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Once Upon A Time, Season 3, Episode 18



Ghost Story

We open on Regina in a mirror, putting on earrings. She seems to be glaring at herself, but I think that’s just her face’s go-to expression. The doorbell rings. Regina opens the door but no one’s there. She looks down to see a basket of green apples on her doorstep. A voice says “a gift.†It’s coming from inside the house!

It’s Zelena, leaning against Regina’s table and drinking a glass of wine. Zelena says she saw Regina’s apple tree in the yard and thought she could use something better. Red apples are too sweet. Zelena likes green apples, because people like things “a little sharper.†Regina counters that green apples are just “bitter†because we need to be bombarded with metaphors for Zelena’s resentment because of her upbringing. And in case we didn’t get that, Zelena picks up a tchotchke from Regina’s table. Regina reprimands her “that’s not yours.†Zelena bellyaches: “Story of my life.†Ah sibling rivalry. It is wicked, isn’t it?

Zelena says she dropped by to make sure Regina is okay after their “fight.†Regina’s not buying it but says she’s fine. Zelena says she loves Regina’s furniture. (Who wouldn’t? I’m redoing my home office and I told my husband I want the décor to be “Evil Queen’s House.†He said “Evil Queen? Is that your new nickname?†That was unnecessary, I think, but I digress.) Zelena wants what Regina has.

Regina counters that if Zelena wants her super power to be envy “go right ahead.†Zelena says, “Envy is just another word for ambition.†Regina answers “well that’s just not true.†I love when she cuts to the chase.

Zelena blathers on about her own work ethic and accuses Regina of casting her curse as a form of running away. She says Regina turned her back on every opportunity for happiness. She accuses her of not taking risks, of not really living her life. She calls it a waste and adds bitingly “I can see why our mother was so disappointed in you.â€

But Regina doesn’t take the bait and points out that Cora gave Zelena away. Understandably this does not go over well with Zelena. She tells Regina that Regina doesn’t know the whole story and “that’s exactly what’s going to hurt you.†Regina laughs. These two are both so good with their game faces.

Regina asks why Zelena is really there. Zelena says she’s there as a distraction so that the Dark One can get Regina’s heart. Now I take back my game face comment because Regina looks both frightened and furious. Then she throws a letter opener at Zelena. She had to know that wasn’t going to work. Zelena magics herself away.

In Storybrooke’s woods, Robin Hood and his men are guarding Regina’s heart. Rumple as the Dark One threatens Robin’s son, the adorable Roland. Robin says his crossbow never misses its target as he aims at Rumple. I thought it was the Enchanted Forest (EF) bow and arrow that never misses. Anyway, Robin shoots at Rumple who diverts the arrow toward Roland. Rumple says he doesn’t want to, but he will. His eyes look evil but I think he really means it. Zelena has control over him. He’s forced to do this. Robin refuses to sacrifice his son for Regina’s black heart, so he gives in and gives Rumple the heart. Rumple says thank you and that he is truly sorry.

Now Regina shows up. Robin tells her that Rumple has her heart. In a very unRegina-like fashion Regina does not throw a fit and asks if anyone was hurt. Robin says no and apologizes. Regina says “nothing’s worth the loss of a child.†Well I guess I can sort of see why Robin likes her in spite of the fact that she had his face plastered on wanted posters all over the EF.

Regina says there’s a bigger problem. Even though Zelena has her heart, she’s still alive. That means Zelena wants something other than to kill Regina’s, and that ain’t good. But Regina vows to stop her.

She heads to Gold’s shop where she rifles through the assorted EF paraphernalia until Belle comes in yelling at her. Why weren’t you watching the store, Belle? Regina says she needs to destroy her sister because her sister has her heart.

This makes Belle wary. Is Regina under Zelena’s control? Regina calms her worries. She had the foresight to protect her heart from that. She needs to find out what Zelena wants and asks Belle what she has here. When Belle replies “self-respect†I laugh because a person with self-respect wouldn’t keep insisting her boyfriend has a good heart despite all evidence to the contrary.

But Belle is talking about Regina and how she would never help someone who imprisoned her in a castle…..blah blah blah. If I’m not mistaken, Rumple imprisoned her in a castle, but we don’t have time to reason with her. Regina says all that is in the past, then gets right to the point. She needs to defeat “the person who’s puppet mastering your boyfriend.†That gets Belle’s attention.

Belle says she’s been doing some research, trying to match the items Zelena has collected to various spells. Because books are our friends! Belle wants to know what’s so special about Regina’s heart. Regina says she doesn’t know, and then asks for “the candle.â€

Belle brings her Lumiere. Regina doesn’t want it. “Not that, Liberace.†Hee. I guess it’s plausible that Regina had seen him on TV over the past almost 30 years, but I’m guessing Belle has no idea who or what Regina is talking about. In any case, Regina needs the candle Mary Margaret used to kill her mother. Belle knows exactly where it is, but says its power is gone. Regina says it’s not about how her mother died; it’s about how she lived.

So we cut to the EF where a youngish, Rose McGowan Cora is serving drinks in a tavern. In the process of keeping away from the handsy patrons, she falls onto a handsome man. He asks her to join him at his table. He apparently has been watching Cora closely because he knows exactly what to say to get in her pantaloons. He tells her she carries herself like a lady. Cora has heard the “dress for the job you want†advice and says, though she was born a peasant, she is trying to be better.

Now the handsome man loses his smooth moves and clumsily drops a handkerchief out of his pocket so that it happens to land with the royal crest visible. Cora practically foams at the mouth. The guy gives her a cockamamie story amount wanting her to like him as himself, not a prince. Yada yada yada. Come on Cora, you’re smarter than this!

Nope. She’s not. He says he’s leaving town but he asks her to marry him with a ring made of straw for metaphorical purposes. He wants to meet her two weeks to give her the real thing. Dontcha think this is all happening a little fast, Cora? No, she doesn’t. Blinded by ambition when he calls her “Princess Cora,†she moves things along even faster by offering to spend the night with this bozo. So. Yeah. He keeps a straight face but I know he’s already thinking of his locker-room stories.

In Storybrooke present, Emma walks into the library at Regina’s house. (We’ve never seen that room before, have we?) Hook has an apple. Emma makes a joke about watching out for the apples in this house. When Hook doesn’t laugh, Emma asks him what the problem is. Hook is worried about the Wicked Witch. Emma says Regina has a plan. Hook is sure she does, and he’s still awfully mopey.

Mary Margaret and David are here, too. They’re arguing over baby names. Mary Margaret wants Leopold after her father. David worries that people will make fun of him. He’s right, and by the way, Snow got to name the first baby. Maybe it’s time to give David a turn.

Regina comes in with some tea, then yells when David tries to take a sip. Turns out it’s a deadly poison for summoning dark forces. Then don’t call it tea, Regina. Emma wants to know what’s going on. Regina fills them in and tells them they need to talk to her mother.

At Zelena’s farmhouse, a flying monkey comments on Regina’s battered heart. Zelena says that’s the point. She puts it in a trunk next to David’s sword for safekeeping. She pulls a snazzy suit of the wardrobe. The monkey is jealous.

In the storm cellar, Zelena tells Rumple she’s got Regina’s heart, Charming’s courage, and Rumple’s brain so it’s time to celebrate. She wants Rumple to wear the suit. This is getting kinky. Rumple says not so fast, she hasn’t got everything. Zelena says it’s just a matter of time before the baby comes. Now she tells Rumple to get dressed or she’ll torture him.

Back at Regina’s house, the séance begins. She says it’s fairly simple to summon the dead. You just need the murder weapon and the murderer. She nods toward Mary Margaret who looks sort of upset and hurt but really, she can’t argue with that.

Regina lights the candle. The group holds hands around the table. The fireplace goes out and a portal opens in the ceiling. Regina calls for her mother, demanding “do not ignore me now, Mother. You owe me this.†That’s not a very good way to get your dead mother to do your bidding. The table shakes; the candle goes out, Mary Margaret yelps. Then Hook apologizes for bumping the table and ruining everything. Is there a reason that he doesn’t want them talking to Cora? He did used to be in cahoots with her.

Regina pouts because nothing happened with the portal and she thinks her mother doesn’t want to talk to her. Whatever secrets she had she wants to keep.

But she won’t keep them from us because we’re going to an EF flashback. Cora stands waiting at the crossroads in the pouring rain, so if we didn’t already know this was going to end in disaster, the downpour is a good indicator. Her so-called beloved stands her up.

Two months later, Cora comes upon Jonathan in a gazebo. She wants to know what happened. Jonathan is kind of snarky and Cora notices his boots, gloves, and shovel and realizes he’s the gardener. She’s shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that he lied to her. She says he took her virtue. He begs to differ. He says she practically forced it on him when she thought he was a prince. Well, he does have her number. Then he calls her a harlot, which is uncalled for and most likely dangerous. Oh, stupid, stupid Jonathan, you don’t know who you’re dealing with. She may be powerless now, but that’s going to change, and I bet you’re the first person she comes after.

She wants Jonathan to support the baby. He says, yeah, good luck with that. He knocks her down then runs away but guess who comes to the rescue. It’s Prince Leopold who is not the same actor who played Prince Leopold in previous seasons, but is still bald and doesn’t look that much younger.

Back at Regina’s house in Storybrooke present the Savior posse figures out their next move. When everyone leaves, Mary Margaret hangs back to talk to Regina. Regina says she’s “not in the mood for a heart to heart.†Mary Margaret has a pretty good comeback. “I’m not sure that’s physically possible right now.†Regina doesn’t laugh but admires her gumption.

When they walk back into the library, the doorway to Regina’s front hall magically disappears and I’m not sure what that means. Did Regina magic the house to keep herself protected inside? Is Zelena trying to trap Regina? Did Cora’s ghost try to trap Regina?

Moving backward in time to the EF, Cora walks with Leopold telling stories of her childhood. He finds her delightful, but he seems a little mousy. When Cora gets chilly just as they coincidentally happen upon a fire pit, Leopold admits he doesn’t know how to build a fire. Cora does and starts building one. Leopold says when he’s king he wants to be a man of the people, but how can he when he can’t do simple things, like light a campfire? Cora gets him to blow on the embers, which has the dual advantage of teaching him how to make a fire while simultaneously being sexy.

They talk about kings and the necessity of marriage and heirs. Cora asks him if he has anyone in mind. He says yes…. And she waits with baited breath. Then he says “Princess Eva†because he just doesn’t see what is going on here. Cora, used to disappointment, does not look defeated. She looks resolved to turn this around. She asks about Eva. Leopold says he’s never met her. She gets all up in his face and says “what’s the use of having power if you can’t choose whom to wed.â€

At the mayor’s mansion, Mary Margaret apologizes for murdering Regina’s mother. Regina admits that the situation is very complicated—Cora did kill Eva. Regina tries to understand her relationship with her mother, why Cora never told her she had a sister and, and why Cora gave up Zelena.

Suddenly, something goes bump in the night. There’s an odd light coming from underneath the door of an unused room. (This is supposed to be horror movie scary, I think, but I just keep wondering how many bedrooms and bathrooms the mayor’s mansion has.)

Regina opens the door to a ghostly figure spinning ghostly thread. The ghost turns its head and I swear, to me, it looks just like Lindsay Lohan. But Regina calls her mother. Either way, the ghost does not look happy. (She is in her Rose McGowan form, not her Barbara Hershey form so I guess in the afterlife one reverts to one’s youth. This comforts me.)

After the commercial, Emma practices her magic at Granny’s. She’s getting good at it. To impress Hook, she magics the hook right off his arm and onto a pendant light. But this is mopey Hook. He is not amused.

Belle runs in. She has cracked the code of Zelena’s plan.

And now we’re back at Zelena’s farmhouse and va va voom she is wearing a low-cut dress. Miss Gulch never wore clothes like that. I still like Regina’s wardrobe better—more tasteful, less overt. Rumple looks dapper in his new suit. This is a very odd scene. Zelena pours his wine then taunts him because she didn’t use the dagger to control him, he came to her kitchen by his own volition. That’s not exactly true though. She did threaten him with torture.

Zelena says she knows he’s after her secret—why she needed courage, a heart, and a brain, and this specific baby. She details her plan about traveling back in time and tries to get Rumple on board because he’ll see Baelfire again. But all I can concentrate on is the food. Is that chicken pot pie? Is that what Wicked Witches make for romantic dinners? Did Almira Gulch ever have a romantic dinner?

Rumple is obviously not hungry. He says time travel spells are against the fundamental laws of magic. Zelena pours herself more wine and says magic doesn’t fail, people fail. She says she can handle it because she’s superior. Rumple is intrigued. She’s going back to reclaim her life and she’s inviting Rumple to come with her.

Back to the Lindsay Lohan ghost. Regina says the ghost shouldn’t be there. The spell was only supposed to open a portal for talking. Mary Margaret guesses the apparition is there to get her, because she’s the murderer. Now the ghost comes after Mary Margaret. And Regina blocks the way and says “Back down, Mother†like a teenage girl arguing about curfew. She demands to know what Cora did to Zelena. Cora doesn’t want to discuss it. She tosses Regina aside and goes after Mary Margaret.

Regina magics herself and Mary Margaret back to the library but it’s not that easy to get away from a ghost who is angry at her murderer and her bitchy daughter. The ghost follows and Regina tries to hold her off.

We cut to the EF where Cora meets up with the cad who impregnated her. He’s heard she’s marrying the prince. He makes unseemly jokes about her saying “yes†to him, “several times in one night. It was quite impressive.†I think he’s patting himself on the back here. Ick. Jonathan calls her a fraud and wonders if Prince Leopold knows she’s pregnant. Then he extorts money from her to keep her secret. This guy’s a real prize. Cora agrees to it. And she’s overheard by evesdropping Princess Eva.

After the break, we’re back at the mayor’s mansion where Regina is still holding off Lindsay Lohan. Mary Margaret begs for forgiveness but it’s kind of too late for apologies. Regina says this isn’t about Mary Margaret, it’s about her and Cora. She stops the ghost’s attack and demands answers. But even in death, Cora’s got the moves, she pushes Regina aside again and slams herself into Mary Margaret’s body. I hope this doesn’t hurt the baby. It seems dangerous but it is useful because, being possessed, Mary Margaret relives everything that happened to Cora leading up to Zelena’s birth and abandonment.

Mary Margaret sees Cora in the great hall of the castle. Leopold confronts her about her lies. People are talking. They say Cora’s pregnant. Cora insists she’s not. I don’t know how she plans on keeping that secret. But it turns out she won’t have to. Eva comes in and accuses Cora of being a liar. She tells Leopold to check Cora’s pockets where of course he finds the gold and jewels that she was going to give to Jonathan. Barbara Hershey Cora would not be dumb enough to get caught like this, but this is Rose McGowan Cora. She’s young yet so I’ll cut her some slack. The guards drag Cora out of the castle.

Eva goes on about giving him a child he deserves, one who is pure as snow. I liked Rena Sofer Eva, but this young Eva gets on my last nerve.

Back at the mayor’s mansion, Regina removes Cora from Mary Margaret’s body and shoves her back through the portal. It reminds me of when she shoved Cora through the looking glass to Wonderland.

As usual, Belle, David, Emma and Hook arrive as soon as Regina has done all the heavy lifting. Mary Margaret starts to come to. The group argues about taking her to a doctor. Regina says there’s no time for that. Belle tells Regina what she’s learned about Zelena’s plan to go back in time. David wonders what she’s trying to accomplish. So Mary Margaret tells him the whole story of how Eva and Leopold forced Cora to give up Zelena. Emma says “I thought our family were the good guys.†Regina responds with my favorite quote ever from her. “Life is too messy for it to ever be that simple.†People who don’t live in fairy tales should know that, Emma.

So the Savior posse takes this story through its natural progression and determines that Zelena wants to go back in time to kill Eva so that Cora marries Leopold. Regina, always one step ahead, says if that happens, Snow and Emma and Henry would never have been born. Mary Margaret points out that Regina might not have been born, either.

Hook tries to lighten the mood by remarking how it’s a good thing no one’s ever succeeded with a time travel spell. David guesses that the baby is the key but since the baby’s not born yet, they have time. David? Have you looked at your wife lately? She’s ready to freaking pop. And I’m sure she’s not looking forward to another ill-timed birth with a fairy tale villain breathing down her neck. So she reminds David that they don’t have very much time.

In the EF, a shabbily-dressed Cora gives birth in a peasant’s hut. When she’s healed up (because she seems to be walking fine) she brings the baby to the woods and leaves her there with some final motherly advice. “Life is cruel and full of betrayal.†Yep, especially when your mother abandons you right from the get-go. And in a reversal of Snow’s comment upon putting infant Emma in that tree, Cora says “I must give you away to give me my best chance.†Very nice, writers. I admire the symmetry. And it’s so like Cora to say something like that. Baby Zelena must know what’s going on because she starts crying and a tornado whips up. Some have conjectured that baby Zelena started the tornado and that could be the case since she used magic that scared her adoptive father when he and his wife found her. Still I don’t think it’s absolutely clear where the tornado came from. Maybe we’ll find out in a later episode.

Back in Storybrooke, a very grown up Selena finishes dinner with Rumple. Rumple thanks her for “showing me something I should have seen long ago.†I think he’s talking about Zelena’s boobs but he’s not. He’s talking about how he should have helped Zelena learn magic. He pours Zelena more wine. He’s trying to get her drunk. I think he has a plan.

After she talks about how past mistakes can’t harm them anymore, Rumple leans in and kisses her neck. Zelena has obviously not gotten any for a loooong time because this just makes her melt. (I mean not the way a bucket of water would make her melt, but, you know.) She seems to be really enjoying Rumple’s company when he ruins everything by trying to get the dagger. She stops him and tells him now that he got her all hot and bothered without a happy ending, he is uninvited on her trip to the past.

Rumple nobly talks about honoring his son’s sacrifice by killing Zelena. She orders him back to his cage, adding a Kardashian-like “doll.†Rumple leaves and Zelena looks hurt. She thought Rumple really had the hots for her. Foiled again, Zelena.

At the mayor’s mansion Regina cleans up the mess ghost Lindsay/Cora left. Mary Margaret walks in and Regina asks whether she should be on bed rest. Mary Margaret says Dr. Whale cleared her and told her she had a “tough placenta, which somehow came out creepy.†Doesn’t Storybrooke have any other doctors? I would imagine it’s unethical for Dr. Whale to treat a one-night stand.

Regina gets another good line. “You officially have a less damaging relationship with my mother than I do. And you killed her.†I have to say it again. I love me some Regina. Mary Margaret is upset and confused about her own mother. She can’t believe her mother could be so sneaky and vindictive and wonders what changed her—which is a sure sign that Mary Margaret will be going back in time with Zelena, and probably Regina, and most likely the rest of the Savior posse. Regina thinks maybe if they knew more about their family’s history they would have gotten along better. Mary Margaret says they would have found something to fight about because she was a “brat.â€

Mary Margaret wants to stop wasting time “being haunted by the past.†So I guess that means Regina is fully redeemed in her eyes. Okay. Regina says they can be haunted by their “impending lack of a future.†Mary Margaret goes all Pollyanna saying Zelena won’t win if the Savior posse works together and she knows that Regina will find happiness. It’s quite the pep talk.

And it works. In Storybrooke’s woods, Robin sits by the fire as Regina approaches. He apologizes again for losing her heart and promises to get it back. Regina grabs him and kisses him. It seemed hotter when Emma did that to Hook. And I still haven’t forgotten that, for all intents and purposes, she raped Graham. Robin kisses her right back, though, so I guess I’m okay with it.

I liked this episode. We learned more about Cora and we got to see Emma’s magic progress a bit. Hook is still mopey and Mary Margaret is still pregnant though, so we’ve got a long way to go. And I guess we’re doing a Back To The Future thing now. Alrighty, it’s not a fairy tale, but I’ll try to keep up.

To discuss this episode, go to the forums: http://freejinger.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=13046&p=724763#p724763


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