Review: Once Upon a Time 1.17: Hat Trick

By Heather S. Vina

Written by: Vladimir Cvetko and David H. Goodman

[spoilers ahead]

Recap: Storybrooke

Mary Margaret has used the key that she found in her cell last week and escaped, running off into the woods. Emma returns to the Sheriff’s office with Gold and finds Henry, who thought that Emma had something to do with Mary’s escape. But no, Emma didn’t. she is horrified and worried that Mary has gone, since her hearing is the next morning. If Mary is found to have escaped, she will be in trouble for sure. Emma heads off to find Mary. When Gold warns her of the potential consequences for her, Emma says she would rather have her friend than a job.

Emma goes out driving, looking for Mary, and almost runs over a man named ‘Jefferson’. When she sees that he is limping, she offers him a ride home, which he eventually takes her up on.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson – now dressed in colourful clothing – is playing hide-and-seek in the woods with his daughter, Grace. They stop their playtime to hunt for mushrooms to sell at market, but when they return home, they find the Queen at their house. Jefferson sends Grace off to hide in the woods and goes to see the Queen. Turns out that they have a past together. She wants him to use his “special skills” to take her someplace. But he doesn’t do that, anymore, because it cost him Grace’s mother and he won’t risk leaving Grace an orphan. He tells the Queen that “you don’t abandon family.” The Queen tells him that something of hers was taken “there” and she wants it back. She tries to convince him, to no avail. She ends up leaving, telling him that she understands that “nothing is more important than family.”


Emma brings Jefferson back to his house, which is quite large, and then accepts his offer of tea and help. He claims to be a cartographer and that he has a map that can help her find her lost “dog” Spot. But as Emma is looking over the map, she starts to get woozy. Jefferson helps her sit down. As he’s walking away, she notices that he doesn’t have a limp, anymore.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson and Grace are in the market when she rushes to the toy cart run by an old woman. She finds a stuffed white rabbit that she thinks would be a perfect addition for her tea parties and asks her father for it. But the price is too high. Despite his attempts to barter with the woman lower for it, she refuses. Grace finally convinces him to leave, that she doesn’t need it, but it’s obvious that he’s humiliated over his inability to afford a toy for his daughter. The woman goes around to the back of her cart, where a voice speaks out. It’s the Magic Mirror, chiding the “woman” for her not giving the child a toy. The woman’s face changes for a moment as she laughs. It’s the Queen, telling the Mirror that there would be no “fun” in that.


Emma wakes up to find herself gagged and tied up, alone in Jefferson’s living room. She cleverly manages to free herself by breaking her tea cup and cutting off her bindings. Looking around, she sees a telescope focused on the Sheriff’s office. Moving to a door, she opens it a crack and sees Jefferson standing in another room, sharpening a large scissors.

Fairytale Land

Grace is having a tea party when her father presents her with another guest: a stuffed white rabbit he sewed himself. She’s thrilled with it, but he’s not, as it’s not like the one she loved at the market. He tells her that he wants her to spend the day at the neighbours. He has some work to do. When she begs him to come with him, because she likes going to the forest with him, he tells her his work isn’t in the forest. When she cleverly deduces that it has something to do with the Queen, he doesn’t deny it. She begs him not to do it, but he wants to give her everything she deserves. All she wants is him, but he doesn’t listen. She makes him promise to return to her for her tea party, before she leaves. Once she’s gone, Jefferson pulls out a large box from the trunk and sits it in the centre of the room.


Emma tries to sneak by Jefferson, while he’s sharpening his scissors, and ducks into a room when he hears a sound. She’s shocked to find Mary in that room, gagged and tied up. She sets Mary free and Mary explains to her about how she escaped. The women try to sneak out of there, but Jefferson catches them. Holding Emma’s gun, he orders her to tie Mary up again. Turns out Jefferson wants her to do something for him.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson comes with his box to the Queen, who is delighted that he changed his mind. He makes her promise that Grace will want for nothing, which she does, before he opens up his box. Turns out there’s a hat inside. As soon as he puts it on the ground and spins it, it starts twirling around, opening up a portal to another world.


Jefferson brings Emma into a roomful of hats. She threatens him about hurting Mary and he tells her that he is saving her life. He knows about the curse, that it keeps them all trapped in Storybrooke. He knows that Henry has a book and that Emma is ignoring everything that has been going around her. He tells her that, for the past 28 years, he’s been trapped in his house…until she came to town and he was freed. He remembers everything about the past and he believes that she brought magic back to Storybrooke. Emma thinks he’s insane, but sane or not, he demands that she make the hat work.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson and the Queen end up in a room of different-coloured doors. Jefferson picks one and cautions her that they have to stay together: The same number of people who enter the door must be the same number of people who leave it. It’s the Hat’s rule.

The two step through and end up in a cartoonish world, with a smoking caterpillar (voice of Roger Daltry) asking them, “Who are you?” Jefferson tells the Queen that he hates “Wonderland”.


Emma is shocked when she realises that Jefferson believes he’s the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. Jefferson is disgusted that Emma still doesn’t see the truth. He explains to her that there is more than one world, that there are many, all pressed up against each other. Some need magic; some have magic; some don’t. He believes that, because of who she is, she has magic and she can make his hat work, so that he can go home.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson and the Queen make their way to a maze, which is the property of the Queen of Hearts. Whatever the Queen wants is at the centre, so the two have to blast their way through the man-eating maze to get there. Once there, the Queen opens up the building at the centre. Inside it, there’s a wall of boxes, eerily similar to the Queen’s wall of boxed hearts. The Queen pulls out one and takes it, and the two start to leave. But the Queen of Hearts’ guards see them and come running after them.

Blasting their way through the soldiers, the duo make it all the way back to the door, where the Queen stops them. Picking off a piece of mushroom, she opens up the box and puts it inside. Suddenly, a grown man appears. It’s her father, Henry! Turns out the Queen of Hearts saw the Evil Queen as a threat and took her father to have some leverage over her. Jefferson realises that the Queen knew all along that only two could go through, which is why she never told him about her dad. Jefferson begs her to think of his daughter and his promise to her, but the Queen doesn’t care. She tells him that you “don’t abandon your family,” which is rich coming from her, considering that she’s the one who killed her own father!

The Queen traps Jefferson with her magic. Taking her father in hand, she goes through the door with him, ignoring Jefferson’s screams. As he stands there in shock, the Queen of Hearts’ soldiers and lead man (Carson, AKA Paul McGillion from Stargate: Atlantis!) come upon him and take him away.

Poor Jefferson. Someday soon, there will be a printing press and internet, and all people in all lands will know to never, ever, under any circumstances, EVER trust the Evil Queen!

I mean, her name says it all!

Jefferson is dragged to the Queen of Hearts’ court, where he is presented to the red-shroud-covered woman. When he tries to explain to her that the “Queen” tricked him, the Queen of Hearts reacts angrily. Her man translates that there is only one Queen, the Queen of Hearts. The other woman calling herself “Queen” is named ‘Regina’.

Huh. So Regina has the same name in this world and in that one, the same as Jefferson. Interesting.

The Queen demands to know how Jefferson and Regina got there, but he wants her guarantee that he can return home to his daughter if he tells her. Her answer is to cut off his head, but he doesn’t die. Instead, his head remains alive. The lead man tells Jefferson that if he wants his body back, he will have to tell what he knows. Jefferson explains that it was his hat that let them into Wonderland, but Regina took it. The Queen demands that Jefferson make another one, ignoring his protests that he can’t. Without any magic, a hat is just a hat.


Emma protests that she can’t get the hat to work. Jefferson yells that if it won’t work, he will never get back home and will be cursed to stay there forever. Emma asks him, what is so bad about that? He tells her that, as with everyone else, the curse ripped away that which he loved.

Jefferson shows her another telescope, this one pointed at a nearby house where his daughter sits with a new family. He explains to Emma that her name is ‘Grace’, and she’s his daughter, but here, her name is ‘Paige’ and she’s happy with another family. He remembers everything about this world and the last world, but she does not. He doesn’t want to tell her; he doesn’t want her to live with two conflicting memories of two conflicting worlds. It would drive someone mad.

Emma reaches out to him, telling him she knows what it’s like to be separated from your child. She realises that Jefferson just wants to take Grace back to his world, where they can be together. She tells him that if he’s right, then that would make Mary her mother and part of her wants to believe that. She tells him that she will help him, but as soon as he turns his back, she beans him with the telescope.

Emma grabs the gun from Jefferson and rushes into the other room to release Mary. But as she’s doing that, Jefferson comes running in with the hat on and tackles her. They fight over the gun. During the fight, Emma sees the scar across his neck and throat, where his head had been severed from his body. He’s about to get the jump on Emma when Mary grabs a croquet mallet and hits him over the head with it, then kicks him out the window. As he’s falling to the ground, the hat comes off and there’s a whooshing sound. When Emma and Mary look out the window, Jefferson is nowhere to be seen.

Mary and Emma find the hat on the ground but no Jefferson. Emma also finds her car. With that, Emma gives Mary the choice to run or stay. She tells Mary that once she runs, she will have to do it forever and Emma knows how horrible that is. But if she stays, Emma promises that she can get her out of this. Mary asks her why it’s so important that she help her. Emma gives her a heartfelt speech about how Mary has always been there for her and that’s the first time she’s ever had that. She can’t lose her “family”. Mary is touched. She agrees to go back with Emma and face the charge with her. But alas, the clock starts tolling, and Emma remembers the arraignment and the fact that Regina will be there first thing in the morning.

At the Sheriff’s office, Regina is pulling up outside. She smirks as she sees that Emma’s car is missing, but that smirk fades when she goes inside and sees Mary calmly sitting inside the jail cell. Gold intercepts her and tells her that his “client” is not receiving any visitors right now. Gold offers to escort her out. Once they are in the hall, Regina turns on him and demands to know why Mary is back. Seems that Regina put the key in Mary’s cell on Gold’s advice. She tells him that the only reason she made a deal with him was because she wants to see results. He says that she will get her “results” and he will see her at the arraignment.

Emma finds Henry outside his school, waiting on the school bell. She tells him that she found Mary and she’s all right, but when she sees Paige AKA Grace walk by and say hi to Henry, she asks Henry if she can see his book. She flips through the pages and finds the pages of the Mad Hatter: a picture of a man looking like Jefferson with a hat on the ground, a picture of him with his daughter, a picture of him looking crazy that clearly shows the scar across his throat. The same one that Jefferson had.

When the bell rings, Emma asks Henry if she can keep the book and Henry – with a very pleased smile – says yes. Emma continues looking at the picture as Henry leaves. For the moment, it looks as if she might be considering that Jefferson was telling the truth.

Fairytale Land

Jefferson – with his head re-attached to his body but now with the scar across his throat – is sitting in a huge room filled with cloth and hats, desperately sewing a hat, mumbling to himself, “Got to get it to work, get it to work!”

Poor Jefferson!

Review: Well, this is certainly not my mother’s Alice In Wonderland!

This was always her favourite story when I was growing up. She’s still a huge fan of the Disney movie, as well as the Cheshire Cat, so I have to admit that this episode had a lot to live up to in its telling of this particular story. And you know what? It acquitted itself quite nicely.

This really didn’t feel like a retelling of Alice In Wonderland. I don’t know if they will bring in the characters from that story later on – specifically, Alice – but regardless, I still quite enjoyed it. I think a lot of that has to do with the sympathy for the Mad Hatter/Jefferson character, both in how he was written and how he was acted by Sebastian Stan. I believed his love for his daughter and I believed his desperation to provide her with everything she wanted and needed. Alas, his sin was in not realising that all she really wanted and needed was him.

I love the fact that he remembered everything, but it was tragic, too, since he explained that he remembered both worlds and both lives that he supposedly had. The two conflicting set of memories were enough to drive him mad. But how much madder did it make him that he lived next to his daughter and could see her every day, but could never tell her or touch her or talk to her? To know that she was there, after he had so desperately tried to get to her, that her life was a lie and this world was not hers? To not be able to protect her or care for her? Despite his folly in falling for Regina’s lies and manipulations, he was a loving and devoted father, and that clearly showed through in what desperate measures he was willing to take to get back to her.

I just wonder if the hat finally worked, and Jefferson made it to another world, or if he just ran away after he fell through the window.

I enjoy the romance of Snow White and Prince Charming, but I think this show excels best when it focuses on parents and the love they have for their children. Emma for Henry, Rump for his son, Snow White and Prince Charming for Emma, and now Jefferson for Grace. I’m not a parent, but there’s something even more compelling for me in watching what parents will do for their child, than what a lover with do. I hope they continue to bring that in because that, to me, is the heart of the show.

Speaking of parent/child love, once again the show did a lovely job with Mary and Emma’s relationship. I loved Emma’s speech to Mary at the end, about how much Mary has come to mean to her and how she has never known that kind of relationship in her life before. It made it all the more poignant knowing that it’s true. Emma has never know the love of her mother in her life before, not since she was a newborn. Yet, here she is experiencing it and not even knowing it. I do really love those two together, and I love that Mary chose to put her faith in Emma and stay.

And could it be? Could Emma possibly be opening her eyes to the possibility that this whole story is true? That everything Henry has told her is true? I don’t want to read too much into the end scene, because I’ve done that before and the show has let me down before. But I’m really hoping that she might be opening up her mind to that possibility. We seriously need some movement on that front, if we are ever to get some movement on the “defeating Regina” front!

Ah, Regina. Her whole desperation to save her father and her tears over how important family is might mean something if we didn’t already know that she murdered her father and cut out his heart for her own happiness! That whole thing is still disgusting to me, so no amount of tears over her father now is ever going to make me believe she truly loved him. You don’t cut out the heart of someone you love.

I did love the look on Regina’s face when she saw Mary in the prison cell, though! And regardless of how it looks right now, I don’t believe that Gold is truly in cahoots with Regina. I think it is all a plan of his. I actually think that he wanted Mary free so that Jefferson could get her, and Emma could run into the one person (that we know of so far) who remembers and would tell Emma that. I think this was all part of one of Gold’s elaborate schemes to try to get Emma to start believing so that she can defeat Regina!

But we’ll see!

Next Week: We finally find out why Regina hates Snow White so much, as Mary’s trial starts soon.

This week’s Fairy Tale Characters Who Make Appearances In Both Worlds Are:

Evil Queen, AKA Mayor Regina

Jefferson/The Mad Hatter, AKA Jefferson

Grace, AKA Paige

Snow White, AKA Mary Margaret (only appeared in real world)

Rumpelstiltskin, AKA Mr. Gold (only appeared in real world)

Magic Mirror, AKA Sidney (only appeared in fairytale world)

Still Missing In Storybrooke World:

The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts’ man

The Caterpillar

You can watch episodes of Once Upon a Time on its official site and own it in HD on

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. VinaReview: Once Upon a Time 1.17: Hat Trick