Maybe you should take a piece of advice from a man who has pushed away every chance of happiness because it was never enough. If it’s within your grasp, if you know where it is and who it’s with, then you should run to it, grasp it and never let it go.Rumplestiltskin
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Michael Socha, and Robert Carlyle.
Just as the Author storyline hits a massive point, Once swerves us away in an exposition-heavy instalment. Though it features one hell of a massive reveal, and was delightful and engaging in its own right, the huge departure from the main season arc really put a halt on the forward momentum.
“Heart of Gold” as a title obviously has a dual meaning. Not only does it refer to Gold’s heart problems in New York (apparently the darkness of his heart is causing it actual physical damage), but heart of gold can also be used to describe Robin, and his own personal code of honour, upon which much of this episode focuses.
The flashbacks here help show us where this personal code derives. It’s always nice to see Sean Maguire, especially after him not being on our screens for a while, but ultimately the flashbacks were a bit of a stretch narratively. I’m not sure why we needed to see this story at this point and, other than seeing where the six leaf clover came from, which apparently made Sean Maguire look like Tom Ellis, it didn’t add too much that we didn’t already know. Even in the past storyline, there still wasn’t much of a believable chemistry between Robin and Marian.
Elsewhere, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t speak about the speech that Gold gives to Robin when they part ways. It was surprisingly heartfelt, and it’s the first time that we’ve developed a sense that Rumple actually regrets his actions as he encourages Robin to go after his happy ending. Yet, at the same time, Rumple also continues to seek the author to fix his troubles instead of actively attempting to make amends, and is now working with Zelena.
Zelena?! I hear you gasp. Oh yes, Zelena. She’s back, in what was a genuinely surprising twist. The fact that Zelena has been impersonating Marian the whole time since she’s returned from the past is a massive shock, and what’s more, it actually makes sense considering the role that Zelena’s “death” played in opening the portal to the past. Quite why Zelena didn’t go through with her initial time travel plan in eliminating Snow’s mother is another matter entirely, but perhaps the opportunity to mess with Regina was just too strong.
Having Rebecca Mader back is a genuine treat. She delights in being evil and devious, and her lines throughout the episode are just simply hilarious. The way that she taunts Regina over the phone about a meat loaf in the oven, purely to annoy her, is delightful to watch. It also helps to strengthen the idea that Regina’s happy ending was actively taken away from her as a villain, furthering my idea that getting the Author to solve all of the problems is entirely missing the point.
This episode was punctuated by Lana Parrilla’s brilliant performance as Regina right at the end. She’s barely in the episode, but her tearful reaction to Zelena spiriting Robin away from her, as Gold threatens her with pain to Robin unless she complies in turning Emma evil, was superbly played. The way that she swaps from breaking down to finding a steely resolve is spectacular, and mesmerising to watch. It’s also commendable and a massive step that, despite what she’s being threatened with, Regina still protects Emma, and refuses to work with Gold. That’s what we call character development.
Ultimately, “Heart of Gold” served us a massive twist by reintroducing Zelena to the story, but came at a frankly bizarre point in the Author tale. Hopefully the next episode helps to reignite the trajectory of this story as the heroes try to wrest the Author back away from Rumple’s clutches.
Once Upon an Additional Brainthought
- I liked that Emma held her parents accountable for their actions in the past, but I don’t like that they continued to justify themselves. What they did was wrong, and they need to just own up to that fact. Regardless of what they’ve done since, it was a terrible act for them to do. They continue to moan about the actions that other people have done, and judge Emma for her actions being villainous, but they also ignore their own transgressions as if they’re not the same as everybody else. It’s hypocrisy, plain and simple, and not fair for Emma to have to deal with the guilt that her being the Saviour is only due to ruining somebody else’s life. How can Charming and Snow never have been compelled to actually follow up on what happened to the child?
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.