A man, Kurt and his son, Owen are camping out in the woods (ick, makes me feel cold and damp just looking at it. Touching scenes like this make me think back to my childhood and give thanks my dad knew better than to take me anywhere without double glazing) when they’re interrupted by an odd storm. It starts out electrical – but then the billowing purple clouds are seen, just like the magic from the end of the last season.
The next day they find devastation in their camp site, trees uprooted and their truck trapped under one (what was that cloth tent made out of? It’s totally untouched!). Kurt plans to go to the highway and find a ride – but when they reach a ridge they see Storybrooke – a town that shouldn’t exist and didn’t exist yesterday. Or at least, not pre-curse.
Going to Storybrooke, they’re greeted by Sherriff Graham (confirming this was in the distant past).
It’s 1983 and Regina wakes up to the new Storybrooke, looks out the window and gasps that she did it, she won. She puts on her new, mortal world clothes and goes out to explore, seeing all the old fairytale characters cursed – Ruby, Granny, Gepeto, Gold and Archie. At the school Mary Margaret is at the very epitome of her soggy, Wet Lettuceness when Regina goes to see her. She asks Mary Margaret how long she’s been a teacher and she says “as long as she can remember.” Regina takes her to the hospital to see David in his coma and asks her if she knows him – Mary Margaret can’t remember him. But she does have a Wet Lettuce moment.
At Granny’s, Regina has pancakes for breakfast, flirts with Sherriff Graham – and then notices Owen, who doesn’t belong. Introduced to Kurt who asks where there’s a hotel room much to Regina’s shock. She’s worried and, as she tells Graham – threatened by surprises. And bad things happened when she’s threatened
In present day Storybrooke, Regina puts a rose on her mother’s grave, crying over the coffin and Gold comes to pay his own respects and own rose. Regina isn’t in a forgiving mood and, in particular swears vengeance against Mary Margaret (I consider this either lazy or efficient – I mean she’s already got it in for Mary so might as well bundle all your revenge goals in one package – and besides, swearing vengeance against Gold is unwise). Gold tries to give her advice about how vengeance won’t help her – how Cora knew she couldn’t have everything (choosing power over love) and Regina has to choose – Henry or Vengeance. Regina’s not having that.
Meanwhile, Mary Margaret has taken to her bed in sadness and because Emma doesn’t want to admit how much of a wet lettuce her mother is, she tells Henry that she’s sick. Henry, having taken even more levels of brat, seems to have taken a vow of total Honesty requiring everyone to tell him everything, without fudging or white lies or even keep their own secrets because it’s none of his damn business and uses Emma lying about his dad – y’know not wanting to talk about the guy who framed her and abandoned her pregnant in prison, as extra guilt ammunition. Just tell the kid Mary Margaret drank a bottle of Jack and is sleeping it off – he’ll still be whiny and annoying but it’s more amusing at least.
Emma tells Henry that Mary Margaret was the one responsible for killing Cora and Henry is confused that Snow White could hurt anyone (sorry, which Snow White is this? The Snow White that was shoot ogres in the eye with a bow not so long ago? C’mon you can’t be Warrior Princess and Stoned Hippie Pacifist Queen in the Tie-Dye Crown at the same time. Pick one)
Which is when Gold comes to visit the household, to warn them about Regina’s nebulous revenge threats. Does this even need a warning without specifics? “Regina wants to do bad things!” yes and it’s Tuesday. And? David decides to demand Gold find out more, invoking ties of family (hah!) and Mary Margaret saving his life. Wow, way to turn her angst-laden killing for noble purposes into something mercenary, David.
To the past, with Regina taking exception to children daring to sit in her seat. Seriously, we’re going to see Regina get snippy because someone is sat in a seat she usually sits in? She takes steps to have their car repaired quickly to get rid of them and the kid gives her a… thing? Possibly an outdoorsy thingy? For people who like the outdoors?
Anyway, Regina enjoys several days of glee (well, the only glee I see is waking up next to the sheriff every morning) before becoming rather bored of the whole groundhog day (seriously, was this Storybrooke before Emma arrived? The same day repeating over and over again? And Regina chose this – when she thought she’d be the only one who’d remember?) and even Regina is annoyed by Mary Margaret’s Wet Lettuceness. She goes to Gold to express her disappointment and he claims ignorance – pretending to be a normal person. But she’s frustrated that she has no challenges, everyone just obeys her. Frustrated, she decides to spend more time with Kurt and Owen, inviting them to dinner.
Back in the present Regina is still grieving, searches through her mother’s things. She finds a locket, but it appears to have only 2 pictures of Cora herself in it. This sends her on a little rampage until she finds a rolled up letter – either in a foreign language or bad handwriting or possibly both. Whatever it is shocks Regina and she tells her mother “thank you.”
Gold and David miss her when they go down to search Cora’s belongings but they notice 2 missing spell reagents which Gold says is for the Curse of the Empty Hearted. Y’know, I can’t help but think all this revenge would go much faster if people just used the Curse of the Axe to the Head, Choppy Choppy. Or even the Curse of the Fireball to the Head, Burny Burny. Apparently this spell makes someone think they love you (still opting for Choppy Choppy here) and Henry assumes she’ll use it on him. And this will get Regina her love and vengeance because the last ingredient she needs is the heart of She Who Has Taken to Her Bed. David and Emma expect Gold to solve things but he points out it’s a blood feud and the only way he knows to solve that is to kill Regina (and he drops in a “dearie” so he’s going a little Rumply).
Henry won’t have it, it’s his mother! My gods, finally remembered Henry? Perhaps if he’d held onto that fact a little earlier things would have been smoother. I just love how Henry’s definition of “hero” means “pacifist” though.
Back in the past, Regina has Kurt and Owen for dinner (invites them for dinner that is) serving lasagne and apples and learning that Owen’s mother is dead and, as if the kid hadn’t suffered enough, Kurt dragged him camping afterwards. She bonds over Owen over dead mothers and apple turnovers. And Regina creepily invites them to move to Storybrooke in a way that is clearly not creepy after talking about having no-one to share her life with. Honestly not creepy. Honest.
In the present Emma dumps Henry on Neal whose ice cream bribe is instantly seen for what it is. They’re getting Henry to go to New York with Neal to make him safe, though Henry has the idea of removing magic from Storybrooke. But sure he agrees – let him just go to the bathroom, with his backpack (Emma: “you fell for that? He’s your son!”) and Henry does a runner (for extra drama, normal guy Greg is still hanging round being annoyingly normal).
Meanwhile Regina uses magic to enter Mary Margaret’s home (she’s still in her bed) and Gold is there playing bodyguard, plan foiled for now.
back in 1983, Regina’s desperate need for companionship leads her to try to sabotage Kurt’s car then have Graham arrest Kurt and kidnap Owen for her. But her plotting (into the glowing red heart) is overheard by Kurt who doesn’t buy the whole “misunderstanding” excuse. Worse, Graham comes in an arrests him for drunk driving – stood in the middle of her office. Oops, magical mind control. He escapes when he knocks the box with Graham’s heart in it over, staggering Graham in pain.
Henry runs through the woods (bumping briefly into Greg) with dynamite he stole from the mine. He wants to blow up magic – by going to the wishing well. Greg, concerned, calls Regina to let her know her son is wandering the woods all alone.
Back in 1983, Regina and Graham are now in a car chase after Kurt and Owen. They catch them at the city limits and Regina assures Owen she just wants him to stay – doesn’t he like Storybrooke? But he doesn’t want to stay – “not like this” and runs off
In the present Regina approaches Henry, his matches and the dynamite at the well. Henry is determined to go ahead and is worried that the dynamite will just kill henry. He says she only says that because she needs magic to curse him – to which Regina disappears the dynamite in a puff of purple smoke. She says they just want to be together but Henry protests that the curse won’t make it real and he doesn’t want to be with her “not like this”
Emma & co arrive, Emma demanding Regina stay away from her son and Regina denying that he is her son (at last). Henry stands between the two warring groups and says magic is the problem – look what it did to Mary Margaret and Regina – magic ruins everything, makes good people do terrible things. Henry begs Regina to destroy magic – she says she can’t – but she can destroy the spell that would curse Henry to love her and use Mary Margaret’s heart. Henry leaves with Emma, Neal and David.
Back in 1983, Owen returns with the police to find his dead – but Storybrooke is gone, inaccessible from the outside.
In the present Gold tells Mary Margaret she’s safe and Mary Margaret asks (from her bed) how Gold deals with his conscience; he says you tell yourself you did the right thing and maybe one day believe it.
Mary Margaret rises from her bed and goes to see Regina – asking Regina to kill her and end the feud before anyone else dies. Regina says Henry wouldn’t forgive her – but adds that she never learns from her mistakes and plunges her hands into Mary Margaret’s chest and pulls out her heart – and points to a black spot on it. She has blackened her heart – and it will only grow darker. Regina decides she doesn’t need to destroy Mary Margaret, she’ll do it herself and bring down her family in the process. She puts the heart back and kicks her out.
All of this is caught on camera by Greg the normal guy. Who declares “I’ll find you dad, I promise”. Yes it’s Owen, all grown up.
I’m in a whole lot of meh here and there seems to be a lot of trying to re-slant the past. Gold being recast more and more of the bad guy, Regina’s ties to Henry made more and more shallow and dubious – her kidnapping children because she’s lonely? Gold trying to pull her back from the morality brink?
And Mary Margaret took to her bed. Ok I can see having trouble with what she did – but took to her bed? And this whole idea that she blackened her heart – by killing someone? Killing someone who tried to kill her? We’ve seen David kill in the past. She took part in an entire war against King George. Mulan has most certainly killed. Ruby has killed. I think even Granny has killed. Why is Mary Margaret the blessed pure and shiny one (she of the Wet Lettuce) who is blackened and tainted by the act of killing during a war, in an act of defence of the helpless and her family? I dislike this whole "oh Snow the precious shiny special pure one" I really do.