[This is a review of Once Upon a Time season 3, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
Jane Espenson always adds a certain something when she pens an episode of Once Upon A Time and nothing could be truer than with the aptly titled "Witch Hunt". The episode cleverly mirrors itself in the past and in present-day Storybrooke, then adds an extra twist right at the end for good measure.
Last week we were introduced to those pesky flying monkeys from Oz and tonight they're back to wreak havoc in both realms. In the Enchanted Forest they nearly make off with Robin Hood's (Sean Maguire) little son, while in Storybrooke one nabs Little John (Jason Burkart). Robin's theory, in the past, is that Regina is their true target. In Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) quickly figures out that anyone who goes near the town line is fair game.
Both realms also show Regina breaking off from the main group to find some answers. In the past, she grudgingly allows Robin to tag along, treating him more like a nuisance than anything else. They swap sob stories as she moves closer and closer to her true objective: a good long, enchanted sleep. Turns out Snow's (Ginnifer Goodwin) heartfelt speech was for naught and all the queen really wants is for the pain of losing Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) to stop.
The same sentiment is mirrored back in Storybrooke, only this time she's trying to brew a memory potion to return him to her. Neither potion attempt is successful, but each search does yield its own answers. In the Forest, Zelena (Rebecca Mader) reveals herself and the relationship between them that allows her to break the blood curse locks. In Storybrooke, not only is Zelena keeping a lower profile, she's also got Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) caged up in a nearby storm cellar.
The dual approach with Regina and Zelena works well. It tracks that Regina would be wary of Robin, but agree to run a con with Emma. The two women make a formidable team and it's fun to see them enter each others' world just a step further. Regina takes Emma into the potions lab, but later is coached on the finer points of a good stakeout. On Zelena's end, it's interesting to know her motives in the past, but then be left to guess how they've played out in the present. They're letting out just enough details to keep things intriguing.
While this is only the second episode back since the break, there are already some parallels themes from the Fall. Both feature villains with nefarious minions to do their dirty work: Pan had his Lost Boys, Zelena's got the monkeys. Both also share a close blood tie with a Storybrooke villain; though Rumple knew he was dealing with his father, where Regina had no clue about her older, half-sister. Pan keeps his secret prisoners in bamboo cages, while Zelena prefers metal ones in her storm cellar.
Does this mean anything? Could there be a wider story at play? And why the heck is Neal always the one separated from the group? Guess if we want to know, we'll just have to keep watching.
Once Upon A Time will return next Sunday, with "The Tower" @8pm on ABC.