LANA PARRILLA, GINNIFER GOODWIN

“The Evil Queen” sets Once Upon a Time up for its second season finale. The episode focuses on Regina’s latest fall into darkness, along with flashbacks of her Fairytale Land attempts at goodness to foreshadow her impending inner conflict.

The Players:

  • Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton
  • Writer: Jane Espenson and Christine Boylan
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “The Evil Queen”

Once is scrambling to play catch-up for the season’s final battle of good vs. evil. Owen and Tamara put their plot into motion, leaving audiences with not one, but two sets of villains to root against.

The Good:

  • Neal’s Snoop Detector: Emma and Henry, two of the most useless characters in the series, attempt to revive their worth with Operation Praying Mantis. It’s contrived to prove that Tamara (Neal’s new love) is up to no good.While Emma and Henry are predictably bad, Neal’s reaction to the snooping is actually quite charming. Something makes us think Emma might be a little more likable if they reunite.

The So-So:

  • Fairytale Land Flashbacks: Usually, Regina flashbacks are great (almost as good as Rumpelstiltskin flashbacks). This week, they weren’t. Regina has Rumpel change her appearance so she can blend in with the peasant folk and ends up being nursed back to health by none other than Snow White. During a heart-to-heart, Snow admits that she believes there’s still good in Regina. Just as Regina’s obviously making the choice to be good, Snow discovers a group of people slaughtered by the Evil Queen’s henchmen. Snow promptly retracts her support of Regina and realizes that the old woman she’s been helping is her stepmother in disguise. An anti-climactic non-battle in which Regina scurries away follows. Snooze.

The Bad:

  • Regina’s Confrontation with Owen and Tamara: As mysterious season-long villains go, Owen and Tamara have already been disappointing and confusing at best. They turned their villainy up a notch to mildly annoying. Using unidentified “science,” they block Regina’s powers with a bracelet made of unidentified-but-wicked-strong metals and fibers. Bwahaha?
  • Hook: What a shame for someone so hot to be so lame. Hook had a lot of potential out of the gate (more than Owen and Tamara combined), but it’s been squandered as he proves himself little more than a lackey with no real ambitions or ideas of his own (beyond his tunnel vision for killing the “crocodile,” of course).

Overall:

“The Evil Queen” is one of the most disappointing Once episodes this season. It feels like it’s leading up to something epic, but nothing happens to create any suspense. The show is at risk of being more interested in itself than its audience is, which could prove problematic if not fixed by the finale.

Rating: 5/10

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

What did you think of this week’s show?