ONCE UPON A TIME Recap & Review: “Eloise Gardener” & “Pretty in Blue”

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Some mysteries are solved as new ones are introduced in ONCE UPON A TIME’s special two-hour event.

Whenever we have the joy of not one but two episodes of Once Upon a Timethings are bound to get interesting, and Friday’s two episodes are no exception. The first hour, entitled “Eloise Gardener,” is largely Hook/Rogers-centric, as we meet his baby mama and learn the true identity of the girl for whom he’s been searching. The second hour, entitled “Pretty in Blue,” is largely Ella/Jacinda-centric, as we meet her baby daddy and learn more about her mother.

Meet Mrs. Hook… Sort Of

The flashbacks in “Eloise Gardener” take place many years ago in the Wish Realm. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) is with the crew of the Jolly Roger, ready to set out for revenge against the Dark One, when the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) shows up. She tells Hook about a witch in a tower who can give him the magic he needs to take down an immortal. Hook travels to the tower, where he finds a beautiful girl with extremely long hair. She tells him about the witch who imprisoned her there, and how to find the witch’s garden, which contains a golden flower that can break the curse and allow her to go free.

Don’t get too excited about a Rapunzel/Hook romance, however. Hook and Smee travel to the garden, fight off a giant garden gnome, and locate the golden flower. Hook returns to the tower with it, surprising both Rapunzel and himself. They share a magical night together – literally. He wakes up to find a baby in the tower with them. Rapunzel transforms into the Witch, Gothel (Emma Booth), before his eyes and explains that when she tried to trap Rapunzel in the tower, Rapunzel managed to turn the tables and trap her instead. She needed someone of her own bloodline to leave in the tower in her place; hence, the baby, whose birthing process was sped up by the flower. She leaves a petal for Hook to use against the Dark One before escaping the tower.

Hook discovers that he can’t leave the baby alone. He abandons his quest for revenge, gives the Jolly Roger to Smee, and returns to the tower, where he sings his daughter a lullaby and gives her his mother’s name: Alice.

Eloise Gardener Found… Sort Of

The first scene in Hyperion Heights sees Detectives Rogers and Weaver (Robert Carlyle) at the house where Rogers found a man dead. Weavers tells him that he’ll handle the case, but Rogers refuses, accusing him of working for Victoria Belfrey (Gabrielle Anwar) and saying that he won’t let anyone stop him from finding Eloise Gardener. Rogers teams up with Henry (Andrew J. West), and they track down Tilly (Rose Reynolds) to ask for her help. Knowing as we now do that Tilly/Alice is Rogers’ daughter, this is heartbreakingly ironic.

After a brief look through Eloise’s notebook, Tilly says that she thinks the girl was a runaway. She agrees to talk to some people on the street and see if she can learn anything new. Meanwhile, Weaver tells Victoria that Rogers is getting close to solving the Eloise Gardener case. She orders him to take care of it. She has enough problems to deal with; she’s just discovered that her daughter Ivy is working with the Witch, whom we now know to be Gothel.

As Tilly talks with her sources, Henry asks Rogers why Eloise matters so much to him. Rogers explains that he was supposed to be patrolling her neighborhood that night, but he went drinking instead. He blames himself for her disappearance. Soon, Tilly returns with a watercolor painting that appears to be from Eloise’s notebook. She says that Eloise died in a car accident years ago, but because she wasn’t going by her real name, her body couldn’t be identified.

Rogers is devastated. He sits out on a bench late into the night, holding a bottle but not drinking from it. When a tear falls onto the painting, he notices that the colors run. He takes the page to Weaver and informs him that the other pages of the notebook were so old that the ink had faded, making it impossible for the colors to run. He accuses Weaver of using Tilly to give him a fake. Weaver says that he was put up to it by Victoria, but he did it to protect Rogers from himself. He tells Rogers that Eloise Gardener is not the person he’s seeking.

Rogers goes to confront Victoria in her office, but is stopped by Ivy, who gives him the tracking information for her mother’s car. He finds Victoria in the basement of a building; after cuffing her to a post, he finds Eloise Gardener – or should we say, Gothel the witch. Eloise is taken away in an ambulance after Rogers expresses his disappointment in Tilly, and Victoria is taken away in the back of a police car after Ivy explains that this was all her doing.

Meet Mr. Cinderella… Sort Of

With Victoria in jail, it seems logical that Lucy (Alison Fernandez) would go back to Jacinda… right? Wrong. At the end of “Eloise Gardener,” Lucy is taken to a group home until her case can be reviewed. Jacinda is desperate to get her back, but she isn’t sure how to do it, since she can’t afford a lawyer. At the beginning of “Pretty in Blue,” Sabine (Mekia Cox) suggests that Jacinda reach out to a lawyer they both know: Lucy’s father, Nick.

Nick shows up at Roni’s, and before Henry is introduced, they bond over music. When Jacinda tells Henry who Nick is, Henry’s face just falls. Poor guy, he’s jealous! Jacinda gives Nick her custody paperwork, and they meet up at a fancy restaurant later that night to discuss Lucy’s case. He asks her to find one item that was missing from her file: the court order granting custody to Victoria.

Meanwhile, Henry visits Lucy at her group home and brings her a copy of his book. They talk about Nick; Lucy explains that it’s a classic Kathryn Nolan story. (In case you need a refresher, Kathryn Nolan was married to David Nolan, AKA Prince Charming, in cursed Storybrooke. This false marriage caused a rift between Charming and Mary Margaret, AKA Snow White.) It’s pretty clear to us as viewers, and to Lucy as the season’s designated Truest Believer, that Nick isn’t Lucy’s father at all – but it’s going to take a lot more to convince Henry of that.

Henry tries to work out his jealousy over Nick by fixing up Jacinda and Sabine’s food truck. This has mixed results: he finally gets the engine running just in time for Jacinda to walk in with Nick. Henry leaves, and Jacinda follows, trying to assure him that she doesn’t still have feelings for Nick. She tells him something she’s never told anyone: she wasn’t forced to give up Lucy to her stepmother. She did it voluntarily, because Victoria convinced her that she wouldn’t win if she fought it. Henry encourages her to tell this to Nick, because he’ll be able to help.

It turns out that Nick was able to help: Jacinda gets Lucy back in the most heartwarming scene of the episode. It’s only slightly soured by Jacinda introducing Lucy to Nick as her father.

Ella’s Mother Found… Sort Of

In “Another Realm,” Ella and Henry are sparring. Naturally, this almost leads to a kiss before Ella pulls away, saying, “It’s complicated.”

Just then, Alice appears. Henry is suspicious at first, but Alice quickly convinces them to take her to her father, Hook. Their joyful reunion is cut short; although Alice claims that she’s been cured, when father and daughter hug, Hook’s heart glows green through his leather jacket and Alice runs off in a panic. Regina stays behind to take care of Hook while Ella and Henry follow Alice through a portal to Wonderland.

Before they get too far, the pair get caught in a “white rabbit trap” – a net just like the one Charming caught Snow in. The irony is not lost on Henry. After Ella uses Henry’s sword to free them, Henry tells her about his grandparents and how they always found each other. Ella is cynical, and not afraid to show it.

You ever think you’re a bit naïve, Henry? I know that where you come from, true love always wins, but mine is a world of broken promises where people never find each other.

This cynicism is quickly explained when Ella finds the Infinite Maze. She tells Henry about her parents: her mother left her stepfather with no explanation, and her stepfather followed her all the way to Wonderland and the Infinite Maze, using the magical lockets they exchanged at their wedding. But in the middle of the maze, her stepfather’s locket stopped working, because her mother stopped loving him. Ella wants answers, and so she uses a shrinking potion and enters the maze herself.

Before long, Ella tracks down Alice at a tea party for one. After assuring Alice that her father will be fine, Ella notices her mother’s locket on the table. Alice explains that she knew Ella’s mother, Cecelia. One day in the maze, Alice and Cecelia were attacked by the Jabberwocky. Alice managed to kill it, but Cecelia didn’t survive. Ella is still cynical, saying that she won’t shed tears for someone who abandoned her family. Alice tells Ella that her mother didn’t abandon them – she had to leave, because her heart had been poisoned. If her mother hadn’t left, Ella and her father would have been hurt or even killed. She left them out of love.

Alice then tells Ella that she had thought her father’s poisoned heart was cured by a pretty sorcerous named Drizella. Ella quickly realizes that this whole trip to Wonderland was a trap. Using the magical locket, she races to Henry’s rescue; he had been looking for her and found Drizella instead. She was about to poison his heart when Ella punched her in the face and Alice dropped a mirror on her head, forcing her back to Another Realm. And finally, finally, finally, Henry and Ella share a kiss.

A few additional notes:

  • Ivy reminds Roni of her job: keeping Henry and Jacinda apart. Roni does this halfheartedly, pointing out to Jacinda that a new, unstable relationship wouldn’t look good to a social worker.
  • Henry interviews Ivy about her mother’s role in the kidnapping of Eloise Gardener; their friendship still appears to be going strong. Roni isn’t at all halfhearted about warning Ivy to stay away from Henry. Someday soon, let’s hope we see Roni use that baseball bat.
  • Best quote of either episode comes from Ivy. “Oh, that’s cute. You think I’m going to villain monologue for you? Please.”
  • What on earth is Weaver’s game here? He tries to warn Rogers away from the Gardener case for his own good, then refuses to acknowledge that he’s awake when Roni confronts him.
  • The second episode holds some sweet Rogers/Tilly and Hook/Alice moments. Rogers overcomes his disappointment with Tilly enough to gift her a chess board and offer to play with her, while Alice gives her father a white knight, assuring him that she will find a way to cure his poisoned heart.
  • Who could the mysterious person in San Francisco be?
  • What was on the mixtape that Jacinda made for Henry? This isn’t important to the plot, it’s just bound to be really cute.
  • Gothel and Ivy are working together to bring Anastasia back from the dead, but it turns out Victoria is smarter than Ivy thought. Oh, you want to bring your sister back and steal her magic? You’ll have to find her first.

What did you think of “Eloise Gardener”/”Pretty in Blue”? Which mystery do you think will be solved next? Let us know what you think!

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About Author

Mary loves two things the most: her foster daughter and her nephew. She’ll happily show you 500 pictures of each. An Iowa girl at heart, Mary currently works at a church in Oklahoma. When she’s not teaching kids about Jesus or helping her daughter with homework, she spends her time watching her favorite shows and reading fantasy novels.

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