Wow! What a great episode of Once Upon a Time!
The heart of this episode is its fantastic flashback. Young Snow facing the impending death of her mother Eva is a simple arc, but emotionally effective. I can’t remember the score of the show being used as effectively as in this episode, it beautifully underscored images like Snow over the casket of the queen.
In many ways this is Snow’s origin story. From literal facts like setting up the events that led to her becoming Regina’s stepdaughter and telling us how she got her name, to figuratively, showing how she learned the way of good that defines her. Tempted by tapping into black magic at the cost of someone’s life she said no, as opposed to Regina who couldn’t turn down magic and a future life of darkness when given the chance. Cora’s mothership implanted blackness in Regina and Eva’s implanted good in Snow that helped influence their choice and path. But Snow can’t be angelic or pure as her mother was, as much as she’s tried. By the end of the episode she’s essentially snapped, with yet another attempt at good ending so wrong. Just like Regina has light in her preventing complete darkness, Snow has repressed darkness in her light. This is one of Ginnifer Goodwin’s most well acted episodes of the series so far and the younger Bailee Madison, aside from the perfect resemblence, certainly sells the emotion of a large part in this episode.
The present day Storybrooke scenes were exciting as a whole, culminating in the showdown in the clock tower. Johanna getting flown out the window is a shocking death worthy of a Hitchcock movie, as well as heartbreaking. Two Cora kills in this episode helps establish her as a dark villain and I thought the scenes setting up Snow and Johanna's relationshiop were excellent, leading up to that shock.
Regina and Cora’s conversation at the end of the episode with the former doubting her mother’s true motive, is also interesting. Which side Regina is on will be a crux of the last stretch of the season. While Cora states to her then and in the clocktower that she killed Eva to make her daughter queen, the actual scene of Cora over Eva’s grave feels as if more of a personal vendetta, especially in regards to forever staining the White family name. I look forward to the flashback revealing the source of this animosity. As for the scenes in New York, Rumplestiltskin’s poisoning will lead to a predictable result (he lives), but seeing his anger after his stabbing was an interesting scene. Of course, the main developments in New York this episode is unofficially revealing Baelfire is Peter Pan, as well as introducing Tamara (Tinkerbell perhaps?).
This is one of the best episodes of Once Upon a Time I’ve seen so far. It is beautifully well shot, acted and written, containing both exciting action while being character development orientated. Once Upon a Time is currently at its best. Let’s hope the ratings don’t drop off any further - 6 seasons and a movie!