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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap & Review: “A Taste of the Heights”

Romance is afoot on Season 7 episode 12 of ONCE UPON A TIME, entitled “A Taste of the Heights” – but nothing is as it seems.

Before we talk about anything else Once Upon a Time related, can we just point out the too-short scene we had between Sabine (Mekia Cox), Jacinda (Dania Ramirez), and Lucy (Alison Fernandez) at the beginning of the episode? We haven’t gotten to see much of the friendship between Sabine and Jacinda, and this gave us another glimpse into it; they acknowledge each other’s quirks and strengths and urge one another to go after their dreams. Humor and love abounds. Friendship for the win!

The romantic relationships in this episode, however, were less of a win. Let’s unpack them one-by-one.

Henry and Jacinda

While this episode is largely Sabine/Tiana-centered, we do still get some development between Henry (Andrew J. West) and Jacinda, so let’s cover that first. Jacinda finally gives into Lucy’s pleading and invites Henry over for a family game night. He accepts, only to discover Lucy’s true purpose: she remembers the storybook that Victoria (Gabrielle Anwar) showed her a few episodes ago, and she’s convinced that Henry is in the book and True Love’s Kiss will solve everything. After a quick game of checkers with Henry, she bails on game night and leaves them alone in the living room.

They talk about Henry’s new podcast, H-Town; the first podcast had mentioned Jacinda and Lucy a lot. Jacinda gives him the mixtape she made for him months ago. Just as their flirting is about to turn into something more, Lucy’s closet door opens suddenly. She looks inside, doesn’t find anything, closes it again, and is about to climb back into bed when a storybook page slips out of the book she was reading. It’s a page depicting Henry’s poisoning at the hands of Drizella (Adelaide Kane), with a note about how True Love’s Kiss would kill him. She runs out into the living room, interrupts their almost-kiss, and literally jumps in between them to separate them. They’re confused. She’s relieved, and rightly so.

(The fact that her closet door opened seems significant, since Mary Margaret first found the storybook in her closet back in Storybrooke. Could this be related somehow? Where might the storybook that Victoria showed Lucy be now?)

Tiana and Naveen

The flashbacks in this episode center on the day of Tiana’s coronation. Regina (Lana Parrilla), Ella, Henry, and Tiana’s mother Eudora (Robin Givens). Tiana is getting dressed and talking with her friends when a most unwelcome guest appears: Dr. Facilier (Daniel Francis). You may recall that back in Season 7 episode 5, “Greenbacks,” Dr. Facilier blackmailed a frog-turned-man into stealing a firefly ruby that had belonged to Tiana’s father. He got away with the ruby, but earned Tiana’s enmity – which is a real problem, judging by the authority Tiana wields in the kingdom.

This time, Dr. Facilier claims to be delivering a gift: a glimpse into Tiana’s future.

Before that crown sits upon your head, you’ll have to face a test, or a terrible beast will threaten the peace of your entire kingdom.

Tiana, being the proactive ruler she is, insists on investigating this beast. Following Dr. Facilier’s directions, Tiana, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Ella end up on the edge of the bayou, where they meet Prince Naveen (Jeff Pierre). Tiana and Naveen, well, let’s just say that at the beginning, they do not get along. Tiana is not impressed with his claim to be a “hero.”

I’ll enjoy saving his life and showing him what a real hero is like.

They continue the hunt, and the quips, as they find an injured man and leave Hook and Ella to help him. Eventually, as they’re waiting in an eerily silent swamp, waiting for the gator to appear, Naveen reveals that he’s not in this hunt for the glory; rather, he’s in it to avenge his brother, who died at the gator’s jaws. Now he has to rule alone, instead of at his brother’s side, as he always thought he would.

They’re having a nice moment when Tiana notices something in his bag – something she knows belongs to Dr. Facilier. Immediately, she leaps to her feet and levels his enchanted spear at him, demanding to know what’s going on. As Naveen is defending himself, saying he doesn’t know any Dr. Facilier, the gator attacks! Naveen falls into the swamp and gets bitten by the gator before Tiana manages to kill the gator with Naveen’s spear. She gets him to shore, but it’s clear his injuries are serious, and he’s going to die.

Dr. Facilier appears and reveals his master plan: he just needed the gator dead to retrieve a necklace that he’d swallowed, and Naveen and Tiana were useful tools towards his ends. Tiana demands that he heal Naveen, pointing out that she’d already paid the price by killing the gator for him. Dr. Facilier accepts this, healing Naveen, but then poofs him away, stating that Naveen still owed him a price. Tiana vows to find him, no matter what it takes.

Sabine and Drew

Speaking of Tiana and Naveen, let’s shift focus to their Hyperion Heights counterparts, Sabine and Drew. Sabine is preparing her food truck for the big fair when her old friend, Drew, shows up unexpectedly. At first, Sabine is happy to see him: they reminisce about cooking school, and Drew taste-tests her beignets. Then he drops the bomb: he has a Cajun-themed food truck, too.

As Sabine is watching Drew get his truck ready, not sure what to think, a police officer happens by and hears her say she’s going to “kill him dead.” Of course, she was referring to the food truck business – but the police officer takes offense, and demands to see her food truck permits. It turns out that she’s missing one. The police officer shuts her truck down, and Sabine charges over to Drew’s truck, accusing him of trying to sabotage her. He swears that it wasn’t him, but it could have been his investor, Samdi. To make amends, he gives Sabine his safety permit, offers to help her out, and her truck re-opens to immense success.

Naturally, that’s too nice and pretty to be the end of the story. As Drew is taking out the trash, his investor Samdi appears (known elsewhere as Dr. Facilier). He compliments Drew on his handling of the situation, overrides Drew’s objections, and orders him to continue gaining Sabine’s trust back.

Dr. Facilier and Regina

Both in the flashback of Tiana’s coronation and in Hyperion Heights, it doesn’t take long to realize that Dr. Facilier and Regina have a history. When he appears to Tiana and the others in the palace, he acknowledges Regina, saying that it’s nice to see her again. Regina doesn’t return the sentiment, nor does she explain to the others how she knows him.

In Hyperion Heights, Samdi stops by the bar while Henry’s present and asks him to give Roni his business card, claiming to be an interested investor. Roni recognizes the card as soon as he hands it to her. Kelly AKA Zelena (Rebecca Mader) seems to know of him, but not know him personally. They pull a switcheroo to see if Samdi is awake or cursed. When he doesn’t react to Kelly calling herself Roni and vice versa, Kelly assumes that he’s cursed, and therefore relatively harmless.

Regina, however…

We see in a flashback that, after Tiana and co. leave for her official coronation, she urges him to come out of hiding. They banter. He offers her the necklace he got from the gator. They kiss.

In Hyperion Heights, Regina shows up on his doorstep and points out to him that she knows he’s not cursed. He confirms it, then invites her in. After a bit more banter, she enters and shuts the door behind her.

From the brief scenes we have between the two characters, it’s a likely guess that Dr. Facilier knew Regina when she was the Evil Queen. Did they have a fling? Did they have more than a fling? Is Regina playing him now, or is she still interesting in a fling/more than a fling? There are so many questions to be answered here, and Regina certainly isn’t telling.

A few additional notes:

  • Does anyone else really want Sabine’s beignet recipe? Can we make that happen?
  • Rogers and Weaver (Robert Carlyle)’s subplot may finally become part of the main plot coming up. Weaver has figured out, with the unwitting help of Rogers, that someone is killing witches and stealing locks of their hair – first, Lucy’s doctor, and second, the creepy blind baker lady. Both were part of the coven. He reveals that he is, in fact, awake to Regina and Zelena so that he can share this fact with them.
  • Another subplot, that of Kelly’s fiancé, was brought up mostly to show that audience that the writers haven’t forgotten about him.
  • For as dramatic of a death as Victoria had in the last episode, she was hardly mentioned here, and neither was Ivy/Drizella. Hopefully that storyline continues in the next episode.

Let’s conclude with another friendship tidbit: Tiana refuses to go to her coronation unless her friends accompany her, because she can’t protect the kingdom without their help. Aw.

What did you think of “A Taste of the Heights”? How do you think some of these plotlines might be wrapped up with the end of the series approaching? Let us know your thoughts!

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