Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Meghan Ory
Writer: Jane Espenson
Director: Dean White
Network: ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast: October 7, 2012
It is fun to see that Regina (Lana Parilla) was a completely different person when she married Snow White’s father, and that she had her heart in the right place. But I can’t say that the “We Are Both” episode of ONCE UPON A TIME really gets us anywhere in the overall story telling. If anything, the episode foundered under too many waves of philosophizing.
Now released from the curse that sent them all there, the citizens of Storybrooke are trying to figure out what that means, starting with the dwarves attempting to leave Storybrooke. Sneezy (Gabe Khouth) gets the short straw and it is a short one, indeed. Turns out stepping over the city limits won’t kill you – that’s good, but it wipes out your memory of who you were in the Enchanted Forest. That’s not good.
The town is in chaos and David/Charming (Josh Dallas) is trying to figure out how to keep it all together while getting Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) back from wherever they landed after going through the hat’s portal. Regina’s having a few issues, too. She can’t get her magic to work, but she wants Henry (Jared Gilmore) back.
So now we flashback to her youth, and she’s running away from her upcoming wedding to Snow’s father, but her mother Cora (Barbara Hershey) is having none of it, trying to encourage Regina to go after the power. But Regina doesn’t want power, she just wants to be free and not have to marry the King.
Back at the castle, Regina tries to be nice to Snow even though she’s still miserable about her mother killing The Stable Boy, whom Regina loved. Frustrated, Regina asks her father Henry (Tony Perez) how her mother became the evil witch that she is and Henry tells her there was this man… Uh huh.
You may remember that Cora was a miller’s daughter. File that in the memory bank for a moment. So it’s night. Regina steals her mother’s magic book and tries to pronounce Rumpelstiltskin’s name. Fortunately, a correct pronunciation is not all that necessary to summon everyone’s favorite scumbag. And Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) appears, reminding Regina that he’s known her since she was an infant – held her in his arms, even. That was the original Rumpelstilskin story – which we haven’t seen yet on this series, oddly enough. Rumpelstiltskin starts pressuring Regina to use magic to get rid of her mother, but Regina doesn’t really want to go that route and become her mother. But Rumpelstiltskin leaves a wrapped present behind, telling Regina that it’s a portal that she can use.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina goes to Mr. Gold’s shop. Mr. Gold (Rumpel’s modern counterpart) teases Regina about needing her mommy’s help, the kindly asks Regina to leave. Hmmm. Not his usual style, but just so Regina doesn’t get too cocky, Gold pulls the magic book out of thin air and reminds Regina that she looks just like her mom.
Shortly thereafter, as Gold is packing to go elsewhere, David comes into the shop, hoping Gold can help him with the smashed hat/portal. Gold is willing to give David some magic to find the hat’s owner, but in exchange, they agree to stay out of each other’s ways, but not after David tells Gold nobody can leave Storybrooke and remember who they were in the fairy tale world. And as soon as David is gone, Gold gets into a little temper tantrum. Wait – remember he has a son somewhere out there and there was that mystery man at the beginning of “Broken,” last week’s episode.
David uses the potion on the hat and follows it to find Jefferson/The Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan), who is no help at all. But not before Regina, while paging through her magic book blows and breathes in the magic. Oops. Guess whose powers are back. Regina forces the town to give her Henry, and then captures him magically again as he tries to escape. Then she tries to teach him magic. But Henry insists he doesn’t want to be like her, just like she had told her mother.
Problem is, in the flashback as Cora taunts her on her wedding day, Regina does get angry enough to push her mother through the portal. So she takes off only to meet Rumpelstiltskin, who asks how it felt to use magic. Regina says she doesn’t want to have anything to do with magic because “I loved it.” But Rumpelstiltskin points out that she doesn’t have to become her mother and offers to teach her.
In the meantime, the town’s citizens are getting ready to take off, never mind that they will lose their old selves, but David forestalls them with a stirring speech that he doesn’t want to forget who he was in both worlds because “We are both.” Like we didn’t see that coming.
Then David goes off and demands that Regina let him see Henry. But surprise, surprise, Regina sends Henry with David, explaining that she doesn’t know how to love very well and that she wants to redeem herself. And soon we see the town coming back together and life going on-ish. Regina locks the magic book away instead of burning it.
But there is one thing that has been missing – Emma and Snow. Well, not quite. They’re being dragged along behind Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger). They get put in The Pit, and guess who’s hanging out there, sounding nice a pathetic. Cora. Wasn’t sure where we were going to see her next, but wasn’t shocked to see her.
Again, with most of the episode concentrating on Regina’s back story, the results are interesting, but the getting there wasn’t as much fun.
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