We start tonight's episode in my favorite fashion: with a big ole dose of Hook! Tamara and Greg have moved him up to the clocktower to show him that the job he thought he'd finished (and oh my GOD do I love the way he says "sated"...) is not entirely so. Rumplestiltskin still lives.
Hook is understandably furious over this development, and Greg and Tamara offer him a deal: if he helps them capture Regina, they'll help him end Mr. Gold. "We know how to kill magical creatures," Tamara assures him.
Back we go to the Enchanted Forest, where Regina, looking amazing in a tight crimson full-length brocade coat and jaunty feathered hat is bursting in on what she thought to be Snow White's hiding place. She pulls the villagers out and demands that they turn her in. No one will give her up, despite Regina offering them a rich reward. In a fit of anger, she orders her guards to kill everyone in the village.
Forward to Storybrooke now, where we see Snow and David discussing Regina's future - or rather the lack thereof, because once they go back to the Enchanted Forest, they can't take her with them. Not unless they lock her up for life. She's too big a threat. David points out that every time they give her another chance, she slips.
Unfortunately for them, Regina has heard every word and now she's seriously on the warpath.
Rumple cautions her that she won't have any magic while the spell is in effect, but Regina only needs to get close enough and she can kill her the old-fashioned way.
Forward to Storybrooke now, where Regina has come to pay Henry a visit. He's wary, but listens as she tells him that Snow, David and Emma are going to take him away to the Enchanted Forest. Henry isn't sure he's crazy about that plan, so she lets him in on the big secret: there's a failsafe built into the curse, a trigger, that when activated will destroy the town and everyone in it. Regina plans to use it, then grab a magic bean and transport herself and Henry back to the Enchanted Forest, just the two of them.
Henry freaks out with a big ole "hell no," making it clear that if she murders the entire town, he can't and won't love her. Regina waves a magical hand, reassuring him that all of this will surely come to pass before taking the memory of the conversation from him.
They start to haul her up to a chopping block for immediate execution when suddenly, a hooded figure breaks in like a badass and saves her from the guards. The hood is thrown back, and her savior is revealed to be none other than Snow White. Regina faints.
Forward to Storybrooke again, and Regina has the bean plant trimming growing in a terrarium. In strolls an outstandingly handsome pirate, and oh, is he good. He plays Regina like a violin, pushing all the right buttons as he praises her plan, talks fondly of Cora, and then goes for the kill by telling her Cora would be proud of her - and more - she'd want to see Regina win, and he wants to help her do that. She tells him about the trigger, and reassures him that if he helps her, Rumplestiltskin will finally die.
Over at Granny's, Emma bumps into Tamara (literally) and while helping her pick up her bag, notices a list of fairy-tale character names and corresponding townspeople. She reassures Emma that she can be trusted, and we can see Emma's superpower working.
She leaves, and Emma turns to see Henry, who has overheard everything. Operation Praying Mantis is on, he tells her. And off they go.
Back to Regina, who is taking Hook down the library elevator to the caverns below, telling him that fetching the trigger is a two-person job. On the ride down, Hook seems to wax philosophical. He asks Regina if she's ever given any thought to the possibility that their thirst for revenge is the reason they have no one who cares for them. He tells her (quite foreshadowingly) that revenge may "sate her being", but it's an end, not a beginning.
I want Hook to sate my being. I want that a lot. A whole lot.
Where were we? Oh yeah, Hook. He flashes one of the leather cuffs that Cora gave him to climb the beanstalk with, and Regina recognizes it as being her mother's. She demands it back, and Hook hands it over.
When they get to the bottom, we find out why. Regina has played him with just as much finesse - luring him to what's probably going to be his death at the hands of Maleficent, who's looking like some weird CGI pixel-monster. While he's distracting Maleficent by getting tossed all around, Regina heads over to the remains of Snow White's coffin, and pulls out the trigger.
Flashback to the Enchanted Forest again, and Regina wakes up in a shelter in the woods, with Snow White nursing her back to health. She has an injured leg, and she tells Snow her name is Wilma. She also notes that Snow is in danger hanging around and wonders why she's helping a perfect stranger. As Snow tends to Regina's wound, she tells her the story of how a younger Regina saved her life, and changed her in doing so. Young Regina taught her that there can be a selfless connection between strangers. Snow further notes that while that woman is now gone, she hopes she comes back someday
She finds a creaky floorboard just as Neal shows up, and he's more than a little peeved that she's searching his place. Emma tells him that she thinks Tamara is the "she" that August is warning them about. She mentions the list, and Neal tells her that he helped her make the list, in order to speed her acclimation. She convinces him to look under the floorboard, and they find...nothing. Emma ducks out with her tail between her legs, and Neal is smiling smugly, sure that's she's wallowing in being a jealous ex.
Back to the Enchanted Forest again, and Snow is dousing the fire and preparing to move on. Regina is now healed and Snow hands her a sword and turns her back on her, leading her out of the shelter. Regina grips the sword, but can't bring herself to kill her for some reason. She asks Snow if she would kill the queen if she could, and Snow says no. She thinks Regina is misunderstood and still has good inside her. She doesn't think it's too late for Regina.
Regina is obviously touched by this, and asks Snow if she'd give Regina a second chance. And then three steps later, the come upon the dead bodies of the villagers that Regina slaughtered, and Snow takes back every nice thing she just said.
Regina tips her hand and Snow knows it's her - she pulls the bow and Regina tells her once again that there is good within her. She drops the sword and calls for Rumplestiltskin before running away.
She finds Rumple, begrudgingly telling him that he was right: they will never love her and they must be punished for it. He changes her back and she stares at herself in the mirror, proclaiming: "The queen is dead. Long live the evil queen."
Forward to the bean fields of Storybrooke, where Snow, David and Leroy are paying a visit to check on the crop, and find to their total dismay that Regina has burned the crop down.
Across town at the library, Regina emerges from the elevator and learns that you can't really play a player. Hook is waiting there to greet her with a saucy smile and witty quip:
He's still working with Greg and Tamara, and the cuff he conned her into taking squelches her magical powers. Regina struggles to remove it, but Greg assures her that can't be done (even though Hook just easily removed it himself a few minutes ago). Greg also confesses that finding his Dad isn't really his mission. Tamara bags Regina over the head and off they go.
I'm giving this one five hooks out of five.
Loved the Regina/Snow backstory, loved my saucy pirate, and loved Operation Praying Mantis. There were some great interactions in this one!