One phrase to describe this episode is ‘emotional rollercoaster.’ Last episode ended with us wanting to yell at our heroes for leaving Regina out of their celebratory dinner at Granny’s. However, in this episode, we see Emma kinda make up for that by inviting her to the ‘Welcome Home’ party. But things start to get off track when Emma lets slip that Archie/Jiminy told her about how Regina was meeting with him to discuss her rehabilitation. While I can understand why Regina might have felt betrayed by this, Archie was simply trying to vouch for her, to help convince the others that she was trying to change. Isn’t that what Regina wanted? For people to believe that she was trying and give her a chance? Anyway, Cora, who is now lurking around Stroybrooke in secret after she and Hook make it into this world via magic bean portal, takes advantage of Regina’s anger at Archie and successfully frames Regina for Archie’s murder. I did appreciate how Emma seemed hesitant to automatically blame Regina, even pointing out the time when evidence suggested Mary Margret/Snow had murdered Kathryn/Abigail. And while David/Charming and Mary Margret/Snow had a good reason for being hesitant to trust Regina, as they tried to give her a second chance in the past only to have Evil Queen Regina toss their pity back in their faces, Emma does have a point- this time, Regina was actually making an effort. But in the end, Emma is also led to believe in Regina’s guilt, and she bans Regina from being with Henry.
The episode ends with us feeling torn. You can’t really fault the good guys for turning on Regina, because they’ve seen the proof in Pongo’s memories, which Emma manages to collect and read with a magic dreamcatcher from Gold’s shop, and at present, there’s no way they could know that Cora made it to Storybrooke after all. And it’s not as if Pongo can tell them that it wasn’t actually Regina he saw entering Archie’s office. Because it was clear from his reaction that he could sense that wasn’t the real Regina. At the same time, we, the viewers, all see that Regina had been framed by Cora in order to isolate her daughter. That leaves us with the knowledge that our heroes are undoubtedly going to feel horribly guilty when the truth comes out. But the question is, will Regina accept their apologies for doubting her? After all, as I just said, they really can’t be faulted for falling for Cora’s frame job, but Regina isn’t exactly the most forgiving person. (How long did she hold a grudge against a ten-year-old?) Plus, as the episode ends, we see that Archie is actually alive, but being held prisoner on Hook’s ship.
And yes, this is the episode when the phase 'taco time' originated. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a reference to that scene in the beginning when Emma and Henry come back from the town market to find David/Charming and Mary Margret/Snow still in bed, and it's glaringly obvious what they were up to. The whole entire scene is simply hilarious, from Snow and Charming's pathetic attempts to explain the situation to the completely oblivious Henry to Emma's priceless expression. Speaking of Henry, should he really have been that in the dark about what his grandparents were up to? Granted I don't know many 10/11 year olds, so I'm not the best judge, but the kid's in his pre-teen years at this point, or at least is about to be. Isn't that about the time where they get 'the talk?' Then again, I suppose no one's really had the opportunity to do so, given how there's rarely a dull moment in Storybrooke, especially since the curse broke, and for some reason, I have my doubts that Regina would have taken the time to sit him down to explain things. Anyway, to get back on track, the visibly flustered Emma tries to defuse the situation by ushering Henry off to help her 'make some tacos.' And thus, a fanmade-phrase was born.
Okay, now let’s talk about the subtle bit of foreshadowing in this episode. When Hook and Cora first arrive in Storybrooke, there are some shots that show swans swimming around. Let’s think about this here. This scene is happening at night, and the Storybrooke docks are surrounded by saltwater. The thing is, swans are diurnal birds that prefer freshwater, so the fact that these swans are there right now is highly unusual. And if these swans were just a bunch of wild birds that came along while they were filming this episode, the film crew would either have chased them off or edited them out in post. The only conclusion is that they wanted to put these swans in this scene on purpose. The fact that they deliberately place actual swans in a scene where Hook first sets foot in Stroybrooke? I admit, that makes me smile like a loon.
One last question. What is THAT in the background?! That thing just above Mary Margret/Snow's head? That is a headless mannequin! WHY? What is that supposed to advertise, Storybrooke shop keepers? More importantly, why am I so focused on such a pointless and random detail?