Once Upon a Time recap: This Town Ain't Big Enough
Okay, Once Upon A Time — your move. I had a really hard time with the pacing and a lot of the dialogue in last week’s jam-packed, exposition filled pilot, but I found this week’s installment to be a definite step in the fun direction. I was impressed by Jennifer Morrison’s tough-as-nails-but-with-a-secret-heart-of-gold take on Emma, and enjoyed the Bugs Bunny v. Elmer Fudd-quality of her battle with Regina. I’m still not sure how these episodes are going to play out week by week — is this going to be the sole long-term story arc, or are we going to spend more time digging into the backstories of some of the smaller characters? Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. Last Monday a friend called me out for basically ignoring Sheriff Graham, and she was completely right. My oversight was inexcusable, and it won’t happen again. The sexy British hipster sheriff is one of the the most appealing parts of this show, and he deserves words.
We opened this week with a montage of Storybrooke, back to life. The clock was moving, the people were bustling, and Red Riding Hood wasn’t really wearing any clothing. It’s funny to me that she basically wears the slutty Leg Avenue Halloween costume version of the traditional Red Riding Hood garb. Granny has lost all control over this one. Do you think this is the part of Granny’s happiness that was taken away? In Fairytale she had a sweet, caring granddaughter who only wanted to bring her baked goods, and now she’s stuck with a bratty, hormonal teenager. Terrible.
But, anyway, back to the story. Regina, still upset about Emma, noticed that there were pages missing in Henry’s book. At this point, she knew that she was in danger of losing control. Henry denied knowing anything about the pages, and even cocked a ‘tude. Emma’s presence is giving him a bit more confidence, no? Regina confronted Emma while bearing a basket full of crimson apples, and threateningly read off a bunch of random stats on honeycrisp trees. (They can survive temperatures as low as 40-below!) “Since when were apples a threat?” Emma asked, understandably confused. Just you wait, said Regina’s eyes. What is Regina doing to the apples in Storybrooke? Could they be part of the spell?
Back in Fairytale, the Queen was fuming after Snow’s wedding. She hates Snow. Snow did something terrible to her, but we still don’t know what that is. She went to her Magic Mirror for words of wisdom, and fans of Breaking Bad and just really good acting should rejoice that Giancarlo Esposito has officially entered this show. His Gus Fring was one of the most intriguing villains I’ve ever seen on television, so here’s to whatever craziness he will add to Once Upon A Time. I’m already excited, because his Magic Mirror is kind of like a malevolent version of Zordon from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
So the Queen wanted to put ‘the dark curse’ on Fairytale, and at this point even her Magic Mirror looked freaked out. Whatever this curse is, it’s worse than we thought. She needed to go to Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty fame to win back her rights to the curse, but her father warned her against it. Maleficent would not be happy. “Since when do I care about anyone else’s happiness but mine?” the Queen cackled. Point taken! Over at Maleficent’s magnificent ice palace, we learned that the Queen was once engaged, and that Snow has ruined it. She later gave Maleficent her famous dark curse in exchange for the faulty poison apple one that was undone by Charming’s kiss, and now she wanted her money back. This was too much for even Maleficent to handle, but the Queen got the best of her with some dark magic.
NEXT: Shoddy journalism and low-rent curses
Later, the Queen gathered her Evil League of Evil for some old-fashioned curse-castin’. Included in the bunch were a freaky blind dreadlocked old lady (her eyes were sown shut!) and Shrek. They had to have known that he looked exactly like Shrek. The Queen needed a lock of hair from each of them, “the most evil of souls,” for the curse to work. They complied, but it was a total failure anyway. A jaunty dwarf-man decided to start taunting her about it as though this might be a good idea, so she turned him into stone, and shipped him off to Storybrooke to live forever as a creepy lawn ornament.
We then flashed over to said lawn, where Regina was tending to her apples. The Magic Mirror ran up to her nervously, but here he goes by the name of Sidney. “The Mirror strikes again,” he said, holding a copy of Storybrooke’s Daily Mirror. “It’s one of my better hatchet jobs.” Emma’s mess of a mugshot was displayed on the front page, meaning that Regina controls the local press now, too. The Storybrooke Daily Mirror is a hotbed of yellow journalism! Regina hired him to find the scoop on Emma, but he had found nothing. Emma grew up lost in the foster-care system, with no dents on her record. “So if I’m understanding you correctly, you found nothing of value,” Regina fumed. “Which means you have no value, Sidney. Do you know what I do with things that hold no value to me? I throw them away.” Nasty! What do you think Sidney is gaining from his alliance with Regina? What could she possibly promise him that would garner his support after the horror that she has inflicted? My only guess right now is that maybe she’ll let him live not as a floaty head once they get back to Fairytale. If they get back to Fairytale.
Over at the local diner, Emma laughed at the ridiculousness of her newfound notoriety. Waitress Red served her a steaming cup of hot cocoa, sent from a mysterious admirer. Just then Emma noticed the mysterious British hipster sheriff, Sheriff Graham, sitting solo in a booth. She wandered over for some chit-chat, but she looked annoyed when he started to flirt with her. Why? I don’t know. It’s cute. Is this going to be the first non-Fairytale romance on the show? Because I like it. Emma is icy and rigid and strictly business, while he’s sexy and bumbling and totally charming. It works. But Emma, for her part, isn’t having it yet. She’s only in Storybrooke to be a good sort-of-mom to Henry, and besides, it’s only episode two. She’ll come around. After some silly banter, we learned that the hot cocoa wasn’t Sheriff Graham’s seduction tool after all, it was Henry’s “walk me to school” bribe. How awkward for all parties involved!
On the walk to school, Emma tried to get Henry to spill some more dirt on Regina. Henry only wanted to talk about his plan to save the fairy tale characters, which he adorably calls “Operation Cobra.” Boys will be boys, after all. Henry freaked when he saw Emma munching on Regina’s apple, and tried to make it clear that Emma was the special, chosen daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She shouldn’t be taking things lightly and munching on apples and what not. To prove his point, Henry showed Emma one of the missing pages that Regina had inquired out about earlier. The illustration showed a mortally wounded Charming lifting a baby labeled “Emma” into the magic tree, but Emma wasn’t convinced. The name isn’t that uncommon, after all.
At school, they immediately ran into Mary Margaret and her pixie haircut. She seemed hesitantly excited to see Emma still in town. Mary Margaret definitely wants Henry to be happy, but she probably isn’t sure if his happiness should come from Storybrooke’s resident DUI case. Good teachers do exist, naysayers! Mary Margaret also let us know that Regina was only mayor because she inspired fear in people, not because she was popular. The most interesting part of this scene for me came when Mary Margaret cracked an innocent joke about Henry thinking (well, knowing) that Regina was the evil queen, and that she was Snow White. Emma was clearly startled when she realized that Henry thought Snow White was her mother, and when Mary M. asked her who Henry said she was in the book, she played it off like Henry said she wasn’t in the book at all. Something got to her, there. A lifelong yearning for a mother, maybe? I’m excited to see how the relationship between these two ladies plays out, because it’s already very strange. Imagine spending a lifetime looking for your mother, and finally finding her in some virtuous hottie who looks five years younger than you.
NEXT: A strange alliance
Next up was Emma’s visit to Henry’s school therapist, Mr. Hopper. Mr. Hopper, if you remember, was known as Jiminy Cricket back in Fairytale. Get it!? He’s nerdy and professorial like his Gryllidae counterpart, but this version of Cricket is hiding a major secret: he’s secretly working for Regina! Regina had told him to slip Emma Henry’s file, and she totally took the bait. But before she left, Hopper left her with one final thought. “For the sake of the boy, be careful how you handle his belief system,” he said. “Destroying his imagination would be devastating.”
What? If he cares so much about Henry’s imagination, then why is he working for Regina? Is he secretly hoping she’ll lose? I’m confused about Jiminy’s involvement in this. To my knowledge he’s always been one of the good guys, but maybe I missed something. Was he secretly working for Stromboli the whole time? I would actually like to see the show play around with the traditional fairy tale roles, because it would give them a lot to work with creatively, and it could also just be really fun. They’ve done this a bit with the fabulously slutty Red Riding Hood, but I really hope that they keep going with it. Maybe Cinderella’s mice can be gang members or a doo-wop group or something. Think about it.
Back at Granny’s Inn, Emma browsed through the file in some super-sexy knee-high boots, tight jeans, and a figure-flattering white tank. Do you think that Ginnifer Goodwin resents Jennifer Morrison’s wardrobe? I might in her situation. Emma always looks great, while Mary Margaret looks like a dowdy, depressed spinster. I know, I know, the curse. Anyway, hot Sheriff Graham showed up with some unwelcome news: Hopper told the police that Emma forced him to give up the file, and came back and stole it when he refused. She was under arrest! Emma knew it was a set-up, but Graham didn’t budge. He’s a man of the law, after all. Off to jail they went, where Emma complained that Regina had the whole town under her nasty spell (figuratively). She must have some serious dirt on Hopper to get him to act this way. What did he do?
For the second week in a row, Emma didn’t stay in the clink for long. Henry and Mary Margaret came to her rescue after Regina tried to scare Henry back at school. “The woman who you brought here — she’s been arrested,” Regina said. “She’s a con-woman.” But when Regina mentioned the file, Henry sweetly thought that Emma was using it as research for Operation Cobra. It was pretty adorable how his eyes lit up when he told Emma he knew what she was up to, and then pretty sad how Emma’s eyes reacted. She felt guilty, and she should. But anyway, Mary Margaret bailed her out, as a good mother should. Her first move as a free woman was to head back to Regina’s and cut down her apple tree in broad daylight, which was a pretty great move. I’m liking Emma a lot better this week, you guys. “Sister, you have no idea what I am capable of,” she sneered. “Your move.”
Back in Fairytale, the Queen sulked. It’s totally not fair when her evil, soul-shattering curses don’t work. But there might be a way, explained her father. She must go to the source of the curse, to the person or thing that had given it to her in the first place. So off she went to see …Rumpelstiltskin! Rumpel spilled the details on Snow and Charming’s visit. He told the Queen that he had told them everything, but she could still complete the curse if she was willing to get down and dirty. “Great power requires great sacrifice,” he said. “What I loved the most died because of Snow White,” she replied. She was willing to do whatever it would take, and the imprisoned Rumple was willing to help her get there if she could promise wealth, comfort, and her services on the other side.
NEXT: Patricide, Fairytale style
After her eventful meeting with Rumpel, the Queen returned to her castle to consort with her beloved father. Interestingly enough, she called him “daddy.” But despite the tender words, it was instantly apparent that something was very, very wrong. “I have to cut out the heart of the thing I love most,” she said. Daddy knew that this was, potentially, very bad news. “Power is seductive, but so is love,” he pleaded. “You can have that again.” She seemed to agree and even hugged him, but then she cut out his heart anyway.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma learned that she was now homeless, as she had been unceremoniously tossed out of Granny’s Inn. “City ordinance,” Granny explained. This had Regina written all over it, and Emma was seriously miffed. Even Sheriff Graham knew that Regina was guilty, but Regina made him Sheriff and could take it away. He swallowed his growing crush and kept his mouth shut. Emma met Regina in her office to set the record straight, but Regina won this round when Henry overheard Emma calling his storybook-thesis crazy. The poor kid was devastated, so Emma decided to leave town.
Emma went to Mary Margaret’s for a goodbye and some consult, but the most enlightening thing she learned was that she, Mary Margaret, and Henry all take their hot chocolate with cinnamon. Could there be truth to Henry’s theories after all? “I think the very fact that you want to leave is why you have to stay,” Mary Margaret said. She definitely played the part of the adorably wise grandma in this scene, and told Emma that if she couldn’t watch over Henry, then no one could.
We then flashed to Henry in Mr. Hopper’s office, where he clearly no longer wanted to speak to his therapist. “I don’t think you’re anyone,” he said, when Hopper asked if he still thought he was Jiminy Cricket. Just when you thought that this had shifted to In Treatment, Emma burst in to apologize. “I think the curse is crazy, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true,” she said. The only was to deter Regina, she explained, was to convince her that she and Henry were non-believers. Henry took her back and it was sweet and lovely, I just don’t understand why she would have done this in front of Hopper since he got her arrested a few scenes before.
Finally, we saw the Queen back in Fairytale, finishing her curse in the moonlight. She was using the heart of her sweet father to cast the spell, and this time, everything would go as planned. When all was said and done, the curse arrived in the form of the smoke monster from Lost. I’m loving all of these Easter Eggs, you guys! “I love you, Daddy,” she said lovingly to her father’s tombstone as the curse began to work its magic. The camera then flashed to the writing on the stone — Daddy’s name was Henry! Rumpelstiltskin, the God of names, somehow knew this, and his Mr. Gold taunted Regina back in Storybrooke. “The boy I procured for you, Henry…did I ever tell you what a lovely name that was? However did you pick it?” A comment like this would make it seem like he was on Regina’s side, but the fact that he went through so much trouble to bring her Henry, of all orphaned children, make his motivations seem more ambiguous. I like it. Regina pretty much knows who Emma is at this point, so things are (hopefully) about to get really nasty.
What did you think of episode two? Were you happy with the slower pace, or did you miss the non-stop action of the premiere? Why are Sidney and Mr. Hopper still working for Regina? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.