ONCE UPON A TIME Gets Framed by "Meh"


Episode 2.10 “The Cricket Game”

[photos: Jack Rowand/ABC.com]

It’s back! With murder! Mayhem! Magic!

And a story that sort of just sits there…

Once_Cricket_Cora-Hook

OK. It does advance the plot a little bit. But as I’ve said before, Cora and Hook just don’t do it for me as villains. They’re a little lame compared to Rumplestiltskin and the Evil Queen. Truth be told, I found the Aurora/Mulan/Phillip story thread more compelling.

But, we have Cora and Hook as our evil masterminds the rest of the season, so let’s be about it, then.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

Cora and Hook have made it to Storybrooke. And of course, no one really notices the really big sailing vessel entering the bay. Why would they? It’s probably a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, right? So no alarm raised there, which is silly. If I were writing this, I’d have had the ship sail right up into Storybrooke and start firing the cannon. Boom. Give us a big “Surrender Dorothy” bit. But no. They slink in, quiet as cats.

Why?

Once_Cricket_FakeRegina

Because Cora wants to manipulate events so that Regina is isolated, heart-broken, yadda yadda… and then she’ll be ready to turn to Mummy? And to do that, she frames Regina for the murder of Dr. Archie Hopper.

Really?

Once_Cricket_pier

OK. I’m really not thrilled with this episode, can you tell? It just feels contrived all the way around. Sure, there were some bits — like Ruby understanding Pongo — but then there were other bits — how did Pongo get out of Hopper’s office without thumbs? — and it really felt like this episode is more set-up and/or filler. I’m leaning toward filler. It didn’t have any splash that you would expect from a “back from break” episode. Certainly, the death of Dr. Hopper was a shock, and we can tell right off the bat that Regina’s being set up by Cora.

And Ruby just happens to see “Regina” going into Archie’s office after she comes across them arguing on the pier. All because Archie broke confidence and told Emma that Regina was indeed trying to make an effort to improve and become a better person. Regina should have been thanking Archie for taking her side and telling Emma the one thing that would make it possible for Regina to see Henry more. But she’s got to focus on the negative. That’s the Regina we know.

And I’ve long since set aside the fact that the police procedures on this show are nothing like what would happen in real life. Ever.

Once_Cricket_ReginaPrisoner

It’s one of those things where you have to take the episode and not look at it too closely. Indeed, most of the time is spent drawing a comparison between Emma’s acceptance of Regina’s innocence and efforts to change who she is, with Snow’s own efforts to redeem Regina so many years ago. On the one hand, it shows just how black Regina’s soul got. On the other hand, it puts Snow in a difficult place because she used to be like Emma is now — willing to give Regina the benefit of the doubt. Of course, Regina shows she’s still got a long way to go after being accused a second time following the review of Pongo’s memories.

And those should have been in black and white, shouldn’t they?

Once_Cricket_PartyRegina

On a side note, it’s good that Emma invited Regina to the big shindig at Granny’s, even though it went over like a lead balloon. This actually should have happened when they all got back to Storybrooke in the previous episode, because it felt flat that Regina would be left out of the celebrations after having been the one to make the well safe for Emma and Snow’s return. At least it happened here, and it nicely sets up the thread of redemption and forgiveness that plays out through the rest of the episode.

Once_Cricket_Hook

But again, Cora and Hook are terrible villains. Really. All the sneaking and scheming and mustache twirling from Cora is starting to get tired. Barbara Hershey has more talent than this. Giver her something to do, already. And Hook so far is a poor man’s Jack Sparrow, with only half the charm. And the reveal at the end, that Jiminy Cricket isn’t really dead, but stashed away in the hold of Hook’s ship, just adds fuel to my worry that we’re getting into “wheels within wheels” syndrome, where everyone tries to be too clever by half.

I can only hope this is a buildup to something really big.

Like… Kraken big.

>>>>>

[Official Show Site at ABC]     [Previous recap: “The Queen of Hearts”]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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