ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: The Evil Within


Last night’s ONCE UPON AT TIME took us back to its roots. In one of the most solid episodes we have had the pleasure of watching in at least a season and a a half, “Strange Case” had an old school kind of vibe and it felt so much like a season 1 episode. It was well balanced, had plenty of action and drama and just the right amount of screen time for its ever expanding group of characters. But mostly, it was just fun.

Back to school. Finally we got to see an interesting storyline involving Snow White. She has basically been in the back burner for a couple of seasons now, mostly going along for the ride, but we saw Snow taking control of her own life again and making an effort to have things go back to normal – or as normal as they can be when one is a fairytale character and lives in Storybrooke. But we got a really awesome glimpse of the Charmings family life in the beginning of the episode, with Charming being an endearingly obnoxious jealous dad and the family just having breakfast together, which was just great to watch.

That first scene was just so incredible and light and it made me smile so big, because this is what they have always wanted. The entire family together as Emma, Snow, Charming, Baby Neal and Henry gathered in the kitchen as they got ready for the day. Not even Regina’s arrival with Jekyll broke the spell of that entire feel good first moment of the episode. That one scene has been six years in the making and it was incredibly overdue and such a joy to watch.

But when Snow gets to school, things aren’t as they used to be. For starters, little Henry is now a teenager and even has a girlfriend, so that was her first reality check. Time has passed and things have changed. When the students don’t respond to her lesson as they used to, she is crushed. It takes Jasmine – and hey, we all knew that was Jasmine, right? I can’t even remember the name she used right now – telling her that she needed to let go of the past and adapt to the new normal, for Snow to get in the groove of how things are now. Embracing her true self is liberating and she delivers a kickass lesson to her students as badass Snow White. Brilliant subplot, brilliant delivery and brilliant dialogue. I loved every single thing about this plot and I can only hope they keep it up.

Jekyll, Hyde and the Evil Queen. First of all, the Evil Queen is delightful. Can we please keep her forever? Lana Parrilla is doing such an amazing job at separating both characters and she is just plain funny as a full on evil villain. There is a lightness to her voice and every single line that completely contradicts the despicable things she is capable of doing and it’s just amazing. Standing ovation to Parrilla for her outstanding performance.

Now, let’s talk about the abrupt end of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde storyline. Although, now that it’s over and it’s clear that they couldn’t really go any further than that, I admit I’d had the impression that they would play a larger role at least until the midseason finale. However, their story served its purpose to highlight that Regina is pretty much screwed. Despite having separated the evil and good parts of herself, this particular storyline showed us that there is no way to separate both parts completely. Jekyll was still capable of evil, just like Regina will have to live with the possibility of the evil within her rearing its ugly head again.

What became clear, however, is that there is no way to defeat the Evil Queen – at least not without losing Regina as well. The serum that Jekyll created was lost forever and it took Hook killing him for Mr. Hyde to die as well. When Jekyll turned on Belle, she asked for Killian’s help using a mermaid shell he had given her earlier that day. As it turns out, the good scientist was also a villain and tried to kill Belle in order to exact his revenge against Rumplestiltskin. When Hook pushed him into a spear that ran him through, his doppelganger, Mr. Hyde, also perished. That only showed them that in order for the Evil Queen to die, Regina will have to perish as well.

That led to an incredibly touching moment between Emma and Regina, where they mirrored the request Emma made at the beggining of season 5 – Regina asked Emma to sacrifice her, if push comes to shove. Emma promised her that she will do everything in her power to prevent that from happening because that’s what family does. This was just so beautiful and touching and it showed us how far these two amazing women have come.

Rumbelle. Look, it hurts me too. While I was never a Rumbelle fan, the child in me mourns for one of my favorite princesses. This relationship has come to a point that it’s completely toxic and abusive and I can’t see any way for them to even think about getting back to the way they were. Even though Rumple might be trying to change, he just can’t. He goes about it all wrong and, in an effort to protect Belle, he traps her in the Jolly Roger with magic, so she can’t leave. But that wasn’t the main problem here.

That final scene between them – after Hook has saved her from Jekyll – where Rumple is basically threatening her that she will go back to him whether she likes it or not, that was the final nail in this ship’s proverbial coffin. Because you know what – that is not okay. If you love someone, you don’t use threats or force or anything that may harm them to make them get back to you. What Rumple is doing has all the telltale signs of an abusive relationship. And when Belle tells him she will never go back to him because she has always seen who he really is and apparently he can’t change, he tells her that she will get back to him no matter what.

I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind a ship that promotes this kind of behavior. At this point, I don’t think Rumplestilskin can be ever be redeemed because – even though he tries to put his love for Belle first – he will never give up his power. And no matter what happens, he will always put that power first and that is not what a healthy relationship is supposed to be about. I really, really hope that Belle stays as far away from him as possible and that Emma and Regina can help her protect her baby boy when he’s born.

Jasmine. So we all knew it was her, right? While we only caught a glimpse of what their storyline is going to be about, I admit I am so curious to watch this unfold. So Jasmine apparently is looking for Alladin in Storybrooke, so that opens so many exciting possibilities – especially for Emma to understand what being a Savior is all about. Also, it has been a solid twenty years since I last watched Alladin, but is there a possibility that the Oracle is actually Jafar? Have you taken a look at that staff she keeps walking around with? I saw that theory last night on Twitter and I actually think this could be a possibility.

Overall, though, this was such a great episode. It had been a while since I finished an episode of this show and had that omg, I want more feeling.

A new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME airs next Sunday, October 23, at 8/7c on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).

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