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Once Upon a Time: We Are Both

“I will not listen to child care lectures from a man who put his daughter in a box and shipped her to Maine.”

Back when we first found out what drove Regina to exact vengeance on Snow White, a lot of us assumed that there was more to the story. This was more to the story; or, at least a little bit more. Though we’ve seen a vulnerable side to Regina a few times over the past 24 episodes, it’s never seemed like there was any long lasting redemption there, but just as we saw Regina take her first steps towards becoming the revenge fuelled witch who brought the curse down on Storybrooke, we saw her take her first steps towards becoming her old self again, and it’s all thanks to her mother.

It was Cora who drove Regina to play with magic in the first place. She even tried to make Charming remember, she didn’t come from the same place everyone else did. It all seems like a giant excuse, a lot of the Storybrooke residents we’ve met have had to overcome pasts that we’re just as harsh as Regina’s was, but then again, none of it was ever driven by one woman’s quest for power, a quest for power that ended up ruining Regina’s life and taking away the person she loved most. All of the people in Storybrooke found their happy endings, and Regina has had to live with the remnants of Cora’s selfishness in the face of all of that.

Similarly, it was Cora that drove Regina to attempt to become the woman she used to be, the woman she was before she was forced to follow in her mother’s footsteps. In the face of Henry’s upset, Regina was forced to confront that all too familiar feeling of being trapped in a position she never wanted to be in. Regina tried to convince Henry, and probably herself, that life her way was better for him. But, deep down she knew it wasn’t true. Cora never admitted to that, she was forced out of Regina’s life before she could, but Regina remembered. She remembered Henry’s pain all too well, and though she couldn’t bring herself to destroy Rumple’s book, she at least let Henry go, and that’s a big enough step for her to take right now.

Charming had to take a few steps forward, too. Burdened by his grief over Emma and Snow’s banishment in Broken, he ignored the suffering of those who used to be his loyal followers to get them back. He still has that burning desire to get his wife and daughter back, but he’s the first person to not only remember who those around him are, but remember who he is. He’s not just a grieving father and husband, he’s a leader; he’s not just a Price, he’s a man, David Nolan. He helped to bring Storybrooke back together again through encouragement and a reminder of who they have become, and managed to find hope for Snow and Emma along the way.

They might not be feeling that optimism though. I was a little dissatisfied that this episode didn’t return to last week’s cliff-hanger at first, but thinking about it, it makes sense that it was left until last. What happens in Storybrooke is kind of what takes priority right now, and dealing with Regina’s mommy issues fed into this week’s twist in a really cool way. Though this episode saw the show revert back to it's default narrative setting, the writers have found new ways to make it fresh, and so far it works.

So, does anybody have any ideas about how Cora ended up in Mulan’s makeshift “refugee” camp? I sort of thought she was about to be sent to Wonderland; I know some readers suspected her to be the Red Queen. Will she actually help Snow and Emma? She might not even have the power to, especially if she’s been trapped in that pit all this time. At least we know one thing; she won’t be happy to see Regina when the time comes.

4 out of 5 looking glasses.

Plus

August is alive! Yeah, I guess we didn’t see much of him yet, but it’s nice to know we’ll see that size too small leather jacket again.

What does Rumple have planned? He totally freaked out when he discovered what happens when you try to leave town.

Which brings me to this; how odd it was it that Grumpy and the other 5 dwarves were so quick to shove Sneezy into the line of fire? They could have at least volunteered themselves first.

More creepily similar acting from young Snow White again. That girl deserves some award for copying Ginnifer so well.

Jefferson/Mad Hatter had a car full of children’s toys. Did he find his daughter again?

He Said, She Said

Dr. Whale: “Are the nuns still nuns, or can they, you know, date?”

Charming: “David and the Prince; I am both. Just like you. You are both. The town is both. We are both.”

Regina: “I know, I remember, that if you hold on to someone too hard, that doesn’t make them love you.”

Previously posted at PandaTV.

34 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this episode, but ugh, some characters I just cannot stand.

    Did anyone else notice that Grumpy didn't draw a straw himself? So ... great big speech about duty and whatnot, and then he turns around and volunteers everyone but himself to walk into danger. Bloody hypocrite.

    And Charming. Double ugh. What the frak gives him the right to declare himself the law and go around throwing people in jail? Last time I checked America was not a monarchy, so him being a prince from a far away land gives him precisely zero legal power and authority in our world. Hell, if he's just playing the prince card, by that logic Regina outranks him (queen, remember?) so if anyone has the right to declare themselves the law, it'd be her.

    That aside, I loved this episode, and thought Regina was great in it. Nice to see her be more than the pure evilness Henry seems to think she is. And Cora wasn't the sole reason Regina wound up as an 'evil queen' - Rump contributed a hell of a lot as well if he taught her magic. If he hadn't, then she wouldn't have been corrupted by it just as he was. So lets throw a little blame his way, yeah? He made the evil queen powerful, and he made the dark curse everyone hates so very much.

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  2. HAA Cora been trapped there all this time? She is sort of a conniving bitch and it doesn't seem beneath her to 'befriend' Emma and Snow as a fake prisoner. Will Snow recognize her when she regains consciousness?

    We got some clarity to the whole two names thing. I guess it does add some realism to the show. People would be confused as to what to call others now. Still, I'd prefer my awesome fairytale name to something ordinary.

    Does Whale asking about the nuns dating imply that he was in love with a fairy in the Enchanted Forest? I really want to know who he is. Maybe he was a human who got turned into a whale through some sort of curse?

    Oh, and can anyone clarify this for me: did Gepetto find August? I didn't seem him on the bed in the background, but why would his hat be in a hotel room if August were someplace else?

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  3. Take one of my favourite writers (the wonderful Miss Jane Espenson). Give her an episode centred on the character I love the most (Regina). And what do you get? The best episode of OUAT so far, IMHO. Season 2 has been great so far. I just hope it can maintain this level of quality.

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  4. The too-small leather jacket. :-) Glad I'm not the only one who feels that way!

    Sunbunny, I think August revivified or dewoodified and went somewhere. He probably left his hat because a grown man (whose clothes are already too small) would look silly in a hat like that. Maybe he went out for coffee.

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  5. I didn't like Charming in season one at all. He was an eternally confused emotional ping pong. So I'm actually liking take-charge Charming. *Someone* has to oppose Regina, after all. And it was fun watching him walk all over town with his sword at the ready.

    Rumpie's machinations and his fury at not being able to leave town was also a high point for me. At this point, I could watch Robert Carlyle do anything.

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  6. Alice, the "Charming being in charge" thing is actually very natural. In groups of immigrants, if there was an exodus for reasons of war, they usually conserve the authority figures, sometimes even in spite of the authorities of the receiving country. Religious figures, for example, are really powerful.

    I have nothing to add except that I'm loving the season so far and can't wait till the Big Bad arrives. In TV land, the villain of early season becomes an ally and really starts the redemption process when there's a common, bigger enemy. So when the Big Bad, whom the promos indicated to be so, at least; when he arrives, Regina and Rumpie will be on the proper way to redemption.

    Oh, and now Grumpie can date the fairy played by Amy Acker!

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  7. @Gus - there's a difference between leader, as in 'I have a plan, if you all listen to me we might make it through this in one piece' and 'I AM THE LAW! Help me with my personal problem or I will throw you in jail and leave you to rot you pleb!'.

    Charming was doing both. The former is perfectly fine, the latter is wrong. It was bad enough when Emma was abusing her authority as Sheriff in the first season and breaking the rules simply because of a personal vendetta, but this is just worse. Immigrants and refugees still have to follow the laws of the country they find themselves in, they cannot simply declare themselves a vigilante law giver the way Charming seems to be doing. I notice Whale wasn't interested in blindly accepting his authority, and why should he?

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  8. Great review, Panda. I was feeling a bit unsure about this episode and how I was meant to feel about Regina. I think you made some excellent points, especially around the fact that Regina is the only one without a happily ever after. That made me thaw a bit towards her, as did her final action with Henry.

    I'm still unsure about Charming. He's never been my favorite and his speech at the end didn't resonate with me. I am willing, however, to cut him some slack as I thought the last shot of Henry and him sitting at the counter was simply lovely. And, how great is it that at the age of twenty-something he is already "Gramps." That makes me smile every time I hear it.

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  9. I'm not so sure about seeing the leather jacket again... I think August is stuck in his wooden-shape as we saw him on the bed at the end of the previous episode! He's no longer a "real" man... consequence of breaking his word re: taking care of Emma, the curse was broken too late to stop him becoming wood but just in time to stop him dying.

    I too was frustrated by the lack of Emma and Snow... until the final reveal and understood where they had been going with all the Regina-Cora stuff. Trust Espenson! :o)

    Surely some of the people in that refugee camp must know Snow White?! Sure she's had a hair cut but still...

    And isn't it obvious why Rumple was so pissed? The whole reason for this curse taking them to a "land without magic", for his remembering, for his wanting the curse broken (and thus helping Emma) is TO FIND HIS SON!!!

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  10. and Alice: remember these people just "woke up" in a sense, for them being in the USA doesn't mean much, they're Enchanted Forest folk and Charming and Snow White were their leaders/rulers! So that's probably what he meant by "I'm the closest thing this town has to a sheriff". He is in charge because he was in charge (with Snow) before, in uniting everyone to defeat the Evil Queen aka Regina!

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  11. Alice, CrazyChis has just said what I came here to say. I understand your distinction and I agree that it's what it should be. But I also think that Charming made the transition from the 2nd type to the 1st: at first he was all "I am the law!", and I'd use panicking and thinking only of his wife and daughter's sake as mitigating circumstances (not that he's not to blame); but later, he realized his responsibility and acted as a real leader. And I think that's what Panda said in this lovely review, in that paragraph that starts with "Charmin had to take...".

    By the way, you're doing a great job as usual Panda. I'm really pleased by your reviews.

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  13. No, all I'm expecting is Prince frickin Charming - aka Designated Hero and Good Guy - not to start behaving like a villain. And if he does, to damn well get called on it.

    I think it says something that when we first see the Evil Queen interacting with Jefferson, she asks for his help, and her attitude is "Help me and I'll give you anything you want, don't help me and I'll leave you to your life", and when we first see Charming interact with Jefferson, his attitude is "Help me or else I will throw you in jail and leave you there until you do".

    Now don't get me wrong, I know Regina resorted to manipulation to get his help, but she's the villain, I'd expect that of her, and the fact remains that the so called Good Guy Hero threatened to abuse his own self appointed authority and imprison an - as far as he knows - innocent man simply because said man insisted there was nothing he could do to help.

    Who is the evil ruler everyone should be fighting against, again?

    When Regina abuses authority, she's being evil. When Prince Charming abuses authority, everyone looks up to him as a hero.

    US Law may mean nothing to him, but, flawed as it is, the law exists for a reason. To prevent wrongdoing and abuse of power. When everyone (Charming included!) wanted to hang Regina in a wonderful display of vigilante justice, Emma and Snow stopped them and pointed out that would be wrong. They can't just do whatever they damn well please and excuse their actions as "We're victims, we're from another world, the laws of this world mean nothing to us" because, true or not, that's wrong and they shouldn't be allowed to pull that crap.

    Oh, and lets not forget that they all have a lifetime of our-world memories in their heads, plus 28 YEARS living in our world with our rules and laws. Change their lifestyle in a couple of days? Like hell that's the situation here.

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  14. to alices comment you seem to have forgotten that regina is not well liked by the residents of storybrooke so i doubt they would listen to her and as for the prince taking command you have to remeber that the prince was a man who was respected by a majority of the residents in fairytale world but who knows maybe whale who said that charming was not his prince or someone else will challenge charmings authority

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  15. I just have to interject and say that Alice, I think you might be reading into the entire situation the wrong way. This whole series is about characters and the world that they came from, one that was clearly not rules over by common US law, and I don't think Charming's speech was ever meant to be interpreted the way you've done.

    As for his interaction with Jefferson, the fact that he came to realize his mistake and become the Prince he used to be means that he knows what he did was wrong.

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  16. I'd also add in shock of just having lost his loved ones (with whom he had just been reunited) as a mitigating factor (plus he didn't do anything in the end).

    Also he clearly told Henry he was good at the fighting part and Snow was the one with the people skills!

    And they may have 28 years of "real world" memories but it's got to take some time for it all to sink in and adjust the "fairytale" persona with the "Storybrook" persona... which is what Charming/David was able to do by the end of the episode (big "I am both" speech at the border)

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  17. lol! I'm loving how "involved" we all appear to be with these characters! :o)

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  18. You know what? Drop the whole 'law' issue altogether. His behaviour was still morally wrong, laws bedammed. Stop saying "Other world!" as a handwave excuse for him behaving like a douche in that instance. Even if that entire scene took place in FTL and none of them had any knowledge of our world, it would still be a horrible abuse of power.

    Why won't anyone even admit that? If Henry or Whale had been present for that scene, you can be damn sure they would call him out on behaving like a tyrant, because that's what he did.

    Did he get over it by the end of the episode? Maybe. I've heard this situation will be going on for a while, and I also have a feeling that he will continue to act as the law in town.

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  19. I've got another line of questioning: Has anyone wondered about Rumple's AGE?! I mean we just found out he taught Cora magic... so he's been around for a long time! Which also means his son has been in "our" world for a long time... longer than the 28 years these guys have been stuck in Storybrooke. Do you think the creators are going to take that into consideration if we ever meet him? I'm not so sure considering they wanted us to believe August was Rumple's son...

    So how does the timeline work between these two worlds? It was all so much clearer in Narnia... ;o)

    PS: if Hook is involved in kidnapping Rumple's wife as is implied in the promo for the next episode, which was before he became "the Dark One", and he's going to be a series regular... how old is he going to be?! Just wondering...

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  20. Re the passage of time: Cora hasn't aged a day!!!

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  21. @CrazyCris - it was established already that Jefferson could reach through time with his hat, as he was able to snatch that poison apple from the ground mere moments after Snow took a bite from it. It's entirely possible that portals allow travel through time as well as worlds.

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  22. Ahhhh! I'd forgotten about that! Good point Alice!

    I'm also curious as to how time has been moving in what's left of the Enchanted Forest (with Mulan and co) in relation to the Storybrook people. They mentioned something in the first episode but I didn't quite get it... Did she imply they had been frozen in time and only just "woken up"? (coinciding with Emma's arrival in Storybrook?)

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  24. Wow, Prince Charming sure isn't charming everyone, is he? I never expected a fairy tale character to be such a hot topic.

    While this conversation is interesting, things are getting a little heated. Let's remember that disagreement is awesome, but invective, meanness, and name-calling will result in you being sucked into the nearest hat-portal and winding up in Alt-Narnia, where everything is horrible all the time and none of the animals talk.

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  25. @zob - did you even read my last comment? Really?

    I'm seriously starting to think the people here will defend Charming no matter what. Why am I wasting my time? I don't know.

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  27. Mark - This episode was by Jane Espenson? That explains everything. She always writes my favorite episodes of whatever series I happen to be watching.

    CrazyCris - Of course Rumple wants to find his son! Yet that didn't even occur to me. Nice catch. Also, I think we need to accept that age means NOTHING in OUAT and we'll just make ourselves crazy by trying to figure out the timeline and everyone's ages.

    Josie - Obviously, August didn't go out for coffee. He's made of wood now, and if he spilled any, it would stain. Duh. :) Maybe he took himself to the hardware store for some sandpaper?

    On a different leadership note, I thought it was cute what an active role Red/Ruby was taking in everything, setting up a sort of refugee camp at City Hall. I love Red. I hope they do more with her this season, both in Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest. We still don't know what happened to her and Snow after they left Granny's village.

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  29. Phew, lets all take a step back. I think there's a little bit of stubbornness here. Let's all remember that everyone has an opinion. Alice, it's great you feel so strongly, but you seem to be forgetting that not everyone is going to fall into your frame of mind.

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  30. And as for Charming, didn't he realize what he was ding was nuts? He left the towns people alone and Regina showed up, while he was harassing Jefferson. After he realized, he turned around and changed his ways.

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  31. All I want to know who is the frick is Dr. Whale? If he doesn't have any Sark-like traits I am going to be disappointed. Is it too much to hope for an English accent?

    Also, I am impatiently waiting to see Hook.

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  32. When I was watching the episode I never once thought that Charming was acting in a villainous way. He was acting in a frantic, I just lost my wife and daughter, way.

    Sure what Charming did with Jefferson was wrong, but the rule of law isn't exactly clear when your talking about a town that exists outside of the world.

    August was the FIRST person to come to Storybrooke except for Emma in 28 years. Their leader was a tyrant and murderer, and they just got repressed memories from a life that entirely conflicts with their Storybrooke persona's.

    For good or ill, Regina and Charming are the leaders of the community. Plus he is literally Prince Charming without the irony. I don't think he will be a bad leader, but for now he is an inexperienced one.

    Remember everyone makes mistakes, and moral ambiguity and shades of gray make for good storytelling. I like that he wasn't just a straight and narrow good guy. His choices were messy, and it'll take time for him to understand the role that the community seems to want him to take.

    Or at least that's how I see it. :)

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  33. loved loved LOVED this episode, probably the best of the series so far, dodgy CGI aside!

    I never thought Lana Perilla was that great an actress until I saw her play her younger self, I always think its a completely different actress, she can be so diverse!

    Rumplestiltskin's voice is starting to grate on me though, every time he says "dear" it's like nails on a chalkboard!

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