Oct 1 2012 10:43am

Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: Badlands, Hats, and Lady Knights

Once Upon a Time’s Regina


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.

Mulan in Once Upon a Time Season 2Now 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.

Emma, Regina, and Co. in Once Upon a Time Season 2 episode 1At 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.

Prince Charming and Henry in Once Upon a TimeCharming 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 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?


Synde Korman talks music and books on her website Tombstone Tails, along with creating a line of literary jewelry on her etsy site Cemetery Cat Designs.

When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Superficial comment first: The character posters for the new season (like the top banner of Regina) are sooooo pretty.

Now to be a bit more serious: I haven't watched the premiere yet, but I do want to see Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. My problem with the show is that beyond that initial curiosity about how the fairytale characters will be portrayed, I don't care about any of them. The most touching scene I saw was the sheriff/huntsman's death and, well, he's gone.
2. wsl0612
I thought the opener was a bit dull, bit of a let-down, but I am excited that we'll get to see Snow and Emma in Fairytaleland. Hopefully now that everyone remembers who they are there will be much more interesting interaction, plot points won't be so stupid.
I agree that the "confrontation" between Emma and her 'rents was blah, Ginnifer Goodwin is the best actor of the three and she couldn't do anything with it either.
Yes, Belle and Gold have ZERO chemistry.
The Mulan, SB and Prince Philip actors were all pretty good, I enjoyed the reveal that they knew of Regina's curse and that they were in an unaffected area. That sounds exciting too.
Was the person in NY in the opening scene supposed to be Bael (sp?), Gold's son?
4. Gi
While, I enjoyed the Season Premiere, I think the reunion sequence fell flat, but seems some characters need a moment to process the fact that crapzola, my long lost parents are basically my age and my mother's been talking my ear off about her one night stand shenanigans. Personally, I'm all for understanding that we should be forgiving, etc? But had I just come out of a 28 year old mental coma to find my newborn 28 years older with a 10 year old and a chip on her shoulder while I've been seeing my own husband on the sly, then ding dong the Queen would be dead...Mr. Soul Sucker, get in line.

Meanwhile, this show has the propensity to get so confusing with who's who and how did that get there scenarios that I honestly wish at times, that the show had finished and all the seasons had aired and I could go back and have a marathon weekend watching all the episodes, knowing I would'nt have to wait til some futuristic point in oblivion to get all the answers.

Nevertheless, I will watch on. There's enough eye candy to sweeten the plot.
Christopher Morgan
5. cmorgan
I finally watched it last night and am unsure about where they are taking it.

I think it's pretty well known that I primarily watch the show for Gold, well rumplestiltskin now and am legitimately excited to see the two personalities meet. I'm hoping they don't make him out to be the big bad for the season. I feel he is much better at being the morally questionable character. I'm also unsure as to why you are going full fantasy with Emma and Snow. I never thought that Hardcore Epic Fantasy did all that well with the general viewership and am curious to see if they make it work.

Also, I hope they get a better creature designer soon, that Ringwraith Demontor Soul-Sucker (Really?! That's the best name you can do? I guess if you steal all you are just aping disney, you don't do so hot on those original creations.) was kind of lame.
Synde Korman
6. SyndeKorman
cm morgan-
I agree.. completely! and yeah I forgot the Dementor refrence, too busy waiting for Gandalf to show up...or Aragorn... or....
Synde Korman
7. SyndeKorman
redline- I sobbed like a little kid when the sherrif/huntsman died.. that was the saddest thing... and one of the best episodes to date.
Synde Korman
8. SyndeKorman
Gi- the season premeire was especially confusing.. I hope it's not an indication of how things will go in the future.
rachel sternberg
9. rae70
The series update really helped me with all the storylines and how things got to where they were.. My dvr had missed a few episodes.. The opener did fall a little flat and as for the special effects being mediocre, I expected that for regular tv. They almost blending too many Disney and Grimms fairytales together and its alittle confusing to me for the first episode. I prefer Grimms over Disney (more apt to be creepy and meant to teach a lesson.)

WSL: I was thinking the same thing about that guy being Golds son.
11. Melle
Why is it so hard to get your Asians right, Disney / Disney affiliates? Mulan is a character from Chinese lore, here portrayed by a Korean-American in Japanese getup. While the actress is a drop-dead-gorgeous and kick-ass lady, that can't be the best they could do. It's not that hard for Pete's sake; there are almost 4 million people of Chinese ethnicity and/or descent in the US.
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