Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.10: "The Cricket Game"

“It’s impressive that we can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at this stage in the game.”

“Once Upon a Time” returned for the spring (yeah it’s only January, but I’m doing to say spring, damnit!) season last night with a fairly strong episode. The creative team had a lot to accomplish this one. Not only did they have to have engaging Storybrooke and Enchanted Forest flashback plots, but they had to set up the plot arc for the second half of the season. It looks like we’ll be focused on Cora’s mission to destroy Regina and Regina being super emo about everything. I’m not super enthused about that because I could really care less about Regina’s secret pain. We got way too many flashbacks with that theme in the first half of the season. I’m a little wary of this direction also because Cora is a bit moustache-twirling. We have no clue why she’s so evil or seems to hate her daughter so much. I guess you’re wondering now why I called this episode “fairly strong.” I’d say it’s probably because Cora wasn’t really in it all that much and the Enchanted Forest flashbacks filled in an interesting gap in the mythology.

The episode begins not long after the winter finale ended. Hook and Cora pull into the harbor near Storybrooke in Hook’s rather gorgeous ship. Hook wants to split from Cora and seek his revenge against Rumpelstiltskin on his own. Cora has other ideas, though. She shows Hook that, unexpectedly, magic has arrived in Storybrooke. Hook might have a chance against Rumpelstiltskin in a world with no magic, but when Rumpelstiltskin has his full power, Hook would be in trouble. We don’t really see Hook again until near the end of the episode, which is a shame, because he’s plenty pretty to look at. I’d like to see more Hook-centric flashbacks, really. Bring on the pirates!

Anyway, in Storybrooke proper, Emma and Henry walk into quite possibly the most awkward situation ever. Charming and Snow are, shall we say, making up for lost time, and yeah, Emma and Henry walk in on them. Somehow Henry is still really naive and doesn’t realize what’s going on. Emma’s plenty traumatized, though. She’s pretty focused on her mission, though. She is determined to make tacos for the big “welcome home” gathering at Granny’s. The actual welcome home party is fun for everyone at first, then Regina shows up and turns it into angst city. Nobody except Emma (who invited her to the party in the first place) seems especially interested in forgiving Regina for her evil past. And I suppose I can understand that. She may have her secret pain, but she’s still done some pretty heinous things. Hook and Cora watch Regina as she mopes home, and they comment that she seems to be almost broken already.

The flashbacks in this episode deal with the aftermath of Snow and Charming and their army defeating King George. Regina puts up a bit of a fight, but they manage to capture her and disable her magic, too. Once the fighting is over, Charming and Snow hold a sort of final council of war with all their friends. Their main goal is to figure out what to do with Regina. Charming thinks they should kill her, because as long as she lives, she’s going to keep trying to hurt him and Snow. There’s some disagreement on this, but the general consensus seems to be that killing Regina would be a good idea. I’m kind of disappointed in Charming for that one. Dude’s got no mercy.

Turns out Charming has no mercy in Storybrooke, either. Regina is seen in public getting really pissed at Archie for divulging details about their sessions to Emma. Later, we see someone who appears to be Regina walk into Archie’s office. She uses magic and a bit of strangulation to seemingly kill Archie. As she walks out onto the street, however, we see that the culprit is actually Cora. She’s orchestrating this grand scheme to try and ruin Regina’s life for no good reason. The next morning, Pogo the dalmation alerts Emma and Ruby that something is seriously wrong at Archie’s office. They end up breaking in and find him unresponsive on the ground. Regina is arrested almost immediately due to her recent argument with Archie, and Charming wants to completely throw the book at her.

The next flashback shows us Regina’s execution. It’s an execution by arrow firing squad, which seems like an especially gruesome way to go out to me. It’s not like an arrow is going to kill instantly, and having a bunch of them hurled at you all at once just sounds unnecessarily painful. Even hanging would probably be more humane. Anyway, despite having been given advice to appear contrite at her execution, Regina makes a bit show of saying that her only regret is that she didn’t cause more misery and death. She especially regrets not having killed Snow. The arrows start to fly, but Snow puts a stop to it. She says it’s not the right way to go about dealing with Regina.

Much like her mom did in the flashback, Emma convinces Charming and Snow to let Regina go free (she shouldn’t have to do any convincing since she’s the Sheriff, but whatever). Emma’s logic is that Regina clearly was surprised by the news that Archie was dead, so she couldn’t have committed the crime. Regina must have been framed, and the person in Storybrooke most likely to want to frame Regina is Mr. Gold. The gang pays him a visit, and he has a device that will allow them to see Pongo’s memories of the attack on Archie (Pongo was in the room during the attack). In order to make sure everything is on the up and up, Emma is going to use the device (and her magic) to make this happen. Obvisouly, since Cora was impersonating Regina, it looks very much like Regina is the culprit after all.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Charming is really dubious about Snow’s plan not to kill Regina. He still thinks that the threat to their soon-to-be family needs to be eliminated completely. Snow, however, has a plan. Unfortunately, however, that plan involves making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. Snow ends up setting quite the trap for Regina (although we don’t know it’s a trap when it’s happening). She offers to set Regina free and goes so far as to even let her out of the dungeon. Regina, of course, squanders this chance by trying to stab and kill Snow, but to Regina’s chagrin, Rumpelstiltskin has put a protection spell on Snow. Snow and Charming banish Regina from their kingdom. Later, Rumpelstiltskin offers some help to Regina. He says that this protection spell only works in the Enchanted Forest, and he plants the idea in Regina’s mind that she should use a curse that will take everyone to another land. I don’t understand why Rumpelstiltskin can’t just send himself to our world if he really wants to search for Bae that much. Why all the manipulation?

The Storybook crew similarly has to set up a trap for Regina. Their trap involves blowing fairy dust on Regina to take away her magic. Understandably, Regina doesn’t take being accused of Archie’s death well. To make things even worse, Emma is determined to tell Henry what is going on. This has the potential to permanently turn Henry against Regina, since Henry considered Archie to be a good friend. After school, Emma takes Henry aside and tells him what happened as Regina looks on from her car, completely devastated. Over on Hook’s ship, Cora shows Hook that she hasn’t been ignoring his reason for coming to Storybrooke. She has Archie kidnapped in the hold of the ship. He knows everyone in Storybrooke’s secrets, so Cora thinks that Hook may be able to get some of Rumpelstiltskin’s secrets out of him. Will it help Hook get his revenge? Probably not.

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