And with “The Cricket Game,” OUaT continues its expansion of the fairy tale universe with… Pongo! How appropriate for a Disney-owned company. (Has Pongo appeared before? If so, I don’t recall it.)
The attempted redemption of Regina continues, both in Storybrooke and in Fairy Tale Land. Except Evil Queen Regina doesn’t want redemption, while Mayor Regina continues to try.
The citizens of Storybrooke throw a “Welcome Home Mary Margaret” party (so says the sign), somehow forgetting Emma. I understand Snow has a long history with these folks, but Emma is supposed to be their savior, so WTF? Emma invites Regina, whom no one talks to. Regina makes lasagna, Archie Hopper (whose last name I’ve only just now gotten—d’oh!) makes cake, and Emma and Henry make tacos. And Emma is emotionally scared by walking in on her parents having sex. Hee!
In Fairy Tale Land, we begin at the end of the Battle Between Good and Evil (for lack of a better title). It’s a bit confusing to me, as it doesn’t seem to have a point of reference, but whatever. Snow and Charming’s army has defeated the Regina and King George’s. Charming and Snow capture Regina, suppress her powers, and sentence her to death. Except that Snow keeps harping about how Regina once saved her life, and thus spares her. But when Regina fails Snow’s test to redeem herself, she’s banished to a distant land.
This part of the story ends just before the actual beginning of the series, with Snow and Charming’s public wedding. (Not to be confused with the wedding conducted by Lancelot for the benefit of Charming’s dying mother. I actually had college friends who did the same thing—married privately to legally move out of the dormitory, and then had a public wedding the following summer to include family and friends.) Thanks to a spell by Rumpelstiltskin, Regina no longer has magical powers over Snow and Charming. Interestingly, it’s Rumple who tells Regina she can regain her power over them by sending everyone to another realm. Way to play both sides, Rumps.
The Fairy Tale Land story serves to explain why the usually compassionate Mary Margaret (let’s just call her Snow, since it’s shorter to type) is now so adamant that Regina can’t or won’t change her evil ways. Because…
In Storybrooke, Regina kills Archie Hopper! Only it’s really Cora disguised as Regina. And, as we learn later*, some unknown sap disguised as Archie. Maybe it’s the tackle shop/marine manager Cora turned into a fish. (At least Hook kicked him back into the water.)
Emma believes Regina’s story (to David and Snow’s chagrin) until Mr. Gold taps into Pongo’s memory of the event. Of course, Pongo remembers what he saw, Regina killing Archie. But when Emma, David and Snow go to arrest Regina, she magically disappears. Emma breaks the disappointing news to Henry while Regina, unnoticed in a nearby car, watches.
*Later we learn Cora didn’t actually kill Archie. Instead, she’s stashed him in the hold of Captain Hook’s ship, so that he can extract information on Gold’s weaknesses. Except, 1) I sincerely doubt Gold has used Archies psychiatric services, and 2) does Gold really have any weaknesses other than Belle?