Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Keeps the Magic Alive in Season 2

You still have time to catch up on “Once Upon a Time” before season 3 premieres on September 29 on ABC. Season 2 was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming venues like Netflix last month.

At the end of the first season, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) lives up to the prophecy as Storybrooke’s savior and breaks the curse cast by Regina (Lana Parrilla). Residents instantly regain memories of their time in Fairy Tale Land and things are looking up for Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), Emma’s parents. Hopes of living happily ever after are quickly dashed by Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) when he introduces magic to the New England town.

With magic back in play in season 2, don’t count on seeing a peaceful and quiet Storybrooke for a while. The fairy tale characters can’t flee from the action because those who cross the town line lose their memories and revert back to their cursed identities. Meanwhile, Emma is occupied with a lot of things: connecting with her parents, battling Regina for Henry (Jared Gilmore), and learning more about her own magic abilities. At the same time, Rumple explores a tentative relationship with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) as he tries to circumvent the town line curse to find his son, Baelfire. Regina struggles with the desire to be better for Henry in spite of her bad reputation. In addition, outsiders are interested in Storybrooke, which can’t be good news.

Flashbacks to Fairy Tale Land provide answers to questions like Regina’s transformation into the Evil Queen, the death of Snow’s mother, and Rumple’s relationship with his wife to name a few. However, Fairy Tale Land in the present also takes center stage in “Once Upon a Time”, introducing viewers to new characters such as Anton the Giant (Jorge Garcias from “Lost”), Mulan, Princess Aurora, and many others. The most intriguing addition is perhaps the enigmatic and sinister Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), a pirate who harbors a grudge against Rumple. Barbara Hershey returns with a spectacular and chilling performance as Cora, Regina’s ruthless mother, who is determined to grab the most power and inevitably clashes with Rumple. Yes, it seems everyone is lining up for a piece of the Dark One!

For those who love extra features, the bonuses on this collection do not disappoint, featuring segments on design and episode commentaries. Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, and Colin O’Donoghue are particularly amusing in the blooper reel, which highlights everything from uncooperative props and putting on an attitude to unexpected hugs in the library. If you were ever curious about daily life and news in Storybrooke, look no further than Good Morning Storybrooke (a play on the Good Morning America format). Robert Carlyle steals the show with a strangely bright and cheerful commercial for Mr. Gold’s pawn shop.

Creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have certainly crafted a spectacular show by putting a new spin on the fairy tale characters we grew up loving. This latest season of “Once Upon a Time” still delivers with a balance of action, romance, humor, and plot twists. So grab a buddy and catch up on the magic before it’s too late.

Season 3 of “Once Upon a Time” kicks off on Sunday, September 29 at 8|7c on ABC. The spin-off series, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” premieres on October 10 at 8|7c on ABC.

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