Once Upon A Time, Season 2, Episode 2: “We Are Both”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Dean White
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
Usually, the opening scenes on Once Upon a Time pull us in, making us ask, “What is going on?” within the first few seconds. This episode’s beginning is no exception, showing the dwarves standing on the orange borderline, as we will call it, with the outside world on the other side, and what happens to Sneezy when he crosses it. Yet another turn on this roller coaster ride that we are on. We are then taken around Storybrooke, seeing that a wooden Pinocchio is still alive, just as wood, and that Regina is having problems with her magic and conjuring abilities. The scene with Regina takes an interesting turn when David/Charming barges into her house and the banter between them begins.
This argument is definitely a change for the characters. Where we would always expect this type of behavior from Regina, we never really got a leader vibe from David in the first season. It’s really great, again, to see Josh Dallas be given more material to work with. As we see later in the episode, Charming is still trying to come to grips with who he is and who David is, and it is exciting for us to watch how Dallas handles everything. He’s no longer playing the third wheel to Snow and Emma. The banter back and forth between Charming and Regina is pretty good, working well for both of them and giving Charming a nice line/blow to Regina, “If you have to use magic to keep your son then maybe you didn’t have him to begin with.”
We learn, after Regina rides away on a horse and some tree vines collect her, that this episode is going to be Regina centered. One of the real treats is seeing Barbara Hershey make a second appearance as the delightfully evil Cora. She plays the part of Regina’s mother so well that she’s basically the epitome of a wicked witch. Of course, she only wants what is best for Regina, but magic has corrupted her. Another treat is the CGI effect for the vines. The budget really must have been upped this year, what with the Wraith from the first episode and now all the magic taking place in episode two.
We are granted with another season one treat back in fairytale world. The delightful Bailee Madison has returned to play the younger version of Snow. Which requires a brief timeout here to give big props to the makeup artists for making her look like a young Ginnifer Goodwin. Her scene with Regina is rather creepy, inserted to keep the storyline flowing and give us the continuing tension between Regina and Snow. It’s worth noting that Lana Parrilla as Regina is fantastic, especially in this episode; she shines in every scene she is in.
Fan favorite Sebastian Stan as Jefferson/Mad Hatter gets a few seconds on screen before running away from Charming. His storyline is left open for future episodes, which is always a plus. The magic that Regina uses on the town hall meeting earns even more props for the CGI guys. They just keep getting better. We get to see Rumplestiltskin several times in both Storybrooke and in fairytale world. Robert Carlyle is always a highlight in the episodes. He commands the scenes that he is in, whether in Storybrooke with the sinister Mr. Gold or in fairytale world where his take on Rumplestiltskin is just downright creepy at times.
The remaining part of the episode flows freely between Storybrooke, with Charming coming into his own as the town leader, and Regina’s continuing backstory in fairytale world. However, by the end of the episode we are left with a change in behavior on Regina’s part (in Storybrooke). After taking Henry from the town hall meeting she ends up giving him back to Charming, raising questions anew. Is she plotting something? Or is she being genuine and trying to redeem herself? There’s obviously a part of her that she can’t let go since she couldn’t burn the magic book.
Other questions presented in the episode include whether Pinocchio is really gone and, if so, where did he go? He doesn’t know that crossing the border could mean even worse things for him. Or could it? The few minutes that we see Emma and Snow in fairytale world we are left with the biggest question of all. After the two are thrown into the ‘pit’ as Mulan calls it, out of the shadows comes none other than Cora. Where has she been all these years? And what is SHE plotting?