‘Once Upon A Time’ S2 Ep 2 recap: It takes two

S2 Ep 2
Storybrookers grow aware of their dual personas in “We Are Both.” (Photo credit: ABC)

Sunday night’s “We Are Both” provided a surprising follow-up to last week’s premier, which left Emma and Snow White stranded in post-curse Fairytale Land. One would think the second episode would begin by picking up where we left off with the mother and daughter duo facing an unwelcoming Mulan and Aurora. As it turns out, ‘Once Upon A Time’ decided to take a different approach.

In “We Are Both,” the focus remains primarily on Storybrooke’s inhabitants and how they must readjust to a new life, in which they remember both of their identities. The Seven Dwarves take on the risky challenge of discovering what happens when you cross the border out of Storybrooke and Charming continues his quest to find a portal that will lead him to his wife and daughter. Meanwhile, Regina finds a way to regain her magic powers, which gives us an opportunity to see Fairytale flashbacks of how she started using magic with Rumple’s help. Lastly, we get a glimpse of Emma and Snow in post-curse Fairytale Land, where they find themselves trapped with a very surprising character.

Fairytale Land: “Let everyone know where true power lies and you’ll hold the hearts of your people in your hands.”

It is two days before Regina’s wedding to King Leopold and she tries making a run for it through the Enchanted Forest. As she enters the forest, tree branches reach out, pull her off of her horse and suspend her in the air. Moments later, her mother, Cora, appears and tells Regina about the barrier spell she has cast. The spell was designed to keep Regina “where she belongs,” which is by her soon-to-be husband’s side. Cora wants what is best for her daughter, but Regina doesn’t want power, she just wants her freedom. Naturally, Cora won’t give her that, so the next time we see Regina, she is back in King Leopold’s palace with young Snow White.

Snow White looks through Regina’s jewelry box and discovers Daniel gold ring hanging from a necklace. She puts it on, complimenting Regina on its beauty and asking where she got it. Suddenly, Regina blurts out the truth, saying Snow’s honesty with Cora caused Daniel’s death. Snow feels horrible and apologizes. Then Regina starts pulling on her necklace and shockingly tries to choke Snow. But it was only a day dream. When Snow asks where the ring came from, Regina simply says she has forgotten. Later, Regina speaks with her father about her unbearable circumstance. She questions how Cora came to possess so much magical power and her father says she learned it from a man who cannot be named.

That night Regina steals Cora’s magic book, finds Rumple’s name inscribed within the pages and summons him (after humorously fumbling with the pronunciation of his name a little bit.) Gold-dusted Rumpy immediately appears and expresses how happy he is to be together again with Regina. He explains that he held her as a baby and knew there would be a day when they reunite because Rumpy says they have a shared history in the past and in the future. (Does this mean that Rumple can predict the future? Did he know what life would be like in Storybrooke? Was Regina part of Cora’s deal with Rumple?). Regina, like us, is slightly puzzled by what the animated and eager Rumple is saying.

Regina clarifies that she does not wish to hurt anybody. Rumpy is surprised. He teases, “Hard to believe you’re from the same family.” He then praises Regina’s potential and encourages her to practice magic by saying, “You can do so much, if you let yourself.” Rumple realizes Regina is not yet prepared to use magic and gives her a wedding gift that can help her with Cora. He points to the large wrapped object, claiming it is a portal to a “specific annoying little world” and then he disappears. Regina is left with a big decision make the night before wedding.

Cora tries giving Regina another pep-talk on her wedding day. She notices the gift and removes the cover to reveal a full length looking glass. Cora begins another diatribe, telling Regina that the kingdom will love her once they realize her power. One day, Regina will (literally) “hold their hearts in her hand.” Regina still wants her freedom, but Cora assures her that will never happen. Cora snaps, “You’re stuck with me forever…I’m your mother…I know best.” Rumpy devilishly appears in the looking glass, coaxing Regina to follow her heart’s desires. Regina thrusts out her hand and propels Cora through the looking glass, into an “annoying” unknown world. As the mirror shatters, we are left to wonder where Cora vanished to (Wonderland, Storybrooke, Neverland?) and Regina stands in shock, struggling to come to terms with what she has done.

After the wedding, Regina re-gifts the book back to Rumpy, saying she does not want it. He asks how it felt to use magic and she says she doesn’t want to practice magic. Regina claims she will never use magic again because she loved it and she does not want to turn into her mother. Rumple says he can teach her how to be skilled in magic and more if she promises to do something for him someday. After some consideration, Regina agrees and another deal has been struck. Regina ponders aloud if she will be like her mother. Rumpy coyly replies that Regina’s fate is entirely up to her.

Storybrooke: “My weaknesses and my strengths. David and the prince. I am both. Just like you. You are both. The town is both. We are both.

Grumpy leads the other dwarves to the town borderline and they draw straws to see who will crossover and dip his toe in the forbidden waters. He motivates the others, telling them that it is their duty as Snow White’s loyal royal guards to “investigate the line.” Sneezy draws the shortest straw and asks if they could try a turtle instead, but Grumpy pushes him over the line and they all wait in anticipation. Suddenly, Sneezy becomes enveloped in some sort of magical energy. While we wait to see what happens to Sneezy, we get an idea of the destruction the wraith’s attack caused in Storybrooke and learn what has become of some of our favorite characters.

After a long break, we get our first look at Pinocchio. His wooden body still stuck in his bed at Granny’s Inn, but we are given hope. As the camera closes in on his face, Pinocchio’s eyes blink. Now we know he still has a chance to turn back into a real life man. Meanwhile, the other townspeople start gathering together in an effort to recover from the curse’s affects and re-evaluate their lives. Geppetto hangs a missing person’s sign for Pinocchio, Red closes up Granny’s diner, and everyone clamors about the town square searching for guidance. Charming, on the other hand, is fixated on the task at hand and confronts Regina to get some answers.

P.C. barges into Regina’s house with Jefferson’s hat and wants to know more about it. He threatens her, saying the only reason she is alive is because Henry wishes it to be. Kicking her while she is down, he adds, “You have earned every bit of this.” However, Regina acts un-phased and criticizes his poor parenting skills, given that he shipped his own daughter off in a box. Regina is determined to find a way to practice magic in Storybrooke and once she does, she will get Henry back. Charming points out the obvious, “If you have to use magic to get your son, then you don’t really have him.” With nothing more than a bitter and spiteful exchange, Charming leaves to find better help elsewhere.

When Charming arrives at the town square, he is bombarded by Red, Dr. Whale and the others all asking him questions on what happens now. Henry assures everyone that things in fairytales get worse before they get better. With that said, Grumpy & Co. run in with “terrible news.” Grumpy shows them how Sneezy has forgotten his fairytale memories and turned back into Mr. Clark. The Seven Dwarves have discovered that once you leave town, you become retain only the Storybrooke version of yourself. They look to P.C. for guidance and he says he will meet everyone in the town hall with a plan in two hours.

Back at Regina’s, she tries magically lighting a candle when Jiminy Cricket stops by to check on her. She scoffs, “Right, the conscience thing” and denies his help. Nonetheless, Jiminy says speaking with him can help her know who she truly is. She claims to already know her true self and turns him away. Later, we learn that Regina has entered Mr. Gold’s shop for a magic boost.

When Regina walks in looking for her mother’s book, Rumpy taunts her, asking if she needs “mommy’s help.” She hopes to find a shortcut back to Fairytale Land by using the magic book. Rumple asks her to leave, even adding a “please.” Regina is surprised by his cordial civility, but no one is fooling the other here. Regina gets to the point and tells him that the Enchanted Forest still exists, so there is still a Fairytale Land worth going back to. Rumpy magically makes the book appear and hands it over to Regina. Clutching the book in her hands, Rumple comments on how he can see her resemblance to Cora now. Regina glares at him and leaves. Meanwhile, Charming starts working on his motivational speech for the meeting.

Henry watches as his grandpa struggles to the find the right words. P.C. frustratingly admits, “I did the fighting. Snow did the talking.” He breaks from practice and looks at Jefferson’s hat again. Henry recognizes it and tells him about ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Charming remembers reading the story as David and rushes out to find the Mad Hatter. Henry begs to tag along, calling out after him, “Gramps…let me help!” But it is no use, the prince has already gone.

Charming bursts into Mr. Gold’s shop, interrupting Rumple as he places maps of New York into his bag. P.C. needs something similar to the ring Rumpy gave him to find Snow in Fairytale Land. Rumple gives him a potion to pour over the hat, which will then guide him to the owner. The Rump teases, “It is so easy even David can do it.” Charming asks what Rumpy wants in return and all he desires is peace. This transaction includes a “non-interference guarantee” for Charming to basically leave Rumple alone. Before P.C. leaves, he tells Rumpy about the consequences of crossing the border. After Charming exits the shop, a disheartened Rumple angrily smashes his display cases with his cane. Clearly, this won’t help Rumpy venture out into the world to find his son, Baelfire. When Rumple begins to lost hope, Regina regains it when she starts working with the magic book.

Regina sits under her blackened apple tree and reads from Rumple’s book. As she inhales magic from the book, her apples start turning red. While Regina accomplishes her goal, Charming sets out to achieve his.

P.C. pours the potion on Jefferson’s hat and runs after it as the hat scatters towards an overturned car. It appears that Jefferson has been trapped in his car since the wraith’s attack. Charming helps him out and notices his daughter’s stuffed bunny. He reaches out to Jefferson as a father in search of his family and asks for his help. In a heated confrontation, Jefferson vows that he cannot be of any help because there is no way to make the hat work again and he knows of no other portal. He tells Charming that the Enchanted Forest still exists, but he has no clue how to get there without his hat. P.C. threatens to throw him in jail until he figures out a way, but he assures the prince that it would be useless. Jefferson laments his Storybrooke existence. He hates having to live with “two lives cursed forever” causing “double the pain.” After engaging Charming in his melancholy, Jefferson throws the table into him and makes a run for it. As Charming chases him, Red stops him in his tracks and prevents him from pursuing Jefferson any further, saying that Henry needs him.

Charming blew off the town meeting to chat with Jefferson and his absence allowed for Regina to swoop in and take what she wanted so badly. Over at the town hall, Dr. Whale, Red and Granny, armed with her crossbow, stood guard as they all waited for Charming to rally the townspeople. Instead, Regina blazes through the doors. Jiminy tries to calm her and Grumpy tries to stop her, but she flings them aside and storms further into the hall. Granny fires a bow at her, which she catches in her hand and darts at the wall with the additional flare of a fireball. The townspeople ask what she wants and Henry steps forward saying, “Me. She wants me.” He willingly goes back home with Regina, so that she will leave everyone else alone.

Now, Red tells Charming that the town is falling apart because everyone wants to cross the border and forget their past, plus he needs to save Henry from Regina. While Charming hustles to save the day, Henry tries to make a quick getaway.

As soon as Henry enters his bedroom, he pulls out a home-made escape ladder he had prepared for such an occasion. As he climbs out the window, tree branches reach out and snatch him up. Regina has placed Cora’s barrier spell on Henry and he feels she is holding him captive like a prisoner in her house. Henry confronts Regina, saying she made him feel crazy when he discovered the truth about their fairytale lives. Regina apologizes and says she wants to teach Henry magic so he can be powerful like her. He can have his friends over and make everyone love him by using magic (sound familiar?) Henry stands his ground, he says, “I don’t want to be you.” Meanwhile, over at the border, Charming takes his own stand.

Charming catches everyone just in time before they started walking over the border and convinces them to stay in Storybrooke. In Charming’s inspiring speech, he warns everyone that they will lose themselves if they should cross over. He believes it is better to live with both memories because even the bad memories have become part of who they are. Prince Charming accepts David’s weaknesses and tries to be a better man despite them. He declares, “We are both” and he encourages them all to rebuild Storybrooke, bringing in elements from their Fairytale Land life, like living in a shoe. Charming vows to protect them all and promises that Regina cannot hurt anyone if they all come together. With his speech successfully completed, Charming dashes off to storm Regina’s Storybrooke castle.

P.C. barges into Regina’s house with sword in hand and demands to see Henry. The valiant prince does not flinch, assuring Regina, “Whatever you conjure, I can fight.” Surprisingly, Regina does not put up a fight. She sends Henry home with Charming. She takes Henry’s hand and confesses that she doesn’t “know how to love” and she understands how it feels when someone holds so tightly that it pushes you away. Regina wants to redeem herself, so Charming gives her a chance to prove it. He asks her if the Enchanted Forest still exists. Regina admits that it does, but she honestly does not know how to get back there. She teases Charming, saying she has launched him on a heroic quest to find the Enchanted Forest and rescue his family. Regina tells P.C. to take care of her son and says goodbye.

Now that Storybrooke is starting to get settled, everyone tries to play their part. Grumpy gathers the dwarves, with pick-axes in hand, they head out to mine for fairy dust in hopes of helping the Blue Fairy and others use magic. Promising to eventually explain what this all means to Mr. Clark (aka Sneezy), Grumpy says, “off to work we go” and they head out. Over at Granny’s diner, Henry helps Geppetto find what he is missing.

In a goose-bump inducing moment, Henry whispers in Geppetto’s ear. Next thing we know, Geppetto enters Pinocchio’s hotel room and makes a shocking discovery: Pinocchio is gone!

Elsewhere, Rumple looks out at the borderline, hoping to find a way to overcome his latest obstacle. Meanwhile, Regina nearly tosses her magic book into the fire, but she hesitates and decides to lock it away instead.

Post-curse Fairytale Land: “We are survivors.”

Finally as the episode ends, we see what Emma and Snow White have been up to. Mulan and Aurora have kept their hands bound and have brought them to a remote village or safe haven. When Snow tries to escape, Mulan knocks her out and Emma rushes to Snow’s side. Mulan locks them up in the pit. As Emma checks on her unconscious mother, a voice calls out from the darkness, asking if they need help. Emma inquires who wants to help. The person claims to be a friend and steps out into the light, revealing her identity. It is Regina’s mother, Cora!

What did you think of “We Are Both”? Was it everything you hoped for? Were you disappointed by a lack of focus on post-curse Fairytale Land? Was there anything you really wanted to see that wasn’t included in this episode? Share your thoughts below!


  • The concept of “We Are Both”: As if things weren’t complicated enough in Storybrooke, now these characters have two sets of memories and identities to deal with. It will make for fascinating situations in the future, but it is nice to see that some people are already struggling with some of the actions their alter-egos have taken. Snow White regretted Mary Margaret’s affair with Dr. Whale and Prince Charming clearly acknowledges David’s weaknesses (most notably that he repeatedly broke Snow’s heart.) Hopefully, ‘Once’ will continue to expand on this idea and show us how other characters are adjusting to their dual personalities. Ironically, Regina and Mr. Gold are the two people who need the most reformation, yet they both were fully aware of their past lives the whole time. Nonetheless, perhaps Regina will genuinely use this as an opportunity to be a better person than the Evil Queen was in Fairytale Land and maybe Rumple will not repeat the same mistakes by choosing love over power this time around.
  • True heroes: Prince Charming technically was given the spotlight in this episode to boost the morale, but Grumpy and Henry showed true leadership. Grumpy rallied Snow’s royal guards and the dwarves courageously took it upon themselves to face the consequences and discover what happens when you leave Storybrooke. Now they have to find a way to cure poor Sneezy. Lee Arenberg does a wonderful job of demonstrating Grumpy’s genuine concern for others while exhibiting his disgruntled temperament. It is so much fun to watch him and hopefully we will learn even more about the dwarves this season. Henry has been the true hero of the series. He brought Emma to Storybrooke, he convinced her that fairytales are real and his relationship with his real mom is what broke the curse. Now, young Henry is trying to make his grandpa pay attention to what he is saying, but Charming is too caught up in what he feels like he needs to do in order to find Emma and Snow. His focus is making him lose sight of what he has gained, despite his loss. Charming did not do a great job of watching out for Henry. Jared Gilmore, as always, makes us melt in every scene. He warms your heart with a little look and manages to convey such maturity all while maintaining his innocence. It was heartbreaking too see Charming leave him behind as Henry pleaded to go with him. Also, Henry sacrificed himself again for the good of the townspeople. But even while giving himself to Regina, he does not give in to her wishes and remains his own person. It will be exciting to see what adventures Henry will go on this season and discover what role he will play as Storybrooke continues to adapt.
  • Post-curse Fairytale Land: ‘Once’ fooled us this week by leaking the preview clip featuring Emma and Snow White in present day Fairytale Land. Naturally, we would assume there would be more than that snippet. Looks like we must wait until next week, when Emma and Snow work with Lancelot. Cora’s reveal was a truly surprising moment. What is her story? Where was she banished to? What has she been doing for the past 28 years? Does she plan on using Emma and Snow to get into Storybrooke and confront Regina? Any thoughts, hopes or predictions?
  • Flashback Rumplestiltskin was missed: Robert Carlyle is awesome! Everyone who works with him says so and he proves it every time he is on-screen. The character he has created is an absolute delight. There is so much more to Rumpy than meets the eye. How much does he know? He speaks of knowing Regina in the past and future, but what does that mean? Rumple has such a hypnotic quality about him that draws you in, even though you know it is wrong to make a deal with him you can’t help but want to. Rumpy and Regina’s flashback together raised a lot of questions. Hopefully, we will get some of those answers sooner than later.
  • Is Regina being sincere?: The jury is still out on Regina. Lana Parrilla has carefully crafed a master manipulator, so it is nearly impossible to tell when Regina honestly means what she says. Her love for Henry seems real, but maybe Regina only knows how to show love the way Cora does. If Regina realizes that about herself, then she should let Henry go and she should know not to cross certain boundaries with him. Of course, it would be a huge twist if the villain of the story turns into a good person, but ‘Once’ won’t make Regina’s journey and development that easy. If Regina betters herself in Storybrooke it will take a lot of time and effort. Which do you prefer: Evil Queen Regina or Redeemed Regina?

Stay tuned for the latest ‘Once Upon A Time’ news and more!

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