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‘Once Upon A Time’ recap: Witch, please

Are you still doing your happy dance, Dearies?

Lana Parrilla beautifully capture's Regina's heartbreak in "Witch Hunt"
Lana Parrilla beautifully capture's Regina's heartbreak in "Witch Hunt"ABC

Last night’s “Witch Hunt” delivered a lot of laughs, a couple of (somewhat predictable) twists, and a sweet dose of teamwork. Jane Espenson penned an episode full of funny one-liners and major feels. In the Fairy Tale Land past, Regina confronts her castle crasher and meets a mysterious member of her family tree. While in present day Storybrooke, Regina and Emma work together to snuff out their curse casting suspect.

Fairy Tale Land, One Year Ago: “Bring it, Greenie.”

Zelena the Wicked Witch consorts with one of her flying monkeys while criticizing Regina’s fashion sense. She sends the airborne ape out to issue a warning to the gang. As the monkey swoops down and scares the crap out of Robin Hood’s adorable little son, Regina turns the bat-like simian into a stuffed animal and hands it to the boy telling him there is nothing to fear. All together now, Aww!

The flying monkey finally tips them off on their new foe. Regina realizes that Oz’s very own Wicked Witch has taken over her castle and she takes it upon herself to regain control. Regina plans to dodge the protection spell by entering her castle from an underground passage. When everyone chimes in to help, she insists that it is better for her to sneak inside alone and break the spell, so that their army can charge in afterwards. The gang stays behind while Regina makes her way into the castle.

As Regina travels through the underground corridor, she soon realizes that she has company. Robin Hood followed her and wants to help. After all, she saved his son, so he is in her debt. Instead of completely chewing him out, Regina lets him tag along. (Now that’s progress!) The more these two banter, the more we can see sparks fly. Fun relationships always start with a bit of ribbing, just look at Snow and Charming.

Regina and Robin keep walking until they reach an open door. Regina is surprised to see the door has been open because it was bound by a blood spell. (Light bulbs go off. It’s open because Wicked is related to Regina. Sadly, Regina is too heartbroken to see the big neon sign flashing in her face). They head up to her chambers and Regina starts preparing a potion. Robin is surprised and doesn’t understand why she isn’t lifting the protection spell already. So Regina makes her confession.

Let me start by saying that Lana Parrilla is killing it this season. My heart seriously breaks for Regina and Parrilla really delivered a very moving performance in this episode. Regina is making a sleeping spell for herself. She cannot go on living like this, so she has decided to wait it out by living in an “eternal middle.” Robin understands her pain. He felt the same way when he lost his wife, but his son gave him a reason to live. Robin assures Regina that she will find a new purpose in life, she just has to give it some time. Regina says that Henry is her True Love and her only reason to be awake. (So sweet!) Robin tries to interfere and she magically stops him in his tracks. Once the potion is ready to go, Regina leaves her chambers and finds the source of the protection spell.

After Regina breaks the spell, she prepares for her ultimate slumber. Just as she is about to prick her finger, the Wicked Witch waltzes in. Now we finally get the full story. Zelena is Regina’s older half-sister. Cora had her and sent her away to wretched Oz where she had to fend for herself. As if being discarded by Cora wasn’t bad enough, Zelena was shunned again, this time by Rumple. She wanted to learn magic, but he did not give her the kind of attention he gave to Regina. Zelena is upset that Rumple chose Regina to cast the Storybrooke spell, while she suffered in Oz. Now Zelena vows to make Regina suffer.

As these strong-headed sisters face-off, Regina leans in and taunts, “Bring it, Greenie.” Zelena cackles away on her broom with the promise of impending doom. Once their confrontation is over, Regina tells Robin Hood that he was right. She now has a purpose to live because she has someone to destroy.

Parrilla and Rebecca Mader really play nicely off of each other. There was some great tension between the two of them and it was so fun to watch. What did you think, Oncers?

New theory: The second Zelena confirmed that Cora is her mother, I couldn’t help but wonder if Rumple is her father. Before marrying the King and removing her heart, Cora had quite the torrid love affair with Rumple. Plus, Zelena has some deep seeded hatred towards Rumple, the kind that surpasses a simple student/teacher relationship. And they both have weird colored skin. That has to be hereditary, right? Is it just me?

Storybrooke, Present Day: “I cast curses to hurt other people, not myself.”

There are a lot of crazy things happening in Storybrooke, so let’s tackle it one thing at a time.

Emma uses her superpower and trusts Regina. She did not cast this curse. If she did, then she would’ve made Henry remember her. The look on Regina’s face when she saw Henry in Granny’s Diner spoke volumes. Heartbreak and terror. As a mother, Emma understands and believes Regina. So they decide to work together and come up with a great plan.

They throw off the bad guy by turning the town against Regina, while they secretly work on creating a potion that will bring their memories back. If everyone drinks the Kool-Aid and remembers the past year, they can figure out who cast the curse. Regina uses Emma’s last drop of potion as a template, but she’s unable to replicate it. So they move onto plan B. They announce that Regina has created a memory potion in hopes of luring out Storybrooke’s latest baddie.

During their stakeout, Emma and Regina have a little heart to heart. Regina is happy to know that Henry has a lot of friends in NYC and although she’d love to be a part of his life, she isn’t sure if her heart could bear it under these brutal circumstances. Emma admits she almost didn’t return to Storybrooke because she didn’t want to disrupt Henry’s life. But then she thought about what he’d say if he remembered the past: “A hero would come back.” Suddenly, they see flashes of light in the window and rush inside, but all they catch is a cloud of green smoke. Luckily, they find another clue that helps them figure out who they’re up against.

Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men are hunting pheasants in the woods. When Little John crosses Storybrooke’s border a flying monkey swoops in and grabs him. They pull him away from the monkey and rush Little John to the hospital. David realizes that the same thing must’ve happened to a few of the dwarves when they went to inspect the border. But wait, things get weirder.

While Dr. Whale inspects Little John, the big guy sprouts a tale, transforms into a monkey and flies away. Charming and Whale are left dumbfounded. This transformation also makes you wonder who Walsh may have been back in Fairy Tale Land or Oz. Did all flying monkeys used to be fairy tale characters? Is there a way to reverse this curse? The questions keep piling up.

In another beautiful scene, Emma introduces Regina to Henry. He doesn’t get why the mayor would want to meet him, take him out for ice cream or show him around town, but he remains polite and obliges to all of her offers. Then Regina goes in for a hug and Henry extends his hand. A sucker-punch to the gut for poor Mama Mills. She takes off her glove and shakes her boy’s hand. It is a huge moment for her if you think about it. Regina hasn’t touched Henry in over a year and she has to settle for a handshake. Again, wonderful work from Parrilla and Jared Gilmore in this loaded scene.

Back to Operation Witch Hunt. The gang regroups and goes over the facts they’ve collected. Green smoke, flying monkeys…Regina realizes that their foe is the Wicked Witch from Oz. Emma can’t believe that she’s real too, but at this point, nothing should really surprise her anymore. The problem is that nobody knows Greenie’s alter ego. She could be any newcomer in Storybrooke, which provides her with the perfect cover.

Before the gang figured out who they are dealing with, Zelena already got into Mary Margaret’s good graces. She claimed to be a midwife back in Fairy Tale Land and offers to be the famous Snow White’s aid, saying it would be her honor to help her birth and care for this new royal baby. Oh, come on! Don’t do it, Snow!! Nooo!!!

As the episode ends, we discover that one good thing has come from the Wicked Witch: Rumplestiltskin is back!

Yay!!! I know it was only about two episodes, but I really missed Robert Carlyle’s antics. As I’ve said from the start, ‘Once’ just isn’t the same without Rumple. Anyway, Zelena has poor Rumpy trapped in a cage and she tells him to eat up because she’s brought him back for a reason. After she leaves, he eerily sings, “You feed the madness and it feeds you.” Rumple throws in one of his signature snicker-y giggles and we fade to black.

Afterthoughts:

Fabulous episode. It made me laugh a lot it and Parrilla gave me goosebumps on several occasions. Brilliant work from the whole cast and a textured script from Espenson. Well done!

Now for some mind-boggling musings:

How did Zelena bring Rumple back? Where did he go when he stabbed his father and himself with the Dark One’s dagger? What kind of Rumple are we looking at? Gold carried himself quite differently in Stroybrooke, but now he’s back to his mischievous manner of sing-song speak. Has he come back with any of his Dark One mojo? Does Zelenia have possession of the Dark One’s dagger?

Referring back to my aforementioned theory: What if Rumple is Zelena’s father? Could blood magic have brought him back? What does she want with him? Will he side with her? If he is her father, does he know it? Zelena is pretty hell-bent on making her family pay. Cora is dead, so she’ll have to take it out on everyone else.

Now that the gang knows they’re after the Wicked Witch, how will figure out who she is in Storybrooke? Do they have another trap in mind? How long will MM trust her midwife?

Will Henry catch on to the strange things going on in Storybrooke? He’s a smart kid, so he should start putting the pieces together sooner rather than later. What will it take to jog his memory?

As Emma asks many times throughout the episode: Where the hell is Neal? Has Zelena caged him to use as leverage against Rumple? Has he already get morphed into a flying monkey? Did he get left behind in Fairy Tale Land?

Will Regina start falling for Robin Hood now that Henry is back in her sights? I’m guessing she won’t pay attention to his advances in the past (if there are any) because she will be fixated on defeating Zelena. Perhaps it will be the same in Storybrooke. What will it take for Regina to open her heart up to love? Will Henry eventually befriend Robin’s son and plot a little ‘Parent Trap’? That would be super cute.

What did you think of “Witch Hunt”? Were you surprised by the twists? Do you have any theories, favorite scenes/lines, etc.?

Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more news!

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