Because One Identity is Too Mainstream…

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Episode 2 “We Are Both” Review and Recap

Well, that was a little disappointing. The season premiere was so strong, with twists around each corner and genuine intrigue as the show stepped out of its straight flashback structure, but the second episode, “We Are Both,” regressed back to the flashback/current structure. Validly, it was all for the good of the plot, as much exposition and dealing with the intricacies of the post-curse world were taken care of, but all in all, the show felt lacking this evening.

Our flashbacks took us back to good Regina, post-Daniel’s death but pre-magic. Looking to revenge her mother for killing Daniel, she calls on everybody’s most reliable resource, good ol’ Rumpy, to exact vengeance. Of course, all magic comes with a price. After giving in and pushing her mother through a mirror to a “handy little world” as described by Rumple (which we assume is our loverly Earth), Regina realizes how much she likes doing magic and her descent to the evil queen we know and love (admit it, evil Regina can be pretty BA). All of this info is sort of the cherry on top of the sundae from last season’s Regina flashback that showed us Daniel and young Snow, finally answering the question of how Snow “ruined” Regina’s life. This was more specific, showing that it was Regina’s mother (and this show is alllll about mothers) is really what did her wrong. But, really, I feel it was a two steps forward one step back kind of plotline.

It relates to the fact that Regina in Storybrooke is trying to regain her powers but must eventually turn back to the same book that originally gave her magic. She uses that magic to get Henry back, but eventually lets him go, choosing his happiness over her own. She almost burns the book but stores it in cupboard instead. We’ll see where this takes us. Is Regina possibly turning good? It’s all very interesting in light of tonight’s big reveal (more on that in a bit).

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke central, chaos reigns. Charming is desperately trying to find a way to get Snow and Emma back, everyone is trying to cope with their dual identities, and generally, yelling, a lot. It is here that we realize that it’s basically an anarchist little town now, with no central authority and no one doing anything normal. We find out with the return of the sneezing drug store owner that people who try to leave Storybrooke become re-cursed, forgetting their fairytale selves. Charming says he’ll fix it, but he has no idea how. He eventually turns back to Henry’s storybook, discovering it’s the Mad Hatter who controls the hat. On his way to confront Jefferson, Red convinces him to save everyone in the town first, leave Snow and Emma for later. He drives to the edge of town, gives an impassioned, if lacking in oratory eloquence, speech basically telling everyone to embrace their multiple personalities, to be sorta schizo. To learn from their Storybrooke personalities and embrace their fairytale personalities too. It’s interesting because it is this duality that drove the Jefferson version of the hatter insane. But we’ll see where this takes our friends.

And at the end of the episode several key things are revealed. Pinnochio/August is not in his hotel room; my bet is he’s gone to join his friend in Manhattan. Also Snow and Emma are around! It was interesting to see the show keep its two main actors under wraps for nearly an entire episode. They’re held captive by Sleeping Beauty and Mulan, brought back to the sanctuary they built in the Enchanted Forest. Locked up in a cell they encounter another prisoner…Regina’s mother Cora! Well now isn’t that interesting? I’m wondering where she’s been, if she was in the forest the whole time or if she was sent back from our world when the curse hit. Who knows? Who knows how good or bad Regina will be now that the biggest baddie of them all (I mean, as far as we know) is back in the mix?

The flashbacks to Regina made sense only when her mother was revealed at the very end of the episode, but they still didn’t really sustain themselves. The show needs to keep moving forward, keep changing up its basic procedural model if it wants to work through its post-curse existence. Because so far there’s just been a lot of yelling and rehashing of old information. But I’m hopeful. The trailer for next week looks like it will be focusing on the present in the Enchanted Forest. So we’ll see what happens.

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