ROBERT CARLYLE, ROSE MCGOWAN

This week, Once Upon a Time upped the intensity with “The Miller’s Daughter.” The powers of good and evil struggle to find balance as a major character bites the dust so another can live.

The Players:

  • Director: Ralph Hemecker
  • Writer: Jane Espenson
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “The Miller’s Daughter”

After nearly two seasons, we finally get the Rumpelstiltskin Fairytale Land flashback we’ve all been waiting for: “The Miller’s Daughter” sees Rumpel spinning straw into gold (and explains the origin of his complicated relationship with Cora and Regina). Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret (Snow White) struggles with her continued desire to see Cora dead.

The Good:

  • Snow Stays Bad: Last week ended with a surprising vow from Snow White: To kill Cora. It was totally out of character for her. The obvious move would be a quick return to her senses, but Once went more daring, allowing Snow to stay vengeful. She doesn’t kill Cora herself, but her actions directly lead to Regina doing in her own mother. Ouch!
  • Gold Lives: The magic of Once in convoluted at best, but we’ll take it if it means keeping Mr. Gold around. The spell that killed Cora was the same one offered to Snow many years ago. In exchange for Cora’s death, the gravely injured Gold was able to live. A worthwhile sacrifice, if for nothing else but the series’ plot.
  • Rose McGowan as Young Cora: Once has done its fair share of stunt casting, but so far it’s pulled mostly from the Lost roster. Rose McGowan guest starred as the young Cora and brought a seductive, evil quality necessary to round out her backstory.

The Bad:

  • Emma Doing Magic: The series continues to struggle to find purpose for the original Dream Team of Emma and Henry. This week, Gold mentored Emma in the art of spellcasting, complete with wisdom about it being an emotional, not intellectual pursuit. Emma as the sorcerer’s apprentice? This will definitely end in disaster.

Overall:

“The Miller’s Daughter” offered some long-awaited answers and filled in a vital part of Rumpelstiltskin’s story. Cora’s death was welcome (at least for some fans) and the flashbacks were solid. Still, it doesn’t hold up to “The Queen is Dead.” The show has struggled to find its footing in the second half of the season and “The Miller’s Daughter” is plagued by the same difficulties as week’s past.

Rating: 7/10

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

What did you think of this week’s show?