ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 20 (Mother)
In an episode that could have very well been foreshadowing for the death of Regina, Mother gives the viewers three maternal relationships all suffering from very different circumstances, as well as some other motherly storylines.
First, following the events of the previous episode, Maleficient is reunited with her long-lost daughter, Lily. The reunion is bittersweet in that Lily has had such a hard life that she cannot bring herself to trust her mother or try to have a relationship with her. She wants to get revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming, but Maleficient only wants to have her back. Lily really only settles down and decides to try to get to know her mother better once she turns into a dragon and nearly gets caught and strangled in telephone wires. Her mother is able to calm her and promises to teach her how to fly.
Our original long-lost mother-daughter pair, Snow White and Emma, come to forgive each other after having spent several episodes angry. Emma decides that even though her mother’s actions were reprehensible, they were done in good faith and out of love. She certainly cannot stand to lose her again.
The relationship developments between Snow and Emma and between Maleficient and Lily were not too surprising. The storyline of Lily and Maleficient is minor – they are not central characters and thus their relationship takes a backseat to those of the protagonists. They get to shine in this episode, but now we can safely assume that for the next while, Maleficient and Lily are going to be preoccupied with getting to know each other again and thus be out of the main storyline. Snow and Emma have fought too long and too hard alongside each other to stay angry for long. While Emma is bitter about her mother’s betrayal, she does not want her to die. While Snow desperately wants a strong relationship with her daughter, she recognises that she betrayed Emma’s trust and thus deserves the treatment that she received.
The third mother-daughter relationship highlighted was somewhat more complex: we learn that in the past, Cora returned from Wonderland to try to help Regina. Unfortunately, her version of helping was to try to get Regina pregnant, since she figured that a) Regina would be happier with a child, and b) Regina needed to get Snow White out of the way, and doing so by supplanting her would be infinitely preferable to killing her. Cora, while heartless, was always pragmatic. She rightly determined that Regina showed little interest in King Leopold, but supposed that her daughter could always have an affair with Robin Hood. Not one to actually get the real Robin Hood, she got Nottingham to be her puppet and pretend to be Robin Hood, because Nottingham struck her as the type of son-in-law she would have wanted.
Unsurprisingly, Regina sees through her mother’s plan and beyond, to the obvious conclusion that Cora would want to use her grandchild to control Regina and the kingdom. (Everyone but Cora likely could have foreseen this inevitable result.) Not wanting her child to suffer the same abuse that she did, Regina does the most loving – but desperate – thing that she can think of: drinking a potion that will prevent her from having children altogether.
In that light, Regina’s present-day relationships with Henry, Roland, and Zelena’s child are all the more bittersweet. Henry is her little prince – the child that she always wanted – and realising that she was treating him the same way her mother treated her (back in the second season) was obviously the exact antithesis of what she had intended. Roland is a possible second chance, likely something that she never thought would be possible. Now that she knows that Marian is truly gone, she is the only real mother figure in his life. As for Zelena’s child, she could choose to be envious and angry – as Cora and Zelena would – or she could decide to take action. Initially, she chose to simply get rid of Zelena and the child, but reconsidered.
Also worthwhile to note that if holy water could cure Snow White of the same potion, there is a chance that it could still work on Regina, which would be an interesting plot point for next season!
Ultimately, this episode saw Regina make the choice to take her own happy ending, but not by force. Rather, she realised that she had the power to have her happy ending whenever she wanted, without destroying anyone else’s. If she was secure in herself, she could be happy – whether it was with a man or not. As it turned out, she does have a man in Robin Hood, but she didn’t need him. He, along with more stepchildren, is merely adding to her happiness.
Season 7, Episode 22 (Dead From New York)
For the 150th episode, the murder in question took place at a studio producing a longstanding live-television comedy-variety show. Included in this show were various nods to Castle as a series, including a segment where Castle and Beckett are spoofed.
Overall, this episode was not spectacular, but it was not intended to be so. Yes, it was an anniversary episode, but so close to the season finale, it really serves as comedic foil to the following week. Everyone was lighthearted, there were touching tributes, and the writers worked into the dialogue some of the questions that long-time fans were asking.
The story itself was a typical mystery-of-the-week – victim is found by unsuspecting colleagues in a surprising manner, the detectives investigate, and Castle and Beckett solve the case. The murder and motive were not particularly memorable. Typical for this series, viewers don’t watch for the gruesome murders or even for the mysteries, but for the chemistry and comedy between the leads and the main cast. We are just as interested in what theme, setting, characters, theories, sport, or recreational pursuit the writers will use each episode. Will there be aliens? Will they be going to the beach? Will there be time travel? Extreme sky-diving? Wind-surfing? Extreme sky-divers being killed by wind-surfing, time-travelling aliens on the beach?
Whatever next season brings, hopefully we see many more episodes like this one!