In "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree," we start with Henry and Emma hanging out in the wooden castle, their special place. Henry reveals he's hidden the book there to keep it away from the Evil Queen's clutches. Regina discovers this place and has it torn down for "safety reasons" but not before lecturing Emma once again about responsibility, her job, staying away from her son, etc. Is anyone else hoping the writer's turn the page on this dialogue between Emma and Regina? I can't take anymore lecturing! Meanwhile, Henry searches for his book but alas, it is now missing. This enrages Emma all the more (which was the point, I'm sure) and makes her even more determined to uncover some dirt on the mayor. Luckily for her, Sydney Glass the town's newspaper man, now disgraced and fired at the hands of Regina, is also looking to get even and offers to become an ally to Emma. Right from the start, I found his motives suspicious and in my opinion, as the Sheriff and a former bail bonds person, she should have been more suspicious well.
In Fairytale we find Sidney as a genie in a magic lamp. The lamp is found by the King, Snow White's father who will always be Toby Ziegler from The West Wing to me. He rubs the lamp, reveals the genie and, after a very honest conversation about the genie's trapped ways, the King decides to set him free. Did that remind anyone else of Aladdin? Oh Disney, you are all over this show. The genie then reveals that most wishes end badly, they all "come with a price" (sound familiar?) Upon hearing this, the King decides to bestow his final wish to the genie who claims he will never use it. Instead he will seek out what he's always wanted: true love.
The King takes the genie into his kingdom and introduces him to Snow White and the Queen, who is uncharacteristically cloaked in white this time. Could this be the Queen before the Evil? Was there ever a time she wasn't evil? We don't really find out.
Back in Storybrooke, Sydney reveals that $50,000 is missing from the city budget and he believes Regina is responsible. He and Emma investigate further, Emma insistent they do things "by the book." Meanwhile, Mary Margaret and David meet secretly at their bridge for a picnic date and some kissing. I'm a little surprised their recent reunion hasn't resulted in either one of them remembering anything about being together in Fairy Tale. It also makes me a bit sad that the couple they were in Fairy Tale has been made into an affair while David cheats on his wife. It taints things for me a bit about the idea of true love. If it's true love, why didn't he just break things off with Kathryn and why doesn't Mary Margaret care more about that? I get that she's finally happy and trying to justify what she's doing when she agrees with Sydney that sometimes it's OK to do the wrong thing for the right reasons but I don't know... it just doesn't feel right, fairy tale-wise, to me.
In Fairy Tale, the Queen and genie bond and she tells him the apple tree in the court years is from her family garden. The tree is small and looks sickly and I wonder if the tree's growth is a reflection of the Queen's power, as it's clearly thriving in Storybrooke. She says how alone and like an outsider she feels living in the shadow of the King's first wife who was "the fairest of them all." The genie is touched by this story and gives the Queen a mirror so she can see how beautiful she is. It was a rather large mirror and I couldn't help but wonder if he always walks around with it in his pants. Curious right?
In Storybrooke, Emma and Sydney continue to investigate by confronting Regina in her office. While there Emma secretly plants a bug, starting to lose her sense of responsibility. They listen to her phone conversations and discover she is meeting someone to pay them in cash for something -- in the forest (where everything happens in Storybrooke). On their way to the forest to uncover the truth the breaks on Emma's car have been tampered with and she and Sidney get in a minor accident. They proceed on foot only to find Mr. Gold. He admits that Regina met him to pay him for some land she wanted to buy. Starting to feel rather reckless, Emma breaks a window at the Mayor's office and rifles through her computer and files, convinced she's found something substantial when they uncover blueprints and money transfers in Regina's name. She also finds a big ring of old keys, which I can only assume opens the many hearts she has in her secret chamber. That's a lot of keys.
In Fairy Tale, the King reads the Queen's diary where she confesses she's in love with another man. The King asks the genie to find out who the man is. I didn't really understand why he chose the genie for this task; the storyline just seemed all too convenient. He must have had many other guards he could have gone to. Never the less, the genie says he will look into it and only to discover from the Queen's Father that she's been locked up by the King.
He offers a box to the genie that will help with the Queen's freedom. Once together, the Queen opens the box to find a two-headed snake. She's about to take her own life with the snake's deadly venom but the genie stops her and suggests he kill the King instead. He takes the snake to the sleeping King's room (seriously, the guy doesn't have guards? He's the King!), the snake kills the King while the genie tries to explain his reasons for doing so. The genie goes back to the Queen who reveals the guards know it was him because the snake came from his own land. He finally realizes he's been set up and the Queen never loved him. She wanted the King dead and manipulated him. She offers him safe passage away from the castle but he refuses and says he can't live without her (I have no idea why, at this point). He takes out the lamp containing the wish he swore not to use and wishes to be with the Queen forever. With a puff of magic smoke, he becomes encased in the mirror. And that's that. The Queen wins again.
At a city council meeting in Storybrooke, Emma and Sidney take the information they've found and expose her blueprints and money transfers. What's that? She's built a new, safe play structure for the kids of Storybrooke? Of course she has. I had no doubt the entire time Emma was addressing the council and townspeople, that Regina would have a reasonable explanation. Regina ALWAYS wins. I understand she's the show's central and arguably most important villain, but wouldn't it be nice to see the side of "good" win even a little bit sometimes? After the meeting Regina tells Emma she must stay away from Henry, more lecturing. At the bar/coffee house Emma and Sidney confirm they will remain allies. Silly Emma, it was all a set up! Sidney's the one who cut your brakes and has been working for Regina all along! With one touch of the knee it seems the Queen has found herself a new man. Will we ever see the Queen lose ground?
Last but not least, we discover what's happened to Henry's book. It is now in the hands of the briefly seen, stranger in town. How did he get it? Why does he want it? We don't yet know. Is anyone else getting tired of Regina's lectures? What do you hope to see next week?
Follow Cassandra Scrimgeour on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cassandystweets