Who among us hasn’t found our long-lost birth mother, defeated the greatest sum of evil over the course of six seasons, seen our grandparents die every which way to Sunday, turned back all those advancements for one final curse, beaten said curse, sat down for dinner, wrote a book on all those wonderful stories, seen it all fall apart, and then been greeted at our door by a little girl looking to do the same thing you did years back? It’s a tale as old as time.
So as we welcome Once Upon a Time back, we’re ready because, in a way, haven’t we been here before? We season 7 veterans — we’re here for every iteration of and explanation for Regina/Roni there is. We love the characters, but we aren’t married to them because what we love most is the story, and boy howdy, do we have another story ahead of us.
When we left off last season, it seemed we had stumbled onto a happily ever after, but as Emma said, there’s no real happily ever after because the story keeps going. So we pick up in the future, in Hyperion Heights, Washington — purposefully across the world (okay, country) from Storybrooke, Maine — where Lucy has found her father. Who is it, if you don’t remember? Oh, it’s Henry.
But let’s go back a second. The Henry we’ve always known has to wrap up his story, so he throws on a leather jacket and a fancy backpack because high school is over. Operation Cobra is complete. And he has to get on a motorcycle (?! LOL, OKAY) and find out where he belongs. So, he throws his only magic bean and tells Regina goodbye as he rides a motorcycle (I CANNOT GET OVER THIS) into a whole new land.
And when he gets to that new land as sexy, grown-man Henry in a better-fitting jacket, he wrecks the first damn magic carriage he sees — and who’s riding in it but Cinderella (Dania Ramirez)? This brings us to what I’m sure will be a season-long case study and awareness campaign that I’m starting now called, “Who the Hell Gave Henry a Motorcycle?”
But with every new world come at least one to four alternative worlds, which is why we shift to Seattle, where Henry is an Uber driver. Do you, Henry. Anyway, after a shift of very important riders, Henry goes home and throws down his keys. We get a close-up shot of that swan keychain from back in season 2. But as Henry sits down to write again, that’s when Lucy shows up, introducing herself as his daughter.
Anyway, she’s begging him to come with her back to Hyperion Heights because her mom, Cinderella, is there, and this is how the curse is broken. Her grandmother, Lady Tremaine, who is the wicked stepmother, is working to make the “up-and-coming neighborhood” even more up and coming by inviting in outsiders to force the fairy tale people out and separate them forever. That’s right, y’all. This new story is about the gentrification of magic. But Henry is not impressed.
Meanwhile, in my favorite twist ever, Cinderella is working at a chicken restaurant. She’s late for her shift, and her supervisor is being a real jerk about it all, but he can afford to because she needs this job and can’t quit, right? Wrong. She has integrity, so she refuses to apologize and quits.
Back in Cinderella’s real world, they’re doing some damage control after that carriage crash. Henry, ever intent on helping Cindy’s story along, offers to help her find her prince and get where she needs to go — she can just hop on the back of his motorcycle. But back in Seattle, Lucy’s doing the same for her dad, stealing his laptop and telling him to meet her at Roni’s. Who’s Roni? THE NEW REGINA, WITH A WONDERFUL LOOSE-CURL BOB. She owns a bar now that sometimes Alice (Rose Reynolds) — hey, girl — lurks on top of.
Roni’s is being bought out by Belfrey. No, not that one. Victoria Belfrey (Gabrielle Anwar), the evil stepmother. She’s changing the neighborhood, and it’s the whitest version of gentrification you’ve ever seen. Anyway, Henry tries to level with Roni and say, “Imagine if I walked in here and told you that I was your son.” Get it? It’s ironic! (Recap continues on page 2)