Once Upon a Time is back for a second season—but the season premiere felt oddly flat.
The episode was chaotic and full of small odd vignettes, fraught with unnecessary tugging of the heartstrings, so I am going to discuss the two main plots, and leave out all the little extra “what the hell”s that were so oddly prevalent. Tonight's special guest characters include Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip, Mulan, and a creepy wraith-like creature that looks like an escaped Ringwraith from Middle Earth.
In the beginning of the episode, we're in Fairytale Land, where we see a Prince and his Knight (who is dressed in traditional Japanese fighting gear) cutting through thorns to reveal a sleeping woman (Sleeping Beauty). The Prince wakes her with a kiss, and after a few “Hello, how do you do?”s, they discuss where to hide from Maleficent, who was the originator of Sleeping Beauty's curse. Phillip also introduces his companion knight Mulan, a woman.
Now we switch to Storybrook:
The creepy purple fog has cleared, everyone knows who they really are, and a huge lynch mob heads to Regina's to “string her up.” As they're on their way to Regina's house, the Blue Fairy tells everyone that yes, magic is indeed back in Storybrook, but it's different. She does not know how or why, just that it is.
Back in Fairytale Land, Mulan and company are attacked by a freaky wraith-like creature who drops a pendant, which Phillip stupidly picks up. It burns a mark into his hand, which no-one sees happen, so he doesn't say anything about it. Mulan explains that the wraith thingy is a soul sucker—it will hunt its marked victims down with great accuracy, not giving up until they are dead. So they have to look forward to.
We see Gold in his shop in Storybrook, getting the pendant out of a cabinet, just after he's promised Belle he won't give in to his anger ( liar liar!). His face tells you he is intent on summoning it to make Regina pay for locking up Belle for all these years.
At Regina's house, the town storms her front door, she laughs at them and does some nifty magic type moves of her own, only OH CRAP her magic is on the fritz. Basically she has none. The good doctor is about to take her down when our own Prince Charming, accompanied by Snow and Emma, shows up. There's an impassioned speech during which the Prince tells the town to back off. The villagers decide to lock her up in the jail, until they figure out the best way to “deal” with her.
She also mentions that she's destroyed Fairytale Land, so they are all stuck in Storybrook forever.
We switch back to Gold, who shows up at the jail dripping with more venom than a black mamba, and tells Regina he is going to enjoy watching her suffer. He grabs her hand and presses the pendant into it, marking her. She clearly looks rattled, as he leaves her to her death.
Gold goes out into the forest. Using that crazy curvy knife from Season 1, he summons the Wraith who makes its way towards Regina.
Meanwhile, in Fairytale Land, Phillip, Mulan, and Sleeping Beauty make camp. Phillip talks to SB about how much he misses her, but then says he needs to go look for wood for the fire. His way of saying goodbye—just for a five minute jaunt for firewood—is definitely suspicious.
In Storybrook, Emma and her new parents have a quick talk about abandonment issues that is about as emotional as a piece of liverwurst. Really bad acting. Gag worthy.
They head for Gold's shop to demand answers to the mysterious “purple haze,” but as usual, Gold turns it back on them and they get nothing but the awesome double talk he's famous for. Suddenly a crazy ass electrical storm starts accompanied by earthquakes and wind. It scares everyone and they leave to look for answers. Gold is the only one who knows it's really the Wraith.
Back in Fairytale Land, Mulan hears the wraith, and SB shows up asking where Phillip is. They both realize that he's snuck off to keep them from harm, so naturally they decide to go after him. Running right into harm's way. As fairytale characters are wont to do.
In the jail cell in Storybrook, the wraith shows up and is making with the soul sucking when Charming and company show up and foil its plans. They run for Regina’s house to figure out where to hide to avoid Tall, Dark and Soul-Sucky. Regina pulls out Jefferson’s (Mad Hatter) hat and says they'll have to push the wraith through. She says she knows Fairytale Land is messed up, but oblivion will destroy the creature. Sadly, the hat isn't working for Regina, and the wraith comes in ready for a rumble.
In Fairytale Land, Mulan and SB find Phillip just in time to watch him get soul killed, They take his body back to the castle, and lay him on SB's bed. Mulan tells SB they must leave because the land was ravaged by Queen Regina's curse. She has a safe house she will take SB to, but they need to hurry, because it's not safe in the land anymore.
In Storybrook, the virtuous three are fighting the wraith while Regina tries to get the hat to work, but the hat is not having it. So Emma touches Regina and presto change-o purple smoke happens and magic jumps into play! The wraith is sucked into the hat, but not before it grabs Emma by the ankle and pulls her in too. (Wait, where have we seen this?—"fly you fools”). Snow becomes distraught at losing her daughter and jumps in after her. Charming tries to as well, but the hat shuts off. Wow, parallel sacrifice anyone? Charming goes mental and picks a fight with Regina, who incidentally has regained her magic now so she makes with the killing of Charming. Henry walks in just in time to save Charming and tell Regina off.
He says that he is no longer her son, unless she brings Emma and Snow back. He leaves with Charming.
Gold and Belle have a Beauty and the Beast moment over the chipped tea cup, that was painstakingly boring.
Charming tells Henry not to worry and that he knows the women are alive; they both look hopeful.
Back at Fairytale Land, Mulan and SB get ready to leave, when they hear a strange sound. Mulan goes to lift off some rubble and sees Snow and Emma laying unconscious. SB asks who they are, and Mulan replies, “the ones who killed our land...um OH OH!
There was no maniacal laughter in this episode, I felt like it was meant to be dark and destructive. But boy, did it miss the mark. I was disappointed by the LOTR parallels and thin plot.
What did you think?
When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.