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Once Upon A Time: Hansel, Gretel and A Stranger in Town

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When Storybrooke's hot Sheriff met his untimely end before the Christmas hiatus, I was sad, as many viewers were. I liked the fact that Sheriff Graham finally started to believe that Henry's fairytale book was real and was sad he had his heart crushed to dust. But how cool was the Queen's underground chamber of actual hearts?

While the show struggles with some very lame dialogue and CGI that's rough around the edges, the strength of Storybrooke lies with the actors that make this show so good, particularly Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White and Josh Dallas as Prince Charming.

Since Once's recent return, we've seen the backstory of Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, which was really interesting and creepy at the same time. He learned the hard way that "all magic comes with a price." Robert Carlyle is simply perfect in the role of this creepy trickster, although I can't help but wonder what became of his poor son.

This week in "True North," we saw the story of Hansel and Gretel. In Storybrooke they were a brother and sister living in an abandoned old house after the death of their mother and never knowing their father. Mayor Regina wanted them sent into foster care (where they would end up in separate homes), while Emma was determined to keep the kids out of the foster care system in which she herself was raised and set out to find their father.

In Fairy Tale Land, the brother and sister lose their way in the woods, unable to find their father who was chopping wood. Of course it later turns out, as it often does, that the Evil Queen had abducted the children's father so they would do her bidding.

She wanted them to retrieve a satchel from the blind witch's house made of candy. Her only warning, as the tale goes: They are not to eat anything they find there. Once inside, Hansel, of course, eats a sweet, awakening the witch who cages them prepared to eat them. Emma Caulfield (a.k.a. Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) played the role of the blind witch so well, despite her little camera time. How we've missed her!

Luckily, through trickery and a series of quick edits, the kids somehow manage to stuff the blind witch into her oven and escape. They bring the Queen the satchel, which contains a shiny poisoned apple (obviously meant for Snow White.) Then she offers to let Hansel and Gretel live with her permanently and abandon the search for their father.

When they refuse, she banishes them to the forest. Lana Parrilla's emotional reaction to the children's rejection was so effective that despite her evil ways, I actually felt sorry for her. This is where we find out she's been keeping the father locked up the whole time and she banishes him into the vast forest as well, leaving the separated family to their own devices, with little chance of reunion. Maybe we'll see these characters again?

In Storybrooke, Emma takes a locket that belonged to the kids' father to Mr. Gold in search of the owner. Mr. Gold reveals the father purchased the locket from him. He pulls out a card with the man's name, which is later revealed to have been blank, but yet Gold knew who their father was. How did he know? What's his fascination with collecting/distributing kids? Does he remember their real lives as we've learned the Regina/Evil Queen does? I can't wait to find out and I really hope we start to see more evidence of Fairy Tale's existence. That shard from Snow White's coffin was such a tease. I'm also very curious to find out what Snow White did to the Evil Queen to fill her with so much hatred.

But the most intriguing thing to happen in this week's episode was the ending. The stranger who rode into town on a motorcycle with a mysterious box strapped to the back. He took off his helmet and revealed himself to be Eion Bailey, also known as charming medical student Jim Gordon from the guilty pleasure ballet movie, Center Stage -- I was instantly hooked.

He was so mysterious and handsome; you just know he's the replacement love interest for Emma since the Sheriff's untimely demise. Sorry Sheriff, but there's a new hot bad boy in town, and I dare say he's a better actor. Of course the clincher is that according to Henry's theory, no one ever leaves or comes to Storybrooke (except for Emma, as she's the chosen one). So what's this guy doing here? Who is he? I have no idea, but between his arrival and the promo for next week that promises a very Snow White/Charming filled episode. I'll be waiting eagerly for next Sunday night.

What did you guys think of Sunday's episode? When will the truth be reveled about Henry's father? Will Mary Margaret/Snow White remember anything about her past from Emma's baby blanket? Can this new stranger replace Sheriff Graham in the hearts of the fans?