First off let me start off by apologizing for the extreme lateness of this review. I started a new job this week so my time has been severely limited. No excuse, but possibly an explanation?
Because this review is so late (and the next episode airs tomorrow night) I am going to go ahead and assume pretty much everyone has already seen this episode. So I’m going to pretty much skip the recap aspect and focus on the review, and also pose some questions.
This past Sunday Once Upon a Time returned with another solid episode. No Hook in this episode, presumably he is in that storage unit Emma locked him in back in New York City. I would not count him gone forever just yet though. There is a lot of Cora in this episode, indeed the flashbacks are almost all about her past as the titular “Miller’s Daughter” and her past with Rumplestilskin that has been previously mentioned is revealed. We see a side of Rumple in the past that is both unexpected and frankly kind of confusing to me. And there are some nagging questions left about Cora that I hope I’m not the only one they are bothering.
There is quite a bit of both spoken and unspoken tension between Neal and Emma. It is pretty obvious we are supposed to be expecting some kind of reunion or reconciliation between the two of them, Neal’s revealed fiancé notwithstanding. Not sure if we are supposed to be rooting for it, but I for one am not. One (Snow White/Mary Margaret and David) and half (Rumple and Belle) romantic relationships is more than enough for me in a series thank you very much. Plus Emma has thus far (a few emotionally tumultuous scenes aside) been a very strong, independent and detached character. Why would she go back to a guy who, for whatever reason he thought he had, broke her heart and got her thrown in jail? The only reason I can think of beyond an uncharacteristic emotional moment on Emma’s part is the catch-all excuse for most of these characters “It would be good for Henry” to have his parents together.
One of the confusing parts is Rumple’s revealed infatuation with younger Cora. For me it kind of invalidates pretty much everything we learned about his time as the Dark One. If he was supposedly in love with Cora (something that was supposed to be basically impossible when he was a demon) why haven’t we heard about before? Why did only ever talk about being in love with Belle. The phrase he used in the season one finale when speaking of his love for Belle was “A brief flicker light of in a sea of darkness” a SINGULAR flicker of light. No mention of him having a tryst with Cora so serious that he would alter a deal with her AND plan on having children with her. So far we haven’t heard word one about a desire to have children with Belle. So, was Cora actually the true love of Rumplestilskin? A break up so painful he could never discuss it ever again?
Another point of contention is the trajectory of Cora’s past. Now, I’m not sure if these are intentional oversights that will be addressed in later episodes, the writers just kind of forgot what they had previously set up, or some combination of the two. It is pretty obvious the kingdom Cora grew up in was not the one that Snow’s father ruled over. So, what happened in the interim that made her move to a different kingdom? Especially after she married the prince of her home kingdom and had Regina. For that matter, we know the prince is Regina’s father but is he the man Regina grew up calling father? We know that Regina’s father whom she loved very much was named Henry. Now, I have watched the episode multiple times and as far as I could tell, they never say the name of the name of the prince in this episode. So we can either assume that they intended for us to assume he was Prince Henry (even though Regina or her father being royalty was NEVER mentioned before, I kind of assumed Henry Sr. was some kind of wealthy merchant or landowner) or it was tacit foreshadowing of Regina discovering that Henry Sr. was not her real father. Either way, something happened that made caused Regina and Cora to no longer part of the line of succession necessitating Cora’s intricate plans to make Regina queen.
So there you have it folks. Lots of questions brought up in this episode. Maybe most of them are just the product of my overly-analytical nerd brain, but these were the things that stuck with me through each viewing of this episode.