Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 17 review: Welcome To Storybrooke

Review Kylie Peters 18 Mar 2013 - 06:55

Once Upon A Time delves into Storybrooke's past this week. Here's Kylie's review of the latest episode...

This review contains spoilers.

2.17 Welcome To Storybrooke

Here’s an interesting spin on the Once origin story formula: an origin story for Storybrooke itself. This week’s episode moves along at a slower and more methodical place than its predecessor, and it works well as a breathing-period that provides some emotional bumps and useful backstory. 

The flashbacks are the highlight of the episode. Storybrooke’s early days are something I have been wondering about for a long time, and it was neat to see how everyone made the transition. But even better was seeing our favorite sexy Irish sheriff, Graham! Why oh why did they kill him off after we’d only had seven episodes to ogle him?   

With near Groundhog Day precision, the citizens of Storybrooke go through the same motions every day and Regina quickly becomes bored and frustrated that they all obey her without question. Everyone, that is, except a snarky little boy named Owen who is stuck in town with his father after their camping trip went awry. Regina latches on to that kid and pursues him with seriously creepy abandon. 

For the first time, Once needs captions to differentiate past Storybrooke (1983) and present Storybrooke; no fairytale land this time. In Present Storybrooke, Regina plots to steal Snow’s heart and use it in a spell to make Henry love her. Snow is an emo blob for the whole episode, so this would be very easy except that everybody knows what she’s planning. It’s kind of weird how openly they talk to each other and to Regina about her dastardly plot. But I suppose this is better than the all-too-common trope in which characters are oblivious to what’s right under their noses. 

Regina has resumed her full dastardliness, by the way, and it’s good to have her back. The “who’s Henry’s mom?” argument also returns, which is not so good to have back. I still can’t shake the feeling that Regina really is the one with more rights to Henry, no matter how much the show tries to argue otherwise. 

Regina’s interactions with Owen in the flashbacks are presumably the seeds of her decision to adopt Henry. There’s some fascinating psychological stuff going on when she orders Graham to arrest Owen’s dad and bring Owen to her. It seems Regina is desperate for love, but the only kind she knows is destructive. I guess that’s what happens when your mom is Cora. 

Snow finally gets out of bed - so she can go ask Regina to kill her. Regina pulls out her heart and discovers a black spot, which I take as a positive sign that maybe Snow is about to get less irritating. Snow, however, is not happy about the concept of turning evil, so Regina gives the heart back so she can watch her nemesis suffer. Since death-by-Regina is the sole suicide method in Storybrooke, Snow will have to carry on. 

In the Past Storybrooke ending, Owen escapes town but his dad is arrested. When Owen returns, Storybrooke is no longer visible, but Regina watches him from the other side, crying as he vows to find his dad. Why did Regina keep the dad? He isn’t any good to her, and Regina doesn’t just do evil things for no reason; she always gets something out of it. Also, where is the dad now? 

For all the questions this conjures, one thing we do not have to wonder about is what happened to Owen. In a nice end-of-episode twist, we discover that he is Greg, the stranger who ran over Hook and has been at the hospital in Storybrooke. Suddenly the stranger storyline is showing promise. I assumed Greg/Owen was creeping on their magic use so he could go public with the information and get rich and famous, but it turns out this is personal, and that is a lot more interesting. 

Next week, Neal’s girlfriend comes to Storybrooke to stir up trouble, plus August/Pinocchio returns and he’s getting hard. No, not that kind—the turning-back-into-a-puppet kind.

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, The Miller's Daughter, here.

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