Following last week’s action-packed episode, “Welcome to Storybrooke” dialed back but delivered just as interesting an episode, as a character heavy Regina episode - splitting between the early days of the curse in 1983 and present day.
After 30 years, Regina’s flaws and pain is as similar as her appearance, frozen like her fairy tale peers. The death of Cora has made no impact on whether she understands when Rumple tells her vengeance won’t fill the hole in her heart, in addition to the cost. She still sees red only.
With the sacrifices she makes to make the curse happen, 1983 Regina finds out all too quickly how “winning” didn’t fill the void of love in her. Unlike Storybrooke in Season 1 with Emma starting the clock moving, the “Groundhog Day” like 1983 feels colder, lifeless and in Regina’s words, “not real”. Together with Regina’s actions, it feels like Owen and his father Kurt took the wrong turn into a horror movie, a purgatory or Stepford like trap. The Owen storyline shows how Regina is continually looking for love in all the wrong places, while making her actions causing an inability to be loved as tragic as ever. I wonder if adult Owen having an actor who isn’t especially beautiful or charasmatic, is a tell his long term role on the show won’t be there. I do like the idea of that young Owen origin story for a significant character. Nevertheless even if he just lasts this season, he’ll have a part in Regina’s fate, showing the consequences of her actions even if far in the past.
Even after Henry talks her down, it’s not enough for Regina to get it, rubbing Snow’s new darkness in her face in the shocking heart pull scene, the highlight of the episode. Great work by Lana Parilla and Ginnifer Goodwin in this scene. Snow heading towards darkness like Regina did, is one of my favorite decisions the writers have made, turning her from treading water into one of the show’s most interesting going forward. Snow and Regina pulling each other down into the dark, is also another level to their inescapable history and fate.
Regina’s “Your wife in New Jersey... with the Boss?” is the episode’s funniest line, though a dramatic line I loved is Henry’s “You used to be heroes!” delving on morally ambigious recent times. I loved Regina’s Lost like waking up via her eyes and the entire “Regina gets bored/freaked out” montage. The Owen scenes are exceptionally timed and shot, especially his final run.
Once has been on a big roll lately and with August returning next year and Baelfire/Tamara kicking it up a notch, it looks to continue!
PS - Check out a post I made on my personal blog last week, "Is Once Upon A Time the best show on tv?" http://jrodgermoviereviews.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/is-once-upon-a-time-the-best-show-on-tv/