Here’s the thing about Regina; she is a very tragic character. Cora’s constant manipulation has warped her, from the outside in.
However, it’s impossible to sympathize with Regina because she never makes the right choice. And if she does, she makes the wrong choice in short order, because it seems, to her, the quickest path to retribution and revenge. Nowhere is this more evident than in “The Cricket Game.”
The episode opens on Cora and Hook at the harbor next to Hook’s oh, so inconspicuous pirate ship. Hook wants to find Rumplestiltskin and kill him, immediately. Cora turns the ship invisible and a fisherman into a fish, reminding Hook that there is magic in Storybrooke. It’d be death for Hook if he confronted Rumplestiltskin, now. Besides, Cora has more important plans; she wants to destroy her daughter.
After an awkward family moment with the Charmings, it’s flashback time! Regina learns that Snow and Charming have taken the kingdom from King George. Instead of running, Regina goes after Snow. She finds her alone on Queen’s Road.
She immediately tries to kill Snow, when, surprise! Charming and others appear out of thin air. It’s a trap and Regina is taken to the tower.
Back in Storybrooke, everyone is having a welcome home party for Snow and Emma. Regina shows up with lasagna. Emma has invited her. When Regina tries to leave, Emma follows, telling her that Archie let slip the truth about her anti-magic therapy sessions. Emma is thankful, but not enough to allow Henry stay the night with Regina. Regina swallows her desperation.
Cora and Hook watch from the rooftops.
“Well, is she broken?” asks Hook.
“Not yet,” says Cora.
The next day, Regina finds Archie and Pongo at the docks. She is, quite rightly, furious at Archie for breaking her confidence. Red overhears the argument.
It’s flashback time, again! The members of Snow and Charming’s round table are discussing Regina’s fate. “The Queen will never change!” says Jiminy. Charming and the others agree. It is best for everyone if Regina is executed. Snow has her misgivings.
This is Snow’s major character flaw; she tries so desperately to see the good in everyone, she sacrifices her safety and the safety of those around her.
In Storybrooke, Red sees Regina walking into Archie’s office. Archie is surprised to see Regina and tries, again, to apologize. Pongo knows something is up but before he can run to Archie’s defense, Regina freezes him and sucks the life out of Archie.
As Regina leaves, the disguise drops. It’s Cora.
Pongo runs to the diner and alerts Emma and Red. They follow and find Archie dead on his office floor. Red tells Emma all she witnessed between Archie and Regina the day before.
Flashback. Regina’s father has come to visit her in the tower. He asks for forgiveness and says that she could save herself if she, too, asked for forgiveness. She seems resigned to her fate.
In Storybrooke, Emma and Charming have Regina at the police station. They tell her that Archie is dead and Regina is shocked.
Flashback to the execution. Regina stands in front of Snow and Charming. Rumplestiltskin is in the crowd. As her last words, Regina wants everyone to know she feels regret, regret that she was not able to kill Snow White. Clinging to hatred and vengeance to the end is Regina.
And yet! When the arrows are loosed, Snow calls them off. This is what I mean. Regina has been trying to kill her for, like, ten years. Her last words were, “[I] regret I was not able to kill Snow White,” and still, Snow is convinced of her possible redemption.
Like mother, like daughter. Back at the police station, Emma is convinced Regina did not kill Archie and lets her go.
Flashback. “My, my, aren’t we trouble, dearie?” Whaddaya know? It’s Rumplestiltskin and he has the perfect way for Snow test Regina. For a price.
People just keep striking deals with the Dark One, perfectly aware that his price will screw them over, eventually. So okay, here goes Snow, choosing to strike a deal with the Dark One rather than execute the woman who keeps trying to kill her.
Back at Archie’s office, Emma, Snow, and Charming are looking for evidence. There is a lot of evidence. They are quick enough to realize that it’s a set-up. They assume Gold is the culprit.
Gold, however, is quick to point out that there was a witness to the murder who can prove it wasn’t him; Pongo. He says that Emma can use her magic to read Pongo’s memories, after he pulls them into a dreamcatcher.
That’s what I like about Gold, always thinking outside the box. Well that, and his raw animal magnetism.
With remarkable ease for someone who just discovered her magical powers, Emma reads Pongo’s memories. Sure enough, there’s Regina, draining the life out of Archie. Emma rushes out of Gold’s, to “get Regina.”
Flashback to Regina in the tower. Snow is there and says she knows Regina wasn’t always evil. She says, “All you need is someone to let you out.”
“Just like that?’ Regina says.
Yup. Snow opens the door but before you can blink, Regina has her hand around Snow’s neck and a knife in her side. Here’s Regina, making the wrong choice.
This was the test and Regina has failed. Snow is unharmed. Thanks to Rumplestiltskin’s newest spell, Regina cannot physically harm Snow or Charming. Snow tells Regina she’s been banished. And then, Snow threatens to kill Regina if she hurts anyone in the kingdom.
Hold up. Instead of executing this homicidal queen with dark magical powers, Snow banishes her and then reminds her she is still capable of harming others. Smart.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma accuses Regina of killing Archie. She tells her not to come near Henry. Regina is enraged. Suddenly, Cora is there, throwing balls of magic to Regina. With a smile for her mother, Regina disappears in a cloud of dark smoke.
Flashback to Regina’s castle. Rumple is there; he tells Regina that it is Snow and Charming’s wedding day. Regina shrugs it off, not having any way to kill Snow. Rumple tells her, well, no, not in this land…
And we’re back at the Storybrooke docks with Cora and Hook. Hook wants to know if he can kill Rumplestiltskin, now. No, but Cora has a gift for him in the ship’s hold.
It’s Archie! You know, the guy in town who knows everyone’s secrets. Who did Cora kill? Hook wonders
“How would I know? I just got here.” Which is the perfect villain response.
Cora and Hook look down at poor Archie. “This cricket will chirp,” she says.
Next week’s bumper promo shows that Hook finally gets his chance at Rumplestiltskin. Horray! I’ll get play “Who’s The Hotter Villain”!