Last night, ‘Once Upon A Time’ returned with an exciting episode full of pleasant and disturbing surprises. The good news is that one of our fairytale favorites survived, the bad news is that Cora will be up to even more trouble than we may have originally anticipated.
Fairytale Land: “I will kill you if you try to hurt anyone in my kingdom again.”
In the past, Snow White and Prince Charming have successfully dethroned the vindictive King George and they have taken back their kingdom. However, justice will not be fully attained until Regina is captured and stripped of her evil powers. In a clever trap, Snow allows Regina to seemingly corner her in the forest and she offers the Evil Queen one last chance to surrender before being arrested. When Regina refuses to do so, the Blue Fairy and Charming charge out of the dark woods, taking her by surprise. Blue casts an immobilizing spell on Regina and they take her back to the castle.
Snow White, Charming and several of our fairytale favorites gather around an Arthurian table and debate the Evil Queen’s punishment. Jiminy Cricket doesn’t believe Regina will ever change her evil ways and she is too dangerous to keep in their kingdom. However, Snow would not punish others by banishing such a vicious person to another realm. Charming concludes that executing Regina is the safest option, but Snow feels that there is “always a choice” not to take a life and reminds P.C. of the time he prevented her from killing Regina in the woods. He explains that was under different circumstances, Snow was going to assassinate the Evil Queen, whereas this would be a deserved execution. Everyone agrees Regina must be stopped and they think executing her is the only way.
Regina’s father visits her in prison and begs his daughter to give Snow & Co. a reason to spare her life by showing them she has changed. Cut to Regina tied to a post with villagers, including Rumple, eagerly watching this nail-biting spectacle. Jiminy flutters over to her and asks if she wants to “clear her conscience” with any last words. Regina then begins a speech that takes a strikingly dark turn. She speaks of being judged for her past and admits she “caused pain, inflicted misery and brought about death” and she feels regret. She regrets not causing more suffering and death, but most of all she regrets not killing Snow White. Charming resounding calls for the archers to take aim and fire deathly arrows at the unmerciful Evil Queen’s. As the arrows near Regina’s face, Snow calls for them to stop and Blue magically halts them. Snow White argues, “This is not the way” and calls off the execution.
Although Charming and the others see Regina solely as the Evil Queen, Snow still remembers the young woman who saved her life years ago. For that reason, Snow is willing to give Regina another chance to prove she is capable of change. Whether Regina lives or dies, “there is no going back” and they will have to face the consequences of their decision.
Later in the courtyard, Snow stumbles upon Rumple and he makes the princess an offer. He giggles at the thought of Regina’s redemption, but he knows a safe way they can test the Evil Queen to see if she has changed her murderous ways. Snow is puzzled as to why Rumpy would want to help save his nemesis. With a smirk Rumple says, “Maybe I just want her alive.”
Snow White visits Regina, keeping a small dagger hidden up her sleeve. The Evil Queen insists there is no good left inside of her. Nonetheless, Snow wants to set her free because Regina saved her life once. As soon as Snow opens the cell door, Regina raises her up against the wall in a choke hold and uses the dagger to stab Snow, but it doesn’t hurt the princess. They cast a spell that stops Regina from using her magic. Snow banishes Regina from their kingdom and destines her to life of solitude, so she can “live alone in [her] misery.” Snow technically saved her life, so now they are even. Then Snow White threatens Regina, warning her, “I will kill you if you ever try to hurt anyone in my kingdom again.”
While isolated in her dark castle, Rumple pays the powerless Evil Queen a visit. He approaches Regina on the day of the Snow and Charming’s wedding and proposes a vengeful plan that ultimately results in the Storybrooke curse.
Storybrooke: “It may take some work, but this cricket will chirp.”
Hook and Cora quietly dock their ship in Storybrooke’s harbor. Hook is ready to part ways and “skin [his] crocodile,” but Cora has a different plan in mind. She casts a spell over his ship, making it invisible and demonstrating that her dark magic now works in Storybrooke. She proves to be more ruthless than ever, turning their only witness into flopping fish and setting a heartless plan into motion. Cora tells Hook to lay low, so they can maintain an element of surprise and she slyly goes off to check out the quaint little town.
Meanwhile, Snow White and Charming are making up for lost time in the bedroom when Henry and Emma awkwardly catch them “napping” in the afternoon. David teases that they are still capable of providing Emma with “traumatic childhood memories.” Then they all start getting ready for the party at Granny’s.
At the party, Charming makes a sweet toast, in which he says the Charming family will hopefully not be separated again. As everyone cheers, Regina enters and the room grows uncomfortably tense. Grumpy scoffs at her presence, but Emma invited her. Snow is surprised because Regina only tried killing them the day before, but Henry believes that Regina has changed, so Emma is willing to give her a chance. After spending the night alone in a corner, Regina leaves the celebration early. Emma rushes out after her and tries to persuade her to stay for cake. Just when you are about to feel bad for poor outcast Regina, she proves why she has been shunned.
Regina wants Henry to start staying over occasionally, but Emma doesn’t think that is in his best interest. Regina snaps at her, saying Emma has been a mother for five minutes and chastises her for leaving Henry to begin with. Regina and Charming were the ones who looked after him while she was gone. Rightfully angry, Emma walks away, but Regina draws her back with an earnest apology. Emma confesses that she spoke to Dr. Hopper about the great deal of effort Regina has been making to change and be a better person for Henry. Regina is surprised that good old Archie has been speaking so freely about her confidential sessions, so she has a chat with him the next day.
Regina confronts Archie while he is walking his Dalmatian, Pongo. She refers to him as a “bug” and mocks his confidentiality clause because his PhD came from a curse. She no longer trusts Dr. Hopper and resents his frankness with Emma, even though he did it only to help Regina repair her relationship with Henry. Later that night, Ruby notices Regina enter Archie’s building.
Regina storms into Dr. Hopper’s office. Pongo starts unusually barking at her. Suddenly, Regina conjures a cloud of purple smoke and magically strangles dear Archie. As she flees the scene and walks down a back alley, Regina transforms into Cora. Now we know what Hook meant when he asked Cora if “she was broken yet.”
The next morning, Emma and Henry leave Granny’s to walk to the school bus together, when Pongo suddenly runs up to them, barking in distress. Ruby runs out, knowing that Dr. Hopper must be in trouble. Emma sends Henry off to school and checks on Archie with Red’s help. They find Dr. Hopper dead in his office and Ruby is certain that Regina killed him.
Charming and Emma cutely co-interrogate Regina while Snow looks on from behind the glass mirror. Regina swears she is innocent, explaining that if she really killed Hopper, they would not be able to prove it. If Regina is being framed, Rumple would be the only person willing to kill someone for such revenge, so they go to question him.
The Charmings interrupt Belle and Rumple as they prepare to leave for a picnic and they are quick to accuse him of murder. Rumpy says he can prove his innocence; they just need to question the witness, Pongo. He takes out a magical dream-catcher and tells Emma she has the power to will it to show them Pongo’s memories. The memory reveals Regina as the murderer, so Emma storms off to arrest her.
Charming and Snow stop Emma, explaining that she cannot go up against Regina without a plan. Emma’s magic powers are not strong enough to face Regina alone. They plan to use the Dwarves newest batch of fairy dust and call upon the Blue Fairy for help. The Charming trio shows up at Regina’s and Emma says she used her own magic powers and saw Regina kill Hopper. Regina is not surprised that “the savior” can use magic, but she warns her to be careful because magic comes with a price. They lure Regina out of the house and try to cast the same immobilizing spell that trapped her years ago, but it doesn’t work this time around.
In an explosive confrontation, Emma does not understand how Regina could’ve done this to Henry. Emma does not want her to go near Henry again because now she knows that Regina will never change. With a smirk, Regina covers herself in a cloud of purple smoke and disappears.
Emma is distraught and does not know how to break the terrible news to Henry, but Snow and Charming are there to support her. They are a family and they are all learning how to be parents together. As Emma sits Henry down and tells him that Regina killed Dr. Hopper, Regina watches from a distance with tears streaming down her cheeks.
As the episode concludes, we are taken back to the docks, where the captain sits, filing his hook while waiting for Cora. She returns satisfied with the trouble she has caused and the pain she has inflicted upon her own daughter. She tells Hook that she left him a gift in the ship. They board the invisible ship, which hides them from sight as well, and Hook opens the cabin door to reveal a living, breathing Dr. Hopper, bound and gagged. Cora disguised another dead body to look like Dr. Hopper. With Archie at their disposal, they can gather all the information they need on the people of Storybrooke. Already feeling victorious, Cora smarmily says, “It may take some work, but this cricket will chirp.”
What a relief, Jiminy Cricket lives! But Cora, once again, proves to be a maliciously evil force to be reckoned with. “The Cricket Game” gives us a bittersweet ending. We are happy to see Hopper alive, but we know the worst is yet to come. What did you think of the episode, Oncers?
- Parallels: ‘Once’ does a great job of establishing parallels between Fairytale Land flashbacks and the present. It was interesting to see Emma take on Snow White’s perspective in Storybrooke. Given her faith in Henry and knowing Regina as mayor, rather than the Evil Queen, Emma was more willing to give Regina the benefit of the doubt. As sheriff, she wanted Regina to remain innocent until proven guilty. It will be fun to see more situations in which Emma reveals her parents’ traits through various decisions and actions. Also, the father-daughter interrogation was so adorable and amusing to watch.
- Mommy Dearest: Cora is pure evil. We have seen the softer side of Regina, so there are moments when you almost want to feel bad for her and forgive her for being so horrible in the past. However, there seems to be no mercy at all in Cora. Regina could have killed her, but she banished her to Wonderland instead. Now, Cora wants to destroy Regina’s life and isolate her from everyone in Storybrooke. Is she framing Regina so she can swoop in and regain her daughter’s trust? Or does she simply want to destroy Regina’s life and make her suffer for the sake of pure revenge? Will Emma’s power be strong enough to ultimately defeat Cora when the time calls for it? One thing is clear, there is no second guessing what to do with Cora; if the opportunity arises, this baddie deserves to be executed for everyone’s safety because at least there is not coming back from death…or is there? Hopefully we will understand how and why Cora became so evil in episode 16, “The Miller’s Daughter.” We know Rose McGowan is set to play young Cora, so we’ll probably see her in this episode.
- Rumple: Should we be suspicious of Rumpy because he keeps encouraging Emma to use her powers? As we saw again in the flashback, he taught Regina the dark arts for his personal gain. Is he trying to repeat history?
Stay tuned for the latest ‘Once Upon A Time’ news and more.
‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC.