Snow White's heart may not be as pure after Sunday's episode of Once Upon a Time.
Last week, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) vowed vengeance after discovering that her mother was killed by Cora (Barbara Hershey). But can she really go through with taking a life for a life? Snow may have no other choice in order to stop Cora and Regina (Lana Parrilla) from using the dagger on the mortally wounded Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who may be too weak to resist its powers. When he returns to Storybrooke on Sunday's episode (8/7c, ABC), that could spell disaster if they force him to kill the whole Charming Family.
"Snow is faced with having to choose between protecting her family and thinking of herself in one way, and protecting her family and thinking of herself in a completely different way," Goodwin tells TVGuide.com. "What will happen will shake her to her core. It will rattle her identity and her confidence and her self-definition. If she's not the Snow White from the fairy tale books, she doesn't really know who she is."
Through this conundrum, we'll see a fairy tale land flashback to Cora's youth, in which she was a lowly miller's daughter who hoped to rise above her status, which may shed light on her hatred for the nobility such as Queen Eva (Rena Sofer) and the Charming family. "I don't think it's so much initially that Cora is power-mad as much as she's mad at her lack of power," says Rose McGowan, who plays the younger version of Hershey's character. "She has a burning hatred for being looked down upon from those who are seemingly better than her. That is what fuels her more than anything."
Cora's past will also shed light on a more vulnerable side as we see her first interaction with Rumplestiltskin. As the old fairy tale goes, the firstborn child of the miller's daughter was actually promised to Rumplestiltskin. "We're going to see some of that and hopefully we'll see more of that later," McGowan says, "It's quite sad and heartbreaking. You wouldn't have expected something between Cora and Rumple to be heartbreaking, but it is. I think the emotion between her and Rumple will be the most surprising."
Despite that poignant past, that doesn't mean Cora used to be the tenderhearted mother Regina always dreamed of having. In fact, we'll come to learn the depths of her vindictiveness and exactly why Cora targeted Queen Eva last week, which kicked off all the animosity between these two families. "There's a specific reason," McGowan says and adds that she'd love to return and explore more of Cora's younger side, which has been a fun and familiar role for the Charmed alum to play. "I actually look quite physically similar to her, which I never thought about before," she says. "I didn't pick up her mannerisms because it's her origin story, so I got to create it. She's still finding her way in the world, so it freed me up a little bit."
With Cora and Regina on the warpath in present-day Storybrooke, could Rumplestiltskin ultimately be the one who falls victim to their quest for power? "At the end of the day, it's him or someone else," Carlyle teases. "That's really what it comes down to. There is something that happens at the end of the episode that's a complete game changer, but whether that's Rumple dying or someone else, you'll have to wait and see."
Do you think Rumple will die? What should Snow do?
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.