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TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ – ‘Witch Hunt’

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Just who is the Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader) and what (and who) does she want? We begin to uncover the answers in this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “Witch Hunt.”

Once Upon a Time ABCWith the bewildered folk of Storybrooke (again displaced into the modern New England town they’d thought they’d abandoned for their old home in the Enchanted Forest) vanishing one by one, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) begin the long process of discovering who (or what) has placed a new curse on them all. The story, taking place a year after Rumple’s (Robert Carlyle) sacrifice of his life, finds the fairytale characters with no memory of how they got back to Storybrooke, with no clue at all, but for Snow’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) pregnancy. An entire year has been lost! Among the townsfolk, however, is someone new and mysterious (until the end of the hour, that is): a young midwife, quite interested in Snow’s expectant condition.

But back in the Enchanted Forest as the gang try to break into family castle, which has been afflicted with a protection spell, they learn just who it is they’re up against. It is the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West! But why has she taken over Snow and Regina’s castle, and why has she broken into Cora’s tomb?

Revealing that she is Regina’s half-sister, rejected by Cora and vindictive of all Regina has had in her life, she also tells Regina that they also have a tutor in common–the Dark One himself, Rumplestiltskin. Wicked has vowed to rip away from Regina all she holds dear, and in the process get revenge for her early abandonment.

At the same time, back in Storybrooke, Wicked has a prisoner. Held captive in a cage, Mr. Gold seems much worse for wear after his seeming death, but quite alive. His clothing filthy, his eyes wild, he mutters to himself, and in eerie parallel to his captivity in the series pilot. But this is obviously not a place he wants to be (unlike his earlier captivity). What happened to Rumple when he stabbed both himself and Peter Pan (AKA his dad)? Was the murder-suicide halted in progress, leaving Rumple in a sort of hellish limbo?

Obviously, this week’s wonderful episode is a but a prelude to the weeks to come. We have yet another woman tutored in the dark and evil arts during Rumple’s early days–all related: Cora, Regina, and now Wicked. There has been some speculation that Wicked is Rumple’s daughter, but unless the daughter presented at the end of “The Miller’s Daughter” last season was not Cora’s first child (and there was a long time jump between the wedding and baby Regina), Wicked cannot be Rumple’s child.

I cannot be more thrilled that Rumple is back. The possibilities are endless for his role as Wicked’s prisoner and I look forward to the interplay between Mader and Carlyle as the weeks go on. Clearly, she has an evil (okay, wicked) purpose in having plucked him from death and now holding him in captivity. Does she have his dagger? And did she forestall his death before The Dark One had left him? If so, she now controls Rumple, and he will do her bidding. But does he yet possess any of his magical powers to do much of anything?

And what is Wicked’s interest in Snow White’s child? Using Ginnifer Goodwin’s quite real pregnancy to further this storyline is inspired, and I can’t wait to learn what wickedness Wicked has in store for her. What’s next? Have a peek at the promo for next week’s episode. Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Betsy

    Ok, this will be long – but first let me say that while I’m unhappy with Belle again having little screen time, at least she had a very important moment!

    I think it’s very possible he’s faking. For one thing, to me, it’s clear from that angry look he gives WW that he has full possession of his faculties. – his eyes show that. Oh and he’s clearly having none of what WW is trying to push on him, so…….If the writers are going to show her trying to use him like this, I hope we get to see him struggle mightily, outright refuse her – and then have a scene or two where he either dreams of Belle or calls out to her. Sadly, I could see WW punishing him for rejecting hr

    I’ve seen the idea posited that he’s gone insane to stay sane. I get
    that, but IMO that doesn’t work here…….It worked in the pilot, when
    Rumple thought Belle had died, when he basically deteriorated from the
    moment he found out she was dead. Going insane, letting himself go, was
    easier on him…..and then, of course, he chose to forget for 28 years
    because he couldn’t handle the pain.

    Here, he KNOWS Belle is alive, even in FTL where I suppose he’s
    first……caught. How could he not want to do all he could to find his way
    back to her? To Bae? Now in SB, he’s going to let himself go? Where is
    the fighter in him? He knows Belle is somewhere near; I don’t like the
    idea that Gold won’t fight for her, but she has to fight for him.

    My initial thought was that he was faking because of the “tricks up
    his sleeve” spoiler, but the fact that he continues after WW leaves is
    bothersome. STILL, you’re either insane/raving or you’re not; you don’t
    turn it off and on like a light switch. He’s able to clearly have a
    conversation with her without going off the wall… and well, back to her
    leaving? Who’s to say WW was completely out of the room when Gold
    continued his cackling. I just refuse to believe he’s given up. He
    fought for his life in NL when he had a Belle-epiphany; he had
    everything he wanted and sacrificed his life. There’s just no way I can
    see him sitting back and letting it go when Belle is out there, his
    happy ending.

    I really just want to see Belle search for and find him and be a hero….for them to be reunited and team up to send the WW where she belongs: below, below where the goblins go