Enchanted Forest: Jefferson (Sebastian Stan), is the Hatter (as in the Mad Hatter), but he's quite sane, and out of the magical millinery business. These days, he devotes all his time to his young daughter, Grace. Queenie manipulates Jefferson into taking his Mad Hat out of moth balls, with a promise that Gracie will never want for anything, if only he'll help her this once. She needs to retrieve something precious from Wonderland. The hat serves as a portal to a sort of room between the worlds, which is full of doorways. Jefferson finds the right one -- a looking glass, of course -- and warns Queenie that since two are entering, only two can leave.
Queenie uses her mojo to hasten the journey to the Queen of Hearts castle. There, she finds a wall full of vaults, much like her own heart vault wall. She takes the vault she needs, and she and Jefferson set off toward the looking glass. They have to contend with the Queen of Hearts' soldiers, but Regina is pretty powerful, so it looks like they'll make it. Before they escape through the looking glass, Queenie stops. She breaks off a piece of a mushroom and drops it into the vault. Her father, Henry, appears. Regina and Father Henry escape through the looking glass, leaving Jefferson behind. He is captured. The Queen of Hearts orders him decapitated as is her wont. Although he's decapitated, he's still alive. He's re-capitated at some point and ordered to make another magical hat. We leave him surrounded by hundreds of hats -- not a one of them is magical. Now he's off his rocker and is truly the Mad Hatter. Roger Daltrey guest stars as the voice of the hookah smoking caterpillar. The bright spot is a shout out to his fan base, when he asks the musical question, "Who are you?" Still, since he matters not at all to the story, I can't explain all the hype surrounding his role. I'll tell you one thing though, I won't get fooled again.
Storybrooke: Emma sets out to find Mary Margaret -- before her arraignment, and before Regina learns she's missing. While driving on a road through the forest, she comes across Jefferson (note he has the same name in both worlds). He is startled by Emma's car and seems to twist his ankle. Emma insists upon seeing him home. He offers her a cup of tea. Of course it's drugged. In the course of escaping, Emma finds that Jefferson is holding Mary Margaret captive, too.
Jefferson is a believer. That is, he remembers his fairy tale life and all that happened to him. He has also found his daughter Grace, but in Storybrooke, she is leading a seemingly happy life as Henry's classmate Paige. Jefferson insists Emma is magical and tells her he will free her and Mary Margaret, if Emma will make him a magical hat that will allow him to return to his real world. Emma doesn't want to poke the crazy, so she plays along. The more Jefferson talks to her about the fairy tale that was, the more she seems to believe, and even goes so far as to insist that there's nothing she'd like better than for Mary Margaret to be her real mother.
The hat Emma makes does not appear to be magical. She and Mary Margaret get into a physical altercation with Jefferson, and Mary defenestrates him with a righteous kick. When the women rush to the now broken window, all they find below is Jefferson's hat and broken glass.
Emma leaves it up to Mary to decide if she wants to run. Mary decides to put her faith in Emma. She returns to her cell, just before Regina arrives. We then learn that it seems like Mr. Gold is in cahoots with Regina. He's the one who planted the key in Mary's cell. That said, it's as least as likely that he's playing Regina, rather than double crossing Emma, and most likely that he has his own mysterious goals.
Alice In Wonderland always freaked me right out. It was just too scary, creepy and bizarre to the little girl I once was. This episode gave me the same uncomfortable feeling I got from the source work, so good job, Show. Once again, the grace notes lie in the Storybrooke relationships between Mary and Emma, and between Emma and Henry. By episode's end, Emma (who seemed to only be playing along with Jefferson about possibly believing in the fairy tale reality) borrows Henry's book.
I'll be back with the whole story, in the full recap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.
"Hat Trick" surprises me -- mostly because I really enjoy it. "Jabberwocky" and "Hunting of the Snark" aside, I've never been a fan of Lewis Carroll. His Alice's Adventures In Wonderland creeped me out when I was a kid, so I wasn't looking forward to this episode. I considered digging back into Alice when I was covering Lost, because it was so heavily featured. I decided though, if I dug into every work featured on Lost, I wouldn't have had time to watch Lost, never mind write 5-10,000 words about it, each week. Yes, filthy lucre (and a hefty helping of sloth) beat my literary bent. That probably tells you more about me than I want you to know, and yet, here we are. One of the reasons "Hat Trick" works so well for me, is that it manages to evoke the same disturbed feelings Alice gave me as a child. So without further ado, let's see where this rabbit hole leads.
There are minimal changes to the montage that accompanies this week's narrative opening. The only one that jumps out at me is that we see Belle when the voice-over mentions that every storybook character we've ever known has been banished to our world. In part, it jumps out, because Belle is not in this episode. Once the narration ends, the "previouslies" show Emma booking Mary Margaret for Kathryn's murder and finding incriminating evidence; Mary finds the key to her cell; Emma suggests Mary hire a lawyer. The Easter Egg on this week's title card features three mushrooms.
We open in Storybrooke on Mary's empty jail cell and then cut to a nighttime shot of Mary running through the woods, so I eat a little crow, because I was starting think she didn't run of her own volition.
Back in the sheriff's station, Henry is sitting in the corridor reading his book, when Emma and Mr. Gold return. Having seen the empty cell, Henry congratulates Emma on her genius plan. Emma's been rather genius-plan free lately, so Gold asks what he means. When Henry remains tightlipped, Gold takes the hint and enters the inner office. Once Henry is alone with Emma, he apologizes. He thought Gold was "in on it" since he's representing Mary Margaret. Emma still has no idea what the child is talking about. Henry says, "The escape plan," just as Gold calls out to Emma.