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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap & Review: “The Eighth Witch”

Every character seems to have a big problem in the ONCE UPON A TIME winter finale episode, entitled “The Eighth Witch.”

However, only Once Upon a Time Season 7’s Big Bad seems to be on her way to finding a solution to her problem – and it’s not who you might think.

Problem #1: Drizella plans to cast the Dark Curse

Directly after Lucy’s birth, Drizella (Adelaide Kane) shows up to share a not-so-cryptic prophecy.

Drizella: “On your darling child’s eighth birthday, all your lives as you know them will end.

Hook: “Perhaps you misread the prophecy, love, because you missed the part where we defeat you.”

Turns out, Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar) has worked with our heroes, including Ella (Dania Ramirez), Henry (Andrew J. West), Tiana (Mekia Cox), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Henry’s friend Jack (Nathan Parsons), to trap her daughter using blood magic. Drizella is turned into a statue, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Just kidding! Just as predicted, all goes to hell at Lucy’s eighth birthday party. Lucy (Alison Fernandez) is just about to blow out the candles on her cake, magically lit by her grandmother Regina (Lana Parrilla), when darkness falls on the courtyard and Mother Gothel (Emma Booth) appears. With the help of some otherworldly creatures wrapped in black cloaks, she frees Drizella from the statue, and they disappear.

Nobody panic, because Regina has a solution, and Henry has a contingency plan. Regina goes to recruit the her sister Zelena (Rebecca Mader), who apparently lives on a farm with her twenty-five-year-old daughter Robin (Tiera Skovbye). Zelena reveals that the creatures were actually witches, and they resolve to fight witches with witches. Meanwhile, Henry and his old friend Tiger Lily (Sara Tomko) are going to form a magic wardrobe like the one Snow White and Prince Charming sent Emma through in the series premiere. This all works out perfectly, of course.

Just kidding! Before Henry can finish the wardrobe, he’s kidnapped. Ella decides to focus on stopping Drizella from casting the curse instead of going after Henry immediately. Regina, Zelena, Hook, Jack, and Ella get the jump on Drizella and Gothel, but as Drizella drily points out, they didn’t really have a chance.

A pirate, a princess, and Jack and the beanstalk. How will I ever defeat you?

This was Drizella’s plan all along: to lure them here and use a poisoned Henry as leverage to force Regina into helping the group of witches cast the curse. Knowing it is the only way to save her son’s life, Regina acquiesces, and the Dark Curse is cast once more.

Problem #2: Lucy is in a coma

Other than the scene in which Lucy shows up on Henry’s doorstep and announces that she’s his daughter, the scene with Henry and Lucy in the hospital is by far the most reminiscent of Season 1. Per Jacinda’s suggestion, Henry is reading his book to an unconscious Lucy – specifically, the part where Emma starts to believe and revives her son with True Love’s Kiss. Henry is moved to attempt the same.

And it fails.

As Roni explains to Kelly (Zelena), with whom she has just reconnected in San Francisco, True Love’s Kiss only works if both people believe in it. Victoria has succeeded in stealing Lucy’s belief, and so True Love’s Kiss won’t make any difference. The only option they have left is to break the curse entirely. As Kelly points out, if the curse is broken, Henry will die; but if the curse isn’t broken, Lucy will die. There is no good solution here.

Problem #3: Drizella wants to steal Anastasia’s magic

Detective Weaver (Robert Carlyle) offers to protect the newly-awoken Anastasia (Yael Yurman) from her sister and Mother Gothel. Victoria is hesitant, but agrees. It turns out that Weaver’s protection won’t do much against Anastasia’s lack of control over her magic. When Gothel shows up, Anastasia accidentally causes the room to shake and knocks Weaver, Victoria, and Gothel out. She runs from the room and straight into Drizella.

It might have been helpful if someone had explained to Ana why it was important to stay away from Drizella, but we digress. Naturally, she trusts her sister and allows her to put vine bracelets on her wrists, to “dampen her magic,” as Drizella explains. Drizella takes Ana straight to Gothel’s hideout and attempts to steal her magic.

Up until this point, everything seems to be going splendidly for Drizella. She’s manipulated Regina into casting an unbreakable curse and managed to kidnap Ana without Ana even realizing it. But here’s where things get interesting. The bracelets that Drizella put on Ana? Instead of stealing Ana’s magic, they steal Drizella’s magic and give it to Ana. That was Gothel’s master plan. Drizella ends up imprisoned with her unamused mother while Gothel takes Ana to join the witches of the Coven of Eight.

So, to sum it up: the curse was still cast, Lucy’s still in a coma, Henry still has a death sentence if the curse is broken, and Gothel now has control of Ana and her magic. The score is Heroes, 0; Gothel, well, a lot.

True Love Tidbits

Cleary Ella and Henry are together in the Enchanted Forest, but they’re coming together in Hyperion Heights as well; he gets on the first plane back to Seattle once he finds out that Lucy is in a coma, hugs her as she cries, and holds her hand in Lucy’s hospital room. Oh, Henry, if only you knew that True Love will literally kill you…

Alice’s (Rose Reynolds) true love is none other than Zelena’s daughter Robin. And Robin is clearly her father’s daughter, as well; she wears a hood and greets her aunt Regina with two warning shots from her bow.

Speaking of Zelena, her cursed persona Kelly, a spin instructor, is getting married! Although Roni brings back her memories, Zelena isn’t willing to give up on her fiancé. Who could he be?

Courtesy of a ceramic white elephant from Rumplestilskin, Hook has the opportunity to ensure that he and Alice would remain father and daughter under the curse, but he gives it up to Ella and Lucy.

Rumple gives the chipped cup to Alice so she can use it to help him remember his identity in the Land Without Magic. From his appearance, it seems that Rumple has reverted back to his Dark One ways, but has he?

A few additional notes:

  • Tiana is a Queen!
  • Lady Tremaine is working with the good guys?
  • The Big Bad has been Mother Gothel all along…
  • And the latter half of Season 7 will probably be about her locating the rest of the Coven of Eight.
  • She already has Ana, who has been proven to be the Guardian for whom Rumple has been searching.
  • She tried to recruit Zelena previously, will she try it again?
  • Alice is still the most intriguing character, especially with her mysterious connection to Rumple. Why is she the person he trusts to give him the chipped cup?
  • Ana is a close second to Alice, however. Why is she such a big deal?
  • Without the assistance of True Love’s Kiss, how are Regina and Zelena planning to break the curse?

“The Eighth Witch” answered the question we didn’t know we had: who is the Big Bad of Season 7? In doing so, it gave us many more questions to be answered in the latter half of the season. What did you think of Once Upon a Time‘s winter finale? Is Mother Gothel a compelling villain? Were you surprised when she betrayed Drizella? Let us know your thoughts!

Once Upon a Time returns Friday, March 2nd, on ABC.