Image credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
DRINK UP Those warm, fuzzy feelings won't last long, now that Cora and Hook are in town.
That night, Regina reacts in a totally proportionate manner to Jiminy's transgression by heading to his office/apartment -- what's with Storybrooke and the combination work/living spaces? -- and strangling him in cold blood. Except wait: The murderess is really a disguised Cora, whose big plan for getting close to her daughter requires first completely ruining Regina's life. This is almost as evil as taking a teaching position at Regina's high school.
The next morning, Emma and Henry are enjoying a breakfast of what appear to be french fries when the sheriff announces that she's going to walk her kid to school. Silly Emma, don't you know that Henry never goes to school? Her maternal urges are forgotten, though, when Pongo the Dalmatian runs over to Granny's, barking urgently. What is it, boy? Is Timmy trapped in the mines? No -- Red's doggy senses lead her and Emma back to Jiminy's office, where they discover Jiminy Human, apparently dead as a doornail. What a tragedy; he never even got to visit Times Square!
Between Regina's well-established penchant for murder and her public argument with Jiminy, this seems like an open and shut case. (Well, at least by Storybrooke's lax standards.) But after hauling the queen in for questioning, Emma finds herself doubting the suspect's guilt. For one thing, Regina looks genuinely shocked when Charming and Emma reveal that Jiminy has gone to that big, judgmental grass patch in the sky. For another, Regina convincingly points out that if she were to squash the therapist, she'd do something a hell of a lot more clever than entering and exiting his building in full view of Storybrooke's nosy townspeople. Though they don't share their daughter's belief in Regina's innocence, Charming and Snow -- who also never goes to school! -- agree to let the queen go for now.
Back in Fairy Land, Regina's still behind bars. She won't be there for long, though: the Good Guy Justice League has sentenced her to a public execution. Adding insult to injury, she'll face the firing squad in a shapeless grey sack instead of her usual gothic showgirl getup. For a moment, it looks like the former queen might just follow her father's advice and repent for her bad deeds, therefore earning a pardon from Snow and Charming.
And then Regina growls that her only true regrets are not causing more pain, or bringing about more death, or wearing even higher collars. She's prepared to die with her head held high and a snarl on her lips... until Snow decides at the last moment to spare her stepmother after all. The princess is convinced that showing mercy to Regina could be the first step toward helping Regina transform back into the woman she was before she went bad, the woman who knew how to rock the Single Braid of Innocence. Now there's a mommy complex for you.
Snow's reasoning is illogical, but at least it makes sense on an emotional level. And then she has to go and make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, who promises to provide her with a test she can use to prove whether the queen is capable of change. Snow! Come on! Name a single time that making a deal with Rump has ever, ever worked out in the deal maker's favor. I'm not mad at you right now; I'm just disappointed.
NEXT: "In the real world, it's usually hard to find evidence!"