Bloodlust in “The Miller’s Daughter”: Once Upon A Time Review
“The Miller’s Daughter,” one of the best episodes of Once Upon A Time so far, tells the sordid story of how Cora became so corrupted. Guest star Rose McGowan plays the younger version of Cora, and it is quite appropriate as she bears a striking resemblance to Barbara Hershey. The flashbacks are nearly as gripping and interesting as the present-day story, in which Rumple struggles to survive. We also get the full story on something that was hinted at earlier in the season – Cora and Rumple’s romance.
In the flashbacks, we learn that Cora let Rumple into her life out of necessity as he helped her turn straw into gold. This feat saved her life and earned her a proposal from the prince, something that the enterprising girl greatly desired. However, after bonding over their frequently violent ambitions, Cora and Rumple’s relationship became something much more compelling.
In the present, on what could have been his deathbed, Rumple asks her to be honest about whether or not she ever really loved him. Cora admits that feelings for him were so strong that she had to literally rip her own heart out so as not to be held back by them. But as Cora learns when Regina places her mother’s heart back inside her, love itself is more than “enough”.
Last week’s episode saw Snow vow to kill Cora. In a turn of events surprising to viewers (and to Charming), Snow follows through. She curses Cora’s heart, then manipulates Regina into putting it in Cora’s body. The curse allows Rumple to live while sacrificing Cora, and the scene is extremely emotional. In a way, Regina loses her mother almost immediately after gaining her.
Ginnifer Goodwin is excellent as Snow in this episode. She manages to effortlessly go completely out of character, yet still make it seem entirely believable. When her guilt overwhelms her, she races to stop Regina and is too late. Her genuine horror over what she has done legitimately appears stronger than her fear of Regina’s rage (but she really should be worried about that).
As usual, Robert Carlyle’s Rumple is a complex combination of ruthless, entertaining, and pitiful. When he believes he is near death he makes a passionate phone call to a sadly oblivious Belle, and shortly after makes something close to amends with his son. This heavy material is balanced with his great one-liners, such as his giggly response to Cora when she says that brides must be snow white: “When you see the future, there is irony everywhere.”
There isn’t much time for the development of other characters in this episode, though it is pretty fun to see Emma experiment with her own magic. She has a brief conversation with Neal where she stresses that she is quite fine with his engagement. Once more with feeling, Emma?
What did you think of the episode? Was there ever any doubt that Rumple would live to see another day? He’s too much fun to lose. Cora’s death opens the door for plenty of conflict as Regina seeks revenge upon the guilt-wracked Snow. Catch Once Upon A Time Sundays on ABC.