Just another day in Storybrooke. Oh wait, no it wasn’t. When we last left our fairytale characters, the curse had been broken and everyone remembered who they really were. And then Mr. Gold unleashed a big purple haze of magic on the whole town, changing the rules and blurring the line between fairy tale and reality. That’s what the whole episode was about, really. Blurring the set formula we had last season and transitioning to a place where the show can sustain itself without flashbacks. But let’s dive in.
We open 0n a horse and buggy, apparently in the fairytale land but oh wait no, we’re just in Central Park in NYC. And we follow a man, down the subway, up into his small apartment. we have no idea who he is until a bird delivers a postcard from Storybrooke with one word written on it: “Broken.” Omnious? Yes? Theories? My best bet is on whoever August/Pinnochio was in contact with, and that person probably is Baelfire, Gold’s son. But moving on.
The rest of the episode moves between fairyland and Storybrooke, much like every other episode has. The flashback to fairyland is to Sleeping Beauty being awakened by her handsome prince, a tale I expected to see sooner in the show (given Malificent’s importance to the storyline thus far). He’s accompanied by a masked soldier, who although they try to keep up the appearance of a man, the cut of the outfit and the liner on the eyes immediately gave away this new character as Mulan (Jamie Chung). They encounter a hooded phantom they call a wraith, who marks his victims with a metal disk and then sucks out their souls. Aurora’s prince is marked and he runs away to try to save the women. They run after him but are too late. The prince dies. It all seems a little irrelevant until Gold pulls the disk out of his cabinet and marks Regina, after he promised Belle (love her Australian accent, by the way) he wouldn’t kill.
Meanwhile, Snow, Charming and Emma spend most of the episode trying to convince people not to kill Regina, and then later saving Regina. It’s because they’re heroes and because Henry asked them to. There are also lots of awkward moments where Snow and Charming, full of their memories, try to connect with Emma as their daughter. It’s super weird, as Snow mentions, because they were equal adults before. “There are lots of things I shouldn’t have mentioned, like one night stands.” “One night stands?” “Whale. What we were cursed!”
When it comes down to it, the only way to defeat the wraith is to send it back to fairyland, which Regina swears is gone. She thinks sending it to an abyss will kill it. Everyone’s favorite portal device, Mad’s hat, is required and it doesn’t work until Emma touches Regina’s arm. Curious and curiouser. Of course, all magic comes with a price, and the wraith is sucked it, along with Emma. Snow jumps in after her and so does Charming, but the portal closes and he hits the floor. And where Emma and Snow land is back in fairyland, right next to Aurora and Mulan, and we realize that it was no flashback, it was actually a flash forward, the wraith appearing to Aurora, the prince, and Mulan after it had left Storybrooke. Whef, timelines have always been confusing in this show, but I think they’re going only going to get more so.
And there we leave it. Emma and Snow are back in fairyland, everybody else is trapped in Storybrooke with Regina and Gold magicking all over the place, and there’s a mysterious New York stranger involved. All in all it was a good premiere, holding onto the bomb that it wasn’t a flashback anymore until the very end. But there are many questions left unanswered, and people we haven’t heard from. Where is August? And Jefferson? They’re linked very intricately with the fate of our main characters, but we don’t know anything about them, post-curse. Also, just putting an appeal out there for Amy Acker’s fairy/nun to come back. Because it’s Amy Acker playing a fairy/nun, it’s so adorable I can’t even handle it. But alas, we’ll just have to wait and see.