HOLD THE PHONE. OMG. I’m really glad I decided to keep watching this season. Everything that I thought was lacking in the premiere seemed to be in the very intense second episode, so I'm a very happy fangirl.
This episode returned to all the things I love about OUAT. The seven dwarves bring it upon themselves to find out what happens beyond Storybrooke. Poor Sneezy is the one to draw the short stick, and after crossing the border, Grumpy and the others realize that anyone who crosses the border loses their memory of their fairy tale characters and only remembers their Storybrooke personalities, knowing nothing about the magical world.
On a side note, Grumpy is a really great character, made even better by actor Lee Arenberg (who you may remember as Pintel in Pirates of the Caribbean). He always proves to be great comic relief.
Sleepy leaving Storybrooke
Charming/David goes to Evil Queen/Regina’s house asking where she got the portal hat that Snow White/Mary Margaret and Emma went through. She insists that she doesn’t remember. Regina spends some of the episode trying to gain her magic back, and Prince confronts her and says he thinks the magic she used in last week’s episode to pin him to the wall was a fluke. Back in the old world, a young soon-to-be-married Regina tries to escape the land to avoid her fate. Regina’s mother Cora stops Regina from leaving the land. Regina pleads with her mother, telling her she doesn’t want to marry the King, and says she wants freedom and not a magical life. Cora says “Power is freedom,” and brings Regina back home.
The day before the wedding, we see Regina combing Snow’s hair (remember, Snow is soon to be her step-daughter), and Snow asks where Regina got a particular necklace. Regina fantasizes of telling Snow it was from the stable boy she was in love with (whom Cora killed in the first season because she wanted more for her daughter), and telling Snow they would have ended up together had Snow not tattled to Cora about their relationship.
Though Regina strongly felt it was Snow’s fault that Cora killed the stable boy, she attributes Snow's actions to her naivete: she truly believed Cora would actually help Regina to marry the stable boy. Regina then fantasizes about choking young Snow to death, but then comes to her senses and instead just tells her she doesn't remember where she got the necklace.
Regina asks her father how her mother became so negatively powerful, and he says a man brought her a book of spells. We soon discover that man was Rumplestiltskin. (EEEEEEE crazy stuff always happens when he’s around! Also, don’t you love the way he says “Dearie”?)
Back in Storybrooke, Regina goes riffling through Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold’s store to find her mother's old magic book. Mr. Gold finally hands it over, turning into a flashback of the fairy tale land the night before the wedding. Regina discovers her mother's magic book of and summons Rumple, who brings her a gift of a magic portal in the form of a mirror, thereby gives her the option of leaving her mom forever. She hesitates.
After a disagreement on her wedding day, Regina pushes Cora into the mirror and decides to escape the land. On her way out, Rumple stops her and asks how it felt to use magic. Regina says it doesn’t matter; she’ll never use it again. When Rumple asks her why, she says “because I loved it.” (Yeah, the show's got some pretty damn good dialogue.) She decides to learn magic with Rumple’s help.
Regina and Cora in front of the Mirror Portal
In Storybrooke, the Prince is trying to find a way to get the panicked community to unite and stay in the town despite all the magical chaos. (One of my favorite lines during the whole episode comes when someone asks Prince if the nuns are still nuns or if they can date. Hee hee!) The Prince gets a magic potion from Mr. Gold in order to get back to Regina and Emma. Before leaving, Prince tells Gold what happens when you leave Storybrooke. When the Prince leaves, Gold smashes all the glass cases in his shop, very angry about the potential effects of leaving.
The Prince puts the liquid in the hat, which starts to fly away and leads to the Mad Hatter/Jefferson, who has been trapped in a car trashed by the wraith in the previous episode. The Mad Hatter insists he doesn’t know how to make the hat work, and bolts for no apparent reason when he gets the chance. The Prince misses the town hall meeting he had called, in which he was going to explain a new plan on dealing with the magical chaos.
In the meantime, while Prince was with the Mad Hatter, Regina did get her magic back. She starts knocking down townspeople with her magic at the meeting, and only once Henry volunteers to go live with her again, Regina does as promised and leaves the hall. (On a side note, did anybody else think she looked SUPA FLY in that black dress with the sharp detailing at the shoulders? WERK IT GIRL! But then again, when does Lana Parrilla not look fabulous?)
Back at home, Regina tries to keep Henry there forever, saying they could both use magic now and that he could have anything he wanted. She even conjured up a giant cupcake for him. Yeah, cupcakes are yummy, but even that wasn’t enough to make Henry want to stay with her. Regina is somewhat stunned, as that’s how she felt about Cora.
The Prince goes to the edge of Storybrooke to stop people from leaving with a very moving speech: “David and the Prince, I am both. Just like you. You are both. The town is both. We are both. Stay here and every choice is open to you. I will protect you.” (One of those times I wrote “FUCK YEAH!” in my notes). He manages to get the people to stay. Also, Regina decides to let Henry live with the Prince--she doesn’t want to use magic to keep Henry with her.
Finally, the town starts to pull itself together. Stores start reopening. The dwarves decide to mine fairy dust to bring Sneezy back to his regular self. Regina comes close to burning the book of magic but ends up locking it in a cabinet. Geppetto/Older Henry's Pinocchio, who has been wooden and immobile for the entirety of the episode, is suddenly gone. We are left to assume Pinocchio somehow came back to life, and went to go figure things out. (Remember, his Storybrooke character August Booth is very mysterious and inquisitive.)
And of course we can’t forget about Mr. Gold. In the last shot we see of him, he is standing at the edge of Storybrooke, hovering near the line. My friend Michele (also a OUAT fan) thinks he wants to go find his son Bae, but doesn’t want to forget everything by crossing the line.
The most shocking stuff is, of course, saved for last. We finally get to Snow and Emma being dragged by Mulan and Sleeping Beauty back to their land. Snow and Emma are ordered to be thrown into a pit--and who else is in the pit but Cora. AHHHHH. Can’t wait for next week.
Emma and Snow in the pit
Images via ABC.com