The episode began with a flashback to “One Week Ago,” before Kathryn Nolan had gone missing. First we see Regina wallowing in her office while fiddling with an old ring, a prop that will obviously become important later on. In walks in Mr. Gold with a proposition for “her majesty.” Turns out the scheme to kill Kathryn and frame Mary Margaret was all his idea. With this new twist in the plot, the episode shifts to focus on Regina and the origins of her animosity towards Snow White.
The Story in the Fairytale world
Suddenly, the show flashes back to the fairytale world and a younger Regina expertly riding a horse. We soon learn that, though she had a loving and doting father, she learned all of her wickedness from her overbearing and overly critical mother, played by Barbara Hershey. Regina’s mommy dearest claims to only want what is best for her daughter, even if she has to use magic as a punishment her to force obedience.
Of course, an episode of Once Upon a Time would not be complete without a story of doomed love. This week it was Regina and Daniel, her family’s stable boy and her true love. While Regina and Daniel wax poetic over if they should tell her mother about their love, which is “the most powerful magic of all,” they are interrupted by screams. A little girl is stuck on a runaway horse, but Regina saves her life. This girl, of course, is a young Snow White.
Snow’s father arrives to thank Regina for saving his daughter’s life. He then proposes to her, saying that the one thing Snow lacks is a mother. Not to be judgmental, but that is probably the worst way to pick a spouse: You saved my kid’s life so obviously you’d be a great mom, now let’s get married! Though Regina wants to say no, her mother agrees for her.
Back in the stables with Daniel, Regina promptly proposes to him and begs him to run away with her. He gives her the ring we saw at the start of the episode and things seem to be looking up, until they notice Snow watching them from the doorway. They swear the girl to secrecy, emphasizing that she not tell Regina’s mother, and it does not take a genius to know what is coming next.
Regina’s mother has a little talk with Snow, playing on the loss of her mother in order to get information on Regina. Sadly little Snow is completely taken in and reveals Regina’s real intentions in the hopes that it will bring mother and daughter together.
Regina and Daniel are trying to run away when her mother finds them. They claim that their love cannot be stopped and that she has no power over them. Her mother feigns defeat before ripping out Daniel’s heart and crushing it, just as Regina would eventually do to Graham. In her attempt to “save” her daughter, she has left her broken hearted and created something evil.
With Daniel gone, Regina has nothing to do but marry the king. An unknowing Snow admits to having told her mother the truth. Instead of putting the blame where it truly lies, in her mother, Regina focuses all her hatred on the little girl, though she puts on the appearance of a loving stepmother.
The Story in Storybrooke
Mary Margaret’s attorney Mr. Gold advises her to cooperate with the District Attorney by doing an interview before the trial. Emma does not seem to completely trust him, nor do we as the audience know if she should. Of course, in walks Sydney with some flowers and news of Regina “covering her tracks,” reminding us that Emma’s judgment is not always the best. Mary Margaret agrees to work with the DA, who, it turns out, is the King from Storybrooke, James’ father, which does not bode well for her. In fact, he goads her into snapping and admitting to wanting Kathryn gone so that she could be with David. Things are not looking up for Mary Margaret’s case.
Emma is at a loss as to how to help Mary Margaret. Luckily for her, August the writer comes by and gives her a pep talk full of writerly metaphors and the two return to the sight of Kathryn’s supposed murder, the Toll Bridge. There they find shards of a shovel, claiming that if they can find the shovel that buried the heart they can prove Mary Margaret’s innocence. I’ve got to wonder: does anyone in that town understand how law works? Considering the fact that Emma and August break into Regina’s house to find the shovel, I’d say no.
Emma finally learns how to follow rules and returns with a search warrant, only to find that the shovel is gone. Emma is furious, blaming August for telling Regina and calling him a liar. As this happens, Regina visits Mary Margaret in prison once again, just as smug as ever. Mary Margaret is in tears over her confusion, apologizing for whatever she may have done to hurt Regina. It must be scary having no idea why someone hates you, but Regina is too good to let her in on the truth of their past. Instead she stays creepy and cryptic in their conversation. As Mary Margaret is led in handcuffs to her trial, Regina is seen clutching Daniel’s ring and whispering, “We got her, Daniel. We got her.”
As the episode draws to a close, Emma yells at Mr. Gold for his inability to help Mary Margaret. “There’s still time for me to work a little magic,” he claims. In her anger she throws Sydney’s flowers across the room, discovering a bug he planted and realizing that she had put her trust in the wrong person. After she rushes to August to apologize, the two are interrupted by a scream from Ruby. “She’s in the alley!”
Who exactly was in the alley?
Kathryn Nolan, covered in dirt but very much alive.