I know I wasn’t the only one excited for the return of Once. And when I say “excited”, I mean that I had trouble sleeping. Last season, we left Storybrooke with the curse broken, Emma believing in…well, everything, and Rumples bringing magic to our world.
But the opener to the first episode of Season 2 confused me at first. We’re shown scenes of New York, following a guy in a business suit as he makes his way home. By the time he got on the subway, I wondered if this was the right show, or if I’d inadvertently made a mistake. It wasn’t until the guy (whom I shall call Bae, because that’s who I think it is) enters his apartment and there’s a sign for “Cleaners and Hatters” that I felt a little less anxious. Yes, that’s right. I was anxious.
The only thing I can really focus on in this scene is that his apartment window is open. Who goes out to work and leaves their window wide open like that? AND there’s a fire escape outside! Anyone could get in. I mean…really.
As it starts raining, The-Guy-Who-Might-Be-Bae struggles to close the window and his iPod falls to the ground. A pigeon lands with a postcard. Yes, that’s right; a postcard. It has one word on it: Broken. And on the other side? “Greetings from Storybrooke”.
Two riders on horseback rush towards a palace where Aurora is lying asleep. Brave Prince Philip slashes through the briars and wakes her with a kiss of true love. “If this works,” he says, “we don’t tell her everything. Not right away.” Now, a hero he might be, but he’s like the rest of the men in this show: a bit of a romantic and wordy to boot. He tells Aurora that Maleficent can no longer hurt them. Ohhh, okay. “There are new dangers now, but nothing we can’t handle,” he tells her.
And we’re back in Storybrooke! Hurrah! The purple mist from the finale clears and leaves Snow and Charming clutching at one another in the middle of the street. Like you do. I have to say, I got a little verklempt at the reunion scenes between Snow, Red and the dwarves. They all have a group hug and it’s kind of cute. But nobody knows what the hell is going on!
Then Emma appears and Charming gives us his “single tear” treatment. Seriously, that guy cries more than my mother did at Beaches. “She saved all of us,” Snow says. But poor Emma just looks really, REALLY awkward. They hug her and it’s…it’s not really the family reunion I think she was hoping for.
When they all want to go and punish Regina, Emma says that it wasn’t her who brought magic back. And we cut to Rumple/Gold and Belle. She tells him that she was abducted and locked up by Regina and, obviously, Rumple is more than a little pissy. But she warns him against revenge and makes him promise not to kill Regina. It’s the only way they can be together. So Rumple promises and they share a passionate kiss. Hm. Okay.
Snow is pushing Emma to ask questions and Emma, naturally, is reluctant. She wonders if they can’t do it later “with a glass of wine or several bottles”. She tells Snow and Charming that she needs a little time to get used to it. Well, understandable. I mean, finding out your parents are fairytale characters must be a bit of a shocker.
Archie approaches at a run, telling them that there’s an angry mob heading for Regina’s house. There’s a lot of insistence on the fact that she mustn’t be killed. Aww, they’re all good people doing good things. But Charming says that if Regina has her powers back, then it’s possibly they might be walking into a slaughter. Well, they make their own fun in Storybrooke.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, a dark figure attacks Aurora, Philip, and his companion. He picks up a medallion that the creature drops. And I’m not the only one thinking that that’s a Dementor, right? Because…you know, it IS.
At Gold’s shop, he opens a cupboard and pulls out a box. Inside is the same medallion that Philip picked up. But Gold’s wearing gloves and handles it a lot more carefully than our prince.
Dr. Whale and an angry mob are outside Regina’s home, banging on the door and telling her to open up before they break it down. The door opens and Regina appears, with a polite smile on her face. “Can I help you?” she asks. I fangirl quietly to myself. Or, you know, not so quietly. I may have squealed. Shush. You know I love me some Evil Queen.
Whale is threatening and so is the angry mob. I know this because they are shaking their fists in the air and glowering a lot. But seriously, who SHAKES THEIR FIST? Who DOES that? Canadians, obviously. Bless ‘em.
Regina is not to be perturbed and actually fights back a little, pushing Whale out of the way and making a show of being the Evil Queen. I have to say, it works well in that three-piece suit, Madam Mayor. Yum. She throws out her arms to cast magic on the crowd but nothing happens. “She’s powerless!” someone shouts, and they all surge forwards. There’s some pretty crazy chemistry going on between Regina and Whale, although I’m fairly convinced that Lana Parrilla could have chemistry with a pot plant if she so desired.
Whale is about to put his hands round Regina’s neck when Emma runs through the crowd and tells him to let her go. I try not to get too excited but honestly, this whole “White Knight” business on the internet has kind of got to me. And I’ve waited an entire season to see the hero being…well, heroic. It’s about time, Sheriff Swan!
David squares up to Whale and asks who he is. Yep, David, that’s what WE were wondering. And I’m already having problems differentiating between David/Charming and Mary Margaret/Snow. This is going to get confusing.
They’re not murderers, though. Or, at least, that’s what Snow tells the crowd. Right. So that palace guard with the axe in his back was a naughty man who deserved it, was he? Yes, Snow, you might have forgotten what happened in “An Apple Red As Blood” but I haven’t, okay?
Anyway, they decide to lock Regina up for her own safety. And I have to say, Regina doesn’t look altogether unhappy about that. In jail, she tells David/Charming that there’s nothing to go back to; that Fairy Tale Land is gone. And she’s just about to try and magic the lock open when Rumple appears.
They spar. Regina thinks he’s there to kill her but he says he made a promise to Belle. “She’s alive!” Regina says. “You are a dreadful liar,” Rumple tells her. Um…but not really. In fact, out of everyone in Storybrooke, Regina’s probably the best liar of the lot of them. But Rumple doesn’t really care about that. He grabs her hand and presses the medallion against it. It’s a “fate worse than death”, apparently. Kind of like having to wait all summer for new episodes of Once. I feel you, Regina. I feel you.
In Fairy Tale Land, Philip’s companion unveils herself. It’s Mulan! Hurrah! And she tells them that the medallion leaves the mark of a wraith, that sucks souls from people. Philip doesn’t tell them that he has it on his hand. Ooh, that looks like it smarts a bit, Phil.
In the woods outside Storybrooke, Rumple summons the wraith by stabbing the medallion. In the jail cell, Regina sits up on her cot and looks at her hand. There’s a wibbly-wobbly symbol burned into it, just like on Philip’s hand. And it looks like it needs some antiseptic cream and a nice bandage, if I’m being perfectly honest.
Snow is pushing for Emma to talk. Oh, moms; they’re all the same aren’t they? Making you discuss things you’d really rather not. And it’s all a bit awkward as David/Charming finds out that she had a one night stand with the erstwhile doctor. Ew. “We were cursed!” Snow tells Charming. Riiiight. Is that like when Ross and Rachel were “on a break” in Friends? I might just use that excuse for everything. Didn’t turn up at work on time? I WAS CURSED! Didn’t pay my electricity bill? I. WAS. CURSED, DAMMIT.
Snow thinks Emma isn’t happy that they’re all back together. Emma says she is, but that she spent her whole life knowing that her parents sent her away. Snow says it was to give her her best chance. Oh, I like that mirror to when Emma told Henry the same thing. And the dynamic here between them is lovely; it’s all changed and poor Emma’s still trying to get her head around it while Snow is all happy and giddy. She tells Emma that if they hadn’t sent her away she would have been cursed too. “But we would have been together,” Emma says. “Which curse is worse?”
Oh. Feelings. You know, I’m really loving Emma so far in this episode. I hope she continues to be this awesome. And it seems to sink in with Snow that what they did wasn’t perhaps the best thing. Because babies grow up into women who are essentially traumatized and bitter at being given away. Not such a fairytale now, is it, Snow, hm?
Back in Fairy Tale Land, Philip, Aurora and Mulan make camp. There’s a lot of snogging going on and Philip says he’ll be back in five minutes. Um, yeah. I’ve seen those sorts of movies before. You NEVER say you’ll be right back, mostly because you never are. And Philip is crying as he walks away. Seriously, what IS it with the men in this show? They seem to cry an awful lot.
Snow, Charming and Emma go to see Rumple/Gold and Emma is angry. She blames him for everything. But Rumple points out that Henry survived, Emma’s been reunited with her parents and that the curse is broken. No downside. He tells them that he brought magic to Storybrooke but won’t tell them why. Well, of course he won’t. Crikey, it’s like they’ve never even met him before.
There’s a rumble and what looks like an earthquake with strange noises from outside. Rumple tells them that it’s his gift to them, that he’s going to take care of Regina. Emma says they’re “not done” and Gold gives her a grin. “You still owe me a favor,” he says. Oh dear. That’s never good, is it?
The Charmings head off to take care of whatever it is that’s arrived in Storybrooke. I like that. They’re kind of like The Incredibles, all kick-ass and brave. In David’s case, it’s about bloody time. I was wondering where the man’s backbone was. As they leave, Belle emerges from the back of the shop. She tells Rumple that he lied to her. And once again he’s doing that twisty thing with words, all for his own gain. He’s “still a man who makes wrong choices”, she says. As she storms out of the shop, Rumple apologizes but you know, he’s STILL choosing his own gain over true love. And love him or loathe him, you have to admit that this isn’t really the way forwards for any couple. Bah.
The wraith makes its way through Storybrooke, entering the jail and ripping the door from the cell. It advances on Regina and starts sucking her soul out. Interesting. Because all she needs is a Patronus spell, right? But I read on the internet that they only work if you conjure up the happiest memory you have, but that it won’t work for Regina because she DOESN’T HAVE ANY. That made me very sad. Thank you, whoever came up with THAT idea.
The Charmings burst in and try to fight the wraith. But it fights back, and it isn’t until Snow finds an aerosol and a lighter that she chases it away with flames. I had a friend who did that once in a school canteen. Well, it’s one way of removing the hair from your legs, right?
Regina tells them that they “can’t kill something that’s already dead” and that it will be back for her. David’s willing to let her die but Emma refuses, saying that she made a promise to Henry. Awwww. The look on Regina’s face is priceless. Well, at least SOMEONE loves her. Kind of. Regina says that they have to send the wraith away somewhere it can’t hurt anyone. And we see her with Jefferson’s hat. Oh, I do love a good portal. Let’s open one right now, folks!
“Did Henry really ask you to protect me?” Regina asks. Emma says yes, and oh, Regina smiles a REAL smile. It’s lovely. You know, I really want Regina and Henry to figure things out. Because honestly, I think he’s the only one who can truly save the Evil Queen from herself. Him and Emma, because she’s the White Knight and all.
When Emma mentions that it’s Jefferson’s hat, Regina pretends not to know who he is. Hmmm. What’s going on THERE, then? Why would she say that? I know it’s far too early for explanations but come on, show, give me SOMETHING.
Regina tries to open a portal but can’t get the hat to work. And the wraith is upon them. The flaming torches David’s fashioned from brooms might not be as scary as he intended…
Aurora finds Mulan and is told that Philip will do anything to keep her safe. I like Jamie Chung; she’s cute. But when she tells Aurora that “everything he does, he does for you” I can’t help having flashbacks to Bryan Adams and THAT song. Nobody needs that, show. Nobody. Aurora figures out that Mulan is in love with Philip. “Love is sacrifice,” Mulan says. So…she’s a happy go lucky sort of girl, then?
Regina’s still trying to get the hat to work and failing miserably. Charming takes on the wraith while Snow literally sets fire to the whole place. I can’t figure out if it’s a waste of good alcohol or simply kind of awesome. I’m going to go with a bit of both, I think.
We switch between Philip and the wraith, and Storybrooke. Mulan offers to put a mark on herself so that Philip can live, but he refuses. Silly boy. The wraith sucks the soul right out of him and he falls to the ground. He says “I love you” before it attacks him. Eddie and Adam said that it was intentionally vague and we don’t know to whom it was directed, but here’s where I have a problem. If Philip has feelings for Mulan, then how can he have woken Aurora with true love’s kiss? And if true love’s kiss ISN’T this magical be all and end all, then why the hell does everyone keep going on about it? This show is a bit confusing sometimes. Talk about intentionally vague…
PCharms and Snow try to hold off the wraith while Regina fumbles with the hat. She says that it’s not working because magic is different in Storybrooke. Then Emma leans down and grabs Regina’s arm. Oh, the touching. THE TOUCHING. And I’m fangirling again. I can’t help it. Because not only does Emma look like she’s actually reassuring Regina, but all of a sudden the hat begins to work and magic swirls around them. Yes, show, you’re doing a bang-up job of quelling that whole Swan Queen thing. Not.
As the portal opens, Emma’s standing there looking down at her hands like she can’t believe what just happened. You’re not the only one, Sheriff. I can’t believe what just happened either. But now I’m wondering if Emma has magic too. Or, at the very least, it was enough to trigger Regina’s powers. Interesting.
The wraith dives for them and Emma pushes Regina out of the way. I’ve kind of lost count now of just how many times Emma has saved Regina in this single episode. Not that I’m complaining; I mean, that’s what she’s there for, isn’t it? The Savior.
The portal sucks the wraith in, but at the last moment it grabs Emma and pulls her in after it. Snow says that she’s “not losing her again” and dives in after her. PCharms makes a valiant effort to jump in too, but ends up face planting onto the floor. Well, let’s face it, we always knew just who wore the trousers in the Charming household, right?
Aurora and Mulan put Philip in the palace where Sleeping Beauty was found. Mulan gives the medallion to Aurora and says that she should have it. Um…why? It’s an evil thing! Throw it away! Or at the very least, bury the damn thing.
PCharms is crying again. Bless. He attacks Regina, demanding to know where Snow and Emma have gone. He threatens Regina, telling her that he should have killed her when he had the chance. But she’s got her powers back (thank you Emma!) and pins him against the wall where roots emerge and start to squeeze the life out of him. She’s like, full-on Evil Queen here. It’s actually quite glorious.
Suddenly, Henry appears. And the change in Regina is alarming. Everything falls away and she’s his mom again, telling him that he’s safe. The roots disappear and Charming falls to the ground as Henry wants to know where his mom and Snow are. Oh, this is going to get confusing. And I still have the pilot script for the spin-off series of “Henry Has Two Mommies” if anyone’s interested…
He tells Regina that she really is the Evil Queen. I’m not sure that he fully realized until now. He says that he doesn’t want to see her again and Regina is hurt. Like, genuinely hurt. She tells him that she loves him and he demands she prove it. “Get Emma and Mary Margaret back and until then…leave me…leave everyone alone!”
Charming takes Henry away and they leave Regina alone. Damn you, Lana Parilla. You’re doing that FACE thing again. Sometimes I think all Regina needs is a big hug. I volunteer.
Gold is spinning when Belle returns. No…not the thing with the bicycle; he’s spinning wool. Can’t see any gold, though. Belle sees the chipped cup that Gold has kept. He tells her that it’s the only thing he truly cherishes and then tells her to leave because he’s a monster. Belle tells him that that’s exactly the reason she has to stay.
Ooookay. So Gold gets rewarded with rehabilitation and love and Regina gets…what? Left alone to sort her own crap out? How is that even fair? If Belle can love Rumple back to humanity then why can’t someone do the same for the Evil Queen? Eddie and Adam in their podcast made the point that there’s a part of Regina that wants to be good. If that’s true, then isn’t she going to need at least ONE ally to help her achieve that? Seems to me that deserting her isn’t going to lead to any good whatsoever.
At Mary Margaret’s apartment, Charming and Henry are sad and despondent. But Charming tells Henry that Emma and Mary Margaret are alive because he has “faith”. And then…oh god…he says he’ll find them. He’ll always find them. You know, I could really do without ever hearing that again. EVER. Because David doesn’t ever find anyone. He’s LED to them by one thing or another. Most of the time he’s blundering along blindly looking in all the wrong places. I kind of want to pull Henry aside and tell him that Regina is probably his best bet. Besides, she’s got all these powers and it seems to me that Henry is the only person who can temper her use of them. At all.
In Fairy Tale Land, Mulan tells Aurora that they have to leave the palace because it’s not safe. She explains that things have changed since Sleeping Beauty was cursed. That something worse happened. She tells Aurora that Regina cast a terrible curse on the land that ripped everyone away to another world, but something saved their corner of the land. Time was frozen in Fairy Tale Land but then suddenly it started again. There is a safe haven, however, and that’s where they must go.
There’s movement and Mulan goes to investigate. Shoving aside some rubble, she stares down at something and tells Aurora that this is what brought the wraith here, and that’s what killed their prince. The camera pans down and we see Emma and Snow lying amidst the broken pieces of the palace, just coming to.
I’m excited to see how Emma and Snow fare in Fairy Tale Land. Is it wrong that I want to see Emma in a full knight’s outfit? It IS? Okay then. I guess I’ll just have to wait until next week to see how THAT pans out then…