“Once Upon A Time: New York City Serenade” Review

Erin Baxter, Staff Writer

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On March 9th, the critically-acclaimed fairy-tale drama, Once Upon A Time, returned to TV screens around the country with the second half of its third season.

Picking up a year after the events of the game-changing midseason finale, we find Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) living a peaceful life in New York City with son Henry (Jared Gilmore), all of their time in Storybrooke erased from their minds. In the series’ usual fashion of switching between the present day and flashbacks, we see all of Storybrooke’s former residents brought back to the Enchanted Forest.

Throughout the episode, we see that Emma has adjusted well to civilian life, and even has a boyfriend… who later asks for her hand in marriage, much to her chagrin. However, her life is completely turned upside down (again), when Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) shows up, urging Emma to remember her old life, as her family is supposedly in danger, forcing her to choose between her past and her future.

Meanwhile, the Enchanted Forest is an enchanted mess, as all of Storybrooke’s former residents are forced to figure out what to do next, now that they’re all back home. Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally decide to journey to the Evil Queen/Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) castle, one of the few places untouched by the curse. However, they find that a lot has changed in 28 years, and the Kingdom has been invaded by flying monkeys and magical walls popping up where they shouldn’t be. At the end of the episode, we learn that a new curse has struck, sending both Storybrooke and its inhabitants back to Our World, but with a twist: they have no recollection of the past year. After this we are shown a glimpse of this season’s big “baddie” and the person responsible for the new curse: the Wicked Witch of the the West (Rebecca Mader).

After a nearly three month hiatus, I was itching for another episode of “Once”, hoping beyond hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed. Luckily, I wasn’t.

All of the actors shined in their usual ways, especially Parrilla, who continues to display Regina’s constant struggle between good and evil in a way that no one else could.

The special effects have definitely improved since we last experienced magic (need we forget the horribly rendered giant from season 2?), making the fairy-tale world seem so much more immersive. My particular favorites would have to be the flying monkeys, mostly for their realistic and ferocious look.

Above all, my absolute favorite addition to the series would have to be Mader’s terrific performance as the Wicked Witch, despite how brief it was. The Witch shines in her usual fashion, green skin, pointy hat and all. I especially loved her gleeful statement that while the queen may be evil, she’s wicked–and wicked always wins.

Along with cleaning up the pieces left behind from the midseason finale, we are also given a new set of mysteries to sink our teeth into: Will Rumpelstiltskin return from the dead? Who is the Wicked Witch? Why does Snow White’s hair magically change from long to short every time she travels between realms?

Hopefully, all these questions will be answered when the second episode airs next Sunday, though I have a feeling the rest of the season will be absolutely wicked.