Saturday, March 16, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.16: "The Miller's Daughter"

“I know that you’re confused about who you are. So I’m going to tell you. You are a hero who helped your people. You’re a beautiful woman who loved and ugly man. You really, really loved me. You find goodness in others. And when it’s not there, you create it. You make me want to go back, back to the best version of me. And that never happened before.”
- Mr. Gold

Overall I thought “The Miller’s Daughter” was a pretty solid episode. We got some much needed Cora backstory and I think it flowed nicely from “The Queen is Dead”. I personally could have used some more Neal/Emma bonding moments but we still have 6 more episodes this season.

We start in the Fairytale Land that Was where young Cora (played by Rose McGowan) is just a lowly miller’s daughter. She brings some flour into town because her father is a useless drunk and has a run-in with a much younger, brattier Princess Eva. I guess we know where that rivalry comes from. Eva makes Cora trip and then when Cora tries to stand up for herself, the King basically tells her to apologize or he’ll never do business with her family again. She grudgingly apologizes to the princess before giving her a serious glare. I have to say I was very impressed in this episode with how well Rose did mirroring Barbara Hershey’s mannerisms and speech patterns.

On the Atlantic Ocean, Neal and Henry are sailing Hook’s ship back to Maine while Emma checks a very uncomfortable Rumple. I guess all that poison and the fact he’s too tall for the bunk are good reasons to be grumpy. Rumple explains that Cora and Regina could force him to kill everyone with his dagger in their possession. Emma vows to protect and save him because they’re family now. Apparently she gets cell reception on the open water because David lets Mary Margaret know that the gang is on the way back and they know about Cora and Regina having the dagger. Cora is hurt that Snow calls her wicket (Regina has apparently tapped one or both of the Charmings’ cellphones). She notices Rumple’s name disappearing from the dagger, surmises that he’s dying and exclaims that the only option is to kill him with the dagger and become the new Dark One. Regina is unsure about this plan because she’s beginning to realize her mother’s plan is all about power (duh!).

Back in Fairytale land, there’s a masquerade ball going on because the King is basically auctioning off his son (Prince Henry) to the highest bidder. Totally creepy if you ask me. Cora comes incognito but the King spots her (she’s got some straw on her dress) and she says that she can solve all his financial issues by spinning straw into gold. Obviously she can’t and the King knows this. He gives her a challenge: spin straw into gold and she can marry Henry. Fail and she dies. Cora is trying to find a way to escape when Rumple shows up to save her hide. They have this sort of weird flirtation going on. I mean sure, Rumple’s been wifeless and the Dark One (and childless at this point) for quite some time. So I guess he’s entitled to flirt with a pretty young thing like Cora. He offers to spin the straw into gold and get her the admiration of the people and the power she wants in exchange for her firstborn child (aka Regina). For once, they seem to be going fairly close to the fairytale on this one. Cora doesn’t want Rumple to just do it for her. She wants to learn how. This seems to excite him.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma and company make it back and meet up with Ruby, Snow and Charming. Rumple’s not looking so hot but I did have to chuckle when Neal introduces himself to Charming as Henry’s dad. It’s just kind of like “oh…really?”. I have to say having Neal here full time is just making me really giddy. They get back to the pawn shop and Emma is instructed to draw a line by the front door with invisible chalk. This gives her and Neal some banter about surprises and being magical. Which Charming promptly interrupts. It gets a sly smirk out of Neal as he polishes his sword (not a euphemism I swear). In the back room, Rumple and Snow are having a rather important discussion about a certain candle (which she’s discovered he possesses). Rumple wants to Snow to use it to save his life and get rid of Cora. She says she could do that, which would involve cursing Cora’s heart and putting it back in her body, or she could use Cora’s heart to control her and let Rumple die. He remarks that he’s just picturing poor little Henry distraught over learning one of his grandparents let another die. I swear, I’m getting tired of people using Henry as an excuse for doing things.

Well it seems Rumple isn’t done using people. He gets Emma to cast a protection spell. I find it interesting that we learn that magic comes from emotion (which makes me giggle now that I really think about it since that was the link to magic on Charmed, aka Rose McGowan’s last big show). Anyway, she manages to do it. Back in Fairytale Land, Rumple tells Cora basically the opposite; magic is fueled by hate and anger. As she describes what she’d want to see the people of the kingdom do, she manages to turn straw into gold. It was a rather sensual scene and I have to admit I was a little squicked out. But it works and she impresses the King and gets to marry the prince.

Unfortunately, Cora and Regina are at the shop and handily dismantle Emma’s spell. As the ladies confront Neal, Emma and Charming, Snow sneaks out the back door and takes off. The fight doesn’t last very long. Charming gets thrown out the front of the shop (typical) and Emma quickly moves things to a stalemate. She grabs Regina just as Cora summons the dagger. Emma and Neal manage to get to the back room and reset the protection spell. Cora wants Regina to help her take out Rumple but she senses someone is near her heart. So Regina goes to check it out. We jump back to the eve of Cora’s wedding and she and Rumple share some smooches. Cora wants to kill the King for humiliating her and Rumple promises to show her everything. He admits she loves and they amend their deal so that she owes him their love child. For a hot second there, I worried Regina was his daughter and the family tree would get even more twisted. Thankfully, the contract is broken because Cora, instead of taking the King’s heart, takes her own so she can’t love anymore. She does bear a child, a little girl named Regina but it is safe to say that Regina is in fact Prince Henry’s daughter.

Back in Storybrooke, Rumple is slowly fading (as is Emma’s protection barrier). So it’s time for one of the two most emotional scenes of the episode. He needs to talk to Belle, one last time. He tells her who she is (to him) and that he finally admits she truly loved him and made him want to go back to being the best version of himself. I tear up every time I watch that scene. And the on right after is a doozy, too. Neal and Emma overhear the phone call and Neal is surprised at his father’s outpouring of positive emotions. Rumple explains he spent a lifetime (or three) searching for his son to tell him how much he loved him and to apologize. Neal is still angry with his father but he lets Rumple console him a little. It’s a very moving scene.

Down in Regina’s vault, Snow finds Cora’s heart and curses it with the candle. She’s on her way out when Regina catches up with her. There’s some quick thinking from Snow and she convinces Regina to put Cora’s heart back in her body. Snow plays on Regina’s need to have her mother’s love and also plays on the Queen’s desire to have Henry back in her life. I have to say it was pretty genius of the writers to go that route. I didn’t think Snow had it in her. Of course things don’t turn out like she hopes. Like Charming said, she feels enormous guilt about it and the pair race off to Gold’s shop to try and stop Regina.

Cora breaks through the barrier and has a sort of tender moment with Rumple, telling him he’s the only man she ever loved. She’s poised stab him with the dagger when Regina comes in and slams her heart back in (through her spine apparently). Cora has a few moments of real love and adoration with Regina before she dies. So if Snow hadn’t cursed Cora’s heart, her theory about Cora really loving her daughter would have been true. Snow and Charming are too late and now Regina is on the war path. The family feud is at a whole new level.

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