In the Enchanted Past, Snow White and Prince Charming (and let's be honest here, their army) defeat King Charles George Widmore's forces. Without the help of her only ally, Regina is likely to fall. She orders her guard to keep Charming from Snow until she finds her. And find her, she does. Snow, wearing her cream-colored warrior princess garb, is running through the forest when she trips over a rock and breaks my heart. But wait. It's all a ruse. As Regina moves in for the kill, Blue douses her with fairy dust, which temporarily mutes the Evil Queen's equally evil brand of magic.
During a meeting of their War Council, Charming presses the case for executing Regina. Snow is hesitant, but Charming can be awfully convincing, even when he's not crying. Personally, I blame that chainmail turtleneck sweater he's wearing. It fascinates me. Regina's father, Henry, visits her in her cell and begs her to repent, for if she does, surely her life will be spared.
At Regina's execution, instead of repenting, she crows that her only regret is that she didn't cause even more pain, and of course, that she failed to kill Snow White. When Charming commands the bowmen to take aim and fire, Snow rises to her feet and orders them to stop. Snow, thank your lucky stars that you live in a land with magic, because the arrows are already in the air, Highness. Blue swoops in and stops the arrows inches from where Regina's heart would be, if she had one. Regina, who seemed ready (and perhaps willing) to die, is confused. As she is led back to her cell, she contorts her face into a glorious, drunken sneer when she spots the shocked Red and Granny in the crowd.
Rumpy, who watched the whole aborted execution, does not want Regina to die, because he's still in the thick of manipulating her into cursing them all into the world without magic, so he manipulates Snow into testing her stepmother to determine if she is redeemable. Snow visits Regina in her cell and tries to awaken the good woman who once was. When she encourages Regina to leave her evil self behind in the cell and walk out a new woman, Regina cannot resist throttling our fair princess. Snow pulls a knife on her assailant, but Regina deftly disarms her and sticks the knife in Snow's gut. However, when she pulls it out, the blade is clean and not even the Snow's garment is harmed.
It seems that Rumpy collected a strand of Regina's hair, not just because he must be knitting himself a well-deserved hair shirt, but also to use it in a spell. He created a charm that prevents Regina from harming Snow and Charming (ooh, rhyme) in their world. Since Regina is no longer a threat to them, Snow frees Regina and banishes her from the kingdom. When Rumpy catches up with Queenie, he points out that he was purposefully specific when creating the charm. Regina is only magically prevented from harming Snow and Charming (rhyme, again) in their world. And so it came to pass that our devilish imp gave Regina yet one more nudge into casting the dark curse.
In the Storybrooke present, Henry and Emma return to Snow's hovel bearing groceries, only to find Charming and Snow baring far too much. Is everyone living there now? How about moving them into the house where David once lived with Kathryn? And never mind that. When Charming was first watching Henry, it seemed like he was sleeping up in a loft. Couldn't the married couple take that room? Nobody wants to walk in on their parents' or grandparents' private time, even if they're still young and beautiful. Well okay, there's probably some sickos who do, but you know, the rest of us just willfully block out how we got here.
A mortified Emma excuses herself so that she and Henry can retreat to the kitchen (which is still in full view of Snow's bed) to make tacos -- tacos that she'll be bringing to her own welcome home party. Wait. You don't bring tacos anywhere. You can bring the fixings, I suppose, or make a taco-inspired dish, but tacos need to be constructed immediately before eating. I mean, when we make tacos at home, what we do is warm the tortillas, cook the meat, cut up the veggies, put out the sauce, and lay all the fixings on the table. Everyone makes their own. That's part of the fun, but it also prevents soggy tortillas. Sometimes I just hate TV. It's like when TV families decorate their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve -- and they're happy about it. Where was I?
Yeah, so there's a welcome home party at Granny's diner. And hey, if the party is at a restaurant, why does one of the guests of honor have to bring food, anyhow? How does that invitation go: "We're having a party in honor of you and your mother's return. What will you be bringing?" Tacky. Of course it seems like only Emma brings something, not the Princess. You might think I'm making much out of nothing, but the welcome home sign tells the tale better than I. It's one of those signs where, various colors of individual capital letters hang from a string. They spell out: WELCOME HOME MARY MARGARET and then underneath, there's small blue rectangle on which and EMMA is written in yellow. Talk about your after-thoughts.
Still, everyone is in good spirits and now that Mary Margaret remembers she's also Snow, she's spiced up her wardrobe a little, although I can't imagine when she had time to shop. She's wearing a darling red dress with a flared skirt, and cute red pumps, that really have me in the mood to shop. That won't be happening any time soon, though, because above and beyond the money we spent for Christmas (our purchases include a new dog) in the last week, we've needed a brake job on our "good" car, a new printer and my daughter stepped on her orthodontic retainers. Hello, Visa my old friend. I'd love to pay you off, again... Goodness, I'm a digressive thing. Let's get back to the show.
Anyhow, the party is bubbling along until Regina arrives, bearing lasagna (which, aside from poisonous apples and baked goods, seems to be her signature dish). Grumpy immediately draws a knife, but Emma explains she invited Regina. Snow reminds her daughter how Regina tried to kill them like oh, say, yesterday, but Emma says Henry believes Regina is trying to change and sometimes, in order to change, what people need is someone to give them the opportunity to do so.
Meanwhile, over in at harbor, Hook is ready to go off on his own in search of revenge against Rumpy, so Cora plays a game of show and tell in which she shows Hook that magic exists in this supposed land without magic and tells him it would be a spectacularly bad idea to try to take on an empowered Rumpy. As they leave the ship, they run into the man who runs the bait and tackle shop. When he offers to open back up for them and inquires about Hook's vessel, Cora casts a glamor spell to hide the ship, turns the man into a fish and then Hook kicks him into the ocean. Such charmers, these two. Clearly, it's people like them who keep the rest of us from getting competent, friendly, customer service.
Back at the party, Regina looks as forlorn as the little "and EMMA" after-thought banner, so she quietly slips out, but her exit does not go unnoticed. Emma follows Regina and asks her to come back in and have some cake. Regina expresses sincere gratitude to Emma, and in the course of their discussion, she asks if Henry could occasionally sleep over her place. When Emma is less than receptive, Regina loses her cool and snaps at Emma, but quickly apologizes. As Emma accepts the apology, she reveals that Dr. Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket) assures her Regina is truly trying to redeem herself. Regina is understandably miffed at the confidentiality breach. From a nearby rooftop, Cora and Hook watch as Regina makes her way home alone. Hook asks the Mother of All Evil if her daughter is broken. Cora (who may just have a tear in her right eye) says, "Not yet."
The next day, Archie is walking Pongo on the pier when Regina catches up with him and gives him a piece of her mind about being a blabbermouth. Red is out for a run, and when she hears Regina getting het up, she approaches, so Regina advises Red to take herself for a walk. Heh. Archie assures Regina he didn't break her confidence (which he totally did). Somewhere after reminding Archie that he got his Ph.D. from a curse, Regina tells him he's lucky she has changed, and storms off.
That night, Red is taking in the diner's sandwich board style sign, when she sees Regina enter Archie's office. When Archie lets her in, Pongo is atypically disturbed, so right away, we know it's Cora in a Regina meat-suit. Corgina throttles Archie. Pongo freaks. Corgina magically freezes him. She and Archie are enveloped by a thick purple haze. Yes, I do usually hate those portmanteau names, but I'm in the mood to use one this time. So there.
The next morning before school, Emma and Henry enjoy a breakfast of what appears to be French fries and catsup. Get some pictures, Regina, for the inevitable custody battle! Since Henry is 11 now, he insists he's old enough to walk alone to the bus stop, but Emma won't hear of it, at least not until Pongo tears across the street and barks urgently at them. Using her wolf sense (or maybe just common sense) Red knows something is wrong. Emma sends Henry off to the bus alone, and then she and Red head to Archie's office, where they find him dead on the floor.
Down at the Sheriff's office, Snow watches from behind our world's most reliable type of magic mirror -- a two-way mirror -- as Charming and Emma interrogate Regina. That Regina is startled to learn Archie is dead does not escape Emma's notice. Despite her parents' warnings, Emma decides to release Regina and seek out the truth. Sadly, she goes to Rumpy's place for help. He has much in that shop, but stocked full of truth it is not, dearies.
Rumpy collects Pongo's thoughts with a dreamcatcher and tells Emma to use the magic within herself to reveal the dog's memories. She and her parents watch as Corgina throttles Archie, then Emma lets the dreamcatcher show turn off. It's too bad she didn't stick it out until the end, because Archie isn't even dead. Cora has him tied up in the hold of Hook's ship. She killed some poor other bugger and then magicked him into looking like Archie. She explains Archie's Storybrooke occupation, and suggests that he might be an excellent resource in Hook's vengeance quest!
The Charmings confront Regina. Blue tries to again subdue her with fairy dust, but this time, Regina is on her guard, catches the magic and thrusts it to the ground. She then throws down Emma, as well. Emma doesn't care, though, because now Henry will know Regina for the vile wretch that she is. Before Emma can arrest her, Regina disappears in a cloud of purple haze. Later, she tearfully watches as Emma breaks the news to Henry that Regina killed Archie. Dun dun dun!
"The Cricket Game" is a fun outing, but is nearly all set-up and no payoff. Since I've already gone on at length, I'll hold further thoughts for the full recap. I'll be back with that, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we've got Hook tied up in the hold.
There are no "previously scenes" this week. When we open on Once Upon A Time, it is night in Storybrooke. Captain Hook and Cora (the Mother of All Evil) disembark his ship. Hook suggests they part ways, undoubtedly because the Mother of All Evil carries a parasol at night, and there's no way he wants to be associated with that kind of madness -- especially since he's off to skin his "crocodile." As Hook makes his way up the dock, Cora dissolves into purple haze and then appears in front of him to drive home the point that while Storybrooke was billed as a land without magic, there's certainly magic there now, which complicates crocodile hunting.
The owner of the bait and tackle shop greets the new arrivals and offers to open up his shop for them. When he notices Hook's ship, Cora hides it behind a magical cloak of invisibility. Harry Potter should really take more care with that thing. The shopkeeper is impressed at that voodoo that Cora does so well and asks if she's "...some kind of magician back in our land." In answer, she turns him into a fish, and Hook kicks the poor critter into the drink. Although to be fair, as one of my twitter friends pointed out, Hook probably just saved the man-fish's life. Yes, I will fanwank for sexy swashbucklers, and I won't feel guilty about it either.
Cora explains that she cloaked the ship, because to achieve their goals they need the element of surprise. She then proposes that they take a look at Storybrooke. As Hook follows her, we get a wide shot of the harbor, wherein swims a swan. Now, I've lived most of my life five miles from the New England Coast (or closer), and spend a lot of my summers in a coastal Maine town. While swans are not a rare sight for me, I've never noticed them swimming in salt water. I rush to Google, so that I can nitpick with impunity, only to find that swans do sometimes swim in salt water. Thank you for sharing my anticlimax with me. The title card features Pongo running around a tree. Between that and this episode's title ("The Cricket Game") I'm already worried for Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket. I'd pour myself a soothing glass of wine but (a) I have work to do; (b) I don't have any wine; (c) it's broad daylight, and the neighbors would talk (between us, it's mostly reason b).