Regina Mills has always been the most popular character of Once Upon A Time, and has gone down quite the path from villainess to heroine. Her hatred for Snow White was slowly etched away in favour of love for her son Henry and others in time. Now, in the seventh season, Regina searches for a new role, since Henry is now an adult himself and she is out of Storybrooke. This episode tries to fit Regina into the new story, and continues its exciting rush of throwing plot twists at us like pigeons in the park.
Let’s start in the New Enchanted Forest, which we still don’t really know anything about apart from it is an AU. Henry and Cinderella’s unconvincing romance continues to grow, mostly via quips and haggard breathing trying to resist their UST. It’s supposed to be different from Snow White and Prince Charming, but lacks that fairy tale sweetness. They beat up some thieves, leaving poor Regina on the sidelines looking for someone to launch fireballs at. Since leaving Storybrooke, Regina has realised her son has grown up and doesn’t need her the same way he once did.
Going for a wander, Regina comes across the remains of a familiar-looking tower, and meets Drizella, who is looking for a way to harness magic to escape her mother. Regina offers to help Drizella, knowing what it is like to have lived under the thumb of her own crazy mother Cora. Regina later runs into Rumplestiltskin, who is presumably looking for the Guardian that will inherit his dark powers, and they have a heartwarming reunion. However, Rumple warns Regina that Lady Tremaine likely knows exactly what Drizella is up to. The women spy on Tremaine using a pocket-sized magic mirror, realising she likely plans on using Drizella’s heart to awaken Anastasia from her magic coma.
The magic of hearts in Once Upon A Time seems to have endless power. First, if you ripped out a heart and crushed it, the owner would die. Then it was revealed that a heart could be used to resurrect the dead, turn them into puppet zombies, or even be used as a mouth piece that makes the owner speak whatever the puppeteer wants. However, a slight retcon is used here, claiming only a true believer in good and such can be used to revive the dead or comatose. The second season involved Dr. Frankenstein using a random heart to bring his monster to life without that little restriction.
Drizella decides the best option to escape her mother would be to kill her, though Regina refuses to help her. Drizella later confronts Lady Tremaine, accompanied by her fiancé Prince Gregor. Sadly, Gregor doesn’t squish Tremaine’s head with his thumbs. Instead, Drizella murders him, blackening her heart so her mother can’t use it. Tremaine is completely unimpressed, but is visibly shaken when Drizella announces her plan to unleash the infamous Dark Curse upon the land and send Tremaine to a land where she will only suffer pain. Regina’s good intentions just backfired on her spectacularly, but it does means she can cement a stronger relationship with Henry.
Over to Hyperion Heights. Roni and Henry have been left reeling by the photo showing their Storybrooke selves together, but suspect it is a fake. A thrilled Lucy charges in, and immediately identifies Roni as Regina. She plots to find something to stir her memories. While Roni encourages Henry to ask Jacinda out, she speaks with Lucy, and they investigate if Regina is real or not. To their surprise, Weaver hands them Regina’s own adoption papers, Roni’s signature matching up. This would have made an interesting subplot, but they swap it out with an even more fantastic surprise. Ivy, who turned out to be awake and in league with Mother Gothel last episode, obtains a flower that sprouted in the community garden, which has magical properties
Ivy spikes Roni’s drink with it, allowing Regina’s memories to return. Drizella gloats, admittingly that she woke Regina up so she can make sure the Dark Curse is never broken. She hints that if it is, something bad will happen to Henry. That’s just evil. Drizella is quickly growing to become one of my favourite villains in Once. While her reasons aren’t as immersive as Regina and Rumple’s when they were evil, her need for vengeance is severe and terrifying. She comes across as a more interesting version of Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, whose reasonings for being evil were the same but not as effective. Regina now has to make the hard choice to stop Henry and Jacinda’s romance, or let it play out, but at the cost of her son’s life.
No matter how hard she tries or how far she gets, Regina just can’t seem to shake off her former role as the Evil Queen. She faces an impossible decision, and something tells me she will have to make it before the season reaches its winter finale. I did quite enjoy this episode, particularly where it keeps finding new ways to challenge Regina as a character. There are some minor subplots in the episode like more shenanigans into Rogers’ missing persons case. The one man he finds who has a connection to the girl, turns up dead, no doubt murdered to cover up the conspiracy behind the mystery.
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