"The Evil Queen" is the 42nd episode of Once Upon a Time.
With the aid of Hook, Regina attempts to put a plan in motion that will help transport herself and Henry back to the Enchanted Forest... but her plan revolves around a fail-safe that was planted within the curse, which if triggered could wipe Storybrooke off the map - and kill all of its inhabitants; and Emma's suspicions about Tamara grow. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, the Evil Queen asks Rumplestiltskin to transform her into an unrecognizable peasant in order to kill an unsuspecting Snow White, with the twisted aim of earning the love and respect of her subjects.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Captain Hook stabs Mr. Gold with his poisonous hook. ("The Queen is Dead") Tamara cuts off August's phone call to Emma and outside, where August lies dead, Emma comments that someone killed him to stop him from telling them something. ("Selfless, Brave and True") Mary Margaret and David show Emma the dwarfs' crop of magic beans and the blonde realizes that her parents want to use them to return to the Enchanted Forest, and Snow says that they can start over. ("Lacey") Regina tells Emma that she knows she's hiding something and assures her that she will find out, and later, she discovers the field of beans. ("Lacey") Greg asks Tamara if she was able to get "the package" and she tells him that it's right outside town. Later, Tamara drives into town with a trailer attached to the back of her car and opens it up to reveal Captain Hook tied up and gagged inside. ("Lacey")
The captain has a talk with his captors.
"Actually, I prefer it with the lights on," we hear Captain Hook saying, his eyes blinded by darkness. The black hood covering his head is removed by Tamara, one of his captors. He tells her and her partner, Greg Mendell, that he's spent enough time below deck to not be faded to dark, so if this is their idea of torture, they're gonna have to try better - this last part he utters in a patronizing tone. He is tied up to a chair, and the three of them are shown to be on the last floor of the public library's tower, with Hook sitting in front of the broken round window (see "The Queen is Dead"). It's nighttime. Greg explains that they just wanna offer him a job, and Hook, in a tone of mockery, says, "Then you can let me go?" and starts laughing. He then "apologizes" and states that he already did his last job: he killed Rumplestiltskin, so he's sated, replete, his life's purpose met. Tamara, who knows better than this, plays along, telling him that she wishes she could have been there to see him stab the Dark One. "Well, look who's up to speed," Hook tells her, to which she replies that she's a quick learner. He fires back that she then knows his work is done, to which Greg responds that he doesn't think so. The two of them proceed to move his chair closer to the large window; Greg tells him to take a look and Tamara hands the pirate his monocle. He looks out the window through it and spots Mr. Gold, alive and well, coming out of The Rabbit Hole in the company of his girlfriend, Lacey. The captain can barely believe his eyes, and is horrified at the notion that his vengeance wasn't triumphant. Tamara takes the monocle back and tells him that he's alive. They move his chair back again and Greg rubs it in Hook's face that Rumple beat him. He then goes on to say that the Dark One has powerful magic; he's untouchable, and Hook will never get another chance to take him down. Hook replies that he will indeed. "Not unless," Tamara says, "we help you." Hook asks how they can help, and she tells him that they know how to kill magical creatures. Hook lets this sink in and asks what their price is, to which Greg responds that he needs the pirate to help him find someone: his father, who was taken in that town, a long time before. Hook wonders why Greg thinks he'd be able to help him with that, to which Greg promptly responds that Hook knows the woman that took him, Regina. Greg then holds up the pirate's hook before him, and asks if they have a deal. Hook ponders about it.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Nighttime back in the fairy tale land that was. Queen Regina and her legion of knights make their way to a village, hoping to find Snow White. The dark knights, riding on their steeds, bring with them lit torches, and the Queen, dressed in an exquisite magenta outfit, hosts an evil smirk on her face. Some knights descend from their rides and make their way to a cabin, apparently having come to be in the wiser regarding Snow's whereabouts, and the Queen steps down from her horse as well and follows after them. One knight bursts through the door, and another one follows him in to take a look around. The Queen enters the cabin and is told by Berkley, the knight who forced his entrance, that the place is empty. She retorts that she can see that, with spite, and recounts that Snow White was hiding there, but she's gone, so someone must have tipped her off and thus she ran. She leaves, being followed by her two knights, and orders her minions to pan out and bring her the villagers.
All hail the Queen.
Shortly afterwards, the knights have made it so that the entire village's frightened population has been gathered in front of the Queen, with the cabin once inhabited by Snow White behind them. The regal beauty then starts up her speech, telling the villagers that Snow White has betrayed them, having poisoned her own father - whom Regina then refers to as her 'dear husband' - so she could try to ascend to the throne herself. Regina then tells them Snow now stalks the outer villages, being a bandit, a murderer, and a traitor. She then tells the people, with a grin, that information leading to Snow's capture will be richly rewarded. Nobody speaks up. "No one?" Regina asks, with relative surprise. Her grin has vanished, and she moves closer towards the villagers and wonders if none of them wants gold. "No?! You're telling me she lived there and not one of you saw her!", says the exasperated Queen. She turns back towards her knights and Rivers inquires his majesty as to what they should do now, to which she promptly replies, "Kill them all. No mercy. Find me Snow White."
David and Mary Margaret on a hot date.
Nighttime in Storybrooke, nowadays. An elderly fisherman is seen tending to his naval chores as David Nolan and Mary Margaret Blanchard are seen sitting on a bench in the docks, drinking coffee under the drizzle, their laps covered by a blanket. The two are discussing their plans to leave Storybrooke to go back to the Enchanted Forest, and the princess asks her prince if they are really going to leave Regina behind when they do that. David tells his wife that Regina is too dangerous to bring with them, so they have to leave her. Mary Margaret states that Henry won't like it, because Regina is his mother, despite all the horrors. He insists that those horrors will continue, and then asks if she wants to give Regina another chance, because every time they do... "She slips, I know," Mary Margaret says, before asking what they do. David suggests that, instead of a second chance, they give her a choice: come back and live out her days in Rumple's cell, or stay there. The fisherman steers away from them, and morphs back into Regina Mills, who had put herself under a transformation spell. "Jail cell?" she says, "I don't think so..."
Long time no see.
"Rumplestiltskin," Queen Regina calls out to her foe/confidant as she enters one of her resting chambers in her Dark Palace, in the Enchanted Forest of yester days. The Dark One is suddenly seen sitting on her bed, commenting that Regina's taken to power quite well, and that it gives her cheeks a nice rosy color. She walks towards him, claiming not to understand the villagers, for she offered them a fortune and still they protect Snow White. He asks why they are loyal to Snow and not to her, if she is their Queen, and he gets up and reminds her that she did just slaughter an entire village, which is maybe why she is called the "Evil Queen". She responds that she is not 'evil', and that they call her that because of Snow, who is truly the evil one. "They're her people, dearie," he says, as he walks around the chamber, "You're gonna have to be content with their fear. They'll never love you." Regina tells him that they will, when Snow is dead, they will see her kindness. Rumple jokingly says that that will be perfectly clear through the charred remains of the peasants' homes. Regina, hopelessly delusional, says that in time it will be, Snow's death will allow it. Rumple sits down and tinkers with her belongings, as she goes on to say that she just has to find her nemesis, and apparently has to do it herself. He points out, sarcastically, that, in that outfit, finding Snow should be easy, which gives Regina an idea. She promptly asks the Dark One to teach her her mother's shapeshifting spell, in order to allow her to hide. Rumple tells her that it took her mother months to learn that, and quips that perhaps in a week Regina will be able to change a hair - he then jokingly suggests "highlights". Regina is frustrated, but not beat. She tells him that, if she can't do the spell, he can, and asks that he put it on her. He gets up as he tells her that, if he does, she won't control it, and she won't have any magic while the spell is working. Regina states that she doesn't need magic, as long as she can get close enough to snap Snow's neck with her bare hands.
"About as regal as a potato."
"I can see you're determined," Rumple says, to which Regina smiles, wickedly, and he then tells her that, once the deed is done, she is to call upon him, for only he can return her to her regal self. Before he can cast his spell, however, she stops him, to ask what the price is. He tells her that it's a boring matter of state: he needs her to cut off all trade with King George's realm. She asks why, to which he responds, "I need him bankrupt, what's it to you?!" She agrees to this, and urges him to just do it, for time is of the essence. He twirls his finger and envelops her in a cloud of blue smoke. The smoke dissipates quickly and Regina is shown looking haggard, but claiming not to feel any different. She notices the less-than-prim outfit she is now donning and comments that those ghastly rags are all that's different. However, whereas we all see the Regina we're accustomed to, Rumple tells her that 'this' is what the world will see. They walk in front of her mirror and she can now see that she looks entirely different, having taken the form of a young peasant woman. Delighted, Regina exclaims that she looks "about as regal as a potato". Rumple tells her to be careful, because a queen strutting amongst peasants might not like what she hears. Regina puts her shawl around her head and neck and tells him it won't matter; when she is done, they'll be singing her praises over Snow's smoldering villainous remains.
Regina has something to share with Henry.
Back in Storybrooke, Mayor Mills approaches the front patio of the Charming family's apartment building and spots Henry, backpack in tow, putting feed in a bird feeder. She greets him, and he asks her what she is doing there, to which she replies that she missed him and she wanted to show him something. She removes a small plastic casing from her coat pocket and shows him the bean pod inside, telling him that Emma, Mary Margaret and David have been keeping this from him. She says that they've been growing magic beans in secret, and they want to take him to the Enchanted Forest without her. Henry tells her that maybe they're all going and they just haven't told her yet. Regina denies this, telling him that they won't let her help, because they don't see the good in her, the good he's seen; they only see the 'Evil Queen' - which, she adds, they made her. "And I don't wanna be that anymore," she tells him, face to face. She then goes on to say that the beans are her chance to go back and start over, for her to be the hero. "And you'd like that, right?" Henry says that he'd love it, and Regina then starts to explain to him how it will work: there's a fail-safe built into the curse, a trigger. "Like, a self-destruct button? Like you never did it?" Henry wonders. Regina confirms this, and comments that it's the next best thing to turning back time. Henry tells her that that's amazing, and asks what happens to Storybrooke. Regina tells him that it disappears, forever. He tells her there's no need to worry, because they can get away first, back to the Enchanted Forest, using this. He asks about everyone else, and she says that they die. Henry is horrified. She tells him that she doesn't have any other choice, as long as there are other people in their lives, he can never fully be hers. "You loved me once. With them gone, you'll love me again, and you can see me for what I truly am: a hero." "Not if you kill everyone," he tells her, "You're a villain!" Regina is hurt, and fires back that they're the ones that have been keeping them apart, they're the villains. Henry asks how he could ever love anybody who would do such horrible things, and then wonders why she would even tell him this. Regina, rather sadly, tells him that she doesn't have anyone else to talk to. Henry tells her that he's gonna stop him, and she removes her spell book from her purse and tells him that everything she just said will come to pass. He promptly denies this, asking why he'd ever let her do any of this, to which she says, "Because you won't remember a thing." This said, she moves her hand in front of his face and he is struck with a memory-erasing spell. She then puts away her book, and Henry recovers from his daze, reliving his confusion over seeing his foster mother there with him. He asks her what she's doing there, and Regina smiles and tells him that she just came to say 'hello'. She says she's missed him, and he smiles. She then suggests that he show her the bird feeder, which she claims is sure to make the birds very happy. Henry does just this, and Regina keeps up the charade, never forgetting her true intentions.
Shot through the heart, and you're to blame.
Back in the Enchanted Forest that was, Queen Regina is seen fitting in with the peasants in a common village, walking amidst them through a fair, with no one recognizing her disguised self. She approaches an attraction, wherein a carny is seen juggling, and she notices the effigy of the Queen - herself - behind him, with a heart-shaped fabric ornament on her chest. She points out that it's the Queen, to which the man corrects that it's the Evil Queen, as he urges people to step right up and sink an arrow in her heart. A peasant boy prepares to try his luck, and Regina tells them that's not right. The carny says that the game is fixed, actually, you can't hit the Queen in the heart... because she ain't got one. The villagers around the attraction laugh, and the boy shouts, "Kill the Evil Queen!", being met with loud excitement. Regina is horrified. The boy then lunges his arrow straight into the effigy's heart, and the crowd is pleased. She asks him how he could do that, for Regina is their Queen, and the boy tells her that Snow White should be their queen. Regina tells the people that Snow White is a bandit, a murderer and a menace, to which everyone nods their heads in denial of this. "Lies!" the carny tells her, adding that the Queen is evil, to which Regina says that he doesn't know her. The boy tells her that he can thank his lucky stars for that, and then urges the crowd to burn the effigy, and their excitement continues. He grabs a flaming torch, but Regina stands between him and the effigy, telling everyone that this is treason, and she won't stand for it. She takes the torch from his hand and waves it at the crowd, and then the people disperse as they witness the arrival of Rivers and Berkley, two of the Queen's dark knights. The carny leaves his own attraction, and the knights rush to it. There, Regina tells her soldiers that it's about time, and asks where they have been. Berkley asks her if she did this, which the disguised Regina denies, claiming that she was trying to stop it, as she puts the torch out. Berkley turns to his partner and asks him if that's what it looks like to him, to which Rivers says that it looks to him like some 'dirty slag' was defacing an effigy of their Queen. He then jokes that it does look just like her though, and they both scoff. Regina, offended, removes an arrow from the effigy and says, "How dare you? I will have your head for that, Rivers!" He takes the arrow from her right away, and Berkley comments that she knows his name. He then asks her how she dares to address a knight of the Queen's guard in such fashion, and Regina tells him that she knows their names - then referring to them as 'idiots' - because she is the Queen. The knights, assuredly, aren't convinced, and move up towards her. Regina, as a natural instinct, prepares to ward them off with a spell, but is suddenly forced to be reminded that she is no longer in control of magic. The knights laugh and Berkley overpowers her, walking her off of the attraction and through the fair, as she commands that he let go of her.
An indecent proposal.
Regina is seen admiring the development of the magic beans she has stored in an incubator in her office, and she is then distracted by the sound of footsteps approaching. She walks towards the center of the office, hoping to swerve the attention from whomever is coming away from the beans, and is surprised to find that her visitor is none other than Captain Hook. He lets himself in, and she tells him that he looks like he's had a rough time. He comments that he has indeed, and states that he's come to ask her for her protection. Her eyes stray to the incubator momentarily, but Hook walks past it without even glancing at it. She asks if he means to be protected from Gold, and says that she's surprised he'd show his face in Storybrooke, once he noticed his murder didn't take. Hook tells her they have bigger problems: Greg Mendell, the man who hit him the night he shot Belle, is in league with some woman, who abducted him in New York and dragged him back to Mendell. He tells her that they want him to make an alliance with her, and then betray her, which is why they let him go. He then suggests that they make an alliance instead, and skip the unpleasant betrayal business. Regina asks why she should trust him, and he tells her that he took up with her mother for a reason, and suggests that perhaps the three of them could re-establish their alliance. Regina breaks the news to him that her mother died, and Hook, apparently surprised, tells her that this is sad news, and gives her his regards, claiming that Cora will be missed. He then goes on to say that he knew her mother well enough to know that what she wanted most in the world was to see her win. He failed in his revenge, and the best tribute he can give Cora is to help Regina with hers. Regina then decides to show him something. He follows her towards the incubator, and he quickly realizes it's an escape plan. He tells her Cora would have loved that, because she brought the giant over for the beans, so that she could go back and start over with her daughter. Regina explains to him that now she's going to do that with Henry, if Hook will help her. "This is how we're going to escape the total destruction of Storybrooke. If I can trust you." He asks her if, when she says "total destruction", she is including 'the crocodile'. Regina confirms this right away, reassuring him that Rumplestiltskin will die... if he helps her.
Emma helps Tamara gather her stuff.
Over at Granny's Diner, Tamara receives a packed lunch from a waitress, and checks to confirm that there isn't any mayonnaise in it. Emma enters the establishment and notices Neal's fiancée. When Tamara turns around to leave, Emma purposely bumps into her, causing her to drop some of her things to the floor. Emma helps her pick up her stuff, as she engages in chit-chat about how Neal still hates mayo. She notices a printed ticket of hers that lists several Storybrooke residents and their fairytale alter-egos (e.g. Mary Margaret being Snow White, Archie being Jiminy Cricket...), and Tamara comments that mayo is like the plague to Neal. The black woman then retrieves her paper from the blonde, and, as they get up, the sheriff asks her how she's doing in Storybrooke, further commenting that it's a lot to take in, to which Tamara jokingly replies that that's an understatement. The latter then goes on to say that Emma should know better than anyone that it's an adjustment. The blonde confirms this, but adds that she had Henry to get her through it. Tamara responds that Neal is doing the same for her. "Even so," Emma says, "it's pretty crazy here." Tamara simply smiles. The sheriff then asks her if she knows what it would mean for Henry or Neal if the world found out about Storybrooke, and Tamara quickly reassures her that she doesn't have to worry, and that she can trust her. Tamara keeps on smiling, and Emma smiles back, looking rather unconvinced. "That's good to know," she says, through a white, wide smile. They bid farewell to each other, ever so pleasantly, and Tamara walks past Emma, who looks suspicious.
Emma and her paranoia.
"I'm telling you, Tamara is the 'she' August was trying to warn us about," we hear as Emma, now back in her family's apartment, tells her mother that she suspects Tamara of being the person who tried to kill August some time earlier. Mary Margaret, relatively shocked, calls out her name, loudly so, and tries to get her to be quiet. Emma tells her mother not to yell at other, and Mary Margaret reminds her daughter that Henry is upstairs. Snow White then starts to say that she knows this has been hard on Emma, but the latter cuts in, telling her mother that it's not about her, it's about August, who died trying to warn them about someone, a woman. She then recounts that Tamara has a list of people and their fairytale names. She wonders if that doesn't worry her, and Mary Margaret quietly tells her that there could be a million explanations for what she saw. Emma tells her that they don't know anything about Tamara, and insists that she lied when she said she could be trusted. Her mother, who is getting ready to leave, reminds her that her special power has been known to fail at times, especially when she's emotional. Emma insists that she doesn't have feelings for Neal, for what they had happened a decade ago and she's over it, but her mother turns to her and says that while that may be, if she tells Henry that she thinks that his dad's fiancée may be up to something, he's gonna think that there's a chance his parents could get back together. Before she leaves, she requests that her daughter keep her suspicious to herself until she knows something more. Emma is left to think about this, and as soon as the front door is closed, a familiar voice is heard saying, "So, we're back in business?" Henry stands next to Emma, arms crossed, smile in tow, telling his birth mother that he heard everything. Emma says that she thought he was in the shower, to which he replies, "Exactly. 'Operation: Cobra' is back on. We're investigating Tamara, right?" Emma thinks about things for a split second and then merely tells her son to get his coat, ready to spring into action with him, whilst still pensative.
Regina and Hook are now seen inside the local library, heading towards the elevator, and the latter wonders if this is why their task is a two-men job, if she just needs him to lower her. Regina denies this, claiming that it used to be, before magic. With a wave of her arm she gets the elevator up and running, and its sliding doors are opened before them. The two villains get on board, and Regina waves her hand again to get the doors to close.
The Queen is saved by Green Arrow. Or White Snow.
Back in the fairytale land that was, the magically disguised Queen is being escorted to the execution podium by Rivers and Berkley, still trying to convince them that she is the Queen, as she reminds Berkley that she hired him a year before despite his drunkenness, and that she had Rivers flogged the previous spring for lateness. She makes a valid point as she is pushed up the steps that she couldn't possibly know this if she weren't truly the Queen, but the only response she gets is that Rivers isn't liking 'her' any better. Rivers picks up the axe as Berkley tells his partner to cut off her head, and then pushes her head onto the wood stump. A horrified Regina shouts out for Rumplestiltskin, and Rivers is immediately shot in the arm with an arrow. He starts groaning in pain, and Berkley takes out his sword as a masked individual makes their way to the podium and matches his attack. The surprise guest overpowers Rivers as Berkley makes his way around the elevated stage and then sneaks up behind them. He too is defeated and thrown off the stage, and Rivers then swings his sword at the person's feet, but they leap up from the wood stump, and the sword misses them, hitting Regina in the leg, however. She falls from the podium and is aided by townspeople, and the masked individual goes on to ultimately defeat both of the black knights. The person then removes their hood to reveal their identity: Snow White, much to the surprise of everyone in attendance. Regina is helped up by the locals, and then looks at her savior with disdain. She utters her name and then faints.
In the present, Hook and Regina have reached the end of their elevator ride and can now find themselves in the hidden area below the library. They walk out of the elevator and Hook starts to ask her if she ever wonders if this constant pursuit for revenge is the reason they have no one that cares for them. He acknowledges that when all of this is over and he knows for good that the "crocodile" is dead, he will have nothing to look forward to. "My life will be empty," he says, "Revenge may sate your being, but don't misunderstand me, my dear, it's an end. Not a beginning." She tells him that that might be the case for him, but not for her. She has Henry, and destroying Storybrooke seems like a small price to pay to allow them to live in peace. He smiles and then moves his arm in the other direction, as though he's telling her to lead the way, revealing a leather bracelet. She asks him where he got that, since it belonged to her mother. He confirms this, and starts to tell her that Cora enchanted it so that he could climb the beanstalk back in their world, but Regina interrupts him by saying that she doesn't care why her mother gave it to him, it was hers and Regina wants it back. Hook jokes that she's about to blow that town off the map and she's worried about a scrap of cow hide, but Regina counters this by reminding him that Cora was her mother. Hook tells her she was his friend, to which she says, "Hardly." Hook brushes this off and allows her to remove the bracelet from him. She does just this and tells him to follow her closely.
They enter a large, darkened cave, and he comments that it looks precarious, and wonders if she couldn't just hide the trigger in the back of her wardrobe. Regina says it had to be both well-hidden and well-guarded, and so she put it somewhere no one would ever think she'd go. Hook asks who is guarding it, and Regina simply states that it's 'a friend', who's been through a lot. Hook peeks downwards at the cliff before him, Regina goes on to explain that there is a powerful spell there that sustains her friend in whatever form she's in, and she's the reason why this is a two-men job. Hook turns his head around to her and asks what he is there to do exactly, and Regina explains that she'll get the trigger... and he's the distraction. Hook turns to her, confused, and Regina, smiling wickedly, pushes him in the direction of the cliff. Hook falls into the large hole onto the ground below. He tries his best to compose himself after the hard fall, but his presence in the area stirs up a surprising effect. Suddenly, bits and pieces that were scattered on the floor start magically gathering on top of a rock to give new life and new form to the guardian of the trigger, Regina's old friend, the evil Maleficent - a fallen fairy who had previously been defeated in her dragon form by Emma (see "A Land Without Magic"). Hook stands up and looks on with confusion and fright as a statuesque undead creature forms from millions of particles in front of him, shrieking in the process.
Maleficent wants to dance.
Maleficent, still shrieking, descends from her rock, and Hook, still composing himself, appears to recognize her, referring to her by name and commenting, sarcastically, that he loves her in earth tones. The two of them walk around, facing each other, in a rather circular fashion, and then Hook makes a dash for some rocks, leaping from one rock to a larger one. Down below, Maleficent doesn't lose track of him, and eventually lunges herself at him. Hook jumps to the floor below in the meantime, passing by her side and slashing her with his hook. She lands on her feet on the rock, and he gets up from the ground almost immediately. She turns back to him, shrieks again and throws herself at him, but falls short of landing on him and he slashes her with his hook again. She falls to the ground and is enveloped in a cloud of magic, as more particles from her former being attach to her body and she grows bigger in size. The now enormous undead beast stands up before the pirate and hits him with her hand, throwing him across the area, hitting some rocks, and falling to the floor. She stands majestic and shrieks, while Hook tries his best to get his act together, despite the fear in his eyes.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.
Up above them, on the elevated area from which she pushed Hook, Regina appears to be delighted by the shrieking sounds she hears, proof that her friend is still active and doing exactly what the Mayor believed she'd do. The Queen then finally reaches her destination: the glass coffin on which Snow White was, long ago, laid to rest, after falling victim to the effects of the sleeping curse. Regina breaks through the glass in a certain spot, using her clenched fist, and removes a loose piece of wood inside the coffin to retrieve a scrip. She opens it and removes the object she was seeking, the diamond-shaped trigger that reverts the Dark Curse, destroying Storybrooke...
Nurse Nightingale to the rescue.
We are treated to the sight of an improvised hut in the woods, back in the Enchanted Forest that was. Inside, Snow White is tending to an injured and unconscious Regina - still under the effects of Rumplestiltskin's spell, and thus unrecognizable. Snow places a wet rag over the victim's forehead, and Regina is startled. Snow tells her not to move, to lie still, for she has a fever, brought on by the dirty blade she was slashed with. Regina recognizes her, and Snow asks for her name. Regina thinks about it and meekly says "Wilma", and adds that her family works in the mills. Snow tells her it's nice to meet her, and adds that she is going to live. The disguised woman, unable to properly recompose herself, asks how long it'll be until she can get up, and Snow answers that it'll be two days, but they picked a good place for her to rest in though, for there is fresh water and good herbs, and some not-bad hunting if one doesn't mind killing the royal livestock, which she doesn't. "You don't know how to do that," Regina says, which stumps Snow, but "Wilma" explains that what she means is, she's a princess. "Someone from another forest taught me," Snow says, mixing herbs, "It's a long story." Regina recalls that people are hunting Snow down and that it's dangerous for her to be there, so she wonders why the princess is helping a perfect stranger. Snow tells her that she's going to bathe her wound but it's going to hurt, so she should just listen to her, for it's easier if she's distracted. Snow lifts up a part of Regina's raggedy skirt and, as she prepares to tend to her wound, recounts the story of how she was once saved by a woman who was a perfect stranger, after the horse Snow rode on ran away with her (see "The Stable Boy"). She goes on to say that the fact that that woman risked her own life to save her changed her. "My mother always told me to keep goodness in my heart, and this woman proved that she was right." Snow asks "Wilma" if she's okay, to which she nods affirmatively, saying that she's listening. Snow adds that she learned from that woman that there can be a genuine, selfless connection between two people, even strangers. Regina is moved by the story. Snow finishes what she's doing and puts the skirt back down, covering the woman's wound. Regina then asks what happened to the stranger. "She's gone," Snow says, as she hands her some water, "Oh, but I hope she comes back someday." She leaves to go hunting, and Regina smiles, moved.
Worst. Stakeout. Ever.
In present-day Storybrooke, Henry and Emma are located in the latter's yellow buggy, parked outside, across and down the street from Granny's Diner, on the lookout for Neal and Tamara. Henry recounts that "Operation Cobra" was about breaking the curse, but this new operation is about keeping the town a secret so they need a new name. Emma suggests "Operation Tiger", and Henry asks "why", to which she says, "I need a 'why'? You never need a 'why'!" Henry says that he wants something like the town, something that hides in plain sight, like "praying mantis". Emma considers this and they then are forced to duck and cover once someone leaves the diner, setting off the door's bell. Emma notices that it's not them, and they get comfortable again. Henry comments that stakeouts are fun, to which Emma, whilst eating a treat, responds that they usually aren't. "But this one? Yeah, kinda," she says, amusing her son. Henry starts saying that he thought that by this time they'd be over at the Enchanted Forest, having adventures: riding horses, shooting arrows... He says that this is cool too, and Emma, clearly on the verge of telling him everything she knows, starts to ask him if he'd like that, if there was a way to go back there, but the perceptive young man picks up on her vibe and asks if there is a way. Emma tells him not to be crazy, but Henry can read her like a book and realizes that there is a way back, like a bean or something, which the giant must've brought. Emma caves in, saying that he's a smart kid, and Henry comments that that's awesome. He then says that they should get a castle, him, her and Neal. Emma tries to stop him cold on his track, trying to explain to him that that's not gonna happen, but Henry tells her to duck, and they immediately do. They see Neal and Tamara leaving the diner, and Henry tells his birth mother that "Operation Praying Mantis" is on.
Worst. Parenting. Ever.
Soon enough, Emma and Henry are over at Granny's Bed & Breakfast, where the former is trying to break into Neal and Tamara's room by forcing the lock open. She says that she's almost done, and Henry theorizes that, once they find proof that Tamara is evil, her wedding with Neal will be off. Emma reassures Henry that she and Neal will not be getting back together, but the young man comments that it could happen if he's single again. Emma tells him that she is hunting Tamara for other reasons, not because she is with Neal. She urges him to go and be on the lookout, and Emma is able to finally open the door. She starts to enter the room, and Henry follows her in, but she stops him, reminding him that he has to be the lookout. Henry wonders if he should whistle, and Emma tells him that that's too obvious, he's gotta hit the door. She goes on to exemplify the ways he could hit the door, and Henry says he's got it. Emma enters the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Just shut up, Emma...
Inside the bedroom, Emma starts snooping around. She inspects the closet, feeling up the hung clothes. Meanwhile, outside the bedroom, Henry remains on the lookout. Emma looks around inside the closet, and then moves toward the bed. As she does so, her foot is positioned over a creaky floorboard, which catches her attention. Outside, Henry entertains himself by walking in a straight line. Emma grows suspicious of the creaky floorboard and crouches down to examine it. Outside of the bedroom, Henry hears footsteps and is caught off-guard. He immediately rushes to hit the door, trying to look as natural as possible, while his father shows up and looks surprised to see him. Henry looks dumbstruck and keeps hitting the door, and Neal, realizing what is going on, says, "Aw, hell no, I taught her that. Emma!" Inside, Emma gets up, nervous, and Neal and Henry come in. Emma starts saying that he wasn't there and the door was open, so... Neal asks her what this is about, and Emma tells him that she thinks Tamara is playing him. Neal asks how, and Emma explains that she thinks Tamara is the "she" that August was trying to warn them about, and she didn't wanna tell him until she had proof. Neal says, ironically, that as long as she broke into his room to spare his feelings... He interrupts himself by asking her if she's out of her mind. Emma reminds him that August warned them about a woman, and Neal responds that that covers half of the world. He calls her out for bringing the kid into this, and Emma adds that Tamara lied to her, reminding him that she had that "thing" with lies. Neal takes the opportunity to tell her that he never believed that, and Emma says that he did. Henry looks awkward. Emma tells her ex that Tamara has a list of fairytale characters and who they are, and whoever she's gonna give it to could blow the town wide open. Neal tells Emma that he helped Tamara make that list, to help her come to grips with this place, because it's not easy, but Tamara is trying to deal with it, for him. Emma acknowledges that she knows what this looks like, but it isn't that: "Do I look like a jealous ex?" Neal smirks, and Emma says that maybe she is crazy, so they should find out. She brings up the loose floorboard, and tells them to look under it, and if there's nothing to see, she'll back off. Neal agrees to this, rather nonchalantly, and Emma moves back to the site of the floorboard. She tries to get it out and is unable to, and ironically asks Neal for a little help. He crouches down and removes it, but there is nothing even remotely remarkable under it, just the pipes. Emma is frustrated. Neal starts to tell her that he knows it's a little awkward for Tamara to be there, but Emma stops him from talking further. She puts the board back in its place and tells her son, "Henry, let's go." Henry squeezes his father's shoulder and the mother and son leave.
Morning has broken, like the first morning.
Outside of the hut where Snow White set up camp to nurse "Wilma" in, the fair princess/bandit pours water over the bonfire to put it out, and the disguised Regina wakes up from her sleep. It's morning time. "Morning already?" the Queen asks, as she sits up, to which Snow responds that they have one every day. The princess then comments that Regina looks better, so she probably must have slept off the last of what was ailing her. Regina notices that the bonfire has been put out and comments that Snow doesn't take a lot of time to move on, as she gets up from her resting place. Snow explains that there are noises in the woods, probably from patrolling men, and it is therefore risky to stay. She hands "Wilma" a sword for protection, and the woman receives it with confusion. Snow tells her it's just in case, for the Queen's soldiers are ruthless. As she leaves, she tells her protege to stay behind her. Regina admires her sheathed sword and leaves the hut, following after her companion.
The two outlaws.
Some time later, the two are trekking through the woods of the Enchanted Forest. Snow is busy looking out for anything that might be of danger to them, and Regina starts to unsheathe her sword, but then puts it back in its place. She then starts up conversation by bringing up the rumor that the Queen sent her Huntsman to tear out Snow's heart. The princess confirms this, and Regina comments that that's horrible. Snow helps her overcome a fallen log, as the latter brings up a hypothetical situation: if Snow had the Queen in front of her at that moment, would she kill her for that? Snow is relatively caught off-guard by this question, and takes her time to think about it, and ultimately starts saying that Regina wants to hurt people, which in Snow's theory is because she's in constant pain and is always trying to figure out whom to blame for it. "We lived in the same household and still she could never see that I was on her side." Regina is somewhat surprised by this. Snow adds that Regina wanted revenge more than she wanted love, and she can't imagine living that way: she wants to be guided by love. "So no. I wouldn't kill her." They start to make their way to the previously seen village, and "Wilma" comments that no one's that generous, people aren't that good. Snow believes that they are, even Regina - she's just afraid to look vulnerable. Regina, hopeful, asks her if she believes there's good inside the Queen, and Snow confirms that she knows there is, she's seen it. Snow wishes Regina could give herself the chance to be that person again, and the disguised Regina asks her if she doesn't think it's too late for her. Snow says she doesn't think it's too late for anyone, and Regina stops, causing the princess to stop as well, and brings up the hypothesis that, should the Queen want to change and be a family again, would Snow forgive her and let her back in? Snow responds that, if she meant it, then yes, she would love that. Regina is moved. Snow, however, turns around and jokingly says that she'd like a featherbed too, but that's not going to happen, so there's no use thinking about it, she wouldn't offer. "Wilma" tells her that sometimes people can surprise you, but Snow's attention is caught by something else... Regina looks in the same direction, at the corpses of the villagers left behind by the Queen's guards.
The lying dead.
The people that protected Snow and her whereabouts are all dead. Snow is horrified. Regina, with surprise on her face as well, says, "They've gone further than I thought..." The agonized Snow realizes that those people are dead because they helped her, and Regina tries to comfort her by saying that she didn't do this. Snow acknowledges this, and says "She did it... I take it back. It is too late for her. I could never forgive her... There is no good in that woman! None! I was wrong. There never was." Regina is deeply affected by this. She desperately brings up the time when the Queen rescued Snow from the horse, hoping to fall on her good grace again, but the confused princess asks her what she is talking about. Regina reminds her of the story, of how she was saved... and Snow tells her that she never said the woman who saved her was the Queen. "Wilma" says, "I read between the lines...", and the suspicious Snow, with a cold stare on her face, immediately proceeds to retrieve an arrow from her back and points it at the woman beside her, using her bow, and saying, "It was you... Regina, your dark magic is hiding you somehow but it is you." Regina, resuming her regular state of coldness, confirms that it is her, and mockingly reminds Snow that there is good in her. Snow tells her that if this is her idea of "good", then she wants no part of it. In order to defend herself, the scorned Regina makes a swirling motion with her right arm, preparing to conjure up magic, but is unable to. Suddenly reminded of her inability to tackle the magic arts, she considers using the sword to her advantage, but quickly realizes she is no match for the skilled warrior in front of her. She then calls out for Rumplestiltskin, and Snow is somewhat intimidated, but no one appears. Regina lets go of the sword, slowly, smirks, and makes a run for it. Snow lets her guard down and sighs, moderating her stress levels.
Hook introduces his new allies, Vanilla and Chocolate.
Back in the Storybrooke Public Library, Regina comes out of the elevator, after getting out of the dungeon below, bringing with her the trigger diamond, and is shocked to find Hook standing in front of her, waiting. She looks at him with confusion, and he mockingly tells her, "Startling, aren't I? Some people say... striking." He smiles with snide, and Regina brings up that he couldn't have survived that. Hook tells her that she should know by now that the one thing he excels at is surviving. He starts walking up to her, and tells her that the amazing thing is, she almost had him, with the story of having a fresh, clean start, killing them and moving on, kind of touched him. "For a moment there, I felt we had a real connection. And honestly... I almost put a stop to my plan." Regina asks, "Your plan?", and he says, "Well, their plan, but I fancied it." He recounts that they did save him from whatever Maleficent is, and then they make themselves appear: Greg and Tamara. Hook asks Regina if she knows them, and explains that they have a way with magic... better yet, a way against magic. Greg looks at the Mayor with snark on his face, and she, having had enough, tries to conjure up magic to defend herself against them, but is unable to. She is confused, and Greg tells her that that's not gonna work. "Not anymore." Regina looks somewhat frightened...
Emma and Henry are both seen scooping at the same bowl of ice cream, back in their apartment, over the kitchen counter. They're not talking for a while, just thinking, but then Henry starts to tell his mother that he believes her about Tamara. Emma simply tells him that he should, because she's right. Henry then says, enthusiastically, that when she proves it, they can all go back to the Enchanted Forest. Emma doesn't respond, she just keeps eating away at the ice cream, not really knowing what to say.
Beans, beans, good for the heart.
David's truck stops by the site where the bean plantation is, and then he, Mary Margaret and Leroy come out. David starts to tell the dwarf that when they get back to the Enchanted Forest, they are going to need his help restoring the palace. Snow tells him that it is in pretty bad shape, and Leroy asks if she means cosmetic, or a total tear-down. "Burn-down," the princess tells him. The three of them enter the plantation area, coming in through the protective spell, and are shocked to find that the plants have been destroyed. Mary Margaret asks what happened there, and David points out that the beans are gone. He runs through the plants, feeling them in his hands, and Leroy, with an angry look on his face, turns to Mary Margaret and says, "Nobody steals from a dwarf." The princess wonders who would do this.
In the fairytale land that was, Regina, still in disguise as the ragged woman, opens the front doors to Rumplestiltskin's palace and barges in, infuriated. The Dark One stands leaning against a round table in the center of his entrance hall, and Regina walks towards him, asking why he didn't come when she called him. Rumple mocks her by asking if he knows her, and by adding that he already as a maid, a promising girl. Regina tells him that he knows who she is, and reminds him that he was supposed to come and change her back. He reminds her that he told her she could call, but he didn't say he would answer. Regina is further aggravated and shakes her clothes in a fit. She walks past him and he shakes the air, asking if the peasants don't know soap. She asks that he shake the spell off her, and proceeds to remove a cloth from a mirror nearby. She says that she wants to get her magic back and get back into her castle. Rumple stands behind her and puts one hand over her shoulder. In the mirror, we see him and the disguised version of Regina. He reminds her that he said it wouldn't be pleasant, and she concedes, telling him he was right. He says he likes that, but asks what he was right about. With sadness in her eyes, Regina says, "They'll never love me..." "So sad," Rumple says, "And yet, so true." He smiles and steps back, asking her what she's going to do now. She walks closer towards the mirror and says, "Punish them." Rumple sneers with joy, and moves his hand, enveloping her in a cloud of blue smoke that, once it dissipates, reveals Regina having reverted back to her old self, regal as ever. She looks at herself in the mirror and says, "The Queen is dead. Long live... the Evil Queen."
Has the Queen been beaten?...
Back in present-day Storybrooke, Mayor Mills makes a realization: her powers have been disabled by the cuff that Hook gave her. He reminds her that she was actually rather insistent that he give it to her. Greg and Tamara exchange looks, amused, and Regina walks up to Hook, acknowledging that he knew she'd want it. Hook confirms this, and explains that the couple behind him rigged it with something that blocks magic, which he deems to be impressive. Regina, as she removes and pockets her handgloves, turns her attention to "Owen", who apparently now does magic of his own as well. Greg comes up to her and explains that this isn't magic, rather something much better: science. Regina tries to remove her bracelet, and he tells her that she can stop doing it because it's not going to work - she might be able to remove the leather, but inside are the toughest metals and machinery known to men, and they are counteracting every magic bone in her body. Regina looks beaten. Tamara takes out her list of fairytale characters and their respective new egos from her coat's pocket, and asks Greg which one Regina was. Greg tells his lover that Regina was the Queen - the "Evil" Queen. "Yes, I was," Regina says, with spite, "the Queen..." "But now, here," Greg starts to say, "You're nothing." Regina asks him what he is then, with contempt, to which Greg responds that he's just a man on a mission. Regina thinks that all of this is just so that he may find his father, and reminds him that she already told him she doesn't know where he is. "Yes, you do!" Greg tells her, before adding that his mission isn't that... Regina, confused, asks what it is. He smirks, and answers, "I'm not telling you." Tamara retrieves something else from her pocket, and Greg says, "Bag her!" This said, Tamara puts a bag over Regina's head.
- The title card of this episode features Regina's palace.
- Although credited, Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood) is absent from this episode.
The outing saw a slight decrease in the ratings, placing 2.0/6 among 18-49s with 7.16 million viewers tuning in, making it the lowest rated episode of the series to date with adults 18-49.
The episode received mixed reviews from critics.
- Hilary Busis from Entertainment Weekly gave it positive remarks: "How do you solve a problem like Regina? Don't get me wrong: Lana Parrilla certainly brings her A-game to Once week after week, and layered anti-heroes are certainly more interesting than one-dimensional, purely eeeevil villains. Plus, anyone who presumably has an entire closet filled with tiny hats will always be capable (and worthy) of our attention. But even though Once's writers have tried to cast Regina in a more sympathetic light this season, it has been and continues to be mighty difficult to empathize with a character who takes several leaps backwards every time she takes a single, halting step toward redemption -- no matter how much of a witch her mother was."
- Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club gave a very negative review, giving the episode a D+ and stating: "It’s been a while since Once Upon A Time had an episode quite as bad as this one, which combines a gross abuse of magic with far-fetched plot developments and incredibly repetitive storytelling. Dear god, how many variations of Regina hunting down Snow White are we going to see on this show?"
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.