After a somewhat lacklustre first episode, Once Upon a Time have now really hit the ground running in a fantastic second episode of the new season. A lot of the pieces have started to come together that perhaps made the season opener a bit jarring for long time viewers.
The much anticipated return of Jennifer Morrison’s Emma Swan was well played, complimenting the story but not taking the limelight off the central characters of the episode. The character didn’t make her reappearance until about half way through the episode and the reunion between mother and son Henry (Andrew J. West) was touching but not overplayed. The writers managed to get the balance right, giving the character an indefinite swansong that kind of left a dark cloud of the premiere. In truth, this perhaps should have served as a second part to a two part episode.
As always, Robert Carlyle (best known to Brits for his role as Begbie in Trainspotting) was the highlight of this episode with his new cursed persona Detective Weaver adding another layer to an already complex character. It was riveting to watch Carlyle bounce off Colin O’Donoghue in a way we’ve not quite seen before. We are used to seeing Gold/Rumple and Hook at odds with another and while there was interesting tension between Weaver and his new partner Detective Rogers, it was refreshing to see them ultimately on the same side. Like the Rumple we know and love, Weaver clearly has his own agenda and is working the residents of Hyperion Heights to his own benefit and I wouldn’t be surprised if like Gold, Weaver is little more self aware then he is letting on.
Ultimately the star of the show was Hook/Rogers as we not only learned how Hook ended up getting befallen to the curse in the first place but we also explored Rogers a lot more detail, learning about the kind of man we are dealing with in this cursed reality. A man of integrity, heart and with a bit of grit for good measure, are exactly the reasons a legion of fans fell in love with the real Hook all those years ago!
We also learned how Regina (Lana Parrilla) ended up under Lady Tremaine’s (Gabrielle Anwar) curse and while she had very little to do in this episode it was nice to see the Regina Mills we all know and love. I’m convinced she’ll been given her chance to shine within the next two or three episodes, particularly now we know she’s joining Henry on his new adventure.
A new character who was explored a little further, no doubt laying foundations for a future episode, was Jacinda’s (Dania Ramirez) roommate Sabine who assisted Cinderella’s alter-ego with her quest to attend daughter Lucy’s (Alison Fernandez) ballet recital which her stepmother Lady Tremaine/Victoria had purposefully priced out of her price range.
The charming Andrew J. West continues to deliver in the role of Henry which has no doubt made the transition for apprehensive fans a little easier. His impressively encapsulates the traits of his younger self while bringing his own edge, boosted by his natural charisma. Last week I mentioned how his chemistry with Dania Ramirez’s Cinderella would make them the relationship to watch but I found how he bounced off Colin O’Donoghue was equally as compelling.
After a stuttered start in the Season Premiere, I think “A Pirate’s Life” got things back on track and I’m now more optimistic about the shows future. If they can keep building on the positive groundwork made here, Once Upon a Time might not be down and out just yet – there are certainly more stories to tell.
Once Upon a Time airs every Tuesday in the UK on Netflix. Let us know what you think of the season.