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REVIEW: Once Upon A Time 6×02 “A Bitter Draught”

The first episode of Once Upon A Time’s sixth season was off to a relatively good start, and now the second certainly ups the ante. The possibilities of the Land of Untold Stories are virtually endless, and “A Bitter Draught” takes full advantage by introducing a new character, and focuses on the development of our main gang. Or at least Regina anyway. In the first episode, Emma discovered she can see the future and her own death, Mr. Hyde got locked up, Belle dumped Mr. Gold, and the Evil Queen snuck in town to hang out with Zelena.

What are her plans? Well, she kicks things off by breaking into Regina’s vault, protected by blood magic, which naturalment, she is able to bust since they are the same person. The queen retrieves something of use from the vault, asking the concerned Zelena which sister she would prefer. So far, the Evil Queen has been surprisingly kind and chummy with the witch who tried to destroy her life. We will have to see if this remains as the season progresses, or if the Evil Queen is just pulling Zelena’s leg. The Evil Queen always did value her family, so maybe she won’t harm her niece or sister.

Elsewhere, Regina and Henry head into Granny’s to sort out the rabble that arrived from the Land of Untold Stories as part of “Operation Cobra: Part Two”. Snow and David are doing the best they can with all the new faces, which appear to include the Three Musketeers and steampunk vendors you see at fan conventions. Regina calms everyone down by slamming Henry’s storybook on the counter and gives a surprisingly heartfelt speech about how everyone will find their happy endings. I’d like to point out that Regina refers to herself as the mayor of Storybrooke. So, she still is technically in command. Everyone was referring to Snow as the new mayor back in the fourth season. I guess the non-existent mayoral poll from twenty-eight years ago still remains valid.

A handsome young man walks in, Henry immediately springing on him to help him with his story, but the chap claims his story isn’t worth telling. Henry turns away for a moment, and the man has vanished, leaving a letter to Snow and David. Emma prepares to head off for a therapy session with Archie, but Belle strides in, needing a place to stay since she ditched Mr. Gold. Captain Hook, being a gentlemen, offers Belle the perfect place to live: His pirate ship. Not the most cleanest or hygienic of places, but, I suppose it will be alright. Belle worries Mr. Gold will get mad about Hook offering his wife shelter, but since Belle has dumped his ass for good, it is none of his business. Unless she falls down a hole whilst pregnant…

Henry gives the letter to Snow and David, discovering it is from Edmond Dantès, aka, the Count of Monte Cristo. I told you that the Land of Untold Stories was bringing anybody and everybody to Storybrooke. Now, I only knew of the story by name only, so here is a little Fiction 101. The Count of Monte Cristo was written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844, about  a young merchant sailor who is framed for being a traitor by a bunch of assholes, imprisoned, escapes, and becomes the Count of Monte Cristo to get revenge. This is briefly covered in the lovely flashback to Edmond’s past, where he throws a huge party to murder an evil baron who imprisoned him to begin with, a plan ten years in the making. The Evil Queen shows up, offering Edmond a list of all those who wronged him and his late fiancé, but only if he does something for her first. Take three guesses what that is.

Emma speaks with Archie, revealing the contents of her vision, but when Archie starts asking questions, she does what she does best and runs away. Snow, David, and Regina check out Edmond’s room at Granny’s, discovering he has brought more knives with him than everyone who murdered Julius Caesar. Regina tracks down Edmond to the crashed dirigible, trying to convince him that their deal is off but he refuses because vengeance is calling. He throws his sword at Regina, but she stops it with his magic, and the Count has disappeared again. He does he do that?

In a flashback, Snow and Charming come across a village raised to the ground by the Evil Queen, coming across Edmond posing as a survivor. Grateful for rescuing him, Edmond offers to become their wine server, also meeting Snow’s maid Charlotte, who reminds him of his late fiancé. He visits the Evil Queen, who gives him poison to kill Snow and Charming. However, Edmond decides not to go through with the poisoning upon learning that Charlotte is joining Snow and Charming, since she is departing to care for her ill mother. Edmond sneaks away, but is surprised by Rumplestiltskin, in on the Evil Queen’s plan but needs Snow and Charming to remain alive and get busy. He reveals Charlotte has been poisoned and the only way to save her is to stop her story by going to the Land of Untold Stories. Edmond agrees but is warned if he leaves, Charlotte will die.

Emma tries to get Snow and David out of Storybrooke by crossing the town border, but a magic forcefield has been set up, and they bounce off it. Yep, the bad luck border spell from the first season is back. Regina admits she didn’t set it up, suspecting Zelena when she shows up. Mr. Gold returns to his lonely shop, discovering the Evil Queen waiting for him to obtain a coin. They make a deal, the coin for the safety of Belle and her child. The Evil Queen then hits on Mr. Gold, offering him a free pass if and when he gets tired of Belle. Hopefully that won’t happen. Please!

Regina and Henry return to the dirigible crash site, finding a very dead Charlotte in the wreckage. Well, she was a compelling character. The Evil Queen makes her delightfully dramatic return, Regina and Henry both freaking out. Regina tries to summon a fireball but discovers it is on the fritz, presumably because that type of magic came from her darkness. The Evil Queen reveals she controls Edmond using the old magic heart trick, and he will kill Snow and David.

At the docks, Snow and David run into Edmond, who try to talk him down, but he reveals what is going on and has no control over his body. David goes all Captain America on Edmond with a garbage can lid, but Edmond knocks the Charmings out. Regina shows up to stop Edmond, getting into a sword fight with him. She asks Henry to summon Emma, but he can’t because the Evil Queen somehow cursed his phone. No free calls for you, Henry. With no other option, Regina runs Edmond through with the sword. Well, I think that is a first for the show. A story doesn’t get a happy ending, unless you count the Knave of Hearts’ apparent offscreen tragedy.

The Evil Queen pops back up, taking credit for everything and makes it known that Regina will be the one to destroy everyone’s happy endings, having spawned a tiny bit of darkness in her purified heart. The Evil Queen also teases us with, “We all have stories we don’t want told.” What could she possibly mean? The gang regroup at Granny’s, where Henry rants about his uselessness as the Author, going into a random chat about film sequels which Hook has never watched in a weird attempt to compare them to Operation Cobra: Part Two. David finds a letter addressed to him, discovering the coin the Evil Queen got. Outside, he runs into the vainest one of all, who implies that David’s unseen father, who died in a drunken accident, may have actually been murdered.

The Evil Queen drops in to visit Zelena again, showing surprising care towards her niece and gives her old pacifier over as a gift. That’s sweet of her. Hopefully it isn’t hexed or something. She points out Zelena has basically chosen which sister she wants, since she didn’t tell Regina about their little meetings. In the final scene, Emma returns to Archie and admits she isn’t keen on telling everyone about her deathly vision, believing the cloaked badguy who kills her may be Regina. This would be the obvious choice, but I suspect the writers will do a plot twist.

“A Bitter Draught” is a better episode than its predecessor. Snow, David, and Regina steal the episode while Emma runs around in the corners reminding us she is still here. I wonder what the untold stories of the Charmings are, but we at least have an indication what David’s will be. We have not met his biological father yet, so this would be a good time to wrap up David’s side of the family tree. This is quite a clever move. Even our established characters all have untold stories yet to me revealed. But the next episode will involve the return of Cinderella, the arrival of Lady Tremaine (BOO!), and Cinderella grabbing a shotgun to apparently murder her evil stepsister.

Final Grade: A-

+ Regina and the Evil Queen rock in this episode.

+ Nice decision for the writers to introduce a story that doesn’t have a happy ending.

+ Dracula and the Invisible Man get namedropped.

– Please don’t make Mr. Gold and the Evil Queen get together. Please don’t.

– Despite being the Author, Henry is becoming increasingly useless as a character.

About the author

Mark Russell