After a month-long wait, Once Upon a Time returned for the second half of its second season Sunday.
There are spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode yet. Read at your own risk.
The previous episode, “Queen of Hearts,” ended with Cora and Hook making their way to Storybrooke after using the petrified magic bean Hook stole from the giant’s lair. “The Cricket Game” begins with the two of them getting off the boat in Storybrooke’s harbor. Hook wants to go off on his own to confront Rumplestiltskin, but Cora won’t let him. She suggests they explore Storybrooke, but, Cora being Cora, she has something more nefarious in mind.
In Fairy Tale Land, Regina watches as Snow and Charming’s army defeats King George’s army. She is told she can’t beat them on her own. Regina tells her soldier to keep Snow away from Charming as long as possible. She finds Snow alone, and Snow offers her a chance to surrender. Regina declines, and the Blue Fair swoops down and traps her in fairy dust, binding her powers.
Back in Storybrooke, a welcome home party is being held for Mary Margaret at Granny’s. Regina shows up, having been invited by Emma. She says Henry believes in Regina, and that they should all give her a chance to redeem herself. Everyone is suspicious of her, and she sits by herself before leaving the party. Emma goes after her and Regina asks if it would be possible to see Henry more. Emma doesn’t like the idea, and Regina gets upset and snaps at Emma for disappearing from Henry’s life for 10 years. She apologizes and Emma tells her that Archie revealed that she was trying to change for Henry and not use magic anymore.
Hook and Cora watch Regina walk away dejectedly, and Hook asks if she’s broken. Cora responds, “Not yet.”
Archie catches up with Regina on the dock, and she yells at him for telling Emma about their session. Ruby interrupts and Regina tells her to take herself for a walk. Archie says he can be trusted, and Regina says he’s lucky she’s changed.
In Fairy Tale Land, Jiminy says Regina will never change. Snow and the others try to think of a way to deal with her, and Charming suggests killing her. Snow asks if that’s the only option, and says there is always a choice. She reminds him that he stopped her from killing Regina once. He says there is a difference. “That was an assassination,” he says, and Regina’s death would be an execution.
In Storybrooke, Ruby sees Regina going to Archie’s office late at night. She uses her magic to do choke the life out of him… Except it’s not Regina. It’s Cora.
Pongo finds Henry and Emma as they are leaving Granny’s, and Ruby comes out to tell Emma something is wrong. They enter Archie’s office and find him dead. Ruby says she has an idea who did it.
In Fairy Tale Land, Regina’s father visits her at his cell. He says it was his fault and that he failed her as a father. He begs her forgiveness and she says there is no need to apologize. He tells her to prove that she can change and that she regrets what she’s done.
Regina has been taken into custody for Archie’s murder. She is confused and David says Ruby saw her go to his office the night before. She says she was home the whole night and David says she is incapable of change.
As Regina is about to be executed in Fairy Tale Land, Jiminy tells her she has the chance to repent for what she has done. She says she feels regret that she was not able to cause more pain and misery and she regrets that she was not able to kill Snow. The archers are about to shoot her, but the Blue Fairy stops their arrows at Snow’s order. She is taken back to her cell, satisfied.
Emma tells David and Mary Margaret Regina didn’t kill Archie. She says Regina really does want to change and that she had no Archie was dead. Emma says they should let Regina go and find the truth.
Charming tells Snow they agreed to execute Regina. Snow says she knew Regina before she turned evil and believes she can be rehabilitated. Charming says they can’t take that risk, but Snow says there is no going back from murder. Charming is skeptical and tells her they can’t come back from her path either.
Rumplestiltskin shows up and tells Snow that he came to witness the queen’s execution. With a trill giggle he says, “Regina redeemed, what a novel thought.” Snow admits she is probably fooling herself, and Rumple offers a test to prove that she can be changed. Snow knows there will be a price, but Rumple won’t take no for an answer.
David, Emma, and Mary Margaret are going through Archie’s office to find evidence that proves Regina killed him. Emma isn’t convinced Regina is guilty, even after they discover that Regina’s file is empty. She says it’s too easy and thinks Mr. Gold is behind the murder. She says all the evidence points to Reginam but Gold says it wasn’t him. He says to ask the witness, Pongo, who really killed Archie. He tells Emma to “extract” Pongo’s memory. Gold runs a dreamcatcher over Pongo and tells Emma to “will” the truth out of it. She takes the dreamcatcher and concentrates, and it shows Cora (disguised as Regina) killing Archie.
Emma is upset that she believed Regina was innocent. She wants to go after her, and Mary Margaret says they can use fairy dust to contain Regina’s powers.
Snow visits Regina at her cell. She tells Regina she wasn’t always evil, and Regina says the woman Snow once knew is gone. Snow doesn’t buy that, but Regina is adamant that she is wrong. Snow unlocks the cell and lets Regina walk out. Snow pulls out a blade, but Regina takes it and stabs her instead. The blade has been charmed with a protection spell from Rumple, and Snow tells her that it was a test. Regina is banished, and Snow tells Regina that they are even since they saved each other’s lives.
Emma, Mary Margaret, and David go to Regina’s and confront her about Archie’s death. She realizes Gold helped them and that Emma used magic to see the “truth.” Emma tells Regina that Henry’s heart will break when he finds out she hasn’t changed. Regina tells Emma she won’t keep her son away from her, and Emma snaps that Henry is her son. The Blue Fairy tries to trap Regina with fairy dust again, but Regina catches it. Emma says Henry will never swallow Regina’s lies about trying to change, and Regina uses her magic to disappear.
Emma is nervous about telling Henry that Regina killed Archie. David tells her they can all tell him together. Regina watches from her car as Emma tells Henry that Archie is dead and begins crying, knowing that she’s lost Henry’s trust.
Rumple visits Regina in her castle on the day of Snow and Charming’s wedding. Regina laments that there is nothing to do that can stop them from having their happy ending in Fairy Tale Land. Rumple tells her she can bring them to another land and have her revenge there. This is what gives Regina the idea for her curse.
Cora returns to the dock and tells Hook that Regina has lost everything. Hook is upset that she has stopped him from getting his revenge, and she tells him to check the hold of his ship for a present. He asks what the present is, and she says it isn’t a what, but a who. It’s Archie! But who did Cora really kill? She doesn’t know; it’s her first day in town, she says, and she merely disguised the body to look like Archie’s. And the real Archie is going to tell them everything they need to know for Hook to get his revenge.
“It may take some work, but this cricket will chirp,” Cora says.
What did you think of “The Cricket Game”? Who do you think it was that Cora actually killed?