‘Once Upon A Time’ 7×11 Review: “Secret Garden”

Hey, Oncers! Once Upon A Time has FINALLY returned from hiatus with an hour titled “Secret Garden”. As happy as I am that we are getting new episodes – episodes that will be the last of this amazing seven year saga – this return was a bit slow moving. For me, it didn’t give me the splash that you hope for from a mid season premiere – especially after such a long hiatus.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some amazing moments in there. An Emma mention from Zelena, a rare team up of Wish Hook and Zelena (she calls him Nook – can I steal that), some Glass Believer, the epic return of Regina and Zelena’s unbreakable sisterhood, and a moving sacrifice that hits you over the head with the message of the entire show – that all magic has a price. Whether it be your soul or someone’s life – there is always a price to be paid, and this show has said this time and again – season after season.

One more question before I delve into the heart of this review – who killed Lucy’s doctor? What do they want? The doctor had just learned the truth that Henry is Lucy’s biological father from a blood test when she was killed. This person takes a lock of hair and this information. What could it mean? Where is the show going with this?

A Mention of Emma

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When Zelena journeys to the enchanted forest to get help finding Robin, one of the first things she does is see Nook – as she has named him – and remembers that there are two versions of him running around.

One in Storybrooke – that is happy and married to Emma that she sees everyday – and this Nook (or new Hook) that we’ve had since “A Pirate’s Life”.

But to get a little blip of any mention of our beloved Emma and Captain Swan is amazing – and I never actually expected it to be from Zelena. None the less – I loved it!

The Rare Team Up I Didn’t Know I Needed

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We all know from previous episodes that Nook and Zelena’s daughters end up falling in love with each other. But how do they meet? How do we get there?

This is what we are about to find out – we don’t get it in this episode – but it’s a start to their journey. A team up of Nook and Zelena against Gothel to rescue Robin from her grasp. Because as Nook so kindly put it the enemy of his enemy is her and they need to band together to save their daughters.

So – here we get this epic team up against Gothel – to save Robin before it’s too late. This is the scene we had all the promo pics from. Gothel used Robin to try to resurrect Madame Leota for her coven of witches. Luckily, they get there in time.

I just loved this scene – not only does it show that despite the strained relationship between Zelena and Robin – they still care each other – but that Nook and Zelena make an epic team. The only sad part to this is Nook doesn’t get any closer to getting payback for what Gothel did to him and Alice.

Gothel even disgustingly notes their last meeting being fun. I doubt being reminded of being raped is fun for him Gothel – the only good that came from that is Alice and he can’t touch her thanks to you. Every time Nook and Gothel share a scene I cringe now – because she blatantly acts like what she did him isn’t what it is. I mean even in Hyperion Heights, she’s taunting Rogers and calling him her white knight – *insert disgusted emoji here* –  just say it OUAT – but yeah – we know you won’t.

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Anyways, the scene with Nook and Zelena fighting to save Robin from Gothel was amazing. It highlights the mother-daughter relationship and also that Robin is very much her father’s daughter with the bow and arrow – which we saw in “The Eighth Witch” as well.

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Just this team up was something I didn’t know I needed. I hope we get more of Nook and Zelena in the coming episodes. Maybe she’ll help him with Alice? Like I said, Alice and Robin do fall in love – so I could see this mission being a way to help bring that about.

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There’s one more thing I’d like to add – that Nook’s speech to Zelena about love being stronger than magic was epic. Again – I never knew this was needed and yet here it is. I hope that the writers used this burgeoning “relationship” to their advantage in the final episodes – because I’m really liking it. Not romantically – but it’s definitely something that I’m glad is being explored.

Zelena and Robin

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Later on in the episode, Robin says to Zelena that she doesn’t need magic because she liked how the bow and arrow felt when she used it, like her father. Again, I absolutely hate the origins of this plot – but to know there’s part of Robin Hood in his daughter is pretty cool – especially since she wants to embrace it. The Beyoncé – Blue Ivy – Jay Z reference was awesome too. Zelena knows her pop culture references. Who knew? It highlights their bond – and I love it.

In Hyperion Heights, we hear from Zelena that her and Robin are not on good terms. She tries reaching out to her with no success. I certainly hope that in the cursed world that we can see a reunion of these two soon and that their estrangement is explained better.

Wicked and Evil – A Sisterhood

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Over the course of the episode, we see Zelena and Regina team up in Hyperion Heights. As they say wicked and evil – their sisterhood has been tough – but it’s strong. And that’s what I love about them.

We learn that at one point, they owned the bar together and it was called – Kelly and Roni’s. It was much more rustic than it is now. I found it to be an interesting little item.

Regina and Zelena are on a mission to save Lucy and Henry from their deaths. How do they wake Lucy without killing Henry in a land with no magic? With Gothel’s pushing we find out that the answer is an item called the resurrection amulet and it turns out it has been in the bar this whole time.

It’s the same device that Zelena took from Robin when she saved her from Gothel – and she apparently found a way to hide it in the old sign at the bar for safe keeping.

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I love that this show is showing this relationship again. How strong it is – despite it all. And that these two women – who both were villains at one point can work together and save their family from death. I love how far Regina and Zelena have come over the course of the show – and I think a lot of it is their bond to each other.

Mother Gothel – Master Manipulator

We all know Gothel is our true big bad of the season. From early on, I knew she was going to be something. Did I expect this? No. But I really should’ve.

I really wonder what her plan is? Is it her who killed Lucy’s doctor at the end of the episode? It seems everything seems to always go back to Gothel – I’m not ruling this out.

She’s now manipulated Drizella, Anastasia, and Robin to try to steal their magic. For what? These young, impressionable girls keep falling into Gothel’s trap. My question is – why should Regina and Zelena trust her? No one should. I shouldn’t have to point this out. We see how – despite the bad thing that happens at the end of the episode – it saves Lucy’s life.

We even see Gothel manipulate Anastasia into thinking her mother (Rapunzel/Victoria/Lady Tremaine) doesn’t actually care about her by showing her mom tied up at the bottom of a well. She does tell her the truth on the incidents that Rapunzel has done – like kill her father – for instance – or that her niece is now unconscious in the hospital because she’s alive again.

Anastasia reacts badly – but how will she react to the heartbreaking moment between her mother, Drizella, and Gothel at the end of the episode? I’ll get to it in a moment. Can this 14 year old girl handle anything else? Who will be there for her when she can’t?

Gothel’s still evil – why the writers are trying to make her do things where the end justify the greater good – like saving Lucy’s life – is beyond me. I can see right through her.

Heartbreaking Revelation

Like I’ve noted previously, the episode dragged some – especially for the mid season premiere of a show that is in it’s final season – but one of the things that I think saved this episode from being a total bummer is that we get resolution to the can Lucy be awake while Henry lives plotline.

Unfortunately, for Lucy to live – someone has to die. Above, when I note Gothel saving Lucy’s life – I mean she had to kill someone to do it. As they always note in this show – magic has a price.

In this case – it’s Lady Tremaine/Victoria/Rapunzel (whatever you want to refer to her as). She not only sacrifices her life for her granddaughter to live – but for Drizella as well. Drizella was Gothel’s intended target and Lady Tremaine – who was feeling guilty for all the pain she had caused her family – sacrifices her life. I should have seen this coming – and yet somehow it never crossed my mind. Heartbreaking as it may be, I do feel it to be a proper resolution.

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The other characters only see Lucy is alive and happy again – but Regina and Zelena know someone has died. When will they find out about Lady Tremaine’s sacrifice? How will Jacinda react to her step mother sacrificing herself for her daughter? After all the pain she’s been put through from her. Going forward, I can’t wait to see how this is handled.

Rumple and Nook

Or Weaver and Rogers. The only interaction between these two takes place in Hyperion Heights as Weaver is trying to explain to Rogers that Gothel – or Eloise Gardner – is bad news. Eventually, Rogers gets it, but every other character in this show seems to be wary of her that has had any experience with her. And I don’t mean Drizella, Anastasia, or Robin – who are young and impressionable.

I know Nook is cursed and as Rogers he doesn’t have a clue – but take that warning Rogers! Even Rumple gives good advice sometimes – and he’s wary of Gothel – that’s something that should worry you – since no matter what he’s still the Dark One.

Glass Believer

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You had to know I’d go here eventually. This is my ship this season! And we had some moments. From the moment in the gif above with baby Lucy in a flashback. – to the scenes at the hospital in Hyperion Heights in present time – I had the feels!

In flashbacks, we see them parent a baby Lucy and just be a happy family and it’s adorable. I love it so much.

In present day, with the curse enacted – it’s tough – but as I’ve noted in many of my reviews – the connection is still there. Henry is there beside Jacinda helping her deal with Lucy being unconscious. Despite – who Jacinda thinks is Lucy’s dad due to the curse – being there as well. It’s a precarious situation. However, it shows Henry’s true fears of losing Lucy.

He even volunteers for a blood test for Lucy – because he cares that much. The previous episode notes Henry may be starting believe Lucy is his daughter – despite his cursed memories of losing his wife and child. The blood test proves Henry is her father – but as I said – before the results are given – the doctor is killed and the results taken. Someone doesn’t want this knowledge out.

I can’t wait to see how the show wraps everything up and gives Henry his happy ending with Ella and Lucy.

VIP of the Week

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I’m bringing this back! I absolutely love Rebecca Mader! She always kills it as Zelena, but this episode – wow! She was fantastic! Congrats, Bex!

Conclusion

As I’ve noted, the episode dragged in spots, but it was overall a very well rounded episode with some moments in it I definitely did not expect – including Lady Tremaine’s heartbreaking sacrifice. How will this affect the rest of the show?

And of course it also fully cements Gothel as our big bad – how will Regina and Zelena break the curse and not kill Henry? How do we get to our happy endings – especially with these being the final episodes.

The thing I always say is if I continue to ask questions – then the writers did their job because it makes me want to come back. Do I miss aspects that made me love this show? You know I do! But I do see potential in this season – give or take a few cringe worthy parts, like Gothel and Nook.

 


Here is the promo for next week’s episode, titled “A Taste of the Heights”:

Once Upon A Time airs on Friday at 8/7c on ABC.

Currently a writer for The Resident, but I have many interests that include country music, fantasy and science fiction movies. I'm just your typical southern girl who was raised by a single dad. A Chris Wood and Matt Czuchry fangirl forever.