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Once Upon a Time "The Cricket Game" Review: Can People Change? Who Cares?

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Once Upon a Time S02E10: "The Cricket Game"

Can a person change? This is the question OUAT asked last night instead of moving forward. In past reviews I’ve said that this show excels at premieres, mid-season premieres, and finales and that everything else is just filler. Well, that is no longer the case, as last night kept Cora, Hook, and their ship on the DL while treating us to a long treatise by every gummy-brained character in town on the nature of change and how good it is to support people who want to change but can they really ever change?

Sometimes... on very particular occasions... like when someone has killed many people, like Regina has... the question is not so much does the criminal still have good in their heart or do they actively enjoy doing evil. In a way, this whole curse is Snow’s fault because she freed Regina as a nod of the cap to that time Regina kept her from falling off a horse.

Cora and Hook being essentially out of play this week was explained as them trying to break Regina, presumably so they’ll all be on the same side, but we have seen proof that these baddies are way, way, way more powerful than their opponents. I know Emma read a dog’s brain with a dreamcatcher (I cackled like a crazy bitch when they pulled out that dreamcatcher. The writers room well and truly ran out of ideas that day.) And she personally cannot have her heart pulled out, but everyone else in town seems pretty powerless. Cora is omniscient, she can body morph, she summon armies of the dead, and she has Wonderland under her control—yet she’s still creeping on Storybrooke in secret.

I really was sort of looking forward to an all-out battle that would shake up the status quo when the first half of the season ended with Hook and Cora onboard a ship careening toward Maine. But clearly the show is going to drag out the conflict to tuck in more revelatory flashback episodes. Think of all the new stuff we learned this episode! Like, Charming used to wear a bear capelet! That’s about it.

The biggest positive thing about this mid-season return is that Archie wasn’t killed off. Not that I like the character, but the actor seems like one of the less-marketable types, so I was starting to worry whether ABC had warned him his paychecks were going to stop. When the show killed Graham, which I will never forget or forgive, at least we could all rest assured he’d be out on rom-com auditions and soap series regular casting sessions the next day. Archie? Archie needs this check, guys.

I did think it was worth noting that Belle only showed up to deliver a picnic basket; her obsession with food and eating her feelings continues to be the most consistent part of her character. I thought Lana’s delivery of “red pepper flakes” was the funniest thing about the episode and her battle costume, like wow:

That’s quite a thing to see come riding toward you ‘cross the battlefield. And okay, this was definitely a series high point for me, because I’m not just a Charming Snow shipper, I am a Joshifer shipper too:

We have waited long for this moment, Snow and Charming finally getting their groove back, and it was handled very cutely, although it does raise the issue of, why did Mary-Margaret give up the master bedroom when Emma moved in? This was her apartment and yet when Emma showed up Mary-Margaret let her have a bedroom with walls and schlepped her brass bed directly across from the kitchen. No greater evidence that Emma scared the F out of Mary-Margaret before the curse was broken. Also, do you think Emma bought a bed or just slept in a tight nest of sleeping bags and old jean jackets up in Mary-Margaret’s old bedroom?

Altogether, after "The Cricket Game" I feel a little cheated of one of the three episodes of the season I thought I could really count on to move the story forward. It doesn’t bode well for the normal episodes that the mid-season return felt so light. This episode's whole arc could have been contained in one commercial break, but was weirdly padded. Basically I bought a steak burrito and it was just potatoes and gravy inside.

Anyway. What did you think of the episode?


QUESTIONS:

1. If someone seriously screws you over, does it even matter if they can change?

2. What is Cora’s long con here?

3. Did the hairstylists get a note from corporate that Emily’s curls were becoming distracting?

4. Is Mary-Margaret called Mary-Margaret or Snow?

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