‘Once Upon A Time’ 7×14 Review: “The Girl In The Tower”

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In the most recent hour of Once Upon A Time‘s final season, that is perfectly titled “The Girl In The Tower,” we learn more about Wish Hook’s daughter, Alice, and her journey before she ends up in Hyperion Heights as Tilly. We find out how she meets Robin, Zelena’s daughter, and how she escapes her prison that she tells us she was in for 17 years. It’s an Alice centric episode with some action and another call back to Emma. The meeting between Robin and Alice even gives off the vibe of Snowing’s initial meeting.

There’s Rogers being protective of Tilly and doing all he can to clear her name before it’s too late. With Henry’s help, their mission proves successful. One question still remains though, who is killing witches – and why did they try to frame Tilly?

We run into Robin’s Hyperion Heights alter ego – Margot – and we see that even cursed they can’t seem to hide parts of their original selves.

Also in this episode, we see Drizella confront that she needs to begin making amends to those she’s hurt in her wake of revenge, starting with Henry – who if the curse breaks will die and Drizella of all people knows that is her fault. When she mentions it to Henry he becomes very confused with how cryptic she is. She starts on her mission of getting her sister, Anastasia, to forgive her.

We get some Regina and Lucy bonding and the start of Operation Hyacinth. Forgoing the walkie-talkies for their phones – turns out the walkie-talkies would’ve been a better idea. There’s insight into Facilier’s plan – and it involves Rumple. Despite this revelation – Regina mentions to Zelena about still having feelings for him.

I’ll go into detail further down on all of this. All the feelings will be released. ALL OF THEM. Just wait for it. There’s plenty of them, the good and the – I wouldn’t call them bad feelings – but questionable is definitely a term I’d use for how I feel about a part of this episode.

Questionable feelings, you ask? Well then, I’ll just start there.

What Is Going On With Regina?

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In this episode, Regina uses her relationship with Dr. Facilier to gain intel on what he’s been up to. Now, this is where my questionable feelings come in to play. Because this “relationship” just pops out of nowhere and Regina is saying she has feelings for him, despite Facilier revealing that his real mission is to obtain Rumple’s dagger, which Regina says at the end of the episode she would prevent from happening since Rumple is her oldest friend and mentor.

It’s not only a relationship that has come out of nowhere but one that is just poorly timed with us being this close to the end of the series. There’s no context. No background that is capable of being built and so it just feels like the plot was done so Regina would have more of a plot line than anything else. In my opinion, they just shouldn’t have done it because I can see this turning sour for Regina.

This man is after Rumple’s dagger. Meaning he wants to kill Rumple and become The Dark One himself. Did the writers think that after everything they’ve done to bring out the best part of Regina, I won’t say redeem, because there are things that she has done that redemption can’t ever wipe away? She has had a massive amount of development though and trying to pair her with a man after The Dark One’s dagger just for plot purposes is, in my brutally honest opinion, a few massive steps in reverse in character development.

I mean the look on Zelena’s face when she found out about Regina and Facilier’s relationship was me. Her reaction was mine. I have a feeling the writers knew this may be the reaction from some fans and used it in the show from a character that is close to Regina. It’s almost like the writers are like, “Please don’t judge us for this!” Sorry, too late.

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Regina admits it’s a questionable choice – but that she’s never commented on Zelena’s more questionable choices either. So, please let it go. No, I won’t. Unlike Zelena – I can’t let it go because I just can’t see where this fits in the grand scheme of the season. It doesn’t fit. It’s forced for plot and as I noted before, it’s damaging to Regina’s development. It’s something has been a driving force for a lot of her plot for seven years. Why wait till the end to take two steps back?

And one more thing, when Facilier tells Regina the truth, he places three tarot cards in front of her. He notes that they represent her hast present and future.

Her past – Swords. Meaning her past as the Evil Queen that has hurt so many people. That pain of that still lingers for Regina, and it always will.

Her present – The Empress. Her life as a mother to Henry. Grandmother to Lucy. She lived a very stable life for many years and does so again with this curse enacted – despite the pain it actually causes.

Her future – The Lovers. I don’t know whether you can take this in a literal sense or not. It can have many meanings, but I actually expect due to her revelation that despite Facilier revealing he wants to kill Rumple, that she still has feelings for him – means she’ll have a hard decision to make to save her oldest friend from death at Faciler’s hand. To prevent Facilier from becoming The Dark One.

I can expect it will be a decision that won’t come easy and something Regina will have to clue Rumple in on as he has been looking for a way to remove himself from the dagger so he can die but also destroy the dagger so no one else can have the power he has. I can see how this could move this part of the plot along.

Even without Rumple in the episode, we get information that helps with a part of the plot line I’ve been waiting to move forward for quite a few episodes. I’m still saying this is forced and only for plot, but in regards to Rumple’s plot, it could definitely make things interesting.

Operation Hyacinth Has Started

Last week, Regina finally reveals to Lucy that she’s awake and that the book Henry wrote is real. We get some bonding time between Regina and Lucy and it doesn’t all go to plan.

The code name Lucy chose for her mission to reunite her parents is Operation Hyacinth – in regards to the first thing Henry ever gave Ella. However, when Regina places the walk-talkies on the table for Lucy to and her to use, Lucy looks at them like they are a foreign substance. Which to her, they are. Lucy asks if they can just text instead and Regina reluctantly agrees.

This decision to not use the walkie-talkies comes back to bite them later when Lucy almost gets caught in Facilier’s apartment because her phone was on silent when Regina texted her to get out before Facilier returned. Lucy ends up leaving her hat and it leads to Facilier to go to see Regina to return the hat and to tell her the truth about why in he is Hyperion Heights.

I love the growing bond between Lucy and Regina and I’m looking forward to more as they uncover how they are going to break the curse without Henry’s death. How will Operation Hyacinth end?

How Did Alice Escape The Tower?

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In the opening scene of the episode, we see Alice looking out the window of her tower prison at the stars. She notes that the second star to the right is blinking to the north, which means that it could only mean that it’s her birthday. Later on, we learn that it’s on her 17th birthday that she finally escaped the tower once and for all.

What makes me smile is that she’s using the stars to tell what day it is, meaning that Wish Hook taught his daughter the stars and how to use them navigate. I love that despite the horrible circumstance they have been placed in – that started with the worst of the worst happening to Wish Hook, he made to most of it and forged this bond with Alice that is unbreakable.

Alice being excited about her birthday, despite her circumstances is really cute. She makes a wish and then all of sudden she hears a roar and the top of the tower come off. Turns out it’s a troll. She’s scared at first, but the troll offers her his hand and he removes her from the tower.

Now, I was expecting something grander maybe than a troll helped her escape. Especially since it was blood magic keeping Alice trapped in the tower. Blood magic can’t be broken – and if so – not easily. So, is this a plot hole the writers forgot about? Whatever the case I was a little let down by this reveal. It does explain one thing though and it’s Alice’s cursed counterpart’s – Tilly – reason for being so drawn to the troll statue in Hyperion Heights.

Matter of fact, the episode gives great evidence of this, I think it is the troll. In the episode when Alice and Robin are comforting the troll – he eventually turns to stone. The troll in Hyperion Heights looks exactly the same. Coincidence? I think not. Whatever the case, there’s an unbreakable connection between them. I feel Alice thinks she owes this troll her life for helping her escape the tower. But we know, that truthfully she saved herself.

Alice And Robin Meet – And An Adventure Unfolds

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In “The Eighth Witch”, you see Alice and Robin kiss and Zelena tells Regina that Robin has found “young love”. In “The Girl In The Tower”, we see how they actually meet. It’s very similar to Snowing’s initial meeting. You know:

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However, instead of the punch – it was a bow and arrow. I do remember Snow raising her bow to Charming at some point, though. Whatever, the case may be – there’s definitely a case of couples who fall truly in love with each other on this show to either have a weapon raised in their initial meeting or to be punched. I just really loved the parallel.

There also seems to be of one of them locking the other up, in Alice and Robin’s case, it’s a cage that Alice finds herself in. Let’s just say, it’s not love at first sight. These girls are on opposite sides of an opinion all episode. They don’t agree on how to handle the troll situation very a very long time.

Back to the cage though. Once Alice is locked up, they begin to confront each other. It’s a cute scene where we get Robin realizing, “Oh this is who this is!” All Alice really wanted was to see her Pap, since she can’t go any where’s near him – due to his poisoned heart.

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I just love this conversation between them:

“Don’t move, spy.” – Robin
*Alice trips and cage falls on top of her*
“Who are you? Who sent you?” – Robin
“Nobody sent me. I wanted to see my Papa.” – Alice
“Then why are you lurking?” – Robin
“Because his heart is poisoned. If I got any closer, he’d die.” – Alice
“You’re Alice.” – Robin

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“Nook?” – Alice
“New Hook. It’s a thing my mom and aunt – you know what – It doesn’t matter. Oh, so you’re the girl in the tower?” – Robin
*Jump to end of conversation*
“I’m Robin.” 
“New Robin?” 

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“This cage is my least favorite in all the realms!” – Alice

I just had to quote and show some gifs of the scene because it was too good not to. I mean they brought back Zelena calling Wish Hook, Nook. Then there’s a joke with Robin and having Alice call her Nobin. I love the way they tease each other. It reminds me of Snowing so much.

Eventually, Robin releases Alice – on her word that she won’t call her Nobin again and this is where the troll I mentioned above comes into the picture. I’m also wondering something else at this point. How has Zelena not gone to check on Robin at this point? Henry? Wish Hook? (He would’ve has no clue his daughter was nearby.) How have they not heard the troll? I’d love the other POV to this part of the story.

Alas, I’ll move on. About the troll –  Alice is like, “He’s my friend! He saved me from the tower!”

Robin thinks Alice is nuts – and in many ways she is. She’s already been locked in a tower – mostly alone with the exception of her father for 17 years and has spent time in Wonderland by this point.

They journey on to stop this troll from terrorizing the surrounding villages, which Alice is trying to beg Robin to not hurt the troll. She’s like, “He’s misunderstood.” “He’s lonely.” They encounter some villagers and get themselves locked up due to Alice begging them not to hurt the troll. “He’s the gentlest of giants.” She tells Robin earlier in the episode.

It is revealed that Robin has taken up her father’s mantle to honor his legacy. She would do Robin proud too because not only picks the lock on her handcuffs with one of Alice’s hairpins, but also the lock on the cell. She leaves Alice behind – but not without Alice asking her to unlock her handcuffs too. Alice eventually escapes with one of remaining hairpins – because why wouldn’t she not know how to pick a lock?

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I do love their nicknames for each other – Nobin and Tower Girl. Yeah, when the curse breaks, I’m gonna need to hear them call each other those again.

Anyways, Alice runs to stop Robin from killing the troll and ends up succeeding. However, the village is mad at Robin and Alice. Just when you think they are done for, of all the things that you see – this is not one of the things you expect. Out of the woods, pops Emma’s yellow bug. It was referenced in an earlier scene – while the girls were in jail. Robin says Emma caught her trying steal it once and she shows Alice a picture on her smartphone.

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Seeing Alice’s wonder over a piece of technology that I’ve began to take for granted is so cool and such a nice touch to show how out of touch with the modern world Alice is.

I just love that even now, without Emma around she can be felt. She’s referenced by Robin and Zelena. Her iconic yellow bug is shown. Her legacy can be felt.  I’m glad the show is adding in these little touches of Emma over the course of the season. Will we ever get Emma asking Robin where her car went? Because it just randomly shows up in the realm where Robin and Alice are like the Weasley’s car in Harry Potter. Writers – I hope you put something about this in the finale!

Anyways, they get in the car and go on the run. Robin is now realizing how much saving the troll means to Alice, and also what her father’s legacy is really about. It’s about protecting the people who can’t protect themselves.

They hear the troll again nearby, and realize the troll has followed them away from the village. So, they stop to try to help it. Ironically, they stop right next to the tower that Alice was locked up in. In the midst of it all, the troll destroys what’s left of the tower. But before it’s destroyed Alice reveals that ever since she left, that all she wanted was to come back – despite absolutely hating the tower. It’s understandable. It’s the only home she knew for 17 years.

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Before Alice stops the troll, Robin tells her that she thinks she has magic – which is highly likely considering who Alice’s mother is. Whatever the case though, Robin gives Alice the assurance she needs to stop the troll with her words.

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In the midst of it all, Alice figures out that she is free from the tower because of her birthday wish that we see in the opening scene of the episode. She realizes that the troll was a manifestation of her wish and she’s only one who can stop it. Also, she realizes another birthday has come – with even realizing it. That she saved herself from her prison. Still questioning how she broke blood magic – writers please don’t let this be a plot hole – but it’s pretty cool she saved herself. As I said I did expect something more mystical, but it’s still cool that she was her own hero.

I love her quote to the troll:

“I think after all this time, I’m finally – gosh – it’s such a big beautiful word isn’t it – free.”

With this she calms the troll and tells him she’s fine. That she doesn’t need his protection anymore and he turns in to stone at her touch – taking Emma’s car in the process. Seriously! I want Emma to say something in the finale (Now that we know she’ll be in it) about where her car went.

She’s free – finally. It’s so beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes. Where will Alice and Robin’s story head to next? I love them together so much already. I think is just the start of something beautiful and I’m so happy to see a relationship like this get developed on Once. I just hate they waited until the final season to fully, truly develop a LGBT relationship on this show.

By the way, according to an interview with Tiera and Rose – who play Robin and Alice – the official ship name is Mad Archer. Just for anyone, who was wondering.

I also want to say that both Rose and Tiera did a fantastic job in this episode. I truly adore this plot line and all their scenes.

Back in Hyperion Heights

Back in Hyperion Heights, at the end of the episode – we see Tilly get save by Margot(Robin’s cursed counterpart) – from being ran over and meeting for the first time. The connection we saw in flashbacks is still there.

For a while now, I’ve been like where is Robin in the cursed world. What happened between her and her mother? Will we ever truly find out? Well, we do find out Robin has been in Tibet for some unknowing amount of time.

We get this reunion with Zelena and Robin as Kelly and Margot at the bar and it seems Margot has had a lot to think about in her time away. Will it lead to a full reconciliation between mother and daughter?

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Also, when Tilly and Margot meet there’s a book in Margot’s hand. Any guess as to what she’s reading? It’s Alice In Wonderland! Like I said, no matter the world – there is still a connection between them and it’s beautiful. There’s also a scene when Tilly is at Henry’s apartment where she begins reading Robin Hood. That’s an epic connection – unbreakable. I can’t wait to see the curse break and reunite these two.

Drizella – Asking For Forgiveness?

Drizella has been trying to make amends over the past few episodes to try to make up for her actions. Since her mother’s death, she has become aware that her actions have hurt many people.

In one of the few scenes she has in this episode, she is very cryptic with Henry about what she tells him. She says, “If I’m going to start apologizing, Henry, you’re at the top of my list.” Possibly meaning she was the one who forced Regina to cast the curse to save Henry’s life. Because she poisoned him to force Regina to do it. I would say so Drizella. I would say so.

This scene also sets up her searching for Anastasia and asking for her forgiveness as well. It seems like this is Drizella’s journey now. Will she accomplish her goal with Anastasia, or will she not be as lucky?

I could’ve done with Drizella telling Henry she wishes she had met him before she become this version of herself, knowing fully this man is her brother in law and she can’t date him. However, she’s being cryptic to him because he’s cursed and she isn’t. I also could’ve done with the check kiss. Writers, stop with this please! I’m cringing here.

Hey, at least this is step in the right direction. Looks like character development to me.

Rogers Is On A Mission

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Would you really think I’d forget whatever Rogers was up to in this episode? No. Because I saved it for last, as it encompasses a lot of the Hyperion Heights part of the episode.

In this episode, Rogers has this gut feeling that Tilly is innocent in the death of the blind baker from “A Taste Of The Heights”. It looks like someone is trying to frame Tilly and neither she or Rogers is falling for it.

Tilly, despite spending most of this episode as the invisible crazy girl knows something is off. Things don’t add up. She finds a sticker on her shoe that leads her to the apple stand outside that grocery store. The lady running it doesn’t remember her, so she can’t give her an alibi. The butcher inside the store doesn’t remember Tilly either and she stops by everyday for one of his marmalade sandwiches.

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Tilly’s frustrated by this point and Rogers is adamant she stay hidden till her can clear her. This is when Henry comes into the picture. He tries help them put the pieces together, but as Tilly notes her memories are like a jigsaw puzzle scrambled in her head. Somehow, I feel Gothel is to blame for that.

Rogers tells Tilly to stay at Henry’s apartment, but she grows bored and leaves the apartment to piece everything back together. Eventually, Tilly finds her back pack in the dumpster behind the grocery store – meaning she was definitely there. Just as she suspected.

Eventually, the troll statue ends up being just the thing that ends up saving Tilly from being charged for murder. It has a security camera on it and d Tilly was caught walking past at the time of death of the blind baker – which clears her of her charges.

Still, the question remains. Who is killing the witches? Who would want to frame Tilly?

There is one last development in this episode I want to talk about before I wrap up this review and it that fact that Rogers, who has grown a closer connection to Tilly through the case – yet he has no clue he’s her father – asks Tilly to move in with him so she can be safe. He doesn’t like that her little shed has no lock on the door or central heating on such a cold night.

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She happily agrees to his offer. So, now unware of their relation to each other we have Tilly and Rogers living together like the father and daughter they are – and blissfully unaware of it. I love this!

So many Knight Rook feels from this. How will this develop further before the curse breaks? I honestly can’t wait to see. How can they touch each other in the cursed world? What will happen to Wish Hook’s heart when the curse breaks and Alice is too close? Will they ever be able to touch again without a curse in play?

Did I mention earlier that Wish Hook calls Alice his starfish? No, well he does – gah – that is so adorable I want to scream. I so dearly need to hear him call her that when the curse breaks!

Conclusion

This episode, overall, is one of my favorite episodes of the season – except with the questionable choice of Facilier and Regina’s love affair and the cheek kiss between Henry and Drizella.

Otherwise, it was an amazing episode that not only answered questions about how Alice escaped the tower, but it highlighted Alice and Robin’s meeting and beginning of their relationship.

There’s a revelation that Facilier wants to kill Rumple though – and despite Rumple wanting to die – I doubt he wants anyone else becoming The Dark One. Rumple had plot -0lot – and he wasn’t even in the episode. Where will this go?

I just love Mad Archer and the dynamic they are bringing to the show. Rose and Tiera were fantastic and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing OUAT develop this couple. They’ve needed the LGBT representation way sooner than this, but I’m so glad it’s here and that it’s being represented so well.

I also just adore Tilly and Rogers’ dynamic – and he gave her a warm place to stay so neither of them have to be alone or cold. I love Knight Rook as well and Rose and Colin play off each other so easily.

Kudos to Rose Reynolds. You are the VIP of this episode, as you should be. You killed it.


Here is the promo for next week’s episode, entitled “Sisterhood”:

Once Upon A Time airs Fridays a 8/7c on ABC.

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