This review may contain spoilers.
Snow White and company try to save true love from magic, while Regina battles to save magic from true love.
To save Prince Charming, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) rallies her friends -- the dwarves, Red and Granny, and the fairies -- to storm George's castle. Alas, though, James has been secreted away by the Evil Queen. So Snow ends up agreeing to a deal to meet Regina alone and settle things woman-to-woman.
Regina (Lana Parrilla) wants revenge, though, not Snow's death. So she's decided the best way to get that is to cast a sleeping spell to rip Snow White away from her One True Love. She threatens to kill the prince if Snow doesn't eat the poisoned apple. So, of course, Snow White does.
In Storybrooke, Regina's Curse is starting to lose strength, so she seeks out Jefferson, the thoroughly pissed-off Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan). She needs some magic from the old lands to get rid of her problem child, Emma (Jennifer Morrison). In exchange for a fresh start with his daughter, Jefferson helps her bring through that very same magic apple.
Regina bakes the apple into a delicious, suspicious turnover. But Henry (Jared Gilmore) recognizes the gift as her attempt to poison Emma, so he quickly eats the devilish pastry instead.
It was great to see Jefferson again! He remains one of the series' most interesting characters. His foray into the fairytale world raised an intriguing question -- what happened or is happening to the magical kingdoms since the coming of the Curse?
As the season has progressed, the call-backs and references to earlier episodes have grown and added needed layers to some stories. References to things like Grumpy's tale, Daniel's ring, Jefferson's magic hat, and of course, August's wooden problems gave this story more depth than it had on its own.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
The whole "storming the castle" part was problematic. King George really couldn't defend his castle from seven miners, a grandma, and a bunch of fairies? Did the rest of his army go to Vegas for the weekend or something?
Never mind, his minions still haven't learned how to shoot straight or fight. Or how to raise an alarm, for that matter. And why didn't Snow's side use their Big Bad Wolf at this point? The raid didn't ring true, even though the fairies were pretty to watch.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"An Apple Red as Blood" was written by Jane Espenson and David Goodman. It was directed by Milan Cheylov.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The season finale will air May 13.
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