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‘Once Upon a Time’ Review: ‘Witch Hunt’ Gives Regina a New Mission in Life

ABC/Jack Rowand

It seems like Once Upon a Time is pulling out all of the stops for the second half of its third season and I am loving every minute of it. The series followed up its excellent midseason premiere with tonight’s “Witch Hunt.” To put it in the simplest terms possible, this episode was fantastic and so much fun to watch.

Emma and Hook compared notes with Snow and Charming and Hook confirmed that they’d all been in the Enchanted Forest at one point, but he left pretty early. He also explained that a bird brought him in the memory potion and a note to find Emma so he assumed that it was a message from Snow. Charming thought it made sense and then Leroy showed up to warn everyone that more people had disappeared.

Neal was one of the people unaccounted for and several dwarves had gone missing too. Robin and his friends witnessed Little John being snatched up and carried over the town line, but they weren’t sure what to make of the creature that took him. Emma tasked Charming, Hook and Robin with searching for answers while she gathered the residents of the town to see if they could figure out who was behind the curse.

Regina was number one on everyone’s suspect list for obvious reasons, but Emma had already ruled her out after seeing her reaction to Henry. Emma knew that Regina was telling the truth and as Regina pointed out, she didn’t cast curses to hurt herself, which was what was happening since Henry had no recollection of her. Emma and Regina put on a show for the town and then teamed up to try and replicate the memory potion.

Last week, I enjoyed watching Snow and Regina work together and this week, it was just as awesome to see Emma and Regina on the same side. After so many seasons of these women not trusting each other, I love that their bond has grown so much stronger since Neverland. The memory potion spell didn’t work so they went to Plan B and Emma and Regina sat in Emma’s car and waited for someone to break into her house to steal the potion. Unfortunately, that person was able to get past Regina’s blood magic spell, which confused the queen quite a bit.

ABC/Jack Rowand
ABC/Jack Rowand

Of course the audience had a better idea what was going on because of the flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest throughout the episode. The wicked witch sent her flying monkey after Regina again and Robin’s son Roland was directly in his path. Regina swept the boy out of the way and then turned the creepy monkey into a stuffed animal so Roland didn’t have to be afraid anymore (and if your heart didn’t grow three sizes watching this, examine your life choices). Belle and Regina put the pieces together and realized flying monkeys and wicked witches came from Oz and that was the person who had hijacked her castle.

Regina knew a secret way in and wanted to go herself while Charming and the others waited for her to lower the protection spell. But Robin followed her and wanted to help since he owed her a debt for saving his son. Regina wasn’t exactly impressed, but he wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer and they continued to exchange sassy banter (and I fell even more in love with them in the process). When they reached the castle door, Regina was surprised to find it open and not sure what to make of the fact that someone had gotten around her blood spell (Really, Regina? Has this show taught you nothing? Everyone is related).

Smoking out the intruder was not Regina’s only plan. She wanted to make a sleeping curse and use it on herself. Poor Regina is so brokenhearted without Henry that she’d rather be under a curse that she believes only he could break, just in case he ever found her again. She insisted to Robin that there was nothing he could do to stop her and then she lowered the protection spell so the others could come in and prepared to use the curse. That’s when the wicked witch showed up and wanted to chat with Regina about life…and the fact that they were sisters.

ABC/Jack Rowand
ABC/Jack Rowand

Honestly, I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised by this and I’m not sure anyone else who watches this show was either (Pan being Rumple’s dad will forever be hard to top). But I don’t mind that the twist was predictable because it didn’t make it any less awesome to see Regina and Zelena facing off as Regina was put off by her green skin and Zelena didn’t care for her rudeness (Seriously, so much sassiness in this episode). Zelena has made it her mission to ruin Regina’s life since she had Cora’s attention and she also mentions Rumple (please, please, please don’t make Rumple her father. That’s too much for me, Show).

Zelena leaves (with the sleeping curse that she took from Regina. Something tells me that someone is going to end up with the needle in his or her skin before the season is over). Regina tells Robin that she’s got a new reason to keep living because she has someone she wants to destroy. Regina is practically giddy and I’m totally good with that because I am all for her being a BAMF. This is going to be such a great showdown.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma introduces Regina to Henry and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch Regina struggling with her feelings. She loves Henry so much and he has no clue who she is or why she cares so much about him. Again, I give major props to the character growth shown by Regina and Emma. They both want what’s best for Henry and Emma knows it’s important for Regina to be close to Henry, even if the boy doesn’t understand why. These scenes were sad because I hate seeing Regina sad, but they were also really powerful because this family has come so far.

Hook and Charming return and let the others know that Little John has been turned into a flying monkey. They assume that’s what happened to the dwarves too and possibly Neal (which Emma isn’t fazed by since he’s not the first flying monkey she’s dated. But I don’t think Neal is a flying monkey. I’m not even sure he’s in Storybrooke). The group puts the pieces together and realizes flying monkeys = wicked witch and Emma is surprised to learn she’s real. As Hook reminds her that she’s the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, I have to agree with him. It’s time for Emma to stop being surprised about all of these things.

Speaking of surprises that aren’t really a surprise…we see Zelena carrying a tray down to a cellar where there’s a cage and inside that cage is Rumple! I never believed he was dead, I assumed he’d be involved in the witch’s plot (even before the poster revealed it), but I was still really happy to see him because I missed him so much. Unfortunately, Rumple isn’t exactly pleased to be back and makes that clear to Zelena, who basically throws his food at him and walks away. Rumple starts talking nonsense and now I’m even more intrigued to know what on earth happened to him and how soon will it be before he’s back to his normal, awesome self?

This was a great episode that once again left me eager to find out what comes next. We know the witch has Rumple, but how did she get him? Does she have his knife? Is Neal somehow involved? He did make the remark about cursing a kingdom to get back to Henry and Emma. If this show has taught us anything besides everyone is related, it’s that there are very few coincidences ever. There are always hidden meanings in things and it’s possible that one is just misdirection – we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we want to hear what you guys thought of the episode. Were you surprised that Regina and Zelena are sisters? Who do you think is Zelena’s father? What’s going on with Rumple? Where’s Neal? Did you enjoy seeing Emma and Regina working together? What about Robin and Regina? How awesome was it to have Ruby and Dr. Whale back? Hit the comments below and share your thoughts with us!

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.