‘Once Upon A Time’ S1 Ep 18 recap: The power of love

S1 Ep 18
We learn about Regina’s troubled past, but does it justify her actions as the Evil Queen? (Photo credit: ABC via SpoilerTV)

Sunday’s “The Stable Boy” finally revealed the root of Regina’s wrathful vengeance towards Snow White, but one could still debate whether or not the young girl’s act of betrayal merits the depth of vicious retribution the Evil Queen has exacted on Snow throughout her Fairytale life and now on Mary Margaret in Storybrooke.

Fairytale Land: “True love is the most powerful magic of all. It can overcome anything.”

Previous Fairytale flashbacks already demonstrated how Regina was a “Daddy’s Girl,” despite the fact that she killed her own father in the end, she did love him much more than her mother. Now we know why; Regina’s kind father always encouraged her to follow her heart and do what makes her happy, whether it was riding a horse bare-back or falling in love with their stable boy, Daniel. Conversely, Cora rules over her daughter’s behavior with an iron (and sometimes magical) fist because she has great plans for Regina’s future.

The family dynamic is instantly made very clear when Cora catches Regina bravely riding her horse in an un-lady-like manor and brutally chastises her for it. She insults Regina by calling her an old-maid who is too old to have fun as she whimsically pleases. As Regina tries to walk away from her mother, Cora uses her magic to restrain Regina and suspend her in the air. Regina begs Cora to release her and repeats how deeply she hates it when her mother uses magic for such manipulation, but Cora does not release her until Regina promises to obey her, so she vows to do as she says.

Later, Regina sneaks away to meet Daniel and he urges her to tell her parents the truth about their relationship. He does not understand how Cora can be so high-brow when she was born the daughter of a simple miller. Regina knows her father will support her, but she does not trust her mother’s reaction to such news. Daniel does not see how she can stop True Love, but given the way she abuses her magic powers, Regina fears the worst saying, “What can’t she do.” Nonetheless, Daniel believes their love is more powerful than Cora’s magic and he wants to marry Regina no matter what. Their heated heart-to-heart is abruptly interrupted by a girl strapped to a runaway horse who frantically calls out for help.

Regina rides over to her rescue and we learn that the little girl is Snow White. Much to our surprise, their first encounter is quite sweet and sincere. Regina even offers a bit of kind advice to help Snow overcome her fear of riding again by telling her to get back on the horse and face her fear. Shortly thereafter, King Leopold pays Regina a visit to personally thank the young woman who saved his beloved daughter’s life. In a Cinderella-esque moment, Cora magically transforms Regina’s riding clothes into a beautiful blue gown and sends an unsuspecting Regina out to meet the king.

King Leopold thanks Regina and explains how he has scoured the kingdom for a new wife, but he has “yet to find a woman with an interest in [his] daughter.” Thrilled to see how fond Regina is of Snow, the king proposes and Cora accepts on Regina’s behalf. This act sends Regina running into the arms of Daniel, she tells him that they must get married and runaway before she is forced to become queen to a man she does not love. She pleads, “Being queen means nothing, all I care about is you.” Daniel takes a gold ring from his riding pouch and slides it onto her finger as they kiss. Snow White catches them and immediately runs off at the sight of her soon-to-be step-mother smooching another man.

Regina explains to young Snow that she does not love King Leopold, she loves Daniel and the True Love they share is the ultimate form of happiness. Kind-hearted Snow insists on telling her father because he would want Regina to be happy, but Regina makes her promise not to tell anyone about Daniel, especially Cora. Snow White promises and we see that Regina goes along with Cora’s plans while secretly planning to run away with Daniel. After some time, Cora manipulatively corners Snow White by saying how sweet it is that she and Regina have grown so close. Cora wants to know why Regina has been pulling away recently and tells Snow that all she wants is for her daughter to be happy, attesting, “I’ll do anything to make her happy.” Snow White naturally sympathizes, she lost her own mother at such a young age and she would not wish that sort of loss upon anyone. Naïve Snow believes Cora’s intentions are out of a loving mother’s concern for her child’s true happiness, so she reveals Regina’s secret love affair.

Cora bursts into the stables and stops Regina from running away with Daniel. Cora explains how she made so many sacrifices and deals in order to get out of poverty, so the life Regina leads is Cora’s life. After Regina pleads, Cora pauses as though she has had a change of heart and walks over to Daniel; she looks him in the eyes and says, “You have to do what is best for your children.” Daniel smiles and agrees; suddenly Cora punches her fist into his chest and rips out his heart. Regina sobs over his lifeless body while Cora lectures her; she declares, “Love is weakness…it is an illusion…it fades…Power endures.”

Flash-forward a bit to Regina’s wedding gown fitting, Snow White joyfully skips in declaring that Regina is “fairest of them all” and she will look beautiful when she marries Daniel. That is when Regina realizes how Cora found out, Snow White apologizes and says she was only trying to help, she thought Cora wanted to make her happy and she didn’t want Regina to lose her mother too. In a split second we see how “evil is made” when Regina adjusts the look in her eyes; she realized that what she had with Daniel was just an infatuation and she would rather be Snow’s mother and King Leopold’s wife. Snow leaves excited to have Regina as a step-mother and Cora expresses her pride in Regina’s mature transformation. Now Regina clearly realizes how Cora orchestrated the series of events leading to her magical meeting with Snow White and King Leopold. Regina coldly admits, “I wish she died on that horse.”

Storybrooke: “I know, but you do deserve this.”

One week ago in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold approached Regina with a plan that would help her exact revenge on Mary Margaret. While, Regina clutched Daniel’s gold ring, Mr. Gold told “Her Majesty” how she could frame MM with Kathryn’s disappearance, plant the key in her cell so she would try to escape, and when she tries to leave town…well, we know bad things happen to those who try to leave. However, Mary Margaret did not leave, so their plan back-fired and they need to adjust their strategy accordingly.

Meanwhile, David approaches Emma with a message for MM; he wants her to know that he does not think she is guilty. (Nice try Romeo, but it is a little too late for that.) Emma says it will take a “miracle” to get MM off the hook. While Emma tries to save Mary Margaret, Regina visits her in jail and taunts the innocent MM. Regina threatens her saying that with or without a confession, she will be leaving Storybrooke. Mary Margaret is baffled by Regina’s incessant cruelty, sincerely and tearfully asking, “What did I do to make you hate me so much?”

Later Mr. Gold offers MM an opportunity for a pre-trial interview with the prosecution, who is represented by D.A. Albert Spencer (aka nasty King George). Mr. Gold believes MM’s most valuable asset is her public perception, so Mary insists she has nothing to hide and agrees to cooperate with Spencer. In the midst of this, Sydney suspiciously brings Emma a vase of flowers and says he could not find any dirt on Regina (at this point you have to be questioning Emma’s spidey-senses because her instincts should have immediately sensed that the vase is bugged, it is too random a gesture). Back in the interview room, Regina watches through the looking glass as Spencer pushes all the right buttons until MM snaps and admits she wanted Kathryn to be gone. The odds continue to pile against Mary Margaret, so Emma consults Henry’s storybook for some clues.

While she reads on a bench, August approaches her and offers sound advice, so they go back to the beginning of the case and double-check the crime scene to see if she missed anything the first time around. Emma finds a shovel shard buried in the dirt where MM’s jewelry box containing Kathryn’s heart was found. Operation Cobra commences as Henry cues Emma and August to search the house while Regina showers and they find Regina’s broken shovel in the garage. Emma returns with a search warrant the next morning, but the shovel has been replaced with a new one. She confronts Regina, but has no grounds to back it up. Emma storms to August and accuses him of betraying her, but he adamantly states he is not a liar and is only trying to help her.

Regina returns to jail and tortures Mary Margaret even more by confessing that she knows MM did not kill Kathryn, but insists she deserves the punishment she is getting anyway. Back at home, Regina triumphantly holds the gold ring, wistfully declaring, “We got her Daniel.”

As the episode concludes, a frustrated Emma smacks the vase off of her desk and discovers the bug Sydney planted. She apologizes to August; he understands and explains, “It is hard to see what is in front of us.” Suddenly Ruby screams from behind the diner; Emma and August run to her and they see a dirt-covered woman lying face down on the concrete. When they slowly turn her over, we shockingly discover that the mystery woman is Kathryn.

What did you think of “The Stable Boy”? Do you think Regina has a right to hate Snow White so much? Does Snow/Mary Margaret deserve Regina’s punishment? Mr. Gold is in cahoots with Regina, but could he have known that MM would not run away?


  • It was nice to see what Regina was like before she turned evil, but realizing the potentially sweet relationship she could have had Snow White, makes her vicious vengeance even worse.
  • Regina has a right to feel betrayed, but Snow White was young and naïve; Regina knows how manipulative Cora is and she easily tricked Snow White into confessing Regina’s secret. Some argue that Regina’s hatred of Snow would be justified after this episode, but Cora is still at fault over Snow White. A child should not have been the main focus of Regina’s total wrath.
  • Come on Emma! How many more times are you going to trust the enemy? Is the curse affecting her instincts? She has been obviously wrong almost every time. Is anyone else annoyed by this?
  • Mr. Gold mentioned something about working a little magic to change the game, so could he be capable of bringing Kathryn back? Was it really her heart in the box or did Regina fake the test? When magic is part of the equation, anything is possible.
  • The show is starting to get a little soapy. This episode was a bit predictable (with the exception of Kathryn’s return) and the “big reveal” was somewhat disappointing. Does anyone else agree?

Share your thoughts on the episode!

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