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.”
With 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.