Emma: “That sounds like the monster that attacked me in New York.”
Hook: “You mean the monster you were going to marry?”
Charming: “You were going to marry someone??”
Hook: “Did you just miss the part where I said ‘monster’?”
Oh the wittiness of a Jane Espenson-penned episode of Once Upon A Tine. I was scrambling to write down all the dialogue exchanges but gave up when my typing speed couldn’t keep up. It’s a parallel episode of fun. In the Enchanted Forest a year ago, Regina – with Robin Hood’s help – attempts to take back her castle, while in present day Storybrooke, Emma and Regina work a con to flush out who cast the curse again. And everyone on this show whom you haven’t seen in a while shows up in a super-charged, cast-filled great episode. It’s both funny and touching; I haven’t gushed this much in an episode recap in a long time and it feels so good.
Back in the Enchanted Forest Regina stares longingly at her castle which has been hijacked by someone else. Then holy Red Riding Hood cameo, Batman! Ruby pops out of nowhere (I think she borrowed Hermione’s time tuner) to pull Snow aside and tell her she’d feel more sorry if Regina had been a nicer person. Then Zelena sends another flying monkey for Regina, who carries Roland – Robin Hood’s young son – out of the way before turning the flying monkey into a monkey stuffed animal. Okay, so having an evil queen as your stepmom can run the risk of her trying to kill you, but on the plus side, she can make stuffed animals out of all your enemies for you! That’s when we begin our bonding time between Regina and Robin (Hood? Robin Hood? Still not sure how to call him in my recaps).
Since Storybrooke residents know flying monkeys equal Wicked Witch (and all the pop culture references that come with it), Regina makes a plan to infiltrate her castle by using the tunnels underneath, where she can turn off the flame that is powering the protection spell, at which point the rest of the gang can come in. And she wants to do it alone – no matter what the risks. So don’t you come along, Robin Hood, with your prolonged gazes towards her.
But he does come along, because he owes her for keeping her son out of harm’s way. And you have to admit, the kid’s a lot cuter than Henry at this point (although Henry is much less annoying now). So we now begin the bonding with the two over lost loves and children. It feels a little heavy-handed since we the audience know they are each other’s happy ending, but I won’t complain about the show going too fast. I can maybe kind of see the relationship but it’s still early.
Once they are inside Regina sees that the back door has been opened, which is impossible because she sealed it with blood magic, and therefore it is unbreakable. Robin thinks they should turn back but Regina doesn’t care how powerful the Wicked Witch is, she has to get into her castle. And once she does she heads immediately to her potions chest, where Robin gets suspicious and asks what she is doing. He draws an arrow when she doesn’t answer, and she responds by force-choking him Darth Vader style (this is what we call flirting – Enchanted Forest-style). Then she tells him that she’s lost everyone she’s ever cared about, so she is creating a sleeping curse for herself, and maybe one day Henry will come and wake her from it. That was her only motivation for breaking back into her castle. But she promises him that she will destroy the barrier so Snow and Charming can save the day as usual.
Robin tries to prevent her from doing it but she magically restrains him, then heads to the flame, powers it down, and gazes out over the realm she once held by fear and power and apologizes to Henry before preparing to prick herself. But poof! The needle is taken from her (and let’s face it, this show wouldn’t be very interesting with a sleeping Evil Queen), and Zelena – the Wicked Witch herself comes out. She tells Regina that she’s been trying to get her attention, which when you think about it, means that she would have basically aged herself fruitlessly waiting for Regina to come back from Storybrooke if Peter Pan had never attempted the curse. (Just a random thought). Regina says she knows who Zelena is, and basically, who cares? But she wants to know how she broke through the blood magic door. “I didn’t,” says Zelena. Because they have the same blood. The same mother. So they are half-sisters. And… yeah that was about as much a surprise as the Wicked Witch being the big bad this second half of the season.
So what’s the motivation? She was cast aside in favor of Regina by both Cora and Rumpelstiltskin. At last, we go down the very popular “jealous sibling” route of fairy tales. Zelena was born first, but got stuck in Oz while Regina got everything. Regina argues that she only got what Cora wanted, and lost everything, so there is no point in trying to take anything from her. Zelena wants her to drop the “martyr complex” and says that she will take everything away from her and her little dog too before flying away on her broom. No cackling witch laugh though, so I’m a little disappointed. Regina comes back down to the bedroom and releases Robin, telling him that she has something to live for now – something to destroy. Well it’s good to have goals in life.
In Storybrooke, Emma, her parents and Hook are discussing what exactly has happened. All they know is everyone woke up in town a few days ago, confused and with no memories, and they don’t know if they even went back to the Enchanted Forest. Hook remembers though, telling them he was with them before he departed and that he retrieved Emma after a bird landed on the wheel of his ship with a message and the potion tied to its leg telling him to get her. He assumed that Snow, with her ability with birds, had been the one to send it. I’m guessing there’s a little more to that story and that Hook had already been trying to get back to Emma, but we’ll see in future episodes.
Leroy then breaks in, telling them that more of the dwarves have gone missing. Snow then tells Emma that not only have people’s memories gone missing, but people have been disappearing near the town line. Finally Emma asks if Neal is in Storybrooke, prompting a jealous look from Hook (“I ate bologna for you, Swan!”), but Snow is unsure. Leroy says, yeah probably. Oh don’t ever let down on the comic-relief, Grumpy. Emma says they need to find out who cast the curse in order to get their memories back.
At Granny’s the next morning, Ruby makes one last obligatory show appearance, serving Henry his hot cocoa with cinnamon before disappearing back to CBS, and Snow and Charming awkwardly come in, acting exactly like you would think grandparents would act around a grandson who has no memories of them. (I’m serious). And it’s all very cute. Then a hushed silence falls has Regina sees Henry and Emma pulls her aside to ask her about the curse. Regina asks how Emma is going to figure out who cast it, and you can tell they are working out a plan.
Meanwhile the camp of people by the town line are laughing when Little John plays with his modern day crossbow before he gets picked up by a flying monkey, and then it’s not quite so funny anymore. Emma, David and Hook show up to help, and Emma realizes that the thing that took John was basically the same thing as Walsh, and here’s where we get our golden dialogue moment of Hook patronizing Emma (and tattling to David) for almost marrying the thing, and David in fatherly shock that he didn’t know she was going to get married. Emma tells them to form a search party while she calls a town meeting.
Everyone in the hall (welcome back to the show, Archie!) is throwing out questions and accusing Regina, and Emma sides with them before Regina gets pissed and turns on Evil Queen mode and sets an earthquake. Emma chases her down, and surprise! (but not really), they were working together by pretending they are not working together. Regina attempts to recreate what little potion remains in Emma’s bottle, and Regina thanks Emma for not accusing Regina of causing the curse. Finally Emma admits what we all know, her superpower isn’t 100% accurate, but she can always tell when Regina is lying.
Back at Granny’s Snow is trying to bond with Henry and freaking out over pregnancy when Zelena walks over, in awe of Snow White, and telling her that she was a simple midwife back in the Enchanted Forest. She reassures Snow that everything will be fine before touching Snow White’s baby bump, which we know is gonna cause some devious trouble down the line.
Back in her office, unfortunately Regina is unable to recreate the potion, and then Emma realizes they are going about this the wrong way. They need people to think that Regina is close to creating the potion, so the guilty party will reveal themselves. (The old, “They don’t know that we know they know we know”). So Regina gets word out to Leroy, who Chicken Littles everyone at Granny’s, and that’s when Zelena makes a not-so-subtle exit from the diner.
Charming, Hook and Robin Hood find Little John in the woods with a huge bite mark, and take him back to the hospital. He’s convulsing and Dr. Whale is trying to sedate him, but then the tail and fur sprouts out, and flying monkey Little John flies right through the window. See? Walsh could have been a person before he turned into a flying monkey! That makes things with him and Emma less disgusting, right? Right?? Eh, maybe. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Walsh.
David: “What the hell was that thing?”
Dr. Whale: “Don’t ask me. I’m a doctor, not a vet.”
Regina and Emma are on stakeout in front of the mayor’s office, and Regina seems amazed that this is what Emma chooses to do for a living. Emma says it’s not so bad, and then Regina asks if Henry has a happy life and Emma says he does, but that she had to come back because Henry would have told her that that is what a “hero” would do. Then they catch someone in the office, who was able to escape the blood magic spell on the room before disappearing in a poof of green smoke.
In Snow’s apartment, Regina arrives to meet Henry, who of course still can’t remember who she is. Although is that really such a bad thing considering how he spent the first 10 years of his life hating her? She offers to give him a tour of the town sometime and he agrees, and she wants to hug him but he only shakes her hand. It’s a start. Then Charming and Hook come back and they regroup outside where Regina says that flying monkeys and green smoke can only mean the Wicked Witch. Emma is incredulous. Also maybe Zelena should consider not wearing a giant green gem on the front of her shirt to be less obvious? Emma also makes a comment about Neal not being the only flying monkey she’s dated if he turns out to have been transformed. Geez, Emma, could you not remind us so much? I’m still trying to flush the mental image from my brain.
Emma: “The Wicked Witch of the West? Seriously? She’s real too?”
Hook: “Says the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White.”
The group doesn’t know what the Wicked Witch could possibly want. They are after all, not in Kansas anymore. But we get a final glimpse of Zelena as she makes her way to a jail cell in a basement which holds… Rumpelstiltskin! But it’s a Rumpelstiltskin who looks like Mr. Gold but acts like giggling maniacal Rumpelstiltskin from the Enchanted Forest. “You shouldn’t have brought me back,” he tells her. But all Oncers breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the Dark One is alive and well.