When show writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz said Once Upon A Time was heading back to a familiar style akin to the first season, they weren’t joking. This episode brought back a couple of characters we hadn’t seen in a while, revisiting old stories, as well as kinda hovering around the ones already set up for this season. In this episode, Cinderella is back…with a shotgun!
For this review and from now on, we’ll recap the flashbacks first and then the events in Storybrooke. In the Enchanted Forest, we discover some more parts of Cinderella’s story before and after she goes to the ball, being the abused maid of her stepmother Lady Tremaine and her stepsisters Clorinda and whatever the other one is called. Anyway, a handsome footman named Jacob rides up to give the ladies their invite to the ball. The Tremaines sort themselves out for the big night, Cinderella (who is actually called Ella) asking if she can go and even whips out her late mother’s pretty dress. Being the scumbag that she is, Lady Tremaine has the dress burnt in the furnace and mocks her about it.
Cinderella despairs but is comforted by the mouse Gus, who if viewers remember, became Storybrooke’s car mechanic but was murdered in the second season. A large key falls out of the burnt dress, Cinderella identifying it as a key her mother told her about, which could lead her to the Land of Untold Stories, but she dismisses it as just a story.
Jumping to the ball, after Cinderella received a fateful visit from Rumplestiltskin, our new princess bumps into Snow White, establishing their friendship before getting into a romantic dance with Prince Thomas. However, moments later, Lady Tremaine makes the first of her numerous dramatic arrivals in the episode, pointing out Thomas giving a flower to Clorinda and informs Cinderella that the good prince was just mocking her.
Poor Cinderella is down on her luck, but decides to test the key to escape to the Land of Untold Stories, only for Clorinda to stop her. However, it turns out she is actually very nice, secretly planning to marry Jacob and Thomas was giving her a rose as a blessing. Knowing her crazy mother will come after her, Clorinda receives the key from Cinderella. Of course, Lady Tremaine finds out, smashes Cinderella’s glass slipper and locks her in the attic to die while she gatecrashes Clorinda’s happy ending. What a snooty cow.
Snow and Thomas arrive outside, assuming Cinderella is not at home, but little Gus alerts them and they rescue her. Thomas then proposes to Cinderella straight after. D’awww! She races out to stop Lady Tremaine, but her wicked stepmother knocks out Jacob and drags Clorinda through a portal to the Land of Untold Stories to prevent her from eloping with someone of a lower class (yet he has a job and works for a prince, so how is that lower class than the snobbish unemployed Tremaine?).
Jumping over to Storybrooke, Regina, Snow, and David, hoping to bribe him with Regina’s homemade lasagne for answers about how the Evil Queen exists despite having her heart destroyed. However, they discover the Evil Queen has beaten them to the punch, discovering Hyde’s prison cell has been decorated and he is well-fed. Well, that is what happens to normal inmates so no big whoop.
Meanwhile, Emma, Henry, and Hook are making note of all the people who came from the Land of Untold Stories. Cinderella, aka, Ashley, drops in for a visit with her adorable daughter Alexandra (who she was pregnant with for twenty-eight years). Ashley checks over the list while Hook briefly and hilariously tries to babysit Alexandra with mixed results. Later, a panicked Thomas warns Emma that Ashley has run off and may be literally gunning for her stepfamily. Using one of Ashley’s shoes, Emma, Henry, and Hook track her down, finding her armed with a shotgun, intending on finding Clorinda and presumably blasting away Lady Tremaine. Well, no complaints there. Emma tries to convince her otherwise, but her shaky hand comes back, and Ashley legs it.
The Evil Queen strides in, hilariously scolding Henry, and comments that she intends on proving how weak and pointless Emma is by ensuring Ashley’s happy ending does not go as planned. Before Emma can even retaliate, Regina teleports them across town to the middle of nowhere. Emma sits cross-legged in the middle of the road, Henry and Hook reminding her she didn’t use to be so reliant on magic and instead used her brains to track down people. Henry whips out the storybook and looks up Clorinda’s intended happy ending.
Elsewhere, Dr. Jekyll tries to replicate the potion that split Regina and the Evil Queen apart, but struggles with the limitations found on the dirigible. Regina thinks as the Evil Queen would, realising she used to target cracks in families to split them apart and immediately goes to speak with Zelena. Yeah, the Wicked Witch is become increasingly irrelevant with each episode. Regina recognises her old rattle, confirming Zelena has been meeting the Evil Queen, but Zelena calls out Regina for her troubles since she caused them to begin with.
David, concerned about the coin belonging to his late father given to him by the Evil Queen, visit Mr. Gold and makes a deal with him. Surprisingly, the deal is nothing terrible, but it is just to deliver a tape cassette to Belle, who has turned the Jolly Roger into a place fit for a king…or at least a pregnant bookworm. David discovers his father may have been murdered rather than dying in a drunken accident. Even people in the Enchanted Forest are victims of drunk driving. Belle later listens to the tape, discovering Rumple has recorded a nursery rhyme for their future son. See, he does care!
Ashley tracks down Clorinda to a pumpkin farm run by Jacob, but Lady Tremaine springs out at them, now the one pointing the shotgun. However, Tremaine considers the gun a coward’s weapon and runs Ashley through with a sword. Emma, Henry, and Hook charge in, Emma using her magic to successfully heal Ashley. Ashley and Clorinda make peace, and Clorinda is reunited with Jacob in the process. Oh, and Lady Tremaine is forced to become a little picker. A very fitting punishment. I would’ve preferred sewage worker, but this will do.
Snow and Regina escort Dr. Jekyll to a garage that has been transformed into a laboratory, revealed to be owned by Dr. Frankenstein! The two greatest mad scientists in fiction together at last. Snow makes plans to turn them both into high school teachers when the madness is over to try and return Storybrooke to normal. Sister, this town was never normal to begin with. Later, Snow and David discuss the latter’s recent discoveries about his father, but Snow asks him not to seek revenge. Though David promises to destroy the coin, as soon as Snow’s back is turned, he does not. Like that wasn’t going to happen.
In the final scene, the Evil Queen vents her frustrations that she lost to Emma, and the smug Hyde realises she is asking for his help. The Evil Queen busts him out and our new evil duo walk out arm in arm.
All in all, this episode was very good, revisiting the old formula of the show’s first season, covering the unexplored parts of Cinderella’s story, but still took enough time to focus on Emma and Regina’s stories. Emma briefly experiences jealousy towards Ashley’s happy family, knowing her own death is inevitable, yet manages to abandon her envy quite quickly by looking at how she helped Ashley to begin with. In a rather charming moment, Emma finally asks Hook to move in with him.
On a minor note, the writers seemed to have forgotten parts of their own continuity, having described Ashley living with her stepfamily during the first curse. And I am definitely sure that the Red Queen in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was implied to be one of Lady Tremaine’s daughters. I guess they retconned that story, since we never saw what became of Anastasia post-Wonderland and how and why Will ended up back in Storybrooke.
Final Score: A+
Pros and Cons:
+ Emma recalls what made her such an effective protagonist to begin with.
+ Ashley’s return.
+ Despite hating Lady Tremaine for years, she is strangely likeable in live action.
+ Mr. Gold’s recording for his future child.
– Zelena better be given something to do in the next couple of episodes. She is the Wicked Witch after all. I suspect she had her untold stories she’d rather keep hidden.
* Dopey apparently was freed from his time as a tree and is off somewhere getting his masters degree. Okay, then.
What did you make of this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time? Let us know in the comments section or send us a Tweet!