by Sherry Lipp
Once Upon a Time’s winter finale sends the show on its brief hiatus by returning Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) back to Storybrooke. However, they are not alone. This episode, “Queen of Hearts,” serves as a bridge between Fairytale Land and Storybrooke (aka the real world). I was glad to see that particular storyline come to an end. I had been worried Emma and Show would spend the entire season trying to get back home. Now the show can hopefully focus on much more interesting things like what Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) has up his sleeve next, and whether Emma’s ex-boyfriend, and father of Henry (Jared Gilmore), will ever make it to Storybrooke. I thought this episode worked pretty well. Not only did it close out the lost-in-Fairytale Land storyline, but it gave Mr. Gold and Regina (Lana Parrilla) a little more to do. It was a satisfying end to the first segment of the mixed Season Two.
Snow and Emma were even more urgent in their quest to return home because Snow needed to rescue Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) from the sleep curse. Cora (Barbara Hershey) wants nothing more than to stop them so she can go to Storybrooke herself to wreak havoc. We get some cool backstory about Regina’s plans for her mother right before the curse was to happen. We also find out why part of Fairytale Land was not affected by the curse. As Emma, Snow, Cora, and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) battle it out over the portal, Lana and Mr. Gold make their own plans back in Storybrooke. Not wanting to face the possibility of Cora making it through, they make a secret pact to close the passageway before anyone can make it , including Snow and Emma. It’s a devious plot perfect for the two of them.
The problem is Regina has lied to Henry’s face about the whole thing and she feels guilty. The moments between Regina and Henry were my favorite parts of the episode. Henry still calls her mom, so I think there is still a relationship there. I like that Regina wants to do the right thing for son, even though he has chosen to be with Emma for now. In a way, this show is an adoptive parent’s nightmare. I guess since Regina is really The Evil Queen who has caused many people pain we are not supposed to think of it that way. But at least at this point it seems like Regina wants to try to be a decent parent, though she struggles with doing the right thing.
On the other side of the coin, Mr. Gold does not feel any guilt whatsoever about the possibility of stranding Emma and Snow in Fairytale Land. Yes, he has a thing for Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and he seems to like Henry, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone soft. Maybe he does have a human side, a sympathetic side, but I wouldn’t say he is a team player. He wants what he wants and that is pretty much the end of it. It’s that aspect of him that I find so enjoyable to watch. Prince Charming and Snow can get to be a little sappy in their “goodness.” Mr. Gold is a good counterbalance to that, as is Regina, but Mr. Gold has the edge. So Mr. Gold will stop at nothing to keep the portal closed, but a guilty Regina proves to be quite powerful. When Henry figures out her real plan, she totally caves.
I wasn’t too surprised to see Emma and Snow make it back. Hopefully that aspect of things wasn’t supposed to be too suspenseful. It pretty much had to happen in order for the story to move forward. Snow gives Charming the kiss of true love, he wakes up (a little too easy on that one), and everyone celebrates a happy ending. Everyone except Regina and Mr. Gold, that is. Henry shows his mom some real affection and then leaves her high and dry as he heads off to dinner with his birth mom and grandparents. I felt a little sorry for her. I would have thought saving the lives of Emma and Snow would have warranted a meal with her son. I liked Mr. Gold’s sarcastic line about her son maybe inviting her to dinner someday. It was harsh, but she knew it was true.
However, things were not as merry for the diners as they thought. Cora and Hook are on their way, and there is no telling what will happen when they get there – hopefully something interesting. So while I thought this was a good episode, I’m feeling like a few things have been forgotten. For example, one of the most interesting aspects of the broken curse has virtually been ignored. I really liked the idea that stepping over the town border caused the Storybrooke residents to forget their true identities. This idea offered so many possibilities, but other than one person crossing over, they have never gone back to it. They haven’t even shown how that character is faring with his amnesia. I’m also curious to know more about Emma’s ex-boyfriend, but I’m assuming that will come into play when the season resumes.
Once Upon a Time returns January 6, 2013. I’m looking forward to seeing where the storyline goes, and hoping they can maintain more of a focus. They have introduced so many new characters and storylines, some interesting aspects of the show have been lost. Time will tell if they can get completely back on track.