After one of the most daring finales we’ve ever seen, Once Upon a Time has returned. It picks up right where it left off – with the curse lifted, magic back and hell breaking loose in both lands. “Broken” also introduces a new twist: A few characters are still left in Fairytale Land and, oh yeah, one of them is Mulan.

The Players:

  • Director: Ralph Hemecker
  • Writer: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “Broken”

After the curse is broken, Regina is forced to run for her life. Understandably, the people she stripped of their identities aren’t too happy with her. Plus, there’s that pesky magic cloud to deal with that’s a real game changer. The other surprise of the night is the Fairytale flashbacks are no longer flashbacks – they’re playing out in real time. It turns out a group of characters (including Prince Phillip, Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty and Mulan) weren’t taken to Storybrooke by the curse. Instead, they were frozen in place for 28 years. They’re also pretty pissed, which turns out to be bad news for Snow and Emma.

The Good:

  • MAGIC IS BACK: This one deserves big bold letters because it’s that awesome. Let’s face it, magic mostly benefits the show’s villains. Rumpelstiltskin is delightfully devious when all he does is ruin lives from a pawn shop. And of course there’s Regina, whose magic is big enough to sustain the plot of the entire show. The Mad Hatter and the fairies could do a few cool tricks of their own, but it’s the baddies that have the upper hand.
  • Fairytale Land Plot Twist: Just when we thought the Fairytale flashbacks might become unnecessary, they give them new life. Not all of its residents were banished to the land of boring when Regina’s curse took effect. Some of them just enjoyed a 28-year-long game of freeze tag. Now, they’re awake and looking for answers. Sleeping Beauty is appropriately part of this gang, but so is Mulan, who doesn’t totally fit in the world. But it’s Mulan, so you just go with it.
  • Better CGI: The biggest feat of magic this season happened in the special effects department. Fairytale Land looks less like a screen-saver from 2003 and the Dementor wraith (a cloaked, floating villain summoned to kill Regina and Prince Phillip) is actually kind of legit.
  • Awkward Family Times: Now that Snow and Charming are aware of their true identities they’re dying to get to know their daughter. Emma, on the other hand, is appropriately creeped out by their youth and isn’t ready for the just bonding yet. They compromise with an awkward group hug.
  • Snow and Emma in Fairytale Land: When the wraith is sent after Regina, Henry inexplicably decides that he loves her. He calls her mom and gets the good guys to save her. With magic once again at their disposal, they initiate Project Magic Hat and try to send the wraith to another dimension. They get rid of the creature, and Emma and Snow in the process. By the end of the episode, the mother/daughter duo is unconscious in a pile of Fairytale debris with an angry Mulan blaming the curse (kind of rightfully) on them.
  • Dr. Whale: The crusade against Regina is being led by the mysterious Dr. Whale. The best part of live tweeting the show is seeing people guess about his fairytale back story. We recommend following writer Jane Espenson for an inside take on the best theories floating around.

The Bad:

  • Henry Might Be an Android: This is just a theory, but it would explain so much. Henry is different this season. He’s probably not a robot, but he’s different. Maybe its the stress of watching your childhood delusions become a reality. More importantly, he suddenly gives a crap about Regina. It’s weird. Fickle little kid.
  • Belle is 100 Percent Stupid: We kind of love whole Rumpelstiltskin/Belle relationship. It really humanizes him. It’s full of conflict and contradiction and it’s a ton of fun. But man is Belle an idiot or what? She’s doesn’t like that Rumpelstiltskin is evil. That’s fair. Dating evil people isn’t very healthy. But for some reason, she believes he’s going to change overnight. Even when she realizes he won’t, she decides to stick it out. Her reasoning is that she can’t leave him because he’s evil. There are hotlines for that, right? 1-800-DTNGEVL?

Overall:

Season two of Once Upon a Time is promising to be better than the first. The decision to completely flip the concept and break the curse so early is proving to be a fantastic move. Plus, the twist with Emma and Snow being stuck in Fairytale Land is a welcomed surprise.

Rating: 9/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s episode?