If you recall, devoted watchers of ABC’s breakout fantasy hit, Once Upon a Time ended season 1 with the surprise undoing of the curse that had transformed all the fairytale characters we know and love into denizens of our gritty every day world where, as the narration ominously intoned, there are no happy endings.
But seasons before anyone expected it to happen, the curse was shown the exit, and the citizens of Storybrooke awoke from the amnesia Regina aka the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) had imposed them for her own nefarious purposes (with the exception of Rumpelstiltkin who it turns out had cooked up a deal with Regina to keep his fairyland memories) to discover just how much had been stolen from them.
And it turns out, if these season 2 promo photos are any guide that they are none too pleased about it – the therapy bills alone, as they struggle to reconcile their fairyland and real world persona, alone could bankrupt them – and Regina, not surprisingly, becomes the focus of their ire.
In the old days she would have just dispatched them with a surreptitious, or not so subtle if annoyed, wave of her hand, consigning them to goodness knows where, but even though Mr Gold aka Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) has introduced magic into our world, it is not acting as Regina imagined it would, and she has no immediate way of fending off the enraged populace.
Naturally Regina being Regina will find a way but right at this point, shocked by the fury of the crowd, she simply looks shocked and uncertain of the next step, a look we are not accustomed to seeing on her face.
One group of people who, though the challenges ahead are great, seem to have embraced their new circumstances, are Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), her son Henry (Jared Gilmore), and her mum and dad, Prince Charming/David Nolan (Josh Dallas) and Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin).
These photos show them holding each other close, which is heartwarming after all the emotional separation they have endured, but the word is that it won’t be all plain sailing with Emma especially, who never knew her parents in the first place, finding the adjustment hard.
You can only imagine what it would be like having a close friend and housemate, who looks your age, and her, in our world at least, adulterous lover, suddenly presented to you as your presents. It makes sense it would bring up a whole host of issues for Emma, not the least of which resentment at being abandoned, and the fact that the show is planning to explore issues like this underlines what a clever show it is.
It would have been so easy to have simply taken them all back to fairyland land but where’s the challenge in that? This way, they have to struggle to live their old and new lives in some sort of harmonious tandem, and hope that they can restore their lives to some semblance of their former glory.
Of course it won’t be easy, as Emma and her family will no doubt find out, and that is what makes this such a compelling, layered, and endlessly engaging show.