Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 10 review: The Cricket Game

Review Kylie Peters 7 Jan 2013 - 07:50

The Storybrooke gang is back, with an action-light but drama-heavy episode. Here's Kylie's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.10 The Cricket Game

Drawing us back into Storybrooke after a month-long break, The Cricket Game offers new plotlines, familiar formulas, and a healthy helping of drama. It’s fast-moving, but there is little actual action in the episode. The conflict is mostly internal, and flashbacks supplement the main story’s in-depth examination of trust and redemption.  

We’re back to the old two-pronged Storybrooke present/Enchanted Forest flashback model. Balancing three strands of story in the first half of the season left it feeling a little breathless, so it’s nice to return to having only two to invest in more fully.  

This week, we return to the issue of Regina’s struggle to become good. Regina’s character continues to benefit from her recent moral ambivalence, and there are some moments of real viewer heartbreak on her behalf in this episode -heartbreak caused at least in part by the good guys. That’s a reversal sure to spark the imaginations of anyone inclined to pick their television shows apart.  

Cora and Hook have arrived in Storybrooke, and they loiter ominously while the people of the town celebrate the return of Emma and Snow. Regina gets mad at Archie for breaking doctor-patient confidentiality by telling Emma she came to see him (and her complaint is totally legit, if you ask me). Their fight and some bizarre hoodoo involving a dream catcher and a dog’s memories convince Snow, Charming, and even the reluctant Emma that Regina is the culprit when Archie turns up dead. 

It’s pretty obvious from the beginning that this whole thing is Cora’s doing, but that doesn’t hurt the episode much because it’s not where the real story lies. Throughout the episode, Emma, Snow, and Charming must balance the dual challenges of being a family and investigating a murder case to which each brings a different history and set of ideals. Regina must deal with the devil on her shoulder, gaining Henry’s trust, and an angry, possessive Emma. (Even after all the crap Regina has done, it still doesn’t sit right with me that Emma can come along and claim to be Henry’s real mother when she gave him up for adoption and Regina is the one who raised him.) 

The episode’s best moments arise from Regina’s battle for change. The reaction of the townspeople when she walks into the party at Granny’s is nothing short of hostile, and Lana Parilla skillfully conveys a woman struggling to keep her poise and pride over the sting of all that hatred. The very best (or worst) part of The Cricket Game, though, comes when Regina sits in her car and watches Emma tell Henry that Regina killed Archie. After an entire episode demonstrating how hard it is for her to change, it is almost physically painful to see her succeed in being a better person only to be falsely accused and have her hopes dashed of being redeemed in the eyes of her son.  

The flashbacks provide little plot development and not much character development either, but they do offer something that I guess you could call “issue development.” In a parallel to the Storybrooke plotline, Snow offers the Evil Queen a chance for redemption. Regina does not take it, and that casts doubt on whether it’s possible for her to change at all when Emma, Snow, and Charming face the same dilemma in Storybrooke. 

On one hand you might call it repetitive, but on the other, that’s exactly the point: Regina has been given many chances to change, but she never has. If the viewer is frustrated at watching the same thing happen over again, that reflects the feelings of the characters involved and of the overall theme of the struggle to change. Whether that pardons a slightly irritating viewing experience is up to you. Personally, I find it rather poetic.      

Oh, and Emma can do magic. This major development is introduced suddenly and with a strangely small amount of fanfare. It will be interesting to see what she does with her new-found power, but for now the writers don’t seem too concerned with it and we have almost no indication of the direction this turn of events will take. 

Also, they were just trolling about Archie being dead. Instead, Cora has him and is going to torture him because apparently he knows important stuff. (About what, Regina’s psyche? I get the feeling this isn’t going to be a very informative torture session.)

Next week, Hook gets to face off with his greatest enemy Rumplestiltskin, and Rumple finds a way to cross the town line without losing his memories. Will this be the long-awaited reveal of Rumple’s son Baelfire?     

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, Queen of Hearts, here.

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