Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time 2.03: "Lady of the Lake"

“You have nothing to fear from me. The apple fell very far from the tree.”

“Lady of the Lake” was easily the weakest “Once Upon a Time” episode of the new season thus far. Sarah and I have mostly delighted in the “Lost” references in the three “Lost”-adjacent shows we’ve been covering this season (“Fringe,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “Revolution”), but in this episode, the stuff that was really reminiscent of “Lost” was reminiscent of bad “Lost,” not great “Lost” like “The Constant.” This episode was basically like Ana Lucia and early season 2 meets the Temple. And the plotting was clunky, too. I could see the writers working instead of everything appearing seamless. It was very mechanical. I was disappointed to see that Andrew Chambliss, who came up in the business on “Dollhouse” was one of the co-writers. I know he’s better than this episode. Now all that being said, the episode wasn’t all bad. There were three main story threads, and only one of them, the present-day Enchanted Forest storyline, was really that bad. There were some sweet moments in both the Storybrooke and flashback Enchanted Forest storylines. So let’s get on with it!

The episode opens in the Enchanted Forest with a scene designed to introduce us to yet another new character- Sir Lancelot. Charming’s holding a Council of War in the middle of the Enchanted Forest (they’re fighting his “dad” King George). Snow is trying to get away from the fighting and make it to the rendezvous point (Charming’s mom’s cabin), and she’s not having much luck. She runs into none other than Lancelot, who has left the Round Table in disgrace and is now fighting as a mercenary for King George. He captures her and takes her to King George. King George reveals that his wife was made infertile by a curse, and so James was the only chance at a family he had. He’s pissed at Snow for taking that away from him, so he gives her a potion that curses her with infertility as well.

In the present day Enchanted Forest, Snow regains consciousness in the pit. She seriously freaks out when she sees Cora and warns Emma that Cora is even worse than Regina. Emma is kind of skeptical, believing that Cora has truly been stripped of her powers. Things improve a little when Emma and Snow are brought to the surface to meet the leader of the safe island (yeah, there would be a lot of references to “the Island’ throughout the rest of the episode), and the leader of the remaining Enchanted Forest denizens appears to be none other than Lancelot. Snow is very happy to see him, and they embrace. This pisses off Aurora, because she wants Snow and Emma to be punished for allegedly killing Prince Phillip. Mulan warns Aurora against vengeance, but Aurora doesn’t listen. When Mulan leaves, Aurora pulls out her knife.

Snow, Emma, and Lancelot have a pow wow, and Snow tells the group she has a plan. She’s afraid to revel too much of it because Cora is nearby, but Lancelot gives Snow and Emma permission to leave the island to pursue this plan as long as Mulan accompanies them. Again, Emma is dubious, but she’s overruled. Emma not trusting her mom is kind of a theme throughout this storyline. Snow, Emma, and Mulan are getting ready to leave the safe island, and just as they are about ready to go, Snow reveals some of her plan. They’re going to go back to Snow and Charming’s old castle to find the wardrobe that was used to send Emma to our world in the first place. Snow is hoping there’s some residual magic still left in it that could take them all back home.

Finally back in our universe, Henry is still struggling to be a decent grandfather to Henry. They’re having an argument over whether Henry can help Charming with the search for Emma and Snow. Charming wants Henry to just go to school, but he clearly doesn’t know Henry very well if he thinks that Henry is going to obey that request. As soon as Charming is out of sight, Henry starts walking away from the school bus as fast as he can. Henry goes to talk to Jefferson, and he convinces Jefferson to go see his daughter (apparently Jefferson thought she’d be pissed at him for leaving her). I guess Henry thinks that if Jefferson gets his family situation sorted, he can help with a portal? Then Henry gets extra devious and calls Regina asking her to lunch- it’s an invitation Regina is only too eager to accept. After Regina has rushed out of her house to the lunch meet-up, Henry sneaks in and steals Regina’s keys that seem to open everything in Storybrooke.

In another Enchanted Forest flashback, Snow runs into Lancelot again. Snow is understandably not happy about this, but Lancelot actually means well. He wants to warn her that King George has sent some of his men to Charming’s mom’s cabin. Snow rushes to warm him, but she’s too late. Charming has to fight off King George’s men, but his mom gets shot with an arrow after failing to head Charming’s warning to stay inside. Snow arrives just as Charming’s mom is about to pass out from her injuries. Charming wants to take his mom to the lake we saw last season, because he thinks the water may be able to heal her from the poisoned arrow. During the journey to the lake, Snow and Charming’s mom talk about Charming’s dream to have children. Charming’s mom tries to give Snow this pendent that is supposed to tell her the gender of her first child, and Snow is forced to admit her infertility. Charming’s mom thinks that the water can heal Snow as well.

In the present day, Snow, Emma, and Mulan arrive at a clearing that should be a good place to camp for the night. Snow and Mulan leave to gather firewood and water, and they leave Emma at the campsite. Snow doesn’t think Emma knows enough about the dangers of the Enchanted Forest yet. Emma turns out to be in danger even at the campsite, though. Aurora has been following (is she this show’s Kate or what?), and she attacks Snow with her knife. Emma stupidly shoots her gun into the air, even though her mother warned her that the abundant ogres are blind and hunt by sound. Predictably, the sound of the gun brings the ogres with a vengeance. This part of the episode was kind of painful to watch, really. It was just that stupid. The gears of the plot were clearly turning at the expense of everything else. Snow, thankfully, gets her bearings and shoots the ogre in the eye with an arrow. Emma feels kind of stupid for causing all that trouble, and I was glad. Eventually, the four ladies arrive at Snow’s former castle, which has been abandoned following the curse.

Flashing back pre-curse again, Charming and company arrive at the lake, but all the water seems to have dried up. Charming thinks this happened because he killed the Siren who lived in the lake last season. Lancelot tells Charming not to give up hope. He finds one sip of water still trapped in a shell. Charming’s mom and Snow argue a little over who should drink the one sip. Charming gives his mom the flask with the water in it, and she appears to drink it. It was a suspiciously quick change of heart, and she’s not getting better, anyway. Her only regret is that she won’t be able to see Snow and Charming’s wedding, but Charming and Snow solve that problem by having Lancelot marry them right away. Charming’s mom dies just as the ceremony (which involves Snow drinking from a cup, of course) is complete. Later, Charming gives Snow his mom’s gender-predicting pendent, and when she holds it, it actually works. The magic water was in the cup she used in the wedding, and they are going to have a girl someday (as we know).

Back in the present, the four women (the one redeeming characteristic of this plot is that it’s a group of only women saving themselves) find the castle nursery and the wardrobe. It’s certainly a bittersweet moment for Snow, since she’s forced to confront the childhood time with Emma that she wasn’t able to have. Lancelot appears suddenly, and Snow is instantly suspicious. It turns out that he’s actually Cora. She’s had her magic all along and has been impersonating Lancelot (who she killed) for years. She uses magic to throw Snow and Emma across the room and tie them up. Emma finally saves the day by burning the wardrobe. This seems to scare Cora off. At the very end of the episode, though, we see Cora gleefully collecting wardrobe ash. So I guess that plan didn’t work so well.

In Storybrooke, Henry uses Regina’s keys to get into the family crypt, the lower levels of which hold all the hearts she’s stolen and all her magic stuff. He opens a box and almost gets eaten by some snakes, but Charming saves him just in time. It turns out Regina alerted him to the lunch deception. Meanwhile, Jefferson takes Henry’s advice and has a sweet little reunion with his daughter. Finally, Charming seems to be finally getting with the good grandfather program. He gets Henry some toy swords and says he’s going to teach him what he needs to know to survive in the Enchanted Forest. They’re going to search together from now on. Things aren’t going to be happy for long though. King George pulls up in a fancy car and creepily watches the swordplay.

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