This review contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.
This week’s Once Upon a Time continued the momentum set by the season premiere. As predicted, the episode alternated between present-day Storybrooke and past events in Camelot. The flashbacks provided some of the missing pieces from that six week time jump, giving us an idea of how Emma’s drastic transformation began.
Although Regina and Emma’s friendship took a huge leap forward last episode, we saw it waver this week. Regina’s ability to control Emma with the Dagger – even without meaning to – caused some conflict between them. It’s understandable that there’s a part of Emma that resents Regina for holding power over her. She’s only just begun to work through a lifetime of trust issues, and becoming the Dark One forced her to literally put her life in someone else’s hands. They’ve resolved their issues for now, but this tension is going to come to a head sooner or later. Regina has Emma’s best interests at heart, but you know what they say about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions.
I loved seeing the Charmings looking out for Regina, especially Mary Margaret. She acted as a big-sister figure to the former Evil Queen – which was laughable considering Regina used to be her step-mom. Nevertheless, it was nice to see Regina opening up to them about her insecurities. And they welcomed her with open arms: Snow helped Regina to pay the Fury’s price while Charming taught her how to dance. Seeing their interactions was also quite bittersweet. While I’m happy for Regina, I can’t help but feel sorry for Emma. She’s lost her Saviour title, and now she’s slowly losing her family. It can’t be an easy adjustment. (Maybe once she’s freed from being the Dark One she and Regina can be Co-Saviours? They would make an excellent evil-vanquishing duo.)
Last week I mentioned that I was hoping for a True Love’s Kiss between Emma and Hook this season. ‘The Price’ saw Killian attempt to break Emma’s curse by doing exactly that. It was obvious that all the emotion was there on his side, but Emma’s unwillingness to relinquish her dark powers made curing her an impossibility. Even though a TLK would have been too easy a fix this early on, I was crushed when it didn’t work. After two failed kisses (the first being in the eleventh episode of Season 3), I’m praying to TPTB that it’ll be third time lucky for Captain Swan. On a brighter note, Hook and Belle bonding over their significant others being the Dark One was touching. Belle has always been on the periphery of the hero gang, and it’s about time she made a real friend.
Violet and Henry’s tentative interactions were adorable. He seems to be following in Regina’s footsteps with that whole meeting-someone-in-another-realm-but-not-remembering-them thing. Seeing them bond over music was really sweet (and impressing her with the iPod was such a smooth move – Henry’s game is on point). David acting as Henry’s wingman was hilariously cringe-worthy. It’s safe to say that Henry’s grandparents already ship it. Judging by Regina’s reaction, though, she’ll take a little longer to come around.
I’m once again impressed by Jennifer Morrison’s acting (honestly, I’m just going to be gushing about her every week). She played the Dark Swan right down to the minute facial expressions. Even Emma’s body language and style of speech was different. It all worked cohesively to give us the impression of an utterly emotionless individual. But we still caught glimpses of the old Emma here and there. Her conversation with Henry at the docks made it evident that she hadn’t completely succumbed to the darkness. Seeing her standing alone outside the diner was equally sad. There’s a vulnerability there that’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. Although Emma is this season’s antagonist, she’s still very much a sympathetic character.
The final scene threw us for a loop. Apparently, the Dark Dagger and Excalibur will ‘snuff out the light forever’ once they’re made into one weapon – as ominous as that sounds. Next week’s promo revealed that only a hero can pull the sword from the stone. My money is on Regina. As for that hefty price Emma will have to pay, we’ll have to wait and see.