Are we back in season one of Once Upon a Time? Because that’s what “Witch Hunt” feels like. The magic is there. The suspense is palpable. Plot twists loom around every corner and even humor is present and accounted for.
The episode follows the standard Once format; it tells a story in present day and relives scenes from a year ago (when our beloved characters were transported back to the Enchanted Forest). Even though the episode follows the standard format, it doesn’t become boring. The writers have realized what works, what keeps peoples’ attention, and what keeps the adrenaline flowing.
Originally Once Upon a Time focused on Jennifer Morrison’s Emma, Lana Parrilla’s Regina, and Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow White. This week, Goodwin may only be present for a fourth of the episode, but she does provide some excellent comic relief, telling Henry that she and Emma used to be cell mates and she had been serving time for banditry. It’s always nice to see Goodwin deliver comedy; she’s able to capture the innocence and naivety of Snow White, while making her dialogue absolutely hilarious at the same time.
Other than a few lines however, Goodwin doesn’t have much of a role in the past or present storyline. The women of the hour are Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla. These women have come incredibly far in the characters that they portray. Everything about their actions, movements, and delivery of lines has evolved since season one. Parrilla has always been able to steal the scenes that she is in, but Morrison gives her a run for her money in “Witch Hunt”. Seeing the two of them working together is a breath of fresh air. It’s clear that the writers are now attempting to turn Regina into a bad-good guy, slowly having people come over and accept her. The most heart breaking of their scenes is when Emma introduces Regina to Henry. Parrilla carries the scene on her shoulders. While Henry has no idea what is going on, we can feel the pain and hurt that Regina is suffering just by watching Parrilla’s performance.
There’s a new woman in town this week demanding the audience’s attention just as much as Parilla or Morrison, actress Rebecca Mader, who is portraying the Wicked Witch. Mader carries her scenes with Parrilla flawlessly. The casting directors definitely made the correct choice picking Mader. She is brilliant as the Wicked Witch and anyone that can stand up to Parrilla and hold her own is clearly a good addition.
The other heroes of the hour are the writers. Since the spring premiere the writers have thrown everything they could at us. They are starting to breathe the magic that was undoubtedly lost during the first part of the season back into the show. Two big curveballs are thrown at us, that Regina and Emma are working together and that the Wicked Witch and Regina are half-sisters- only these writers could pull off a plot twist so delightfully wicked.
All in all, “Witch Hunt” proves that it has what it takes to run with the big boy episodes of season one, and thankfully the writers don’t hold anything back. Bad pacing and momentum is what led to a disappointing first half of season three. It feels like they have finally gotten their footing back and are already starting to prep for a fantastic season finale. Looks like the writers should have gotten a bit more wicked at the start of the season, instead of sprinkling on some fairy dust.