This week’s Once Upon a Time told three stories, although the Storybrooke tale was relegated to the “C” story (with some charming scenes between David and Henry). The two fairytale stories – past and present – both dealt with what it means to be a mother.
Love is Sacrifice
In the fairytale land that was, we once again saw Snow White and Charming. Snow had been woken from her apple coma by Charming and now the two were plotting a way to retake the kingdom. Unfortunately, King George’s army had found them. After separating from Charming with a promise to meet at his mother’s house, Snow was captured by King George’s new general: Lancelot. After being brought to the castle, Snow was horrified to learn that King George had poisoned her, denying her the ability to ever have a child. He sent her on her way and Lancelot – unhappy with the lengths King George had gone to in order to punish Snow and Charming – pledged to help her. When they arrived at Charming’s mother’s house, they saw a terrible scene: Ruth was bleeding to death after getting hit by a stray arrow while some of King George’s men had attacked Charming.
Fortunately, Charming remembered the lake that had aided him in his quest to help King Midas’ daughter, so the group set out for it right away, hoping that its waters could save Ruth. Unfortunately, they arrived to see the lake barren because Charming had killed its siren. Fortunately, a drop of water remained, but Ruth learned about the curse put on Snow White and wanted her to drink the healing water. For Ruth, dying was a sacrifice she was willing to make as a mother to allow her son to have his own family and be happy, but Snow refused, saying that she didn’t understand Ruth’s sacrifice and wanted her to live instead. Snow and Charming had an impromptu wedding at Ruth’s urging so she could see them married before she died, but with Lancelot’s help, she also got Snow to drink the water. When Snow realized she could now conceive a child, she was thrilled, but it wasn’t until much later that she truly understood Ruth’s sacrifice.
In the present day fairytale world, Mary Margaret awoke to see Emma chatting with Cora and immediately instructed her daughter not to communicate with the witch. They were eventually brought before Lancelot, who recognized Mary Margaret and offered up Mulan and Aurora as travel companions when Snow wanted to travel to her old castle to see if the wardrobe made for Emma could transport them back to Storybrooke. Along the way they encountered some ogres and an assassination attempt by Aurora, who blamed the two Storybrooke women for getting Phillip killed.
At the end of the journey was the ruined castle, but it gave Mary Margaret a chance to look at Emma’s nursery and show her daughter the life she really wanted her to have. It wasn’t until she had to give away Emma that Snow really understood Ruth’s sacrifice. And it wasn’t until today that Emma truly understood her own mother’s sacrifice. After finding the wardrobe, the two women were approached by Lancelot, but Mary Margaret quickly realized that he wasn’t really the knight. As it turns out, Cora had killed him long before and had been posing as him, controlling the land’s survivors and trying to find a way to Storybrooke and her own daughter. To see her again, perhaps? Hardly. It looks like revenge might be on Cora’s mind. Forced to protect her own son from Cora, Emma burned the wardrobe, possibly destroying their only chance to get home. After the women left, determined to find another way home with help from Mulan and Aurora, Cora reappeared and collected the ashes from the wardrobe. It looks like they still have a little magic in them. Enough to get her to Storybrooke and Regina? We’ll have to see!
I’ll admit, I was sad to learn that Lancelot had been killed. His scenes with Snow and Charming in the past were great and he seemed like such a stand-up guy that it’s a pity he’s already dead. It’s my hope that we at least get to see him again in the past. Also, it was amusing to see Emma try to adapt to the fairytale land. “Fish out of water” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Her gun was crushed by a huge ogre and she soon came to realize that many of her skills from back home can’t save her unless she understands this new world and/or listens to her mother. But it was nice to see her at her most vulnerable: tearfully admitting to Mary Margaret that she couldn’t really forgive her parents for giving her away because she never really understood what it was to be put before everyone else. Now, however, she understands, because she sacrificed their way home to protect her own son from Cora. In connection with that, Mary Margaret’s grief over never being able to life the life she wanted with her daughter – and to be able to see her grow up – was heartbreaking. No mater what happens now on Once Upon a Time, those are the years they’ll never get back.
In Storybrooke, David was still searching for a way to find his wife and daughter. Henry suggested he try Jefferson, but David said he already attempted that and there was nothing Jefferson could do to help them. Still, Henry did encourage the Mad Hatter to reunite with his daughter, which he tearfully did at the end of the episode. Regina continued on her path to win back Henry’s affections, even telling David when she realized Henry had snuck into her vault instead of going down there herself. While Henry and David bonding over some play swordfighting, Albert Spencer (King George’s Storybrooke counterpart) looked on. Methinks the king will find another way to punish David for their past.