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Once Upon a Time “New York City Serenade” 

Photo Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand
Photo Credit: ABC/Jack Rowand

At long last we have fresh episodes and can finally find out what Emma Swan has been doing all year! With all the sneak peeks and spoilers out there I’m sure most people know that the Wicked Witch makes an appearance in the second half of the season, but I have to confess I’m a little disappointed in her so far. Although I think Rebecca Mader will bring the right mix of gleeful wickedness to the role, I just can’t get past the overwhelming greenness of her skin. I know there’s a reason behind the choice and that the story will be told. Still, it’s a little too bright, a little too shiny. It looks too clearly like makeup to me, and I find it distracting. Let’s hope the character is strong enough to overpower the distraction, because I’m excited to watch another two disparate worlds collide.
This episode feels clumsy, with the “that was then, this is now” timeline disparity between the two worlds. I hope they manage to balance this better for the rest of the season, because I have high hopes for the introduction of the witch from Oz.  What is her beef with Regina? How has she managed to gain enough power to affect the whole realm? And how will Miss Dorothy Swan manage to thwart yet another curse without a house to crash-land?

I would have felt a little better about the episode if Hook had managed to convince Emma to take Henry back to Storybrook without the use of magic. If he had used the photos to appeal to her sense of investigative curiosity it could have felt much more natural and would have given the other characters a chance to win Emma and Henry back over time. As it is, it feels a little like cheating, although I can see the logic in getting Emma back into the middle of things quickly.

What fun to see Christopher Gorham cast as the smitten and devoted boyfriend! Obviously there could be no future between the two unless he is part of her world, so no surprise that all is not as it seems. He has just the right look, with his tall, thin frame and that shaggy mop of hair, that when Walsh reveals his true flying minion self the first thought is “Oh yeah, I should have seen that coming.” I hope we get a chance to see him merge the two at some point in the future. We haven’t seen nearly enough of him yet, and I’d bet Gorham will make a magnificent villain! Can’t you just see him all hunched over, eager and drooling at the prospect of stirring up trouble?

Although I found the episode disappointing overall, it still manages to pique the curiosity. It raises just enough questions to make me long for answers, and here’s hoping they are delivered with the finesse of earlier seasons. I anticipate learning more about Robin Hood and seeing his interactions with Regina now that we know the story of their unfulfilled destiny, and I badly want to know if there’s more to the story of Philip and Aurora than we’ve already seen. This reset opens some doors to big changes, like juggling which characters are sent to Storybrook and which, if any, are left behind this time. There is also a lot of potential for exploration into the relationship between Regina and Zelena, two seemingly opposite characters yet equally matched in magic and mischief. It will be interesting to see how things play out.

The moment that stands out in its poignancy is when Emma, freshly home from her big date, joins Henry on the sofa for a little family time playing Diablo III. Such a simple thing, yet knowing that their memories aren’t real and no doubt their lives are about to be turned upside-down, the moment lights a slow-burning yet powerful emotional fuse. They will never be able to regain this carefree domesticity once it’s gone, and we know there’s no way they can avoid the loss. I found it to be a lovely counterpoint to the rest of the episode, one moment of peaceful bliss before the turbulent upheaval of Emma’s world.

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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