After a three-week hiatus, ONCE UPON A TIME came back with a bang – and with a change of fate for two big characters.
Who is Victoria Belfrey, really? We thought we knew the answer – Lady Tremaine, of course! – but it turns out there was a lot more to the story, as Once Upon a Time episode 7×09 “One Little Tear” made clear to us. Let’s dive right in with that reveal and then look at how it affects the rest of the story.
Victoria Belfrey is Lady Tremaine who is…
Rapunzel (Meegan Warner)!
What a turnabout for us as viewers. As Victoria (Gabrielle Anwar) explains to Lucy, she’s really not that different from the heroes in the storybook. She was tricked by an evil witch, Gothel (Emma Booth), into imprisoning herself in the tower. She agreed to sacrifice everything for her family’s health and happiness. After six years, she manages to use her long braid as a rope to escape the tower and return to her family.
For my family, I will always find a way.
Unfortunately, when she follows the lanterns and finds her daughters and husband Marcus (Matty Finochio), she also finds Cecilia (Cindy Luna) – her husband’s new wife and her daughters’ stepmother. Ella is Cecilia’s daughter, and the trio of girls have grown very close. Anastasia is delighted to have her mother back again, but Drizella is less enthusiastic, and understandably so. She was very young when Rapunzel disappeared and doesn’t really remember her.
Rapunzel tries to reconnect with Marcus and the girls without getting in the way of their new family life, but this proves difficult. She ends up a servant in Cecilia’s household, serving drinks at Drizella’s birthday party. This turns out to be the last straw. After watching Drizella open Cecilia’s gift with joy, when she hadn’t even smiled at Rapunzel’s present for her, Rapunzel decides to use magic against Cecilia. Gothel had given her a mushroom from Wonderland that would sacrifice Cecilia’s happiness for her own. At first, Rapunzel had been adamant that she would never do such a thing, but now she does, forcing Cecilia to flee the family so that Rapunzel can take her proper place within it again.
Of course, as Rumplestilskin so often reminds everyone, all magic comes with a price. Rapunzel thought she had her happy ending. In a sweet scene, we see the three girls building a snowman next to a frozen lake as Marcus and Rapunzel look on. When a hat blows away onto the lake, Ella goes to get it. The ice cracks under her feet as she walks, prompting Anastasia to go out after her to bring her back. Just as she reaches her, the ice breaks and they both fall in.
Marcus dives in after them, but in the end, he can only save one… and it’s not Anastasia.
In a panic, Rapunzel brings Anastasia’s body to Gothel, begging her to bring her back to life. Gothel locks in Anastasia’s final breath, then tells Rapunzel that she’s going to lock Anastasia in the tower now. Gothel is looking for someone with the potential to be the Guardian: someone pure of heart who would never harm an innocent. Initially, she thought that someone was Rapunzel, but when Rapunzel poisoned Cecilia, she saw that she was wrong. Now she hopes that someone is Anastasia. She goes to pull out the dust she used on Rapunzel when she locked her in the tower, but she can’t find it because Rapunzel stole it. Rapunzel uses it on Gothel, locking her in the tower, and then promises Anastasia that she will save her someday.
This truly sounds like the origin story of a hero: tricked by an evil witch, willing to sacrifice everything to save her family, always hunting for a way back to them again. Even the way she poisoned Cecilia could hearken back to Mary Margaret cursing Cora’s heart back in Season 2, and no one is calling Snow a villain. It will be interesting to see how Rapunzel’s search for a way to bring back Anastasia turns her into the evil Lady Tremaine we’ve seen in earlier flashbacks this season.
Meanwhile, in Hyperion Heights
Victoria receives a few visitors in prison. The first is Ivy (Adelaide Kane). Ivy wants Victoria to tell her where Anastasia’s body is, but Victoria refuses. Her second visitor is Detective Weaver (Robert Carlyle). She is much more forthcoming with him, telling him that she’ll help him find the Guardian if he helps her bring Anastasia back to life. He agrees, letting her out of jail and telling Detective Rogers (Colin O’Donoghue) that it was his fault for not getting a warrant.
Victoria’s first stop is the apartment of Sabine (Mekia Cox) and Jacinda (Dania Ramirez). She appears to be trying to make amends; she gives Jacinda paperwork indicating that she has given up any claims to custody. Jacinda is suspicious, and Victoria suggests that she get back in touch with Nick (Nathan Parsons) to check that the paperwork is legitimate. Later, this results in a scene in the apartment where Nick and Jacinda kiss. Jacinda pushes him away, but tells him that she wants him to have a relationship with Lucy.
The second stop on the Victoria and Weaver tour is a mortuary. Weaver uses a crowbar to break into a crypt; instead of finding a body, Victoria takes out a bag and says that she now has everything she needs to bring Anastasia back. She then sneaks out, leaving Weaver to wait for Ivy and Gothel, who have been following them since they left the police station. Weaver and Gothel have a brief conversation about Victoria’s motives. He only really shows emotion when she uses Belle’s name. When he doesn’t seem interested in what she has to offer, Gothel asks a simple question: do you know where your great-granddaughter is right now?
The great-granddaughter in question, Lucy (Alison Fernandez), is currently with Victoria, who picks her up from ballet class and shows her Henry’s storybook. Victoria explains that everything in the book is true, much to Lucy’s delight. There are a few stories that Lucy isn’t excited to learn are true, however: Rapunzel poisoning Cecilia, for example. Victoria assures her that she was only trying to protect her family. She then tells Lucy the story about Anastasia falling into the frozen lake.
We next see Victoria taking Lucy to the hospital, where Anastasia appears to be in a coma. She tells Lucy that it’s time to give up her belief, because no matter how much she wants Jacinda to have her happy ending with Henry, it’s just not going to happen. Fairy tales are real, but happy endings are not. She shows Lucy the video of her mother kissing Nick in the apartment. Lucy is clearly crushed; she cries one tear and runs out of the hospital.
Weaver is frantically trying to find Lucy, but with no success. In one of the best scenes of the episode (which is saying a lot – there are several contenders), Rogers confronts him about the files he found in Weaver’s locker. Weaver has files on half of Hyperion Heights.
Rogers: Now, I can’t tell if you’re a dirty cop or the best one I know. One minute you’re speaking to me in riddles and the next – the next you’re shutting me out. And I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something that you wanna tell me. So spit it out!
Weaver: I’m looking for someone. Much as you were with Eloise Gardener.
Rogers: What does Belfrey have to do with that?
Weaver: I thought she could help me. (beat) I was wrong.
Weaver explains, without getting into detail, that he’s trying to reunite with his wife, Belle. Rogers decides to believe him and offers to help. Weaver says that they need to find Lucy.
Lucy returns home just as Victoria drops her tear onto Anastasia’s forehead. And just as Anastasia gasps back into the land of the living, Lucy falls lifeless into Jacinda’s arms.
A few additional notes:
- Other than episode 5, Mekia Cox hasn’t been given a ton to do as Tiana/Sabine, but she kills the lines she’s given. “Uh, Jacinda, there’s a fugitive at the door for you.”
- Why has Gothel been looking for the Guardian, and how is the Guardian connected to the Dark One?
- Why did Weaver show Sabine his dagger and asking if she “felt something”?
- Weaver using the story of Baelfire to caution Victoria on her quest to raise Anastasia was touching.
This feels like a mid-season finale, but it’s not: there’s one episode left before the winter break, and it looks like a real doozy. It would have to be to raise the stakes from “One Little Tear”! What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts!