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ONCE UPON A TIME Review “A Bitter Draught”

By on October 3, 2016
LANA PARRILLA, ROBERT CARLYLE

(ABC/Eike Schroter) LANA PARRILLA, ROBERT CARLYLE

By Meredith Loftus

“A Bitter Draught” follows up the season premiere by beginning to tell one of the many untold stories of the new season.

It also introduced a new plan of attack from the Evil Queen. The Count of Monte Cristo, under the manipulation of the Evil Queen, tries to complete his previous mission to kill Snow White and Charming.

Rumple runs into the Evil Queen, and the two strike a deal exchanging a tin coin of Charming’s for the protection of Belle and his unborn son.

Killian gives Belle a safe haven on the Jolly Roger to hide from Rumple and protect her unborn son.

Meanwhile, Emma gives therapy sessions with Dr. Archie Hopper a chance and makes some progress when she identifies Regina or the Evil Queen as the hooded figure in her visions.

The Evil Queen’s official appearance in Storybrooke has all our core heroes on edge; what will be her next move?

Regina vs. Evil Queen, Round One

While this season presents no primary villain out to destroy and take over the people of Storybrooke, the Evil Queen is back to create some mayhem. Her main adversary: the reformed Regina Mills. Her battle with Regina is less about physical violence and fireballs but one of psychological warfare. These women are one in the same; they know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. In their first confrontation, the Evil Queen was able to play on Regina’s humanity and push her to stab the Count of Monte Cristo before he killed off Snow and Charming. So far her strategy is to manipulate circumstances around Regina and push her to give into her own darkness. The Evil Queen won’t need to destroy the happy endings; Regina can do it for her.

Regina Mills may have lost this first round, but she is far from losing the war. The Evil Queen may be manipulative and, well… evil, but Regina is fueled by love rather than rage. She has let go of revenge and has become an important hero to the people of Storybrooke. In fact, when she welcomed the people from the Land of Untold Stories, she encouraged them with the idea they’re in a place of second chances and hope. She even goes on to say that whatever comes next they will face it together. That’s one of the reasons she fights so hard to help the Count of Monte Cristo fight back against the Evil Queen. Another advantage Regina has over the Evil Queen is the original true love power couple, Snow and Charming. They are the Evil Queen’s greatest enemies; they also happen to be Regina’s family and biggest supporters, next to Henry. Snow and Charming defeated Regina as the Evil Queen before; they can certainly do it again, with the combined powers of Regina, Henry, Emma, and Killian. There is strength in numbers and confidence that comes from supporters and loved ones. The Evil Queen might pack a punch, but Regina is not done fighting, not while she has family, love, and experience under her belt that her majesty just doesn’t have.

 

Navigating the Rough Times

While this episode did an excellent job highlighting how much Regina has grown from her season one Evil Queen days, it did the same thing for Emma Swan. In this episode, Emma voluntarily sought out professional counseling with Archie. Remember in the first season, Emma kept her guard up at all times, building walls around her heart and shutting people out? The only time she would seek out Archie was solely about Henry. Now, she recognizes that she has to start sharing her burdens with another and talk about the weight of her role as the savior. While she still isn’t ready to share with her parents or Killian the visions and tremors that have begun to haunt her, we have to acknowledge this huge step for her. Growth does not happen overnight, but it builds from the little steps made.

Something else that is a process for many is forgiveness. For the small things, many of us try to employ “forgive and forget.” However, the deeper wounds take time to forgive those who wrong us; it can take even longer when the person we are trying to forgive is ourselves. We are our harshest critics after all. Killian Jones was a villain wronged and hurt many over centuries, but like Regina, he has chosen a new path and is actively choosing to be a better man. Part of that journey is seeking forgiveness. He helps Belle find a temporary home in the Jolly Roger to continue to amend for the ways he has wronged her throughout the years. He verbally apologizes to her, and she accepts it. Belle, like the people of Storybrooke, has seen how he has become a hero to Storybrooke. Yet, he is still on the road to forgiving himself for his actions. He still has a hard time believing he is worthy to be considered a hero.

Emma and Killian both have a hard time believing that happy endings are in the cards for themselves. Whether it was their own actions or circumstances, love and happiness have been all too rare in their lives prior to meeting one another. They have found true love in one another and have been healing each other along the way. Emma is the bright star that will help lead Killian to forgiving himself; Killian is the anchor that will help Emma realize that she doesn’t have to carry her burdens alone. They will navigate through the rough waters, and together steer their happy endings toward a future.

 

Worth Mentioning

  • Real talk: I need someone to bleach my eyes after watching the Evil Queen try to seduce Rumple in his shop in Storybrooke!
  • Speaking of Rumple, he made it back to Storybrooke no problem. I remember the early days where it was next to impossible to find portals and travel to other realms. Now it’s easier than finding a normal day in Storybrooke.
  • Emma and Henry need to drop their plans for one day and give Killian Jones a proper movie marathon. Maybe then he would get half the Star Wars references that are thrown around; plus, I’m sure he would be a big fan of Harrison Ford as Han Solo or Indiana Jones.
  • Zelena desperately wants to be accepted and loved by Regina; her sister is all she has left in her life, besides her infant daughter. It’s why she struggles to fully align herself with the Evil Queen. Even though Regina needs some time to heal, she does need to step up as a sister or risk losing Zelena to her Evil counterpart.
  • The Evil Queen gave the Count of Monte Cristo venom from the Agrabah viper to poison Snow White and Charming. The last time we saw this venom in action was when the Genie uses the viper to kill King Leopold, Snow’s father.
  • Rumple was the one who gave the Count of Monte Cristo the key to open the portal to the Land of Untold Stories. Is Rumple the keeper of the keys, or do others stumble upon the realm? I guess we’ll find out the answer to this in the episodes to come.

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