‘Once Upon A Time’ Season 6, Episode 2 Recap: “A Bitter Draught”


By Casey Rose Frank

Welcome back, Oncers! This week our favorite characters finally get savvy to what we already know: The Evil Queen is back. And we finally get a sense of what it really means to be in the Land of Untold Stories.

At the start of the episode Zelena and the Evil Queen are in the graveyard.

Last week Regina spelled her vault of magic goodies to keep Zelena out, but since EQ is a part of Regina, she can stroll through the spell and into the vault for some extra magical powers.

EQ wants Zelena to stay mum about her presence in Storybrooke, saying that in return she will have a sister who appreciates all her benevolent qualities before purple clouding away.

I have a feeling that she doesn’t mean Regina.

In the light of day, it’s time for Regina to take up her mantle of mayor and offer to help the former occupants of the Land of Untold Stories presently hanging out in Granny’s. Henry hands Regina the Once Upon A Time book, saying they’re starting Operation Cobra: Part Two.

Henry says to Regina, “This time you’re the hero,” and my heart melts a little bit.

Belle shows up at Granny’s as well, happy to be home and sans Mr. Gold. She’s looking for a place to stay and Hook says he has the perfect place for her.

When Hook invites Emma to come along she declines, saying she has an appointment with Archie. Hook is thrilled that she’s fighting her instinct to avoid being vulnerable and to talk about everything she’s been through. Pro-therapy Captain Hook is a sight I hadn’t planned on ever seeing. I hope Emma is actually going to see Archie and not to go visit with Hyde again.

A handsome man (is that Sean from Hindsight?!) walks into Granny’s and Henry wants to know who he is so that he can learn his story and maybe figure out how his story is meant to play out, but as Henry looks down at the book, the handsome man disappears and leaves an envelope on the seat next to Henry. The envelope bears a wax seal with “MC” in the center.

Cut to a fancy ball.

Oh, the handsome man is the Count of Monte Cristo! But of course.

Edmund Dantés outs himself to “the baron” (I’m assuming Baron Danglars) in the middle of the ball and proceeds to ask who else was responsible for his imprisonment, when the baron refuses to answer, Edmund kills the baron in the middle of the ball. Since no one likes blood on their canapés, everyone stampedes out. Except for the evil queen! In a baller cravat! (We’re continuing to play fast and loose with the storytelling worlds here).

EQ has a list of names of the other people that the baron wouldn’t give up, she will give the list to Edmund in exchange for helping him exact some revenge of her own.

Back in Storybrooke, MC’s invitation turns out to be addressed to Charming and Snow White.

And then Regina’s like, “Whoops, when I was the Evil Queen I hired him to kill you! Sorry! So many revenge plots so little time.”


Cut to Emma actually talking to Archie!

She shares the vision of her death with him and when Archie asks if she’ll tell her family she says no, explaining, “They would tell me to stop doing what I’m doing until they can save the day.”

Archie asks if it’s really a bad thing that they want to protect her, to which she replies, “If I don’t help people then who am I?”

And we have officially arrived at the heart of the savior complex.

When Archie doesn’t have a quick solution for how to win the fight she sees in her future, Emma storms out.

Back at Granny’s, Snow, Charming, and Regina are in Edmund’s room where they discover all his letter writing paraphernalia. Because when I travel my wax seal kit is the first thing in my bag. And all his swords and knives. Right.

Regina says that she will go meet Edmund at the dirigible in an hour, as per the request in the invitation.

In a flashback, we discover that Edmund places himself in Snow and Charming’s path, pretending to be a villager who survived an EQ attack in the Enchanted Forest. They offer to take him on as their wine steward. (Uh, thanks?) And he meets Snow’s handmaiden Charlotte, with whom Edmund is particularly interested.

In the present day, at the dirigible, Regina attempts to call off her deal with Edmund.

He asks, “Did they finally convince you that finding your happiness is the best revenge?”

Regina admits that this is the case.

After arguing Edmund finally says that he can’t be moved from his path, not even by Regina, and flings a sword at her before disappearing.

With Edmund still on the warpath, Emma tries to take Snow and Charming across town lines but the sheriff car is halted by an invisible barrier at the town line, which feels a lot like season one.

Over at the pier, Hook offers the Jolly Roger to Belle as a place to stay.

Hook regrets the wrongs he has done against Belle in the past in his desire for revenge against Rumple, and I believe we’re getting the theme of the episode.

This episode has more chats about revenge than the entire series of the show Revenge.


Back at the town line, Regina discovers that it is in fact the same protection spell she placed around the borders of Storybrooke during the curse. Zelena appears be-hatted, to ask what’s going on.

Regina accuses Zelena of busting into her vault and setting up the spell.
Zelena decides not to give up EQ and disappears in her trademark green smoke.

Back in the former years of the Enchanted Forest, EQ practices her sword fighting with an anonymous henchmen and kills him. As one does.

Edmund arrives to report that he has gotten in with Snow and Charming and EQ gives him snake poison to dispatch the lovers. Despite some misgivings about the plan, he ultimately takes the poison and leaves when she dangles the list of names in front of him once more.

Gold arrives back at his shop in Storybrooke. EQ is there, trying to take a coin. Gold allows her to take the coin in exchange for leaving Belle and his unborn son alone in whatever machinations she has planned for the town.

She agrees and starts hitting on Gold, and it feels pretty gross. Gold is uninterested and my gag reflex relaxes a bit.

Back in Snow and Charming’s castle, Edmund puts the poison in a carafe of wine. He seems good to go with his killing plan until Charlotte is going to join them for dinner.

Edmund hesitates but he pours the wine for everyone. He is once again taken by Charlotte, particularly by her eyes, and stops everyone from drinking, citing a better bottle of wine for celebrating Charlotte’s departure from the castle.

At the smashed dirigible Henry and Regina find Charlotte poisoned in the wood.
EQ appears and says, “The handmaiden’s story finally caught up with her.”

To Henry she says, “Hi sweetie, mama’s back.”

I guess Henry has three moms now. The holidays just got more complicated.

EQ seems pretty pissed that Regina tried to kill her saying, “You threw me away like I never existed!”

It turns out that EQ has Edmund’s heart and is making him carry out his plot to kill our favorite couple. I assume when she is now showing the heart off that it resides inside her bigger-than-ever beehive.

Snow and Charming arrive at the pier and there’s Edmund with his sword.

Snow and Charming are forced to essentially fight back with found objects, aka garbage.

When Edmund admits he is doing this because EQ has his heart, Charming says they will find a way to best the queen. Edmund still knocks them out and to their unconscious bodies says, “I hope so, because this the ending I wished for any of us.”

Edmund, back at the castle, is in the wine cellar when Rumple appears and asks if he’s having second thoughts.

Edmund admits that Charlotte reminds him of his former fiancé, and that he would be no better than his enemies if he killed her along with Snow and Charming. Rumple declares that for his plan to work he needs Snow and Charming alive and procreating.

Rumple poisons Charlotte, her body suddenly appearing in the wine cellar, and Edmund wants it undone. Rumple offers a key to Edmund, a key to the Land of Untold Stories, if he goes there, the poison pauses and Charlotte lives. If he leaves, their story, and the poison resumes.

Edmund brings her there, and we have a clearer understanding of why anyone would want to go there in the first place.

Back at the pier Regina fights Edmund, she wants him to fight EQ’s power saying, “your story doesn’t have to end like this.”

Ultimately she is forced to kill Edmund to save Snow and Charming. As she cries and apologizes over the body, EQ shows up on the pier. She taunts Regina’s desire to be a hero, making it clear that she wanted to force Regina to kill so that Regina would see that darkness will always be inside her.

EQ says that Regina is going to destroy everyone’s happy endings, “When your stories finally play out I’ll sit back and watch you tear yourselves apart.”

At Granny’s the ladies commiserate over drinks, and David finds another envelope. Inside is the coin EQ had. David immediately leaves Granny’s and finds EQ outside. We learn the coin was a good luck charm he wrapped around his father’s arm before his father then went off and got drunk, got in an accident, and died. EQ asks, are you sure it was an accident? And I’m curious exactly what pot of trouble is being stirred here.

At Zelena’s house EQ is encouraging more sisterly bonding, and Zelena finally understands that EQ wasn’t trying to reunite her with Regina, but rather that EQ will be the better sister to her.

It’s time for more appletinis and for us to question Zelena’s decision making skills.


At the very end Emma rushes to see Archie, to apologize and to admit that she should tell her family about the visions. But she won’t because she wants to defend the town from EQ.

Emma’s worried that Regina is the one under the hood in her vision. Archie asks if she’s worried about it being Regina or rather the Evil Queen under the hood, and Emma responds, “I don’t know.”

Bam, end of episode.

This week’s episode felt more coherent and streamlined than previous character-packed episodes.

My money is still on a version of Emma being under the hood as she’s consistently her own worst enemy/her biggest stumbling block.

Do you think Emma could be right about it being Regina?

Is Regina doomed to fall short of a happy ending?

And how about that teaser for Cinderella taking a shotgun to her evil stepsisters?!

Casey Rose is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a contributing writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via we heart it}