Reviews

ONCE UPON A TIME: “The Cricket Game”

RAPHAEL SBARGE, MEGHAN ORY, LANA PARRILLA

With a focus on Regina’s continued quest for redemption and inclusion in the Storybrooke community, “The Cricket Game” was a solid return filled with nice plot developments and intriguing story. Coinciding with flashbacks to the fairytale world during the time that Regina was captured by Snow and Charming, we watched The One Formerly Known As The Evil Queen face another judgment in the present day – this time, judgment for the apparent murder of resident psychologist Archie.

When we last left our Storybrooke denizens, we were somewhere between content happiness and foreboding anxiety. Having been rescued from fairytale land, Emma and Mary Margaret returned to their families, David was released from his sleeping spell, and the townspeople headed off to celebrate the homecoming of their friends. But as we closed out the hour, we also saw that despite thwarted attempts, Cora and Hook were making their way towards Storybrooke – and towards revenge.

And then there was the matter of Regina. Poor, poor Regina. Having been seemingly redeemed in her son’s eyes by helping Emma and Mary Margaret, she was soon shunned by most of the townspeople, Henry included (the fact that her son chose his rightful mother over his adopted one led her to harbor some hurt feelings that I feel will only worsen once Cora comes back into play.) Speaking of Cora, if it wasn’t already clear that Regina’s mother was going to cause a disturbance in Storybrooke as the new “Big Bad,” it was certainly clear after tonight. Swooping in with Hook (who was sadly sidelined for the hour), Cora wasted no time in eavesdropping on a depressed Regina during Granny’s party before she assumed her daughter’s identity, ultimately condemning her to a life of continued isolation and hatred.

On a personal level, I’m a huge fan of redemption stories and tend to fixate on complex personalities of “villains” such as Hook and Regina – especially if these personalities have layers that have been built up over time due to past events or experiences. In that way, I truly do feel sympathetic towards Regina (it doesn’t help that Lana Parrilla is an amazing actress who can do no wrong in my book, especially where a display of emotions are concerned) and I think the show is doing a commendable job of helping us to see the character as more of a victim while still allowing her to hold onto those moments that define her as the evil person we’ve known from the very first episode.

In the same way this episode centered on Regina’s attempts at redemption, we also spent a good deal of time exploring other people’s opinions of the former villain – namely, David and Mary Margaret. It was interesting to see that at one time, Snow was much more sympathetic towards Regina – like Emma, who realized that Regina had become someone who was willing to help others, Snow realized that underneath Regina’s hatred, there was still a woman who was so good hearted that she would save a young girl on a runaway horse. Both placed trust in their feelings: Emma’s trust in Regina allowed her to give her the benefit of the doubt, while Snow’s trust in Rumpelstiltskin allowed her to spare Regina’s life. Yet once that trust was broken for both individuals, they became hardened and hateful, angry and upset and unable to think otherwise. For his part, it seems that David has always been vengeful, though I did like how Snow balanced him out by being rational in fairytale world, and then backed him up by corroborating his instincts in Storybrooke.

It was refreshing to finally see some back story on the fairytale world in terms of how Regina was captured by Snow and Charming via the Blue Fairy’s binding spell, and how she was saved from execution only to be banished with a protective charm that forbade her from hurting Snow and Charming while in fairytale land. But we also learned that it was Rumpelstiltskin that showed up to alert her of the wedding, and it was Rumpelstiltskin (ever the wise and evil mentor) who put the idea in Regina’s head that spurred her plotting of the curse that would change everything. It’s truly interesting to see the flashbacks of Regina’s power days in contrast to the broken down individual that now seems completely and utterly alone, knowing that underneath is simply a woman who was hurt by love, hurt by her own family, and who had no choice but to harden herself against her past.

The episode did a nice job of faking us out with Archie’s death, so much so that I started to believe that our wise cricket really was no more. I was surprised and happy to find that Cora had only kidnapped him, plotting to use his knowledge of Rumpelstiltskin so Hook could extract his revenge (who did Cora actually kill? Right now, we’re assuming it’s no one important.) I’m extremely curious to see how this all plays out, how Hook will start to take his revenge, and what other tricks Cora has up her sleeve – and I await, as I have since last season, for the inevitable mother/daughter showdown that I hope will occur sooner rather than later.

Final Thoughts:

  • I couldn’t be the only one who had a LOST flash when Cora said “do not tell me what I can and can’t do.”. And could the woman be any more vile? The way Barbara Hershey delivered one of her last lines – “my daughter lost everything now” – was so cold and calculating, it seemed to take the word “evil” to a whole new level. Mother of the Year, indeed – I’m so glad that Hershey is sticking around to spice up some of the drama.
  • In an episode filled with more dramatic fare, I was amused by the lighter moments of the episode – notably, Emma and Henry walking in on a “napping” Snow and Charming. As scarring as something like that is for a kid, it’s gotta be a little jarring for 28 year old Emma as well.
  • In one of the biggest excitement moments of the hour, Emma finally did magic – and despite her reservations, she seemed to be better at it than she expected. I’ve loved watching Emma go from skeptic to believer (from dragon fighter to giant tamer) and this new development only makes me more excited to see what the second half of the season has in store of us. More magic? Yes, please! (Also, take care of that ego, Emma. I’d hate to see you go the way of Regina.)

What did you think of the episode? Are you glad Once is back? Sound off below!

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