Roughly seven bajillion people ponied up $13 or more to watch the Avengers assemble in theaters nationwide this weekend. Fairy tale lovers who stayed home Sunday night were treated to a similarly rousing sight: Fairy Land's own avenging heroes joining forces to save Prince Charming from the wicked King
Charles Widmore George. (That expert archer dwarf is Hawkeye. Snow White is Black Widow. Granny is The Hulk.)
Unfortunately -- spoiler alert! -- the Magical Avengers aren't quite as successful as their comic book counterparts. Giant alien robot monsters have nothing on the Evil Queen, a villain who knows how to spin wicked gold out of smoke, mirrors, and toxic fruit. The fairybacks in which Regina seemingly conquers Snow lack tension, since we know the princess will eventually prevail -- but it's still a ton of fun to watch Once connect its alternate universe's multiple dots.
Alas, the Storybrooke storyline still isn't gelling quite as well. That's mostly because Emma keeps making rookie mistakes. Regina's vision of getting accosted by the townsfolk and nearly decapitated by a sword is just a dream. But Emma's abduction of Henry is regrettably real. Mercifully, it's also short-lived, thanks to Henry's fearless steering wheel grab. Good going, Henry! Now there's something I never thought I'd say during Once's first handful of episodes.
In Fairy Land, King George sneers at his "son" before sentencing him to death by guillotine. But as the device's shiny blade is falling toward the prince's charming neck, it transforms into a harmless sheet of water -- and then Regina struts into the castle's courtyard, telling the stern king that she'll trade him any riches for an intact Charming. Looks like someone needs a lasagna taster to complete her dungeon tableau.
Storybrooke Regina isn't nearly as happy as her past self. Her pet apple tree is dying; it must have heard her claim that it's producing honeycrisps and decided to wither in protest. Or maybe Emma's presence is sapping its power away. Regina suggests the second one to Mr. Gold, who notes that the queen might just have to let Emma take Henry if she wants the Savior to leave and the curse to stay intact. But Regina would rather get rid of Emma altogether -- a feat that will be difficult to pull off, since killing Emma would apparently break the curse.
She tries to enlist Gold's help in this endeavor, but Gold shuts the queen down, saying that he's planning a trip -- and that Regina doesn't have anything he wants. This would be the perfect moment for Regina to play her "I've got Nurse Ratched guarding Belle in a super secret asylum" trump card. Instead, she places a white rabbit-emblazoned card on a certain Storybrooke Elementary student's bike.
The card is a message for the girl's true father: Mad Hatter Jefferson, who apparently didn't fall into another dimension at the end of Episode 17. Wait, so where did he go? Hopefully we'll find out later; for now, Regina recruits the guy to help her retrieve something from Fairy Land via his old hat. In return, she'll reunite him with his daughter and give them both a fresh start. As they chat, she offers Jefferson a drink, which he refuses. If only Emma had been around to take notes!
NEXT: "I have no interest in cleaning tongue marks off my mirror"