Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 9 review: Queen Of Hearts

Review Kylie Peters 3 Dec 2012 - 07:51

Once Upon A Time draws to a satisfying mid-season finale that wraps things up nicely...

This review contains spoilers.

2.9 Queen of Hearts

Three plotlines converge in the action-packed conclusion to the most recent arc of OUaT. We’ve got swordfights. We’ve got gushy love stuff. We’ve got Evil Regina and her very large hair. After a host of changes introduced in season two, this week the show is swinging back: back to Emma in her role as the saviour, to Snow and Charming’s incessant romancing, to Regina and Henry’s mother/son relationship troubles. It wasn’t until now that I realized how much I missed the old OUaT

Love is back at the centre of the story here, and when it works it really works, but when it doesn’t it really doesn’t. Snow kissing Charming with all the dwarves creepily watching does not work. Regina’s sappy nonsensical monologue about killing her mum because love is weakness does not work. Emma stopping Cora from taking her heart with the magical power of love definitely does not work. 

On the other hand, there’s some real depth to some of these relationships if you can look past the cheesy one-liners and the wonky logic. It turns out that the root of a lot of Cora’s psychosis is that she wants Regina to need her. That’s love twisted into something selfish.  

This nicely parallels Regina’s relationship with Henry. She is prepared to prevent Emma from returning home because she wants Henry to need her. In a fabulous ending, Regina’s unselfishness comes back to bite her when Henry goes off to dinner with Emma and friends, leaving Regina alone. It’s moments like that, when the show acknowledges that love is hard, that shine far more brightly than the Snow and Charming happily-ever-after stuff. 

Speaking of which, am I the only one who thinks Aurora and Mulan should forget about Philip and get their own happily ever after on? There’s some serious chemistry there. 

On the flip side, we’ve got some great evil-doer action in this episode. Cora as the Queen of Hearts was a perfect choice.  Hook is super pissed at Emma for ditching him in the giant’s castle, and his piratey charm all but disappears as he confronts her for her betrayal. Rumple, who seemed to be leaning marginally toward the good side lately, goes into full-frontal bad guy mode with a scheme that could potentially kill Snow and Emma (where’s Belle during all this?). 

Regina outdoes them all, though, with her familiar Evil Queen past self and her morally troubled present self. Her turnaround to good last week wasn’t at all believable, so it was good to see her duelling with the dark side again. It will be interesting to see if Regina’s feeling of abandonment at the end of the episode forestalls future good deeds. Judging by the preview, she’s back to scrapping with Emma over Henry after the hiatus. 

One new element in this episode is Emma’s struggle with the idea that she is a pawn to Rumple. In the end he says that she did everything herself because she is a product of true love, but that argument isn’t particularly convincing. Doesn’t that just mean she’s a pawn to true love? And how the heck could Rumple know that in twenty-eight years Emma was going to get transported to the Enchanted Forest and trapped in his cell with Snow who would happen to know how to use his magic stalker note to open the bars? Something’s fishy there, and it’s not the squid ink. 

This episode wraps things up so nicely that it could be a season finale instead of a mid-season one, up until the very last minute when we see Cora and Hook approaching Storybrooke on a ship. With that and strong suggestions from the preview that Regina will make a grand return to evilness in the future, there’s plenty of conflict to go around. Plus, it sounds like we’ll finally find out what happened to Bae! 

Once Upon a Time returns on January 6th. Happy holidays, and see you then!  

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, Into The Deep, here.

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