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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap & Review: “Secret Garden”

ONCE UPON A TIME’s spring premiere, “Secret Garden,” is all about the bond between mothers and daughters.

The Once Upon a Time winter finale brought one daughter – Anastasia (Yael Yurman) – back to life at the cost of another daughter, Lucy (Alison Fernandez). Anastasia was almost immediately kidnapped by Eloise Gardener, AKA Mother Gothel (Emma Booth). The spring finale finds two mothers in the aftermath: Victoria Belfrey, AKA Lady Tremaine AKA Rapunzel (Gabrielle Anwar – boy, does she have a lot of alter egos), is trapped in a well with her other daughter, Ivy AKA Drizella (Adelaide Kane), while Jacinda AKA Ella (Dania Ramirez) is at Lucy’s side in the hospital, waiting desperately for news.

In the Flashbacks

The episode also throws another mother into the mix: Zelena (Rebecca Mader), who also has a daughter connected to Mother Gothel. In a flashback, we learn that Robin (Tiera Skovbye) is going through a rebellious teenager phase in Storybrooke. She tries out one of the spells from the book her aunt Regina (Lana Parrilla) gave her. Zelena intervenes, but as soon as Robin leaves Regina’s vault, she discovers that the spell has worked – and then accidentally drops the potion vial, transporting her to the same realm as Regina, Henry (Andrew J. West), Ella, and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue).

Zelena follows Robin using a portal and finds Regina and co. After a brief confrontation – she is not happy that Regina gave Robin the spellbook – Zelena refuses Regina’s help and goes off alone to find Mother Gothel, who she believes has kidnapped Robin. Hook (a parent separated from his child himself) follows, offering his help, and while Zelena isn’t too thrilled with his offer (let’s just say she’s in Wicked Witch mode), she eventually accepts.

Hook has a treasure map that leads them to a shop frequented by witches. There, they find Mother Gothel, who is speaking with someone in a crystal ball named Madame Leota (Suzy Joachim) of Haunted Mansion fame. Leota is not happy with the interruption; she makes all of the windows and doors disappear and hits Hook with lightning. Robin appears and saves the day but tells them that she’s here of her own free will. Gothel states that she can leave anytime she wants. Robin opts to stay, and Zelena and Hook leave.

Zelena is devastated by Robin’s decision. She blames herself and doesn’t know what to do. Hook tries to convince her to go back, leading to this touching exchange:

Zelena: “What can I do? I don’t have magic!”
Hook: “Robin needs her mother. You’ve got something much stronger than magic in you.”
Zelena: “What’s that?”
Hook: “Love. You’ve faced certain danger, armed only with that, and it is love that makes you so daring, so brave, so utterfly fearless. You’ve got so much more to offer Robin, don’t – don’t tear that asunder now.”

With Hook’s encouragement, Zelena decides to go back and show Robin how much she means to her. This becomes very intense, very quickly, as they find Robin in the middle of a pentagram, her life being sucked out of her by the resurrection amulet. Gothel is trying to resurrect Leota. Zelena volunteers herself in Robin’s place, and Gothel gladly accepts. It’s looking bad for Zelena until Robin grabs a bow and shoots an arrow at the amulet, forcing Gothel to drop it. Gothel vanishes in a puff of smoke, leaving Zelena alive to reunite with her daughter.

As Zelena and Robin leave the shop together, Robin confesses something: she doesn’t really love magic. She just feels like she’s supposed to. But now that she has some experience with the bow and arrow, she feels like maybe she’s supposed to follow in her father’s footsteps instead. She gives Zelena her magic that was trapped in the amulet, and just like that, we have a Wicked Witch again – though less Wicked this time. They go off to hide the amulet somewhere safe.

In Hyperion Heights

The story of Lady Tremaine and her daughters doesn’t end quite so happily.

Anastasia is caught between two mothers – her own and Mother Gothel. Gothel brings up Victoria from the well and tells Anastasia about all the evil things Victoria has done over the course of her life, forcing her to reveal the price of bringing Anastasia back. Horrified, Anastasia runs out of the room. Gothel drops Victoria back into the well, where she has words with Ivy before managing to escape. She tries to recruit Ivy to help her save Anastasia, but, hey, pro tip? When trying to ask for someone’s help, maybe try not saying they’re not deserving of your love. Just a thought.

Gothel gives Regina and Zelena a tempting offer: bring her the resurrection amulet, and they can use it to bring Lucy back without hurting Henry in the process. However, Regina and Zelena are aware of the dangers of the amulet, and they decide to hunt for the amulet themselves to find a way around the need for a sacrifice. Just as they find it in the basement of the bar, Victoria shows up with a gun and tells them that she’s going to prove she’s not a monster by taking it to Gothel and bringing back Lucy.

Victoria shows up at the greenhouse and meets Anastasia and Gothel. Gothel has Anastasia refuel the amulet with her magic; this seems painful, but Anastasia just looks tired afterwards. Gothel tells her to go rest, and then summons Victoria’s other daughter, Ivy, into the middle of her pentagram.

Rapunzel, you, of all people, should know that magic comes with a price. And she is it.

Ivy is convinced that Victoria planned this, but on the contrary, Victoria is horrified. In the same way that Zelena did, she offers herself in Ivy’s place, pushing her out of the pentagram. Unlike Zelena, however, Ivy is not able to save her mother’s life. Victoria dies in Ivy’s arms as Lucy wakes up in the hospital. I think it’s safe to say that no one imagined Victoria’s death like this – dying for the daughter she never truly saw until the end.

A few additional notes:

  • One subplot of the episode involves Rogers AKA Hook starting to believe Weaver AKA Rumplestilskin (Robert Carlyle) when he says that something is off with Eloise. Rogers visits Eloise at home and almost manages to catch a glimpse of Anastasia. At the end of the episode, Rogers and Weaver find Ivy with her mother’s body. Weaver says that things are about to get very dark.
  • Another subplot is that Henry was tested to see if he was a match for Lucy, along with Jacinda and Nick (Nathan Parsons), the person Jacinda thinks is Lucy’s father. The doctor gets the test results back and sees that Nick isn’t a match, but Henry is. Naturally, as soon as she makes this discovery, she dies of poison. A figure in black, whom we can assume is a witch, cuts off a lock of her hair.
  • Some funny moments:
    • In the flashbacks, Zelena nicknames Hook “Nook” – “New Hook” – to distinguish him from the Hook still in Storybrooke.
    • Also in the flashbacks, Robin relates her and Zelena’s relationship with that of Beyonce and Blue Ivy.
    • “Wicked and Evil?” “No, sisters.”
    • “What the hell? I thought we were having a moment.”

The news that Once Upon a Time is ending after Season 7 makes this spring premiere bittersweet – it’s exciting to start off the second half of the season, especially with such a gripping episode, but it’s also sad to know that it’s the last spring premiere. What do you think? Is it time for Once Upon a Time to end? Are you interested in Gothel’s end game? Let us know your thoughts!