"The Cricket Game" is the 32nd episode of Once Upon a Time.
Regina is accused of murdering one of the town's most beloved fairytale characters, and only Emma senses that she may be innocent. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, after capturing the Evil Queen, Snow White and Prince Charming set about planning her public execution in order to rid the land of her murderous tyranny.
The captain has arrived...
The wind blows on a first quarter moonlit night covering the docks of Storybrooke, Maine. A familiar pirate captain is shown to us from behind, standing on a yard, and looking at the city. The camera then focuses on the face of the determined-looking Captain Hook, who grabs a rope that was next to the mast, hangs on to it and jumps to the deck below. He then extends his hook to his traveling companion, the powerful Cora, who gets out of the ship in style, wielding her parasol over her head. Cora grabs the hook with her hand as he grants her passage, like the gentleman he - sometimes - is. He follows after her as they go down the passageway to the dock, and he tells her that this is where they should part ways. He thanks her for everything, and adds that it's time for him to skin his "crocodile".
Fish out of water.
As he turns his back from her, Cora vanishes into the thin air and materializes instantly in front of him, telling him he might want to rethink that idea. He reminds her that they had a deal, and orders her to get out of his way. Cora points out that she's doing him a favor. "By preventing my vengeance?" he says, to which she tells him to ask himself how she's doing that. He suddenly realizes that she's doing it by using the dark magic, and looks somewhat low. Cora confirms that magic is there, which makes matters a bit more complicated. She asks him if he knows what will happen if he goes up half-cocked to an empowered Rumplestiltskin, and Hook doesn't reply, but one can see the answer in his look. Cora claims that it's good that he knows, and they are interrupted by a fisherman who shows up behind them, and asks if they need anything. Cora and Hook are caught somewhat off-guard. The man goes on to say that the tackle shop doesn't open until morning, but if they want to go out and try and snare some of New England's finest pescatarian creatures he'd be happy to open it earlier. Hook tells him, with a sullen tone, that they're fine. The fisherman comments that they have a fine vessel, and wonders when they got in. Cora asks to what vessel he's referring, and the confused man tries to explain that he means the ship next to them, but he is interrupted when the powerful witch standing before him makes the ship turn invisible with a single swing of her gloved hand. The surprised fisherman tells her that that's a neat trick, and asks if she was some kind of magician back in their land. With a flick of her fingers, Cora turns the fisherman into a fish. The twosome of evil look at the fish out of water, as it flaps about on the dock. Hook moves toward it and uses his foot to lead it into the water. He then turns to the witch and asks what she did with his ship, to which she replies that she hid it from prying eyes. "For what we both want to do we need the element of surprise," she says. She then asks if now he is ready to listen to her, and he looks down and then asks the Majesty what happens now. With a determined smile, Cora suggests that they go have a look at Storybrooke. They then go into the city.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Snow and Charming, post-coital.
The following day, in the middle of the afternoon, Snow White and Prince Charming are making up for lost time, having just presumably engaged in intercourse as a happily reunited couple. The camera pans down from the draped window of their apartment to reveal them in bed together, kissing and caressing each other. When they pause, David asks Mary Margaret what she's thinking, to which she answers that it's good to be back. He then moves in closer, much to her pleasure, and asks what she's really thinking. She answers that 28 years is too long... They kiss some more, but their make-out session is suddenly interrupted by Emma and Henry entering the apartment, having come from the store. Snow and Charming cover themselves up quickly, as Henry announces that taco shells were on sale. Emma adds that apparently tacos are not a big item in the enchanted... she herself is interrupted when Henry asks his grandparents what they are doing in bed in the middle of the afternoon, and Emma realizes what is going on. Mary Margaret tells Henry that the trip back was tiring and she needed to rest, and David adds that he needed to help her rest. The open-mouthed Emma turns to her son and tries to divert his attention by telling him that they should go and make the tacos, for they have to make a lot because there's going to be a ton of people at Granny's 'welcome back' party that night. Henry heads toward the kitchen counter and Emma moves in closer to her parents; Mary Margaret says that they thought the two of them would be back later, and Emma, still holding her grocery bags, points out that they weren't, and suggests that maybe the next time they put a tie on the door or send a text. Snow cowers under the sheets with an amused and awkward embarrassment. Emma then points out that she's going to make tacos, and walks up to her son. Charming comments that it's impressive that they can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at that stage of the game. Snow turns to him and lets out a chuckle. He kisses her and they proceed to get out of bed.
Some people just wanna watch the world burn.
Back in the fairytale land that was, it is nighttime, and we are treated to a panoramic view of a village that is on fire. The malevolent Queen Regina watches the village burn from a distance, sitting on her steed, conveying an eerie calm. Some knights of hers approach the Queen, and one of them shares with her the word that Snow White and the Prince have defeated King George: his army has fallen, and the kingdom is theirs. Regina asks about George, to which the knight replies that his fate is unknown, but without his forces they are now alone, and they cannot defeat them. "Do not tell me what we can or can't do," Regina says, with determination. The slightly intimidated black knight is silenced by this, until Regina asks him where Snow White is at the moment. He tells her she's alone, on her way back to meet the Prince. A wicked smile forms on Regina's face as she says, "Excellent. I don't care how many men you lose. Keep them apart long enough for me to find her. I will not let them defeat me." This said, she rides off on her horse into the woods, and the knights go their own way.
Snow White is seen running through the woods that same night, presumably not long afterwards, and she eventually trips on a rock and falls to the ground. She notices that someone is coming and turns to the side to see Regina approaching her on her steed, hosting an evil smile, and saying, "Leaving the battle so soon?" Snow gets up from the ground and Regina dismounts. Snow tries to recompose herself, saying that the battle is over, as the Queen walks up to her. She says that their army is too great, and the witch can't win. Regina tells her that that depends on her definition of victory. Snow offers her parley, to negotiate the terms of her surrender. "My surrender?!", Regina asks, with feigned surprise. "Fair enough! My terms are quite simple. Your death." This said, Regina moves in to attack Snow, but the fair warrior shouts "Now!", while looking up at the night sky, and Regina looks back. The Blue Fairy shows up and casts a freezing spell on the Evil Queen, being able to ensnare her just as she was about to attack Snow. Prince Charming shows up from behind a tree. The defeated Regina comments that it was all a trap, and Snow tells her that she should had surrendered when she was given the chance to. Charming tells the Queen that they knew she couldn't resist going after Snow, and now because of her blood lust the kingdom is theirs. "Your reign of evil is over." Regina looks at him with anger. Snow looks at her with a hint of both relief and sadness.
David makes his speech.
At Granny's Diner, the homecoming party is already in progress. The counter is full of food, and over it is a sign that reads "WELCOME HOME MARY MARGARET!" (see "The Return"), and under it an addendum sign, saying "and EMMA". The attendants include Granny, Ruby, Archie and the seven dwarfs. When the front door is opened and the Charming family walks, everyone is excited. Snow and her daughter, who brings a platter of tacos, are delighted to see them. Ruby runs over to Mary Margaret and they hug, with the waitress telling her best friend that she was worried a bit. Mary Margaret says that she can tell, and then when they break off the hug Archie calls for her attention, saying that they all missed them, and they hug. As Ruby hugs Emma and David greets the dwarfs, Granny passes mugs of beer around. Emma points out that she brought tacos, and comments on the relief it is to cook something that she didn't have to kill first. "Don't I know it," Granny says, "Meat loaf back home, what a bitch." The guests chuckle and Charming calls for everyone's attention by tapping his beer mug with a spoon, before proceeding to deliver a speech. He tells the guests that he wanted to thank them all for joining them that night, and reminds them that he and Mary Margaret have a saying, that they will always find each other; and while he believes that with all his heart, he'd like them all to raise their glasses and join him when he says, "here's to not having to look for a while". The guests laugh, and he toasts to Mary Margaret and Emma; everyone cheers, but before they can drink up, the front door is opened again and Regina comes in, with an earnest look, holding a platter, and apologizing for arriving late. Everyone is overcome with surprise to see her, and Leroy immediately reaches for a knife, which he takes from a turkey, and asks what she is doing there. Emma says that she invited her, and Regina walks over to the counter to put her food platter down. Mary Margaret pulls her daughter for a side bar with her and David, and Emma promptly explains that they're celebrating that day because of Regina, who helped them get home; no matter what she did in the past, they owe her their 'thanks' now. David asks if she didn't think to tell them about it, to which Emma responds that she did, but the two of them were busy that afternoon. Mary Margaret points out that Regina tried to kill them, just the day before, and Emma says that she didn't, she's trying to change for Henry and he believes in her. "And right now, that's enough for me." She goes on to say that she couldn't have changed if she hadn't been given a chance, so Regina gets one too. The Charmings look at Regina as she gleefully prepares a lasagna plate for Henry at the counter, and they then exchange a look and nod affirmatively. Emma smiles.
Regina finishes preparing another plate, and Henry tells his mother that he's glad she came. Regina smiles and says that she is as well, and when Leroy comes up to the counter, Regina says that she made some lasagna. He asks if the secret ingredient is poison, and she says it's really red pepper flakes, which gives it some kick. She hands him a plate, with a relatively mean look on her face, and he takes it and smells it.
Some time later, the party is still going. Mary Margaret is being playful with David, Emma has a talk with Archie and the dwarfs socialize, while Henry finishes eating. Regina is sitting alone in a booth, looking down. Ruby walks past her and toward the Charming couple. Regina gets up, puts on her coat and starts walking out of the diner. Emma and Archie notice this, and the blonde follows after her. Regina leaves the building, and Emma calls for her by saying that Archie made a cake; Regina turns back to her, and Emma asks if she doesn't want to stay for a piece. "I'm fine, thank you," Regina says, with a smile. Emma says "Okay" and starts to head back inside, but Regina reaches out to her by thanking her again. Emma turns back around and points out that she's already said that, and Regina explains that she's thanking Emma for having invited her to the party. Emma promptly explains that Henry wanted it. Regina conveys an expression of relative sadness, but Emma doesn't seem to notice this, and says right away that she's glad the two of them got to spend some time together. Regina says she is too, and then adds that she'd like to see him more. She suggests that Emma consider letting him stay over sometimes, and adds that she has his room just waiting for him. Emma makes things all the more tense by saying that she's not sure that's best. "Because you know so much about parenting in the five minutes you've been with him," the witch tells her, with contempt. She tells Emma to ask David, for at least he took care of Henry while Emma was away, the way Regina herself did in the ten years that she was away the first time. Emma isn't amused, and says, "Okay. Thanks for coming." She turns to go back inside, but Regina stops her by saying she's sorry. Emma turns back around, and Regina looks down, trying to compose herself, and then says she's sorry again, that she shouldn't have snapped at her. "Will you accept my apology?" she asks. Emma says, "Okay. You're right. Archie said you're trying to change, and..." - this nugget of information triggers something within Regina - "...well, you are." Regina, less than amused, asks her if Dr. Hopper said she was trying, and Emma blurts out that he said she came to see him, that she's trying not to use magic, and to be a better person. As Regina lets this all sink in, she can't help but to feel disdain for the fact that Archie's told Emma about their sessions. Emma points out that she was hesitant to invite Regina, but she asked him and he thought it was a good idea. Regina smiles and says, "Thank you, it was." Emma smiles too and the former Mayor says she should be going. She turns to leave and Emma turns around as well, trying to shake off the awkward vibe of the conversation before going back inside.
We are treated to a point of view that is presented to us through the lens of a monocle. The frame shows us some points of Storybrooke, and continues moving till it focuses on Regina Mills, who is walking back home. The monocle belongs to Captain Hook, who is standing on top of a building with Cora, both looking at the latter's daughter. Hook turns to his companion and asks if Regina is broken as she'd expected, to which Cora replies "Not yet", before conveying a disturbing smile...
Ruby catches Regina arguing with Archie.
The following morning, Archie is walking his pet Pongo on the docks of Storybrooke, and they run into Regina. "Beautiful day, isn't it, Regina?" Archie greets the former Mayor, and she stops before him and responds, "Why should I answer you, bug?" The slightly confused Archie explains that she should answer because he's making friendly conversation, to which she adds that he'll just repeat it to anyone with an ear. She reminds him that he told Emma about their sessions, and Archie, having been caught, points out that he was simply trying to help her. "By betraying my trust?" Regina asks, and he says that he mentioned only that she had come to see him as an example of her commitment to change. Regina claims that she came to him in confidence, and asks how she is supposed to prove to people that she's changed when he's there to remind them of her past. Archie clarifies that he didn't say anything specific, for he would never betray the doctor-patient confidentiality. Regina, further annoyed, points out that he got his PhD from a curse. This said, they are interrupted by Ruby, who was out jogging and noticed their argument. The waitress asks if everything is alright, and the irritated Regina tells her that they're having a private discussion, and that she should go take herself for a walk. Ruby isn't pleased; she looks at Archie, who gives her an affirmative nod, indicating that she can leave them alone. Ruby continues jogging, and Archie reassures Regina that he can be trusted. The livid ex-Queen looks at him with anger and hurt and tells him, "You're lucky I've changed." This said, she walks away, and Archie looks on as she goes.
Back in the fairytale land that was, the royal council has gathered at the new and improved kingdom established by the Charming couple, and Jiminy Cricket, speaking to an amplifier and through a magnifying glass, tells his fellow attendants that he fears the Queen may never change, and that they must suspense justice. Prince Charming agrees with this, and asks the council what their options are. The meeting is attended by these two, Snow White, Red and Granny, the Blue Fairy, Grumpy and Sneezy, and three unidentified knights. Grumpy suggests letting him spend five minutes alone with her and his axe... and he then asks if she's still restrained, just in case. The Blue Fairy confirms this, but adds that the magic that they used to capture her will only keep her powerless for a short while. Granny, who is seen knitting, suggests that they banish her to another realm, to which Jiminy replies that they can't, for it would be unconscionable to condemn another realm to the suffering that they've endured. Red agrees with the talking cricket, pointing out that the Queen is their problem and they have to deal with her. Charming stands up from his seat and tells them that only one thing is certain: as long as the Queen lives, the kingdom is in danger. "Are you saying...?" Snow starts to ask. Charming confirms her thoughts: they must kill the Queen. He then says, "Thank you all," therefore excusing the council. The attendants all get up to leave - except the two of them that can fly - and Charming and Snow are left at the table. Once they're gone, the fair Snow White asks her lover if he's sure this is what they must do, to which Charming asks what choice they have, for as long as Regina draws breath she will come after them, after Snow. Snow claims that there's always a choice, and then goes on to remind him that he once stopped her from killing Regina, and even took an arrow to save the Queen. She asks why this is different, and he sits down and explains that he took that arrow to save Snow, not Regina. He adds that that was an assassination, and this is an execution. "If we don't stop her now..." he starts to say, "...there's no telling what she'll live to do."
Nighttime in Storybrooke. Regina Mills is seen walking alone on the streets of the city, with determination and a hint of anger of her face. Ruby, who is closing up shop over at Granny's Diner, comes outside to pick up the sign. When she sees Regina walking into Archie's building, she turns around with a disgruntled look on her face, but tries to shake it off.
Archie is attacked.
In Archie's office, the therapist is writing at his desk when there is a knock on the door. Pongo, in his little bed, moans. Archie opens the door to find Regina, and she tells him that she knows it's late but she was hoping they could talk. Archie acquiesces, telling her to come on in. Regina enters the office and Pongo starts growling at her. As Archie closes the door, the alarmed dalmatian stands up on his paws and barks at Regina. Archie walks past his patient and tells Pongo to hush, because he knows Regina. The woman, however, isn't all too comfortable. Archie goes into his file cabinet, looking for the papers on Regina, and starts saying that he knows how hard it is, how change can often be a struggle. Regina says that she couldn't agree more, right behind him. Archie turns to find her with a wicked look on her face, standing right in front of him. He starts to ask if something is wrong, but is interrupted when Regina grabs him by the throat. Pongo resumes barking at his owner's attacker, but with a single hand gesture Regina is able to ensnare him in a freezing spell. She then lifts up Archie in the air, strangling him all the while, and suddenly he is enveloped in a cloud of purple mist.
Shortly afterwards, Regina leaves the building. As she walks away, the heels of her shoes tapping on the pavement, she is suddenly bathed in a cloud of purple mist herself as she turns back to her original form: Cora, who had disguised herself as her daughter to frame her for Archie's attack. The powerful witch smiles with a disturbing glee as she continues walking away.
"Who would do this?"
The following morning, Emma and Henry are having breakfast together at Granny's Diner, in one of the booths. Ruby walks past them with platters of food for her customers. Henry asks his mother what things were like in the fairytale world, to which Emma responds that there were ogres, the dead rising, people trying to kill her, and more ogres. Henry says, "Awesome!", and Emma tells him, with a smile, that they have to work on his sense of 'awesome'. She is done eating and tells him that it's time for school, so she'll walk him to the school bus. Henry gets up from his seat and tells her he can go on his own; Emma gets up as well and says that she knows he can, but that doesn't mean he should. Henry puts on his backpack and says that David would let him - Emma tells him she's not David. He then reminds her that she used to let him too, to which she replies that she's not herself either. She insists that she is walking him to the bus because that's what mothers do, and she's doing it. They walk out of Granny's and Pongo rushes over to them, barking repeatedly. Henry is delighted to see his pet buddy, but Pongo continues to bark alarmingly, even to Henry's face, as though he's trying to tell them something. Emma wonders where Archie is, and Ruby rushes out of the diner, telling the blonde that something is wrong. Ruby tends to Pongo, and Emma wonders why she thinks this, but is reminded of the 'wolf' thing. She then tells Henry that 11 is old enough to walk to the bus stop, so she'll pick him up later. This said, Henry leaves, and Ruby and Emma follow Pongo into Archie's building. They come through the hall and Emma opens the semi-closed door to the therapist's office, after knocking and calling for him. Emma then spots his lifeless body on the floor and rushes over to it. Ruby enters the room after her, asking her what it is she saw; Emma crouches down next to Archie and feels for a pulse. Ruby is horrified at the sight, and Emma detects that he is dead. The waitress is heartbroken. Emma then wonders who would do this, and Ruby replies that she thinks she knows...
Henry begs his daughter to show repentance.
Back in the fairytale land, Regina is seen looking at the people below her from the window of her contained room. A prison guard tells her that she has a visitor, and walks away to reveal Regina's father. The Queen is happy to see him, but Henry himself looks heart-wrenched. He tells her, through the bars on her door, that this is all her fault, that he failed her as a father. With his head against the bars, he adds that he should had done more to protect her, and wonders if she can ever forgive him. Regina is brought to tears and tells him that there's no need, for how could she blame the one she loves most? "The only one to stand by me to the end." Henry tells her that it doesn't have to be the end, to which Regina replies that Snow and her Prince seemed rather determined to make it so. Henry begs her to show a little regret for what she's done, the pain she's caused, to show them that she can change. "They will spare you, just give them a reason. I beg of you." Regina looks at him, not saying a word.
Regina is questioned by the Charming sheriffs.
A confused Regina is shown sitting in the interrogation room at the sheriff's station. Emma and David enter the room, and Regina tells them, with a hint of sarcasm, that she's glad to see the sheriff's station is now family business. She then asks why she's there, after David closes the door, and Emma says that she knows why she's there. Meanwhile, on the other side of the one-way glass, Mary Margaret is shown, with grief on her face, witnessing the interrogation. Emma tells Regina that she's there because of Archie, and Regina asks if it is now against the law to get into an argument with someone. David leans up against the glass and tells her it is if she goes into their office late at night and kill them. Regina looks shocked and somewhat disheartened, and Emma picks up on this. She asks, "Archie's dead?", and David recounts that Ruby saw her going into Archie's office the night before. Regina tells him that means Ruby's lying, because she was home all evening. Emma sits on the table, and Regina directs her talk to her, making her question why she would ruin everything now after all she's done to change, to try and win Henry back. She then points out that if she did mean to kill Archie, they would never know it. "The fact that he's dead and you caught me shows sloppiness." David reminds her that she's been caught before, and Regina isn't pleased. David turns to his daughter and asks who she thinks is lying, Ruby or Regina. "She's incapable of change, no matter how many times we've given her the chance," David says, as Mary Margaret looks through the glass, saddened. David wonders why this time it should be any different. Regina looks angry and somewhat broken.
Justice is blind.
In the past, a cuffed Regina is seen being escorted by guards to the point of her execution. A crowd has gathered in the area, to witness the demise of the Evil Queen. Snow White and Prince Charming are sitting on the royal chairs, next to the dwarfs, Granny, Red, Jiminy and the Blue Fairy. Several guards and townspeople are present, as well as Henry, the Queen's father, and Rumplestiltskin, partially concealed by his hooded cloak, and mixing in with the crowd. Regina is cuffed to a pole and Jiminy flies in her direction, telling her that this is her opportunity to meet her end with a clear conscience. He asks her if she has any last words, and Regina tells him that she does. Jiminy flies back to his spot next to the Prince, and everyone waits in silence for the Queen to utter her final words. Henry looks at his daughter with hope, and Regina watches him with sadness. She then starts saying, "I know I'm being judged for my past. A past where I've caused pain, a past where I've inflicted misery, a past where I've... even brought death. When I look back at everything I've done, I want you all to know what I feel. And that is... regret." Snow White looks at her old nemesis with some hope, but Regina's tone is changed as she finishes her thoughts: "Regret that I was not able to cause more pain... inflict more misery... and bring about more death!" The crowd is in a state of shock at the Queen's rawness and cruelty. Rumple, however, shows a hint of a smile. "And above all else, with every ounce of my being, I regret that I was not able to kill... Snow White!" Snow is saddened. Charming, however, is enraged, and stands up from his seat, signaling at the guards to prepare their arrows. Regina is blindfolded by a knight as she gives Snow a look of evil mockery, and Charming tells the knights to take their aim. They aim their crossbows at the wicked witch, and Snow can detect the fear on Regina's blinded face. Charming orders them to fire, but Snow gets up and orders them to stop. However, she doesn't do so in time to stop the knights from firing, but fortunately in time for the Blue Fairy to stop the arrows with her magic. The arrows are frozen right before they hit Regina, and fall to the floor. Charming turns to his fiancée with surprise, and she turns back to him and says that this is not the way. This said, she walks away, and Charming is further confused. Snow unknowingly walks past Rumplestiltskin, and Charming tells the knights to take Regina back to her cell. Her blindfold is removed, and Regina is as surprised as everybody else. Charming looks at her with disgust and leaves, and Regina is escorted back to her cell, sporting a look of mockery as she is taken past the people who've come to witness her demise.
The Charmings consider what to do with Regina.
In present day Storybrooke, Mary Margaret continues looking at Regina in the interrogation room through the glass, and when David and Emma come out of the room she asks them what they do with her now. David suggests that they lock her up, and Emma says that they can't because she didn't do it. Her parents are surprised that she really believes that, and Emma explains that she watched her when they told her that Archie was dead, and she didn't know. Mary Margaret starts saying that she knows Emma wants to believe that Regina can change because of Henry, but Emma interrupts her, saying that she knows what she saw. She tells Mary Margaret to look at Regina in there, and points out that the old Regina would had reduced that building to ashes. She adds that Regina is a woman who wants to change, she just wants everyone else to see it; she knows that look, and she knows Regina. "I believe her," she says. David explains to Emma that she doesn't know Regina like they do, and Emma says that maybe that's the problem: she knows in their kingdom Regina was the Evil Queen, but there in Storybrooke she's Regina. Emma then adds that she's still the sheriff, and she says Regina is innocent until proven guilty. Mary Margaret asks what she suggests they do, and her daughter tells them they have to let her go. David interjects, but Emma cuts him off, saying that they first let her go, and then they find the truth. Mary Margaret looks at her with some pride in her for taking a strong stance, and David nods affirmatively, before looking at the former Mayor in the interrogation room.
Snow assures Charming of the good in Regina.
In the land that was, Snow White pushes open the large wooden doors that make the entrance to the royal council room, she is followed by Charming who reminds his fiancee that they agreed what had to be done, wondering why she showed the Queen mercy stating that she doesn't deserve it. "You heard her, she's completely unrepentant," he points out. However, Snow tells him that what she heard was a woman who didn't want to appear weak in her final moments. Charming tells her that he's seen her kill and he's seen her terrorize and that every moment he's seen of her has been one of evil. Snow argues that this is merely what he's seen, but that she knew her before, when she was good. She tells him that Regina saved her life when she was a little girl (see "The Stable Boy") but the prince points out that this was years ago. Snow says that she changed before and asks why she can't change back. Charming refuses to believe that Snow's serious, finding the idea of rehabilitating the Queen as ludicrous. Snow suggests that perhaps showing her a little mercy is the first step. Charming warns her that if she fails, the entire safety kingdom is at stake, saying that they cannot take that risk. "You're so sure of her black soul?" Snow asks. "Sure enough to kill? Because there's no coming back from killing." The prince pauses before telling his beloved that if she thinks this is the right thing to do, then they shall do it. He subsequently tells her to know that her path is one that they cannot come back from either. Snow doesn't respond, merely stares at her fiance, contemplating this.
Rumplestiltskin makes a deal with the fair Snow White.
It's nighttime in the royal courtyard and Snow is walking across it, staring at the stake that Regina was tied to when she was to be executed. She stops at it but is soon interrupted by a familiar voice saying, "My, my. Aren't we troubled, dearie?" Snow turns, surprised, to see Rumplestiltskin sitting upon her throne. The princess wonders what brings him here and Rumple stands up, explaining that he came to witness the Queen's execution and saved a "wee souvenir", showing Snow the Queen's blindfold that resides in his hand. He tells her that the whole event was very disappointing but Snow assures him that she won't apologize for sparing her life, not when there's a chance she mind change. Rumple laughs a shrill laugh at this idea, calling "Regina redeemed" a novel thought, he walks towards the princess and asks her how she expects to accomplish such an impressive feet. Snow sighs, saying that she doesn't even know if it's possible and that she's probably just fooling herself. Rumplestiltskin suggests that maybe she just needs someone to show her if it is possible, and Snow asks the Dark One what it is he means. "Simple," he tells her. "I help provide you with a test to help determine whether the Queen can truly change." The fair princess wonders why she should trust Rumple when she knows he wants the Queen dead, stating that he never makes a deal without a price. He suggests that maybe he just wants her alive, but Snow doubts this, making Rumple give off another shrill giggle. The Dark One tells her to question his motives all she likes, but they shall remain his, but what is hers now, is opportunity. "I can help you," he assures her, walking closer towards her. "Do we have a deal?" Snow takes a moment to think about Rumple's offer.
Emma fights for Regina's innocence.
In the office of Dr. Archibald "Archie" Hopper, the Charmings are searching through the deceased's files. David is rummaging through the filing cabinet as Emma flicks through some papers on the couch, and Mary Margaret does the same on the adjacent chair. The former soon alerts the girls to the fact that Regina's file is empty, and Mary Margaret takes this to mean that she did it, "She killed the kindest soul in town." She stands up and leans her hand against the mantel, adding, "A man who only cared about helping people." David walks over to comfort his wife as Emma promises the two of them that she will find whoever really did this. The prince asks her if it's not time to admit that they already have, reminding her that Regina had a fight with Archie, Ruby saw her entering his office last night and now her file is empty, saying that's a lot of evidence. Emma suggests that maybe that's the point and David asks her what she means, the blonde explains that she doesn't know how it works in fairytale land, but in the real world, it's hard to find evidence, pointing out that this has all been way too easy, unless someone wants them to find evidence. Mary Margaret sits down on the arm of the couch, asking her daughter if she thinks Regina was framed. Emma reminds her that it wouldn't be the first time that happened in this town and David wonders who would want to frame her. "That's a long list, present company included," Mary Margaret says, momentarily raising her hand. "Yeah," Emma tells them. "But there's only one name on that list who would resort to killing to get what they want..."
The Charmings interrupt the one and only Rumbelle scene in this episode.
Over at Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Rumple lifts the lid of a basket of baked goods and looks inside, stating that it all looks delicious and thanking Belle, who presumably prepared it. As Belle begins to take food out of the basket, Emma, David and Mary Margaret burst in, the former leading them, prompting Gold to step out from behind the counter and tell them that nothing warms his heart more than a family reunited, commenting that Emma has her mother's chin. "We know that you killed him," she says before he adds that she also has her father's tact. Belle is stunned that someone's dead and Emma tells her that it's Dr. Hopper. Gold asks the blonde why on Earth she thinks he would have anything to do with that and she explains that all the evidence points to Regina. Belle sarcastically adds that Regina's not possibly capable of doing something so vile but Emma tells her that it's a frame job and Mary Margaret adds that it wouldn't be the first time that Gold used someone to try to hurt her. The pawnbroker says that it's nice to see Snow's memories still in tact but that it wasn't him. David asks why they should believe him and Gold says that he can prove it, telling them to ask the witness. Emma snaps that no one was there, but Mr. Gold points out that that's not strictly true.
Emma uses magic to view Pongo's memories.
Soon, David is seen leading Pongo the dalmatian into the pawn shop, Mr. Gold kneels down to pet him, stroking his neck and calling him a good boy. Belle smiles and says that she didn't know he was such a dog person but Gold tells her that a long time ago in another life, he got to know a sheep dog or two. Emma, who's leaning against the counter, sarcastically tells him that that's fascinating, but unless he speaks dog, she wonders how Pongo's going to tell them anything. "Through magic, of course," Gold says, going on to mention that they won't be able to communicate but they'll be able to extract his memories. David is unsure about this but Gold assures him that he needn't worry as Pongo shan't feel a thing. Emma asks Rumple why they should trust him, pointing out that he could just as easily use magic to fool them. "Because I'm not gonna be the one using magic," he says. "You are." The Charmings appear confused and Emma wonders how, Gold reminds the blonde that she has it within her and told him so herself. He opens up a cabinet and takes something out, reminding them also that Snow witnessed it. Mary Margaret tells her daughter that she doesn't have to do this, but Emma disagrees, saying that if it tells them something about Archie's death, then so be it. Gold reveals the object he obtained from the cabinet, asking Emma if she knows what it is, she does, stating that it's a dream catcher, but he assures her that it's capable of catching so much more. Belle, David, Emma and Mary Margaret seem wary as Gold runs the dream catcher across Pongo's head and down his back, causing it to glow gold with magic. Belle asks her love what it is and Gold tells her that it's memories, before handing the dream catcher to Emma. She wonders what she's supposed to do as it's all a jumble, but he assures her that if she wills it, they shall see. The blonde takes hold of the dream catcher as her parents stand behind her and holds it out in front of herself, concentrating. As she tries to "will it", she states that she can't, but Gold tells her that she can and she continues. Emma focuses her concentration upon Pongo's memories and then, within the dream catcher, the view of the previous night through Pongo's eyes are seen. We see Archie open his office door to Regina and let her in, as the scene continues, we see Regina attack Archie, lifting him with one hand by the throat and strangling the life out of him. Mary Margaret turns away, upset by this, and David holds her. Emma drops the dream catcher and the memories end, and, in the face of such evidence, she is forced to turn to her parents and say, "You were right all along." David apologizes to his daughter but Emma appears less than comforted.
Emma steps out of Mr. Gold's pawn shop as her parents chase after her and David tells her to wait, asking her where she's going. The blonde bluntly states that she's going to get Regina but Mary Margaret asks her if she's not going to talk about this. Emma wonders what there is to talk about, saying that she killed Archie and now she's got to pay. Mary Margaret asks her how she plans on doing this as Regina has her powers back here, but Emma reminds them that they just saw what happened, saying that she has powers too. David grabs her by the arm and turns her around, stopping the walk and telling his daughter that she has something but she didn't even know what to do with it and now she's going to go take on the most powerful woman in town. Emma is confused, asking if they're not the ones who were pushing on the "it's Regina" kick the whole time, saying that they should be happy as they were right. Mary Margaret says that she knows they're right but that she also knows that going after her without a plan is a mistake. The blonde wonders what they suggest they do and Charming explains that even if the dwarfs construct a cell to hold her, they need a way to prevent her magic until then. "Fairy dust..." Mary Margaret utters, informing them that Leroy said they were processing a new batch of it. Emma is surprised that something so simple would stop Regina's power but Charming assures her that it has before but that the problem is, she'll see them coming. "Leave that to me," Emma tells him. "Trust me, we're locking her up."
Snow lets Regina free...
Back in time, we are shown the view of Queen Regina sitting in her cell, occupying herself with a candle. Snow White is seen walking up the stairs and over to the cell, a knight greets her and bows and Snow tells him to leave her alone with Regina. The knight informs Snow that he has direct orders from the prince, however, she points out that now he has direct orders from her. He bows again before vacating the area. Snow looks at the dagger concealed in her sleeve and pushes it further up there to make it less noticeable. "First you stop my execution and now you defy your prince to see me. Should I be worried there's trouble in paradise?" Regina asks, not making eye-contact but merely staring at the candle in her hand. Snow tells her stepmother that she's not there to talk about her fiancee. Regina then asks her why is she there and Snow says to her that she knows she wasn't always like this and that the woman who saved her life all those years ago had good in her. The Queen smirks and tells Snow that that woman lost much... and now she's gone. Snow stipulates to this but tells her that no matter how hard Regina tries to hide her past self, she thinks she's still in there somewhere. The prisoner assures Snow that she's not. "All you need," says the fair princess, walking over to the cell door, placing the key in the lock and opening it. "Is someone to help you let her out." Regina asks what she's doing and Snow points out that she's letting the woman who saved her life go, saying that this is a chance to start fresh and to leave the evil behind in this cell. Regina stands up and approaches Snow, "Just like that?" she asks. "Just like that," Snow states. The latter smiles as the former steps out of her cell, however, suddenly, Regina pins Snow to the cell bars by her throat, telling her that she makes change sound so easy.
...and comes to regret it.
At this, Snow reaches for the small blade in her sleeve but Regina uses her spare hand to pin Snow's arm against the wall as well, taking her dagger and asking her if she really thought this could protect her. As Regina continues to strangle the princess, she states that since she can no longer use magic, she can't think of a better way to kill her than with the blade Snow had meant for her. "Goodbye, Snow White," Regina says before plunging the dagger into Snow's gut, "Yes..." she whispers, but a very alive Snow shakes her head, "No." The Queen, confused, removes the dagger from Snow, seeing no wound and that her princess' clothes mend themselves. She looks at the knife and says that that's impossible, but Snow corrects her in saying that that's magic. "And this time it wasn't thanks to fairies," says Prince Charming as he walks up the stairs accompanied by several guard, holding Regina's execution blindfold and saying that it was the work of Rumplestiltskin, explaining that he took a few of her hairs from the blindfold and cast a protection spell. Regina is devastated and Charming tells her that there is now nothing in this kingdom that she can do to harm Snow or him, stating that she's powerless against them. Realizing what's happening, Regina whispers that they tricked her, but Snow shakes her head saying that it wasn't a trick, it was a test, one she had truly hoped Regina would pass. Charming adds that they wanted to give her a chance to change, before Snow tells Regina that she is banished, banished to live alone with her misery. The prince says that as long as she's in this land, she can't hurt them. Snow approaches her stepmother and tells her, "You saved my life once, and now I've saved yours. So we're even. And if you ever try to hurt anyone in my kingdom again, I will kill you." Regina glares evilly at the royal couple as the walk away, after Charming signals for his guards to seize the Queen. They oblige, and Regina is escorted from the castle.
"You will not keep my son from me!"
Emma knocks on the door to Regina's house, her parents behind her, and the mayor answers, assuming that the blonde is there to apologize. Emma tells Regina that she knows she did it, confusing her, she goes on to say that she saw her choke the life out of Archie. Regina asks her what she's talking about, wondering how that's even possible, and David tells her that she used magic. The blonde then says that she saw what happened and it was her, Regina. The mayor realizes that Gold helped them, asking how they can trust him of all people when he's probably the one behind this. Mary Margaret tells her that they didn't trust him which is why Emma used magic instead. Regina is stunned that Emma can use magic and the blonde smiles before Regina realizes that of course she can as she's the savior. "I can only assumed he warned you then?" Regina asks, and Emma wonders to what she is referring. "That magic always comes with a price," Regina states, but Emma tells her that that's a price they're both going to pay. Regina asks how that is and the blonde explains that Henry believed in her and now his heart's going to break, and that's both their prices. The mayor shakes her head, saying that she will not let Emma poison Henry against her, but Emma smirks, telling Regina that that's an interesting word choice since she already did so herself. The sheriff begins to walk back down the pathway leading up to Regina house but the latter follows her, demanding to see Henry as he deserves to hear her side of the story, "He's my son!" she yells. "No he's not, he's mine! And after this, you're not getting anywhere near him!" Emma turns around and yells in rage, before telling someone to "do it". Suddenly, Mother Superior steps out from behind one of Regina's bushes and throws a handful of fairy dust at the mayor, however, Regina catches the dust, balling it up in her hands before turning to David and Mary Margaret and asking them if they really thought that would work again. She throws the fairy dust at the floor, scattering it, and turns back to Emma. "You..." she says. "You will not keep my son from me!" This said, Regina extends her arms and in a transparent pulse of magic, Emma is knocked over and sent flying backwards, landing hard on the ground. Mary Margaret runs over to help her daughter up saying so much for fairy dust. Regina squares up to Emma and asks her if she thinks her new found magic can save her now. However, the blonde says that she doesn't need it as she's already won, telling the mayor that Henry's never going to believe her lies about Archie now. She tells Regina that she can pretend all she wants but they know who she is and who she will always be. At this, Regina realizes she's lost before disappearing in a flurry of purple smoke, leaving the space between Emma, Mary Margaret, David and Mother Superior empty.
Regina has mirrors everywhere.
We are treated to the view of the Storybrooke clock tower before Emma steps in the way, she tells David and Mary Margaret that Henry's bus is going to be there any minute, but the latter assures her that she can do this. "Tell my son that someone he loved was killed by someone he also cares about? I don't know if I can. I don't know if I can do any of this. This is like real parent stuff. How can I be a parent if I never was one?" she asks, panicked. David says that he knows, looking to Mary Margaret and back to his daughter, adding that he's been asking himself the same question. Emma feels bad and assures them that it's different, but Mary Margaret assures her that it's not, saying that they can figure it out and so can Emma. The blonde tells her parents that they don't know her and don't know who she was before Storybrooke, assuring them that she was not parent material. David reminds her that they know who she is since she's been here, but Emma points out that she could revert like Regina. "You're not going to. And the Emma I know was great with Henry," he assures her. Emma argues that she's been a parent for five minutes but he says that the case is same for he and Mary Margaret, but that things are different now, for all of them, and they don't have to go through any of it alone - they're family. Emma looks from David to Mary Margaret and then turns to Henry who's getting off of his school bus across the street. He crosses the street and she approaches him, he reminds her that he can walk himself but Emma tells him that something happened and she wants him to hear it from her first. He asks her what it is and she walks him over to a bench, proceeding to tell him. As Emma tells Henry of Archie's demise, Regina is seen watching the two of them via her wing-mirror, sitting in the car across the street. She appears saddened and continues to watch as her son is told she's a murderer. Further tears roll down her cheek as Emma and Henry hug, and she begins to sob.
"I have a wedding to get to."
Within the Dark Palace, Queen Regina stares at her evil self in one of her mirrors as the shot pans to reveal Henry, her father, enter the room, telling his daughter that she has a visitor. She coldly asks "Who?", before being greeted with a familiar voice behind her, wondering if she needs to ask. She turns to see Rumplestiltskin who asks her what other friends she has. She angrily tells him that he's no friend, suggesting that he's there to vanquish her suffering, but he tells her that he thought she could do with someone to help raise her spirits, especially "on a day like today". She asks him what's so special about today and he stands up to inform her of Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding, "of course". He asks her if she got an invitation but the Queen remains silent, he goes on to say that he didn't either, still, nice to be able to see them declare their true love in front of the entire kingdom. He walks closer to Regina as he assures her that they got a happy ending after all. Regina begrudgingly says that because of him, there's nothing she can do to stop it. She walks away from Rumple, stating that there's no way to harm them in this land ever again. He points out that he supposes that's true... in this land. The Queen stops and turns to Rumple who explains that the deal he made was explicit, she can never harm them in this land, but were she to bring them to another land, that'd be a different matter. Regina grins wickedly as Rumple leans into her and says, "I told you I was your friend," before disappearing in an array of purple smoke. "Father!" Regina calls, alerting Henry back into the room. "Bring my carriage," she requests. "I have a wedding to get to."
Cora tells Hook of her "present".
At the Storybrooke docks, Cora is seen approaching Captain Hook, who's sharpening something on his namesake item. He notes that she's back and asks her if she got what she wanted. She answers positively and tells him that her daughter's lost everything now. Hook smiles, sarcastically naming her "mum of the year", but she states that she did what was needed. The pirate then inquires about what he needs, reminding her that she promised to help him with Rumplestiltskin. Cora smiles before pointing out that she's already started, asking if he got the little gift she left him in the hold of his ship. "A gift?" he asks, standing. "What is it?" However, the witch corrects him in saying that it's not a "what", but a "who". She gestures for him to follow her with her hand before heading on board the invisible ship beside them, followed by Hook, making the dock empty.
Dun dun dun...
Inside, Cora opens a door to a room in Hook's ship, closely followed by the pirate as she looks down at the floor before lifting a grate, leading to the ship's hold below. Hook lifts the grate beside it for a better view and asks who it is. The witch explains that it's someone privy to some of Storybrooke's deepest secrets, including Rumplestiltskin's. Someone who can help them determine his weaknesses there. The shot reveals the hold of the ship to contain none other than the supposedly deceased Dr. Archie Hopper, tied up and gagged, looking up in fear at the two villains. Hook asks, if that's Archie, then who did Cora kill, she merely shrugs and responds, "How do I know? It's my first day in town." The pirate smiles, realizing that Cora disguised the body to look like him, saying that death wasn't punishment enough and commending Cora on her work. The witch thanks him before telling him that know he'll have all the knowledge he needs, "It may take some work, but this cricket will chirp." The two of them continue to stare at the captive Archie. "Aye," Hook says. "That he will..."
- The title card features Archie Hopper's dalmatian, Pongo.
- The banner used at Mary Margaret and Emma's "Welcome Home" party is the same one used for the former's previous homecoming party in "The Return" featuring the words "WELCOME BACK, MARY MARGARET", and, in this episode, the small addition of "and Emma" attached to the bottom.
- This outing held steady from the previous episode, scoring a 3.1/8 among 18-49s with 9.1 million viewers tuning in.
- Entertainment Weekly critic Hilary Busis gave it a good review: "Once Upon a Time tackled these questions and more tonight, returning from its hiatus with a winter premiere heavy on setup and light on payoff -- just what we should have expected from an hour meant to kick-start the season's second half. Still, any episode that features Regina suggesting that Red take herself for a walk is A-Okay in my book."
- Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club gave it a B: "Once Upon A Time flew off the rails during the first half of this season, but its first episode back from winter hiatus makes some promising strides in the right direction. As Emma and Snow White are getting accustomed to life back in Storybrooke, a tragic crime throws them back in the drama, but writers David H. Goodman and Robert Hull are setting up a new plot without backtracking any progress made with the characters."
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN gave the episode a 8.5, proclaiming that "Once Upon a Time demonstrates how not to be a parent in this week's wrenching episode." She also added that "Parrilla does a masterful job at playing all the sides of Regina" and that it was "Cool to see Emma intentionally using magic for the first time."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "TV Ratings Sunday: 'Once Upon a Time' Flat, 'Biggest Loser' Premiere Up, 'The Mentalist' Rises, 'Revenge' Down as Football Dominates Night" from TV By The Numbers/Zap2it (January 7, 2013)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time' recap: Murder, She Faked" from Entertainment Weekly (January 6, 2013)
- ↑ "The Cricket Game" S2 / E9, by Oliver Sava, A.V. Club (January 6, 2013)
- ↑ "CORA’S IN STORYBROOKE, AND SHE'S NOT WASTING ANY TIME." from IGN (January 7, 2013)