Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 9--"True North"
This is the obligatory "Hansel and Gretel" episode. Unlike Cinderella, who you will see again a handful of times in this show, Hansel and Gretel are one-off characters (unless you count Season 7....which I don't....where Alternate Gretel is dead and Alternate Hansel is a serial killer....like I said before, Season 7 isn't even like the same show, so I've decided it's all a dream of Henry's, or a story he wrote).
You get a little more about Emma's background in this ep, because we're dealing with abandoned kids here. You also find out more about just how freaking needy Regina has always been, even when she was the Evil Queen.
Onto the fun.
Storybrooke, The Present--Henry is reading a Hulk comic book in a local store, when a couple of kids approach him. Introducing themselves as Ava and Nicholas, they tell him they've seen him at school in Snow's class, and ask him to walk out with them.
On their way out of the store, they are stopped by Sneezy the dwarf, who says he saw them stealing. He pulls pilfered contraband out of HENRY's backpack. Henry knows now why they wanted him to come outside with them.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--A dude is chopping a tree. He gives his daughter a compass and tells her to go find her brother.
The girl finds her brother goofing off in the woods, and says they have to get back to their father. It is then that they call each other "Hansel" and "Gretel." They are also Ava and Nicholas from present-day Storybrooke.
They return to the tree their father was chopping, and he isn't there. Hansel and Gretel call for him, but he doesn't come. As they go running for the road to try to find him, they encounter the Evil Queen's carriage. Her Black Guards capture the siblings, while Regina pokes her head out of the carriage and demands to know what they are doing in her woods.
Storybrooke, The Present--Sneezy has called in Regina and is accusing Henry of shoplifting. Regina asks Henry if he did it. Henry says he did not.
Sneezy tells Regina to look in his backpack, which she does. It's full of candy, which Regina assures Sneezy Henry doesn't like. She gives the two kids a look that says she thinks they are dirt, and tells Sneezy it was obviously them who stole from his little pharmacy/convenience store.
Emma enters Sneezy's store, having also gotten a call from the Claritin-needing dwarf, but Regina tells her "genetics mean nothing," and that she has it handled with Henry.
Emma reminds Regina she's there because she's the sheriff.
Oh, yeah. Regina forgot Emma is now the town sheriff. She's still irritated by it.
Telling Emma to take care of those "miscreants," Regina takes Henry and leaves.
Emma quickly deduces the kids gave Sneezy a fake phone number to their parents. Gretel (Ava) tells Emma the phone is disconnected because their parents couldn't pay the bill. Emma doesn't believe them, but doesn't say so. She has this "superpower," you see, where she can tell when anyone is lying. It always works. Except when it doesn't.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Hansel and Gretel beg the Evil Queen's forgiveness, saying they didn't mean to trouble her and were just looking for their father.
Regina gets all creepy.
Regina (in a slow, sing-songy voice): "Children in the woods, lost and alone, family torn asunder."
She then orders her guards to take them.
Gretel throws something at the feet of the guards that trips them, and she and Hansel flee. Gretel is selfless and sends Hansel off first, while she follows. They don't get far before Regina teleports herself in front of them, and wraps them with magical tree roots.
She tells them it is foolish to try to escape her, but Gretel's bravery may have saved her family. If Gretel and Hansel do her a favor, Regina promises to find their father and reunite them.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma drives up to the address Gretel gave her, the two siblings in the back of her car. Gretel begs her to not come inside, because their parents would be so embarrassed they got caught shoplifting.
Emma tells them about her "superpower," and that she knows they're lying. Money problems aside, Emma demands to know if everything is okay at home.
Gretel assures her it is, and Emma lets them out and drives away.
Once Emma is gone, Hansel and Gretel sneak around the back of the house and into the storm cellar, which they take up into the house. They've been living there alone.
Emma is already in the house, and wants to know why they lied to her. Gretel tells Emma they have no parents.
Later, at Snow's apartment, Hansel and Gretel are chowing down. Snow is stunned they have no parents, as every teacher at the school knows the kids, but none had any idea they were orphans.
Emma found out their mother died a few years ago, and their father is unknown. Rather than send them into foster care, where Emma is concerned they will be mistreated (as she was), Emma wants to find their father. Snow warns her he may not even know he has kids. Emma wants to look, anyway.
At the Storybrooke Vital Records Office, Emma asks for the birth certificates of the kids. The guy in charge of the office, who appears to be no one in particular, just a random Enchanted Forest resident brought over with the curse, says the birth certificates have been recently removed.
Well, by Regina. Of course.
At the mayoral office, Regina tells Emma she has called social services on the siblings. Emma responds that she wants to find their father. Regina tells Emma there is no father, and shows her the blank "father" lines on both of their birth certificates.
She says they will go into foster care.
Emma is upset. But, Regina has more with which to torture Emma. Storybrooke has no foster care program, and all the homes in Maine, where Storybrooke is located, are full. The closest homes with openings are in Boston. Gretel will go to a home for girls and Hansel will go to one for boys.
Emma (hating Regina): "But, I promised them they wouldn't be separated."
Regina: "Well, maybe you shouldn't make promises you can't keep."
Regina is such a bitch.
Enchanted Forest, the Past--Regina leads Hansel and Gretel through the woods. As she does so, she remarks on Gretel's compass. Gretel tells her it is her father's, who gave it to her so she and Hansel could find him, and now it's broken.
Regina's interest in the compass is at an end. They are now at the house of the Blind Witch. She wants Hansel and Gretel to go inside and get a magical object in a leather pouch that the witch owns. Regina needs it to defeat a powerful enemy.
Gretel wonders why Regina doesn't just go in herself. Regina lets her know it is because the house is guarded by magic, so she cannot enter. But, the magic doesn't work on children. All they have to do is wait until after dark, sneak into the house, and get the magical object.
There is a catch, though. The house is "unique," Regina warns them. If they are to get in and out of there alive, they must not eat ANYTHING in it, no matter how much they are tempted.
It seems like no biggie. Gretel certainly thinks she's got this. She does, however, give Hansel a sideways look like she's not so sure about him.
She's got good reason. Hansel, as it turns out, is pretty dim.
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma is doing research on Hansel and Gretel's missing father, when Henry comes in with his storybook. He already figured out Ava and Nicholas are Hansel and Gretel....their situation makes their storybook personas obvious. He doesn't have any info on their father, though, except that he abandoned them.
Emma's heard that story far too often in her life. In fact, she's lived it.
Henry is sure their father is in Storybrooke, because no one comes to town or leaves. Emma points out she came. But, Henry says, Emma is special and different.
"Of course", Emma humors him.
Henry takes this opportunity of talking about fathers to ask about his. Emma doesn't especially want to, but Henry begs.
So, Emma tells a tale about having just gotten out of foster care and working at an all-night diner, when she met this guy training to be a fire fighter. They hung out a few times, and his life got better and hers got worse. She got into some trouble and went to jail, and found out she was pregnant with Henry. When she called to tell him, she found out he had been killed in a fire.
Henry thinks Emma is the Savior, but his father, she tells him, was the true hero.
Emma is such a liar, and Henry will be hella pissed at her when he meets his biological dad. But, that's a story for another season (Season Two, to be precise).
Henry asks if she has anything of his she kept to remember him by, because he would like to see something that belonged to his father. Emma did not keep anything, but Henry's question gives her an idea on how to find Hansel and Gretel's father. She leaves to go find him.
Hansel and Gretel are eating cookies at Snow's place. Emma shows them her baby blanket, which is the only thing she has from her parents. She says most foster kids held onto things that belonged to their parents. She asks them if they have anything that belonged to their father.
Gretel may, but will only hand it over if Emma promises she and Hansel can stay together. Emma promises. Gretel shows her the compass. It's the same one her father gave her in the Enchanted Forest.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Gretel sneaks into the Blind Witch's cottage, Hansel following. It is filled with candy and other sweet baked goods. Gretel is unimpressed. She wants to sneak past the sleeping witch and go right for the leather pouch, where the object Regina wants is hidden.
Gretel is all business, and does just that. All she needs Hansel to do is stay there and not touch anything. Only, while her back is turned, Hansel shows the audience that he really is quite the idiot. He grabs a brightly colored cupcake and takes a bite.
Was it really so hard to not taste anything, Hansel? You had ONE job.
Upon Hansel tasting her food, the witch wakens. The doors and windows to the cottage slam shut.
Blind Witch (sniffing after the kids): "I smell dinner."
Storybrooke, The Present--Emma enlists Rumplestiltskin to find the owner of the compass. He does own the town pawn shop, after all. As expected, Rumple has those records. The compass in question belonged to a Michael Tillman. Emma heads off to find him.
Michael is a mechanic in Storybrooke, and doesn't know he has kids. He insists his relationship with their mother was brief, and they cannot be his. Emma shows him the compass to prove they are actually his kids. That, and the timing of their births, are enough to convince him they are his.
Twins. Hansel and Gretel are apparently twins.
Michael says he can't take them in, as he can barely keep his garage open, and besides, he knows nothing about being a dad.
He walks away, as people tend to do in Storybrooke. I wonder if the lack of manners was written into the curse?
Snow and Emma talk later, and Emma admits Michael didn't want the kids, and oh, also that she lied to Henry about his biological father.
Since they are talking on the sidewalk outside, Regina is able to walk up to them and tell Emma the kids are expected in Boston that night, and Emma has to take them there.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Blah, blah, blah. The "Hansel and Gretel" story. The witch imprisons them and tries to cook them. They outsmart her (well, mostly Gretel does....Hansel is pretty useless), and toss her in the oven instead.
Gretel grabs the pouch Regina wants, and she and Hansel bail the cottage.
Through her Magic Mirror, Regina watches. After the kids leave, she tosses a fireball through the mirror, which finds its way to the witch's cottage, and lights up the oven, killing the witch.
Hansel and Gretel bring Regina what she wanted. She opens the pouch and pulls out an apple.
Regina is pleased the children did so well, as she sent so many other kids to the cottage before them. It seems none of those kids were able to resist the food there, like Hansel. Gretel is apparently the only smart kid in the entire Enchanted Forest.
Gretel wants to be reunited with their father as Regina promised. Regina points out their father abandoned them, and they deserve better. She invites the kids to live with her in her castle. She promises them their own rooms, personal valets, carriages, and basically all their dreams coming true.
Regina is really desperate for attention and adulation.
Hansel is into it, because he is stupid and cannot tell Regina is evil. But Gretel knows what's up. She refuses to believe their father abandoned them, and says they would never live with someone as terrible as Regina.
Gretel's rejection annoys Regina, and she teleports the kids away.
Storybrooke, The Present--Left with no choice, Emma drives Hansel and Gretel away in the town police car. Regina and Henry are watching. Henry pulls away from Regina when she tries to take him home, and warns Emma that the kids cannot leave town. Bad things always happen to people who try to leave town.
Emma: "Something bad has already happened."
She drives away, but the police car engine stalls just as she reaches the town line. Emma is incredulous.
Enchanted Forest, The Past--Regina watches Snow through her Magic Mirror. Snow has some new friends.
Regina (disgusted): "Now she's cavorting with dwarves?"
A guard comes in to tell her the prisoner she requested is there. It's Hansel and Gretel's father. Regina was the one who kidnapped him from the woods in the first place. As if we had any doubt.
Regina asks him why his children refused to live with her, when she offered them everything.
The Kids' Dad: "We're family. Family always finds one another." (*Drink)
He demands to be reunited with his children. She teleports him away to the same place she sent Hansel and Gretel....the Infinite Forest. It's a vast and essentially endless place, where it's easy to end up walking in circles forever, even if you think you're going straight, to where it must eventually end.
As Hansel and Gretel's father vanishes, Regina tells him he and his kids can be together again, IF they can find each other in the forest.
Going by the aerial shot of the forest that appears on screen, it really doesn't look like they can.
Storybrooke, The Present--Hansel and Gretel's father is the one who brings the repair truck Emma called. Once he sees the kids, he decides he will take them, after all. They get in the truck with him, and they all go home together.
Another happy ending, courtesy of Emma.
Later, at Snow's apartment, Emma gives Snow the good news. Snow is thrilled for the kids.
Emma wonders what it would be like, to find her parents. Snow says that maybe she will find out one day.
Emma is skeptical. She says if her parents wanted to know her, they wouldn't make it so hard for her to find them, and maybe she should stop looking. Snow believes Emma should never stop looking, because there might be special circumstances as to why her parents are hard to find.
Emma says whatever it is, it would have to be even crazier than Henry's theory that her parents put her through a magical wardrobe to save her from a curse.
Snow (laughing): "Who does he think they are?"
Emma spills that Henry thinks Snow is Emma's mother. Snow is amazed.
Snow (not remembering she IS Snow White, and thinking she is Mary Margaret Blanchard): "Snow White has a kid?"
She muses on how she thinks she would remember if she had a kid. Then, she jokes that Emma does have her chin.
There's also the issue of Snow and Emma being the same age. But, that's because Snow was frozen in time for nearly three decades in the curse, while Emma was not. They don't know that yet, though.
Emma has some more work to do at the police station, but Snow says she will keep some leftovers warm for her.
After Emma leaves, Snow finds Emma's baby blanket, and seems fascinated by it. Slowly, she picks it up and smells it. Then, realizing it's weird for her to do that, she puts it down and moves away from it.
Emma is outside in her patrol car looking at an old newspaper clipping. The headline talks about a seven year old boy who found an abandoned newborn on the side of the road. That newborn was Emma.
Henry approaches, even though it's after dark. Regina must not pay too much attention to him, because he sneaks out a lot, and with ease.
He brings her a slice of pumpkin pie, because she told him his father used to always complain the diner she worked at never had pumpkin pie.
Emma (seeming like she might be about to tell him the truth): "Henry, about your father...."
Emma (chickening out): "I'm glad I told you."
Henry: "Me, too."
Henry gives her a hug.
Emma feels guilty for lying, but believes it is what is best for Henry.
Henry says it's great what she did for Hansel and Gretel, and that things really ARE changing in Storybrooke.
That's not the half of it. Remember how Henry said no one ever came to town or left, except Emma (and him, and Regina, when she adopted him)? Well, right at that moment, a motorcycle comes riding into town. The rider gets off, takes off his helmet, and approaches Emma and Henry.
It's a newcomer.
A tall, blue-eyed man with some scruff on his face.
Stranger: "Is this Storybrooke?"
Emma and Henry confirm it is. Henry asks the stranger if he is staying.
He is. Emma directs him to Granny's. She mentions she didn't get his name, and he says it's because he didn't give it.
After he drives away, Emma turns to Henry.
Emma: "I thought you said people don't come to Storybrooke."
Henry (looking astounded): "They don't."
Next: Season 1, Episode 10--"7:15 am"
*All photos are Creative Commons