Warning: This recap for “A Bitter Draught” episode of Once Upon a Time contains spoilers.
The lesser of two evils can be downright good, as Once Upon a Time shows us this week.
The Evil Queen finally makes an appearance in Storybrooke and reveals herself to Regina, Emma, Snow White, and Prince Charming. And just like the EQ we knew and loved to hate in Season 1, she’s hell-bent on revenge against Snow and Charming.
Of course, the Regina of Season 6 has come a long way from that quest for vengeance. She’s a hero now, but when she’s forced to defend Snow and Charming against a hit man (hello, Count of Monte Cristo), she has to confront the idea that darkness may still lurk inside her — even with the EQ cast out. In the end, is anyone purely good? Or even purely evil? Maybe not. Regina may have kicked out the EQ, but they still share so much history.
Here’s a rundown of this week’s episode …
Hero of the week: Hook
As Regina and Snow process the new residents from the Land of Untold Stories, Belle shows up at the diner to inquire about new lodgings. Everyone is shocked to see her since, last they knew, she was under a sleeping curse and locked up in a box. Well, she’s out and she needs a new place to crash.
Hook offers to be her broker and takes her to… the Jolly Roger?! But if Rumplestiltskin found out, there’d be hell to pay, Belle points out. He’s fine with that, because he owes her. He has, on quite a few occasions, threatened her life. And he hasn’t forgiven himself, so this is the least he can do. She reminds him that they’ve all made mistakes and all they can do is try to behave better.
Meanwhile, Hook is still totally in love with Emma and she totally is not telling him the truth about her death visions. She goes to therapy with Archie, but when he probes her about why she hasn’t told her family, she storms out.
Later, she goes back to Archie to apologize. She’s realized why she’s so scared of the visions — there’s one person who isn’t with the rest of her family. And it’s Regina. But is it Regina, or is it the Evil Queen? Only time can tell.
Villain of the week: The Evil Queen
One of the new denizens from the Land of Untold Stories turns out to be the Count of Monte Cristo. We see a flashback to the beginning of his story (read the book if you want to get the whole scoop, it’s a classic for a reason), but then we learn that the Evil Queen scooped him up to be her assassin.
See, she dangled a list of all the conspirators against him to help her take out Snow and Charming. The Count manages to become their wine steward, but unfortunately, he develops a crush on Snow’s handmaiden, Charlotte. And the night when he can poison Snow is Charlotte’s going away party. He pours out the poisoned wine for all of them, but takes it away when they are about to drink.
Rumple, who has his own nefarious goals, poisons Charlotte, then sends her and the Count to the Land of Untold Stories, so that he won’t kill Snow and Charming (he needs them alive for the initial curse to occur). But when the Untold Stories blimp crashes into Storybrooke, Charlotte succumbs to the curse and the Count goes on a murderous rampage.
He tries to kill Snow and Charming, but Regina finds him and battles him in a sword fight. To save them, she has to kill him. The Evil Queen reveals her presence to everyone, and Regina realizes that this is what her worse half wanted — to bring out her dark side. “We all have stories we don’t want told,” EQ warns ominously.
Regina beats herself up a bit about killing the Count, while Emma and Snow comfort her. But what did EQ mean by what she said? Then a troublesome thing happens — the EQ sends Charming a coin. This is a coin that David tied to his father’s wrist before his father left the farm and died in a cart accident. But the EQ purrs, “Are you sure it was an accident?”
And after EQ plants this idea in Charming’s head, she heads to Zelena’s cabin. She’s happy that Zelena didn’t spill any beans to Regina. They can be true sisters, EQ notes, because “Regina is quite literally the lesser of two evils.”
And that’s scary as hell.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.