The most disappointing part of "Broken" is Mr. Gold's reasons for bringing magic back to town. Mr. Gold/Rumple was written as the master manipulator in season 1; he used people's emotions to get what he wants, through that dastardly favor every character owed him. Being the Dark One assisted his ability to manipulate the masses, but his ability to use language the way he uses magic was important, too. Rumple had a plan for the plan of the plan. Yes, his plan is to use the magic to call forth a wraith that sucks souls to suck the soul out of Regina, but that's it. Mr. Gold's as concerned about the plan as he is about being with Belle; in fact, his affection for Belle dwarfs his desire to kill Regina for locking Belle in a mental hospital for years. Yet, Belle comes back to him to tell him she wants a monster in her man, right after Gold informs her she'll never find the man she wants, because he's more monster than man. Gold/Belle/magic was yet another instance of inconsistent writing by the OUAT writers.
Once Gold marks Regina, the rush to save her life begins for Charming, Snow, Emma and Henry. The morality of the decision is worthwhile. The trio of adults save Regina's life from an angry mob because they believe they're above murderous revenge. Regina's hatred led to a curse that trapped and isolated them. They will not become her. Henry, in a horrible character beat, lazily whines for the trio to save his mother because she's his mother. Perhaps I'm made of stone and lack a heart, because nothing inherently is bad in the idea of a child wanting to see his mother, foster or not, be saved, but the beat didn't work. It felt false, more of a shoed-in reason for the writers to spare the character's life rather than a genuine desire by Henry to see. Plus, the coverage was horrible, like they brought in Jared S. Gilmore one minute after he woke up and Hemecker told him to say the lines (maybe it was bad ADR). So, whatever, get on board with saving Regina's life.
The wraith-who-feeds-on-souls lives in a golden pendant, a possession of Mr. Gold's. He marks Regina for the wraith to kill. Meanwhile, in the fairy tale world, Prince Phillip and Mulan find Sleeping Beauty and wake her. Soon, though, Phillip's marked by the wraith. Phillip eventually sacrifices himself to spare the lives of Mulan, his warrior partner, and Aurora, his beloved. The storytelling's sound. The structure of the episode was exactly like a season one episode, and it's a trick Kitsis and Horowitz brought from LOST. The purpose is to play on audience expectation before pulling the rug out from under them to show you what you've seen is what you think you've seen, that the narrative landscape has changed.
I really like the decision to drop Snow and Emma into the fairy tale land. The Storybrooke side of the wraith story doesn't have much depth to it. Charming clashes with the women over whether or not to save Regina's life. The wraith is transported to fairy tale land through the stupid magic hat. Regina turns heel again and threatens to kill Charming until Henry and Red wander in from literally nowhere to inject a tiny bit of conscience into The Evil Queen. Henry walks away from his mother, hurt by her betrayal, and leaves with his grandfather, Charming. The wraith pulled Emma into the hat, so Snow jumped in because she didn't want to be away from her daughter again. It's a moment that works because of the build to it. Snow reached out to her daughter throughout the episode to talk as mother-and-daughter. In my favorite piece of writing in the episode, Emma conveys why she feels reluctant to become the daughter Snow wants her to be. Emma's reasons touched on her abandonment issues, the struggle of being alone for 28 years, and concluded on a question she's had all her life: why did they leave her? The curse for Emma was being separate, isolated, and
unloved. Their time in fairy-tale land will be good.
Of course, they're going to wake up to a pissed off Mulan and Aurora. The twist in "Broken" is the reveal that what we watched is the present and that Snow and Emma brought the wraith which killed Bearded Princely Phil to fairy tale land. The introduction of Mulan is meant to be a cool moment when she takes off her helmet, but really, no man would be able to fit in pants as tight as Mulan's. I felt disoriented by Jamie Chung (Real World San Diego Jamie Chung), initially, as Mulan; she's not bad, but she's not what I pictured as Mulan (but I love the animated Mulan). Aurora's realization of Mulan's feelings for Bearded Princely Phil was a terrible moment as it unites them against the women who brought the wraith back to their land, a land, mind you, that is populated with untold dangers; a place, indeed, with no happy endings.
-The barrage of questions by the seven dwarves weren't answered. Emma was entirely uninterested in answers. She scowled a lot, walked with purpose, but she was sweet with Henry.
-Dr. Whale refused to reveal his fairy tale identity. Wouldn't someone in Storybrooke recognize Whale? It seems the characters remember everything from Storybrooke. I personally don't care who Dr. Whale is. I just want to know why no one would know him. Did he change so much?
-The teaser of Once Upon a Time recalled season premiere teasers of LOST right down to the music. Michael Raymond James is a mysterious New Yorker who receives a note from a pigeon which simply has, "Broken." Michael Raymond James is spectacular. I dare say I can't wait to watch what happens with that character.
-I've been writing this review as fast as possible during the Eagles game.
-My former Hollywood crush, Emilie de Ravin, is back on my television screen every week. She was promoted to regular during the summer.
-I'm going to write about Once Upon a Time throughout season two. I'm also reviewing Revenge, so expect Once Upon a Time reviews on Sunday nights every other week.
-Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wrote the episode. Robert Hemecker directed it.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK