Once Upon a Time recap: Heart of Darkness
An icy, unforgiving Snow sets out to kill the Evil Queen, while Mary Margaret finds herself ridiculously framed for murder
What do you get when you cross a sweet but tough fairy tale princess with Emily Thorne? We found out tonight, when a bewitched Snow White went full vigilante. Long story short: It was kind of awesome. I wish there were a way to inject a little bit of Snow Dark’s spirit into Mary Margaret, a sad-sack victim who’s passive to a fault. As the end of tonight’s episode proved, though, MM is finally trying to take control of her own destiny. Maybe this means that she — and, by extension, the entire Storybrooke storyline — will soon become as fun as what’s happening in Fairy Land.
A flaming arrow barrels toward Red and Charming, who are still on the run from King
Charles Widmore George’s army. Red urges her friend to leave and says that she can hold off the soldiers; luckily, it happens to be a full moon night. As Prince James gallops away, Red removes her magic cloak and transforms into her big, bad alternate form. Does this mean Red’s managed to gain control over her wolf self, or is she just hoping that she won’t stalk Charming once she finishes George’s men? Alas, we aren’t given an answer — but I hope it comes soon, since Red’s origin story was one of Once‘s best episodes.
The object of Charming’s affection, meanwhile, is blissfully humming as she sweeps the dwarfs’ cottage floor. She delicately holds out her hand, and a jolly little bluebird lands on it. It’s all very old-school “Someday My Prince Will Come” Disney… until Snow suddenly goes nuts and starts trying to squash the bird with her broom. Whoa! Actually, I guess she could have done worse.
It seems that after drinking Rumpelstiltskin’s Anti-Love Potion #9, Snow has lost her kind nature and distaste for homicide as well as her memories of Charming. Things have gotten so bad that the dwarfs are holding an intervention, even drafting Jiminy Cricket to play the role of Candy Finnigan. Though the little guys forget to hang a red-lettered banner, the whole intervention sequence is still pretty hilarious. I especially love when the cheeriest dwarf starts going off on Snow, and Grumpy steps in to scold the princess: “Look what you’re doing to Happy!”
But Snow Dark isn’t moved by her pals or Jiminy. Instead, she decides to direct her anger at the woman who murdered her father and destroyed her life: the Evil Queen. Fasten your seat belts, everyone — Snow is pissed off and prepared to commit Reginacide.
As Snow sets off, her Storybrooke self is stuck in the sheriff’s office. Though Emma believes her friend/mom has to be innocent of Kathryn’s murder, there’s enough evidence that she has to question Mary Margaret all the same. Regina, of course, finds a way to weasel herself into the proceedings; as Emma says, she’s there to serve as an impartial third party. Right, Emma — no need to question Regina’s motives, or to ask literally any other person in town to be your witness.
NEXT: “Imagine what it can do to human flesh.” Snow Dark FTW!
Emma begins by revealing that the telltale heart was discovered near the t[r]oll bridge. MM admits that she and David used to have their secret rendezvous there. Then the sheriff lays down a bombshell: The vessel that contained the heart happens to be MM’s jewelry box. Well, that settles it — this mild-mannered schoolteacher obviously cut out another woman’s heart with a hunting knife, then stashed the organ in a box that could be easily traced back to her. The perfect crime!
Mary Margaret knows she’s being framed — but Regina urges Emma not to be so certain about that. The mayor suggests that the sheriff go back to her apartment and search for evidence of a break-in; after all, how else could the real criminal have nabbed MM’s jewelry box of doom?
Back in Fairy Land, Snow Dark unhorses one of Regina’s knights and savagely bashes his leg with the handle of her pickax. She asks for information about the queen’s whereabouts. When Sir Floppyhair refuses to talk, she starts telling him the truth about diamonds: though they’re the hardest substance on earth, a dwarf’s pickax can cut into them. And if the weapon can slice through diamonds, “imagine what it can do to human flesh. Soft, pliable, tender flesh.” Man, I love Snow Dark! I want her and Granny and Mr. Gold to ruin lives together on a spinoff. Pongo can come too.
Anyway, Snow learns that the queen will soon be headed to her summer palace, then knocks the knight unconscious and steals his garb. But before she can try to infiltrate Regina’s old castle, Grumpy intervenes and tells her that she’s become a whole new person: “All you care about is Revenge!” Who can blame her — it’s a great show! He proposes asking Rumpelstiltskin if he can make Snow the way she was. Though Snow isn’t interested in changing, she decides to go with the dwarf after he says that the imp “can do anything.” Well, anything but dental work.
Back in the apartment she shares with MM, Emma’s doing the sloppiest investigation ever. (No gloves, no love!) Henry arrives and proposes that Regina has a motive for framing Mary Margaret. Unfortunately, claims about Snow White and the Evil Queen won’t exactly hold up in court. All thoughts of Regina are erased when a clanking noise draws Emma to the heating grate in MM’s room. She lifts it up, and finds a hidey hole — which happens to contain a wicked-looking hunting knife.
At Granny’s, a dejected Henry is trying to drown his sorrows in a mug of hot cocoa when August sidles up to him. The stranger wastes no time telling Henry to look for answers in his book — and then reveals that he knows the stories in it aren’t fiction at all. What’s more, August says he’s come to town to make Emma believe in fairies. Clap your hands, everyone!
NEXT: Where Rumpelstiltskin meets Mr. Burns
Charming happens upon a naked Sir Floppyhair, who informs him that Snow’s gone rogue. The prince gallops off, hoping that the nude noble is wrong.
Regina’s busying herself peeling an apple in the creepiest way possible when David bursts into her office. He still thinks that MM couldn’t possibly have killed someone — and that his blackouts might hold some clues about what actually happened to Kathryn. Regina tells him that everyone has a dark side, and that evil is made rather than born. “All due respect, Regina, but I don’t think you know much about evil,” David tells her, thereby cementing him as the world’s worst judge of character. He is not invited to my spinoff.
MM, of course, didn’t know there was a knife in her heating vent. Heck, she doesn’t even know where her heating vent is! (Hint, MM: It’s where all the heat comes from.) But as Emma warns her jailed roomie, now that the evidence is getting more and more damning, it’s time Mary Margaret thought about getting a lawyer. And right on cue, Mr. Gold appears. Storybrooke’s richest man isn’t just a shopkeeper and an attempted murderer: He’s also an attorney. Clearly, you don’t get that evil without spending a few years in law school. Though Emma’s immediately suspicious, MM’s desperate enough to take Mr. Gold on as her counsel. She warns Gold that she can’t pay him, but Gold assures her that he isn’t interested in money: “Let’s just say I’m invested in your future.”
Cut to Rumpelstiltskin’s Dark Castle. The imp tells Grumpy that there’s no cure for Snow’s ailment; no potion can bring true love back, since love is the only magic he can’t bottle. This is totally cool with Snow Dark, since all she really wants is to slay a royal fashion victim. Rump is happy to oblige. He pulls out a bow and an arrow that always finds its target, then gives her directions to the perfect murderin’ spot. Snow suspiciously asks what Rump wants in return, but the Dark One gleefully waves away her suggestions of payment: “Let’s just say I’m invested in your future,” he tells her.
By the time James arrives at the Dark Castle, Snow and Grumpy are long gone. He, too, commands the imp to reverse the effects of the potion, since all spells can be broken. “Ah, yes: with Twue Wuv,” mocks Rump. James takes this to mean that if he plants a smackeroo on Snow’s blood-red lips, she’ll regain her pleasant personality. Rumpelstiltskin conjures up a map that reveals Snow’s whereabouts and gives it to David in exchange for his cloak. Some men hunt for sport; others hunt for food. The only thing Rump’s hunting for is an outfit that looks goooooood.
NEXT: It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to David noooow
After taking a look in his book, Henry knows how Regina broke into Mary Margaret’s apartment. Though Emma’s practically rolling her eyes when he shows up at her building, she decides to humor him… only to find out that one of Regina’s skeleton keys actually does open the apartment’s door. Behold, the power of reading.
Snow Dark is preparing to use her new bow when Charming sneaks up behind her, grabs her, and kisses her. Because she is awesome, she retaliates by knocking him unconscious. When James comes to, he’s trussed to a tree. Lucky for him, Snow is more forgiving than Dark Willow; still, she’s totally unmoved by his declarations of love. Though James pleads for her not to kill the queen, Snow ignores his cries and heads back to her Rump-approved perch.
David, meanwhile, has come to Dr. Hopper in hopes that the shrink can help him regain his lost memories. Archie hypnotizes David, and in his altered state, memories start coming back — memories of begging Snow to spare Regina. When he wakes up, David doesn’t seem to remember that the lady in his vision had long hair, or that she was wearing an olde-tymey cloak, or that he was addressing her as “Snow.” But he does remember that he once implored someone who looked an awful lot like Mary Margaret not to kill another woman.
James doesn’t stay tied up for long: Jiminy flits over and gnaws through Snow’s ropes, thereby setting the prince free. The conscientious cricket tells Charming that he’s going about things all wrong — before Snow can remember who he is, she’ll first have to remember who she really is. Also, never sneak up behind a woman so you can smooch her.
Snow Dark spots Regina’s enormous hat from her hiding spot and takes aim, then lets loose Rump’s arrow. But before it can strike the queen, a freed Charming throws himself in its path and gets an arrow to the shoulder for his trouble. Snow is furious, but James tells her again that he loves her; what’s more, he would catch a grenade for her. He’d throw his hand on a blade for her! He’d jump in front of a train for her, which is especially amazing because trains don’t exist in Fairy Land. At this, Snow is touched. See, she’s a big Bruno Mars fan — and even better, nobody’s ever been willing to die for her before.
She softly kisses James. This time Twue Wuv does its job, and Snow’s memories come flooding back. Alas, the couple’s joyous reunion is cut short when a cadre of King George’s men appear and throw James into a cage. (As a commenter in our liveblog mused, it looks like they’re hauling him off to the pound.) Now it’s Snow’s turn to vow that she’ll find her love.
NEXT: Hairy magic; plus, what’s up with August and water?
Things aren’t looking great for David and still-incarcerated MM either. He visits her and reveals that he remembers asking her not to kill someone in the woods. David doesn’t mention that when they chatted, she appeared to be wearing a wig. Mary Margaret is understandably dismayed. When the evidence pointed toward David, she stood by him; now that the tables have turned, he isn’t extending the same courtesy to her. She hisses for him to get away from her — good riddance, since David’s kind of the worst.
A contrite Snow White heads back to New Dwarfington to ask for her friends’ forgiveness. They happily oblige, giving Snow a group hug that’s almost as great as the seven-way high five Vanessa Bayer’s Snow gets in this brilliant SNL sketch. When she tells the gang that she has to leave again to save Charming, the septet decides to come along for the ride. Somehow, I think that their journey’s going to be much more fun to watch than Mirror Mirror.
Emma’s got bad news for Mary Margaret: According to DNA test results that Regina certainly didn’t tamper with, the heart is indeed Kathryn’s. Still, all isn’t lost — Emma fully believes that her friend is being framed, and she pledges that she’ll do all she can to clear MM’s name. Mary Margaret promises Emma that she’ll have faith in her… but she doesn’t tell the sheriff that she’s just discovered a skeleton key conveniently stashed in her jail cell. That evening, the teacher takes flight — because nothing proves innocence like a jailbreak.
Gold is examining the genie’s lamp when Emma walks into his shop, saying that she needs to get some evidence to support her hunch about Regina. Though she’s spurned his help before, now Emma is prepared to do whatever she must to take down the mayor. Gold manages to curb his enthusiasm and tells his new-found ally that she’s more powerful than she knows.
Speaking of power: After plucking a hair from Charming’s cloak, Rumpelstiltskin places it in a glass vial that contains the strand he previously collected from Snow. The two hairs intertwine, looking like a glowing Hippocrates staff; he takes the container and places it in the one empty spot on his Spice Rack of Evil. Evidently, Rump has finally bottled the magic of Twue Wuv. Look out, ladies!
– Mary Margaret is a shade taller than 5’7″. This isn’t really important, though it does drive home the fact that the dwarfs aren’t really all that short.
– When James initially left Abigail and set off in search of Snow, it appeared to be sunny and warm in Fairy Land. Now everything is covered in white powder. Did the seasons change really quickly, or what?
– Update: Wondering what Snow was humming before she went medieval on that bluebird?
Commenter Laura K. thinks it sounded like “With a Song in My Heart,” a Rodgers and Hart tune. Check out Doris Day’s rendition here. Juuuuust kidding! Snow was actually humming “With a Smile and a Song,” which makes more sense, since it’s actually from Disney’s Snow White.
– More hints about what Snow did to Regina: The mayor recalls losing someone she loved and being publicly humiliated.
– Right after telling Henry that he knows the truth about the book, August orders a glass of water. Is this a coincidence? A callback to his speech about water’s magical properties? A hint about his fairy tale identity? Also, did August add info about Regina’s skeleton keys to the story book? Speculate away!
– Charming to Naked Knight: “Put your hands where I can see them. On second thought… don’t.” Guess people in Fairy Land don’t believe in underwear.
– Rumpelstiltskin has a lovely vase of Gastons sitting in his entryway.
– More Rump stuff: The arrow he gives Snow supposedly always finds its target. But it pierces James instead of the queen. That’s got to mean something, right?
Next week’s episode looks like it’s going to be — for lack of a better term — completely cuckoo bananas. But before we go down the rabbit hole, let’s talk shop: What did you think of “Heart of Darkness”?
Once Upon a Time
Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.