Last night’s incredible “Heart of Darkness” exceeded all expectations by beautifully interweaving Fairytale Land’s stories of True Love overcoming heartbreak and darkness with Storybrooke’s saga of Regina’s brutal revenge and David’s bitter betrayal. This episode also draws fascinating parallels as it emphasizes this season’s mantra, “Evil is made, not born” by showing how huge a difference love truly makes.
Fairytale Land: “I would rather die than let you fill your heart with darkness.”
With a nod to last week’s “Red-Handed,” the episode opens with Red wolfing out to protect Prince Charming and give him a head start through the woods while she wards off the king’s men. As PC searches for Snow White, we see how much Rumpy’s anti-love potion has changed her.
Just like a picture out of the storybook, Snow whistles to a sweet little blue bird and then she suddenly tries smashing it with her broom until Grumpy storms in and stops her. He takes her out to the other Dwarfs and they all try to stage an intervention with Jiminy Cricket’s help. Grumpy tells her that she has been “angry, irritable, and down-right mean” ever since she lost her memory; her behavior has been so bad that she even caused Happy to have a fit. She claims, “That potion was the solution” and not the problem, but Jiminy explains that she has been taking her anger out on her friends and it isn’t right. In her bitter state, Snow misinterprets Jiminy’s insights and sets off to kill the Evil Queen, since she is the cause of her pain.
Snow interrogates one of EQ’s knights, planning to sneak into the palace under his disguise, but Grumpy arrives just in time to stop her. He thinks they should go to Rumpy and have him un-break his spell and return her memories. He says the Rump is the most powerful man in the world, “he can do anything.” Meanwhile, Prince Charming comes across the battered knight and begins tracking Snow’s steps in hopes of catching her before she does something she will regret. James still has faith in his forgetful love and believes she cannot be a “bloodthirsty killer;” however, Snow’s interaction with Rumpy proves otherwise.
Rumplestiltskin says there is a hole in Snow’s heart and he cannot restore her memories and feelings for Charming. He explains how there is no potion for True Love because love is the most powerful magic of all and it cannot be bottled, so Snow will settle for the next best thing, a way to kill the Evil Queen. Rumpy gives her a magic bow and arrow that never misses its target and tells Snow to kill EQ while she travels down the Queen’s Highway towards the summer palace. Snow asks what the catch is this time and he simply says, “I’m invested in your future.”
Shortly after Snow leaves, Prince Charming storms Rumpy’s palace looking for a way to break the spell. Rumple says True Love’s Kiss should work and asks for James’ cloak in exchange for his advice. Rumpy also warns him, if Snow kills the Evil Queen, then she too will become as evil as the Queen, once again emphasizing how evil is not born, but made. In another beautiful transition from director Dean White, PC’s cloak transforms into Snow White’s and we see him catch her by surprise in the woods.
James excitedly kisses Snow saying, “I will always find you,” but instead of kissing him back, she knocks him out. She chains him to a tree and is under-whelmed by the sight of her supposed True Love. She reduces love to just a word and now believes that one’s actions are what really matter. She trudges ahead with her vengeance, while PC pleads with her and tries convincing her that she does not want to be a cold-hearted killer.
Jiminy Cricket comes to James’ rescue and shocks him when he can speak; Jiminy explains that Snow has lost sight of who she is and PC has to remind her. As Snow fires her magic arrow at the Evil Queen, James leaps in front of her and takes a shot to the shoulder. He sweetly says, “You appreciate action more than words…I would rather die than let you fill your heart with darkness.” With those words and his selfless gesture, Snow passionately kisses Charming and their True Love is finally restored. Unfortunately, a group of knights capture him, stripping Snow of her love again, but she vows to rescue him, exclaiming, “I will always find you!”
Snow White returns to the Seven Dwarfs and apologizes for her unbearable behavior; thrilled to have her back, they all share a group hug and then take their axes in hand as they set out to save Prince Charming together.
Fairytale Land concludes with a bit of a twist as we see Rumpy combine Snow and James’ strands of hair in hopes of bottling True Love.
Storybrooke: “Do you actually think I’m capable of that evil?”
Emma has Mary Margaret in her custody and she asks MM to be patient because everything she does during the course of the investigation is to keep Regina quiet and to help prove her innocence. Regina demands to be present for the interrogation to make sure Emma remains objective as they go over the facts. Kathryn’s heart was cut out with a hunting knife and found at the Toll Bridge where MM admits she would meet David during their affair. When Emma shows MM the box they found the heart in, she is appalled to learn that it is Mary Margaret’s jewelry box, but MM still insists she did not do it. Regina interjects, “I know what it feels like to lose someone you love and be humiliated in a public place…Heartbreak can make you do unspeakable things.” In that moment we are given a huge clue as to what caused the rift between EQ and Snow. We can also be certain that in Storybrooke, Regina has made sure that MM will live through the exact same heartbreak and betrayal she endured in Fairytale Land. However, it also provides Emma with a solid sense of motive, especially when Henry encourages her to take a closer look.
Emma and Henry check out MM’s home in hopes of finding evidence of a break-in, but Emma discovers the murder weapon instead. While Henry drowns his sorrows in a mug of hot coco at Granny’s Diner, he receives a bit of encouragement from August Booth. The writer tells Henry that he likes to find answers in literary form and suggests he take another look at the storybook because it isn’t “just a book.” August reveals, “I’m a believer and I want to help others see the light;” that is why he came to Storybrooke, he wants to help Emma find the proof she needs to believe that the fairytales are true. In interviews, the creators said August added pages to the book, so hopefully Henry will discover some new information that will help break the curse.
Meanwhile, David visits Regina and pleads Mary Margaret’s case; he persists that MM is a good person and he cannot be sure what he could have done during his black out, but Regina does not allow him to implicate himself. He believes that even if MM has a dark side, she could never be evil. Again, Regina repeats the mantra and adds that “evil doesn’t always look evil…sometimes it is staring you in the face.” If only David realized she was really talking about herself.
Despite all of the evidence, Emma still believes Mary Margaret is being framed, but she needs to be able to prove it. In the middle of their dilemma, Mr. Gold enters and offers to represent MM. Emma is surprised to learn he is a lawyer, to which he quips there is a reason that he is “adept at contracts.” Mary Margaret confesses that she cannot pay him, but Mr. Gold doesn’t need her money because he is “invested in her future” (another parallel to Fairytale Land). MM asks Emma to leave, so that she can go out and work on proving her innocence while Mr. Gold aids in her defense.
Henry finds Regina’s skeleton keys to Storybrooke and tries to open MM’s door with a few keys; when they don’t work, he hands them over to Emma and asks her try one more key. When Emma uses the key, it works. Henry exclaims, “Now do you believe me?!” Finally attaining a shred of evidence in MM’s defense, Emma proceeds with caution. Meanwhile, David tries to help prove MM’s innocence by regaining the memory he lost during his black out.
Dr. Hopper hypnotizes David and his last memory is his phone call with Kathryn. As he sat in their bedroom, speaking to Kathryn on her cell phone, she told David that she wanted to start a new life. She also told him to be with Mary Margaret, but then his memory flashes further back to the Fairytale Land and he sees MM as Snow in the woods talking about killing her. Unfortunately, the long hair and cape do not make David question what he saw and he fears that MM was talking about killing Kathryn. When he confronts Mary Margaret with his memory, he breaks her heart.
David questions her innocence and she cannot believe he would think she could be capable of such evil. No matter what the evidence showed in David’s case, she never doubted him and stood by his side, but he obviously does not feel that same way. Both of their eyes well up with tears and he walks away.
Mary Margaret begins preparing her cot for the night when she discovers a skeleton key that opens her cell door, but she quickly closes it when Emma returns with some bad news. The DNA matched and the heart they found is for sure Kathryn’s. Emma tells MM that she knows Regina is framing her, but it is going to take time to put a case together without arousing Regina’s suspicions. Nonetheless, Emma reassures MM that she has her back. Emma says, “I have faith in you and I need you to have faith in me.” Emma leaves MM and pays Mr. Gold a visit.
While he’s polishing the Genie’s lamp, Emma reaches out to him for help. She tells him that Regina is setting MM up and he is not surprised, but he reminds Emma what it takes to defeat someone like Regina and she needs to be willing to do whatever it takes. Emma admits, “I don’t approve of your methods, but I approve of your results” and she is willing to go “further” than what it takes to bring Regina to justice. As Emma and Mr. Gold unite to help Mary Margaret, we realize that she has taken matters into her own hands and has escaped her cell.
Hearts were wickedly broken, unlikely alliances were forged, and illuminating revelations enlightened lost souls, yet there is still so much more excitement in store for the coming weeks.
What did you think of “Heart of Darkness”? Were you left shocked and heartbroken? Are you relieved to see that Emma is starting to see the truth? Do you feel like smacking David for hurting Mary Margaret so deeply? What do you think is Mr. Gold’s agenda? What do you think Rumpy created the love potion for? Will Rumpy use the love spell on Belle, hoping to recapture the love he lost? When Regina indirectly speaks of her lost love and embarrassment, could she be talking about “The Stable Boy”?
- Transitions: Loved all of the transitions in this episode; whether is was from Storybrooke to Fairytale or shifts within one realm, all of them were brilliant (i.e. magnifying glass, cloaks, storybook pages, etc)
- Emma has MM’s back: What a relief! The past couple of episodes made Emma look like she was not going to completely believe MM’s innocence, but she is now her number 1 crusader for justice, which lowers the level of annoyance with the Regina-framing-MM plot.
- Robert Carlyle: So happy to see more of Rumpy and Mr. Gold. The cast always praises him and says he is so sweet, but the way he chooses to portray Rumple and Mr. Gold also make you like the guy. In teasers they say Mr. Gold and Rumple may not be total villains, hopefully that will be true.
- Shame on David: ‘OUAT’ writers have done a great job of continuing to draw parallels between both worlds, but it is so frustrating to juxtapose Prince Charming’s awesome chivalry and undying love and devotion to Snow against David’s stupidity and hurtfulness in Storybrooke. David needs to redeem himself soon or else he may lose Mary Margaret.
- Jiminy Cricket: Always nice to have him back in both worlds, but his part in Snow’s intervention and interaction with James was hilarious.
- Dwarfs: Thank you to ‘OUAT’ for continuing to give us such sweet storybook moments, especially with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
- August Booth:We now know why he is Storybrooke, but how is he involved with the Fairytales? Did he write them? Is he in the book? After watching the promo for “Hat Trick,” will he be the one to have the Mad Hatter kidnap Emma in an attempt to make her really believe the fairytales are true?