Searching for thrills, chills and two-headed snake kills? Look no further. TV's hottest show is Once Upon a Time. This place has everything: intrigue, apples, plot twists, a sinister playground, Giancarlo Esposito in a supremely silly genie outfit...
In other words, "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" was Once in rare form. Tonight's episode managed to put an interesting spin on the tales of Snow White and Aladdin's genie while also advancing both the master story and a few important subplots (MM and David! Eeeee!). That's no small feat, especially considering adventures in wheel-spinning like "True North."
We begin with Henry and Emma at the kid's beloved play castle, a wooden structure that's been devastated by last week's storm. (Hooray for continuity!) As they're surveying the damage, another extreme weather event touches down: Hurricane Regina. Ah, yes, it's time for Regina's regularly scheduled threatdown with Emma. In this installment, she tells Ms. Swan that the castle is dangerously unsafe, then commands her to start acting like a sheriff. So she should be escorting more juvenile delinquents to Boston, or what?
At Granny's, Mary Margaret tries to boost her daughter's spirits -- but scurries away as soon as she notices a text from David on her ancient Nokia candy bar phone. (If Storybrooke is stuck 28 years in the past, why does everyone have cell phones? Probably best not to think about these things.) Her still-warm seat is quickly occupied by a drunk and dangerous-sounding Sidney Glass, who's apparently disgruntled because Regina got him fired from the paper. All it takes is a little unemployment to transform a mild-mannered editor into Gus Fring. Giancarlo Esposito is seriously intense and terrifying in this scene -- especially when he hands Emma a business card, telling her to call him when she's ready to take Regina down.
Cut to Fairy Tale World, where we see Sidney dressed up as... an Aladdin-style genie! It's a bit of a bummer that he's not blue, but all the same, this reveal is one of tonight's greatest moments. After sighing and muttering, "Here we go," the genie emerges from his shiny, lampy prison to greet his new master: a genial guy by the name of King Leopold. (You might recognize him as the actor who played Toby Ziegler on The West Wing.) As soon as the smoke clears, Genie swiftly and hilariously runs over a few rules: the king gets three wishes, he can't wish for life or death, and once spoken, a wish can't be undone. From his tone and his bored demeanor, it's abundantly clear that he's had to repeat this spiel waaay too many times.
When he's done, the stunned king scrunches his face adorably, then gives a little laugh. As luck would have it, he has everything he needs already. At that, Genie rolls his eyes and decides to take a load off. But his seen-it-all attitude dissipates as soon as Leopold reveals his first wish: to set the genie free. "Yahoooo!" shouts Genie. "I'm history! I'm mythology! Nah, I don't care what I am -- I'm freee-eeeee!"
NEXT: Okay, that didn't really happen