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Once Upon A Time - Episode 2.01 Recap: Really, there's no magic in this land?

The season begins by following a dark haired man around New York City. Some of the cinematography looks different and until the credits roll, I worry that I’ve tuned in to the wrong show on my ABC iPad app. We watch as the man enters his apartment and it begins to rain outside. Frustrated, he struggles to shut the window and what looks like a cell phone falls out of his pocket down the fire escape. I’m thinking, it’s all good, dude, since you’re the only person alive that still has a land line(see brown rotary phone on his desk). Next, a pigeon flies in and delivers a postcard that only reads: Broken. He turns it over and it reads: Greetings from Storybrooke. I would probably think this was cool if I didn’t already know that the episode was also named Broken. That’s just cheesy. In addition, this is the last we see of him this week, which is incredibly frustrating. If you ask me, this should have been the final scene, not the first. My best guess is that this man is Bae, because he escaped the curse via magic bean, which would explain why he’s not in Storybrooke to hear the good news.

Source: ABC Family
Moving on, we’re introduced to three, seemingly irrelevant, new characters as two heroes ride to a castle to rescue a slumbering princess. One of the strangers (Julian Morris aka Wren from Pretty Little Liars), who is clearly her boyfriend of sorts, tells the masked stranger that if he can wake her, she doesn’t need to know about a particular secret just yet. When she wakes up, we discover that they’re Phillip and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and she asks the same question any vain damsel would: How did the world ever manage to function in my absence? When we see a spinning wheel in the foreground, I can’t help but wonder if this is yet another fairy tale party to which Rumplestiltskin has invited himself, but then Aurora asks about her evil queen. Phillip tells her that Malefocent is gone, but they need to journey back to their safe haven. 

In Storybrooke, after the purple smoke monster dissipates, Snow and Charming hug and reunite with their BFFs: Granny, Red, and the Seven Dwarves. Then Emma walks up and things get super awkward but Snow is oblivious. She and Charming hug their daughter but she’s still extremely freaked out. I would be too if my mom was just as hot as me. Henry enters and they’re one big happy family again. The dwarves pester Snow about Regina and the curse when Mother Superior says that the magic is back. Henry gets excited and asks her to wave her Blue Fairy wand, but she tells him that she can’t because the rules have changed. The dwarves are ready to attack Regina when Emma tells them that she wasn’t responsible, which is half true. 

Source: ABC
We cut to the culprit and his long lost love in the woods. Belle tells Gold that Regina kidnapped her and trapped her in the loony bin for 28 years, and he vows to avenge the injustice. Belle makes him swear not to kill Regina so that she can be with a good guy. Then they kiss and I have to excuse myself to vomit because he’s old enough to be her father. Elsewhere, the Charming entourage walks down the street and Snow turns into a typical mom, begging for a heart to heart with her daughter. Emma says she’s not ready yet when Archie runs up and directs their attention towards Dr. Whale’s angry mob. He tells them that they’re headed for Regina’s and Henry says they have to save her. Seriously, kid? Now you love your mom? You’re exhausting. David gets serious and tells them that it could be dangerous, but also points out that he laughs in the face of danger because he is…The Bravest Man in all the Land! They all run towards what could be a bloody skirmish.

Back to what seems to be an unnecessary story line, the masked stranger paces around the abandoned castle when a dark creature appears. Phillip runs and wags his sword at it, which cuts a talisman from around its neck and obviously scares the villain away. We cut back to Gold’s Pawn Shop, where Belle waits while Rumple goes to the back to get her some new threads. He passes perfectly good racks of clothing to open an armoire and pulls out the same talisman. I still don’t think we needed to journey back to the Enchanted Forest to tie into this.

When Dr. Whale and his posse beat on Regina’s door, she emerges and tries to threaten them with her magic. Epic fail. The Charmings enter as Whale pushes Regina up against a column (kind of hot) and David tells him to back off. Whale still won’t tell us who he is and I scream in frustration. Our only clue is that he tells Charming, “You’re not my prince.” At the end of last season, I thought he could be Stromboli or Monstro (Pinocchio), but now I’ve got nothing. Perhaps he’s Captain Hook, who we saw in the promos for this season? Anywho, Snow, the same woman whose mission in Enchanted Forest was to “kill the queen,” says that violence is not the answer and that Regina needs to be behind bars instead.

Once Regina is incarcerated, she tells her step-family that the curse destroyed their fairy tale home and they’re stuck here now. When they leave, she tries again to free herself with magic and Gold enters. He tells her that he took an oath not to Belle touch her, but will find another way to punish her for keeping her hidden. He grabs her arm and pushes the talisman into her hand, muttering something crazy about destiny like the kooky old man he is.

Source: ABC
At the castle, Phillip still holds the talisman while the masked stranger explains that the dark creature was a Qui Shen, or a soul sucker who marks its victims with its bling. Aurora demands to know who this tag teamer is, and the stranger reveals that she is Mulan. Finally, a woman of color on this show and she doesn’t even get her own story line? What gives? Aurora gets jealous and confused that they spent so much time together while she was in her magic coma, but Mulan explains that they need to get going. Phillip embraces Aurora, trying to reassure her and we see that he’s been branded. In the woods, Rumple then carries the talisman to a random spot and uses his curvy knife to call upon the Qui Shen. Regina snaps awake in her cell and we see that she bears the same mark on her hand.

On the mean streets of Storybrooke, Emma places Henry in Ruby’s care and returns to her parents, who are still chomping at the bit to talk to her. She lets it slip that she slept with Whale while they were cursed and David gets mad, though nobody brings up the fact that he nearly impregnated Kathryn. Snow confronts Emma for being so upset when she should be happy, and Emma reveals that she felt abandoned her whole life and would have rather grown up with them than be saved from the curse. Instead of tears and hugs all around, Emma is all business and marches off to find Gold.

Source: ABC
In fairy tale land, the unlikely trio rides on horseback until Mulan decides that they should camp for the night. At this point, neither of the women know that the Qui Shen has marked Phillip, but they’ll wait for it to emerge when night falls. Phillip tells Aurora that he’s going to “find wood to build [them] a fire,” before sucking her face off, and it takes all the restraint I have not to make the obvious sex joke. Ah, I can’t help it: Looks like he got the wood he needed!

The Charmings barge into the pawn shop, angry about the purple smoke monster, but Gold says that they should be praising him for breaking the curse and reuniting them. He sticks one finger in the air and tells them that the purple smoke monster is “magic,” but before he can raise his other finger Rumple-style, the earth shakes and they hear a roar outside (sound familiar?), but no clicking noises. Before they leave, Gold reminds Emma that she still “owes him a favor.” Once they’re gone, an angry Belle comes out from the back room and all but screams, “You’re just like him! You’re just like John Locke!” Come on, I’ve been setting you up for that for half the episode now.

We see Regina again in her cell, freaking out as the lights start to flicker. The wraith appears and David isn’t far behind, but when he tries to fight it, he gets smacked away like a little chump. The Qui Shen tries to steal Regina’s soul when Snow enters and blasts it with a lighter and hairspray. Right, because there was plenty of time to dig through Emma’s desk for beauty supplies in the heat of the moment. Not only has this show shifted from cool, fairy tale magic to supernatural drama ala CW, but it needs to come with a disclaimer: Kids, don’t try this at home. After the soul sucker flies away, Regina says it can’t be stopped and David suggests that they just let it kill Regina so that they can be freed from it. Emma tells Daddy no, because she promised Henry to defend her, and Regina thinks she has a plan to send it away.

Source: ABC
At the Enchanted Forest KOA campground, Aurora acts like scared, little girl when she hears the roaring, when Mulan takes a break from making fire to discover that Phillip still isn’t back and both horses are missing. Great, now both of your lady loves are trapped. Mulan marches into the woods after him, insisting that Aurora stay behind, but you know how those crazy, white girls are.

At city hall, Regina breaks out the magic hat, pretending to know nothing about Jefferson. Come on. The Charmings enter with broom torches and the Queen explains that the hat will serve as a stairway to heaven for the Qui Shen because the Enchanted Forest was destroyed in the curse. Then, as if on cue, the lights flicker and Regina tries to start up the hat. David swings his torch at the wraith and snow creates a barrier (with her husband on the wrong side) by lighting the banister on fire with a bottle of vodka. I guess they made a stop at the hardware store and Granny’s. Again, Regina is helpless and looks just as crazy as Jefferson as she spins the hat on the floor over and over again to no avail until Emma touches her shoulder and activates the magic. The soul sucker pushes David aside again and lunges for Regina, but gets sucked into the hat along with Emma. Snow jumps in after her and David tries to follow, but it’s too late.

We return to our mixed race lady duo, where Aurora sneaks up on Mulan after tracking down one of the horses. Mulan tells her to go back to camp because Phillip wanted her to be safe, and Aurora accuses her of having eyes for her man. After babbling about sacrifice, Mulan says she’s crazy, but we definitely have a love triangle on our hands. Both ladies hear the roar of the wraith and rush to save Phillip. Who would you choose? The “girl worth fighting for” or the idiot that passes out at the sight of a little blood? When they find Phillip, he’s trying to attract the Qui Shen with the one thing that scares it away: Fire. Before the wraith arrives, Mulan tells him that she can save him by marking herself but he shoots her down. After he turns his head and says, “I love you” to nobody in particular, the monster sucks his soul and returns to the talisman. Not a bad way for a playa’ to go.

At the palace, Mulan and Aurora cry over Phillip, who now lies on the altar. Aurora tells her that the mansion was going to be where they could live happily, ever after, but it was ruined because she had to sacrifice something, though she never says what. Mulan gives her the talisman and suddenly they’re friends. She tells her that during her giant nap, Regina cursed the land, but their section of the realm was protected but “frozen“ for nearly three decades. When the clock started ticking again, they did a power yoga sesh to stretch out their sore muscles (can you imagine standing still for 28 years?) then hunted for Aurora again. The forest is an even scarier place, which is why they need to get to home base before they get tagged again. Suddenly, they hear a rustle and find Emma and Snow under a random pile of rubble and my mind is completely blown. This entire time I thought that this was a flashback, but it looks as though the Storybrooke wraith scare happened first.

Source: ABC
In Storybrooke, David gives the hat a few spins before giving up and pouncing on Regina. She shoves him into the woodland wallpaper and vines come out of the wall to trap him. Did she have her magic all along or does this have something to do with Emma vanishing? She almost kills David when Henry enters and stops her. Regina releases him from the vines and tells Henry that Emma and Snow are gone, but he pushes her away and tells her that he has to find them before he will forgive her. Goodness, children are so fickle. David announces that he’ll have custody of Henry until all is resolved. Since he doesn’t have a house of his own or anything (maybe he gave it to Kathryn, but still), he and Henry arrive at Snow’s apartment and he tells Henry that they’re alive and he’ll “always find them.” All together now: AWWWW! That line was just a little predictable though.

Belle returns to the pawn shop to find Gold spinning wool, and he tells her “the beast is gone.” He obviously means the Qui Shen because he tells her she needs to go away, as he’s still a villain. Seeing the chipped cup convinces her that she needs to be with him so that she can turn him good again. They’re such 
a cute couple, aren’t they?

Thanks for reading, Oncers! Feel free to check out my previous reviews of OUAT and other shows at WatchItRae.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, where I post links of my articles when they go live. Stay tuned for a recap of the next week's episode, "We Are Both."

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