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Once Upon a Time: Heart of Darkness

“Evil isn’t born, it’s made.”

What’s the opposite of directionless? The EP’s recently made allusions to ‘Heart of Darkness’ being the pivotal turning point of the season, the episode where things really start to pick up steam, and it seems they lived up to their promise. ‘Heart of Darkness’ was all about evil, and how it’s a path that’s decided upon, not one that you fall on to, but it was the switch-up of power that made this episode the fundamental phase in Once Upon a Time’s story that it was.

As a re-imagining of classic stories, it’s important that this show is just that; a story, something with a beginning, a clear middle and an end. This early on in the show’s lifetime, I’m not expecting any kind of endgame, but what I did love seeing was a clear purpose forming itself.

Since the pilot, all of the characters have ended up playing themselves right into Regina’s hands. She’s used almost every single situation to her advantage, manipulating Storybrooke’s residents like the evil puppet master that she is. What really got me excited here was Emma’s realization that for the first time, they finally have the upper hand. This is made even more glaring by that fact that not only has the evil Queen lost control of the investigation, but she’s now lost control of the person she so desperately wants to destroy, the person on whom this whole plan rides. It’s a great way to get this season moving towards something. I can’t imagine Regina will remain the principal antagonist for the show’s entire run, so her downfall should happen soon so she can become the unwilling ally she so clearly needs to be.

The further this series gets, the stronger an impression I get of what kind of a universe these characters have come from and the clearer the flashbacks are becoming. Every story they explore is made that much stronger when they utilize characters that we’ve already delved into, and use these new developments further on down the line. Just like Belle helped Grumpy in ‘Dreamy,’ Red, now fully aware of the animal within her, was able to use it to help someone else, which would have been impossible had she not been made aware of her true identity before running off with James. They’re subtle elements, but they’re also pivotal to remind us that this isn’t just about a core group of people, it’s about an entire universe of characters, all trapped by the same curse and they're also the key to making sure every part of the story is important.

This whole missing Kathryn story has been a little drawn out, but I get the point of it all, and where it’s taking the story to next. Still, despite bringing the best out of Mary Margaret and making me finally feel something for her, its made David out to be this giant douche. Knowing Mary for the kind and wonderful person that she is, he still found himself accusing her of committing this despicable crime. Did he not even stop to question the fact that it was winter in that memory? Or that Mary’s hair was clearly longer that it was before Kathryn was killed? Although that could have been a wig. I know I always put my long black wig on before I commit any first degree crimes; it’s a fashion faux pas not to.

The show is in a really great position right now, with a lot of momentum being built. The ball is firmly in the writers’ court; if they make any major missteps now, it could cost the series a lot in terms of potential and excitement. Don’t mess it up, please?


More than a few interesting symbols throughout: Regina peeling a red apple, perhaps alluding to her unraveling of Mary Margaret’s life? If you watched closely, Mr Gold could also be seen inspecting the Genie’s lamp from ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.’

I loved that the writers are showing some bit of humour too, and in a way, are admitting to the cheesiness of this whole thing. That scene with Snow hounding the dwarves at the start of the episode was hilarious.

So, I guess Regina did kill Kathryn after all. I’m really surprised at how long it took Emma to figure out she’s behind all of this. A ten-year old figured it out faster than her.

I’m glad that Henry found out about August knowing the truth. With everyone constantly telling you how wrong you are, it must have been mightily consoling to learn that you aren’t crazy after all. I’d still like more answers from him.

I assume Rumpie was the one that put the key into Mary’s cell? I also caught the black blanket she was using; very clever.

Great parallels between Mary Margaret trying to prove her innocence, and Snow doing the opposite.

Is David starting to remember his past life? Could that small flashback be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Rumpie was able to complete his collection and bottle love using Snow and James's hair. I don’t know why, but I always find that little squealing thing that Robert Carlyle does really endearing, am I weird?

He Said, She Said

Sneezy: “You brought bails of straw into the house even though you know that I’m-*sneeze*-allergic."
Snow: “You are allergic to everything!”
Happy: “You broke my mug!”
Snow: “You’re lucky it wasn’t that mug you call a face!”

August: “Let’s just say I’m a believer, and I want to help people see the light. That, my friend, is why I’m here.”

Regina: “Everyone has a dark side, David.”
David: “Yeah, sure, but having a dark side and doing something so evil, that’s a different thing, that’s not what she is.”
Regina: “Perhaps. But I always believe evil isn’t born, it’s made.”

James: “I would rather die than let you fill your heart with darkness.”

Mary Margaret: “When I found you wandering in the woods, when everyone thought you killed Kathryn, I stood by you. I never once doubted you, and now that everything is pointing to me, you actually think that I am capable of that kind of evil.”
My heart broke three times over.

Emma: “Every time I’ve gone up against Regina she’s seen it coming and I’ve lost.
Mary Margaret: “What makes this time any different?”
Emma “Because she doesn’t know I suspect anything.”

3 out of 4 golden arrows.

Previously posted at PandaTV.


  1. Lovely review, Panda. And so prompt! It really was an excellent episode, and it does feel like the plot and characters are starting to come together. I also noticed that I'm starting to watch it the night it airs instead of letting it rest on the DVR for a few days, so I'm definitely more interested in the series than I initially was.

  2. Great thoughts, Panda. I particularly love you sharing your tips on how to dress for a first degree crime. Are you a consultant on Justified? They recently featured some characters donning long dark wigs before committing some major felonies. Maybe we've got a trend forming!

    This series leaves me very, very conflicted. There are parts of it that I really love and find engaging (fairytale land, Mr. Gold, sometimes Mary Margaret). But there are parts I find utterly maddening (Regina, David, Emma, Henry, pretty much almost all of Storybrooke). So much so that I want to scream at the t.v. because the characters are horrifically annoying or really freaking stupid. It is weird to watch a show where half of it makes you want to beat your head against the wall and the other half is really entertaining. It's like the heady days of early Glee (back when I still watched that show).

    For now, the intrigue is outweighing the pain on this one. I'm certainly keen on Mr. Gold holding the genie lamp and suggesting that Emma may have more help than she thinks undermining Regina. It feeds into my desperate hope that Sidney is playing Regina (which could explain why Emma's BS detector doesn't work on him --- he's not BS-ing her).

    (P.S. Thank you, Supernatural for ruining non-cartoon unicorns for me. Every time I see the unicorn over the title block at the end of the preview teaser, I envision it impaling someone, then running away with rainbows and sunshine shooting out of its nether regions. Sigh.)

  3. Wonderful review and episode. Snow and Mary Margaret's developments had me intriguied all the way.
    You're not weird..I've started finding Rumple's squeal to be cute. I missed Gold/Rumple in the past episodes so it was nice to see him back. Bottling true love? Most curious..

  4. Thanks for the lovely review Panda. I also loved the bit at the beginning with Snow White tralalaing to the bird and then trying to hit it with the broom. I much prefer Snow White not so sugary sweet. This show is growing on me as well. I agree that they are at a crossroads and it is up to the writers to send it up to a better place or into the ratings dump.

  5. Jess, you aren't alone. I am feeling very conflicted about this show. I find myself feeling extremely bored and sometimes annoyed during the Storybrooke parts of the show. However, the fairy tale land is still very intriguing, so I will definitely keep watching just to see how it all comes together (if it does) by the end of the season.

    Great review Panda. I wasn't sure what to think about who might have put the key in her cell, but your theory sounds very interesting. I hope you are right. I assumed it might be Regina, trying to make her look more guilty since she tried to "escape."

  6. Thanks to everyone for reading, as always =)

    Doc, I loved that birdy smashing scene! That whole sequence in the Dwarves house was particularly hilarious.

    And good theory Suzanne, she's certainly cunning enough to pull a scheme like that off.

  7. "I know I always put my long black wig on before I commit any first degree crimes; it’s a fashion faux pas not to."

    I almost died laughing at this! great review, Panda!

  8. Just rewatched this one. Did anyone else notice that Regina was dressed EXACTLY like Captain Hook while riding through the forest? That plus the brief glimpse of a hook in the latest preview....I'm DYING waiting for Season Two!

  9. Panda -- what a great review! I loved your paragraph about the Kathryn story and couldn't agree with you more. The whole lack of continuity with the weather and the hair really jumped out at me as well.

    The scene at the beginning in which the writers took a typical Disney scene, the heroine sweeping and singing with small animals, and then turned it on its head had me laughing out loud. Brilliantly done.

    And, maybe I've watched too much CSI, but the intertwining hairs at the end screamed DNA to me -- not to mention that they looked a lot like a double helix. Cloning possibilities?


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