"The Miller's Daughter" was filled with surprising twists and turns, as one character crossed over to the dark side and another was killed by an unexpected hand.
Below, our Once Upon a Time Round Table team of Nick McHatton, Jim Garner, and Christine Orlando is again joined by Gareth from Once Upon a Fan as they decide if Cora ever could have found love and whether Rumple's phone confession will change Belle's fate.
What was your favorite scene from the episode?
Gareth: Wow. So many to choose from. I think this was the best episode of the season so far. Loved the phone call between Belle and Gold which then led into the Gold/Neal reunion scene. Great stuff. Also loved Cora's death scene. Barbara Hershey and Lana Parrilla were fantastic. Wonderfully played.
Nick: The final few minutes of the episode: first with Rump and Cora, and next with Regina and Cora. It's a testament to the acting and writing of just how much you care for two rather evil people, and see the love they shared at one time for them. It's an awesome thread that echoes Regina's past with Daniel in a slightly different way. As for Regina and Cora together, it's comforting to see Regina get some of the love she's been looking for as Cora passed away in her arms.
Jim: I loved the look on Emma's face after she cast the protection spell. It is going to be cool to see where that goes.
Christine: The calmness with which Snow manipulated Regina was something I just can't get out of my mind.
Did Snow's actions surprise you?
Gareth: Yes. Snow manipulating Regina into placing the heart back inside Cora was genius. Who knew Snow had such a poker face and could be so devious! The guilt is going to eat Snow alive in the next few episodes.
Nick: I've never viewed Snow as a true, purely pure person - especially when she's combined with Mary Margaret - so for her to go this far to protect her family from Cora isn't a surprise.
Jim: Only in her overwhelming guilt. Humans (in this world) have both light and dark, and she did a dark thing for a very light reason. She shouldn't have been so hard on herself.
Christine: I wasn't as surprised at what she did but how she did it. The way she manipulated Regina, using her desire for her mother's love as the means to kill Cora was darker than I ever expected her to go.
How will Belle react to Rumple's phone call?
Gareth: I'm hoping it will be the catalyst that will prompt her to go in search of who she really is. Belle seems such a wasted character this season. She's spent most of season 2 either locked up or drugged. We need the Belle we fell in love with in 'Skin Deep' back asap.
Nick: It's hard to know for sure, but at this point I think Belle is mostly deciding to ignore Rump since he's been more than creepy around her as she lacks the necessary Storybrooke context.
Jim: I think she is going to want to learn more about him and in time maybe fall for him all over again. Maybe love's kiss from him will restore her memories.
Christine: I'm with Gareth. I feel as though Belle's return has been wasted this season. I can only hope that Rumple's heartfelt confession will be the catalyst to change that.
Could Cora have been saved by having her heart?
Gareth: That's the greatest tragedy of the whole story. Cora had removed her capacity for love in order to continue her search for power and revenge. It was only in her final moments, with her heart reinserted, that the realization occurred to her that Regina "would have been enough."
Nick: No, because Cora's heart is her one weakness; she acknowledges as much in the episode. Without it it's doubtful she would veer from her quest for power, and since Snow curses it even if her heart is never returned to her body, it could never return. It's pretty clear now that no matter what option would have happened Cora would head for death.
Jim: It would have slowed her down, but she was really rotten to the core.
Christine: She removed her heart in her quest for power but if she hadn't been able to do that, perhaps it would have changed her fate.
Will anything be able to convince Regina not to seek vengeance?
Gareth: Perhaps her love for Henry and his influence will pull her back from continuing the cycle of violence. I feel her desire for revenge will be key in putting Regina back in "Evil Queen" mode though.
Nick: Only Henry at this point. She's out for blood now, and I can't blame her in this instance.
Jim: Henry. If any one or any thing can, it will be him.
Christine: Henry, but I'm not even sure he can dissuade her from eviscerating Snow. You really can't trick someone into killing their own mother and expect to walk away, no matter how much Cora may have deserved it.
Most surprising revelation: That Cora and Rumple were in love or that Snow manipulated Regina to kill Cora?
Gareth: Definitely the twist with Snow. I honestly didn't think the writers would go down this road. I certainly didn't expect it to play out the way it did. Interesting times ahead for The Charmings.
Nick: Cora and Rumple. It's a pairing I would have never guessed since we've only known Rump to do two things in past: look for his wife and try to find Bae.
Jim: For me, it was the tear-invoking speech Rumple gave Belle. I was stunned to see he would ever be that vulnerable. After that, I was pretty surprised Cora and Rumple were "close."
Christine: They were both great twists that I didn't see coming but as Gareth said, I really didn't think they'd take Snow to this dark of a place. I'm thrilled they have. It means that everything I thought I knew about Storybrooke changed in this episode and I can't wait for more.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.