When we last saw them, Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) were on their way to the coast of Maine. And once they arrive secretly and hide Hook's ship, they waste no time in advancing their revenge plans.
While the gang celebrates Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mary Margaret's (Ginnifer Goodwin) return, Emma offers a hesitant olive branch toward Regina (Lana Parrilla). However, this is ruined when Cora disguises herself as Regina and kills Archie (Raphael Sbarge).
While Emma tries to give Regina the benefit of the doubt, eventually the evidence becomes too convincing. When they confront Regina, she lashes out with magic in frustration.
Believing now that Regina will never change her ways, Emma angrily denies Regina any further access to Henry. Defeated, Regina magically whisks herself away to weep alone for what she lost.
Cora is quite satisfied with her efforts. And to viewers' collective relief, she didn't actually kill Archie. She killed someone else and took Archie captive for his secrets.
In the Enchanted Forest's past, Snow White and Prince Charming take the kingdom from King George and capture the Evil Queen. Charming wants to execute the Queen, but Snow believes that Regina can again become the good person she used to be many years ago.
However, when Regina still tries to double-cross Snow and kill her, Snow realizes nothing will change. They banish the Evil Queen from the land and protect themselves with a protection spell.
Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) visits Regina in her new home. He convinces her that the only way to get revenge on Snow White now is to force her to another land. And so the idea of the Curse is born.
Cora is such a great addition to the show. She is both truly evil and a true believer in what she is doing. And her dynamic with her daughter adds to both the plot and Regina's character. Putting Regina on the wrong side of the town again opens the door to plenty of juicy plotlines as we move into the second half of the season.
That was a nice little Dalmatian reference there with Pongo.
It's fantastic that we are still learning more about the Curse, even halfway through the second season. That the Curse was a means to pursue revenge rather than being the revenge itself lends new interest to it. Each new piece of the puzzle peels away layers -– even layers we didn't know were there.
Emma walking in on her parents was priceless! Get a room, Mom and Dad. Literally. This family has enough issues already.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
It's both good and bad that Archie wasn't really killed. On the one hand, he'd be sorely missed. On the other hand, the sophomore season has yet to provide a truly shocking moment like the death of Sheriff Graham in Season 1.
Why did everyone believe the dream catcher's tale when it was Rumplestiltskin's device, and he "extracted" the memories Emma retrieved. With Rumple's manipulative and cunning ways, it would still have been easy for him to fool them, and they should have known that.
The trio's plan to capture Regina in Storybrooke was kinda lame. They managed to set a good trap the first time, but their modern-day efforts lacked a lot of creativity and effort.
Again, Regina's fairytale fashion sense is a little outlandish even for an Evil Queen. Thank goodness she has more restraint in Storybrooke.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"The Cricket Game" was directed by Dean White. It was written by David H. Goodman and Robert Hull.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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