As the gingerbread house in tonight's title sequence implied, "True North" focused on the story of Hansel and Gretel. And while Emma Caulfield's superbly creepy Blind Witch didn't get nearly enough screen time, the episode was fairly fun all the same. I will say, though, that I wish it had done more to move the show's master plot forward, especially since watching it meant missing the first hour of the Golden Globes. (That Ricky Gervais -- simply incorrigible!)
In Storybrooke, Hansel and Gretel's alter egos are Nicholas and Ava, doe-eyed moppets who are one pair of fingerless gloves away from Fagin's gang. The parentless pair squat in a random house's basement, surviving only on candy and graham crackers they swipe from the local convenience store. Like the Boxcar Children, minus both the boxcar and the uncanny ability to solve mysteries.
Emma first encounters the kids in said convenience store: They've been caught stuffing an unsuspecting Henry's backpack with chocolate and other essential supplies. (Even in the real world, they sure love sweets.) Apparently, in Storybrooke, this counts as an arrestable offense. But soon enough, Emma discovers a bigger problem than the pair's literal and metaphorical sticky fingers: Their mother is dead and they've got no idea who or where their father is.
Our first Fairybacks show that real Hansel and Gretel are in a similar situation. After an opening scene establishing their warm relationship with their father, the Teutonic Twins suddenly find themselves alone in the woods. They follow the sounds of a scuffle to a nearby road, where the Wicked Queen is waiting -- sporting a jaunty chapeau and a saucy weave that's about three shades darker than her actual hair. Hansel and Gretel quickly try to escape her clutches, but the Queen uses her powers of CGI to stop them in their tracks. See, she needs some kids -- and not because she's trying to start up a pee-wee Quidditch league.
Back in the real world, Nick and Ava happily munch on real food as Emma and Mary Margaret discuss their fate. Emma hasn't yet reported them to social services because as a former foster kid, she can't in good conscience put the pair at the mercy of The System. Instead, she wants to look for their father. Emma believes that if he knew about them, he'd want to take them in. Hoo boy; methinks this case might be striking a bit too close to home.
So Emma sets off for Storybrooke's office of records, only to find that the kids' birth certificates have already been pulled by someone: Regina, of course. In her Cruella cave, the Mayor lays out the facts for the sheriff: There's no record of Ava and Nick's father, so they're going to have to be put into the foster system. "Storybrooke has a foster system?" Emma asks, in a tone that's so contemptuous and bitchy that I can't help but like her about 50 times more.
NEXT: Yeah, no, it doesn't.