Murder and magic visited Once Upon a Time for the first new episode of 2013. Ready to dive into this fantastic episode, fans?
The "The Cricket Game" starts out right where it should: with Cora and Hook arriving on a pier in Storybrooke. Hook thinks this is the end of their journey, but Cora tells Hook (and his chest hair) that they need to stick together a bit longer. Then, to keep their arrival all top secret, she makes the vessel turn invisible and then transforms a nice (but inquisitive) tackle shop owner into a fish and dumps him in the water. Oh, Cora...
Cue main titles - and there’s Pongo!
We come upon a scene we don’t witness much on Once: a sex scene! Yep, newly reunited Snow and Charming are having some afternoon delight. BOOM!
Well, maybe a half-boom because Henry and Emma walk in, both a little surprised to find the two fairy-talers doing the nasty. (Think about it, Emma may be close in age to her mom and dad but, hello, nobody wants to see their parents all naked and stuff.)
FAIRYTALELAND The Evil Queen is well aware that Snow and Charming have been victorious against Evil King George. She knows if she’s going to act against them, she’d better do so now and that means finding Snow. Well, whattya know? Snow is alone. In the woods. What a shock! (I mean, isn’t she always off wandering alone so bad things can happen to her?)
Regina finds Snow and plans to destroy her... but Charming shows up and EQ realizes she’s been bamboozled. “You’re reign of evil is over,” Charming tells her. (Why don’t I really believe him?)
STORYBROOKE It’s party time at Granny’s. Everyone is back together and joyous, until Regina walks in and as the buzz kill guest that shows at every party. But Emma makes it clear she invited her to join them. It’s time to give Regina a second chance, she says. I mean, come on. She brought lasagna!! Henry does say he’s glad to see her so she gets a little morsel of warmth.
Time passes and Regina is sitting all by her lonesome in the diner while the party rocks on. She’s finally over it and bails but Emma rushes after her. Regina sincerely thanks her for the invite and asks if Henry sleeping over at her pad is an option.
“I’m not sure that’s best,” Emma says, also dropping the info that she knows Regina has been seeing therapist Archie. Regina is immediately pissy all over again. But as she walks away from Emma, we see Hook and Cora are watching from above. “Is she broken?” Hook asks. “Not yet,” says Cora, evil plans swirling in mind.
Regina is confronting Archie and it’s not to talk about how beef is better than sausage in her lasagna. While she’s all worked up over his talking to Emma about her sessions, Archie assures her he would never reveal any details they discussed from their shrink time. Is she satisfied with that? (What do YOU think?)
FAIRYTALELAND Everyone is gathered to discuss the fate of the Evil Queen. Jiminy Cricket tells Charming that the Queen will never change. Charming agrees: “As long as the Queen lives, the Kingdom is in danger.”
He decides that they must kill the Queen. Everyone concurs, except Snow who, after everyone departs, questions whether that’s the right thing to do. Charming tells her to stop being such a nag and go fetch him a turkey sandwich pronto... okay, I’m kidding, but he does tell her that this is the only thing that will stop her. Cue Snow’s concerned face.
STORYBROOKE Ruby sees Regina shuffle herself over to Archie’s office and we join them there. Pongo is there with Archie and definitely doesn’t like the Mayor. Archie is assuring Regina that all is okay when he turns and Regina is all up in his grill. To keep Pongo off, she puts a freeze spell on him and proceeds to choke the life out of Archie.
Regina is then seen walking out and... could that be Cora on the street, too. Almost a BOOM moment, but did Archie really kick the bucket? Did Regina do the deed? Will Pongo unfreeze? Isn’t purple smoke cool? Lots of act break questions...
It’s morning at the diner and Emma and Henry are bantering about how he wants to go to the bus himself, but she wants to be a Mom and blah blah blah. Once outside, though, Pongo shows up barking like, well, a dog, but enough that Henry gets sent to the bus stop (alone, I point out! Bad Mom!) and Ruby and Emma follow Pongo to Archie’s office where... Archie is dead. BOOM! Who ever could be responsible?
FAIRYTALELAND Queen is locked up in the pokey and who comes to visit? Her father! Awwww. EQ cries and dear old Dad advises: “Show them you can change.” We kind of think she’s going to take her advice.
STORYBROOKE Regina is at the police station being questioned by the dynamic duo of Sheriff Emma and Deputy Charming while Snow White watches from behind a one-way mirror, obviously left over from an old Law & Order episode. Regina says she didn’t kill Archie and, well, don’t ya kinda want to believe her? (I’m sensing a pattern here…) Charming is like a broken record with his ‘She’s incapable of change’ tune.
FAIRYTALELAND Execution time for EQ. Rumple is watching in the crowd, giddy as can be and when Jiminy Cricket asks EQ for last words, she says she’s being judged for the past and that she feels “regret that I was not able to cause more pain.” And, yeah, in case you were wondering, that includes having never killed Snow White. Arrows are ordered to fly and they do but... stop mid-air at Snow White’s command.
“This is not the way,” Snow says. The Queen is soon back in her cell - and she smiles.
STORYBROOKE Like her Mama in the past, Emma is the one saying that she knows Regina isn’t guilty. Despite Charming and Snow’s “WTF” faces at her, she insists they let Regina go and find the truth.
FAIRYTALELAND Snow tells Charming that there’s no going back from killing so she had to stop the execution. And while he doesn’t bring up how she publicly defied him (I mean, if this were Sons of Anarchy things would roll waaaay different, right?), Charming reluctantly agrees.
Snow is then seen talking to Rumple, who said he wanted EQ’s heart as a souvenir and that he is sure she will never be redeemed. He offers up a test to help decide once and for all. “Do we have a deal?” Rumple asks with his usual sneer.
STORYBROOKE Emma, Snow and Charming (E/S/C) find in Archie’s office that Regina’s file is empty, which only makes her look more guilty. Emma thinks maybe she was framed and, again, Charming and Emma are left wondering what the hell their daughter is thinking.
We stop by Mr. Gold’s shop and we see Belle hanging out with him and, come on, they’re kinda cute together, right? But E/S/C come in and wonder if Mr. Gold isn’t responsible for Archie’s death. “It wasn’t me,” he says convincingly. “Ask the witness.” Enter Pongo and Belle gets all swoony seeing Gold with the dog. Gold offers up some magic where the memories of Pongo (remember? He witnessed what happened to Archie) can be extracted.
But…wait for it…Gold isn’t going to do the magic. He’s going to have Emma do it.
Enter the Dream Catcher (a kinda sweet looking device that looks like something your Grandma might have had hanging in a window), which Emma has to pinch her face together real tight to make work. Just as we all start to think Emma hasn’t got what it takes, the Dream Catcher begins to work and we see the scene play out in it where Regina chokes Archie to death. BOOM!
E/S/C know they need to contain Regina’s magic to grab her and realize some fairy dust should do the trick.
FAIRYTALELAND. EQ is back in the cell and Snow comes in, telling the guard to leave. She has a nice, sharp knife with her. Snow tells EQ that there is still good in her, but EQ doesn’t agree. Snow unlocks the cell with the knife and says that this is her chance to start fresh. We think for half of a half second that EQ may have changed but she starts choking Snow and takes the knife and stabs her! BOOM!
Alas, Snow is not hurt as it’s revealed Rumple cast a protective spell on her. EQ is officially banished to live alone in the world. Snow does tell her that if she tries to hurt anyone in the kingdom ever again, she WILL kill her. (And she means it!)
STORYBROOKE Regina is confronted by E/S/C and they say that they know she killed Archie but it wasn’t Gold who showed them the deed but Emma who used magic for the first time. Regina says the line usually saved for Gold: “Magic always comes with a price.” Emma tells her that that price is Henry’s heartbreaking and lays down the law: Regina is done having any access to Henry.
Fairy dust is launched to grab her, but Regina effortlessly deflects it and uses her powers to throw Emma across her front yard. Before anyone else can do anything, POOF, she’s gone!
Bring out the violins because Emma has to meet Henry at the bus stop and tell him that the town shrink who is really a cricket has been killed. We get an added “Awwww” moment when we see Regina is sitting in her car watching Emma telling Henry in the rearview mirror.
FAIRYTALELAND EQ is back in full-on bitch mode. Rumple shows up rubbing her face in the fact that she has no friends. But he also tells her that he has something that could stop today’s wedding of Snow and Charming (yes, folks, we’re at that point just before the pilot begins). While Regina knows she cannot harm them in FairyTaleLand, she can easily harm them in another land, Gold tells her.
“I have a wedding to get to,” she says with a vengeance.
STORYBROOKE Cora is now loving the fact that Regina is now very much broken. “Well, aren’t you Mother Of the Year,” sneers Hook. Cora mentions that she left a gift in the hull of the ship and it’s not a what but a who.
They are down in the ship and lo and behold sitting in the bottom of the ship? A very much alive Archie, all gagged and bound (and not in the good way). Turns out Cora grabbed some nobody from Storybrooke, made him look like Archie and faked Archie’s death. (What a fabulous way to find out everything they need to know about the town than with the town shrink!).
To punctuate her point, Cora says: “This cricket will chirp.” DOUBLE BOOM!
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.