TV Review: ‘Witch Hunt’ and Big Twists in ‘Once Upon a Time’

Caution: This post contains spoilers.

“Once Upon a Time” is already moving quickly with startling twists in the second episode marking its mid-season return. The Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader) wastes no time in confronting Regina (Lana Parrilla). As I said last week, things unraveled at a slower pace with Peter Pan.

Emma (Jennifer Morrison) introduces Henry (Jared Gilmore) to Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), maintaining the cover story that she is working on a case. Snow says she was Emma’s cellmate, which brings up questions about Neal. Incidentally, the question “Where is Neal?” recurs in this episode. Snow and Charming did not send the memory potion and note, as it was originally believed by Hook (Colin O’Donoghue).

Regina arrives at the diner, shocked to see Henry and saddened by his inability to remember her. It was amusing to see Regina and Emma cooperating (“An earthquake?”) to try to smoke out the Wicked Witch, who we find to be in the new Storybrooke as Zelena. The new allies put on a stakeout of Regina’s office after spreading a rumor about trying to make a memory potion. Generally a woman of action, Regina thinks that Emma’s job is boring. Unfortunately, someone breaks the protection spell on Regina’s office, which should be impossible due to blood magic.

In the Fairy Tale Land (FTL) flashback, Regina takes an underground tunnel into her castle to lower the shield and let Charming’s army in. She is followed by Robin Hood (Sean McGuire), who is grateful that she protected his son. (You probably love the flying monkey stuffed toy that Roland [Raphael Alejandro] received.) Regina also whips up a sleeping curse, attempting to escape her grief over Henry. As with her office, someone was able to break the blood magic seal on her underground door.

It all builds up to the big reveal that Regina has an older half-sister, the Wicked Witch! (Or “Greenie”, as Regina calls her.) Zelena was sent away to Oz by Cora and learned magic from Rumplestiltskin. She is peeved that Regina was chosen to cast the curse. Now Regina is excited about having an enemy to destroy. Unfortunately, it seems that she underestimated the Wicked Witch because everyone ended up back at Storybrooke.

One twist is great, but the excitement continues in Storybrooke with the final scene: Zelena descends underground with a tray of food for a caged up … Rumple! Rumple (Robert Carlyle) has a short beard and seems to have gone mad, repeating in his higher voice, “You feed the madness and it feeds on you.” The Dark One has returned!

With these new developments, there are a number of questions for future episodes to answer:

Who is Zelena’s father? An obvious choice would be Rumplestiltskin, but Cora said any child of hers would never be his. That appeared to be a permanent and less than amicable separation. Recall that Rumple helped Regina trap Cora in Wonderland. Cora might have sought other dark friends after Rumple.

Zelena’s main interest seems to be Regina, with Rumple as a pawn. In any case, Zelena seems quite happy to take everyone else out along the way. Apparently, if one tries to cross the town line, he/she is attacked by a flying monkey and turned into one (as we saw with Robin’s Merry Men). And why is Zelena interested in Snow White’s baby?

Who cast the new curse? Zelena is an obvious choice. However, if she is using Rumple’s dagger to control him, she could have forced him to execute it. It would not bode well for Baelfire/Neal, whose whereabouts are still unknown. That scenario would explain why Rumple has gone mad. He tells Zelena, “You never should have brought me back.” Does that mean he’ll be bent on taking her out once he’s free? If he did cast the curse, did he send the memory potion to Hook to bring the Savior back?

This episode certainly stands above the others this season. Let’s hope the momentum continues in the coming weeks.The elements coming in from Oz are creative and unexpected with a modern spin. The dialogue was sharp and fun, leaving too many quotable moments to spotlight in my post. Feel free to share your favorite lines and parts below.

“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday evenings on ABC at 8|7c.

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