When we last left Storybrooke, true love’s kiss had just broken the curse, ominous purple smoke was swirling through the town and viewers were left wondering – if the curse is broken, what now? Well, season two swept in with some answers and further mystery in response to that question.
The episode opens following a young man through the city and into his apartment where he’s apparently having a bad day. After discovering his window is stuck open his cell phone takes a dive. Mystery Man sighs, leans on the ledge and is visited by a dove. Though the bird doesn’t stay long in his wake is postcard of Storybrooke with one word one it: broken.
Okay….my interest is peaked and this is the last we see of MM. As an opening this was sort of intriguing though could have been stronger to be honest. It left me somewhat dissatisfied, particularly because it’s not addressed or referenced through the rest of the episode and, for a brief moment until Ginnfer Goodwin’s name flashed on the screen, I was wondering if I had the wrong channel and/or premiere date.
This was a minor complaint about an otherwise mostly decent episode.
Real World Reunions
Let’s deal first with the Storybrooke plot line: I enjoyed some of the reunions like Red and Granny and the arrival of the Blue Fairy. Those were the extent of the reunions for the most part however. It would have been nice to see more, given that it’s been so long since these people, in the knowledge of their true selves, have been together. Hopefully the rest of the season will bring us more of these moments and some discussions too.
What I felt was well done was the reunion between Mary-Margaret (MM), David and Emma. MM was sufficiently emotional about the entire thing while Emma was struggling to process and her confused emotions were palpable everything she didn’t say at that moment. Personally, I can’t imagine how confusing it would be to discover not only that your parents are Snow White and her prince, but that they are roughly the same age as you too. So. Weird.
Emma’s argument later that her parents should not have sent her away because they could have been together despite the curse, well, that didn’t sit well with me. Emma’s feelings are in turmoil right now, lots of information being thrown at her which I get. However, this character has always been a practical character and it felt a touch extreme for her to be almost…mad at being sent away. I suppose she and MM will have lots of time to hash out this point now though.
Burn the Witch
The mob of people was, rightly so in my opinion, looking to put Regina’s head on a stick and I am so glad that did not happen. Lana Parilla is spectacular in this role, playing the dichotomy of completely evil but on some level loving of Henry with perfect balance. Powerless, she’s just as evil as ever and what was curious about the entire exchange and Emma’s intervention with the angry pack of fairytale characters was Dr. Whale and David. Until this point, as far as this viewer was concerned, Whale was The Whale from Pinocchio. Guess not? Another seedling planted that we’ll have to play the wait-and-see game with.
Regina spared and in jail explained they could not go back to Fairytale because there is no more Fairytale to return too. Bummer for them. But now knowing this isn’t technically the case, I’m left wondering why they didn’t all return once the curse ended. Is it really broken? Is there another piece of the curse?
Beauty, the Beast and Promise Loopholes
Gold is one of my favourite characters in this show. He’s another one who plays evil but not entirely. Plus, he’s always about 10 steps ahead of everyone and a brilliant manipulator. Gold’s one weak spot (if you want to call it that) is Belle. We all knew that once Gold discovered she was neither dead nor absent from the Real World, there’d be hell for Regina to pay. Belle knew it too, what with his declaration of sworn vengeance and all, but Belle manages to extract a promise (sealed with a kiss) not to kill Regina and move on. I wonder if she truly believed he’d keep this promise. I didn’t. Of course, Gold is a master of word play and what he promised, specifically, was that he wouldn’t kill Regina. Cue Wraith medallion and “fate worse than death” pledges.
Okay, I like Belle and I’ve already stated I like Gold but I did not like the dramatics of their short interaction in this episode. I found Belle’s reaction overdone when she learned Gold broke his promise principally in light of her later return and determination to stay with Gold. The Belle/Gold scenes weren’t written with the same sharp combination of precision and emotion that is typical of such moments in this show, at least in my opinion. So far this couple has not captivated me as some others have, which is curious because the emotions between them felt strong last season. It will be interesting to see where this relationship ends up.
The Hat vs. the Wraith
Henry wasn’t overly present in this episode (which is okay because sometimes his character gets a tad preachy for me) but during his brief appearance he managed to extract from Emma a promise to keep Regina alive. Until this point it had seemed Henry thought Regina was pure evil, so felt a touch off-centre for the character and largely a plot device. Nevertheless, it made for a really great ending. The promise to Henry at the forefront of her mind, Emma was determined to save Regina from the Wraith, leaving MM, David and Emma working with this deliciously nasty woman to save her life. I wonder what they intended to do with her that? Jail her forever? There isn’t exactly a trial process in this world for cursing everyone to amnesia and a completely foreign existence.
Anyways, Emma saves Regina and ends up yanked through the portal alongside her mother and poor David is left devastated holding onto a crushed hat and taking custody of his grandson after narrowly avoiding having his heart ripped out. Regina’s power return here was first-rate and Henry’s intervention demonstrates once again that, similarly to Gold, Regina does have both a heart and a weakness. Interestingly, Regina’s new mission will now be to save MM and Emma given that Henry will have nothing to do with her if she doesn’t. Personally I’d like to see some redemption for this character – maybe not entirely or too quickly because I love her badness, but there is more to her than that.
As endings go I loved this one. I loved that Jefferson’s hat was brought out, I loved that Emma’s touch seems to give Regina the boost she needed to get her powers back and I loved, absolutely loved, that Emma and MM ended up pulled through the portal. This was an unexpected and very welcome twist. Season one was all about these fairytale characters in our world and now we can see how Emma will fare in their world. It will be exposure to her heritage in a totally new way, far different from pictures in a children’s book.
Fairytale Endings and New Beginnings
Back in Fairytale (FT) Prince Phillip and Mulan rescue cursed Princess Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty. There are only short moments of happiness before a Wraith crashes the party and marks Phillip. Initially I did not like Aurora – she seemed almost dippy in her early exchanges. By the end of the episode however she was a much more respectable character, and far more intelligent than I thought. Mulan I enjoyed – she was well written and acted. She and Aurora developed a respect by the end and some link over their mutual love and loss of Phillip.
In the big twist of the night, it turns out the Wraith they’d been battling and the amulet was not, as I thought, later passed along/acquired through, perhaps, a deal for Phillips life with Gold. Instead, the Wraith came to their world from Storybrooke. This plot was interesting because we were led to believe it took place before the curse had happened as that is when every other flash to FT has taken place. Hats off to the writers for this twist though – we are in a post-curse world here, where for some unknown reason this corner of the land was not shipped off to the modern world but instead frozen in time for twenty-eight years until Emma moved to Storybrooke. Personally, I’m very curious to see who was left behind and what the world looks like now as well as Emma’s interaction with real live fairytale characters with no concept of a world beyond theirs.
Overall I enjoyed this episode. I felt that the FT aspects were far stronger than the real world pieces but I suppose those were more about set up than anything else. Emma and MM in FT is a happy surprise as this viewer had wondered and worried about what to expect with the curse (seemingly) broken and the memories returned to everyone. In the end we have a whole new direction and a great many plot points to watch flourish over the coming weeks.
What did you think fellow fairytalers?