Title The Cricket Game
Two-Sentence Summary The joy of Emma and Snow’s return to Storybrooke soon disappears after Archie is found dead after a supposed visit from Regina, who turns out to be Cora in disguise. In flashbacks to Fairytale Land, Snow saves Regina from execution but the final pieces to the curse are set in motion.
Favorite Line “It’s impressive that we can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at this stage of the game.” (Charming, after Emma walks in on him in bed with Snow)
My Thoughts I found myself alternately fascinated and frustrated by this episode. There were some moments that made me incredibly happy as well as some good plot development. However, I found myself angry with the central plot of the episode. Sometimes dramatic irony is a beautiful thing (which Once Upon a Time proved over and over again last season), but sometimes it’s almost painful to watch characters make incorrect assumptions and do the wrong thing because they don’t know what we as an audience know.
Let’s begin with the good stuff, shall we? The scene with Charming and Snow being interrupted by Emma and Henry was played to perfection by all involved. Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin’s bright, joyful chemistry leapt off the screen. Goodwin’s smile was especially luminous; she made me feel every bit of Snow’s giddiness at being reunited with her husband after 28 long years. The brief moment where Charming stole a kiss at the end of the scene was the perfect touch. If these two in that moment are what “happily ever after” looks like (both on and off-screen), then sign me up for my own fairytale.
I also have to give credit to Jennifer Morrison for her perfect reaction to walking in on her parents in bed together. What could have been cringe-worthy was instead hilarious because Morrison played Emma’s shock with the subtle humor I have come to love from her as an actress. All three characters are in such a strange situation, and this was the best possible way to introduce the complications of their relationships with humor (while the end of the episode, with Charming talking about his insecurities about being a parent, was the perfect way to introduce it with heart).
I loved Emma’s emotional arc throughout the episode—from her open support of Regina to her crisis of faith, culminating in their showdown. It was nice to see someone finally invite Regina to dinner! And I loved that Emma initially saw a lot of herself in Regina’s quest for redemption. They are more similar than it would seem at first glance—both closed off to love until Henry came into their lives.
But the difference between these women is that Emma has a mother who is the epitome of noble while Regina’s mother is as evil as they come. I love how evil Cora is; there’s something deliciously dramatic about the sight of her walking around with her black parasol in the dead of night. It fits well with the flourish Lana Parrilla gives to her performance as the Evil Queen. Evil runs in the family, but so does style.
Parrilla was once again fantastic in her Storybrooke scenes. It’s amazing to watch her run the gamut from lonely to sassy to vulnerable to menacing all within the course of one hour. I felt her righteous indignation, to the point where it was hard to decide who to root for in the fight between Regina and Emma because both women were fighting for what they knew to be true.
I also loved that Emma’s interactions with Regina paralleled Snow’s in the flashbacks. Both women want to believe that there is redemption to be found through someone offering you a chance to become a better person, but both women end up disappointed because Regina turns away from the chances they offer. Goodwin did an excellent job of showing Snow’s conflict over sentencing the woman who once saved her life to die a very public death. She didn’t want to carry more guilt around with her, and she didn’t want Charming to darken his own heart by killing Regina. Snow has incredible courage of conviction, and Goodwin plays that with a quiet strength in herself that keeps Snow from becoming too preachy, too perfect.
There was a moment when Snow is watching Charming and Emma interrogate Regina where you can see all of the years of guilt weighing down on this woman. Without saying any words, Goodwin managed to convey pages worth of emotional complexity—speaking with the tension in her body and the emotion in her eyes about Snow’s feelings of responsibility for everything: Regina becoming who she is, Regina still being alive to cause pain, and the curse being cast that sent them all to this world.
The plot twist with the curse was a very smart one. I really appreciated finally getting to see what convinced Regina to send all of these people to Storybrooke rather than just killing them. There are moments when Once Upon a Time is incredibly smart television, where you can see the plot points all coming together in a brilliant way, and this was one of those moments.
A less brilliant turn of events was Cora’s plan for Regina. I still don’t think Regina will turn to her—even with things as bad as they are (or maybe I just really don’t want her to). I found myself annoyed as the episode went and I had to watch more and more heartbreak befall Regina for reasons I knew to be false. I know, I know—Regina has caused plenty of heartbreak herself. But now the show has made me believe her redemption arc, and I hate the idea that it’s going to get tossed away. I love the Charming family, but watching them attack Regina for something she didn’t do was really hard to watch.
I think I would have liked it better if we had spent the episode with as much information as the rest of the characters, guessing ourselves if Regina had actually killed Archie until the last moment when it’s revealed that Cora has him hiding in Hook’s ship (which was a great plot twist itself). That way, I could have been spared the frustration of wanting to scream at the TV every two minutes, “BUT SHE DIDN’T DO IT!”
There were a couple of other little nitpicks I had with this episode. I still don’t understand or like why the characters are being referred to by their Storybrooke names now that they know who they are. It was especially jarring when Charming referred to Snow as Mary Margaret. Also, I hardly ever say this, but I thought Parrilla’s acting was a little forced in the scene where she says her “last words.” I much prefer the seductive, gleeful brand of evil that she showed off in the last scene of the episode to the melodrama of her monologue.
And before I conclude, I have to make special mention of the costumes in this episode. Three in particular stood out to me as being noteworthy: the Evil Queen’s stunning blue dress, Snow’s gorgeous brown jacket, and Charming’s dashing new cape. The costumes on this show are always wonderful, but these were even better than usual.
All in all, this was a good episode but not a great one. It’s not one I’m rushing to play back on my DVR anytime soon. However, it did have some strong moments, and I am so happy Archie is alive (But who’s dead then?). What did you think of this episode? Was it everything you wanted to see after the hiatus?