Can people truly change? Are those with trusting hearts wise or foolish? And what reason could a witch possibly have for carrying around a parasol at night?
Once Upon a Time tackled these questions and more tonight, returning from its hiatus with a winter premiere heavy on setup and light on payoff -- just what we should have expected from an hour meant to kick-start the season's second half. Still, any episode that features Regina suggesting that Red take herself for a walk is A-Okay in my book.
"The Cricket Game" starts, as all things should, with a shot of Hook staring sexily, possibly wondering if Storybrooke's convenience store carries his favorite brand of guyliner. Once he and Cora anchor the Jolly Roger, the pirate is ready to head straight into town and get his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin -- but as his companion soon notices, the "land without magic" isn't quite living up to its nickname. Surprise: There's magic in the air after all, meaning that season 2's Big Bads have to totally rethink their plan of attack. But hey, at least this curve ball means Cora gets a chance to turn an innocent bystander into a fish before she and Hook head to shore.
Back in Ye Olde Fairy Land, a triumphant Snow and Charming manage to defeat King George and immobilize Regina -- with the help of the Blue Fairy -- without even breaking a sweat, though Snow's cream-colored ass-kicking outfit does get tragically smudged. Things are also going swimmingly for the couple in present-day Storybrooke, where the reunited pair enjoy nearly a full day of happy endings, if you know what I mean, until they head to Granny's for a giant "Welcome Home" party thrown by the whole town. (Almost as much fun as a "We're Glad You Didn't Kill Anyone" party!) It's all fun and games and Charming toasts until Regina herself shows up, brandishing a baking dish that better not contain any turnovers.