First up, thanks so much to Lulu Bates for covering last week's episode. I laughed all the way through her recap, and I so needed that laugh. Thanks too, to all of you, for your lovely notes of condolence. It's been a rough few months, much eased by you good people.
I like good people. Good people would never kill off my hottie Sheriff. And good people would never spend ten episodes telling and showing me that Emma knows when people are lying to her, and then write an episode at the halfway mark, in which she is not only completely blind to a predictably obvious set-up, but also ditches her trademark skepticism to a degree that is completely out of character. I mean, even the mirrors in my house were screaming out, "Oh c'mon, Emma!" Said mirrors are, by the way, decidedly unmagical (although sometimes, early in the morning, I suspect they are mean masters of the darkest of dark arts). Andrew Chambliss, who has done some sharp work on The Vampire Diaries, co-wrote this episode (with Ian Goldberg, whose work I do not know), so I can only hope that we have been set up as well, and that later we will learn Emma only goes along with Sidney, so that he and Regina will believe her to be an even bigger dupe than she appears in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree."
Enchanted Forest: Good King Leopold, father of Snow White and husband of Queenie, is walking along the shore, when he happens upon a magic lantern. He wipes it off, like you do, and poof, he is standing face-to-face with the Genie of Agrabah (played by Giancarlo Esposito, i.e. the Magic Mirror/Sidney). Being a generally happy king (and at first, seemingly a bit of a dilly) Leopold has nothing he could wish for, so he uses his first wish to free Genie. He uses his second wish to grant the third wish to Genie. Grateful, Genie swears he will never use that remaining wish, because he has granted 1,0001 wishes and has never seen one that hasn't come back to bite the wisher. Caveat wisher, Your Majesty.
All is not well in Leopold's kingdom. Back at Knifingham Palace, we learn that while Leopold delights in Snow White, he makes no secret of the fact that he still pines for her late mother. Queenie, his second wife, appears to be a perpetual also-ran, when it comes to Leopold's affections. Genie's gratitude to Leopold disappears in a puff of smoke when he meets the fair, young Queenie. It is not long before he makes his move. He gifts her with a sufficiently gaudy mirror and declares her the fairest in the land. I think I am supposed to feel sorry for Queenie during most of her Enchanted Forest scenes this week, but she has thus far proven so duplicitous that I cannot believe for a moment that she ever truly loved the much older Leopold.
In her diary, Queenie gushes about the mirror and how it has reawakened her hope for love and companionship. Leopold finds the diary. He shows it to Genie and asks him to find out who the man is, who has stolen Queenie's heart. Much like Emma's uncharacteristic blind faith in Sidney, this part of the story doesn't work for me, either. When we first meet Leopold on the shore, he seems happy, kind and generous. In his court, he is publicly callous of his second wife's feeling. In this scene, alone in his chamber with Genie, Leopold appears motivated by jealousy and pride -- not love -- because he flat out says he can never love Queenie in the way for which so yearns. Now, the diary entry is rather chaste. Queenie gushes about a mirror, not a steamy affair. If he wants some sort of relationship with his wife, shouldn't he confront her and ask her to work on their marriage? If he is already wise to her wicked ways, why would he not banish her, instead? I know I'm picking nits when I don't even have their full story, yet, but at 23 minutes into the hour, I've been shown at least three different Leopolds and I am unable to engage with his character in any way.
Eventually, Leopold locks Queenie in her chambers. Queenie's father comes to Genie with a locked box and tells him that in that box lies the means to Queenie's freedom. Since Daddy cannot visit daughter, he asks Genie to deliver the box to Queenie. He does. She unlocks it to reveal the Agrabahn Vipers, which can kill with a single bite. Being the Genie of Agrabah, Genie knows all too well of their venom. When Queenie pretends she is going to allow them to bite her and free her to death, Genie stays her hand, and instead proposes using them to kill the king.
Genie brings the vipers to a sleeping Leopold's chamber and sets them loose in the king's bed. They bite Leopold (as wishes always do). As the king lays dying, Genie confesses he gave the mirror to Queenie, but then blathers about being forever in Leopold's debt, which is pretty fricking meaningless, since the king's forever is set to expire in about three seconds. Genie goes on to say that just as Leopold freed Genie, Genie must free Queenie. The king's dying words hammer home the point which was already pounded out the moment Genie laid eyes on Queenie: "You were right. I never should have made a wish."
Queenie has played Genie. The Knifingham Palace guards find the Agrabahn Vipers and who is the natural suspect -- the Genie of Agrabah. Queenie offers Genie safe passage out of the kingdom, and, after pretending otherwise for two seconds, makes it clear she has no feelings for him. Genie doesn't care. He still loves her so, that he decides to use the final wish remaining in the lamp. He wishes to look upon her face forever, and whoooooosh he goes up in smoke and finds himself imprisoned in her mirrors.
Storybrooke: Sidney tells Emma that Regina has had him fired from the paper, and he is so humiliated by that, and by the fact that he lost to Emma in the election Regina forced him to enter, that he is ready to see that the Mayor gets her just deserts. As mentioned above, Emma barely lets herself think that this man who has written slam pieces on her, on more than one occasion, might be setting her up. And of course he is. He gets Emma to go against her better judgment and use less than legal tactics to obtain information on $50,000.00 worth of missing town funds, and the secret lot of forest land upon which she's spent it.
Emma knows she can't use the illegally obtained "evidence" against Regina in a court of law, so she instead decides to use it at a town meeting. She may not be able to get Regina arrested, but she can surely discredit her. Yeah, not so much. Emma ends up discrediting herself. Regina purchased land from Mr. Gold to build a new playground (in the middle of the woods???) for Henry and the children of Storybrooke. By episode's end, Emma still doesn't seem to know she's been had, but I'm hoping I have been had. Really, please, Show. Tell me Emma has been onto Sidney and Regina the whole time. I beg of you.
Anyhow, Regina points out to Emma that she could easily get a restraining order to keep Emma away from Henry, so Emma needs to stay out of his life, unless and until Regina says otherwise. Emma uses one of the walkie-talkies Gold gave her (from Graham's belongings) to let Henry know she has to steer clear of him. She promises, though, to find his Once Upon A Time book, which went missing early on in the episode. Cut to Granny's B&B. The Mysterious Stranger holds the book in his hands.
Emma and Sidney meet up at the diner and discuss "their" failed plans and their alliance. Minutes later, we see Sidney at Regina's office. They reveal they've been playing Emma all along, as if that wasn't clear the whole time. Aren't you just stunned? Blah.
The episode wasn't all bad. The Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke plots worked particularly well together, this week. I'll hit all that in the full recap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then join us in the forum, where there are even mirrors on the ceiling.
Storybrooke: Henry rides his bike to the castle at the waterfront park. He blasts right past Emma, who is there to meet him. The castle was damaged in last week's storm. Henry's freaking out, because he buried the Once Upon A Time book, in a red lock-box, under the play structure. Emma thinks it's weird to bury the book at the park, but Henry wants to keep it away from Regina, because she is the Evil Queen, duh. She'd definitely find it, if he hid it in his room. When Emma suggests hiding it at her place, Henry points out that's the second place she'd look. Don't feel bad, Henry. Adults totally suck at Operation Cobra-like operations. That's why you're in charge. Henry figures the castle is safe, because Regina doesn't know he comes there. But not so fast, kiddo. Here's Regina now, and she's ordering your little butt into her car. Regina stops to sneer at Emma, and disses her rival's concern for their son, since Emma would let him play near an obvious hazard like the now-ruined castle. Emma sneers back. Same shit. Different day.
Granny's Diner: Emma complains to Mary Margaret that Regina is all up in her business with Henry. Mary, being too good to be true (at least when she's not kissing men she believes to be married to women other than herself, even when that's not the case) suggests that Regina is just jealous of Henry and Emma's relationship. It's not long before Mary has to take off though, because she gets a text from David tell her to meet him at "our spot." Tsk tsk! Married people, going to meet up with each other. I don't care, y'all. I am so not going to be mad at the actual spouses for hooking up with each other, even if they don't yet know their married to each other and think they're married to someone else. True love conquers all, in these stories. And Rumpy says love is the most powerful magic of all. These two have to get their smoochies on, to help weaken the curse. Stop judging me!
Once Mary is gone, a drunken Sidney Glass (the Magic Mirror) stumbles up to Emma and says, "I can grant your wish." He exposits that Regina got him fired from his job, and humiliated him by making him run for sheriff, so he is totally ready to expose her for the witch she truly is. Emma is all, "Sleep it off, sucker," but before she leaves, Sidney hands her his card and tells her to call him.
Enchanted Forest: The Genie of Agrabah (oh ABC, how you do love to pimp your parent company) is, like Sidney and the Magic Mirror, played by the lovely and talented Giancarlo Esposito, so they're all the same character. Get it? Got it? Good. He is trapped in a magical lamp, but surely used the same decorator that did Jeannie used for her I Dream of Jeannie genie bottle. My last year I believed in Santa Claus (I was only four or five), I was already pretty strongly in doubt of his existence, so to test him, I asked Santa to bring me a replica of Jeannie's bottle that was big enough for me to play in. He didn't. Fat jerk. Where was I?