Once Upon A Time, ‘The Cricket Game’.
Listen to our on air recap.
This week, we return to the issue of Regina’s struggle to become good. Regina’s character continues to benefit from her recent moral ambivalence, and there are some moments of real viewer heartbreak on her behalf in this episode – heartbreak caused at least in part by the good guys.
Cora and Hook have arrived in Storybrooke, and they loiter ominously while the people of the town celebrate the return of Emma and Snow. Regina gets mad at Archie for breaking doctor-patient confidentiality by telling Emma she came to see him. Their fight and some bizarre magic involving a dream catcher and a dog’s memories convince Snow, Charming, and even the reluctant Emma that Regina is the culprit when Archie turns up dead.
It’s pretty obvious from the beginning that this whole thing is Cora’s doing, but that doesn’t hurt the episode much because it’s not where the real story lies. Throughout the episode, Emma, Snow, and Charming must balance the dual challenges of being a family and investigating a murder case to which each brings a different history and set of ideals. Regina must deal with the devil on her shoulder, gaining Henry’s trust, and an angry, possessive Emma.
The episode’s best moments arise from Regina’s battle for change. The reaction of the townspeople when she walks into the party at Granny’s is nothing short of hostile, and Lana Parilla skillfully conveys a woman struggling to keep her poise and pride over the sting of all that hatred. The very best (or worst) part of The Cricket Game, though, comes when Regina sits in her car and watches Emma tell Henry that Regina killed Archie. After an entire episode demonstrating how hard it is for her to change, it is almost physically painful to see her succeed in being a better person only to be falsely accused and have her hopes dashed of being redeemed in the eyes of her son.
In a parallel to the Storybrooke plotline, in fairy-land that was Snow offers the Evil Queen a chance for redemption. Regina does not take it, and that casts doubt on whether it’s possible for her to change at all when Emma, Snow, and Charming face the same dilemma in Storybrooke.
Oh, and Emma can do magic. This major development is introduced properly in the previous episode (though there have been hints throughout). The episode ends with Cora saying she has a present for Hook – Archie! He isn’t dead, she killed a stranger and disguised the body. She suggests that Hook torture him for information on Rumplestiltskin’s weaknesses.
It was a very strong episode back, showing off Lana Parilla’s immense acting talent perfectly. We had the fun book-ends for the episode with Hook, and I’m looking forward eagerly to next week when we may see him start his plan for revenge.