After a long wait, we finally get to see what happened next after the Enchanted Forest flashback in ‘Heart of Darkness.’ Snow While, accompanied by the seven dwarfs, Red, Granny, and the entire legion of fairies, is preparing to storm King George’s castle in order to rescue Prince Charming. (I can’t help but wonder what Snow White would think if she ever found out that, if it hadn’t been for Regina stepping in in the nick of time, Charming would have been executed before she even began her attempt to rescue him from King George. You think Charming ever told her that little detail? Granted Evil Queen Regina only saved Charming in order to use him as leverage in her scheme, but there it is.) This whole rescue attempt is very entertaining to watch. I know I never mentioned it before, so I’ll say it here. I love seeing Snow White being such a strong fighter. SO much better than the animated version of Snow, who never really did anything beyond breaking into song randomly and being the dwarfs’ glorified housekeeper. Sadly, the rescue attempt fails, as Evil Queen Regina had already taken Charming to her castle, leaving a message to Snow White to agree to a cease-fire and meet at the stables where their story had begun. Despite her friends urging her not to go, Snow White agrees to meet with Regina, which leads to the whole scene with the famous Poisoned Apple, in which Evil Queen Regina blackmails Snow into taking a bite of the apple in exchange for Charming’s life being spared. (And we once again are reminded of the fact that Snow and Charming are the epitome of True Love, as Charming is able to sense the moment when Snow bites into the apple and realizes instantly that something bad had happened to her.)
The Storybrooke events within this episode pick up right where the last episode left off. (Well, unless you count that fake-out in the form of Regina’s nightmare.) Emma is fully about to leave Storybrooke with Henry that very night. Thankfully, Henry manages to talk her out of her rash decision, and the two go back. After her return, she is greeted by a rightfully miffed Mary Margret, who reprimands her for even thinking about leaving without at least saying goodbye, particularly after Emma had convinced her not to run away during the whole possible-murder-of-Kathryn arc, and attempting to abduct Henry. One of the best moments in this scene was this little exchange:
Emma: I want what’s best for him.
Mary Margret: And running is what’s best for him? Or, is that what’s best for you?
While this exchange may not seem all that important at the moment, it does foreshadow another exchange that will take place towards the end of season 3. I will touch on that when I get there.
After Mary Margret demands that Emma start thinking about what is best for Henry, and Dr. Harper more or less says the same thing, Emma ends up rethinking the situation, and ultimately decides to enter into a shared custody agreement with Regina, which would involve Emma leaving Storybrooke and allowing Regina to keep Henry, as long as she’d be allowed to come back and visit him occasionally.
While this is going on, Regina is deeply shaken by the above-mentioned nightmare, and even more so when she sees her precious apple tree is starting to die. She ends up going to Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin to try and get his help in preventing Emma from breaking the curse. While Regina’s first instinct is to simply have Emma killed, she knows that Rumpelstiltskin had specifically designed the curse to automatically break if Emma died. However, when Gold refuses to aid Regina, as he wants the curse to be broken for currently undisclosed reasons, she turns to Jefferson/the Mad Hatter, who is apparently still in Storybrooke. Which begs the question of how he just disappeared when he fell out the window back in ‘Hat Trick,’ but I have doubts they’ll ever even attempt to explain that (along with how he maintained his memories of his life in the Enchanted Forest when nearly everyone else has forgotten. They even hint at the fact that he has two sets of memories brought about by the curse, so he was clearly affected by it. So, did he just regain his memories somehow, like with how Graham regained his seconds before his death? If so, what triggered his memories to return? Answers, please!) Anyway, rambling aside, Regina sacrifices her last reserves of magic to infuse Jefferson’s hat with just enough power to allow Jefferson to reach through time and bring back the same Poisoned Apple Evil Queen Regina used on Snow White.
While we’re on the subject, can we talk about how Regina went so far as to sacrifice the ring she’d gotten from Daniel, which she has been carrying all this time? As in, the only thing she has left of the boy she loved, whose death was the very reason why she even wanted to cast the curse to begin with? It’s practically identical to how she willingly sacrificed her own father in order to get her revenge on Snow. Regina is really showing again and again how much you can lose your grasp on what’s really important by putting so much effort into getting back at someone. Much like the original intent of fairy tales, this show is quite good at delivering life lessons without beating us over the head with them.
Anyway, once she gets the apple, Regina bakes it into a turnover, which she gives to Emma when the latter approaches her to get Regina to agree to the shared-custody-of-Henry thing. In spite of Emma’s attempt to make the deal with Regina, she still gives Emma the cursed apple turnover. Before Emma leaves, she calls Henry to the apartment in order to say goodbye. However, Henry is even more determined to get Emma to believe after his last visit with August/Pinocchio, who revealed to him that everything he’d suspected about Storybrooke and the curse was true. Upon seeing the apple turnover Regina had given Emma, Henry eats it in a last-ditch effort to force Emma to accept the truth. At first, nothing seems to happen, but then, Henry falls unconscious (now do you believe, Emma?), setting things up for the final episode of season one. Although, I do have one nitpick about this scene. More specifically, the acting. When Henry is lying on the ground, while Emma does sound distressed, she’s just standing there instead of you know, running over to him. Was she just paralyzed with fear and worry then? Was that the direction they were going for?