"The Cricket Game" is a laborious 42 minutes to watch; it's just really dull, circling back in on itself, telling a story about Regina that's already been told earlier this season with the only difference being Snow's presence in the stories as some kind of anchor or symbol for morality and good in Once Upon A Time. Regina's actively changed during Snow and Emma's journey in the fairy tale land. Regina's redemptive journey culminated in her risking her life to ensure Snow and Emma's return from the fairy tale land. Regina as outcast and villain, even if she's not one, even if she's created as one by the townspeople who cannot remove themselves from the memory of who she was and what she's done, was going to be a source of conflict inevitably when Cora came to Storybrooke. Indeed, Regina's framed for the murder of Archie. Cora used magic to frame her daughter. Emma uses magic to sort through a dog's memory as she attempts to discover the truth, as she supported Regina's claim of innocence, believing she had changed for Henry. The memories condemn Regina, and she's lost what she worked to build. Meanwhile, Cora is pleased with the success of her plan, reveals a very alive Archie in Hook's boat, and promises Archie will tell Hook all he needs to know about Rumple.
The question of Regina's redemption is told through the present Storybrooke story and the fairy back story. King George lost the war to Charming and Snow. Regina watched from destruction of her side from above and got arrested shortly after the announcement that the war was lost. The council condemned Regina to death for her crimes against the kingdom, but Snow spared her life in the last second. Once upon a time, Regina saved Snow's life and Snow wanted to return the favor. Snow, who still possessed a fatal naivety in the fairy tale land, believed Regina could return to the person she was when they lived together, before the death of her beloved. The present and the past didn't align; in the past, Regina couldn't change; in the present, she had changed. Regina uses Snow's kindness to betray her and try to kill her upon being released from the prison in an act of kindness and charity from Snow, only to learn a protection spell saved Snow's life. Emma's defense of the woman who wanted to destroy her not so long ago doesn't convince her parents of the queen's innocent, but they let the process take its course. The memory serves up the image of Regina killing Archie.
The story is a slog to get through. Cora killed a random person and used magic to create the image of her daughter killing the nicest man in town, its conscience. Cora and Hook arrived on the boat from the fairy tale land and hid it. Hook wanted to kill the crocodile, but the existence of magic in the town complicated the plan. Hook needs the upper-hand, as it were, over the man who took his hand. It's all set-up, too. The set-up is frustratingly boring. Regina's an okay character, but her past and attempts to remain in Henry life have been dealt with already. Emma's return allowed the writers to throw in the 'hey, we haven't dealt with Emma as parent in this situation' angle to make it feel new and not a waste of time. Regina doesn't respect Emma's role as parent, because Emma rejected the role while Regina raised her son. The ladies argued about Henry and Emma's absence last season. By the end, Regina's separated from Henry, which isn't new--that's been happening.
Snow and Charming, and the council, condemned Regina to death in the fairy back. Of course, the fairy back was a waste. Regina wouldn't die, the decision of the council which may've been designed to shock the audience with their decision wasn't dealt with; instead, Snow and Charming decided to trust Regina not to kill Snow. That didn't work out so well. Luckily, these writers are lazy and magic solves everything. Regina's warning to Emma that magic has a price seems like such empty bullshit on OUAT. Every character, from the most forgettable to the regulars, has used magic with nary an instance of consequence. Rumple showed Emma how to extract memories from an animal to figure out what happened to Archie and, yet, it's not possible with Regina because it's not convenient for the storytelling, which is bullshit. If the magic works in one area of the story, it has to work in the other area of the story, or else it feels disingenuous and lazy.
I can't do this anymore. I can't watch and write about Once Upon A Time. It's a new year. For the first time, I'm really embracing the cliché of 'It's a New Year. Do things differently." I don't enjoy Once Upon A Time at all. The process of watching and writing about the show kills my Sunday nights. I'm stunned Revenge beat Once Upon A Time in my Sunday night battle. Game Of Thrones returns in late March. But, really, my choice is about my dislike for Once Upon A Time. I'm not going to watch and write about shows I dislike and that bum me out when I think about the time I wasted on a review when I could be doing other productive writing. So, good day, Once Upon A Time. It has never been fun, and I don't plan on ever writing about the episodes again.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK