma called him over to say her goodbyes. If the sight of her son falling swiftly to the ground doesn’t convince her, I don’t know what will. The fact that Regina inadvertently poisoned Henry makes quick work of getting rid of any brownie points she might have won early on in the episode. Still, this episode definitely made me more curious as to the possibilities of Regina’s love for Henry.
This ending is an excellent set up for the finale. Based on the promo, I’m thinking that Emma’s love will wake Henry from his slumber (mother-son bond can be like a true love’s kiss, right?). Regardless, it looks like we’re in store for the epic Emma-Regina showdown to begin! I’m also hoping that, with the last chapter of Snow White and Prince Charming’s fairytale, comes their memories in the non-magical world of that tale. I would really love it if either Mary Margaret or David (or both!) remembered who they truly are.
What are you hoping for in the finale? What did you think about how the two worlds came together in this episode? Does the reality of her love for Henry make Regina more likeable? I’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments!