This review may contain spoilers
Season 2 of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” picks up right where it ended its successful first season. Both knowledge and magic are returning to Storybrooke.
With the Curse broken and Storybrooke’s residents aware of their true identities, many happy reunions ensue. But just as quickly, a mob forms to lynch Regina (Lana Parrilla). Henry intercedes, and she’s just jailed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) exacts his own revenge against Regina by conjuring a soul-sucking wraith to extract whatever soul she might have left and damn it forever.
Much to Regina’s surprise, David (Josh Dallas), Mary Margaret and Emma fight off the Wwraith by sending it back to the fairytale world. However, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) are sucked into the other realm with it.
In the fairytale kingdom, Prince Phillip (Julian Morris) awakens Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger) with the help of his friend, Mulan (Jamie Chung). She is more than a little confused to learn that much has changed while she was asleep. But their happy reunion is interrupted by a soul-sucking wraith that appears and sucks out Phillip’s soul.
Both Mulan and Princess Aurora are devastated. And then they discover the unconscious bodies of Emma and Mary Margaret, who fell into the fairytale kingdom with the wraith.
Oh, and some guy (Michael Raymond-James) in New York receives a message delivered by pigeon. It’s a postcard from Storybrooke that simply says, “Broken.”
This sophomore debut successfully uses several methods to try to prove itself capable of sustaining the series’ momentum. By breaking the status quo in Storybrooke, being quick to introduce new characters and — maybe more importantly — new questions, it looks forward rather than backward.
The new characters worked well so far. The new stranger’s brief introduction in a “Lost”-like opening cameo immediately got speculation buzzing. And working the introduction of Mulan into the Sleeping Beauty storyline was a great twist on old tales. Mulan herself was a beautiful and intriguing new addition.
The twist on where the wraith came from was a nice use of the different time zones between the two worlds. Hopefully, this plot device won’t get used too often, though. The wraith itself worked better than many of the graphics last season.
And bringing Emma and Mary Margaret into the abandoned fairytale lands should help make for a new and exciting second season.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Belle’s wishy-washy behavior and her questionable relationship choices grate after a while. The series has several strong, interesting, smart female characters, but so far, Belle is not holding her own among them.
Magic, the episode explains, works differently in this world. However, it also appears to work differently depending on what part of the episode it was. While Regina bemoans her lack of magic several times, she also casually uses it at one point as well. Perhaps it will be clearer in future episodes.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Broken” was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and it was directed by Ralph Hemecker.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.