Monday, October 8, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.02: "We Are Both"

“If you have to use magic to keep your son, you don’t really have him.”

“We Are Both” was both intriguing and highly frustrating. I suppose the dichotomy is appropriate for an episode loosely themed around most of the characters feeling conflicted between the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke versions of themselves. The intriguing aspects of the episode mostly centered around Regina’s backstory and her family’s long history with Rumpelstiltskin. The frustrating involved multiple scenes that serve to prove that charming is seriously the worst grandfather. Ever. I really, really wanted to root for him to keep custody of Henry and save Storybrooke, but he really made it difficult. Overall, I found the Enchanted Forest scenes to be much more interesting than the Storybrooke scenes. And really, I think that’s been true of the whole series for me. I enjoy watching the Enchanted Forest scenes because I enjoy the creativity and seeing how the creative team puts their own twist on traditional stories. The Storybrooke plots just seem more shallow in comparison.

Anyway, this particular episode opens in Storybrooke, where the characters are testing the limits of the recent magic-related developments. The dwarfs want to see if they can leave Storybrooke now that the curse has been lifted, so they shove Sneezy over the town line. The result is most definitely not good. He sort of convulses and pulsates with light, and we later learn that he has completely forgotten his Sneezy identity. His Storybrooke identity has taken over for good. The town of Storybrooke itself is a mess, like a horrible storm blew through. Ruby is trying to coordinate the relief effort, directing people to long lost family members and setting up crews to clear debris. Charming, meanwhile, has decided to confront Regina about the hat and the portal, but she’s decidedly unhelpful. The townsfolk are demanding answers, and Charming promises to have a plan figured out in two hours. He walks off, with Henry running after him. And this is the first of many moments in the episode where all I could think was how horrible a grandfather Charming is.

The Enchanted Forest flashback plot of the episode, unsurprisingly, centers on Regina, mostly brought on because her magic’s not working anymore in Storybrooke and she’s getting frustrated. The flashbacks tell the story of how she got magic in the first place. Regina’s wedding to Snow’s father is approaching, and she tries to escape on horseback. Regina’s evil mom, Cora, is one step ahead of her, however, and she catches Regina in some vines. Regina is going to marry the king if it’s the last thing Cora does. We then see Regina fanaticizing about strangling Snow. Regina tells her dad that she wants out of the wedding because it’s making her evil like her mom. Her dad, who is the biggest pushover ever, isn’t much help. The only helpful thing he does is tell Regina that Cora first got magic from a book. In Storybrooke, we see Regina go to Mr. Gold’s shop an demand to have the book back. She threatens to tell everyone that the Enchanted Forest still exists, and Rumpelstiltskin gives in.

We also get a flashback of Regina using the book to call Rumpelstiltskin for the first time. He says that he knew her long ago and they’re back together where they belong. It’s very timey wimey and odd. It appears he was talking about seeing Regina as a baby while working with Cora on magic, but it’s still odd. Rumpelstiltskin teaches Regina all about magic and how to open portals. I didn’t realize that in the rules of “Once Upon a Time,” portals could be opened using methods other than Jefferson’s hat, but apparently that’s the case. Right before the wedding, Cora pays a visit to Regina and gushes about all the horrible things Regina can do with the power she is about to acquire through the wedding. Regina can’t take it anymore, and she overpowers her mother and pushes her through the portal Rumpelstiltskin helped her to create. After all this goes down, Rumpelstiltskin asks Regina how it felt to use magic. Regina says she enjoyed it too much, and she won’t be using it again for that reason.

Back in Storybrooke, David and Henry are looking through Henry’s book, and Henry points out the Mad Hatter’s hat. This looks like what Regina used to create the portal. Charming runs off to Mr. Gold’s shop and leaves Henry alone…again. Charming makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin – Rumpelstiltskin will give Charming a potion that will let Charming find the owner of the hat, and in exchange, Charming and Rumpelstiltskin will have a mutual non-interference agreement. Charming uses the potion on the hat, and he finds Jefferson in a crashed car. Charming confronts Jefferson (after pulling him out of the car, at least), and Jefferson tells Charming that the Enchanted Forest still exists. Before Charming can get any more information, Jefferson runs off. Charming tries to follow, but Ruby stops him and says he needs to pull the town back together before they all cross the town line and lose their Enchanted Forest identities forever.

The reason things are so dire is because Regina has successfully used the book to get her power back. Everyone was gathered in the town hall for Charming’s speech, but Regina crashes the party. She starts using her magic and causing trouble. Henry offers to leave with her to stop her from tearing the place apart, and the plan works. Poor kid. Again, Charming really is the worst.grandfather.ever. Regina hustles Henry back to her house, and as soon as he gets back into his bedroom, he starts trying to climb out the window. Vines from the tree grab him, just like Regina faced in the first flashback. Regina tries to convince Henry that living in a house with magic could be a good thing because he could use it to impress his friends, but Henry’s not buying it. He says he doesn’t want to be like Regina.

Everyone is trying to caravan out of Storybrooke because they’re (understandably) freaked out by Regina’s return, and David and Ruby have to stop them. David finally gets it together and gives an inspiring speech about how the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke memories are both important parts of who they are and they’ll lose themselves if they leave. With that problem solved, Charming heads over to Regina’s house to get Henry back. Regina says that Henry can stay with Charming for now. It’s hard to know if she’s genuinely had a change of heart and regrets her outburst or if she’s just trying to manipulate Henry. She also confirms to Charming that the Enchanted Forest does indeed still exist. The town overall gets back to work, and thanks to a whisper from Henry, Gepetto is on his way to finding Pinocchio/August. Rumpelstiltskin is the only one who is upset. He desperately wants to leave the town to go search for Bae, but he obviously can’t right now. In a sweet scene that should have been the end of the episode, Henry and Charming have sodas together at Granny’s, and Charming assures Henry that Emma and Snow are still alive.

Unfortunately, the episode continues to show us what is actually happening to Snow and Emma. And it’s season 6 “Lost” at the Temple bad. Emma and Snow are tied up, and Mulan is kind of dragging them behind her horse. They finally arrive at the safe area. Snow takes the opportunity to attack Aurora, she and Emma start to run off, but then Mulan throws a rock at Snow and knocks her unconscious. Mulan yells to her minions to take Snow and Emma to “the pit,” and it’s painfully obvious that Mulan is just Ana Lucia with a different face. You would think Eddy and Adam would remember that season 2 is generally everyone’s least favorite season of “Lost,” and Ana Lucia is one of the most reviled characters (maybe only above Nikki and Paolo). Once they’re in the pit, someone asks Emma if she needs help. It’s Cora, which can’t possibly be good.

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