TV Review: Once Upon A Time (5×02): ‘The Price’

Episode two of Once Upon A Time seemed to attempt to answer the question we all had at the end of the last episode, “WTF happened in Camelot?”

Just as a little reminder in the last minutes of last week’s episode, our Storybrooke compatriots returned to the town in Granny’s Diner with six weeks of memories missing and Emma fully decked out as the Dark One. This episode flashes back to some of what we missed in the six weeks, as well as helping another question, how can Regina be the new savior? And they went out of their way to convince us that she is.

The episode paralleled Emma’s decline to the darkness with Regina beginning to be seen as a hero. As was pointed out, the Storybrooke residents don’t see her as the Evil Queen anymore but they didn’t quite see her as someone who can save the town yet.

Once they have entered Camelot, King Arthur tells them that Merlin is trapped in a tree, and he prophesied that only the Savior will be able to release him. Regina claims to be the Savior which appears to piss Emma off a bit, but Regina reveals later to Emma that if they knew she was the Savior they will expect her to use magic to save Merlin and if she indulges in her dark magic she will be further enveloped by the darkness.

ABC/Jack Rowland

ABC/Jack Rowland

Percival, one of Arthur’s knights, gives Regina a necklace to wear to the ball that Camelot is having that evening. We later discover, as Charming is teaching Regina to dance, (I will not believe in any realm that Cora did not have Regina take dancing lessons as a child) that Percival was really using the necklace to spy on Regina.

At the dance, everyone looks swanky, and lovelier paired off, even Belle and Leroy share a dance, and Charming gives Henry some tips to woo a girl that he has his eye on. In the end, Henry wows the Camelotian teenager, Violet, with his cool status with the Savior and of course like every teenager – Apple products.

Percival cuts in as Regina and Robin are dancing and tells him that when he was a child, Regina as the Evil Queen destroyed his village, and he is totally clued up to who she really is. He attempts to kill her on the dance floor, but Robin intercepts, and while Percival is killed, Robin is mortally wounded. Regina’s magic does not work as the sword was spelled to kill her, so she asked Emma to save Robin.

Here’s when we really start to question the genuineness of Regina’s good status; yes, she’s willing to save others but mostly when the people she loves are in danger. Asking Emma to help Robin, which she did, after a conversation with Head!Rumple which sure did scare the rest of her family, because she was obviously talking to herself. Head!Rumple tells Emma that Regina has to pay the price for the magic that Emma uses, as she was the one who requests it.

Arthur apologizes to Regina and co. for Percival’s actions, and Regina admits that Percival was right she is the Evil Queen, to which Arthur replies, “Camelot is a place of second chances,” and he says that the fact that she saved Robin proves that she is Savior. Which makes things awkward, as Regina and Emma share a pointed look. This also begs the question, is Regina really the new Savior? Or is it still Emma? And why is ‘savior’ such a broad term?

Back in Storybrooke, the town is in uproar after their return as the dwarves attempt to leave, which results in Dopey being turned into a tree, because they don’t have any hope now that their Savior is the Dark One.

Hook approaches Belle and asks her for advice on how come ‘true love’s kiss’ did not work for her and Rumpelstiltskin, and she said that it did in the beginning but he pulled away because he ultimately chose the power of being the Dark One. Belle and Hook seem to have formed a sort of Lovers of the Dark One support group. Their slogan as voiced by Belle, “It’s far easier to hate a Dark One than to love one.”

Emma zaps Hook off to the new ‘Dark One’ house (did she just magic herself some real estate?) where she attempts to seduce him, and he kisses her trying to use ‘true love’s kiss’ to rid her of the Dark One curse but it doesn’t work, and she says it’s because this is who she is now and he needs to get used to it. He refuses her, and chooses to leave her instead of indulging in all her new liberties.

Later, at a meeting of the Lovers of the Dark One support group, Hook tells Belle that he’s not giving up on Emma saying, “I spent a century trying to kill the crocodile, I can spend at least as long trying to save the woman I love.”

Henry, who I must say seems to have aged a lot over the summer, summons Emma by calling her name three times. He asks her what happened in Camelot to have caused this change in her, and she responds by saying that everyone failed her except him. Our guess is that every time she is asked to do magic, she spiraled further into the darkness, and Regina was just the first person to ask it of her, and through the following weeks we will see further flashbacks to what the other members of the Storybrooke gang requested of her and her magic.

A confrontation between two of the dwarves and some knights reveal that not only did the Storybrooke clan return but they dragged King Arthur, his knights and some of his Camelot subjects with them. Apparently there is not enough space in Storybrooke for an extra kingdom, so they have to set up a refugee camp for the Camelot people, who are probably used to living in a castle or something similar and now have to sleep outdoors, it cannot be a simple change.

While the usual suspects are helping out at the Camelot Camp, a weird creature flies to them and tries to take off with Robin. Regina chases after them and manages to attack the creature enough that it lets go of Robin and escapes. After a consultation with Belle and her books, Regina discovers that the creature is called a ‘Fury’ which is a demon from the underworld which comes to collect on the unpaid price of magic. The Fury only comes when the price of magic is alive, which is Robin, and the only way to save him is for someone else to sacrifice their life in his place.

Regina confronts Emma in her house about the Fury, and Emma says it has nothing to do with her, it is Regina who did not repay the debt of saving Robin in Camelot which summoned the demon.

Later that night, the Fury returns for Robin and takes him to the lake where Death is coming to get him and Regina sacrifices herself for him, but Snow White, Charming, Leroy and Arthur join her and they stand together which is apparently too much for the demon and causes it to go away. This, however, convinces Leroy, who appears to be Storybrooke’s unofficial spokesperson, that Regina has the ability to save the town.

ABC/Jack Rowand

ABC/Jack Rowland

Back at Granny’s, which is the consistent ‘Hey We Survived Again’ party location, Henry has another moment with his Camelot crush, Violet, as both of them don’t remember their first interaction. Also Snow White is disturbed as she tells Charming that if they win this war, Emma would be the one losing.

Speaking of the devil, Emma is watching the crew from outside Granny’s, probably feeling awkward and left out, as she walks home. When she arrives home, Head!Rumple is waiting for her though telling her she brought back Excalibur for a reason (as we see it in her locked basement) in order to snuff out the light. In a flashback we see that Arthur also wants to complete Excalibur connecting the sword in the stone with the Dark One dagger, however we don’t know what his intentions are yet. Emma is unable to take the sword out of the stone as Head!Rumple says she first has to pay the price.

Unlike last week’s episode, this week’s was clearly framed around Regina, and the writers’ attempt to make us see her as a hero. They got the point across but I wish it was not as obvious and direct as they depicted it in this episode, the point was pushed and shoved at us, all the way we knew by the end of the episode the town will start seeing Regina as the Savior.

The pacing also felt a bit off, we saw similar filling in the gaps over the past few seasons as the characters constantly struggled with amnesia after the various curses, but this episode it felt too flashback-heavy, that I wish the moments were looped together more often, instead of the constant jumping between the past and present.

Lastly, I adored the Henry/Violet romance, it feels like something fresh in a series where most storylines and moments feel paralleled or done before, this cute first teenage romance between actual teenagers is interesting.

So what else do you think happened to turn Emma dark? Is Regina really the Savior? Does King Arthur seem a little shady to anyone else? And what do you think about Violet and Henry?
Rating: 7/10

Caryn is a 26-year-old journalist from Cape Town, South Africa. She believes people will be more tolerable if they just watched more TV. Otherwise she's obsessed with movies, literally any book, comedy, Marvel, Harry Potter, and Halsey. Her dream is to one day marry Tom Hiddleston, or take over the world, whatever comes first.