Once Upon a Time has fluctuated wildly this season, but the episode Heartless catches the show on an upswing. The Evil Queen makes good on her threat to finally get her revenge, and it’s a nice change to see her finally put her grand plan into motion, even if it shows the Charmings at their most annoying.
Basically, she’s threatened to destroy the whole town unless Snow and Charming hand over their hearts, since they happen to share one. Snow doesn’t respond with her usual hopeful message until the end, and it’s more syrupy than usual since Heartless includes a flashback of the couple’s earlier past, where it seems they met even before they thought they did. Yeah, kind of a long story, but it did remind me that fairy outfits look really silly on a full size person.
Various subplots are also handled well. Emma is still learning to control her tremors, and Hook is still adorably supportive. On the other side of the coin, the cast reacted to the news of the Evil Queen and Rumple’s relationship the same way everybody else did: yuck. The Dark One really seems hell-bent on making the rounds in Regina’s family. He had a relationship with her mother Cora (who he genuinely loved), he had a thing with her sister Zelena, and he’s also grandfather to Regina’s adopted son Henry. Soooo…yeah. Ick. I guess this confirms those fan theories about him being Regina’s father are false. Right??? Right??!!!
Regina does see an advantage to this development though, and uses it to try to drive a wedge between Zelena and her darker half. It might just work, since Zelena decides to tell Belle what Rumple is up to. Thankfully, Belle is back to being sane again, telling off her ex not for his latest unsavory dalliance, but for wanting to use the destiny-altering shears on his son, proving once again that he’s not willing to put in the effort to become the best man he could be. And Rumple is not too pleased that Zelena informed on him. Seems like the sisters’ dark alliance could soon be put to the test.
Once saves the real kicker for the end though, when the Queen’s threat comes to fruition. Snow and Charming fail to stop her and dutifully give up their hearts. But whether she knows it or not, the Evil Queen has become the kind of villain whose life would become empty and meaningless if she actually killed her foe. At one point, she actually could have done it, but she’s been on her path for too long. Plus, this is a show that embodies Disney’s classic, core ideals, so you know the main heroes aren’t going to die. So instead, the Queen comes up with a truly wicked twist on the sleeping curse, and it’s one of the more interesting obstacles the couple has faced. Plus, it looks as if things will get truly desperate in the next episode. The Evil Queen’s track record may be a bit iffy, but OUAT knows that when it comes to magic and curses, few compare to her.
I just wish the show was more interested in exploring her relationships with her family, rather than her love, or more accurately, lust life. Her bond with Henry is still criminally underexplored, and I’m pretty sure Maleficent and her daughter were still running around Storybrooke at one point. Also, where the hell did Aladdin and Jasmine disappear to?