Once Upon A Time 2.10 “The Cricket Game” TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writers: David H Goodman, Robert Hull
Director: Dean White
THE ONE WHERE In the past: We see Evil Queen Regina captured by Charming and Snow after a battle, then sentenced to death. However, Snow can't bring herself to execute her stepmother and releases her... which isn't a wise move. In Storybrooke: Doctor Hopper is murdered by Cora masquerading as Regina. The real Regina protests her innocence and claims that she's changed, but evidence mounts and she flees. In a final twist, we see that Cora didn't really kill Hopper at all; she's captured him to learn the secrets of the townsfolk...
VERDICT At the centre of this episode is a humungous bluff: we're expected to believe that Dr Hopper, aka Jiminy Cricket, is as dead as a doornail. And I don't know about you, but I was totally fooled. Don't forget, Once Upon A Time has gleefully killed a beloved character before (Sheriff Graham, aka the Huntsman) and if they were going to murder anybody to elicit a reaction, the lovely Hopper would be a good choice. Thankfully he will live to chirp another day, but thanks to Cora's machinations, Regina's well and truly stuffed...
Kudos goes, as always, to Lana Parrilla for her magnificent performance as the Evil Queen, who's now realising that she needs to change her ways to hang on to her son. When she sits in the diner, desperate to connect with the people around her but ostracised because of her previous behaviour, it's hard not to feel a twinge for her (quite a feat, considering how nasty she's been from the get-go on this show). And the scene where she yells at Emma, and then instantly backtracks and tearfully apologises, shows more character growth than you'd ever expect from a fairy tale character. It's actually a shame that Cora's schemes have undermined all Regina's good work; we have a feeling she'll be back to her old ways before long after being so persecuted by the Storybrooke townsfolk.(opens in new tab)
The episode's second plotline focuses on Regina's last big chance to redeem herself, which she thoroughly fails. Even when faced with a firing squad (well, an archery squad) she flings out insults as though they're going out of style (“With every ounce of my being I regret that I was not able to kill Snow White!” she hisses). Snow's willingness to forgive her, and her misplaced belief that Regina can change, are all beautifully paralleled in the present – something this show is so good at doing. What are fairy tales if they're not morality tales in another setting, eh?
As one final revelation, it seems that the idea for the Storybrooke curse only occurred to Regina after Rumplestiltskin had a word in her ear. Is there no end to the Dark One's stirring? Naughty naughty, dearie...
IS IT JUST US, OR...? Did anyone else feel terribly sorry for the fisherman who got turned into a fish at the start of the episode? Cora just waved a hand and he plopped into the sea, never to be heard from again. What about his family? Are his kids going hungry now? Who's feeding his dog, currently locked in his empty kitchen? What if he left the gas on? I'm quite beside myself with worry about the poor chap.(opens in new tab)
SEXY TIMES Once Upon A Time is a family show through and through, but they're not averse to showing a little slap-and-tickle between Snow White and Charming – well, at least until Emma and Henry come home and interrupt them. It's actually an adorable little scene, with the cherry on top being Charming's comment about Emma: “It's impressive that we can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at this stage of the game.”
UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT Regina has a barney with Dr Hopper after hearing that he's told other people that she's trying to curb her magic and turn over a new leaf. He's adamant that he's done nothing wrong, but Regina has a point – when you tell your therapist something, he really isn't supposed to tell everybody he sees. Still, it gives Cora a great excuse to frame Regina for his murder.(opens in new tab)
JUMPING JIMINY! At Regina's execution, there's a moment when Charming suddenly leaps out of his seat in outrage. Jiminy Cricket is standing by him (you can see him on Charming's left), and the FX team made him jump in the air in fright. Every time you watch it, it gets funnier!(opens in new tab)
Also, check out Jiminy's special equipment for making his voice heard while in council with the other characters – a magnifying glass (so they can see him) and megaphone (so they can hear him). It's this kind of attention to daft detail that makes Once such a joy to watch at times.
THIS WEEK'S OPENING CREDITS IMAGE Pongo the dog, who wanders around a bit before disappearing behind a tree. For a moment it looks as though he's about to pee up it, actually.
Emma: “Tacos. I cannot tell you the relief of cooking something that I didn't have to kill first.”
Granny: “Don't I know it. Meatloaf back home? What a bitch.”
New episodes of Once Upon A Time air in the UK on Channel 5, Sundays, 8pm