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Once Upon a Time: Broken

“Maybe I don’t need answers, maybe I just need to punch you in the face.”

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.


  1. I've been looking forward to your review, Panda!

    I really enjoyed seeing Sarah Bolger back on my television screen after The Tudors. And I am so, so, SO looking forward to seeing Colin O'Donoghue as Hook next week. I'm already expecting the "He can shiver my timbers" jokes on Tumblr. I may have already done it.

    Is anyone else expecting Dr. Whale to be some kind of nemesis? Or am I just sticking the Sark label on all of David Anders' characters?

    I'm hoping that maybe, somehow Julian Morris will be back? Although seeing as he's still on PLL, I'm thinking 'No'.

    One episode in and I am already liking this season more than the last.

  2. I'm still of two minds on this show. Half of it is really intriguing and engaging, and the other half is eye-rolling, groan-inducing cheesiness. I mostly enjoy watching the show, I just wish all the parts were up to the same standards.

    This week, the overall mythology stuff worked fairly well, and I actually got a good bit teary at the initial reunion between Emma, Snow, and Charming. Ginnifer Goodwin was great.

    The stuff with Mr. Gold was pretty good, too --- except for when he was interacting with Belle. Robert Carlyle is doing his darnedest to sell it, but I'm not feeling the love between those two. They actually skeeze me out a good bit, and I found myself rolling my eyes at Belle saying she needed to stay to help him become a better man. That relationship just doesn't work for me. And Emilie's wig occasionally looked horrible. It made me start to chuckle because it reminded me of a previous bad wig of hers, which Billie lovingly referred to as "The Hair."

    I was very, very intrigued by the cold open, especially because it featured Michael Raymond James. Can't wait to see more of him!

    Thanks for your thoughts, Panda! Always a nice kickoff to some fun "watercooler" discussion on the show.

  3. Great review, Panda, as always!

    This was the first episode of the series where I was more interested in what was going on in Storybrooke than in fantasy land. Mulan, Aurora, and Phillip never really clicked for me, although I did love the twist that this was a flash-sideways and not a flashback.

    Did it bother anyone else that people kept using Storybrooke names? Snow kept calling Charming 'David.' It just sounded wrong. How cute was his face when he found out she slept with Whale?

    Oh, also, what happened to August? Is he alive? Dead? Human? Puppet? Hopefully they'll return to him sooner rather than later.

  4. Great review and I really liked the episode and where they seem to be going with season 2. I was also annoyed about them still calling each other by their Storybrooke names, especially when Charming/David first called her Snow then Mary Margaret. Sloppy writing?

    I kept thinking that Renee in New York just has to be Rumples son...

  5. There was a lot I liked about this episode, but it didn't grab me the way I had hoped it would. I am not sure how the two worlds plot is going to work long term, especially as Princess Aurora is the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty. Her story and Snow's are so similar, both cursed by the Evil Queen and awoken with a kiss, I'm not sure what she and Phillip will add to the mix. Mulan, on the other hand, is an interesting addition; however, I am concerned about the love triangle that the writers hinted at.

    Like Jess, there is something about the Rumple/Belle relationship that creeps me out. He is the villain of the piece and other than the chipped cup, I haven't seen any side of him that should attract a woman.

    But, I loved the reunions and I love the fact that Regina has her magic back. If the writers can figure out a way to have the two stories told simultaneously, it might be a really fun season.

    Great review, Panda.

  6. Personally, I have no doubt that Dr. Whale is, actually, a whale. The fact that others seemingly don't recognise him suggests that he wasn't really human to begin with.

    I liked Mulan. I didn't expect myself to like her — asian faces usually don't attract me — but I did. Aurora — not so much.

    What I am a little confused about is this thing with the wraith and it's medal. This time the magical world part of story is not a flashback, all this happened at the same time as the Storybrook part, give or take. So, the medal was with Philip all along. But then, how did Rumplestiltskin got it? And where the wraith is now? How long were Emma and Snow there, in the wreckage, unconscious?

  7. I personally found Emma's condemnation of her parents to be kinda stupid. She says to them that if they hadn't sent her away, sure she would have got hit by the curse too, but at least they'd all be together.

    Except that's bull, and she should know that. The curse separated everyone - Snow and Charming only got together when Emma showed up and used her Chosen One specialness to get them together. Hansel and Gretel only got back with their father when she - curse breaking chosen one again - made it happen. And Jefferson was separated from his daughter by the curse. The curse kept people apart from their loved ones, so not only would she not have been with her parents in our world, she also would never have grown up and would have spent all her time as a baby, until ... until what? Without her free of the curse and able to break it, she would have spent forever as a baby separated from her parents.

    So really, her reasoning makes no sense, and she should damn well be grateful for what they did. If she should be mad at anyone over growing up alone, it should be Gepetto and Pinocchio - one for blackmailing the blue fairy to get his son a ticket in the magic closet, and the other for abandoning her. Her parents though? They did the right thing.

    The rest of the episode I enjoyed, though if they really are having Mulan in a love triangle with Phillip, I’ll double facepalm. I hate love triangles with the intensity of a thousand suns. It was bad enough sitting through Mary/David/Katherine last season. Don’t put us through another one. I really don't want to see two grown women fighting over a guy, and that's not just because I'm gay.

  8. Loads of interesting comments =)

    Chris: Good point about how similar Snow and Aurora's stories are. At least it was alluded to in a small way in The Thing You Love Most with Regina and Malifecent plotting together! I'm guessing the writers will try something different with her story when the time comes, anyway.

    migmit: I'm not sure about the whole medallion stuff, I suppose that'll be explained soon, but I think Snow and Emma were only there for a few seconds; Mulan and Aurora heard the crash and went out to investigate and they found them. That's just my guess, though.

    Alice: I don't think it's fair to just call it bull. I get where you're coming from, but personally I think Emma has a reason to feel hurt. They may have all been separated, but they at least had the privilege of being together in the first place. Emma didn't get to experience that, so I think that's where it's coming from, and I believe it's something that could cause pain way down the line, y'know?

    sunbunny: I meant to write about August! Where is he? I hope they get around to him sooner rather than later.

  9. One thing that bugs me. its a little thing but is buggin the hell out of me. regina just used the hat but I thought that was jeffersons thing. I mean she kept on and on about how amazing he was and how she needed his "special skill". but if it was just the hat than all his backstory was pointless. and they just skipped all that with "whose jeffrey'? I don't like when they change the mythology from one season to another. still kinda stung with the lost finale I guess


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