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Once Upon a Time series premiere recap: The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Evil Queen casts a curse; meanwhile, bail bonds collector Emma Swan has a terrible birthday

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Once Upon Goodwin
Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time

TV Show
Fantasy, Drama
run date:
Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla
Current Status:
In Season

Now I don’t mean to get all Fringe here, but I don’t know how to make these frequent universe-shifts easily understandable without calling our universe the Prime. So, after the wedding, we made our first visit to the Prime universe. There we saw a little boy, Henry, reading a book of fairy tales in a cab, and House‘s Jennifer Morrison looking super, super fly at a swanky Boston restaurant. Date night! Conveniently, this little blind date provided a healthy dose of exposition. She told the guy that her name was Emma, that it was her birthday, and that she had no friends or  family to spend it with. This would probably be a red-flag for most men, but Emma looked amazing in that dress. “You are the sexiest friendless orphan I have ever met,” he gushed. Before I had a chance to think that this was her happy meet cute, she revealed herself as a cutthroat bailbondsperson and took him down.

But despite the violence it was still her birthday, you see, and what good is a birthday without cake? Emma went home to light a candle for herself, and I think we were supposed to feel bad for her for being alone and sad and whatnot. The inherent problem in this was that Emma’s apartment was absolutely amazing. Floor to ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances, and a view. Also, it was a corner unit! She must be a very talented bailbondsperson. I wouldn’t need friends if that were my place, either.

Emma lit the candle, and enjoyed what would be her last moment of peace on this crazy, crazy show. Then, in came Hurricane Henry! Henry is sweet, but also seriously damaged and impressively direct and well-spoken for a kid his age. In other words, kids are probably brutal to him at school. He stormed in to Emma’s pad and said something like this: “Mom! Happy effing birthday. You gave me up for adoption ten years ago and now you need to come home to Storybrook, ME with me, or else I’ll call the cops and say you kidnapped me.” Then he drank her juice straight from the container. Emma’s face was an appropriate mix of “huh?” and “this is terrible.”

Despite the unfortunate nature of her situation and the legal closed-ness of her adoption, Emma decided to drive Henry all the way back to Maine. Her icy, single white urban woman female was melting already! She noticed the book of stories during the ride, and Henry casually mentioned that Emma was a main character. Right.

Back in Fairytale, a now very pregnant Snow expressed her concerns to Prince. Prince thought that the Queen’s threats were baseless, and besides, she wasn’t technically a Queen anymore, anyway. Snow wasn’t so sure. “She poisoned an apple because she thought I was prettier than her.” This was a reasonable argument. To be safe, Prince and Snow made a terribly cheesy visit to a terribly cheesy dungeon to see Rumpelstiltskin. At this point I don’t know what to make of him. The concept of the show is pretty silly to begin with, but the presence of solid actors like Ginnifer Goodwin and Giancarlo Esposito, as well as the Lost writing team, gives it a fighting chance. I just need them to tone down the stuff with the fairies and the ridiculous dialogue and the Rumpelstiltskin.

Anyway, Rumpelstiltskin explained that the Queen’s curse would take away their time, banishing them to someplace horrible. They would lose everything they had ever loved, and the Queen would laugh. Oh, she would laugh! I think it was Gore Vidal who said, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” The Queen is a completely motiveless villain at this point. She wants nothing but Chaos, Absolute. She’s the Joker, but with a push-up bra. The outlook wasn’t good, but Rumpelstiltskin offered a glimmer of hope: if Snow would reveal the name of her unborn daughter, then she could save them on her 28th birthday. The child’s name? Emma.

NEXT: She’s a killer, Queen