Once Upon A Time, an Evil Queen ripped out her own father's heart and used it to cast the Dark Curse -- a curse that would give everyone new identities and transport them into a brave new world in which there is no magic, so naturally -- Maine. To prove there is no magic, the Horowitzing Kitsis-y show runners kill off Hottie Sheriff Graham. Now they bring him back just to torment us before they once again take him away. The end.
How happy would I be if I could just submit that as my recaplet? Extremely. But some kid just threw a bunch of dynamite down my wishing well. Hey kid, get offa my lawn! So anyhow, we begin in 1983. The curse has just been cast. Regina is thrilled at first, probably because her 1983 doesn't involve leg warmers, oversized shoulder pads, peplums and an unholy taste for neon, but I digress (probably because I can rock a well-fitted peplum). Once she realizes that Snow White doesn't even hate her in this time, Regina grows dissatisfied with her new life, even though Sheriff Graham warms her bed each night. There's no pleasing some people. This week, I'm one of them.
The problem is that when Regina casts the Dark Curse that would transport everyone to our world, there are a couple of New Jerseyans camping out in the Maine wilderness. Magic whooshes over their tent (and knocks a tree atop their SUV), so they're stuck in town for a bit. The man, Kurt (John Pyper-Ferguson), and his son, Owen (Benjamin Stockham), are stranded in Storybrooke until their vehicle can be repaired. Regina is at first alarmed enough by their presence that she pressures Billy the mechanic (Gus Gus!) to fix the SUV ASAP, but once she fixates on little Owen, she tries to delay their departure.
Daddy Kurt is appropriately creeped out and tries to hustle his son out of Storybrooke, but Sheriff Hottie, with Regina riding shotgun, gives chase. When Graham arrests Kurt on trumped up charges, Kurt yells at Owen to run, which he does. When State Police bring the boy back to the spot where he swears his father was abducted, neither they nor he can see Storybrooke. They also can't see Mayor Crocodile Tears standing there, staring at them.
In present day Storybrooke, Snow is mostly as catatonic as the Game Change version of Sarah Palin. Instead of talking to her and trying to comfort her, the rest of the Charmings get caught up in doing something to stop Regina from exacting revenge. Regina not only learns hard, she also hardly learns, so she wants to rip out Snow's heart and use it to cast a spell on Henry that will make him love (or something like it) her.
Henry decides to blow up the wishing well to see if that will destroy magic in Storybrooke. Neal and the Charmings chase after him, but it's Regina, who magics away his dynamite, that ultimately stops the boy. Damn the luck. This show needs some better magical rules, stat. For her efforts, Regina is rewarded by a suicidal Snow White, who arrives at the Mayor's manse and begs her to rip out her heart. Regina obliges, but when she sees the black spot that has formed on Snow's heart, she decides that cackling is the best revenge and shoves it back in. In other news, which surprises no one who caught the flashback scenes, Gregor Mendel is Owen. He's all grown up and has taken to recording magical events, instead of seeking out his poor father, who has probably been locked up in the psych ward, for 28 years.
You all know I love this show, but I've officially lost patience with it. Like Snow's, its own heart has started to grow black. It keeps sacrificing character development on the altar of plot, and I'm sick of it. I realize I'm taking out a season's worth of frustrations on one little (entertaining enough) episode, but as I was typing the episode number on my document, it hit me that there are only five episodes left to this season, yet we've had precious little of what made the first season so great -- emotional resonance.
The glimpse at early Storybrooke is fun and answers a few questions, but mostly with explanations the fandom agreed upon more than a year ago. Here's hoping the remaining episodes right the ship, because if the recent ratings trend is any indication, it's taking on water.
I will be back with the full recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we are trying to reassemble Graham's crushed heart, and my own.
Once Upon A Time, long ago and far way, in 1983, a father named Kurt Flynn (John Pyper-Ferguson) and his son, Owen (Benjamin Stockham), were camping in the woods of coastal Maine. Sitting by their fire, Kurt teaches Owen how to weave gimp (not that, you pervs -- this). Showing his work to his father, wee Owen notes he chose the colors green and red as an homage to Luke and Darth's light sabers, so immediately, we realize Owen is going to grow up to be the man we know and yawn at -- Gregor Mendel. That's not a criticism, by the way. I don't watch this show for shockers, but for the journey. My complaint is that I'm overflowing with Regina and Gold's journeys. I want to see more emotional moments (good and bad) between Emma and her family (including Neal).
Kurt teases Owen about his gimp craftsmanship, and then pulls an old brown leather woven lanyard out of his pocket. "Your grandpa taught me how to make these when I was your age." Owen smiles when his father gives him the lanyard. "You weren't very good at this, when you were my age, were you?" Kurt laughs and says it's time to start dinner, but when he rises, a wild storm whips up out of nowhere (nowhere in this world, anyhow). Kurt tells Owen to put the fire out. I'm glad they're being conscientious, but this is exactly why I don't camp -- I'd be counting on Mother Nature to extinguish the fire while I took shelter in my car. Of course Kurt's car is a bright orange SUV, so maybe he doesn't want to die in it. No, he definitely doesn't, given that they take shelter in their tent.
I realize tents are waterproof, or at least waterproof-y, but this is one hell of a storm, so I'm more bothered than I should be about these two hunkering down in a tent when they have a nice watertight SUV ten feet away from them. They peek outside to see green and purple smoke enveloping the forest. As it overwhelms their tent, Kurt pulls Owen back inside. The next morning, the guys emerge to survey the damage. There are a few downed branches here and there, but a big tree has crashed on top of their SUV. The Contrivance Fairy says, "Now do you understand why they sought shelter in their tent?" I do, CF. I do indeed. But why didn't any branches land on their tent? The Contrivance Fairy says, "Do you take me for a murderer?" Kurt pulls out his map and compass, intending to hike out to the highway, but when they get to the ridge they see an entire town, where yesterday there was nothing but wilderness.