Thursday, October 4, 2012

Once Upon A Time (S1, Ep2): The Thing You Love Most

Henry watched as the clock started working again at 8:15 once Emma decided to stay. Others notice it too as they are going about their day the next morning; including Regina. She heard the clock chime as she was confronting Henry about his Fairy Tale book that she had been looking through; some of the pages were missing. Though, she considered it no more a threat than Emma; until she notices that Emma's car is still in town. She pays her a visit at the hotel; bringing her a basket of apples from her tree as a parting gift for her drive home. Emma says that she's decided to stay for a while to make sure Henry is ok. Being threatened by Regina has made her all the more determined to stay. Regina assures her that he's fine and has been in therapy. "Don't underestimate me Ms. Swan," Regina says."You have no idea what I'm capable of."

Later, Henry is walking with Emma on his way to school and tells him that their mission is to break the curse and he code names the mission "Operation Cobra". He says that time has been frozen until she got there and that everyone has forgotten who they are and are walking around in a haze. He shows her the missing pages from the book (that show her as the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) and says that his Mom should never see them and know who she is. Emma talks to Henry's teacher, Mary Margaret, as he goes into school and learns that Henry believes her to be Snow White. She asks her where she can find Henry's therapist and she goes to see Archie.

Emma talks to Archie about Henry and his Fairy Tale obsession. Archie voluntarily gives Henry's file to Emma so she can read about things for herself. He urges her to be careful about labeling him as "crazy" or "destroying his belief system" because it's how he deals with things. He calls Regina when Emma leaves and says that he gave her the file. Later, Graham (the sheriff), shows up at Emma's door with charges that she demanded Henry's files from Archie and took them by force when he refused. He arrests her and takes her back to jail. However, Henry brings Mary Margaret with him to bail her out after he learns from his Mom what happened. Emma promptly decides to go to Regina's and pay her back for the frame job by cutting off a part of her prized apple tree. She says if she comes after her again, she'll come after the rest of the tree and tells her the same thing Regina told her earlier: "You have no idea what I am capable of."

Emma returns to the hotel and Granny informs her that she received a call that reminded her that there was a city ordinance "no felons rule" that prevented her from staying there. Emma begins gathering her things while Regina is busy gathering the apples strewn about the yard and telling Graham that she wants Emma arrested for what she's done to city property. He confronts her about the set up and she denies it while threatening to take away the sheriff position that she gave to him in the first place. He says that he could arrest her again, but that the two of them will just keep going back and forth and that the one who would ultimately get hurt is Henry; no matter how much she insists that all of this is to protect him. Regina calls Emma over to her house to talk and make "peace." Henry overhears Emma expressing her concerns to Regina about his inability to distinguish fantasy from reality and that it's "crazy." Henry runs off and Emma realizes that once again, she's been set up.

Emma goes to Mary Margaret's to pay her back the bail money. Mary Margaret can see that she's distressed and invites her in to talk. Emma says that she thinks she should leave, but Mary Margaret says that that's the very reason why she should stay. She knows that she cares about Henry and asks her "who will protect Henry if you won't?" Emma decides to go find Henry at  his therapy session with Archie and she explains to him that she doesn't think he's crazy, but that the curse is. She says it's a lot to believe in, but there are a lot of crazy things out there so maybe it is true. Regardless, she tells him that she told his Mom what she needed to hear and that one has to trick the evil queen into thinking that they are non-believers and throw her off the trail. She agrees with him that the pages he showed her are dangerous and she throws them into the fire. Henry brightens up and tells her that he knows she is here to help him. She assures him that nothing will stop her from that.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gold comes to see Regina as she is surveying her apple tree once again. He tells her that he just seen Emma and Henry strolling around together and that if she had a problem with Ms. Swan, she should have come to him for help. She said she wasn't in the business of making deals with him anymore and he asks about which deal she was referring to. He then mentions the fact that he had arranged for her to have Henry and then complimented her on her name choice, "However did you pick it?" She questions him as to whether he wanted Ms. Swan to come to town and insinuates that finding Henry was no accident. Mr. Gold plays innocent and excuses himself; but not before saying "please" and taking a bite of one of her apples.

Looking back into the Fairy Tale World, we are shown what happened in the time leading up to the curse. Regina had made her vow of destruction; and planned to accomplish it through a dark curse. Though, she traded it away for Maleficent's sleeping curse (which failed) and needs to get it back. The mirror, and her father, warn her that Maleficent is not going to be happy to see her. The Queen remarks, "Since when do I care about anyone else's happiness but mine?" She decides to go and see Maleficent anyways and get her curse back. Maleficent reminds her that the curse is no longer hers and that it can't bring her loved one back from the dead and to consider the comfort of a pet, like the pony she has, instead. "The only comfort for me is Snow White's suffering," Regina says. Maleficent continues to withhold it from her and says it's a monstrosity and that whomever created it makes even the two of them look "moral". At last, Regina can wait no longer and she overpowers Maleficent with her magic; playing on the fact that Maleficent would save her pet when caught in the warpath of the magic. "Love is weakness, Maleficent. I thought you knew that," Regina says. Maleficent waits for Regina to take her life, but she tells her that she's her only friend and spares her. Maleficent pleads with her not to use the curse: "There are lines even we shouldn't cross. All power comes with a price. Enacting it will take a terrible toll. It will leave an emptiness inside you; a void you will never be able to fill." Regina takes it and says, "So be it."

Regina needs the locks of hair from the "darkest souls" and summons some fellow villainous creatures to give her what she needs. The only other thing she has to add is the heart of something she treasures; which she has the heart of her prized steed. However, it proves not to be effective. Her father says it's for the best, and that "Revenge is a dark and lonely road. Once you go down it, there is no heading back." Regina claims she has nothing to go back to and decides that she will have to go see Rumplestiltskin; the one who gave her the curse. She tells him that it's not working. He says she sounds as worried as Snow and Charming who are fearful of it. He tells her that nothing can stop it except for their unborn child and warns the queen that "no matter how powerful, all curses can be broken" and that "their child is the key." Regina demands to know what she did wrong, and of course Rumplestiltskin insists on a deal first. He demands comfort and a good life in the land that follows and that if he should ever come to her for any reason, she has to heed his every request and do whatever he says, "so long as I say 'please'". She tells him he won't remember anything anyways and agrees. He proceeds to tell her that the heart of a steed isn't even close to good enough. "This is the curse to end all curses" he says. "Great power requires great sacrifice." He tells her the heart must come from something far more precious..."the heart of the thing you love most." She insists what she loved most died because of Snow White. "Is there no one else you truly love?" he asks. "This curse isn't gonna be easy. Vengeance never is, dearie. You have to ask yourself a simple question: how far are you willing to go?" Regina tells him that she is willing to go "as far as it takes."

Regina tells her father what she has to do and he realizes that that means his death. He tells her that she doesn't have to do it and to move past it. Regina insists that Snow's very existence mocks her, is eating her alive, and that Snow must be punished. Her father says, "If the price is a hole that will never be filled, why do it? Stop worrying about Snow White and start over. We can have a new life." Regina claims that all her power and everything she built will be gone. Her father tells her that "power is seductive, but so is love. You can have that again." Regina sobs and says she just wants to be happy. Her father assures her that she can be and that they can find it together, but that the choice is hers. Regina thinks for a moment, "I can be happy; just not here. I'm sorry." Sadly, she does the unthinkable and he falls to the ground.

Regina once again tries to reenact the curse and this time, she apparently succeeds. She then puts a rose on her father's grave with the name "Henry" on it.


I mentioned in the previous blog that I wasn't intending to make these entries that long. Though, for the benefit of those who haven't seen the episodes, I've decided to keep on recapping them as best as I can. If you've already seen them (and want to skip the details) just read the stuff that I post here at the end.

The theme in this episode is obviously "revenge." As anyone with any experience knows, revenge definitely isn't as simple and sweet as one hopes it will be. It takes from you more than anything you hope it will give. True satisfaction and relief (from the pain that caused the need for revenge) is found in the healing power of forgiveness. However, this is something that a lot of people (like the Queen) do not understand. Happiness isn't brought about by causing other people to suffer. Attempting to make other people "pay" for the wrongs they have done never achieves the results we desire. It never fills that "void" and it only creates a thirst for more that is never satisfied. The cycle of pain only continues and more layers of pain and suffering are added. Things continue to spiral out of control until, ultimately, you destroy yourself (and often other casualties around you that you never intended). Indeed, there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed. Revenge will take its toll and come at a terrible price. While seeking to make others pay, we will be the ones that end up paying. That is why God urges us to forgive, love our enemies, and overcome evil with good; allowing God to avenge us and deal out justice (Matthew 5:42-44, Luke 6:27-35, Romans 12:19-21).

Hate is a powerful and destructive force. I think just about anyone can concur with that. However, the ones that call good "evil" and evil "good" are the most dangerous kind (Isaiah 5:20-21). It's a scary thing when those that act out of spite think they are acting out in love. In an effort to protect what's "ours" and avenge, we forget what the essence of love truly is. In 1 Corinthians 13, love is described as a virtuous thing; full of patience and kindness. TRUE LOVE protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and is unfailing. What love does NOT do is envy, boast, or delight in evil. It's not prideful, dishonoring, selfish, angry, or unforgiving. Therefore, it should be clear which way is better. One path is full of life, promise, and fulfillment. The other, a dark road that poisons the heart and is full of death and destruction. Is it any wonder that vengeance doesn't ever make one feel any better?

Like the quote from Rumplestiltskin, "Great power requires great sacrifice." That applies to either path. To truly love unselfishly and unconditionally is a powerful thing that does require great sacrifice (like Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross). Likewise, sacrifices are made in the quest for vengeance as well; which are usually far more unpleasant and aren't worth whatever "power" they may bring. To love or to hate; which truly profits more? A clear head and a good heart are needed to tell the difference. Think (and pray) before you choose/act; for one's words and actions have the power to hurt or heal. They are truly life and death decisions.

Grace and peace to all of you! May God grant us all the wisdom and virtue to make good choices that enhance and enrich our lives; not destroy them. God bless you!