Continuing the recent successful decision to focus on a character per episode, this week it was all about the Sheriff (Graham). Certainly we hadn't discovered much about him up to this point - not even his fairytale equivalent - so it was good to find out more. Mind you, we wish we hadn't got quite so attached...
We begin with Graham playing darts in the bar, but he's not impressed that Emma - still annoyed about him and Regina - is avoiding him. Emma insists that his personal life is his business, but Graham follows her outside, explaining that he doesn't feel anything (this becomes a recurring statement throughout the episode - and you'll find out why).
Emma erupts, asking why he cares what she thinks, and gets her answer pretty quickly as he grabs her and kisses her. Emma's shocked, but Graham's got more important things on his mind - he's had a weird vision of the woods and a wolf. Emma's furious with him for kissing her and storms off, so Graham goes to Regina and kisses her instead. Charming.
Then it's time to visit the fairytale world - the Evil Queen comforts Snow White after the death of her father, promising to be there for her. Of course, it's all part of her evil plan for revenge - she killed Snow White's dad, and now she's planning to murder Snow as well.
It has to be done with care because the kingdom love Snow, so she decides to choose someone else to do the deed - someone with no heart, who's adept at murder and bereft of mercy. A hunter! At that moment, a huntsman is killing a deer... it's only Graham, isn't it! We soon know he's an honourable guy, because he cries after killing the deer. Bless. (The wolf's there too, by the way.)
It turns out this sequence with the huntsman is actually being dreamt by Graham, who wakes up suddenly, saying he's seen that wolf before. Much to Regina's concern, he decides the best thing to do would be go for a little walk. But outside, he drops his keys, and when he bends down to pick them up he sees that wolf again...
The next day, Emma sees some flowers and, believing they're from Graham, chucks them straight in the trash. But actually, they were for Mary, from Dr Whale. Mary's understandably a bit annoyed, but uses the situation to advise Emma to drop the barriers she puts up - she clearly has feelings for Graham and yes, walls can protect you - they can also keep out love.
Speaking of Graham, he's running through the woods trying to find that wolf - unfortunately, all he discovers is creepy Mr Gold, who tells him some people believe dreams are memories of another life. Oo-er. In the fairytale world, the huntsman defends his wolf companion against some fellow hunters in an inn, causing a big brawl. Watching through her magic mirror, the Evil Queen decides he's the one to slay Snow.
Back in the real world, Graham continues his chase through the wood and eventually finds the wolf. But when he strokes it, he has more weird visions - of Snow White, of the wolf howling, of a building with a strange symbol on it. After seeing Snow, he of course goes to visit Mary to ask if they know each other... from another life.
We shoot right back to fairytale land, where the Evil Queen summons the huntsman and offers to do anything for him if he kills someone for her. After asking for wolves to be protected - and their hunting outlawed - the huntsman (who was brought up by the animals) agrees to do the murdering and carve out the victim's heart. But who is he to kill?
Real world time, though, and Graham points out that Mary can't remember when they actually met. He worries that he's hurt her, and asks if she believes in past lives. Mary instantly assumes he's been talking to Henry and spills the beans on his book. Of course, this just puts ideas in Graham's head.
Well, in the fairytale world it's time for the huntsman to kill Snow White - but of course, she's a smart cookie and realises pretty quickly that the Queen has hired him to kill her. She runs away, but soon gives up and writes a letter. She explains that she is ready to meet her fate, but asks him to deliver the letter she has penned to the Queen when the deed is done.
The thing is, after reading the note the huntsman can't go through with it and allows Snow White to escape, handing her a whistle made out of grass in case she needs help.
While Regina confronts Emma, telling her to stay away from her man, yeah?, Graham goes to see Henry to ask about his book. Henry says it makes sense Graham's flashes began after kissing Emma - she wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for him, after all.
Henry confirms that Graham is the huntsman and explains that after the Evil Queen found out he had spared Snow, she ripped out his heart so he would never be able to feel again. Then Graham spots the building with the weird symbol... only for Henry to explain that it's where the Evil Queen stored his heart. Yikes.
Outside, Emma waits for Graham and advises him to go home and get some rest (everyone thinks he's ill, basically). But Graham is adamant that he needs to find his heart (literally). Emma proves that he has a heart by touching his chest and feeling it beat, but her mood changes just slightly when she sees the wolf Graham's been nattering about...
The duo chase the wolf through a graveyard... only to lose it. But when they look up, Graham is shocked to see the building with the weird symbol. Emma decides the easiest thing is just to humour the madman, so she kicks down the door. I love how badass Emma is.
Time for more fairytale background now, though - the huntsman delivers Snow's heart to the Queen (although obviously it's really a stag's heart). First, he reads out Snow's letter, which is all sickeningly lovely about how she's sacrificing herself for the sake of the kingdom, and asking the Queen to rule kindly now she's got the revenge out of her system.
The letter infuriates the Queen, who reveals that she is angry with Snow of betraying a confidence. She takes Snow's heart, puts it in a box and holds it up to a wall. But when the wall doesn't open, she realises that it isn't a human heart at all...
Back in the real world, Graham desperately searches for his heart in the tomb, but he and Emma are interrupted when Regina shows up - of course, it's her father's tomb. Graham insists this isn't Emma's fault, but then doesn't help matters by announcing that he wants to break up with Regina - he doesn't feel anything, and it's her fault.
Regina is naturally furious, blaming Emma for her recent downturn in fortunes. Emma unwisely points out that Henry found her and Graham kissed her - maybe Regina needs to look in the mirror and ask why everyone's running away from her? All this does is earn her a punch right in the face from Regina. Naturally, Emma returns the favour, but Graham manages to break it up. Amazing.
As Graham tends to Emma's wounds in the police station, Regina pushes aside the coffin in the tomb and heads down some stairs. In a fairytale flashback, we see the Evil Queen pulling the huntsman's heart out of his chest (weirdly, it glows pink).
She kisses him (shudder) and then stores the organ in her big wall of hearts, explaining that now he has to do everything she says. If he doesn't, or runs away, all she has to do is squeeze the heart (and just to show what will happen, she gives it a bit of a press, causing the huntsman to howl in pain.) Then she gets her guards to take him to her bedchamber. Yikes.
Back in the real world, Regina finds the wall of hearts and takes out Graham's. Over at the station, Emma's ready to drop her barrier and, crying, she begins to kiss Graham. This prompts him to remember everything from the fairytale world, and he tearfully thanks her. But as they lean in to kiss again, Regina squeezes Graham's heart.
She presses it until it's just dust, and Graham collapses on the ground. Emma calls his name in horror, but Graham isn't breathing. He lies there lifeless in her arms, as she begins to cry. And that's where we leave Once Upon A Time this year. How cruel! The show has really upped its game... I can't wait to see what happens next (but I'll miss poor Graham...)
- Right from the beginning of the episode the clues that Graham was the Huntsman were there - see the dartboard with a picture of a deer on it. Not exactly subtle, no, but it gets the job done.
- The Evil Queen is a pretty good actress. I actually believed she was genuinely comforting Snow.
- Mary and Dr Whale cannot happen. Please.
- Robert Carlyle is fast becoming my favourite part of this show - he's so wonderfully creepy. If we could have more of him, that would make me happy (but I really don't want a sympathetic backstory to make us realise what a nice guy he is. Keep him horrid).
- It's quite impressive that we can see the changes from the fairytale world to the modern world - and vice versa - through the use of colour.
- I way prefer Snow White to Mary Margaret. Snow is so sparky.
- "You kissed my mum?" Henry's disgust was a little bit adorable.
- "The time for mourning is over. I simply find that black suits me."
- "Sorry, I thought we were talking metaphorically here."
- If someone could make a gif of Emma and Regina punching each other, I would very much appreciate it.
- Also, I loved Emma calling Regina "madam mayor". Such scorn.
- Graham tending Emma was so clichéd, but I didn't really mind.
- How do we think Graham's apparent death is going to affect Emma? She'd just let her guard down, dammit!