Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Once Upon a the 80's

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Episode 17: "Welcome to Storybrooke"

Rather than bouncing between the present and the fairybacks, this episode instead shuffled between the present and 1983, when the curse first brought the crew to Storybrooke.  Kurt Flynn, a man from New Jersey, and his son, Owen, are camping in the woods when the curse is cast.  The storm heavily damages Kurt's truck, and the two begin to hike toward the nearest town, when they are surprised to stumble upon the previously non-existent Storybrooke.

When Regina initially discovers the outsiders in her town, she is displeased and puts a rush order on the truck's repairs, but as the days go by, she finds herself increasingly bored with the town and interested in Kurt and Owen.  After having them to her house for dinner, she learns that Kurt is a recent widower and that the two came on a camping trip to Maine to forget their grief.  She explains that she came here to start anew and invites Kurt to move to town.  Owen leaps at the chance, but Kurt plans to return to their home in New Jersey.

The next day as the Flynns prepare to leave town, Regina orders Sheriff Graham to arrest Kurt, using Graham's heart to control him.  Kurt witnesses this and decides to flee immediately.  Graham pursues the Flynns through town and "arrests" Kurt at the town line.  Kurt tells Owen to run for help; Regina asks Owen to stay, but he listens to his father.  When he returns with the police, there is no evidence of Storybrooke or his father.

Back in the present, Regina mourns the loss of her mother, while Rumpel comes to pay his last respects.  Regina vows to avenge her mother, and Rumpel warns her if she does that she will lose Henry.  Regina is confident she can have both.

At the loft, Snow refuses to eat or get out of bed.  Against her better judgment, Emma admits to Henry that Snow was directly responsible for the death of Cora, but Henry refuses to believe it.  Rumpel arrives to warn them that Regina is planning something, and David asks for his help in protecting Snow.

Rumpel and David go to the mausoleum, where Rumpel discovers the ingredients for the curse of the empty-hearted are missing.  Regina evidently plans to use Snow's heart to cast the spell on Henry, allowing her to have her revenge and Henry's "love."  The two return to the loft and share the information with Emma and Snow.  Rumpel insists the only way to save Snow is to kill Regina, which causes Henry to run from the apartment.

Emma finds Henry at the diner with Bae, who asks Henry to come with him to New York until things calm down in Storybrooke.  Henry agrees and heads to the restroom.  Emma returns to the table and sees that Henry has taken his backpack with him, so she and Bae go searching for him.

While the birthparents round up a group to search for Henry, Henry goes to the well in an attempt to destroy magic.  He encounters Greg along the way, who contacts Regina to alert her to his whereabouts.  Regina arrives in time to stop Henry from using dynamite to blow up the well, just as the others reach them.  Henry asks them all to help him destroy magic because it's making good people do bad things.  Regina burns the scroll detailing the curse she had planned to use, and Henry leaves with Emma and company.

Later that day, Snow arrives at Regina's house and begs for Regina to kill her because she cannot live with the guilt of what she has done.  Regina rips her heart out and is amused to find a black spot growing on the heart.  Snow pleads with Regina for her to crush it, but Regina returns the heart, quipping that Snow is doing a fine job of destroying herself.

Unbeknownst to these two, Greg is filming the exchange via cell phone.  The episode ends with him pulling out the braided keychain that Kurt gave to Owen in 1983 and vowing to find his father.  "Greg" is actually Owen.

I found this to be one of the best non-Rumpel episodes of the season.  I especially enjoyed seeing Regina's initial delight at arriving in Storybrooke transform into ennui, as she realized that the townspeople exhibited only blind obedience and she was alone with her memories.  She's one of my favorite characters on the show, given that she's considerably more complex than our protagonists, and I really appreciated that this episode tried to make her a sympathetic character once more after the last few episodes.

The introduction of a mundy character investigating the town and its goings-on was also a nice touch, even if it did smack of the journalist Thorn in Fables.  Giving Greg/Owen a purpose to be in Storybrooke, rather than leaving him a random passerby who decided to do some snooping, was the best thing the writers could have done with his character.  I'm really looking forward to what else they come up with for him.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of Snow.  I was extremely disappointed to see her excessively mopey after Cora's death.  I had really hoped that the writers had realized that at least one of the protagonists needed to understand the concept of the greater good, but I see they don't want any grey areas present on the show, just black and white, good versus evil.  Perhaps Snow will prove me wrong, but I don't like that she's backsliding.

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