S1E16: Once Upon a Time prides itself not merely on mystical storylines, but also on the sheer complexity of its characters. Throughout the inaugural season, the writers have delved into each character’s back story, proving that even the most heinous villains weren’t necessarily necessarily born evil. Not only does this concept make the characters more intriguing, but it also severely blurs the lines between good and evil, making each character’s actions incredibly difficult to anticipate. After all, if evil isn’t always evil, then good may not always be good. “Heart of Darkness” takes this idea and runs with it.
As Mary Margaret struggles with being blamed for Kathryn’s death, her fairytale counterpart faces some internal struggles of her own as she plots vengeance against the Evil Queen. As of now, our fairytale heroes and heroines have always stayed on the path of righteousness, however, this story demonstrates just how easy it is for good to be swayed by evil. So while we readily believe in Mary Margaret’s innocence, this episode challenges our allegiance by proving there’s a dark side hidden inside everyone, even someone as pure as Snow White.
“Where are you going?” – Grumpy
“To kill the Queen.” – Snow White
In the fairytale world, we’re finally given a glimpse into what life’s been like for Snow after she took Rumpelstiltskin’s potion – the one that made her forget all about Prince Charming. But it isn’t just her memories that have been altered, it’s her entire personality. She’s constantly irritable and downright mean to the seven dwarfs, which causes them to hold an intervention and help her to control her anger. She decides to take her aggressive behavior out on the person who’s hurt her the most: the Evil Queen. But before she’s able to carry out her plan, Grumpy convinces Snow to visit Rumpelstiltskin and ask for her memories back, hoping it will change her into the kind, caring person she once was.
“Evil doesn’t always look evil. Sometimes it’s staring right at us and we don’t even know it.” – Regina
Bound by her duties as the town sheriff, Emma is forced to arrest Mary Margaret for Kathryn’s murder. And though Emma believes foul play is at hand, the evidence against Mary is compelling. Not only does the box in which the heart was found belong to Mary Margaret, but Emma also discovers the murder weapon hidden in Mary’s bedroom, with no sign of a break-in.
Indeed, things couldn’t look much bleaker for Mary Margaret, and the situation even dashes Henry’s faith in Operation Cobra. However, August the mystery writer once again shows up at Henry’s side and urges him to look to his story book for answers. It’s then that August admits he believes Henry’s theory that the stories in the book are real and that he hopes to one day make a believer out of Emma as well. With his faith fully restored, Henry steals Regina’s keys to the town and shows Emma just how easily his foster mother could have planted the murder weapon in Mary Margaret’s apartment without it looking like a break-in.
“Evil isn’t born, deary; it’s made.” – Rumpelstiltskin
Back in the fairytale world, we discover that Snow’s condition is something even the powerful Rumpelstiltskin can’t fix. He explains that the only way to break the spell is with true love and since that’s not something you can bottle, there’s nothing he can do to help her. However, he knows the real reason she came to see him and offers her a way to kill the Queen: he presents her with a bow and arrow that never fails to find its target and instructs her to attack while the Queen is en route to her summer palace. He gives her the weapon free of charge, simply saying that he’s invested in her future — which is just cryptic enough to warrant suspicion.
But Charming also hears of Snow White’s murderous plan and sets out to stop her. The only problem is, he has no idea where she could be, so he drops in on Rumpel for help. Just like he did with Snow White, Rumpel informs him that only true love’s kiss can break the spell. However, he also reveals that if Snow does kill the Queen, she’ll become just as evil as the person whose life she takes. Again: evil isn’t born, it’s made. But Rumpel is more than willing to help Charming in his quest – for a price. Rumpel offers to tell Charming where Snow White is in exchange for Charming’s cloak. And since Charming is desperate and doesn’t see the harm a simple cloak could do, he accepts the terms.
However, the task isn’t as easy as Rumpel made it out to be. After Charming finds Snow and kisses her, she still remains on her path for revenge and ties him up to ensure he won’t intervene. But being that he’s Prince Charming, he manages to get free just in time to put himself in the crosshairs, taking the arrow for the Queen. This brave act proves that he’s willing to die in order to save Snow from becoming evil, so she kisses him and this time it actually works. She’s finally back to her old self with her old memories. But yet again, the writers won’t let us bask in the presence of true love for very long. King George’s guards interrupt their reunion and take Charming away, while Snow promises to find and save him – no matter what.
“You actually think I’m capable of that kind of evil?” – Mary Margaret
Knowing that she’s in a great deal of trouble, Mary Margaret enlists Mr. Gold as her lawyer, and he’s more than willing to come to her aid. And while he appears to have Mary Margaret’s best interests at heart, we all know better. Nevertheless, she’s running out of options and she’s desperate for legal help.
For his part, David asks Dr. Hopper to hypnotize him to help remember his blackouts, in an effort to prove Mary Margaret’s innocence. However, he recalls a latent memory of Mary Margaret as Snow White and her attempt to kill the Queen. Of course, David doesn’t know this is a memory from a different life, so he automatically assumes she’s referring to Kathryn, therefore squashing his faith in her innocence. After relaying this memory to a jail-ridden Mary Margaret, she’s understandably hurt by his doubts, especially since she never doubted his innocence in this whole ordeal. Yet again, another misunderstanding comes between the pair, pushing these two star-crossed lovers even further apart.
“She is a woman who’s had her heart broken and that can make you do unspeakable things.” – Regina
But Mary Margaret proves that she’s unwillingly to sit idly by and wait for her sentence to be carried out. Like her Snow White counterpart, she takes matters into her own hands. After finding the key to her jail cell suspiciously tucked in her bed, she makes a run for it. And while we know she can’t go too far since no one seems to be able to leave Storybrooke, it will be interesting to see just how far she’s willing to go to prove her innocence.
And in fairytale world, we see Rumpel’s real motivation for nabbing Charming’s cloak. He finds a strand of Charming’s hair and combines it with the lock of hair Snow gave him in exchange for the memory-erasing potion. By combining the strands, he’s able to bottle true love, making him more powerful than ever. And given all the trouble he’s caused in the past, that’s definitely not a good thing for either world.
Were you intrigued to see a different side to Snow White and Mary Margaret? Do you still believe Regina is behind it all? What will Rumpel do now that he’s successfully bottled true love? Sound off in the comments below or get at me on Twitter @KellyBean0415.