Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 20: The Evil Queen
Once Upon A Time goes back to its roots with a Regina-focused episode. Here's Kylie's review of The Evil Queen...
This review contains spoilers.
2.20 The Evil Queen
A long string of tangents and incidental plotlines have left Once hurtling unprepared toward its season finale. The Evil Queen brings it back to the season’s roots, and it’s such a big task it takes the whole hour to do it. The result is a low-key episode that draws us back into neglected plotlines in preparation for their future development. On one hand, it’s irritating to again have to go over the old issues about Regina’s redemption, Henry’s love/hate relationship with her, and the complexities of returning to the Enchanted Forest—a rehash necessitated by the fact that these issues have been peripheral or absent for so long, they need to reassert their dominance. On the other hand, it’s a relief to finally be back at the core of the story, with the characters who drew us to the show in the first place.
It’s a Regina-centric episode, and while she is always fun to watch, it’s frustrating that so little ground is covered. As usual, Regina is upset that people don’t trust her, and she retaliates with an evil plan that only serves to reaffirm that she is untrustworthy. This time she wants to reverse the curse, bringing herself and Henry to the Enchanted Forest but killing everyone else in Storybrooke. She tells Henry her plan, which is obviously a bad idea, but the scene plays out with such desperate emotion that her lapse in judgment is not only believable, but telling. It’s a nice look at Regina’s vulnerable side.
After Henry rejects the murder plan and Regina wipes his memory, she swindles the painfully naïve Hook and gets the curse-reversal trigger from a wraith-thing that is apparently Maleficent’s new look. Not sure how that works, but it’s a decent piece of CGI for once, so no complaints here.
In the Enchanted Forest flashbacks, Regina’s good-versus-evil complex puts more of a strain on the imagination. The implausibly kind-hearted Snow tells Regina-in-disguise that she thinks the queen has good in her, and Regina gets all warm and fuzzy about it. But when they come across the corpses of a village of people she ordered killed, Snow rescinds her statement, Regina decides no one will ever love her, and embraces her evil side. Well, duh, lady - you killed a village! It’s hard to sympathize with her loneliness when she so obviously perpetuates it herself and then blames others. Regina is way too smart not to understand the consequences of her actions, so I am inclined to attribute this one to sloppy characterization. Either that or a bad case of denial, though if that’s the case, it means that the viewer is expected to be very good at reading between the lines.
A highlight of this episode is the cute Henry and Emma scenes à la season one. Emma goes back into detective mode on the suspicion that Tamara is not to be trusted, and she and Henry begin Operation Praying Mantis. Emma has frequently fallen to the sidelines in the latter half of this season, so it’s good to see her in action again.
Meanwhile, a one-dimensional Hook does a good deal of double-crossing, but what he lacks in character complexity he makes up for in hot accent and manly stubble. Tamara and Greg are flat throw-in villains, as always.
Regina’s capture by Tamara and Greg at the end is an interesting development, and next week’s promo promises us some “evil versus evil.” More importantly, we’ll get Bae’s story from after he left Enchanted Forest for another world, and a long-awaited look at Neverland.
Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, Lacey, here.
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