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REVIEW: Once Upon A Time 6×07 “Heartless”

Just when I thought the sixth season of Once Upon A Time was going nowhere, the rug is pulled from under my feet. The show finally remembered why it is awesome, and I remembered why I love this programme so much. This season has harkened back to its glory days of the first season, placing Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen front and centre. This is a pretty thrilling yet emotional episode, and the swan song of the show’s golden couple. Unlike Belle and Rumplestiltskin, Snow and David have always remained a strong and believable relationship throughout the show, and they remain my favourite couple in the series.

Let’s start out in the Enchanted Forest for our traditional flashback. Snow White is on the run from the Evil Queen, trying to bribe her way out of the kingdom, but only attracts the attention of a corrupt land owner who sends an assassin called the Woodcutter after her. Elsewhere, back when he was “Prince Farming” (as the Evil Queen calls him), David learns from his mother that they may have to sell the farm. Though reluctant, David agrees to find a buyer, setting out with his trusty sheepdog Wilby for a nearby town. Snow decides to get passage to a boat right out of the forest, despite the attempts of the Blue Fairy to dissuade her. They briefly are attacked by the Woodcutter who comes at them like he is Jason Voorhees, but the Blue Fairy kicks his ass.

David crosses paths with the Woodcutter who acts like a kindly fellow, until he drugs David and uses Wilby to track Snow, locking her up in his cart. David wakes up and is led to the cart by Wilby, but is unable to bust Snow out. The Woodcutter appears, but Snow and David are able to defeat him when the idiot bashes a hole in the cart, allowing Snow to pin him while David kicks his ass. David goes to free her, but Snow warns him that if he sees her face, he will be in danger. David instead gives her the key, encouraging her to stay in the woods and brave it out against the Evil Queen. They touch each other’s hands, unknowingly causing a “drop” of true love to cause a magical plant to grow.

Moving over to Storybrooke, the Evil Queen transports Snow to the woods at night, still hellbent on claiming her heart; but since she split her heart in two and the other half now belongs to David, her royal highness intends on taking “a little bit more”. The Evil Queen gives Snow a potion with a time limit to figure out what it is. Regina quickly realises it is water from the River of Lost Souls, likely obtained from Mr. Gold to destroy Storybrooke. To counter it, the Blue Fairy suggests finding the magic sapling created from Snow and David’s true love. Yeah, that does seem a little convenient there was another magic tree in the Enchanted Forest, even though the previous “last” magic tree was used to the make the wardrobe that brought Emma to Earth.

To distract the badguys, Regina forges a note to Zelena from her other self to meet at Gold’s pawnshop. And lo and behold, Zelena walks in on the Evil Queen and Mr. Gold…making out. Eww. That’s just grose. Snow, David, and Regina track down the sapling to an underground cave. Snow and David touching, reliving their greatest memories as well as the episode’s flashback. The Evil Queen pops out of thin. How does she even know about the sapling? She snaps the sapling in half and threatens to destroy the town unless the couple surrender their hearts.

In Regina’s vault, Emma and Hook are clearing out anything the Evil Queen could use as a weapon, but Emma gets the hippy, hippy shakes again. Hook produces Henry’s book, reading from it and encouraging Emma to be confident in both herself and her parents. We have a brief, melancholic moment where it looks like Snow and David are about to meet their maker, but don’t even have a final scene with baby Neal. Nevertheless, the duo decide to go out on a high note, confronting the Evil Queen in the cemetery before the townsfolk and their loved ones. Snow and David allow the queen to rip their hearts out simultaneously, but the Evil Queen is not satisfied, wanting to make a more lasting impact on her enemies.

She shoves both hearts back in, only for Snow to pass out and disappear. The Evil Queen claims it is a sleeping curse with a twist, challenging David to find his wife. David and Emma take off across town, eventually finding her in a glass coffin in a replication of the show’s very first scene. However, when David kisses Snow, he suddenly zonks out and Snow wakes up. It turns out that whenever they kiss, only one of them can be awake at a time and can never be together. Oh, Evil Queen, you have outdone yourself. I take back everything I said about you being a disappointment. This is some great writing.

Meanwhile, Zelena tells Belle what her husband has been getting up to with the Evil Queen, and she confronts Mr. Gold, but also about the Shears. Rumple fears he will be a useless father again, but Belle has little pity for him. And Mr. Gold being Mr. Gold, he decides to take his frustrations out on Zelena.

Overall, this has been the best episode of the season. A real slam dunk. Fantastic performances from Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, and Lana Parilla, a real sense of nostalgia revisiting the greatest elements of the first season, and some attempts to develop the rest of the main cast. There are some minor flaws, namely the convenient magic sapling that is immediately rendered useless, but I should be used to this series pulling out plot devices out of thin air.

Final Grade: A+

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Mark Russell