In my never-ending quest (ha!) to catch up on reviewing Once Upon a Time episodes, we come to episode 11, which introduces us to the backstory of Regina's lackey Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito), the Magic Mirror of the Fairy Tale world. For a multitude of reasons which I shall touch on shortly, this ranks as one of my least favorite episodes of Once's debut season.
The episode opens with Henry (Jared Gilmore) heart-broken upon discovering that the recent storm has damaged his "castle"/playground, the special place he and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) meet to discuss "Operation Cobra." The castle has been his hiding place of choice for the storybook (which begs the question, why does he even bother to hide it? I've lost track of the number of times Regina could've confiscated it earlier in the season...). Regina (Lana Parrilla) goes all mama bear on Emma for letting Henry near the rickety playground because it is a safety hazard, which gets Emma all whiny about Regina giving her a hard time over her relationship with Henry. The whininess is not attractive Emma, just sayin'...
So we're supposed to believe, I suppose, that this confrontation with Regina has put Emma in a particularly vulnerable place, causing her to lose all semblance of COMMON SENSE. Case in point: Sidney approaches Emma, claiming to want revenge on Regina for being embarrassed in the recent sheriff election. Ahem. Cue a Fairy Tale Land flashback, where we discover that Sidney was not just the magic mirror of legend, but prior to that he was actually the Genie of Agrabah (the Aladdin shout-out cracked me up). Did not see that coming (I hope this doesn't mean that we won't see Aladdin and Jasmine at some point, since this whole show really is a live-action Disney film). King Leopold (Richard Schiff), Snow White's father, is the most recent individual to set the Genie free -- but instead of using his three allotted wishes for personal gain, he basically wishes them back on the Genie because he's all giving and selfless like that (this isn't going to end well, we all know that right?). The Genie is ecstatic and vows to use his newfound freedom to find true love. Leopold, being the perfect host, takes the Genie home where he soon starts making eyes at Leopold's wife, the Evil Queen in her pre-EQ days.
So, to make a long story short, the Queen starts using the Genie's feelings for her as an excuse to vent about the loveless state of her marriage, which gets the Genie to thinking that maybe, just maybe he could be this clearly CLEARLY victimized woman's savior. He goes on to give her a mirror so she can see herself through his eyes, i.e. be-yoo-tiful. The suggestion that the Queen possibly used to be less than evil is reinforced in Storybrooke, when Sidney tells Emma he's discovered proof that Regina is an embezzler and that he used to think she was a different person. Emma is all over this -- for the first time she's got an ally who wants to take Regina down a peg or two as much as she does, so she loses all sense of reason and decides illegal surveillance. Emma this is NOT GOING TO END WELL.
To make a long story a bit shorter, back in Fairy Tale Land the Leopold has discovered that his wife's heart may be straying and commissions the Genie to discover the interloper (awkward). Henry (Tony Perez), the Queen's ill-fated father, asks the Genie to deliver a box to his daughter to set her free or some crap like that, which turns out to contain an AGRABAH VIPER. Considering how much of humanity the Genie has to have seen over the course of his life, he is extraordinarily stupid. Rather than see his one true LUVVV commit suicide he suggests they use the viper to kill the king. Of course once the deed is done the Queen shows her true colors yet again and throws the Genie under the proverbial bus. Heartbroken the Genie uses his last wish to be with her always -- which sends him into the Queen's mirror. ALL OF THIS AND HE STILL LOVES HER, IN FAIRY TALE LAND AND STORYBROOKE. Dumbest character EVER.
Back in Storybrooke Emma takes the intel she and Sidney collected on Regina's supposedly shady land deal with Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and outs it all in a very dramatic fashion at a city council meeting. This OF COURSE backfires on Emma (insert axiom about fruit of the poisonous tree here) -- Regina is building a spectacular play house so all of Storybrooke's children will have a safe place to recreate. (Oh, I almost forgot...in the midst of Regina's teardown of the old castle, Henry's storybrook goes missing.) And the icing on the cake? -- Emma can no longer see Henry until Regina says so (ouch). Emma's lost the moral high ground, and the thing that bugs me about this episode is seeing her lose it in such a stupid fashion. I suppose one could argue her love for Henry blinded her to Regina's machinations, but STILL...I didn't like seeing Emma being this foolhardy.
A few quick notes on some of the other major players -- Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) are deliriously happy together but he's still not made a clean break with Kathryn, so mum's the word there. The Stranger (Eion Bailey) is still being extremely secretive about the real reason he's come to Storybrooke -- as per usual Henry is spot-on correct in his assertion that no one could come to Storybrooke without a reason, without a connection to his missing storybook. In an intriguing development, it's revealed that the Stranger has the storybook, not Regina as I'd first assumed when it went missing. The question is, why did he take it and what is he going to do with it? AND WHO IS HE, REALLY?
Though most of this episode left me decidedly lukewarm, I'd love to hear your thoughts!