Continuity! I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love continuity! Last episode kept talking about a big storm that was going to come through town, and it hit Storybrooke during Mary Margret and David’s mission to return the dove to her flock. In this episode, we see the storm caused some significant damage to the castle playhouse that Henry and Emma would meet up at.
All in all, this was not one of Emma’s best moments. In her determination to get back at Regina for having Henry’s castle demolished, she swerved rather badly. This resulted in her getting egg on her face and Regina coming out smelling like a rose. It was a bit tough to watch Emma in this episode, because while I understand her anger at Regina, I just had a feeling that the plans she and Sidney came across during their little espionage stunt had something to do with building a new playground place. Thankfully, to Emma’s credit, she’s enough of an adult to acknowledge she messed up royally (no pun intended) and graciously accepted the consequences of her actions. That’s a very admirable quality in itself, particularly since there are some people who would try to make excuses for their mistakes and/or try to place the blame on someone else (three guesses who I'm referring to). But Emma doesn’t do that here, so you have to admire her for that.
As for Regina, a part of me does have to admit she had a point in this episode, what with being concerned for Henry’s wellbeing and not wanting him to be near something that could potentially be dangerous. On the other hand, I’m someone who sorta went through what Henry did in this episode, making my understanding of Regina’s position begrudging at best. Growing up, there was this really fun wooden playground on school grounds, and I have fond memories of that playground. But, sometime after I left Elementary School, it was suddenly decided that the playground wasn’t safe for children and they tore it down. To this day, I’m still kinda irked about that, because my classmates and I had been using that playground for years, and to my knowledge, we turned out perfectly fine. While I’m sure we all got our share of scrapes and skinned knees while playing on this playground, that’s part of being a kid. Kids need to experience the occasional bump and bruise. If you deny them that, they might never learn how to get back up after a fall and dust themselves off. Besides, like Emma pointed out, I’m sure they could have easily repaired that castle. So, Regina, your intentions may be good on paper, but your actions were kinda bordering on helicopter mom territory.
The Enchanted Forest storyline was also a bit hard to stomach. It was mostly just illustrating the unhealthy relationship Sidney Glass/the Magic Mirror had with Regina. We learn Sidney was originally a genie who was found by King Leopold, Snow White’s father. King Leopold, who was clearly a very kind man, chose to use his first wish to grant the genie’s freedom and his second wish to gift the third wish to the genie himself. The freed genie, who had seen the consequences of wishes gone wrong a million times over, chose not to use the third wish but instead decided to stay with King Leopold. But upon meeting Regina, he develops feelings for her, which ultimately results in him being manipulated into assassinating King Leopold with the use of a pair of Agrabahn vipers, a deadly species of snake. The fact that he’d turn on someone who was supposed to be his dear friend is hard enough at it is, but it’s made even more painful when we see Regina had only pretended to love the genie, and had intentionally set him up to take the fall for King Leopold’s death. And this is when we get into the unhealthy territory. The genie, even after learning that Regina played him for a sap and never loved him to begin with, still refuses to leave her side, using the third wish he never intended to use in order to make it possible. Which of course, condemns him to live out the rest of his life as the Magic Mirror. And that level of unhealthy love he has for Regina has clearly transferred over to Sidney, who, as it’s revealed in the final scene, has actually been a mole charged with helping Regina spy on Emma throughout the whole episode. Really, now? This is a woman who had you follow around her son and his birth mom, taking photos of them without their knowledge, and go along with this scheme that was clearly designed to drive said birth mom away from the son. And you still think it a good idea to align yourself with her? Sidney, I’m sorry, but you really are a sad, pathetic little man. You have my pity, but not my sympathy.
As a whole, I say this is one episode that could be skipped without missing too much. The only thing of note is Emma discovering Regina has a sizable collection of skeleton keys in her office, something that will come into play in a few more episodes. And while we do get one more scene of the Mysterious Stranger, who is clearly interested in Henry’s book of stories (and even manages to obtain it by the end of the episode), we already were aware that this guy knows more than he’s letting on, so seeing this is just dragging it out.