ONCE UPON A TIME There Was a Nice Girl Named Regina

Posted on October 8, 2012 by

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Episode 2.02 “We Are Both”

So, the residents of Storybrooke can remember both lives, and they’re still trapped in Storybrooke. This must mean…

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Jack Rowand/ABC]

It’s an episode without Emma and Snow/Mary Margaret, because they’ve been sucked down into the swirling purple haze of the Mad Hatter’s hat, which was promptly squished because Prince Charming wasn’t fast enough.

So, the hat’s destroyed. Regina doesn’t know if there’s anything on the other side, and doesn’t know if the girls are still alive.

Or does she?

This is where we begin this week, as the dwarves investigate the boundary of Storybrooke. Can they leave now that the curse is broken? Grumpy mentions “We’re the Royal Guard!” in his rallying speech for the seven. Really? When did that happen? They draw straws, and Sneezy gets to cross the stream orange line.

This is bad, because Sneezy gets hit with Force lightning and loses every memory of being Sneezy. He’s now just Tom Clark, owner of the pharmacy. Oh, noes!

So, everyone is still trapped in Storybrooke. And Charming — besides figuring out a way to get his wife and daughter back — now has to contend with a mob that’s both frightened and angry at their circumstances. This sets up a new dilemma for him — does he take charge of the “kingdom” and protect the residents from Regina and Rumplestiltskin? Or does he go on a rescue mission?

The episode takes its title to heart in a big way this week, setting up dual paths for everyone. The town has to make a choice whether or not to abandon their Fairy Tale Land identities in favor of living with a single set of memories. Apparently, now all of them suffer from the same condition as Jefferson — two sets of memories fighting to occupy the same brain space.

Charming makes his stand at the Orange Line — and his pitch sounds very much like Jim Kirk’s speech to Sybok in Star Trek V. “I need my pain!” is the argument, and that goes back to Kirk’s recognition that the wolf is part of him, too. Charming here embraces his David Nolan identity, claiming it as a reminder of his own weaknesses. And giving voice to what a lot of people were saying about David — “Storybrooke David was weak, confused, and he hurt the woman I love.” Yeah. And fans didn’t like him much.

But his speech is enough to send everyone back to town to clean up and start fresh, making the best of things until they can figure a way out.

Regina, too, has a dual path, facing a choice between who she is — Evil Queen — and who she was — nice girl who just wanted to run away with the stable boy. Her fantasy about strangling young Snow White makes her more aware that she’s in danger of turning into her mother, something she doesn’t want to do. And she learns that Cora has a book of spells given to her by Rumplestiltskin.

We get a lot of Regina’s back story here, along with some tantalizing tidbits that raise even more questions. How much of Regina’s power actually comes from the spell book? How much is her innate ability? Just what is Rumplestiltskin’s relationship to Regina? He mentions holding her as a baby. Are the writers hinting at something more familial? Is there something at the heart of their relationship that neither one wants to acknowledge?

Regina’s fall along the dark path starts with her shoving Cora through a magic looking glass, and the young princess is so flummoxed by it, she wants to give back the book. She wants no part of magic. She just wants her freedom. Which Rumplestiltskin is happy to help her get.

A stark contrast to Regina’s storming Gold’s shop looking for the spell book, which she can use to master the Storybrooke brand of magic. Her confrontation with Gold is on par with the one from last week: both of them chewing scenery and hinting at more to come. Regina’s “I don’t care if it turns me green” is a nice wink to Disney, without being over the top and in your face.

Regina, y’see, needs the magic to retrieve Henry. And she goes to the town meeting to show everyone that she’s still not to be trifled with, thank you very much. But when she offers Henry the gift of magic, that with it he can make people like and respect him, he rejects everything with a “I don’t want to become you.” And Regina realizes she’s become her mother. Is this a turning point for her? Is this a moment that re-defines the character for a new arc this season?

Because as soon as she has her epiphany, she lets Henry go with Charming, saying “I don’t know how to love very well.” She wants redemption from Henry. But is she playing? Charming wants her to prove it. Does the enchanted forest still exist? Yes, and there’s a chance Emma and Snow are still alive, but Regina doesn’t know how to get back. “It seems I just launched you on a heroic quest.” My, she’s full of surprises, isn’t she?

But in keeping with the theme this week — embracing dual identities — Regina stops just short of burning the spell book. So is she having second thoughts about her second thoughts?

And Gold is deeply enraged that he’s still trapped in Storybrooke. My suspicion is that he figures to go look for Bae now that the curse has been lifted, but the town is still under a spell. Curses! Foiled again!

And where did Pinocchio go?

Last bit of the episode, speaking of Emma and Snow, shows them as prisoners of Mulan. Taken back to the refugee island, they try to make a break for it. Only Mulan has the upper hand, and the girls end up prisoners — along with Cora?! Where’d she come from? And where has she been since being pushed into the magic mirror?

Next week: ogres!

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[Official Show Site at ABC]     [Previous recap: "Broken"]

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