TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.13

JASON BURKART, RAPHAEL ALEJANDRO, SEAN MAGUIRE, GABE KHOUTH, LANA PARRILLA, JEFFREY KAISER, GINNIFER GOODWIN, MIG MACARIO

Title Witch Hunt

Two-Sentence Summary In Storybrooke, Emma and Regina team up to try to figure out who is behind the new curse, while Hook, Charming, and Robin Hood learn that Storybrooke residents are being turned into flying monkeys. In flashbacks to the previous year in the Enchanted Forest, Regina and Robin journey back to Regina’s castle, where she discovers that its new tenant—the Wicked Witch of the West (aka Zelena)—is more familiar with her than she could have imagined.

Favorite Lines
Emma: The Wicked Witch of the West? Seriously, she’s real, too?
Hook: Says the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.

My Thoughts It seems Once Upon a Time is going back to its roots. Last week’s “New York City Serenade” wasn’t shy about directly paralleling the show’s pilot in several obvious ways. But it was the tone of this week’s “Witch Hunt” that really reminded me of Season One. This episode featured mysteries, dramatic irony, strong emotions, sly humor, some long-lost (but beloved) cast members, and one heck of a last-minute twist—all of my favorite things from this show’s early days wrapped up in one incredibly well-acted package. And to top it off, it was wonderfully self-aware in the way that this show is when it’s at its best. Putting all of these elements together, it should come as no surprise that this was a Jane Espenson episode. She’s always been one of my favorite Once Upon a Time writers, and her strengths were on full display once again in “Witch Hunt.”

One of the best things about Espenson’s writing is her sense of humor, and this episode had me laughing more than any episode of this show has in quite some time. From Grumpy/Leroy wondering which witch they were dealing with (because houses and water are two very different methods of murder) to Hook and his faux sympathy for Charming and Snow being near harvest time but not remembering the planting (in reference to Snow’s pregnancy), this episode had some great one-liners. And any episode that allows Emma to react to the fairytale situations around her in a very real way is a winner in my book because Jennifer Morrison never fails to make me laugh in those moments. The only thing better than Emma’s exasperation over the Wicked Witch was Hook’s equally exasperated response. He’s right; she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming—you’d think she’d be used to this by now. But that’s the great thing about Emma; she always manages to feel like a real person caught up in this crazy world. Kudos to Morrison for never letting us forget that “fairytale mode” is not Emma’s default mental state.

I also love when Once Upon a Time isn’t afraid to have a little fun at its own expense. In this episode, I especially enjoyed the little nod to Grumpy constantly being used as a town crier. The edit from Regina saying she knew exactly who to use to get the word out quickly to Grumpy running into Granny’s was fantastic. Another example was Charming’s sarcastic shock that Regina actually didn’t do anything to upset the Wicked Witch. If Josh Dallas is the master of delivering what could be the cheesiest lines with disarming sincerity, he’s also the master of deadpan delivery of fairytale-based humor.

One of my favorite comedic moments of the episode was Hook bringing up that Emma was going to marry a flying monkey in front of Charming. I thought it was perfect that Charming was more concerned about Emma getting married than he was about her nearly marrying a flying monkey. But leave it to Hook to remind Charming where his priorities should be with just the right amount of sass. Dallas and Colin O’Donoghue have developed a great rapport and nice sense of comedic chemistry together. Their gift for “bromantic” banter has made them one of the show’s most entertaining dynamics.

After a midseason premiere that was heavily focused on Hook and Emma, their dynamic took a backseat in “Witch Hunt,” which felt right. Hook needs something to do besides pine for Emma—because we all know she’s going to be pretty busy until this curse is broken. In this episode, we saw him work just fine without her as part of Charming and Robin’s team. Having both Hook and Regina serve as trusted parts of the Storybrooke inner circle was a nice way to show the ways both of these characters are changing for the better. These are two people who used to be defined by their inability to play nice with others, and now they’re valued members of this little detective team. I can’t wait to see more of this Hook/Regina/Charming/Emma group as the season progresses because every combination of these characters is capable of producing great moments.

The reason this little core group of Storybrooke sleuths is so good together is because Morrison, Dallas, O’Donoghue, and Lana Parrilla are capable of producing nuanced chemistry with basically anyone. Like “New York City Serenade,” “Witch Hunt” made great use of this cast’s outstanding chemistry by working with many different dynamics in both Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest.

In the Enchanted Forest, we saw the beginnings of three relationships that will undoubtedly become very important to Regina, even though in the current Storybrooke timeline she doesn’t remember any of them. The first of these relationships was instinctual—a mother wanting to protect a little boy. I’d been waiting for Regina to meet little Roland even more than I’d been waiting for her to meet Robin Hood. I loved that Regina was able to put aside her own grief for a moment to both save Roland and to make him smile. When Robin later told her that she had the touch of a mother, I think he was referring to the gentle way she gave him the stuffed monkey even more than her actual act of saving the boy. I was happy to see that Robin is getting a multifaceted portrait of Regina from the start. Yes, she’s beautiful, powerful, proud, and dangerous. But she’s also warm and longs to be able to love and be loved, and in order for me to believe in the relationship between Regina and Robin, I need to see him learn about all these sides of her personality. So it was nice to see this episode begin with Robin getting a glimpse of the loving mother behind the Evil Queen façade.

Robin and Regina’s journey in this episode traveled familiar territory for this show, but it wasn’t without its own unique spirit. When you look at love on Once Upon a Time, it often develops on a journey to face a dangerous foe—Snow and Charming going to the Troll Bridge; Emma and Hook climbing the beanstalk to face the giant. And now we saw Regina and Robin first learning to relate to one another and open up to each other as they journeyed together to Regina’s castle and the witch awaiting them there.

My favorite moment Regina and Robin shared was a small one—when Regina said, “Who knew a thief had honor?” and Robin replied, “Who knew an evil queen had a soft spot for children?” Regina is not someone who is used to being pleasantly surprised by the people around her, but one look at Parrilla’s little smile showed that this man had done the impossible; he managed to exceed her expectations, just like her act of saving Roland did for him. There were some fun moments of banter between them (and some gorgeously cinematic shots of them in the light of Robin’s torch), but I found myself pleasantly surprised by the way this episode favored displaying their gradual emotional connection instead of any kind of mutual attraction.

I liked that Robin isn’t a pushover; he’ll threaten to shoot Regina with an arrow if he thinks she’s up to her old tricks. Robin is a man with his own moral code, and Sean Maguire made me feel that Robin views himself as responsible for keeping Regina safe—even from herself. I did think some of the “second chance” dialogue was a little heavy-handed, but this show isn’t known for its subtlety. Robin sees in Regina a mirror image of himself after he lost his wife, but Regina’s right as well; Robin had Roland, and as of right now, Regina has no one else to love and be loved by without Henry. But as we all know, Robin will be that person for her eventually. Robin lost his romantic love but found new hope in loving his son, while Regina lost her son but will find new hope in opening her heart to Robin. If this episode is any indication, that won’t happen for a while, but it’s going to be fun to watch it slowly develop.

Regina’s quest to numb her grief with a sleeping curse was stopped by Zelena, who took “Chekov’s cursed hairpin” from her (because we all know that sleeping curse is getting used before the season is over; it’s just a matter of who the victim will be) before quickly revealing her motives for taking over Regina’s castle—and her clothes. That line about taking the dress in at the hips was such a low blow and so wonderfully indicative of Zelena’s warped sense of sibling rivalry.

Who else saw the big Zelena reveal coming from the moment Regina said that the crypt was sealed by blood magic? Of course the twist was predictable, but I really liked that it happened so early into this half of the season. I enjoyed the fact that the writers seem to understand that we now assume every villain is related to at least one character, so they aren’t making us wait for a big surprise that isn’t a surprise at this point. The only surprise we have left is who Zelena’s father is, and that’s a fun one of speculate about.

Parrilla and Rebecca Mader worked very well together. I liked that Regina pointed out to Zelena that being raised by Cora and manipulated by Rumplestiltskin weren’t exactly things to envy. But Zelena is (quite literally) green with envy (although the missed little bit of pale skin over Mader’s lip kept distracting me). I loved that these two formidable females are going to be squaring off for the rest of this season. And the confrontation certainly brought Regina back to life. It made me laugh when Robin thought she’d decided to keep going out of hope or love when she was actually motivated by finding a new person to destroy. Robin may not know what he’s getting himself into, but we certainly do. And I think I speak for many when I say that I’m excited to see Regina with a new enemy because it’s so much fun to watch Parrilla unleash Regina’s Evil Queen side.

While Regina’s Evil Queen side was on full display at the end of her Enchanted Forest storyline in this episode, her Storybrooke plot softened her edges in a way that made me feel for her more than perhaps ever before.

In Storybrooke, everyone (including surprise special guest Red!) was trying to make Henry feel at home without acting too familiar with him, which provided for a very strong balance between humor and emotion. The moment when Snow and Charming saw their grandson for the first time in a year, I was struck by the conflicting sense of joy and loss on both Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin’s faces. And I laughed out loud at Snow saying she was in jail for “banditry.” It was such a fun little detail, and Goodwin’s delivery was absolutely perfect. But the joy in that moment was cut short by Regina’s reaction to seeing Henry. Parrilla is excellent in Regina’s big moments, but I’m most impressed with her when Regina has to control her emotions. Watching her silently grieve for the son who doesn’t remember her was heartbreaking.

Regina is lost without Henry, and the only other person who can relate to that is Emma. There was such a beautiful sense of understanding and warmth between them in this episode, and the most beautiful part of it all was how unforced it was. Morrison and Parrilla have always had strong antagonistic chemistry, but it’s been a joy to discover over the last couple of seasons that their chemistry in softer moments is also strong. These two actresses are so adept at letting silence and stillness speak for them, and they can covey so much empathy and genuine acceptance in a way that feels organic to both of these guarded characters.

What began as two women fighting over Henry has grown into a relationship in which they bond over their shared love for their son. Loving Henry gave both of these lost, broken women a purpose, and they now see that as a uniting factor rather than a divisive one. I loved the scene in Emma’s car where they talked about how Henry would define a hero as someone who comes back; it reminded me of when they coined the term “Operation Henry” together in Neverland. And when Regina asked if Henry was happy in his life in New York, you could feel not only her incredibly complex mixture of hope and grief but also Emma’s understanding of it.

Emma could have kept Henry from Regina, but that’s not who Emma is. Emma Swan knows what it’s like to be kept from the people you love, and she won’t make Regina suffer that pain. Even though Henry may not know who she is, Regina can still have a relationship with him, and Emma wants that for her—and for Henry. When Emma introduced Regina and Henry, my heart stopped; that’s how good Parrilla was in that moment. The physical details she added to that scene were inspired. My heart broke when she went to hug Henry but he stuck out his hand instead. But the most emotional moment of all was when she took off her glove to shake his hand, because that said so many things about Regina wanting to feel this moment after we’ve watched her spend two episodes in the Enchanted Forest trying so desperately not to feel.

“Witch Hunt” ended with a twist that reminded me of the reveal of Belle in the insane asylum in Season One’s “Skin Deep.” I had an inkling as to what was coming as soon as Zelena opened that door, but not even I was prepared for what kind of condition Rumplestiltskin was going to be in. Robert Carlyle is frighteningly good at playing unhinged, but what chilled me even more than his insanity was his moment of lucidity, when he warned Zelena that she shouldn’t have brought him to Storybrooke.

The ending of this episode—and the episode as a whole—raised so many interesting questions: Is Rumplestitlskin really as crazy as he appears, and, if so, what caused that to happen? How did he become Zelena’s prisoner? What happened to Neal? Who sent Hook the message to get Emma, and what is he holding back about his year in the Enchanted Forest? What does Zelena want with Snow and Charming’s new baby? And can we please get appearances from Ruby and Whale more often?

It’s so much fun to have so many questions to mull over in the days between episodes. But the real fun of these first two episodes since Once Upon a Time returned from hiatus has come from watching these characters come to new places of understanding with one another. The emotional beats between the plot points and big questions have been hit really well so far. And these emotional beats have generated some wonderful performances, including Parrilla’s strong work in this episode.

I’m not usually one to wish away weeks (and weekends), but is it next Sunday yet?

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25 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.13

  1. I am REALLY enjoying the start to the 2nd half of the season. This episode was fantastic in the way that keeps me coming back the OUAT through the weaker eps. I love the Charming/Hook bromance; it arose so naturally from the chemistry between the two actors that it makes the back and forth and friendship between the two of them so enjoyable to watch.

    Personally, I feel like the Charming/Regina/Hook/Emma dynamic is one of the best facets of the show. The four of them are my favorite actors on the show and any time any combination of the four of them interact become my favorite moments of an episode. The sass was real in this episode.

    And in regards to David: I love your comment about Josh Dallas being able to make the cheesiest lines seem sincere. It’s remarkable how he does it….Love it.

    Thanks for these reviews. It’s always fun to read them, and I always look forward to you publishing them post-episode.

    Also, FYI, started watching Parks and Rec b/c of your reviews….binged watched all the seasons…..I’m not sure whether to thank you or ignore everything you say from now to forever, but I love it so much I’m gonna do the former. Sooooo: Thank you.

    • First of all, welcome to the joys of being a Parks and Rec fan—the only comedy that makes me cry more than the TV dramas I watch! 😉

      Thank you so much for the kind words, and I agree that this start of the second half of Season Three has all the qualities that make me love this show so much and recommend it to people despite its weaker episodes.

      I’m so happy I’m not the only one who thinks Charming/Emma/Hook/Regina pairing up is such a fantastic idea. There’s just so much story-telling potential and fun to be had with them as a whole and within that group.

      And I love that most of the OUaT fandom can agree that Josh Dallas’s sincerity as Charming is absolute perfection. It’s what made me fall in love with the show in the pilot. As soon as he told Snow, “What’s 28 years when you have eternal love?” I knew I was hooked—because that line should have been cheesy, but I actually believed him.

  2. Well said, I agree on every word you wrote, but I may add a little negative opinion. I’m trying to like Robin Hood/Regina, but Sean Maguire’s acting disappointed me. True, I think it’s hard to shine in a scene opposite of Parrilla, but I didn’t find their chemisty believable. Maybe in the future…
    For the rest, spot on. Overall I truly loved this episode, reminded me of Season One. If only there were more Captain Swan scenes 😉

    • Thanks for the comment! I think in terms of Maguire and Parrilla’s chemistry, I’m okay with the fact that it’s not blazing right off the bat. It makes sense for both characters to be hesitant to even show attraction towards one another, so I’m good with the fact that there’s more emotional/character-driven groundwork being laid right now instead of anything more heated developing. It makes them different from Emma and Hook (whose attraction—especially on Hook’s side—was clear from the very beginning), which is great because I was afraid that both relationships were going to be too similar.

      And as far as more Captain Swan scenes go, I think there will be plenty to discuss in upcoming episodes, and I’m looking forward to it! 😉

  3. Oh man, did I love this episode. Its been quite awhile since I was fully sucked into an episode and I was invested beyond Emma’s character development and her relationship with Hook, but this episode did it. I laughed more watching this episode than I have in awhile. The dialogue was very fresh and snappy, but the emotional parts also delivered. I think this might be the most well balanced episode of ‘Once’ I have seen in a really long time. There was a perfect blend of humor, action, and emotion. Nothing felt forced, or out of place, and I am going to give the credit of that to Jane Espenson. This episode had a very ‘Buffy’ type feel to it (Banditry!), and I consider that to be some of the highest praise I can give a fantasy show.

    My favorite thing about 3B so far is the fact that the show is back to being a bit dark and dramatic, but not above making fun of itself. Because seriously, this show is crazy. You need to have a sense of humor about things. Neverland had some great character development, but it was just so heavy and dark, this lighter side of the show was definitely needed. Also, I am ok if Zelena really is Regina’s half sister, but if she is faking it for some reason, I think it would be a hilarious way for the show to make fun of the fact that usually everyone ends up being related, but this time they actually aren’t (reverse plot twist!)

    There were so many great sci-fi in-jokes in here too. I love the Darth Vader Force choke Regina put Robin in, the “lower the shield” talk, and my personal favorite, Whale’s “Don’t look at me! I’m a doctor not a vet!” line, which was a great nod to Dr. McCoy on Star Trek.

    Great humor aside, this episode was really about Regina, who has never been my favorite character, but I have to say that I am finally able to root for her after the last few episodes. Her development with Snow has been great, and I love that Regina and Robin’s relationship is being built on honesty and empathy. This is not how I was expecting their relationship to develop at all, but I am so glad it is. It has a maturity to it. They arent trying to hide from each other, they just lay everything out there. Its so different from the other romantic pairings on the show, especially Hook and Emma’s dynamic, and thats all I was hoping for. At this point I need to give the writers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to interesting character relationships. They might get a bit lazy and out there with the plot, but the relationships (at least the main ones) are really the show’s strong point and they are always surprising me in good ways.

    And that brings me to Regina and Emma. Those two had character development radiating out their pores in this episode. Their scenes were just so good. I am in awe of Lana and JMo and how they were able to show such growth in their characters from the past few eps while them still feeling exactly like Regina and Emma. I just love how a year of raising Henry alone in New York has given Emma a new perspective and the ability to empathize even more with Regina. As you so perfectly said, “Loving Henry gave both of these lost, broken women a purpose, and they now see that as a uniting factor rather than a divisive one.” The Charming family is welcoming Regina from all sides, and I love it.

    My excitement level that started with Hook showing up at Emma’s door in the end of ‘Going Home’ is still going strong, if not ramping up with each passing episode. If they keep this up, we could be looking at not just one of the strongest story arc’s of ‘Once’, but one of the strongest story arcs on TV right now. Next weeks episode looks like a psychological thriller, I cant wait!

    • First of all, how did I not make the Star Wars “Lower the shield!” connection as I was watching?! I love that Kitsis and Horowitz are total Star Wars fanboys, and playing “spot the Star Wars reference” is a favorite OUaT-viewing pastime of mine.

      Your thoughts on this episode and this start to Season 3B echo mine in so many ways. While I loved the emotional depth of the Neverland arc, these first two episodes since the hiatus reminded me how much I love this show’s sense of humor. As you said, with a plot as crazy as this show’s, you have to have moments of levity, and I like that these moments are coming from all kinds of characters and situations right now.

      Your point about Robin and Regina’s relationship being built on empathy is so true, and it made for a great parallel to the way Regina’s relationship developed with Emma in this episode. Both Robin and Emma acknowledged that Regina defines herself as a mother even before defining herself as the Evil Queen, and I think that means a lot to Regina. And both Emma and Robin can do that because they define themselves as parents before anything else as well. That’s why Regina can open up to these characters more easily than with anyone else; all three are characters shaped by loss but also shaped by having to raise a child alone and forming that singular bond with their child.

      As you said, Regina and Robin’s relationship feels more mature than I was expecting, and I love it. It’s not about sparks; it’s about understanding. And that may not be as flashy as instant-chemistry, but it’s what Regina needs. And it’s what I want for her as a fan of the believable development she’s been given this season.

  4. “Witch Hunt” was absolutely brilliant. It had all the ingredients that made me fall in love with the show in S1 and left me hoping for better in S2. So far, OUaT’s creative team seems to be cooking up a second half of the season full of emotions, surprises, action, drama, and a well placed pinch of humour added to the mix. “It seems Once Upon a Time is going back to its roots.” Indeed, and it makes me so, so happy!

    The parts in the Enchanted Forest were neat. I was stoked to see Red again, and pleasantly surprised that she showed concern for the Evil Queen; it seems that Regina’s efforts at redeeming herself are starting to get acknowledged by not only Henry and Emma, and Snow, but the rest of the lot too. Nice.
    Grumpy’s comment was hilarious. I loved that other than Regina and ‘bookworm’ Belle, he was the one showing knowledge about the Wicked Witch. And Charming’s sarcasm was amazing, even more so because at that point it almost sounded good-natured, including the fact that Regina didn’t seem bothered by it.
    Wee Roland waddling like a little penguin (they gave the poor kid a cape three sizes too big) was too cute for words, and Regina giving him the cuddly monkey was very sweet (if a little creepy, considering where it came from). I am happy about that exchange being the extent of Regina’s and Roland’s interaction so far; one of the things I was most wary of about the whole Robin Hood thing was that they were going for a ‘replacement family’ approach, but I’m glad that so far they’re making it extremely slow burn considering we are dealing with a completely heartbroken Regina.
    And on the subject of Robin Hood, I have to say that I still fail to see the chemistry and attraction. Which is actually a very good thing, because it means they are not trying to force it on the viewers. It means they are staying true to Regina’s character. She’s just met this man in a moment of her life where she is sure she has lost EVERYTHING; she’s not about to even consider her feelings other than the complete heartbreak that having to give up Henry has meant for her. It’s like she’s on autopilot, going through the motions until she finds a way to not feel. Snow convinced her to not bury her heart, but she’s still determined that there’s nothing left for her (we saw a glimpse of this in Neverland with her little speech to Emma after Henry gave Pan his heart) and she just wants the suffering to stop. That this time around she’s choosing to achieve this by hurting herself rather than an entire realm (like she did after losing Daniel) says a lot about her change for the better.
    There were a couple of things that bothered me a bit at first: that she opened up so easily to both Robin and Zelena, two complete strangers; and that she did such a turn and seemingly went back to her villainous ways with that “someone to destroy” bit and the evil glint in her eyes. But after re-watching the episode I thought that it could be explained by Regina’s state of mind. She was about to essentially commit suicide so what was the danger in lowering her well-constructed walls? And I thought it was very well thought that it was the Wicked Witch, and not Robin, who stopped her and who gave her the will to keep fighting. I think that reverting back to her evil ways after how hard she’s fought to be better was a bit too abrupt, but I suppose making her want to fight just to help a bunch of people she doesn’t particularly like would have been even more out of character. And she still wasn’t at the point of wanting to be better for herself, she still depended on Henry for that so now that he’s not in her life, her reaction could be somewhat understandable. Also, the little part of me that loves badass evil Regina was making a happy dance. “Bring it, greenie!”

    The parts in Storybrooke were my favourites, and I blame Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison for managing to make me tear up because of a TV show. Again.
    I loved Ruby (back again!) and Snow stumbling over their explanations to Henry as to why they knew certain things. I loved that Snow sucked at lying (banditry…). I was a bit disappointed that Henry is just being so apathetic about everything, but I’m going to wait to know more about how the new memories have affected his personality to comment on this.
    I wanted to slap Zelena’s hand when she touched Snow’s belly. I also wanted to shake Snow and scream at her to stop being so trusting.
    I loved the sass. I loved Charming and Hook disagreeing about priorities (marriage/monster), and how Emma made fun of herself about dating flying monkeys. And I loved loved loved her -still amusing- skepticism when it comes to fairy tales being real; Hook’s reply was priceless, well delivered and extremely funny, if a bit odd coming from the one character in the group with the lesser connection to the ‘real world’ and arguably the least understanding about the irony of the situation. I think that comeback would have been perfect for Regina, but then Hook wouldn’t have had many lines and regardless, Colin O’Donoghue made it work perfectly so I wasn’t too bothered about it.
    I liked the flying monkey transformation (I’m not always happy about the CGI in the show but this time it was pretty good) and Whale’s comment. It was also interesting to see those new characters who weren’t cursed the first time try to work out how our world functions. Apparently they don’t have the benefit of implanted memories of how modern supplies work.
    Regina’s reaction to seeing Henry again was unbearably sad, and Emma’s concern about her feelings (even if at that point Regina being the one who cast the last curse was a very realistic possibility) was heart-warming and made me want to forgive her for how insensitive not giving Regina a heads up about them coming back was. I loved how Emma believed Regina immediately (parallel to the Cricket Game) and how they teamed-up secretly to catch the real baddie (I’m so glad I was right about that twist after the very misleading sneak peek).
    Regina saying she knew exactly who to tell to spread the word made me think of Snow and her inability to keep secrets, but was amusingly surprised at Leroy’s shout out.
    All of Emma’s and Regina’s interactions in this episode were very SwanQueen-esque. Regardless of romantic intent or platonic purpose, they were extremely powerful. I’m probably projecting but Emma’s “there you go, telling the truth again” with the dorky smile and the rom-com zoom in on Regina’s face so full of emotions and her soulful eyes and her soft smile and her subtle nod? That was beautiful. Plain and simply gorgeous. And you know, they did show us their chemistry together. Literally. ;-P
    The scene in the Bug was one of my favourites. It reminded me of “Operation Henry” in Neverland too. It was playful at some points, emotionally charged, and lovely. This bonding over Henry, this understanding that the other is not a threat and that they both want what’s best for their son, this somewhat ‘divorced mommies’ feel that their interactions regarding their child tend to have, are perfect in the way they show how far they’ve come, individually and together, in allowing themselves to be vulnerable and risk opening their hearts again. I’m looking forward to seeing how Emma’s considering not giving Henry his memories back will affect this connection, if Regina will agree or if they will fight over it. We’ll see.
    The ‘official’ encounter with Henry was again heartbreaking. Lana Parrilla’s eyes are incredibly expressive and sometimes more powerful than words. I loved how worried Emma was, and the couple of brief but significant shots at a silent and concerned Snow were a nice touch. I was glad for the guys’s interruption because it gave Regina something else to focus on. And myself a second to breathe again.
    The end was thrilling and terrifying. I knew Gold was coming back but I never imagined it would be this way. I’m very worried about Neal, particularly because it seems to me that his disappearance might have something to do with Gold’s current state, and it doesn’t look good.

    The way they’re handling the mystery of the Wicked Witch is quite interesting IMO. We’ve been told so much about her already, and yet know so little. She claims to be Cora’s daughter, which is quite likely considering that she broke the blood magic (and I’m pretty sure she took over the castle before sending the flying Walsh to retrieve Regina’s blood so her claim seems genuine –but you never know with this show). Her father, if we go with the information from previous episodes and the spoilers and hints from the shooting, is probably going to be either Rumpelstiltskin or Leopold. I’m hoping for the former. I’m thrown off by the fact that she’s supposed to be the older sister; still trying to work that one out.
    As for her plans, other than vengeance on Regina, we have no idea what they are. Nor her motivations. I mean, envy, of course, but I sincerely doubt it’s just that. We’ll have to wait to find out.

    So, a truly fabulous episode, with Jane Espenson’s signature all over it. And the promo for next episode looks quite thrilling. Dark and mysterious but I also think I spied Emma in a princess’s dress? Next Sunday can’t come soon enough!

    • I was eagerly awaiting your comment on this episode because I was hoping you enjoyed it as much as I did, and it made me smile to see that you did!

      I completely agree with your thoughts on Regina and Roland needing to slowly develop a relationship. Like you, I was a little nervous about the “replacement son” angle that could have happened in this storyline, but it was nice to see that not even Roland’s adorable little face could make Regina forget her debilitating heartbreak over losing Henry (and by “nice,” I mean “true to the character,” because nothing about how much pain Regina is in has been “nice” to watch). And the point you made about Regina only wanting to hurt herself in her grief versus her previous lashing out at the entire realm is incredibly astute. It’s a sign of wonderful character development in a way that was shown to us and not told to us, which is the best kind of development.

      I was actually happy that Regina’s desire to destroy Zelena became her motivating factor to keep going. It would have felt forced to me if she been motivated by something like hope or love. Regina’s just not there as a character yet, and that’s more than okay with me. And selfishly, I just have so much fun watching Parrilla with that evil little glint in her eyes. 😉

      As far as the Storybrooke story in this episode, I didn’t mind Henry’s apathy. Having a cousin who is about Henry’s age, I know from experience that most teenage boys—even “truest believers with memory loss”—pay more attention to electronic devices than people. It’s also a good way to show us that this isn’t the same Henry we all came to know and love, and it’s going to make his eventual awakening even better.

      The scene between Emma and Regina in the bug was one of my favorite moments in the episode because it just felt so real. It reminded me of Hook and Emma’s scene when they shared a drink in the last episode because there was something comfortable and open between them that didn’t exist before. It’s amazing to see how far these two women have come in terms of their relationship, and I’m so hopeful for more moments between them as this season progresses because their dynamic is so compelling.

      Like you, I can’t wait for this upcoming episode. A psychological thriller with a focus on Charming—it’s going to be a great one!

      • “It’s also a good way to show us that this isn’t the same Henry we all came to know and love, and it’s going to make his eventual awakening even better.”
        I am so looking forward to that moment. Not only because of the interaction with Regina, the Charmings and the rest of Storybrooke but because I’ve found myself missing the little meddling brat who would certainly have checked for himself who was at the door in NYC and would be spouting crazy theories and devising new operations for the oddity that Storybrooke with no memories surely seems to him.

        “The scene between Emma and Regina in the bug was one of my favorite moments in the episode because it just felt so real. It reminded me of Hook and Emma’s scene when they shared a drink in the last episode because there was something comfortable and open between them that didn’t exist before.”
        It reminded me of that, too. It’s a very good thing in this second part of the season that so far no relationship, be it in Storybrooke present of the Enchanted Forest previous year, seems to be forced. They’re taking great care in letting things develop naturally and considering the complicated situation, with memory loss and unknown threats and heartbreak over lost ones and everything else, I’d say it’s definitely the way to go. I am glad there’s been so much talking between the characters. They need to find this comfort you talk about before being ready to go on with anything more complicated.

        “A psychological thriller with a focus on Charming—it’s going to be a great one!”
        Absolutely! I’m so happy they’re doing a Charming centered episode. I’ve found myself leaning more and more towards him within the Snow/David pairing. Not that there’s a need to choose but still, lately I’m getting conflicted feelings towards Snow (probably due to my thoughts about Emma’s relationship with both her parents, as a couple and separately, but I digress) so I’m stoked that Charming gets the chance to shine on his own.

    • I am with you on Hook’s line about Emma being the daughter of Snow White and Prince charming. It was a great line, it just seemed odd coming from him. Maybe he did some research on our world’s stories in the year he was being a pirate?

      I am glad somebody is worried about Neal, cause its not me. Is it sad I haven’t really been missing him in Storybrooke? I WANT to care about him, but when I feel like the writers dont care about him, its hard to.

      After Snow’s comment about being arrested for ‘banditry’ I am kinda having fun picturing all the strong women of Storybrooke making up a cover story about meeting in a low security women’s prison. ‘Orange is the New Black: Princess Edition’ – how is that not an SNL skit already?

      • Hook attending ‘Real World 101’ would be hilarious. He should definitely check the fashion aspect of life in this realm; I keep waiting for someone to comment on his enduring choice in outfit. Not that he doesn’t look good in black leather but that thing surely smells by now, no?

        I have to confess that I’m not worried about Neal per se. The show ruined his character for me because the way they treat him makes me think they don’t care for him, and in turn makes me not care for him. What I am worried about is that whatever the WW has done to him could be a chief factor in Rumpelstiltskin’s current “you feed the madness and it feeds on you” mindset. If Zelena has the dagger I shudder to think what he has made Rumpel do…

        “After Snow’s comment about being arrested for ‘banditry’ I am kinda having fun picturing all the strong women of Storybrooke making up a cover story about meeting in a low security women’s prison. ‘Orange is the New Black: Princess Edition’ – how is that not an SNL skit already?”
        Hahahahah that would be absolutely brilliant!

  5. Late to the fair again for me. I concur wholeheartedly the return to humor this past episode. As you know I have been revisiting the last two seasons this weekend and doing so made me realize the heaviness the Neverland arc had on the series as a whole. And I say that as someone who really liked our trip to Neverland. So I did really appreciate the return to ‘wink and a nod’ irony around how some of the characters were interacting for the half dozen reasons you pointed out.

    For me, this episode really gave us pivot that last week set up. The focus on Regina gave us that layered piece to establish her clearly in the camp of our band of heroes for the back end of the season but from a value position that she served in Neverland. Yes Regina is the evil queen, but that role, her attitude and her approach has value in the grand scheme of what will not only break this new curse, but that heroism isn’t merely a pursuit of valor. Regina’s character has always fascinated me because her ‘evil’ status wasn’t self made. Yes ultimately she chose to be evil and chose to exact revenge on Snow White, but her love of power isn’t isolated as a thing within itself. It is why she connects with Rumpelstilskin. Both are driven to darkness based in a fear of loss. Unlike Cora who merely craved power. Regina is more complex than that and I thought the scene when she becomes enlivened after talking to the Wicked Witch spoke to so much more than finding purpose. It tapped into a fire to defend what was hers.

    I had a completely different take on Regina’s saving Roland from the flying monkey. It reminded me of when she saved Snow. She may be a mother now, but that instinct lived in her long before parenting Henry. It is an instinct that her character has held for the duration of the series. We saw it when she saved Snow. We saw it again when Cora returned to Storybrooke in spite of not being worthy of that loyalty. And we watched it change and evolve through the navigation of her relationship with Henry.

    You wrote “Loving Henry gave both of these lost, broken women a purpose, and they now see that as a uniting factor rather than a divisive one.” This is so very true and the biggest plot point to come out of Neverland. The unfolding of Regina and Emma serving as a united front in Storybrooke was a powerful shift. We’ve seen their powers combine to save the fate of Storybrooke, but to work together (outside of magic) is a new course of action that I was happy to see transcend Neverland.

    Now a couple of housekeeping items. I am not convinced that the Wicked Witch and Evil Queen are siblings. The crypt could have been opened because the flying monkey was able to retrieve Regina’s blood from the first attack in last week’s episode. Go back and look, when the monkey returns from attacking Regina and Snow he gives her Regina’s blood. So I don’t think that the Wicked Witch is merely a sibling rivalry. As for our man Rumplestilskin. I too am curious about how he has returned and from where. My theory is that the powers of the dark one are still in play and the Wicked Witch has got the edge on controlling them. Either way it is going to be a fun ride to season’s end.

    • I am glad I am not the only one in the “I dont by this sibling angle” camp. It just seemed TOO easy. I also like the point you make about Regina’s first instincts actually being to save others from being hurt. Its those instincts that ended up making her queen, and those instincts will make her be worthy of being a queen again (the non-evil variety).

    • Your take on Regina saving Roland is a perfect example of why I love your comments. I never even thought to make the connection between Regina’s protective instincts and something larger than just her maternal instincts, and now my whole reading of that scene has been deepened. Saving Roland definitely highlights the side of Regina (the most selfless part of her) that jumped into action to save young Snow all those years ago. And it makes me happy to see that not only Robin but all the Enchanted Forest characters were able to see that side of her connected to not just Henry but shown towards a boy she doesn’t have any prior emotional attachment to.

      I very much agree with your enthusiasm towards seeing Emma and Regina unite on a level beyond just using magic together when they need to. And I’m still not sure about Zelena and Regina’s connection. I would love for this to be a big fake-out, but I’m still doubtful because Zelena was already in Regina’s castle when she got her blood (although she could have waited to open the crypt until later in her time at the castle, I suppose). And I also have an inkling that Zelena might have some sort of control over Rumplestiltskin (Does she have the dagger?), but I love that I have nothing but guesses and speculation as to how this story is going to unfold. It makes each Sunday even more exciting!

    • “I had a completely different take on Regina’s saving Roland from the flying monkey. It reminded me of when she saved Snow.”
      That is such an interesting point of view. It makes me wonder of what the consequences of it will be this time around, considering how it turned out with Snow.

      “We’ve seen their powers combine to save the fate of Storybrooke, but to work together (outside of magic) is a new course of action that I was happy to see transcend Neverland.”
      I couldn’t agree more. I was a bit worried that everything Regina did in Neverland was going to be overlooked once they were back in Storybrooke. They didn’t even have the time for that, with the new curse coming, but again Regina made an incredible sacrifice and it seems that, even though they don’t remember the last year, there’s a new level of respect for her that’s inconspicuously making its way among the characters closer to her. The rest of Storybrooke… oh well; the writers tend to go a little OOC sometimes when it comes to town meetings and mobs, IMO.

      Like Katie pointed out, there’s the fact that Zelena was already in the castle before the flying monkey brought her Regina’s blood, but she could indeed have waited for that to open the crypt. I don’t particularly like the half-sisters twist, and I think the show has been giving us way too many hints in that direction during the hiatus for it to be ultimately true (they do enjoy messing with the fans). I’m looking forward to the episodes that explore more of the WW’s background and young Cora and young Leopold and more of Rumpelstiltskin. I’ve seen behind the scenes pictures where Zelena had Rumpel’s dagger so I’m quite excited to see where this is going and discover the hows and the whys.

  6. Oh and a word in defense of poor Robin Hood. I think he is one of the worst set up characters in the show. He was given an entire story path and expectations before he barely had the chance to speak on screen. He has the unenviable position of entering the show just as it has broken into full stride and gelling among the characters because of the Neverland arc. Add to that the fan expectations and imaginations and he’s got a yeoman hill to climb. Lest we forget Hook entered the scene unsuspecting, unannounced and without a storyline. Was he merely foil for Emma? Was he merely Cora’s pawn or was he a path to Neverland for our heroes? We didn’t know (and I would argue the show wasn’t sure). Season 2 was riddled with problems and O’Donohue a bright spot within it. I am happy they have leaned into his character but the Emma/Hook vs Regina/Hood comparisons I think are apples and oranges at this point.

    • I cannot agree more with your thoughts on the unenviable position that Sean Maguire and the character of Robin in general has right now. The character was already half of a romantic pairing before he even had a chance to be developed as a character. Meanwhile, Hook was introduced to us before any hint of a relationship with Emma was given, and we still don’t know for sure what their story—and his story—is ultimately going to be. You’re right; the Emma/Hook and Regina/Robin comparisons aren’t really valid in terms of how they’re being presented to the audience. They may have similar thematic elements (second chances, learning to love again, opening your heart after being hurt, etc.), but they are far from the same—especially because, as you said, Hook as a character entered the scene with no romantic expectations while Robin has the burden of being Regina’s love interest before either of them knows it within the story itself.

    • Agreed. It makes me even more sold on the idea that the whole ‘soul mates’ twist was in no way planned (see lack of tattoo the first time RH showed up) and they just threw it there as a way to give Regina something else ‘good’ to focus on other than her relationship with Henry. Just the way I believe Hook’s character wasn’t meant to become so important to the story. I’m ok with changes being made along the way as long as they are introduced naturally. It seems to be working out so far, regardless of all the hype and expectations around the ‘ships’.

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