What Happened- In the Enchanted Forest, we meet Jefferson, a hatter who can make magical hats that transport people to another location. He has stopped making these special hats and spends all his energy on his adorable daughter, Grace. Queen Regina convinces Jefferson to come out of retirement for one more hat. She does this through trickery and manipulation, obviously, because she’s the worst. Wanting to provide for Grace, Jefferson takes the supposedly high-paying job.
Regina wants to go Wonderland to steal something from the Queen of Hearts. Jefferson makes a hat that takes them to a room between worlds. The room is full of colorful doorways. Jefferson points out the one that is actually a looking glass and tells Regina that since two people are entering through it, only two can leave. Regina and Jefferson hurry to the Queen of Hearts’ castle, where Regina finds and rescues her father. Jefferson is upset that Regina intended to leave him in Wonderland. Regina doesn’t care and goes through the looking glass with her father.
Jefferson is captured by the Queen of Hearts’ men. Back at her castle, he is beheaded. He survives this and continues talking. He agrees to make a hat for this new queen if she will sew his head back onto his body. This is done, and Jefferson spends what looks like the next several years (or at least months) making hats, none of which are magical enough to take him back to the Enchanted Forest. In this state of limbo away from his daughter, Jefferson loses his sanity and becomes the Mad Hatter.
In Storybrooke, Emma goes looking for Mary to find her before her arraignment. Emma meets Jefferson in the forest, and he invites her home for a cup of tea. The tea is drugged and Emma is captured. Emma is able to untie herself and finds Mary also being held captive. Jefferson finds them both trying to escape and recaptures them. Jefferson tells Emma why he wants her around. Jefferson remembers everything and knows Emma is special. He believes that Emma can make him a magic hat to take him and his daughter away from this world.
In Storybrooke, Grace has new parents and goes to school with Henry. Her name in this world is Paige. Jefferson can only watch Paige through his window, missing her. He does not want to ruin his daughter’s reality by telling her the truth. Jefferson sits Emma down to make a hat. Emma thinks this guy is crazy, but she plays along. Emma tells Jefferson that Mary is her real mother. It is said with enough emotion that we almost believe Emma is starting to buy into Henry’s stories. But at her first opportunity, Emma hits Jefferson over the head and runs into the other room to get Mary.
Jefferson wakes up and follows. The girls fight Jefferson and Mary kicks him out a window. They look down onto the lawn and see nothing but a hat and broken glass. Emma tells Mary that she can run, but that she knows from experience that spending a life running is miserable. Emma calls Mary her “family.” Whaaaa? Is she actually starting to suspect the truth? Emma quickly changes the word to “friend,” but she finds Paige and Jefferson’s pictures in Henry’s book and then asks Henry if she can borrow it. Mary decides to go back to her cell. At the end of the episode, we learn that Mr. Gold planted the key in Mary’s cell on Regina’s instructions.
Comments- The room between worlds reminded us of C.S. Lewis’s forest between worlds in The Magician’s Nephew. In that book, there were no doors, but there were pools that you could jump into in order to be transported to different worlds. We love the idea of using multiple fairytale worlds in this show! That’s just what Once Upon a Time needs: parallel universes. This means anything can happen and anyone can appear on the show.
Jefferson getting beheaded was totally morbid and awesome. His Enchanted Forest story was sad, and it doesn’t look like he will ever get his sanity back. Perhaps he will attain some relationship with Grace? We liked how unsettling and weird this episode was. It really grasped the tone of Alice and Wonderland, which is the creepiest thing ever, if you think about it.
Just because Gold is working for Regina doesn’t mean he is working against Emma. He likely has his own goals. He is double crossing one or both of them, and we can’t wait to see his eventual plan. What is it that Gold wants? Ugh, we love him more every week. Roger Daltrey, lead singer of one of Ern’s favorite bands, The Who, guest starred as the voice of the caterpillar. He asks, “Who are you?” which made us chuckle.
This episode was mature, intense, creepy, macabre, action-packed, and fun. It opened up more world and plot possibilities and made us even more interested in Gold, which we didn’t think was possible. The show has remained consistently good for weeks now and seems to have found its footing.
Episode grade: A