So we keep hearing all this looming fear of Henry and Jacinda getting it on, so let’s finally have an episode looking at why:
In the past we have Ella (and Jacinda) and Henry getting ever closer to each other. They’re training and we all know in these sort of situations there’s nothing like getting sweaty and trying to hit each other for romance. You know we’re only 5 minutes away before them foot sweeping the other and laying on the floor faces inches apart.
While they keep doing the “almost kissing but stopping at the last minute because neither of us can read body language” thing they’re joined by Alice who wants Henry’s help to find someone - Killian. And she calls him Papa! And we get ALL THE FEELS (also notices how he’s a lot younger than he was)
Killian is overjoyed but is very very careful, making sure they never touch because of that heart curse he’s mentioned in previous episodes. Alice insists she’s actually been cured and it’s fine - and hugs him. To which Killian collapses with lots of ugly green magic. See, this is why you never take someone’s word for it that they’re cured before getting up close with them.
Alice runs through a portal - and these portals are just everywhere these days - followed by Ella and Henry to try and bring her back while Regina stays to use her magic to work on killian so she stays behind
Sadly this seems to be something of a habit with Regina - either depowering her or coming up with some reason why her magnificent Evil Queen self needs to be sidelined.
Ella and Henry end up in Wonderland looking for Alice - and reach a tiny maze which needs people to use the drink me potion to enter - and there’s enough for one only
Time for a bit of backstory and fundamental differences between Ella and Henry. Henry is uber positive, convinced they’ll always find each other and true love finds a way yadda yadda because he has been hopelessly damaged by their Sogginesses the Charmings and their utterly relentless saccharine positivity which would totally turn me into a serial killer on general principles. Ella, meanwhile, is not. Her mother fell in love with her step father and gave him a magical locket that would always let them find each other because nothing says true love like constant surveillance and needing to find your spouse at all times. ROMANCE
Except she totally ditched them when she was a kid and daddy went looking using the Stalker Locket to Wonderland where the locket then went dead proving mummy dearest totally didn’t care any more and lo he was a broken man and Ella became bitter and true love is clearly a lie etc etc. And now she wants to go through said maze to find mummy dearest and unleash all the angst.
Hey remember these two were actually fighting in a resistance army against Victoria. At some point I assume they’re going to do some Resisting. I mean can you imagine Victoria’s war room:
Victoria: General, what is the status of the Resistance!
General: Cinderella has worked through her mother issues, my lady. And the sexual tension level is rising!
Victoria: Curses! They grow more as a threat every day!
So Ella sets off through the maze and finds Alice at the abandoned Tea Party who explains all about the whole cursed heart thing and why she’s worried about Killian and is now staying here for fear of them touching again. Ella sees the symbol on Alice’s wrist, the same that was on her mother’s and realises her mother and step-father had the same curse, which is why her mother left. As for the Stalker Locket not working - Alice remembers Ella’s mother at a tea party when the jabberwock attacked. Alice killed the Jabberwock, but not before everyone else died. See, mother wasn’t evil! Ella can believe in love again.
Alice believed she has been cured because Drizilla told her she had
Outside the maze Henry is confronted by Drizilla who announces she wants to poison Henry and Ella’s heart - because the last Curse was broken by True Love’s kiss so she’s taking precautions. Ella and Alice arrive with a nice right hook and a mirror to stop this - but we can see now why Regina doesn’t want Henry and Jacinda to get it on.
After the rescue this is when Ella’s and Henry’s Stalker Lockets grow because Ella now believes in love again
Now to the present with Lucy being really really unhappy in care and Jacinda not knowing what to do - so Sabine/Tiana suggests they get a lawyer. Which they can’t afford, but it turns out that Lucy’s father/Jacinda’s ex who she hasn’t seen in 10 years is a lawyer now and willing to run to the rescue
This gives Henry all the angst because he’s an unemployed failed writer getting by on the gig economy and in comes this Nick who is cooler, better dressed, has a “real job”, great taste in music (and is kind of better looking too). And is Lucy’s father.
And I think this is definitely and smartly hitting a lot of millennial angst especially with a lot of previous generations who had waaaay more stable times and opportunities pontificating about various life “milestones” that millennials should be hitting while ignoring the barriers out there.
Lucy is also not 100% happy about Nick and goes through Henry’s book to try and find out who he is - Henry tries to keep her attached to cursed reality and, of course, fails. He also wishes he had a dragon to slay to win Jacinda over - especially since what Nick’s doing getting Lucy back looks a lot like impressive dragon slaying
It doesn’t reassure anyone that Nick decides to discuss the case with Jacinda over dinner. In a fancy dress-up restaurant. Serving oysters. Sabine also notices this and clearly has reservations about Nick - she isn’t congratulating Jacinda or encouraging her, instead telling her she would never have called Nick if she knew this was how it was going to go
She’s also not fooled by why Henry is suddenly putting in extra work getting their food truck working - a not-so-subtle attempt to impress Jacinda. But when she comes to see the truck, in her restaurant gladrags with the well dressed Lucy-saving Nick and … awww Henry’s all lost
Jacinda insists she has no feelings for Nick - and tries to prove the extra trust she has in Henry by telling the big truth: a court didn’t force custody to Victoria, she voluntarily gave up Lucy to Victoria after being intimidated and lied to. She’s super worried how Lucy will take this (while I think this makes the legal case rather easier - a case of coercion and manipulation from a known kidnapper without any actual reason to deny Jacinda custody) and Henry realises this is all the more reason why Jacinda needs Nick
To throw in more conflict, Drizilla is still trying to encourage Henry to be her friend despite Regina stalking round throwing up road blocks and oh Regina really needs to give her a good slap or three. She’s definitely not happy Drizilla and Gothel are working together
Gothel herself is working with Drizilla - who still treats her like a servant at least in part because Eloise is frustrated by how little magic she has in this world. The plan is still to find Anastasia - apparently Anastasia has Drizilla’s magic and she’s determined to have it back. But first they have to actually find where her body has been stashed. So this twisty plot line just keeps twisting
Killian is now a hero in the police station for saving Gothel - but Rumple/Weaver doesn’t congratulate him - telling him, like Regina and Victoria, that he has no idea what he’s done. Gothel is also leaning on him as a saviour to rely on - and even brings him cake. Regina throws it in the bin because Regina knows all about witches bringing food gifts. She does her awesome den mother thing, pushing Killian to forgive Tilly/Alice for working for Weaver: wisely pointing out that people let themselves be used when they have no other option. Maybe Killian should give her one. This has a wonderful touching forgiveness bonding between the unknowing father and daughter. Everyone say d’aaaaaaawwww.
Regina needs allies, she can’t do this all on her own - so she confronts Rumple saying basically “you’re awake. I know you’re awake. You’re always awake”. But Rumple keeps up the act despite her frustration and appeals, even when she pulls “Belle wouldn’t agree with this” and he says “Who’s Belle?”
She thinks he’s worried about a “Guardian”. So more mystery and twisting
So plan B: she’s going to San Francisco to find someone who Victoria drove off who she’s sure could help - and she’s taking Henry (who is too drunk to say no). Which means they’re both missing when Jacinda decides to come to the bar to give Henry a mix tape to show their love.
Ok a) Henry, your date doesn’t go to your house or call your phone she just shows up to the bar assuming you’ll be there. Son, you might have a problem. The first step is admitting it
b) Who makes mix tapes? Where do you even BUY a tape cassette these days? You ask most people under 25 what a tape cassette is and they don’t even know (go, ask them. It will make you feel so very very old)
C) what you couldn’t tell Jacinda you were off on a road trip? Rude
We also have another flashback to Wishlandia where we see Nick pre-curse as apparently and adventuring crony of Henry’s. So which story is he connected to?
So with this double episode I do have to say one thing - Once Upon a Time, well done. Your reboot has worked. I know not everyone will agree with me - but they’ve managed to weave a new world taking elements of the previous 6 seasons but not being bound or dragged down by them. We have a plot that has echoes to what has gone before but they’ve changed a lot and added enough twists to make it a very different feeling. It’s not necessarily a comment on how good the new story is - but I do think as reboots go they’ve done an excellent job of balancing keeping enough of the old while still creating something new. We have bridges to the past but nothing that binds and it works.