Tonight it's Jiminy Cricket's turn for a back story. He starts off as a human kid who travels around in the fairytale world with his grifter parents. While they put on a puppet show, little Jiminy goes around picking the pockets of the blissfully unaware audience. One of the things he steals is a cricket in a box, and he's all, "Ooh, crickets are great! They're so free!" Yeah, except the ones in boxes, kid. Jiminy, being the naturally good sort that he is, wants his parents to stop their scheming ways, and whines at them for about thirty years to no effect.
Meanwhile, his counterpart in Storybrooke, Dr. Archie Hopper, is threatened by Regina when he continues to encourage Henry's imagination. Against his better instincts, Archie bows to Regina's will, tells Henry he's delusional and just about breaks the kid's heart. But Henry is not deterred for long. When Sheriff Graham makes Emma a deputy, the curse is weakened enough to open a sinkhole on the edge of town. Mayor Regina blames it on old tunnels in the area and wants to pave it all over, but Henry links it to Emma and decides to go down and prove it himself. Archie and Emma go into the tunnels to rescue him, but Archie ends up trapped with Henry after a cave-in.
As the flashbacks continue, we see a middle-aged Jiminy still doing his parents' bidding. Instead of just, say, ditching them or standing up to them, he goes to Rumpelstiltskin for a magic potion that will take care of his parental problem in some mysterious and unmentioned way. His sneaky dad switches the potion out for a placebo and a young couple end up taking Rumpy's potion instead. They are turned into seriously hideous little puppets and Jiminy is absolutely devastated. Lucky for him, the Blue Fairy is listening when he wishes upon a star and she makes him into the dapper cricket of his dreams. In his new arthropod form, he will watch over the puppet couple's young son, who turns out to be—you guessed it — Gepetto.
In Storybrooke, Archie and Henry are eventually rescued, but not before Archie finds his conscience once more and decides to stand up to Regina. He does it in kind of a questionable way, but maybe it'll seem better on rewatch. At the end, we see why Regina was so eager to pave the area over. It is a gateway to the fairytale realm, and inside is what looks like pieces of Snow White's glass coffin. Stay tuned for the full recap!
In the land of fairy tales, a rapt gathering of children and grownups watch a puppet show. Personally, I think any puppet that isn't a Muppet is kind of creepy, but everyone in the audience seems pretty happy. A little wooden princess dances out onto the tiny stage. "I wish, I wish, but nothing changes," she says in a warbling falsetto. Not coincidentally, but that could totally be Storybrooke's town motto. "I wish I was better at wishing!" The audience laughs. Their little town looks like the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, but without a gigantic Mr. Rogers towering over the buildings. While everyone's busy paying attention to the stage, a red-haired little boy makes his way through the crowd, dipping into every pocket and purse he can find. A little wooden knight and dragon take the stage as the boy slips away from the crowd and into a covered wagon.
Later, when they're safely far away from town, the boy turns his ill-gotten goods over to his parents. Dad looks like a scruffy Willy Wonka and is played by Harry Groener. You might remember him as the evil Mayor Wilkins of Buffy fame. Mom looks like a redheaded Helena Bonham Carter, which is to say she has awesomely crazy hair and looks kind of like she got her clothes from a secondhand Gypsy shop. One of the things the boy has stolen is a tiny cage with a cricket inside. "I love crickets!" he says. His mom looks disgusted. "Crickets are trouble. Noisy bugs." "But they get to do whatever they want," the boy says. "Hopping from place to place. They're free!" Right up until someone catches them and puts them in a tiny cage, right? Mom and Dad tell the boy that he's free - as long as he does what they want. The boy says he doesn't want to steal anymore. He wants to be good. Dad thinks goodness is weakness. "Let us do the thinking for you," Mom says. "That's what parents are for," agrees Dad. "You are who you are, and there's no changing it, Jiminy." Dad takes the cricket out of its cage and makes it vanish with a bit of prestidigitation. "Problem solved!" Jiminy doesn't look too sure about that.
In the real world, Dr. Archie Hopper and Henry are in the middle of a therapy session when Henry suddenly says, "You weren't always a cricket." Archie, who was in the middle of writing notes, is momentarily baffled before catching on. "Oh, right, because you think I'm Jiminy Cricket. Why do you think that, Henry?" Henry says, in the very matter-of-fact way that children do, that it's just who Archie is. "You're a conscience. You help people see right from wrong." Archie wonders if he thinks that all the crickets in Storybrooke used to be people, too, but Henry points out there aren't any crickets in Storybrooke. He goes over to the window to look out at the night sky. There have never been any crickets there, he says, but nobody's ever noticed. Or maybe they live next to a big pesticide factory. "So you think that's proof that there's a curse," Archie says, without sounding like he's patronizing the boy. Henry knows it's not enough to go on, but he's going to keep looking. Archie asks him in a careful sort of way why he thinks it's important for the curse to be real. Henry's little face goes through a series of troubled expressions as he dogs deep to find a way that will communicate what he means. Finally: "It just is!" Archie lets it go at that, for now, but asks him to keep thinking about it. "I think there's something buried there," he says.