Previously on Once Upon a Time: The Queen is Dead.
This week on Once Upon a Time, the battle for Storybrooke begins. Emma, Nealfire, Henry, and Rumpelstiltskin return to Storybrooke to reunite with Snow and Charming and face off against Cora and Regina. In the pre-Curse Enchanted Forest, we learn how a young Cora started on the path to becoming the Evil!Mommy we know and love to hate.
In the pre-curse Enchanted Forest, young Cora is a lowly miller’s daughter (played by Rose McGowan, of Charmed). When she goes to the palace to deliver a shipment of flour, Princess Eva (Snow’s mother) spitefully trips her. King Xavier (Joaquim de Almeida) forces to Cora to apologize to the princess, which does not sit well with her at all. She later sneaks back into the palace to crash the Prince’s masked ball – but the King is shrewd enough to recognize her from the straw on her dress. Refusing to be intimidated, she boasts that she can spin straw into gold, so the King locks her in a cell until she can demonstrate her talent: succeed, and she can marry the Prince; fail, and she dies. Rumpelstiltskin appears in her tower to save the day. In exchange for her “very important” firstborn, he offers to teach her how to spin straw into gold. Rumpelstiltskin and Cora bond over their desire for vengeance on those who made them feel small. She spins on command and wins the hand of the prince, but it’s not everything she’d hoped for as she’s fifth in line to be Queen. Cora would rather have Rumple, and he alters their deal: in exchange for giving him his child, he teachers her how to rip out hearts so she can exact her revenge on the King. When she goes to the King, he reminds her it’s a choice of love or power – so the heart Cora rips out is her own. She apologizes to Rumpelstiltskin, and later gives birth to Regina, who “will be queen” one day.
In Storybrooke, things are looking dire. As they race towards home, Emma vows to save the ailing Rumpelstiltskin since he’s now “family,” despite the fact that Cora can potentially control him. He’s so far gone that his name has started to fade from the dagger, leading Cora to claim she has to become the Dark One lest all the power be lost – much to Regina’s dismay. Emma and Co. prepare for battle at Gold’s shop. Rumple produces the dark candle and encourages Snow to trade Cora’s life for his own by using the spell over her heart and returning it to her body; meanwhile, Emma uses her magic to cast a protection spell over the shop. Regina and Cora appear, Snow slips out a side door, Charming is thrown out the front, and Emma/Nealfire retreat to the back room. Cora senses something is wrong with her heart and sends Regina to the vault. Snow uses the candle over Cora’s heart. When Regina appears, Snow claims she wants Cora’s heart returned so she can love her daughter and give up on being the Dark One. While Cora works on the barrier, Rumple calls Belle to make a deathbed confession of love, and it’s enough to soften Nealfire’s disposition towards his father. Cora breaks through and whisks Nealfire and Emma away with magic, and is about to stab “the only man she ever truly loved” when Regina restores her heart. Mother and daughter have a brief moment of happiness before Cora collapses, claiming, “this would have been enough” as she dies. Snow tries to stop Regina, but it’s too late.
Next week, hell hath no fury like Regina scorned.
• We finally get our glimpse into Cora’s past, but it leaves more questions than answers. How did Cora go from the wife of a prince to a bitter social climber? How did Eva become the queen? Was Regina the rightful princess/queen all along? I want more of this storyline!
• I hate (like, haaaaaaaaaate) Rose McGowan, but she was absolutely spot on as a young, self-righteous, bitter Cora.
Nicole N. decided to justify the countless hours she spends watching television by writing about it here. She is currently terrified of Stanley’s oddly-shaped head on Project Runway. For more tv-centric musings, check out her tumblr.