Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.10: The Cricket Game

By Heather S. Vina

[spoilers ahoy]

Written by: David H. Goodman & Robert Hull

Recap: Fairytale Land That Was: The Evil Queen is watching over a battlefield, when her soldiers arrive. They report to her that Snow White and Charming have defeated King George’s forces. Without King George’s men, the Queen doesn’t have enough men to defeat them. But the Queen is delighted to hear that Snow and Charming are in different places. She demands that her men keep the lovers apart as she goes after Snow.

The Queen has run Snow to ground when Snow turns and asks her to surrender herself. The Queen laughs and makes a move to kill Snow, instead. But instead of the Queen killing Snow, the Blue Fairy arrives and uses magic to stop the Queen. As Charming and the soldiers surround her, the Queen realizes this was all a trap to capture her. They knew she couldn’t resist trying to kill Snow, so they set her up.

Back at the castle, in a round-table forum with some soldiers, the Dwarves, Jiminy Cricket, Granny, Red, Snow White, and Prince Charming in attendance, the group debates what to do with the Queen. They turn down options of sending her to another realm, as they have no desire to inflict her evil on other people. Most everyone advocates removing her permanently. Snow White seems unsure, but Charming makes the final determination that they have to kill her, to protect the land from her evil.

In her cell, the Queen is visited by her father, who cries to her over having failed her. She assures her father that it’s not his fault and that she loves him. He begs her to be repentant and admit that she was wrong, that maybe they will show her mercy and let her live, but she refuses.

The day of her execution, the Queen is led out to the courtyard, with everyone (including a cloaked Rump) watching. She is given the opportunity to say some final, repentant last words. Instead, she rants about how she wishes she had caused more misery and death, and regrets that she never managed to kill Snow White. Just as the arrows are let fly to kill her, Snow calls for a halt, causing the Blue Fairy to use her magic to stop them before they kill the Queen. Snow tells everyone that this is not the way and walks off. The Prince orders the Queen back to her cell. As she is led away, she smirks to the audience.

Charming calls Snow on saving the Queen. He tells her that every moment he has seen of the Queen has been one of evil and death, but Snow reminds him that she knew the Queen before, when she was good. If she was good once, maybe she can be again. She wants to try to rehabilitate her by showing her mercy. Charming points out to her that if she fails, the entire kingdom is at risk. The Queen could hurt anyone and everyone. But Snow asks him if he is sure, if he is willing to take this final step by killing her, something they can’t go back on. Charming sighs and tells her that if she’s sure of this step, then they will do it, but he warns her that her path is something they can’t go back on, either.

Rump comes to see Snow White and laughs at Snow’s idea that the Queen can change. Snow admits she’s not sure it’s possible. Rump tells her maybe he can help her. He can offer her a test to prove whether or not the Queen can change. Snow questions his motives, but he tells her that her motives are his. He tells her can help her; it’s up to her whether or not she will take it.

Snow goes to see the Queen in her cell, sending the guard away. She confronts the Queen, telling her she remembers the woman she once was, who saved her life once. Despite the Queen’s denials, she believes that woman is still inside of her. She unlocks the cell and tells the Queen that she is trying to help her let that woman out. This is her chance to start fresh, to leave her evil behind in the cell.

The Queen walks out, but, instead of taking Snow’s chance, she grabs Snow’s knife from her and stabs her, trying to kill her. But it doesn’t work. Seems that Snow and Charming made a deal with Rump for a protection spell from the Queen. It was a test, to see if she would pass, but she failed. She can’t hurt them in this world. Charming and Snow banish her from their land and tell her that if she returns to hurt anyone in their kingdom, they will kill her. Snow tells her that they are now even.

Some time later, the Queen is in her castle, with her father as her steward, when he announces that she has a visitor. She has no interest in seeing anyone, but it turns out to be Rump, who offers his condolences. It’s Charming and Snow White’s wedding day, he tells her, and he’s her only friend. He points out that the deal he made with Snow and Charming was that the Queen can’t hurt them in this land, and this land only. Rump leaves and the Queen starts smiling, a plan forming. She calls her father to bring out her carriage. She has a wedding to attend.

Storybrooke Of the Present: It’s night. Cora and Hook have docked Hook’s boat at the docks. Hook tells Cora that it’s time to go their separate ways as he pursues his vengeance against Rump, but Cora uses magic in front of him. She points out that if she has magic, Rump will have magic, and Hook will have no chance against him. They need to stay together for a while yet.

Snow and Charming are having an intimate reunion in bed when Emma and Henry return home early to make tacos for the party they are having at Granny’s that night. Emma is embarrassed to be interrupting her parents while her parents laugh at their daughter finding them in bed together in a typical family moment.

That night, everyone is celebrating Emma and Snow’s safe return home, when Regina arrives, stopping the party cold. She is greeted with hostility until Emma steps in and tells everyone that she invited Regina. Snow and Charming are a bit disturbed that Emma didn’t tell them, but she says she is trying to make nice with Regina for Henry’s sake and she really believes that Regina is trying to change.

The party goes on, but Regina is left sitting alone as everyone talks to everyone else but her. She leaves. Emma rushes out and tells her that there is cake to come, offering for her to stay. Regina declines and then starts to press Emma about letting Henry stay over her house more. When Emma objects, Regina lashes out that Emma wasn’t there for the first ten years of Henry’s life and she was. Regina quickly backs down and apologizes, and Emma accepts the apology. She tells her she knows that Regina is trying to change and the reason she invited her was because she went to Archie to ask about Regina. Archie admitted that Regina has been seeing him, that he believes she is sincerely trying to change. Regina is perturbed by this information, but thanks Emma and leaves.

The next morning, Regina confronts Archie over betraying her confidences to Emma. Archie tells her that he told Emma about his sessions with Regina to help Regina, that all he said was that he believed she is trying to be good and that is all. Regina is still upset about it and tells Archie that he is lucky she has changed. A concerned Red witnesses Regina and Archie’s argument.

That night, Red sees Regina go to Archie’s office. Archie lets Regina in for a “session,” but Pongo, his dog, is worried and growls at her. As Archie turns to grab her file, Regina comes up behind him and grabs him by the throat, strangling him and using magic to freeze Pongo. Later, she walks out of Archie’s office and into an alley, where she changes from Regina into Cora.

The next morning, Emma and Henry are having breakfast at Granny’s. Emma tells Henry she is going to walk him to school, despite his objections. However, when they get outside, they are confronted by an upset and barking Pongo. Emma is wondering where Archie is when Red – having heard Pongo and sensing something is wrong – rushes outside to alert Emma. Emma sends Henry off to the bus on his own and the two women go to Archie’s office, where they find his dead body. Red tells Emma she thinks she knows who did it.

At the police station, Emma and David confront Regina over Archie’s death while Snow watches from behind the mirror. Regina is shocked that Archie is dead and denies that she ever went to see him, despite Red’s testimony that she saw her arrive at his office. Regina continues to deny she did anything to Archie.

Outside the room, Charming, Snow, and Emma discuss what Regina has said. Charming and Snow are sure she is guilty, but Emma is equally sure she is not and decides to let her go. She tells her parents that she is going to investigate what happened.

The trio look around Archie’s office, and discover that Regina’s file is missing. Charming and Snow take this as proof that Regina did it, but Emma still believes that Regina is innocent. She says that it’s been too easy to find all of this evidence. This feels more like a frame job to her. And there’s only one person she can think of who might do that.

Gold and Belle are having lunch at his shop when Emma, Charming and Snow arrive to confront him. Emma tells the couple about Archie’s death and the accusation that Regina did it. Emma accuses Gold of setting the whole thing up, but he denies it. He tells her that they can ask the witness who did it: Pongo. They bring the dog to his shop. Using a dreamcatcher, Gold captures Pongo’s memory of that night. But instead of using his magic to see the dog’s memories, Gold urges Emma to use her magic. With a little prompting, she is able to do so. Everyone sees Pongo’s memory of Regina arriving at the office and strangling Archie.

Emma is determined to arrest Regina, but Charming and Snow urge caution and a plan. They need to be able to contain her magic before they go after her.

At Regina’s house, Emma, Charming and Snow confront Regina. They tell her that they used magic to see what happened to Archie and they saw Regina kill him. Regina is shocked to learn that Emma has magic and asks if Rump warned her that magic always comes with a price. Emma tells her that the price for both of them will be Henry, since he will be devastated to discover that Regina killed Archie. Regina demands that she be allowed to talk to Henry, but Emma refuses. The Blue Fairy attempts to use her magic to bind Regina’s magic, but it fails and Regina uses her power to push Emma down. She tells her that she won’t let Emma turn Henry against her, but Emma tells her that Regina has already done that. Henry will never believe her lies about Archie now and she will never let Regina near Henry again. Surrounded, Regina uses her powers to disappear.

Emma, Snow and Charming wait for Henry’s bus, where Emma worries to her parents about how she will be able to tell Henry that someone he loves killed someone else he loves. The three commiserate with each other on how they are all struggling with being parents to older children, but Charming tells Emma that they don’t have to go through any of this alone. They have each other now; they are family.

The bus arrives. Emma takes Henry aside and tells him what is happening. From half a block away, sitting in her car, Regina watches as Emma tells the boy and Henry hugs Emma. Regina starts to cry, defeated.

It’s nighttime and Cora arrives at the docks to tell Hook that her plan has worked. Regina is defeated now. Hook snarks about her being a great mother, but tells her that she hasn’t helped him yet. She tells him she left a little gift in the hold of his ship, and takes him down there to find a tied up and gagged Archie, who is very much alive. Turns out that Cora killed someone else and made him look to be Archie. She plans on using Archie to tell them the residents of Storybrooke’s deepest, darkest secrets, including Rump’s. Hook and Cora smile at this advantage of theirs, while Archie looks terrified.

Review: So, Regina is now on the run for a crime she didn’t commit, accused of murdering someone who isn’t dead, and torn from the person she loves, who now believes she committed said crime.

Hmmm…sound familiar?

I think I might actually feel a bit of sympathy for Regina if she hadn’t just done this very same thing to Mary Margaret/Snow White last season. She set her up for a murder she didn’t commit, successfully turned the entire town against her, stripped away any hope she had for freedom and to reunite with the person she loves. This really is a turning point for Regina. Will she look at this and think of the time she did this to Mary Margaret? Think of all the times she made innocent people feel broken and helpless and hopeless and alone? Remember that the pain and misery she is feeling right now is the same thing she gleefully inflicted on other people? Remember all of that, and develop empathy and genuine remorse?

Or will she take this as another sign of how “mean” people are to her, what a victim she is, and how this means she has the right to inflict more pain and death and misery on everyone by being an evil witch?

If we go by the history that the show is showing us, with Regina in Fairytale Land, I’m thinking she will go the “righteous vengeance, I enjoy inflicting misery on everyone” route. Then again, if the show really wants to make Regina a viable character, they will have her actually and actively choose the opposite. They say her mother was the tipping point for her Evil. So, let’s have her mother actually be the tipping point of her turn into Good. She actively sacrificed her father for her own means. Have her choose to NOT sacrifice her son.

We shall see. I really do hope that they have Regina show some self-awareness and growth in this. It is pretty terrible to be falsely accused of something, to have everyone turn against you, to have the person you love most in the world believe you did something horrible. And these are all things she knowingly and gleefully did to someone else. Have her realize this, have her admit it, and have her do something to make amends for everything that she has done. Again, we will see.

I found myself a little annoyed with Emma in this one. I completely understand where she is coming from with regards to trying to work with Henry’s other mom for the good of her son. But she downplays too much all of the pain and suffering that Regina has inflicted on her parents. Inviting the woman who tore their child away from them to their reunion party, without even telling them or asking them, was incredibly insensitive. And continually downplaying everything Regina has done to them, and their own experiences with Regina, was equally insensitive. I understand that Emma isn’t a tactful or empathetic soul, but she was really irritating me in this episode with how tactless and un-empathetic she was to her own parents.

Out of all of them, though, I think I feel the worst for poor Henry. He really wants everyone to get along and he is the one with the least choices or power in this story right now. He will be devastated about what Regina has been accused of doing. At least he has Emma, Snow and Charming to help him out.

And I have a soft spot for animals, so I felt pretty bad about Pongo, too! Poor doggie, having to see his master being “murdered” and being helpless to do anything about it! I liked that he immediately sensed that the “Regina” who arrived at the office wasn’t really Regina and was growling. Too bad Archie didn’t listen to him!

The flashbacks in the past were interesting. Now we know how Regina escaped from everything and what role Snow White had in giving Regina the power to do what she did. Mercy is nice and everything, and I could understand Snow being worried that killing Regina was such a final move. But because of her mercy for someone who was absolutely unrepentant, everyone suffered. Families were ripped apart; lives were turned to misery; people were murdered. I think I can see where Emma gets that blindness from. There’s a point where you need to stop having sympathy for the villain and have more sympathy for the victims of the villain. Alas, that’s where Snow White made her mistake. I like that, before she made that decision, Charming pointed out that she would have to accept the consequences of it, just as he would if they executed Regina.

And we saw a few more of the little steps of Rump’s manipulation of everything for his own means. He knows everyone so well. He knows that all he has to do is give them what they really want to make them do what he wants. Give Snow and Charming the whole “She can’t hurt you in this world” spiel and they will feel safe to let Regina go. Give Regina the whole “I only said this world; I never said anything about any other worlds” line and she will eagerly embrace the curse. He reminds me of the old stories of the Devil: He doesn’t actually force or manipulate people into doing what he wants. All he has to do is offer them their heart’s desire and they will be too dazzled to see the strings attached.

I am intrigued by Emma’s magic. Regina talked about the whole “price” that comes with magic, but Emma’s magic seems to be inside her. She’s not calling up dark powers. She’s not stealing people’s hearts or making deals with darkness. It seems to be something that she is born with because of who she is. There were no deals made, no people killed for her to gain her power. So, will there really be the same kind of price that came with Rump’s magic or Regina’s magic? I kind of hope not. I don’t want Emma to be some superpowerful being, but, on the other hand, I don’t want it to be that all magic is bad. How about a little counterbalance to it all, show?

I feel bad for Archie, but I’m really cringing at the idea of his being in the hands of Cora and Hook because of what he can tell them about other people. I hate the idea of him being able to tell them people’s secrets. I really disapproved of him speaking to Emma about his sessions with Regina. I did not at all blame Regina for being upset about that. From what Emma said, he said a lot more than just a simple “I do believe she’s trying to be good,” as he told Regina he did. He really had no right to break her confidence. It worries me that he if so easily broke Regina’s confidence there, it won’t take much for him to break everyone else’s confidences with Cora and Hook. Especially with Cora’s magic.

There were some cute scenes in this episode! I loved Emma and Henry accidentally stumbling onto Snow and Charming still in bed, and the hilarity of Emma catching her parents together. Very cute remark from Charming that it was nice that they could still scar their daughter in some of the age-old parental ways, even if she is a grown-up! And sweet scene at the end when all three of them talk about trying to be parents late in the game. Snow and Charming are trying to maneuver the minefield of being parents to a grown daughter who is their own age, while Emma is trying to maneuver being mother to a ten-year-old. I like that they are all determined to go through this as a family.

I get the feeling they are going to need to hold onto all of that, especially with Cora and Hook arriving in town!

Next episode: Hook goes after Belle to get to Rump, and the Dwarves want to return home!

You can watch “The Cricket Game” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.10: The Cricket Game