Once Upon a Time: Mother Knows Best

Once Upon a Time S01E18: "The Stable Boy"

Real-world announcement: Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin are dating. I don't know how many times I've said it before, once every other review maybe, but I called this and it is putting a smile on my face every time I think of Once Upon a Time. I'm not a shipper, I swear. I just make shoebox dioramas of Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin having breakfast together. IT HURTS NO ONE. As if the mere fact that Josh Dallas is living his dream and Snow White and Prince Charming are, at least, bumping noses off screen isn't enough, last night's episode systematically dismantled every single one of my complaints about Once Upon a Time. Pinch, me, am I dreaming? This show just fixed its damn self. First:

Hell yes, Emma finally found a ponytail holder, and she looks great! The only Sheriff who wears false eyelashes to work finally got some of that ten pounds of hair out of her face. YES.

Second: Emma came to a moment in her life when she realized she does not know when people are lying. She said it out loud! Maybe it was drinking those roofies last week or maybe Kitsis and Horowitz have been reading these reviews, but if that's so, then Kitsis and Horowitz: Some of my commenters deserve a writing credit because that is all we have been saying these last few weeks.

Third: Emma is finally picking up that book and reading it.

AND Emma's doing detective work! Okay, someone had to remind her to do the detective work, but I'll take it. Also, Gus Fring's impassioned speech of lies cracked me up. Lies told in hats are adorable.

When he came in that sporty hat and trench coat carrying those fake tulips from Michael's, I started grinding my teeth immediately. He was the one responsible for looking up phone records and doing the actual police work? Little did I realize by the time the episode was over that Emma would discover that he'd been playing her like a violin with long, blonde curls.

And most importantly, Regina came out as a straight-up villain to Mary Margaret, telling her she knew damn well she didn't kill Kathryn, she just wanted to watch her squirm. She even squeezed MM's little cheeks!

I am kissing my fingertips like a happy chef right now. I am fanning my hands toward the TV screen and pretending to smell the aroma and going, "Eeetsa good, theeese sauce, no?" because these are perfect choices. For Mary Margaret to come to the moment when she realizes Regina is a sociopath is the first REAL step forward Once Upon a Time has taken since the pilot, basically. And we finally learned what pissed Regina off so hard in the first place. It all dates back to when she was a young equestrienne (like seriously, she looked YOUNG—Lana Parilla can pull off 19 with her hair down), whose mother did not approve of all the bareback riding she was doing.

The key to Regina's evilness, apparently, is a domineering mother. A domineering, mentally abusive, physically abusive, and magically abusive mother.

Like, that is an inappropriate way to discipline your full-grown, adult child. Also, wasn't she wearing exactly the costume of the Evil, domineering "love is weakness" mom from The 10th Kingdom?

Regina saved the child Snow White on a runaway horse.

Well, first she saved the stunt double on a horse, but then when child Snow White whipped that little head around I was like, "WTF?"

Immediately I assumed that they'd wrapped a green-screen ski mask around some kid's head and CGI'd Ginnifer Goodwin's face but smaller onto that ish, but after looking it up, apparently Bailee Madison is a real person. I would not be surprised if she is a cousin/little sister to Ginnifer Goodwin because the similarity—the facial shape, the eyebrows, the mannerisms—was shocking, with one small difference: The baby Snow White was kind of sinister. Maybe it was that whole "uncanny valley" thing because she looked so much like Ginnifer Goodwin, but I'd swear halfway through her lines she was about to start growling. I need to stop picking on child actors, clearly they unnerve me, that's MY Problem. She did a great job. Please don't climb under my car and then shoot out and bite my ankles, Bailee Madison.

This episode gave Regina and Snow a solid backstory, one in which Snow White was for all intents and purposes blameless, yet still could be construed (by someone selfish and hateful) as a bit of a traitor. After Regina saved Snow White, the King proposed.

WHY NOT? Knowing someone you propose to can actually be a downer, I've heard. Then Snow White, after having almost been killed while riding a horse, decided to go to the stables for a midnight ride and saw Regina kissing her true love, stable boy David Bowie.

Regina swore her to secrecy, explaining—and maybe I am making some leaps here, because they certainly never said it explicitly, so this is just me taking a stab at what the show is about—that love is the greatest magic of all. It creates happiness. Okay I'm being sarcastic but seriously, I am okay with that message. It sure beats the message of say, Unforgettable ("remembering things sucks but is helpful"). And Snow White seemed pretty chill about Regina not being into her middle-aged father.

Later, fearing Regina was going to lose her mother (the way Snow White had lost hers), Snow White told Regina's crazy mother that Regina wanted to marry David Bowie.

Bad move, okay, but she was deceived by how nice Regina's mother appeared to be and let's face it, kids suck at keeping secrets. They're not supposed to keep secrets! There is a reason kids are not spies, is what I'm trying to say.

That led rather quickly into Regina's mom ripping the effing heart out of David Bowie.

And telling Regina all love is weakness?! Man, that sucks, Regina. Super sorry. There is no love like stable boy-love. They have got wicked thighs. And who didn't love David in Labyrinth?

What makes Regina almost hilariously maniacal is that when she found out Snow White had leaked her secret, she flicked a psycho switch and decided to just quietly plot against a child for the next 10 and then 28 years. Like, she's a kid, Regina, I think the real blame for David Bowie's heart getting ripped out lies at the feet of your magically abusive mother, the one who did the literal ripping.

Especially since Regina figured out Barbara Hershey had basically set up the whole rescue/meet cute with Snow in the first place. The villain here is clearly Regina's mom, but she transferred it all onto a kid. I guess that's part of what makes her a villain, and it's enough of a backstory for me.

August finally justified his existence by goading Emma into some futile police work, although I had to laugh about her sitting on a damp dock reading a newspaper. She has an apartment! Why is she sitting out in the cold fog reading? I wonder if she sometimes misses her salad days of thumbing rides from truckers and getting her prison ink retouched. Like maybe in another five minutes if August wasn't going to show up, she would have laid down and thrown the newspaper over and grabbed a few winks.

Luckily August reminding her to do her job uncovered incriminating evidence that linked Regina to the crime scene, so now Emma can't doubt Mary Margaret's innocence, which: awesome. By the end of the episode she was way into her new hipster sidekick, and then we got the hottest game-changer so far: Kathryn is alive! I am wondering how the writers are going to do this, since I think they confirmed the heart's DNA was Kathryn's? How Regina is going to explain this one is seriously a cliffhanger. Y'all can cancel that trial!

Also, I think a while ago I mentioned that we needed a scene of just Lana and Robert squaring off across a table. We got like, three of those this week, and an explanation of how Robert got out of jail (striking a deal with Regina to frame Mary Margaret) which doubled as an explanation of how the skeleton key got into the jail cell. What day is this, boy? "Why, 'tis Christmas Day, Mum!" Well, it FEELS like Christmas. This episode was a gift, that's for sure.

Once Upon a Time has cleared away a lot of bothersome s-c-h-t-u-f-f and now I am so back on board, if this show were a horse I'd be riding it bareback. Well done, Once Upon a Time. Once again, I cannot wait until next Sunday.


– Josh and Ginnifer!!!! Forevs?!?!!?

– How are the writers going to explain Kathryn being alive? Where has she been?

– August in the promos, he's come for the knife—is he Rumpel's son?

– PONYTAIL HOLDER! Can we hope for a haircut, or should we just be grateful?

– Regina's backstory: Team Regina or Team Snow?

– Did your mom ever magically abuse you with purple lightning clouds?

– What would you rather watch: 10th Kingdom, Labyrinth, or the first season of OUaT?

– The next time something good happens will you whisper to yourself, "WE GOT HER, DANIEL, WE GOT HER"?

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