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ONCE UPON A TIME There Was a Heartless Queen

Episode 2.09 “The Queen of Hearts”

[photos: ABC.com]

This week: The Temple of Doom! Gungan shield generators! The Doomsday Machine! And Paul McGillon still needs a better agent.



Last week, the big question was how Captain Hook, himself not a magical character, had the power to steal Aurora’s heart and give it to Cora. This week, we find out it was Regina who enchanted the hook for a one-off. Only the intent was to pull the heart from Regina’s dear mother before the curse went into effect. Cora, it seems, has been busy in Wonderland, where we find her sitting on the throne as the Queen of Hearts. Oho!


And Paul McGillion, God love him, really needs to get a better agent. To be reduced to a handful of lines and then scurry away in a wide shot? He deserves better.

OK. So… Regina sends Hook to kill Cora, only Cora — the Queen of Hearts — has moved her heart. Wherefore art thou? She doesn’t say, but she grabs Hook’s heart and forces him to spill the beans on Regina’s plan, and then gives him the choice of helping her or dying, I guess. What would you do, right?

Now, at this point I’ve got to ask myself why I haven’t made some kind of reference to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before now, with the whole heart snatching that’s been going on. -2 points from my geek cred card, yeah? Because that’s totally what’s happening here, just without the Shankarra stones. And the monkey brains… but we had zombies last week!


Cora hatches a plan with Hook, and he goes along with it because she’s explained just how this curse is going to affect everyone’s memory, which would wipe out any chance that Hook gets to kill Rumpelstiltskin — well, because no one’s going to know who’s who. So Hook drags Cora’s “dead” body to Regina, and I notice a very large gaping hole in the script here, writers. Why didn’t Regina ask for Hook to hand over Cora’s heart? Where’s the proof that the Queen Mother is dead? And why leave the cover off the coffin? Sloppy.

Of course, it does give us a chance to see how part of Fairy Tale Land was spared from the curse — Cora has a Gungan shield generator in her staff.


OK, that’s the back-story that tells us how Hook and Cora made nice, and how Hook’s able to pull a heart from Aurora. So let’s just forward twenty-eight years to Team Snow. The gals make it to the enchanted cell, where they find an empty jar and a parchment with Emma’s name written on it. Over and over and over, it’s written on this little scroll. Team Snow is convinced Rumpelstiltskin was madder than a hatter. But wait! Aurora betrays them! Cora and Hook get the compass and leave Team Snow marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet… buried alive…

Wait. Wrong movie.

Snow figures out the scroll’s secret, using the squid ink to blow a hole in the gate, leaving them free to pursue Cora — leaving Aurora behind because she knows she can’t go with them. When they do find Cora and Hook, she’s opened up the water at Lake Nostos and they’re about to jump through the portal!


Which is booby-trapped on the other side because Gold has Regina convinced that Mary Margaret and Emma are likely not going to be the ones coming through the portal in the magic well. So they steal all the fairy dust magic from the mines (Who’s the dead fairy no one mourns?) and Gold calls down green lightning to turn the inside of the well into the Doomsday Machine.


But in a rousing speech (not really), Henry convinces Regina to cancel out the spell because he has faith Emma and Snow are going to make it back. His line is priceless, but could have been delivered with a little more acid: “Good always defeats evil. You should know that more than anyone.” Ouch, kid.


But Regina’s trying to be good, right? So she soaks up all the Doomsday Magic with her hands (and where does that power go?), saving the day just as Emma and Snow return. Big happy reunion, everyone’s (mostly) all smiles, Snow wakes up Charming with True Love’s Kiss, yadda yadda.


Now, the new mystery is just how much magic Emma actually has. The fact that Cora could not rip out Sheriff Blondie’s heart speaks volumes for the potential in our young padawan, but nobody knows exactly what it is. Not Snow. Not Gold.

And I know there’s an awful lot of Aurora/Mulan people out there hoping they hook up, but really? Do these “best friends forged in fire” scenarios always have to turn into lesbian love-fests for you? Aurora loves Phillip. Mulan loves Phillip. Let it go.


Writers, note that half the episode could have been wiped out if Henry had spoken up and said he could go back into the Red Room of Fire to see if David delivered the message. But then we wouldn’t have had the Doomsday Well and the ticking time bomb.

The last ten to fifteen minutes of this fell a little flat for me. It really felt like a series finale, until Hook’s ship showed up in the harbor. OK. It’s a mid-season finale, but it really felt like a lot of threads were getting tied up, and not too many new threads were being introduced. There needs to be a balance, and I think the writers might be starting to lean a little heavy on the Cora/Hook team-up. I’m already getting tired of them. They have no chemistry. Joker and Luthor, they’re not.


[Official Show Site at ABC]     [Previous recap: “Into the Deep”]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

4 thoughts on “ONCE UPON A TIME There Was a Heartless Queen

  • The episode had a lot of awkward moments that didn’t flow. A bit too much tried to be done, without much of a good story behind it. I was impressed by Regina, Rumplestiltsken, and Snow in their separate plot lines. They seem to be the only people who can actually get things done.

    • Agreed, especially in the combat around the portal. We didn’t see what happened to Cora after the Blondie Blast, and the fact that the group didn’t invite Regina to join them in the victory parade felt forced. Snow, Emma, or Henry could have easily invited her to come along, because they would each recognize what she’d done to help.

      Likewise, the ending just felt off. It’s almost as if the writers hadn’t lined up all the new threads to introduce when they wrote this episode. Maybe they didn’t know it was going to be the mid-season break until they were already into production and saw the schedule?

  • I know Hook has been waiting 300 years for vengeance, but is it me or does he have more chemistry w/Emma than Milah? In fact Rumpie showed more feelings than Hook did—-he didn’t go nuts, or seem like a man who lost “true love”. Plus he should know; kill Gold with that dagger, and he’s the new Dark One!

    Henry, was quite the gutsy one in this episode. I felt badly for Regina as well, but she has done too much wrong our little family, that she will ever be in that clique. But way to rub it in Gold. I also feel he has always planned for Emma to be more powerful that Regina and Cora combined, why? Technically she would be able to kill him, but as we know our Emma clocked Hook and he was down for the count. No magic needed…

    • I got the impression that Hook was fishing for information with Belle. I’m not sure he has any idea of the dagger. We haven’t seen it suggested yet. I think Hook just wants to kill Rumpelstiltskin by any means available. If the dagger had figured into it, we’d have seen or heard some reference to it, I think.

      And yes, he certainly has more chemistry with his enemies than he does with his allies.

      It’s interesting that Rumpelstiltskin said that he just took advantage of what Emma is, and that he didn’t make her what she is. I’m not sure what that means for the amount of power that Emma actually has, but as Snow says, it’s definitely a subject worth discussing. It will be interesting to see if the writers give Emma some scenes in which she explores her innate magic. I expect, though, that we’ll get more of the accidental discovery such as we saw in this episode.


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