I should start by mentioning that it didn’t take multiple viewings this week to like the latest episode of Once Upon A Time, though I did watch it quite a few times. While getting off to a slow start, the episode delivers a ton of information and plot development. We may finally be seeing the beginnings of the “Big Bad” (shout to my fellow Buffy fans) of the season. Then we see a familiar face from the past at the end of the episode. There were a few roadblocks, which I’ll discuss in a bit.
Henry features pretty heavily in this episode. Feeling snubbed by David in his attempts to help locate Emma and Snow, he takes matters into his own hands. After learning from Jefferson that Regina brought her vault of magic goodies (baddies?) to Storybrooke with her, Henry lures Regina away from her office with the promise of a lunch together (kind of a jerk move there for a little boy…) so he can get her keys. He proceeds to go to the vault and is promptly almost killed by vipers because he opened a box. He is saved in the nick of time by Charming David, kind of invalidating (at least for me) their tacit point that he doesn’t need to be protected from the dangers of trying to find his mother Emma and Snow. Henry convinces (guilt trips) Jefferson to reveal himself to his daughter Grace and reunite with her. After bonding over the viper incident, David agrees to train Henry in swordplay. We then see the our world version of King George, watching them from a car. As far as I can remember, this is our first sighting of him over here.
Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest of Yesteryear, Snow is kidnapped (yes, again) by King George’s new general, Lancelot, formerly of the round table. He takes her to the King, who curses her with a malady that will prevent her from bearing children, a curse that the King’s wife was previously stricken with. Disgusted by this, Lancelot takes Snow to meet Charming and his mother Ruth at a remote cabin. While there, Charming is ambushed and Ruth is hit by a poisoned arrow. They take her the lake where Charming killed a Siren to save Abigail’s love Frederick in a previous episode, hoping to use its magical waters to save Ruth’s life. They find the lake completely dried up, with only one swallow worth of water left. Ruth tricks Snow into drinking the water, so she will be able to bear children with Charming, giving her life for her son’s happiness.
In the current Enchanted Forest (seriously, there needs to be a chart for all these timelines) Emma is formally introduced to Cora, mother of Regina. She shows a large interest in who Henry is, and how they came back to the Forest. Snow warns Emma to stay away from Cora. It turns out that the leader of the EF (Enchanted Forest) survivors is Snow’s old friend Lancelot. He gives them the aid of Mulan when they journey to the castle to find the magic wardrobe that sent Emma to our world, as the ogres have returned and are on the prowl. Along the way Aurora, who is proving to be increasingly useless, tries to kill Snow in revenge for Prince Phillip’s death. She fails spectacularly. When they reach the castle, it is revealed that Cora has been using magic to impersonate Lancelot, whom she killed a long time ago. To prevent her from using the wardrobe to travel to our world, Emma burns it and Cora retreats. Mulan proclaims that Snow should take feaux-Lancelot’s place as the leader of the EF survivors. When they leave, Cora returns and places some of the ash from the wardrobe in a bottle, which then glows magically.
I am starting to think that Cora will be this season’s main villain. Though, the appearance of King George may put a damper on that. Unless he just wants to apologize for how badly he treated Charming in the Enchanted Forest. Somehow I doubt it. But the sad lack of Rumple in this episode makes me fear he is being relegated to the sidelines, at least for now.
Now, those roadblocks I mentioned. I have to give the episode an award. As far as I know, this is the only show where not only does the black guy die first, but he dies before the episode even starts. They didn’t even Lancelot a chance to live except in flashbacks. When it turns out your only black character thus far has been impersonated by an older white woman the whole time, I raise my eyebrows a bit. Also, the swiftness with which we see Henry go from shunned to accepted by David came off a little rushed and forced, like it was a plot point that just had to be shoehorned in this week.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable episode. Next week’s previews show us we will finally meet Captain Hook, and he has a connection to pre-Dark One Rumple. I look forward to it.