Wow. I thought I had reached the absolute nadir for passion when it comes to "Once Upon a Time", but “Welcome to Storybrooke” proved me wrong. I fast forwarded through most of this episode, especially the parts with Regina and young Ethan Embry. Spoiler 1: she took his dad in her pre-Henry days, because if there's one thing she learned from R-stilts it's how to steal children. Lana Parilla is a decent actress, good enough that I could get the gist of a scene simply by watching her facial expressions change. The heart of the matter is Ethan Embry wants to find out what happened to his dad, and Disney wants to remind us some more that they now own Star Wars (see: the first scene of the show).
Point of order: There is no way they really landed in 1983. Regina may have a toned-down case of Farrah hair, but no one else was using nearly enough aerosol hairspray. It only gets worse when you remember that it was 1983 basically forever, or at least until Emma showed up. Did the kids age? Did anyone have babies? Was it just the same day forever? No wonder Regina went insane: her curse was a full-on Groundhog Day.
It was nice to see Sheriff Grahame again, in the pre-Emma days when he was Regina's gigolo. Graham and Neal in the same episode would have been more exciting if the rest of “Welcome to Storybrooke” was worth writing about. The return of Lancelot would have pushed this into the tolerable category.
In present day Storybrooke, Regina grieves for her mother and finds a curse for revenge in some of Cora's clothes. R-stilts tries to sway her from the path of blood feuding and vengeance, but Regina has all the good sense of a large boulder. Which is to say, none. Her plan is to rip out Snow's heart and use it as part of a spell to make Henry believe he loves Regina above all else. Can you say Oedipus in like five years? Jared Gilmore sure has sprouted, but for the purposes of our story he's still about eleven and able to sway Regina any way he wants. He stops her from killing Snow and for the moment negotiates a detante between the rival families.
Oh, good question: which family correlates to another found in literature and/or history? Who are the Hatfields/McCoys? The Lancasters/Yorks? The Capulets/Montagues? Discuss.
In the last few minutes of the episode, Snow decides she can't live with the guilt over Cora's death. She pays a call to Regina, and in the least polite way asks that Regina kill her. Being Regina, she obliges and as she's about to crush Snow's heart she notices a tiny black hole at the center. Snow is becoming a Heartless! Probably! A fabricated Kingdom Hearts tie-in is far more interesting than the juvenile meditations on power and integrity bandied about in this episode.
Next week: Neal's fiancee comes to Storybrooke, I hate her and continue to root for Emma to get some action.