Once Upon a Time "Welcome to Storybrooke" Review: Open Your Heart to Me (Also Can We All Start 'Shipping Emma and Regina?)

By Lily Sparks

Mar 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time S02E17: "Welcome to Storybrooke"

I was very worried that last night’s St. Patrick’s Day episode of OUAT would involve the Charmings poking around Mr. Gold’s shop, finding a blue moon, purple horseshoe, green clover, and summoning a leprechaun to Storybrooke to steal all of the town’s milk or something. 

Instead, we got a very unique episode, with a fleeting glimpse of Jamie Dornan (my sweet sexual vanilla), a Groundhog Day-esque framing of Regina’s experience of the Storybrooke curse, and a character actually trying to straight-talk his way through the emotional bog that this show's rivalries and unforeseen familial connections have us all mired in. I’m talking, of course, about Gold fasking Regina just to let shit slide this once.

Bless the writers’ hearts, Gold brought up, word-for-word, what every fan has been screaming in their head lo this last season: What good has come of Regina’s insane feud with Snow White and her crazy-boring Storybrooke curse? And the show went all the way back to 1983 to illustrate that nothing positive has grown of this madness. Besides thorough bonings from Jamie Dornan (which were going on in FTL anyway) and a sleek haircut, Regina was just as trapped in the curse as her victims. I appreciated that they illustrated the cyclical nature of time in cursed Storybrooke, even if it was just a cheap excuse to put Meghan Ory in not one but a baker’s half-dozen of ho outfits. Round of applause for Meghan for being able to pull off corset-tie thigh-high boots! That's an accomplishment few can boast.

Regina is easily the most complicated character on OUAT: She’s evil, but much more likable than most of the good guys. She’s shrewd and powerful but insanely dumb about how people work. It’s almost too much to ask the audience to believe that Regina could be as dense about basic human behavior and socialization as she was in this episode. Like, FTL may have had peasants and weird fashions and floppy hats, but from what we’ve seen, relationships were no different there than they are on Earth. In trying to ingratiate herself with the little boy who wandered into town, Regina showed all the emotional logic of a space alien.

Which is part of why she’s now BY FAR the saddest character on the show, cursed with an inability to tell her ass from her elbow, emotionally speaking. It’s 99 percent Lana Parrilla’s depth as an actress, but Regina communicates this profound loneliness in an incredibly sympathetic way, and last night was another huge redeeming moment for her, as she refused to both kill Snow or entrance Henry. 

The more Regina develops as this three-dimensional, fallen-angel archetype, the more perfect the idea becomes of Regina and Emma coming together… that way. Oh yes, that way. Guys, think about it: Emma is the savior, she’s the literal essence of true love, and the person who needs the transformative nature of true love the most in this series is so obviously Regina. And let’s be real, those two actresses have so much damn chemistry. The show is always at its best when they share the screen.

Plus, a lesbian main character romantic plotline on a mainstream network drama is not the commercial impossibility it once was. To its credit, ABC recently bought a pilot about two moms raising a family of foster kids together and I just want to say: Please go there, OUAT. It would be so seriously epically romantic, and it could create such crazy conflicts (Mary Margaret, for instance, might freak out about being mother-in-law to her stepmother) which would be so much more interesting than Ethan Embry hatching a viral video campaign.

Because yes, Ethan Embry officially has his quotient of revenge plot/parental separation drama backstory—a backstory cemented by the reveal of a LEATHER BOONDOGGLE KEYCHAIN. Dun dun DUNH!

You can’t be a character on this show and not have had your parent cruelly separated from you/killed before your eyes/turned into a darling wooden puppet. Seriously, go down the line, every single character is hauling around a steamer trunk full of biological mommy/daddy baggage. (Or in this case, a literal boondoggle. Which his father gave to him so he’d always be with him? Crafty, dad. Crafty and crappy.) 

So Ethan’s going to revenge his father, I guess, by bringing the real world into Storybrooke! Except Regina can apparently hide Storybrooke really easily and also the world doesn’t care. Oh, you’ve got magical phone videos you say? Well, that’s great, but no one cares. Remember that meteor that crashed into Russia and all the news about it was subsumed in less than eight hours by One Direction gossip? Yeah: No one gives a shit about magical things in real life for more than five hours. Its called a news cycle.

And finally, Snow’s extreme, suicidal depression about killing a woman who was out to destroy, um, every member of her family… I was a child of the '90s, and in the '90s women were encouraged not to be victims. Take self-defense classes! Be, be, aggressive! Fight back! Jennifer Lopez has had ENOUGH! Snow herself slaughtered a passel of knights in a bloodbath not unlike John Cleese’s wedding massacre in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.

But killing Cora got Snow so depressed and regretful that she asked Regina to pull out her heart and crush it? Um, aren’t you the same lady who karate-chopped the Mad Hatter straight out a window? And then there was that weird telenovela moment where Regina was crying because she realized in a way that she had won because Snow now has a couple black pixels in her heart and Snow was crying because she realized Regina wasn’t going to kill her and that was the worst revenge of all and then Regina shoved her heart back in and Snow went cross-eyed like a cartoon character punched in the groin.

Like, what? Snow, can you please just enjoy a full week being around your husband, daughter, and grandkid you haven’t seen for 28 years before volunteering yourself as a human sacrifice? Or try some of our Earth magic, it’s called Valium. Or, I don’t know, maybe redeem yourself by making a difference in this world/the one you came from/positive works?

Snow’s weird “please murder me” moment was... seriously stupid on many levels. It didn’t fit with what we know about her character or her motivations or the internal logic of the show. I’d much rather see Regina snatch Emma’s heart in the figurative sense. Pretty please, OUAT?



1. Emma & Regina: Couldn’t this open up the world and complicate all the conflicts in an incredible way? Or is Regina being Emma’s step-grandma too big a mental hurdle?

2. Snow’s suicide moment: illogical or a redeeming moment for the character?

3. So… Henry was going to blow up a well? TROUBLED.

4. Do you have any interest in seeing how the real world reacts with Storybrooke, or does that just seem like a dead end?

5. Has Gold called Belle back or what?

6. Waste of Graham or you’ll take what you can get?

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  • Regina_Falange May 20, 2013

    The English is not my natural lenguaje so you excuse me if I you get hard time to understand me. I think that swan queen is possible. My main reason is the next. If you know something about plots you realize than everything happens in screen have a intention, and when I said everything I mean everything. The writers wouldn't leave "details" whith out a explanation, at least not this kind of stuff, I mean, that scene in the mine (among many other scenes) means something, were are not talking about real life, when the situations are spontaneous and natural, were are talking about a story, this stories are made by design, everything, and the things they can not control they let them being just in case. So, thinking like a writer, like a screenwriter who finds out than this relationship is causing responses I would act in three ways:
    1) Cut it off
    2) Go for it
    3) Let it in "stand by" to figure out later depending on reactions.

    Again, I'm sorry, my english is not good (you probably figure out that) I want to say a lot of more things but is dificult to me make me clear in other lenguaje.

    PD: By the way, for the people who say that the swan queen is not possible because the characters are not gay: neither were at first Xena and Gabrielle, her initial relationship was designed to be "friends" almost "family" but definitely not like a couple, however, the chemistry between the characters began to be so obvious that, initially decided to leave it in the subtext but that eventually grew into the main story.

  • mistaria May 11, 2013

    Haven't read your reviews in a long time since I couldn't handle the pessimism while I was trying to stay optimistic that the show would get better again as the season went on. Welp I was wrong. Your captions still crack me up and I am seriously only still on board this show as a Swan Queen shipper (completely agree with your reasoning for why this ship would work so well).

  • ark1317 Apr 14, 2013

    If strangers never come into town can someone explain to me how Owen and his father did? There was no magic in 1983 so Regina couldn't have hidden STorybrooke right?

  • Jace1709 Apr 18, 2013

    It was the Curse that hid the town, the road is still there, so anyone driving through would just be driving along a country road, and im guessing be invisible/intangible to the townsfolk as well. But since Owen and his dad were within the curses 'blast zone' for lack of a better term, they were able to roam the town until they crossed back outside the border.

    Thats my guess for it all anyway :-)

  • ark1317 Apr 18, 2013

    That totally makes sense, thank you! :D

  • victoriagonza Apr 07, 2013

    1. Emma & Regina: Couldn’t this open up the world and complicate all the conflicts in an incredible way? Or is Regina being Emma’s step-grandma too big a mental hurdle?
    I think narratively speaking there are a lot of fans that think this is either the best direction to go or the direction that they are going but we just haven't gotten there yet. I do not think the step-grandma hurdle is too big of a leap, because it implies several things: that Regina getting married against her will still counts as a real marriage, and that Snow really thinks of Regina as a mother (both of which I think are false). I fear that this small hurdle, more like a speed bump really is something that the writer's think of as a impassible mountain.
    2. Snow’s suicide moment: illogical or a redeeming moment for the character?
    I think that this moment has a lot more to do with the frailties of Mary Margaret than anything else. The things that she had done while in Fairy Tale Land/to save her daughter are different than genuinely tricking someone to kill another person, especially when that person is their mother. There is an eye for an eye mentality here that she cannot take. Also, it is remarkably similar to what we are lead to think Regina would do in the same situation.
    3. So… Henry was going to blow up a well? TROUBLED.
    This kid has issues, but we knew that from the start. I think now the show is going to have to start dealing with all of these things that could potentially traumatize this kid.
    4. Do you have any interest in seeing how the real world reacts with Storybrooke, or does that just seem like a dead end?
    No interest. I think that could make the plot thoroughly unwieldy.

  • Aeidail Apr 06, 2013

    I think that the reason Snow was so heart broken wasn't so much that she killed Cora. I think it had more to do with how she did it. She used Regina to kill her own mother. I think after everything that's happened between them so far, Snow just feels incredibly guilty because of Regina, not because of Cora. So I think it makes a little bit of sense that she would go to Regina. Also, massive heart flip when the sheriff got out of his car :)

  • kou_shun_u Mar 28, 2013

    For those of you who said that Emma ,were she a Male,would have ended up with Regina because of the curse and whats behind it, I disagree.
    Regina was the implementer of the curse by way of Gold, just as Emma was engineered to be the savior.
    The curse's goal was to relocate to the world where Bae is, find, bring him back ( and also let everyone regain memories) . Therefore Emma first love is Bae, they have a kid (which forever links them). August tempers with that and Henry is sent to Storybrooke, procured by Gold and raised by Regina. Henry grows up, finds her and brings her to Storybrooke, Emma (and Henry) in turn bring Bae to Storybrooke to be reunited with Gold.
    Therefore by curse design, its Emma and Neal who are fated, in the very least, for purpose of reunion of father and son, it not say true love.

    To me, if Regina is fated to be with someone by reasoning of Love/forgiveness it should be Snow, however she is true love linked with Charming. But even then I don't know. I think her love fate is more in terms of true honest parental love. She was wronged in love by her mother and that ruins all types of love for her. As much as she loves Henry, she is currently stuck manipulating things around him like her mother did to her. Therefore she has to form a self sacrificing love as her father did for her and really fix her bond with Henry above all else.

    Therefore, I think Rumplestilskin's love plight is neither parental (Bae) or romantic (Belle) but that of self and overcoming fear and finding real self worth and relinquishing power onto others. His major love affair is with power. He always goes one step forward and two steps back.His poor relationship with his wife came from running away from war (which i know he did for fear of wife and child but did in an incredibly thoughtless way). He is able to overcome it temporarily be really fighting for his son and becoming the dark one. However, he fell in love too much power and lording it over everyone who looked down upon him. Thereby scaring his son and loosing the one thing he really had left. He doesn't follow his son because he doesn't want to give up power. He kills his wife, i think more so out of the humiliation she caused him (like all the others) and out of his own self hatred at loosing Bae.
    (Cora leaves and destroys her own life in exactly the same way thanks to power. She dies at the hands of her daughter which looks to be the current possible future for both Gold and Regina if they don't shape up). He gives up Belle, once again due o power. He finally gets his son back but is probably going to loose him because he is scared of loss of power once again and is going to do something to Henry.

  • googlehoop Mar 30, 2013

    Lots of information and ideas here, most of which I agree with. Although I don't think the show will be killing off either Gold or Regina anytime soon, as they are arguably the best characters on the show. Watching their redemption will be an interesting journey.

  • LeandaTPFan Mar 27, 2013

    1. I agree that Regina and Emma ending up together should be a possibility.
    The on-screen chemistry; there is truck load of that between them.
    The character Emma being with a woman would not be a surprise to her own mother, if she had one and she was objective about here daughter's behavior, dress code and so fourth. (Take note: I'm not saying all women that dress and act a certain way ARE lesbians, just that certain things does/should cause it to be less of a shock).
    Both these characters are too strong for any of the male characters currently on the show.

    3. Very troubled...

    I do not get/approve of how Gold/Rumple is made out to be 'not so bad' while Regina gets the short end of the stick no matter what she does...it's frustrating and annoying.

  • Sugar2U Mar 24, 2013

    How did Henry not notice the time loop of his life before Emma showed up.. He should have mentioned THAT to Emma as proof that something weird was up in Storybrook..OR is that why he knew that life in the brook was off?? Am I the only one that thought about that? Answers please...

  • googlehoop Mar 30, 2013

    I don't think anyone realized it because of the curse. Including Henry.

  • LeandaTPFan Mar 27, 2013

    That's a good question, I didn't really think about it.
    I don't know, but that that is how he knew life in the brooke was off makes sense.

  • totomomo182 Mar 23, 2013

    Once again this episode Henry proved what stupid jerk he is.Regina again did something for him and he just run out on her with the others leaving her alone not to mention run and Emma right in-front of her is that not adding injury to insult.I think he is more dangers than magic.Lilly really Lesbian plot line between Emma and Regina ?

  • LeandaTPFan Mar 27, 2013

    I agree...Regina took care of him for 10 years. As far as I can gather she has never done him any harm, she has provided a home for him, allowed him to interact with Snow even after she gave him the book and has not killed anyone he loves even after getting magic back and the way they treated her.
    As far as the Regina/Emma thing...is there really any other character at this stage that either of them are more compatible with? My personal opinion: No. Not to mention the only proper on-screen chemistry is when they interact.
    To each his own, this is just my five cents.

  • briagreene7 May 23, 2013

    Depends on how you define "harm". Yeah she fed him, clothed him, etc. But she also tried to gaslight him and trying to cast a curse on him that will take away his free will, which in my book counts as psychological abuse. But in any case, I think that Henry does love Regina. But he's fearful/wary of her because he knows what she's capable of. Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be around them. On the other hand, it's been Henry who has stopped the Charmings from killing Regina and he's had some sweet moments with her throughout season 2.

  • JessicaDoty1 Mar 22, 2013

    Is nobody going to mention what a truly dreadful actor the kid who played tiny Ethan was? I mean, SERIOUSLY here? Is there such a great lack of good child actors in Hollywood that we need to use that kid? His whole speech at the edge of town (went something like "I will find you Dad! I will NEVER stop looking!") was comical and so over the top BAD that it just ruined the whole Regina realizing she screwed up majorly part. Ah OUaT, seriously, fire your casting director

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