It say says a lot about the show runners behind Once Upon a Time that they’ve taken what seemed like something that would span the entire length of the show, and ditched it after just one season. It says even more that they’re able to use that as a stepping stone for bigger and better things. Broken was all about kicking things up a notch; it was intense, exciting, cohesive and one of the greatest episodes the show has put out so far. Season 2 is looking good, people.
The cold open aside (which I’ll discuss further on), 'Broken' picked up seconds from where the finale let up. The curse was broken, and magic had been unleashed on the town. There was that initial state of confusion, which we saw partially in A Land Without Magic, but more importantly, there were the reunions we’d been waiting a whole year for, and they were perfect; cheesy, sure, but incredibly moving and all kinds of intense.
Naturally the most important of these was the big family reunion between Snow, Charming and Emma, whose headmost reaction was her standard blow it off approach. You can’t blame her really, if I’d found out all the things she had in such a short space of time I’d want multiple bottles of wine to dull the shock, maybe a few sterilizers, too. Then there’s the fact that she’s still burdened with all those childhood abandonment issues; her parents may have let her go with good reason, but they still let her go, and that’s enough to still sting all these years later. The premiere had a lot of moving parts, but the most prominent one was this story, and it’s what carried the episode straight through to Snow’s sacrifice in the final few seconds.
We already saw Rumple reunite with Belle, so this episode moved right past the honeymoon phase, and right into what makes them work as a couple. Belle’s shock at his hostility and rage makes sense; his love for her fell second behind his vengeance. But then she remembered just why she fell in love with him, he needs her, and she needs him. I’ve said it before, but I’m really happy Emilie’s been made a regular. There’s a lot of ground the show can cover with this sort of relationship, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much Belle’s constant presence changes Rumple.
One relationship that didn’t stand the test of love here was Regina and Henry’s, a relationship I’m actually surprised to see carry so much weight. Regina faced aggression and animosity from every corner this week, but the only time when it actually got to her was when it came from Henry. If there’s anything that this episode has proven about her character, it’s that she really does have a lot of love for Henry. Whether or not it comes from a good place I don’t know, but it’s a nice place for her to start out this season.
Now we move on to the flashier stuff. I wasn’t sure that this episode could handle everything it had crammed into it, without feeling bloated and slow, but Broken was really methodical and organized. It didn’t feel like an excuse to mow us over with exposition and crazy twists. The episode’s open suggests and much broader scope than I perceived there to be, with knowledge of the curse extending beyond Storybrooke and into the real world. I wonder how Renee fits into all of this...
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know I prefer new characters to get a slower introduction, instead of being forced in on top of us, but in this instance, I think I’ll let it go. Sure, I struggled with the amount of screen-time that Mulan and co. got over our Storybrooke faves, but the show gave them a lot of dimension, and obviously where the episode ended brought things together, and gave their lengthy scenes a real purpose.
It’s hard to tell whether or not the show will stick with this fun shake up in its narrative for the rest of the season, my guess is they’ll keep it up for a while before mellowing out with a few good flashbacks, and I’m OK with that. Going into this premiere there were a number of things I wanted out of it, and Broken lived up on every front, and then some.
So, where do we go from here? Will Snow and Emma be trapped for the rest of the season? Will Henry ever forgive Regina? Can Regina even begin to earn back his love? And when will Snow get those losers back for calling her a Harlot? We’ll find out soon!
4.5 out of 5 wraith marks
I loved Henry’s little “Grandpa?” moment. So cute, and really well timed.
Rumple kept Belle’s chipped tea cup all this time, which was sweet.
The curse didn’t affect all of the Enchanted Forest, which was how Philip, Mulan and Aurora managed to avoid it.
Does magic change the whole world, or just Storybrooke?
The Wraith was kind of creepy, right? I’m glad to see the show really embrace its dark side; hopefully it’ll run with it for the rest of the season.
Who the hell is Dr. Whale?
I wonder how Mulan really feels about Philip. I assume there’s more to the story than she let on.
Was it Emma who helped bring Regina’s magic back? She seemed all tapped out until they made physical contact.
Pretty Little Liars fans might recognize Julian Morris (he plays Wren on the show) who showed up as Prince Philip, here. He’s one of my biggest TV crushes, so it’s nice to see him elsewhere.
He Said, She Said
Emma: “Of all the scenarios that I concocted, my parents being... I just need a little time, that’s all.”
Jiminy: “Dr. Whale’s whipped everyone into a frenzy, they’re going to Regina’s house. They’re gonna kill her!”
Grumpy: “Great, let’s watch.”
Regina: “You think you’re some heroic prince? Please, you’re nothing but the son of a shepherd."
Rumple: “You must leave, because despite what you hope, I’m still a monster.”
Belle: “Don’t you see? That’s exactly the reason I have to stay.”
Regina: “Henry, I’m sorry.”
Henry: “No, you’re not. You really are the evil queen!”
Previously posted at PandaTV.