After a holiday break, Once Upon A Time fans can get back to Storybrooke and its Fairytale Land backstory.
A new evil has arrived in Storybrooke, make that two new evils, in the form of Cora and Hook.
The evil minded duo reached land in Hook’s dated, but magnificent looking vessel. Hook is in a hurry to “skin his Crocodile” as he puts it. However, before Hook can take off to search for Gold, Cora stops him. Hook is angered and feels that Cora is trying to prevent his revenge, but she explains herself.
Cora makes Hook understand that running around half-cocked when magic is involved can have unpleasant results. Hook agrees, and the two go on a recon mission, to scout out the town and its inhabitants. One unfortunate Storybrooke resident gets turned into a fish when he welcomes them to Storybrooke and asks too many questions.
Fairy tales are known for their messages of morals and lessons learned. Once Upon A Time’s 10th episode, The Cricket Game, is no different. The lesson of this story is “change”. The episode focuses on Regina and her ability to change in the present and past.
In the present day, there is a welcome home party for Emma and Mary Margaret aka Snow. It is a happy affair until Regina walks in. Everyone is surprised to see her there except for Emma who tells everyone that she invited her. No one agrees this is a good idea. Regina and her alter ego the Evil Queen’s past deeds are still fresh in everyone’s memories.
Emma lets everyone know that she has faith in Regina and her ability to change because of Henry. Henry believes in Regina, and that is enough for Emma. This quiets everyone’s grumbles and the party continues. Although everyone enjoys the lasagna dish Regina brings no one invites her into any party conversation. Feeling left out Regina decides to leave.
When Emma sees Regina leaving she runs after her and asks if she will stay for cake. Regina declines but thanks Emma for inviting her. Emma always blunt lets Regina know that she did it for Henry.
However, she also got advice from Archie who spilled the beans that Regina has been seeing him for therapy. Emma tells Regina she knows she is trying to change by not using magic. Regina asks if she can see Henry more, but Emma is hesitant. Regina’s anger flares, but then she quickly apologizes for it and says her good-byes and walks toward home.
Regina is unaware that Cora and Hook watched the entire scene.
In a flash back to Regina’s life in Fairytale Land fans watch as Regina is captured and her magic taken from her by fairy dust. Snow’s counsels plan is to capture Regina and execute her. Snow doesn’t seem to like the idea very much. When the day of execution arrives, even as the archer’s arrows fly, Snow stops the act with the help of the Blue Fairy.
Everyone is stunned, but Snow insists that Regina can change and believes that there is still good in her. However, while walking the palace grounds she runs into Rumpelstiltskin. He claims he can help Snow find out if the Queen can change with a simple test. Snow genuinely wants to believe in the Queen and goes along with it.
Needless to say, Regina fails miserably. When Snow offers to let Regina go and opens her cell door to set her free, Regina tries to kill her on the way out. Regina cannot use magic, but takes advantage of using the knife Snow brings out for protection to stab Snow.
Too bad, the knife had a protection spell and the Queen’s true colors showed which caused James and Snow to banish her from the kingdom forever. Regina is released because without magic, she would never be a threat again as long as she lived in Fairytale Land.
Enter Rumpelstiltskin, who visits the exiled Regina and gives her back her magic. Rumplestiltskin obviously has something to gain from this act as he never does something for nothing.
Back in the present, Regina is at Archie’s door looking for therapy. Or is she? When she steps in the door Pongo, Archie’s faithful dalmatian companion, barks at her as if he doesn’t know her. Archie is happy to see Regina and goes to get her file from his cabinet for what he thinks is a late night session. Suddenly Regina grabs him by the neck and chokes him to death using magic. A familiar color of magic smoke appears which looks remarkably similar to Cora’s.
When Archie’s body is found the town is in an up roar. Regina is the first suspect after all a leopard cannot change its spots. Although Mary Margret and David feel Regina is guilty, Emma doesn’t believe she is. That is until, they go to Gold and Emma uses magic to look into Pongo’s memories. Gold uses a dreamcatcher to capture Pongo’s memories. Gold tells Emma she can will the magic to show her the memory.
Emma and others see Regina doing the horrible deed, but so upset she was wrong about Regina, Emma does not finish watching the entire memory.
Emma wants to arrest Regina right away way, but is stopped by Mary Margret and David. They both warn Emma that confronting Regina without a plan is dangerous. Mary Margret and David fall back on the old plan, it requires using fairy dust to dampen Regina’s magic. This time Regina is ready for them and the fairy dust trick does not work again. Regina insists she is innocent.
Regina and Emma have a verbal argument in which Emma threatens to stop Regina from having a relationship with Henry. The meeting does not go well, and old hurts and wounds are reopened. Emma in her anger says that she saw Regina kill Archie and says she will never change. Angered Regina poofs herself away.
Emma must tell Henry what has happened to Archie. In the background and out of sight, Regina sits in her car as she watches Emma speak with Henry. The news is certainly not going to endear Regina to Henry. It makes one wonder if Regina will give up trying to change.
In another part of Storybrooke, Cora feels that Regina is breaking down enough to accept her help. Cora knows that Regina will only accept her help when she feels she has no other hope.
The episode ends with a surprise. It seems Archie is not dead after all. And the Regina he met? Well that wasn’t Regina, but Cora who loves taking on other people’s identities to get what she needs. Archie is being held on Hook’s vessel, and Cora intends to get the towns secrets out of him.
How will Archie get out of this situation? Will Cora’s plan backfire on her? When will Hook get to “skin his crocodile”? Leave your comments about this episode.
Once Upon A Time season one and two can be viewed on Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video, and iTunes.