Once Upon A Time 1.21 "An Apple Red As Blood" or "Anyone For Forbidden Fruit Or Dessert?""

I know it feels like every week I’m using these recaps as some form of open therapy, but I have to tell you, considering this is a show wherein one of the protagonists likes to remove hearts, I’m feeling my own being grabbed frequently whenever I watch.  This week was no exception and the ensuing feelings parade that marched through my living room was epic: one of those big ones with a huge bass drum, a majorette and flags.

The penultimate episode of this season kept on delivering hit after hit of emotional turmoil.  But then, I’ve come to expect that wherever Regina is involved.  Gone are the days of the simple Disney villain who is bad layered upon more bad.  Scratch the surface and all you’ll get is more badness.  But not Regina Mills.  This woman is so complex and infuriatingly sympathetic that, love her or loathe her, you couldn’t help but feel pity for her this week.

Now, I love a good dream sequence.  I’ve had quite a few of my own.  None of them involved dinner with Henry, however, which is where we find ourselves at the start of the episode.  I’m pretty sure that the shoveling of red meat into one’s mouth is symbolic.  I’m also fairly certain that Regina bit off more than she could chew when the doorbell rang and Lana actually had lines to deliver.  Still, she did use a napkin so it’s good to see that manners aren’t dead even for Evil Queens.

Emma’s at the door, looking determined and a little “off”.  No, more off than usual.  She says that Henry invited her and that she hasn’t come for dinner.  “What have you come for?” Regina asks.  Oh, like you don’t know, lady.  “You.” Emma tells her.

Really, ladies?  We’re less than two minutes into the episode and already you’re starting with this again?  I’m just saying: this week’s episode played out like fanfiction in some parts.  This was one of them.

While I’m taking a breath and clutching at my pearls, Emma is suddenly surrounded by the denizens of Storybrooke who clearly have an axe to grind with Regina.  They don’t look happy at all.  They’re doing that staring thing that usually precedes a righteous hanging and oh, look, there’s Henry with the rope!  Yeah…my Once Upon A Time dream sequences didn’t quite work out like this.

Regina is tied to her apple tree in the middle of Main Street.  It’s a dream – just go with it.  Archie and Ruby are tightening the ropes and screaming at her.  “You’re not queen anymore, sister!” Leroy shouts.  In fact, this scene told me more about Regina than the people in it.  She expects people to react like this because that’s how she would react.  She’s always broached obstacles with ferocity and anger, and that’s precisely how she would imagine Snow and Charming et al to treat her.  Even if they have good cause, it’s not really their way, is it?

Emma squishes an apple (one-handed!) in front of Regina’s eyes and says it’s “rotten to the core”.  Yes, okay, Emma.  We get the hidden meaning.  Or, as it were, not so well hidden.  But Regina says that she “just wanted to win.  For once.”

Ugh.  Her voice is that of Baby!Regina, back when she was just a scared teenager.  Back when her mother used to do terrible things to her.  It kind of breaks my heart, to be honest, hearing her like this.  She hasn’t moved on even a tiny bit.  Part of her – a large part – is still that heartbroken, hurt girl who lost the one thing she loved more than anything.

“You took away our happiness and now it’s our turn to take away yours.”  Emma’s hand is on Regina’s throat (hello, fanfiction!) and the camera rests on rage-filled faces all around.  Charming gives Emma his sword and Regina pleads with Henry not to let them do this to her.  “You did this to yourself!” he spits.  Nice.  Because really, Henry is the only person Regina gives a damn about apart from herself.

Just as Emma swings the sword, Regina wakes up, terrified and out of breath.  Her first thought is to check on Henry and she sees his sleeping form in bed and breathes a sigh of relief.  But we know he’s not there, and it makes the look on Regina’s face all the more painful to witness.  She doesn’t even know he’s gone.

On their way out of Storybrooke, Henry is alarmed to find that they’re leaving NOW.  He pleads with Emma to stay and tells her that she can’t abandon her family.  In fact, he seems damn near hysterical at the thought that Emma’s not going to break the curse.  You know, over the last few episodes, I’ve learned that Emma’s desire to beat Regina pretty much trumps everything.  She can’t do anything without it leading back to Regina, one way or another.  She tells Henry that she’s doing what’s best for him.  Uh, you’re really not, Emma.  You’re just doing what you always do – whatever you damn well please and hang the consequences.  Not heroic.

Yanking the wheel so that the car goes offroad, Henry tells Emma that “your family needs you.”  So…pulling on the heartstrings work often, Henry?  And just where is it that kids learn to guilt trip their parents like this, huh?  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that precocious as a child.  My mother will say otherwise but I know I’m right…

In Fairy Tale Land, King George (squee!  Alan Dale!) has Charming on his knees.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  King George has Charming as a prisoner and is going to kill him with, let’s be frank, a pretty weedy looking guillotine when Regina sashays in, turning the blade to water.  The woman looks like she’s on a catwalk – never mind the fabulously gaudy outfit she’s wearing.  Props to the costume department on this.  They must have a ball when it’s time to think of new clothes for the Evil Queen.

Regina tells George she’ll pay him whatever Midas promised in exchange for Charming.  Why?  Because she’s going to “make him suffer” by using him “to destroy his one true love”.  Well, in her head that’s fair play, right?  Because of what Snow did to her and Daniel?  No, I know; it doesn’t make it right.  But, as usual, Regina’s led by her emotions and rationality isn’t such a close friend of hers, all told.

In Storybrooke, Regina discovers that her apple tree is sick.  I’m trying very hard not to make any apple-centric puns here.  Suffice it to say, she’s more than a little worried.  She goes to see Gold and wants to know why her tree is dying.  “Perhaps it’s your fertilizer,” Gold suggests.  Helpful.

She claims that Gold is doing nothing while all her hard work burns.  Gold reminds her that Emma wants to take Henry from her and that perhaps that’s the price to keep the curse unbroken.  Regina says that she’d rather get rid of Emma, and that’s when we find out that if Emma dies, the curse would be broken.  Hm.  Interesting.  What’s also interesting is that Regina calls her “Emma”.  I don’t recall her using her name as frequently before – that whole distancing technique of using people’s titles might just have stopped working for Regina.  They’re under each other’s skin.  I can’t help feeling that might not be good for Henry.

Regina asks Gold to redesign the curse and he tells her that’s not possible because magic is in short supply and “dwindling by the minute”.  Regina figures out that he wants the curse broken but he refuses to say why, so she tries to strike up a new deal wherein the curse would remain unshattered.  Gold tells her he’s not interested and that she has nothing he wants.  He says that Regina should plan a trip because once people waken up “they’re going to be looking for blood.”

So this proposes an interesting conundrum, doesn’t it?  Regina can’t strengthen the curse and can’t kill Emma.  But if Emma stays around, then Henry’s going to be even further out of reach.  Keeping Emma alive is really the only way to perpetuate the curse, even though Emma’s mere presence is causing it to break.  And if anyone wishes to write this out as some sort of mathematical equation, you have my blessing.

At Henry’s school, Regina puts a playing card bearing a white rabbit onto Paige’s bicycle.  I love the look on her face when she does this, because that’s the look of someone who should DEFINITELY NOT be hanging round school playgrounds, you know?  Maybe she and August should start a lurkers’ club.

Emma returns home and Mary Margaret starts in on her from almost the moment she walks through the door.  I loved this scene.  I love how aggressive Mary Margaret is and how sulky Emma is.  Their conversation plays out like a real mother and daughter and it’s such a wonderful step forwards for their relationship in the context of the show.  Mary Margaret tells Emma that she’s “reverting” and Emma just takes the criticism.  I appreciated JMo’s understated performance in this scene; it worked really well with Ginny’s active participation in it and provided a good foil for how Snow is “emerging”, slowly but surely.

We cut to Snow in Fairy Tale Land, planning how she’s going to rescue Charming.  When Red appears with information, Leroy points out that she has “someone on your chin”.  Hee.  Oh, show.  Silly.  You make me laugh and then you reach in and tear my heart out.  Come on; I know that’s what you’re planning.

Red asks Snow why the Evil Queen is doing this and Snow tells her that she destroyed Regina’s happiness.  “And now she wants to destroy mine.”  Yeah, well, Snow, if you KNEW this then why didn’t you do something about it earlier on before we got to this point, hm?  There’s a part of my brain that really wants to see Snow and Regina reconcile with one another, mostly because Regina needs it.  But she also needs a LOT of therapy and I suspect she might not get that any time soon, either.

In the castle dungeon, Regina taunts Charming.  I love that she’s a villain in the traditional sense, laying out her plots in front of those made victim by them.  It’s so…delicious.  And Lana plays the heck out of these scenes because she gets to be camp and overblown and gloriously evil.  Regina tells Charming that she’s not going to kill Snow (oh, the thought, how tawdry, dear) but that she has a far more “satisfying brand of punishment” for her.  She pulls the enchanted apple out of its pouch and waves it in the air, chuckling maliciously.  I realize I’m not supposed to swoon at her intent but you know what?  I CAN’T HELP IT.  Put my name on the Evil Queen’s ‘minions’ list, will you?

Jefferson visits Regina in her office where she asks him for help.  He wonders what makes her think he won’t kill her for all she’s done and she tells him he doesn’t have it in him.  Interesting.  There’s a lot of murderous intent in town (and in Fairy Tale World) but the desire to make people suffer seems much more alluring.  I’m not sure which is more cruel, to be honest.  Regina says that if she’s dead, then Jefferson will never get back to his daughter.  Okay; so if Emma dies the curse is broken and if Regina dies it isn’t?  Hm.  I’ll have to come back to that at some point.

Regina shows Jefferson his hat and he says it won’t work in this world because there’s no magic.  Regina says she has some; not a lot, but enough for one last journey to find something that will help her get rid of Emma.  Oh!  I thought she had magic left!  Excellent.  Regina pricks Jefferson’s conscience by reminding him of the sumptuous life he has in Storybrooke, and that family matters above all else.  Jefferson doesn’t want Paige to remember who she is – he wants her to forget and for Regina to write them a “new story”: a fresh start in Storybrooke.

We’re back in Fairy Tale Land and the gang are preparing for their attack on the castle.  There are flaming arrows, grappling hooks and a gazillion fairies lighting the sky.  They’re like a swarm of angry bees.  And the fact that the Blue Fairy is leading them really bothers me, for some reason.  I don’t like her.  But the call to arms of “Fairies attack!” cracks me up every time I think about it.  I’ve seen similar things happen on a night out in Clapham, believe me.

Snow is all badass, fighting guards and taking no prisoners.  Literally.  So…killing people is okay, then?  Because I thought we were most definitely AGAINST the killing earlier on.  Oh – what’s that?  It’s alright when GOOD people do it?  Okay.  I’ll try not to think about those guards’ wives and children back in their hovels, then.  Because you probably don’t make much money as a palace guard – most of Regina’s cash must go on outfits, right?  She’s never worn the same one twice.

Henry goes to see August to beg for his help in stopping Emma from leaving.  “You gotta make her believe!” he says.  August says he tried but that Emma didn’t see it.  He shows Henry his wooden arm.  That’s not a euphemism, although again with the August and Henry stuff.  I’m not entirely sure a puppet constitutes a responsible adult.  Although, in Henry’s life, that’s open to some interpretation, of course.

August tells Henry that if the curse doesn’t break, then he’ll continue turning back into wood and that he’s “tired”.  Oh, you poor dear.  Have we all learned our lesson about not abandoning babies, then?

“Everyone’s giving up,” Henry says.  August tells him that he had no choice and that now it’s up to Henry.  So, no pressure, kid.

Emma is consulting with Archie about Regina and Henry.  I don’t like Archie much, it has to be said, but he’s the only person this episode who actually recounts how Henry’s behavior has gone haywire since Emma came to town.  About bloody time!  It’s only taken 21 episodes for someone to point out that Henry’s lied, cheated and stolen in order to get what he wants.

Archie says that Emma’s arrival has “woken a sleeping dragon” and she wants to know if Henry’s been better off since she’s been around.  Archie tells her that if she and Regina are going to be Henry’s mothers, then they have to figure out a way to work it out.  Aw, Henry has two mommies!  And now I’m planning a spin-off from the show which is all about Emma and Regina being gay divorced parents.  Shush; it could work.

In Fairy Tale Land, Snow finds her way down to the dungeon and opens the cell door to free Charming.  That’s when she realizes that he’s just a reflection in a magic mirror.  Ooh, sneaky, Regina.  I like your style.  Always.

She asks Charming if this is to be their life – one of them always having to find the other.  He tells her to “have faith” and that they will be together.  This is a really nice parallel with David Nolan, who has about as much faith as he does dress sense (not a huge fan of flannel, sorry).  James’ nobility is paramount in this world, whereas in Storybrooke, the man is an emotional coward.

In a puff of smoke, Charming disappears and it’s Regina looking at Snow instead.  “I just had to stop you.  I have no interest in cleaning tongue marks off my mirror.”  Best line of the episode or best line of the episode?  Jane Espenson has got her mitts all over this episode and honestly, she’s not doing so badly at making me laugh wickedly in my own Evil Queen kind of way.  Seriously though, Lana, stop it.  You’re so good at this evil thing it’s a little scary.

Regina offers a parlais (I only know what this is because of Pirates of the Caribbean) and tells Snow to meet her “where it all began”.  Oh dear.  Everyone KNOWS that the Evil Queen doesn’t play fair.  But Snow resolves to go anyway, ignoring the pleas of Red and Grumpy, telling them that she loves them.  Um, don’t people always say that before they’re about to meet certain doom?  Jeez, Snow, fatalistic much?

Jefferson and Regina go down the stairs into her crypt.  Oh, I do love a good crypt.  Apparently it’s where Regina keeps the magical items she brought with her from Fairy Tale Land.  What – did she pack a bag or something?  I usually make do with a toothbrush and clean underwear.

The hat doesn’t spin.  Regina tries putting some magical “trinkets” into it but they don’t have a great deal of effect.  She pulls Daniel’s ring from her pocket and it glows with a picture of him inside it.  Aww.  Jefferson says they need to try it as it obviously has magical power.  And, oh god, Regina actually PUTS it into the hat.  I think the significance of this is extremely powerful and is tantamount to the lengths she’ll go to in order to keep Henry.  Say what you like about true love – I think Henry is, in some ways, Regina’s true love.  She needs him to love her back and will do anything to make that happen.  It’s sad that she hasn’t appeared to have learned that love needs to be given freely and can’t be forced.  But that’s our Regina, isn’t it?  Always thinking with her feelings and not with her head.  I mean, as far as villains go, she’s not hugely successful.  Evil?  Yes, but it seems like Gold is the one whose plans come to fruition, not hers.  This buys into my theory that Gold has been playing her all along and used her as and when it suited him.  I’m preparing for her to lose, you know.  Me and my stash of alcohol are ready for next week.  Kinda.

Jefferson says that the hat won’t open a portal big enough for them to go through, but that he can possibly reach through the hole it does create and bring something back.  Regina needs to focus on the place and time where it exists and the hat will do the rest.

She smiles and laughs delightedly as the hat begins to work.  Jefferson asks what it is they’re after.  “An apple,” Regina tells him.

Walking through the stables in Fairy Tale Land, Regina is unutterably sad.  Lana needs to stop making these faces or I will die of emotion by proxy, I swear it.  But I do love that Regina is more than one-dimensional; she’s capable of such great emotion and such wickedness all at the same time.  It makes her one of the best villains on television this season, for sure, even if it does make me sigh a little and reach for the chocolate.

When Snow arrives, Regina takes her to the top of the hill where she rescued her as a child.  “Do you remember when I saved your life?” she asks.  Snow says it looks the same, which it does, except for a headstone that Regina points out.  It’s Daniel’s grave – and her voice breaks when she says it and I wonder if all the chocolate in the world can make me feel better right now.  Probably not.  Poor Regina.

She tells Snow that she told her Daniel ran away out of “kindness”.  This is the first time Snow realizes what happened and she apologizes.  But Regina tells her that she “promised” to keep her secret and that her mother ripped Daniel’s heart out “because of you, because you couldn’t listen to me”.  And her voice changes AGAIN.  She’s young Regina again; still hurting the same way she did all those years ago; still blaming Snow for her childish mistake.  It’s a powerful scene and Lana knocks it out of the ballpark, alternating between Evil Queen and Baby!Regina in the space of a single sentence, it seems.  It’s a wonderful way to present the character, to show her weaknesses and just how much she hates Snow.

Regina offers Snow the apple, telling her that it’s the only way keep Charming alive.  “Do you know that apples stand for health and wisdom?” she asks.  Oh, it’s Regina Knows Her Apples 101.  One day I’ll go back through the whole season and write down Regina’s facts in a list.  Maybe I’ll make a cookbook or something.

It’s going to be a long summer.

“Your body will be your tomb and you’ll be in there with nothing but dreams formed of your own regrets.”  The apple must be taken willingly, and Regina’s giving Snow a choice that’s already been made.  She’s so sure that Snow loves Charming more than she does herself that she knows the deal’s already struck.  Interesting though, that Regina can recognize true love that way.  Also that she appears to know that Snow will say ‘yes’ before she even does.

The look on Regina’s face as Snow bites into the apple can only be described as “greedy”.  Well, it can be described as other things but that’s what fanfiction is for, right?

As the enchantment starts to work, we see Charming in his cell, clutching at his chest.  Yes; their love is SO strong it can be felt even when they’re far away from one another.  Clearly that didn’t transpose well to Storybrooke, where David is gullible and has not one iota of belief in Mary Margaret.  That whole notion of “faith” is cropping up again here and I wish I could be in on it, because I don’t have any ideas that this show won’t HURT me next week.

The apple rolls from Snow’s hand as she falls the ground and bumps down the hill, disappearing into a portal where Jefferson catches it, back in the crypt.  He presses Regina to return Grace to him but she’s already preoccupied with her next challenge.  “How to get the savior to taste my forbidden fruit.”

Um, okay.  So we’re not supposed to believe that Emma and Regina have a thing for one another, are we?  Because…well…  Oh come on, you’re not seriously telling me that THAT line wasn’t written amidst much chuckling and innuendo.

Next, we’re treated to a cooking montage as Regina cuts up the apple and starts baking.  I’m not sure what shocked me more in this scene: the fact that Regina bakes as well as being a busy mom and Mayor, or the fact that she’s wearing an apron.  It’s like Betty Crocker gone bad.  Still, what with this and the lasagna from last week, I wouldn’t say no to dinner at the Mayoral mansion.  Regina might be the Evil Queen, but a woman who’s skilled in the kitchen is hard to find these days.  A girl’s gotta eat, right?

Emma approaches Regina’s front door and when the doorbell rings, Regina fluffs her hair before going to answer it.  Well, that’s what you do when your date arrives, isn’t it?

Emma says they need to talk and Regina lets her in. “Do what you’re so skilled at and make yourself right at home.”  Burrnnnn.  I love these two when they snark; more please.  I like a bit of subtle bitchery with my fairytales.  Or hell, not so subtle.  I just love scenes with these two in them.  They make one another sparkle a little.

“I think that this…whatever is between us has to end,” Emma tells Regina.  I think she’s talking about their secret love affair until she mentions making a deal with regards to Henry and my shipper heart sinks a little.  Emma says she’s leaving town and that what they’re doing is a problem but that she wants to see Henry and visit him whenever she wants.  It’s a compromise that Regina doesn’t particularly like, but she agrees to it anyway.

“But he’s my son,” Regina insists and Emma agrees.  Hm.  Not sure that’s going to fly with Henry, Emma.  Or with anyone who thinks you’re in it for the long haul.  Running away again won’t solve anything.  It only creates a bigger mess to come back to.  Which you will, Emma, dear.

Regina gives Emma the apple turnover she baked.  Ooh, it DOES look good.  “I do hope you like apples,” she says as Emma takes it.  No, okay?  NO.  I will not try to find innuendo in a simple –

Oh.  Too late.

In Fairy Tale Land, the gang find Snow’s body and she’s not breathing.  “She sacrificed herself for true love,” says Red.  And the dwarves are all wearing their differently colored hats like in the Disney movie!  I think it says quite a lot how I’m more invested in that than in the fact that Snow’s been enchanted.  Listen, I KNOW how that works out.  Everyone does.  Kiss of true love, yadda yadda yadda.

Regina’s in her palace, watching Snow and the gang through her mirror.  And she’s laughing to herself.  Feel better now, Regina?  She magics up the image of Charming, screaming in his cell and she laughs again.  Lana Parilla’s chuckle makes me want apples.  Just saying.

In Gold’s shop, Regina turns up to gloat.  That’s really the only reason she goes there.  I love Regina but girl, you need to dial that down a notch.  Because when none of your plans work out the way you want, there’s a whole bunch of backpedaling with your name on it.  You see, I want you to win too, but not like this.  “I found a solution to my Emma Swan problem.  An old, reliable solution.”  She tells Gold that she sacrificed the last bit of magic she had to get the sleeping enchantment.

“You made magic from magic,” Gold muses, then reminds her that all magic comes with a price.  Regina tells him that he can pay it because now the curse will be stronger than ever and he will be kept in Storybrooke, where he belongs.  “I won!” she crows, and I have to admit that I like arrogant!Regina.  She’s so full of herself and confident in her plans that it’s hard not to admire her for it.  Even if it will all come crashing down, which I suspect it will, and in the most horrid of ways for her, too.

Henry turns up at Emma’s and she tries to tell him that she’s leaving.  He tells her that she can’t trust Regina and that she’s just scared, that it happens to all heroes.  Crying, Emma tells him that this is reality and things have to change, that he needs to behave and not believe in curses.  Henry tells Emma that Regina wants her dead but Emma says that all Regina’s ever done is “fight for you”.  Well, I’m glad you noticed, Emma.  Say what you like about Regina (and lots of people have which is why I don’t frequent message boards that often anymore…), she’s never hurt Henry or NOT taken care of him.  But I digress, and will save my ranting about Regina as mother for some other time.

Spying the apple turnover, Henry questions it and tells Emma that it’s poisoned.  He says that it’s a trick to get rid of the savior and that as long as Emma’s alive, she’s a threat to the curse; that her leaving won’t change that.  He grabs the turnover from her and says, “You may not believe in the curse, or me.  But I believe in you.”  Ugh.  I don’t know what hurts more: the fact that Henry’s so in love with his mother and she’s going to leave him, or that it’s all true and Emma HAS to find out sooner or later, right?  Either way, this is a whole bunch of feelings being thrown at me and I find myself making a snap decision never to eat apples again.  The fact that I’m slightly allergic to them has no bearing on this.

Henry eats the apple turnover (still looks delicious, by the way) and then falls to the ground in the same pose as Snow.

Oh dear.  Something tells me Regina’s not going to be such a happy bunny when she finds out.  And I’m willing to bet that the season finale next week will complete this show’s plan to make me remove my own heart with a spork.  Good going, show!

I loved this episode.  I probably shouldn’t have, as Jane Espenson had a hand in it and we all know about my love/hate relationship with her.  But in collaboration with someone else, I thought this played out pretty well.  I love what they’re doing with Regina, making her in turn completely unlikeable and incredibly sympathetic.  But as we’ve only got one episode left, I have a nasty feeling that the light at the end of Regina’s tunnel might just be a train.


Ruth was born a fangirl and likes to write both fanfic and commentary on her favorite shows. She is whimsical at best; rambling at worst. She lives in London, but secretly hopes to have homes all over the world if that winning lottery ticket ever works out. When it comes to TV, she is a glass swan of emotion and is unashamed of sharing that with whoever will listen.

1 comment

  1. You are so spot on with this review! I am psyched for Sunday’s season finale. And I’ve got myself a few ideas how this mother of all epic-sodes will play out…

    Of all things it will be aired *drumroll* … Mother’s Day here in the U.S.

    And I think *both* Henry’s mothers hold keys to the final solution.

    ~ LZClotho

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *