Once Upon a Time: The Miller’s Daughter Review

This week’s episode was brought to you by the strangest homage to Ghost I’ve ever seen. Here’s my take on “The Miller’s Daughter.”

once ghost

SPOILERS! You have been warned…

Young Cora goes from downtrodden daughter of a drunken miller to literal and figurative heartbreaking royalty, but she has to rip her own heart out and purge all emotion to do it. Vulcan style.

Snow White isn’t sure whether or not to save Rumplestiltskin by killing Cora, thereby corrupting her inherent fairy tale goodness. She pulls an Anakin and turns to the Dark Side. David looks concerned. Regina looks pissed.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Good

Like I said before, when this show is good, it’s really good. And this episode was really good. This was the most I’ve enjoyed the fairy tale flashback storyline since season one. Finally, we return to the original formula that made this series great: taking new and unexpected spins on iconic tales. I loved the direction they took with this story, one of my personal favorites of the fairy tales. Although they still haven’t explained why Rumple is so bent on baby-collecting…Anyway, Rose McGowan was phenomenal as young Cora. She’s practically a younger doppelgänger for Barbara Hershey (older Cora). Same presence, similar physical features, and same fabulous style. Cora didn’t take long to upgrade her wardrobe from her miller’s rags.



I was completely prepared to gripe more about the awkward relationship that apparently occurred between Cora and Rumple. However, this episode made me buy it! Unlike Belle (sorry, #Rumbelle shippers), these two shared actual chemistry. They were each other’s match in intellect, guts, and power lust. I loved his expression of fascinated surprise when Cora demanded he teach her to spin the straw into gold, not just do it for her. And then things get steamy.

Y’know, for an “evil imp,” Rumple sure gets a lot of women. Chicks just love their sparkly mystical creatures.



I also loved the direction they took with Snow White’s character. It would have been easy to have her decide to do the noble thing and not kill Cora, or to wimp out and save Cora at the last minute. Instead, while she does wimp out, she does it too late. Now Snow has to live with what she’s done, full of regret, and Regina knows Snow is the guilty one. Her struggle to come to terms with what she has done is going to be an interesting journey to watch.

Snow White’s manipulation of Regina was an especially surprising and wonderful development. A) I did not expect her to have that ability to be so blatantly and convincingly deceitful. B) WE GET EVIL REGINA BACK. PRAISE GRIMM AND CHRISTIAN ANDERSON! NO MORE BORING HENCHMEN REGINA! SHE’S GONNA BE ANGRY. SHE’S GONNA BE CONNIVING. IT’S GONNA BE GREAT.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Regina’s character arch; I actually think what the writers do with Regina’s moral ambiguity is what makes her character great. It’s just that she’s a much more interesting and complex villain than Cora, and seeing her reduced to mindless sidekick was disappointing. Now she’s back! I hope.



I also hope this isn’t the end of Cora, though, at least in terms of backstory. We still need to know how she came to be the Queen of Hearts, and why Regina’s father needed to be rescued from her. By the way, I never got that Regina was already royalty before she married Snow’s father. Apparently she was always the daughter of a prince? So her father who used to follow her around with a silver tray was a prince? Please tell me that’s going to be explained. And just how many kingdoms are in this land? There seem to be more royal families than peasants. What, is there one king for every block?

But, for now, Cora is very much dead. She got her heart back, looked at her Regina, and realized that the love for her daughter would have been “enough.” You really do like to rip hearts out, don’t ya Barbara? Just rip mine in half, why don’t you?

The Bad

There was an awful lot of fuss this episode about Snow White being too pure and good to actually murder someone. Charming even said that she had the “purest heart” he’s “ever known.” Okay…if I recall correctly the first time he met Snow White she was pillaging jewels in the woods, making deals with trolls, and carrying around evil fairy dust to turn Regina into a cockroach so she could crush her underneath her homemade leather boot. Not exactly a saint. Wasn’t she the one who pulled the sword from Charming in the pilot?  If anything, Charming is the nancy of the couple — way to spend the battle of this episode laying unconscious, dude. I know Snow’s Mary Margaret counterpart was more innocent and subdued, but when her memories returned, wouldn’t that, well, badassery return as well?

snow white arrow

Moreover, didn’t they already do this storyline? In the first season, Snow went all PMS-y because she lost her love and decided she wanted to kill the Evil Queen. Charming talks her out of it and saves her soul and yada ya. I mean, obviously they went a different route this time, but it would have been nice if they acknowledged that they did travel down this road once before.

I also wish the promos hadn’t told us someone was going to die this episode; it was obviously going to be Cora. If they hadn’t pulled the whole #OneWillDie marketing campaign her death would have been more of a surprise. You can have Gold croak his lines out as long as you want, Once Upon a Time, you’re not fooling us. We know you can’t lose Robert Carlyle any more than Downton Abbey can lose Maggie Smith.

The Ugly

Mary Margaret’s hair. You’re a beautiful girl, Ginny. But that hair is hideous. Please grow it out.



All in all, this episode was a home run. It had genuine emotional connection, an interesting twist on a classic tale, complex character development, beautiful visuals, an intriguing and cohesive plot, and a sprinkle of comedy. More of this, please!