'Once Upon a Time'

Mulan needs to stop chopping plants and start lopping off heads with that sword. (ABC / November 26, 2012)

After a two-week break, our favorite fairytale drama is back and luckily things have changed.

Aside from the premiere, "Into the Deep" has been the only episode this season to not have character flashbacks. This was great in terms of plot momentum and I hope it continues because it will make my recaps less complicated to write.

The Walking Dead

Remember that giant beanstalk where Emma left Captain Hook to rot? We find out Hook made it out alive, except Cora is not happy with him. She doesn't have time for Hook's games and accuses him of betrayal, saying that she'll have to complete her journey to Storybrooke alone. Hook doesn't want to be left behind and tries to seduce Cora. Who wouldn't? 

Cora disappears into her signature purple haze and returns to the outskirts of fairyland, where she proceeds to revive all of the dead soldiers she killed by blowing on one of her many hearts. Even in fairyland, zombies are the new fad. Except these zombies looked like they could carry on a conversation. As usual, "Once" decides to play it safe.

Snow reveals to Emma, Mulan and Aurora that she has been to a room in the Henry/Aurora dream when she was under her sleeping curse. This proves that both Henry and Aurora are indeed under the same sleeping curse. Aurora meets with Henry for a second time in the room of fire where she tells him about Cora's plan. When Henry wakes up he tells Regina, who is not ready to see mommy dearest. 

At the diner, Granny serves Rumpel and Belle burgers and says she charges extra for the pickles. I'm sure Granny makes a fortune ripping off her customers at the only diner in town.

Regina walks in and things get awkward. Granny says that the diner is now closed even though people are still eating (rude) while Regina informs Rumpel of Cora's intentions. While they differ on almost everything, they both agree that Cora in Storybrooke wouldn't be good for anyone. 

In Fairyland, Emma and Snow insist Aurora go back to sleep and she does so in about five seconds. How does she go to sleep on command? This isn't explained but I'd like to know for my own needs. Mulan is the only one concerned about Aurora's personal safety, and advises her to not go back to sleep because of the burns on her arm.

In Storybrooke, Rumpel helps Henry fall asleep by telling him a freaky story and also telling him about the magic ink that is in his old prison cell. Henry must tell Aurora about the ink so she can tell Emma about it, because apparently this is the only way to defeat Cora. These guys are going to get so good at playing "telephone."

This time, the dream turns out to be a fail. Aurora doesn't hear anything Henry says and then she gets sucked out of her dream because ZOMBIES. The revived warriors attack Emma and the gang, they capture Aurora and take her to Cora.

Cora gives her some stew and asks about the compass. Aurora isn't willing to give up her newfound friends and throws the stew on her dress and in response, Cora knocks her out. Cora continues to be taking the spotlight as the delightful villain this season. Sorry, Regina.

Sleeping Charming

Cora relays a message to a crow to give to Emma and it says that the group must return the compass by 7 or Aurora will die. Mulan wants to give the compass back, but of course Snow and Emma have another plan.

Snow, having already had experience with a sleeping curse, decides she will be put to sleep in order to communicate with Henry. Meanwhile, Henry's burns prompt Charming to volunteer to be put under a sleeping curse. Somehow he knows that Snow will be in the dream as well, because fate and true love and blah, blah, blah. 

I've noticed that "Once" likes to make up rules as the it goes along. Apparently there are numerous ways to be put under a sleeping curse which is kind of annoying. Why can't there just be one? It would make things a lot more simple. Snow succumbs to the curse by sniffing sleep powder and Charming gets it by pricking his finger. 

Charming steps into his dream and now it looks like we are in the movie "Insidious." It's pitch black and he is surrounded by mirrors. I was half-expecting to see some ghosts and demons pop out. By using Henry's pendant, Charming falls through the ceiling to the room of fire, where Snow is waiting for him. Ok, we get it. As Regina said: "If there's one thing I know about your grandparents, they always find each other."

I've never been a huge fan of the Charming/Snow relationship on this show, but I do think it's interesting that Charming is now in the same position as Snow once was. In order for him to wake up, he will need true love's kiss. If Snow never makes it back, at least Charming can catch up on his sleep he never seems to get. 

Fairy dustings

Hook is getting good at playing both sides. He frees Aurora and tells her to tell Emma that his deal still stands. However, he obtained Aurora's heart and doesn't hesitate to give it to Cora. With Cora in possession of Aurora's heart, Emma and Co. are pretty much no more or less screwed than they were before.

I want to see Mulan be badass. Enough of the chopping away at plants; I want to see the girl put that samurai sword to use by chopping off a head of something. 

Regina and Henry bond while she makes magic using chemistry instruments, and Henry doesn't find this weird at all. If Henry wasn't already a messed up kid before, he's definitely not going to be the most popular kid in school now. 

Snow can speak crow. I'll pretend I didn't see that part and hope it doesn't happen again. 

"Condiments are this world's most powerful magic." - Rumpelstiltskin