Once Upon a Time’s best villains operate in shades of gray. This week, one of the good guys vere to the dark side. In “The Queen is Dead,” Snow White’s endless benevolence finally ran out. The result? She vows to kill one of the series biggest baddies.

The Players:

  • Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton
  • Writer: Daniel T. Thomsen and David H. Goodman
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle, Colin O’Donoghue

Episode Title: “The Queen is Dead”

Once again, the story of Once is split into three parts. Storybrooke and FairytaleLand are standard, but now we can add New York to the mix. In all three, loyalties and goodness are tested.

The Good:

  • Bailee Madison Nails It (Again): Any episode featuring a flashback to Snow’s younger days is a guaranteed treat. It’s thanks in part to guest star Bailee Madison, who captures Ginnifer Goodwin’s mannerisms in an eery way. If the show’s special effects didn’t lean toward screensaver territory, we might even suspect she was really Goodwin aided with lots of CGI.
  • Young Snow: Young Snow joined the ranks of conflicted fairytale characters as she struggled with the death of her mother. She chose not to use dark magic to prevent it. We got a glimpse at Snow as the girl she might have become with different parents. A spoiled princess convinced of her own importance. A quick lecture from Mom changes all that. It was a little unbelievable until it became a dying wish, rather than a regular scolding.
  • Peter, Is That You?: At this point, anyone not positive that Neal is really Peter Pan should stop watching the series all together. How can we be sure? He’s familiar with Hook. He says he knows how to captain a pirate ship. He says that he traveled to another realm before ours (and that if he hadn’t, he would be a very old man by now).
  • Snow Goes Rogue: Okay, so she’s not exactly rogue, but Snow does reach the end of her rope. After realizing Cora murdered her mother so Regina could become queen, she vows to kill her. For a gal who’s never wished death on anyone, this is a pretty big deal.

The So-So:

  • Henry: Henry is upgraded to so-so this week, for a handful of sassy comments and for asking Mr. Gold if he could call him grandpa.

Overall:

“The Queen is Dead” might be the strongest episode since the winter premiere. The past and present plots worked together, without feeling rushed or messy. Plus, the build up to Neal’s reveal as Pan is a lot of fun.

Rating: 8/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s show?