My excitement level for the return of OUAT has been pretty extreme as of late, and I geared up even more for the season 2 premiere last night by watching the hour-long recap episode that aired right before it, as well! Two hours’ worth of magic, mystery and mayhem – could a Sunday night be any more perfect?! As a fan of the show’s amazing first season, my expectation level for season two was nearly as high as my excitement and, suffice it to say, I was not disappointed!
I must admit to having had a moment or two of panic at the start, actually. I was watching some guy I didn’t know (Michael Raymond-Jones) walk down a modern city street I didn’t recognize, and with theme music I wasn’t used to hearing on this show playing in the background while said dude-guy tried to close his apartment window and block the rain. Was I recording and watching the wrong thing? Had my TV Guide somehow mixed things up and some new show was debuting in place of my OUAT of Love? Thankfully, that panic last only a few moments. Familiar names started cropping up in the credits, and dude-guy got a postcard on his windowsill from Storybrooke with a one word message written on the back: “broken”.
And just like that, we’re off!
This week’s episode accomplished several things in a short period of time, and left viewers caught up in an even larger whirlwind to start off season 2 than we’d already lived through with season 1! Watching all of the characters we’ve grown to love find one another again – as their true selves – was wonderful to see. I choked up several times, especially when Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) turned around to see all the dwarfs standing there together. Dwarves? Whatever … all of ’em! And Ruby/Red Riding Hood’s tearful delight at seeing everyone properly again was played perfectly by Meghan Ory. Just sayin’. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is understandably hopeful yet frightened – having the parents she never knew back in her life suddenly would be overwhelming enough, without the addition of a curse and fairytales come true. And young Henry (Jared Gilmore) is back on his feet, happy that everything is finally going the way he wanted to – but for the menacing purple cloud that’s sweeping through town, courtesy of our crafty resident Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), of course!
As usual, this episode flashed back and forth between our world and fairy tale land, giving us some backstory on how things were, and what’s going on now. In town, there was an immediate burn-the-witch hunt for Regina (Lana Parilla), which Henry convinced Emma, Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) to stop if they could. She may be the Evil Queen, but she is, after all, still his mom. Emma managed to lock Regina up – for her own safety – and sent the angry townsfolk away. We’re also introduced to Aurora/Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger), who is awakened by the kiss of her true love, Prince Philip (Julian Morris). Just before waking her, however, Philip comments to his mysterious companion that they won’t “tell her everything right away”, and we are left to ponder what that means as the rest of the episode progresses. We do find out, however, that the oddly-clad warrior he’s been travelling with in search of Aurora is, in fact, Mulan (Jamie Chung) – and it’s possible that she is in love with him, as well.
Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is about as thrilled as he personally can get to find that HIS true love, Belle (Emilie de Ravin), is actually still alive. He’s brought the purple cloud of magic to town, with the warning that “magic here is different”, on top of the usual, “all magic comes with a price”. However, his rage grows at the discovery that Regina had Belle locked away in an asylum all these years and, sensing the hate escalating within him, Belle makes him promise not to kill the Evil Queen. Ever the master of wordplay, however, Gold uses his reinstatement as Dark Lord to call on the soul-sucking Wraith, and sends it after Regina, instead. He marks her with a talisman that he’s kept locked away in his store all these years, knowing that the Wraith will now hunt the marked one until she’s dead.
We are also shown Prince Philip in fairy tale land, being marked by the same talisman after accidentally touching it with his bare hands and, although he keeps the information from Aurora and Mulan, we know – as does the Prince – that his fate is pretty much sealed. Under the guise of collecting firewood, Philip kisses his love goodbye, and sets off into the forest alone.
With no known way to kill the Wraith back in Storybrooke, Regina comes up with the idea of sending it back to where they came from via Jefferson/The Mad Hatter’s (Sebastian Stan) hat. She says that the curse destoyed their land and took everyone with it to Storybrooke, so sending the Wraith back there should at least trap it there forever, if not outright kill it. Emma, Snow and Charming battle the beast temporarily with fire, giving Regina time to activate the hat’s portal. The Wraith is sucked into the portal as planned, but at the last moment, it grab’s Emma’s ankle and drags her with it. Not wanting to lose her daughter again, Snow leaps into the portal after her. David also tries to follow, but the portal snaps shut and he is left behind with a crushed hat on the solid floor beneath him.
Mulan figures out that Philip has been marked, and intends to protect both women by letting the Wraith take him, so she sets off determined to find him before the Wraith does. Aurora has no intention of being left behind by either of them, however, and follows Mulan through the woods until they catch up with Philip as the Wraith bears down. Mulan offers to take the mark in his place, thus letting him live to be with his love, but Philip refuses her sacrifice, and his killed by the Wraith instead. Both women are devastated, and take Philip’s body back to where Aurora had been laying in cursed sleep for so long. It’s then that we find out that Regina’s curse somehow missed part of the land, and that several people were left behind in its wake. We also learn that there are far more dangerous creatures lurking about than the Wraith in the land that was left behind, and that warning hangs over the somber scene as the women hear a noise not far off.
Regina, now safe from the Wraith, has an argument with Charming, since she has no idea where Snow and Emma ended up, nor if they are even still alive. The Evil Queen has her magic back now, though, and Charming is really no match for her anymore. She is close to killing him when Henry is there, with Red, to put a stop to her evil shenanigans – at least for now – and she releases Charming just in time. David takes the boy to Snow/Emma’s apartment, and they begin to settle in together, with the intention of trying to formulate a plan to get the missing women back to Storybrooke.
Aurora and Mulan find the source of the commotion they heard, and pull debris aside to reveal what’s hidden underneath. Mulan recognizes that this is what brought the Wraith that killed Philip to their land, and looks down in hate upon its source: an unconscious Emma and Snow.