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Once Upon a Time - Hyperion Heights - Review: "Operation Cobra is Over” + POLL

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Welcome back, Oncers! This season, Zandarl and I will be sharing recap duties. So excited to share the new season with all of you!

And here we go…

We open on Storybrooke. Regina is pleading with a recently-graduated Henry, rocking a fresh haircut and snazzy leather jacket, to go to college or at the very least stay in Storybrooke.

“I need to do this,” Henry insists. “Operation Cobra is over. We did it, we have our happy endings.” He’s leaving because he’s still the author, writing everyone else’s stories, and he needs to figure out what his story is and figure out where he belongs. Man, he looks like he’s aged 5 years since last season. I know his step-dad is Hook, which probably speaks to the motorcycle and leather jacket, but he certainly is rocking some August vibes right here.

Henry hugs Regina, gets on a motorcycle, and drives off throw a portal opened with his one remaining magical bean.

And with that, we cut to a castle in a new realm, years later, and the reboot begins!

From here on out, the story is told flashing back and forth, but it will be easier to split things up into Seattle and Fairytale stories:

Fairytale Realm:

Our new actor playing adult Henry speeds down a forest pathway on his motorcycle and barely avoids a head-on collision with Cinderella’s carriage.

Henry helps her up and explains he was speeding because he has to make it back to a portal before it closes, but Cinderella doesn’t care, she’s just upset because her horse ran off. Henry offers her a ride on his motorcycle.

The offer turns into an impromptu lesson as Henry teaches Cinderella how to ride a motorcycle and then walks her through the storyline of the traditional Cinderella fairytale. She’s flirty right up until she learns everything she needs to, then punches him and steels his bike. The visual of her riding a motorcycle in that dress is pretty amusing, and you can tell this couple is going to be a fun remix of the Charming / Snow storyline.

Cut to Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Fiona from Burn Notice, aka Gabrielle Anwar! She is holding Cinderella’s fairy godmother and has cut off her wings. The way she says “surprise” so nonchalantly makes me instantly love this villain. This whole stunt is an exercise to teach her daughter Jacinda what real power looks like. “Magic isn’t power, because magic can be taken. But fear… lasts forever.”

And it looks like Cinderella made it to her ball, glass slippers intact. There’s an odd moment where we see a character react to and turn down eating frog legs, and I’m guessing she’s supposed to be Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. I wonder if we’ll see her again?

Henry surprises Cinderella at the ball, sticks a flower behind her ear, and asks her for a dance. He’s there for his dagger and motorcycle, and Jacinda confesses she’s planning to kill the prince for taking everything from her.

Henry tries to talk her out of this and asks her to come back to the real world through the portal to get a fresh start. She turns down the offer and runs off, then Henry collapses. His drink was poisoned by a creepy blonde girl Turns out it’s Alice and he wakes up in a drug-induced Wonderland tied to a tree.

We are then treated to the best exchange of the night:

Henry: “Wait, you’re Alice? Of 'Alice in Wonderland?'”
Alice: “AND OTHER PLACES! You have one weird trip and it’s all anyone knows about you.”

Alice reveals she captured Henry at the behest of Rumple since Henry is interfering in other people’s stories. She says he needs to forget Cinderella and go home.

Back at the ball, Cinderella is dancing with the prince and pulls the dagger on him but can’t kill him. But the evil grandmother can! She stabs the prince from behind for turning down her other daughter, then immediately blames the murder on Cinderella.

Henry, back at the ball now, helps her fight off the guards and the pair sword fight together. And let me tell you, Henry is so into Cinderella. He tells her how to get to the portal and she runs off.

Henry runs to the portal as soon as he can break free, but Cinderella’s not there. The portal opens and he’s about to run through when he sees Cinderella’s shoe sitting on the ground. He stares into the portal and chooses to stay, saying “Operation Glass Slipper is a go.”


In present-day Seattle, adult Henry is a knock-off Uber driver. He comes home after a long day of driving to crack open his laptop and stare at a blank screen, his writing muse clearly not helping him out any.

There’s a knock on the door - and it’s the scene we saw last season. A little girl, Lucy, says that she’s his daughter and he’s under a curse, and then Henry calls her “kid,” so we’re basically reenacting the pilot episode.

Lucy begs Henry to come with her to Hyperion Heights in Seattle where his family and true love, aka her mom, are all living out there cursed lives.

We learn that Henry published a book at some point in the last few years that detailed his life in Storybrooke, and he seems to be under the impression that the entire thing was a work of fiction. “Snow White isn’t my grandma, my shrink isn’t Jiminy Cricket…” He swears, so he’s under the curse for sure.

Lucy is relentless. Cinderella’s evil step-mom, her evil step-grandmother, is trying to bring people from the real world into Hyperion Heights so all the fairy tale characters move out and get separated, losing one another forever.

Henry is unmoved and says Lucy’s mom has to save herself.

And who’s this, running down the street? It appears to be Cinderella, who goes by Jacinda in this world. She’s late for her job at Mr. Cluck’s, which is where Hurley worked in LOST, and I continue to love the references to that show.

Jacinda gets in a fight with her boss, and after he proves what an absolute jerk he is, she gets fed up and quits.

In the real world, Jacinda is back home with her roommate? Sister? They don’t say. It’s explained that Jacinda’s mom is trying to get custody of Lucy and Jacinda being suddenly unemployed won’t help her case. Jacinda then discovers that her daughter’s run off, which really won’t help her case.

Cut to the stepmother herself arriving, a la Devil Loves Prada, at her offices in Bellfrey Tower. She goes by Victoria in this world and sends a frightened assistant off to find her missing granddaughter.

Back at his apartment, Henry discovers that Lucy has stolen his computer. Her note tells him that if he wants it back, he has to go to a dive bar named Roni’s. When Henry arrives at said bar, a blonde girl who looks so much like Belle that I genuinely had to pause and Google if I had missed a memo and Emilie de Ravin was still on the show, stares him down and then comes into the light - oh, it’s Alice! She smirks at him and walks off.

Henry heads into the bar and meets Roni herself, aka a happy, smiling Regina. The pair chit-chat long enough for Regina to reveal that Victoria is buying up all the property in the neighborhood and forcing original owners out (so Lucy was right about that,) and for Henry to joke about being her son. Clever.

Meanwhile, Jacinda has found her daughter making a wish in a well in the middle of an abandoned lot. Lucy says it used to be a garden, then throws a quarter in to wish that things will change. She then confesses all of her adventures from the day, and her mom looks slightly stunned.

Alice apparently informs on people in both worlds, as she runs into a creepy building to interrupt a man in the process of drowning someone else to report that there’s a new guy in town (presumably, Henry.) The guy - still holding someone else’s head underwater - turns around, and it’s Rumple!

Jacinda, still reeling, heads to Roni’s to find Henry and return his laptop. And wow, is Henry into her. Instantly into her, and not subtle. Not quite Hook levels of flirting, but you can see the influence. I really like Andrew J. West as adult Henry - he’s kept a lot of young Henry’s mannerisms and added some of Emma’s attitude and Hook’s flirtation. All in all, it makes for a fun character to watch.

Henry goes straight for the kill and asks Jacinda if Lucy’s father is still in the picture. Their moment is interrupted when Victoria strolls in, tears Jacinda’s mothering skills to shreds, and declares that she has full custody of Lucy as of tomorrow. Um… Can she just do that?

Lashing out, Henry makes a Cinderella comment. I’m assuming Victoria understands this because if she’s the Season 1 Regina of this reboot, she’ll be the only one who knows everyone’s cursed. So now Henry’s on her radar.

Henry leaves the bar to discover that his car is gone. He goes to a conveniently-located cop station down the street to report that it’s been stolen. And, surprise! It’s Officer Killian Jones on the case. (Except it’s Officer Rogers in this world.) In case you were wondering, he’s wearing a glove on one of his hands, but it the hand itself appears to be working just fine.

Lucy is wandering on her own again, this time sprinkling seeds in the empty garden beds. Henry stops by to say that she seems like a great kid, but he’s heading out. When she keeps insisting he stay and remember his life, he gets worked up and explains that he had a wife and daughter but they died in a fire. Well that’s a pretty bad curse memory to get.

She pleads with him to believe her, saying, “No story is perfect, it just needs to start!” I almost made that the title of this review, but I was afraid it would make it sound like I didn’t enjoy the episode and I actually really did!

Jacinda goes to pick her up, so they can run off before Victoria takes custody, but the car breaks down. The curse strikes again!

At the police station, Victoria storms in to demand help finding her missing granddaughter. She has a heart to heart with Henry in an effort to get information - then resorts to blackmail. If he wants his car, he’ll tell her where the girls are.

The girls in question are waiting for a ferry to go to this dream island off the coast Jacinda and Henry discused. Henry must have shared what he knew, because Officer Rogers pulls up with evil stepsister in tow. The stepsister yanks a book out of Lucy’s backpack in disgust, and it turns out to be Henry’s published book. Which is titled "Once Upon a Time," obviously. Hook gives it a quick scan and stops, clearly see something interesting.

Hook returns to the station where he’s been named detective, possibly at Victoria’s recommendation. (I’ve been sitting here for 5 minutes trying to decide if “pirate detective” or “Detective Pirate” is funnier and I honestly can’t choose) After getting this news, Hook smiles, which I don’t know that we’ve seen since season 2. It was nice. He’s ushered back to meet his new partner, Detective RUMPELSTILTSKIN. So it turns out he was an undercover guy before, not actually evil, and not-Bell lookalike was an informant.

The pair shake hands, and I am so stoked to see them as buddy cops. Also, about 90% of Hook’s acting in this scene is conveyed through his eyebrows. It’s another reminder that his face has been in permanent “worried” mode for several seasons, and is now finally allowed to break free.

At Roni’s, Regina can’t bring herself to sign away her bar to Victoria. She stands up to her, saying this is her home and her life and she’s not about to give it away. Montage time: Jacinda needs a job so she goes back to Mr. Cluck’s, Henry buys flowers to place at what is supposed to be his family’s graves, but there’s no cemetery, and Hook is staring at a picture of Emma in Henry’s book.

Jacinda throws a quarter into wishing well at same time Henry starts writing his book, which should make the Storybooke clock start, or whatever this season’s version of that is. (For a girl who is paying for rent in singles, Jacinda has wasted 50 cents this episode.)

“The first step to a new beginning is imagining that one is even possible,” Regina’s voice-over says, and we see a flower begin to sprout in the empty garden.

What did everyone think? I actually really enjoyed it - I felt Once was starting to get repetitive the last few seasons, and while this is nearly identical to the plot in the plot, I’m really encouraged by the new characters. I think it's a fun, fresh new start to the series. Do you like the actors? The new cursed identities? Do you think it worked without so many of the original cast? Most importantly, where do you land in the pirate detective/Detective Pirate debate? I’ll see you in the comments section!

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