I guess nothing really ends happily ever after, at least not in Storybrooke. Before ‘Once Upon a Time‘ went on hiatus, the Charming family had reunited with Mary Margaret/Snow and Emma returning from the post-curse Enchanted Forest through a portal. Close behind them, however, was Cora and Hook. What happens to the inhabitants of Storybrooke now? Read on with this recap of last night’s episode!

This episode picks up right where we left off with Hook and Cora docking the ship. Hook is ready to rid himself of the evil Queen Mother but she reminds him that if she has dark magic working on this side of the portal, so will Rumplestiltskin. Realizing he is no match to this “Crocodile” without her, he acquiesces to them working together as they head off into Storybrooke.

Mary Margaret and David, however, are enjoying their reunion in bed, but as things begin to get hot and steamy, in come their child and grandchild! Yes, it’s Emma and Henry coming to make tacos. (Haven’t they heard of putting a sock around the doorknob as a warning?) David kids about still being able to provide some traumatic childhood memories for Emma this late in her life.

A Welcome Home party is being held for Emma and Mary Margaret but just as the celebrations are about to begin, Regina comes in. The rest of the party goers are none too happy about her presence, including David and Mary Margaret, but Emma explains that she invited her because they owe her. It was Regina who helped them through the portal. She plays the Henry card and tells her parents that if Henry believes she’s trying to change then they should give her a chance.

But alas, no one else will even talk to her and it becomes apparent to Regina that she is the scourge of the town. As she leaves the party, Emma runs after her to see if she’ll stay. Regina knows she’s not welcomed and asks Emma if it was possible that she could see Henry more and even spend the night. Emma’s not too keen response to that request prompted Regina to become angry and she snarkingly comments on how good of a mother could Emma be since she she’s only been his mom for like all of 5 minutes. After all, David took care of him while she was stuck in the Enchanted Forest and before that it was Regina who took care of him when Emma gave him up for adoption. (Ouch! Care to stick that knife in deeper Regina?) Regina immediately apologizes after her tirade as being nice obviously doesn’t come easy for the once Evil Queen Mayor.

The next morning Regina catches Archie on the pier and confronts him about his conversation with Emma about their sessions together. He assures her that no confidentialities were given and he just wanted to let Emma know how committed Regina was in changing. Regina tells Archie that he’s lucky that she has changed before angrily walking away.

Later that night in Storybrooke, Ruby sees Regina visit Archie’s office. She tells Archie she needs to talk to him. Pongo senses something wrong and begins to bark but Archie pays no mind. He allows Regina to enter and as he gets her file. She surprises him, freezes the dog so he is unable to bark and promptly kills Archie. (Noooooo!!! Not Jiminy Cricket!!! We now pause for a short moment of mourning…)

Once the deed is done, Regina walks out of the building and as she turns the corner, a magic cloud engulfs her and we see that it was really Cora who did the deed. (Okay, that was a bit of a “duh” moment right there.)

The next morning as Emma and Henry are leaving Granny’s diner, Pongo comes up and starts barking. (What is that Pongo? Timmy is stuck in the well? Oops! Sorry… wrong show. That was ‘Lassie.’) Emma looks around and doesn’t see Archie. Just then, Ruby runs out and tells them something is wrong. Emma asks her how she knows then realizes that Ruby speaks dog (you know, since her being a wolf and all).

They follow Pongo to Archie’s office where they find his body.

Regina is in interrogation where she is questioned by David and Emma. They accuse her of murder of which she denies doing. Emma believes her saying that her response was genuine when they told her about Archie’s death. She lets Regina leave and sets out to find the truth.

Emma, Mary Margaret and David go through Archie’s office for clues which seem to point to Regina. Emma tells them that this is too easy. They begin to run down who would want to frame the former Mayor and would resort to murder to do so… Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin!

They head to Mr. Gold’s pawn shop where he was just about to share a lovely lunch with Belle. With guns blazing, Emma accuses Gold of the murder but he denies even being with Archie… and he could prove it. They bring in Pongo and Gold tells them that the dog’s memories can be extracted by magic but it will be Emma who will do the hocus-pocusing.

Gold takes out a dream catcher and waves it over Pongo’s head. He then tells Emma to will the dream catcher to show her what happened. As she concentrates, the dream catcher shows what Pongo saw that night – “Regina” killing Archie. Emma tells her parents they were right all along. Now Emma is angry and sets to arrest Regina.

The family confronts Regina at her mansion. Emma again uses the Henry card (my, how that card seems to come handy for her!) and tells the once evil Queen that she will tell him what she did to Archie and that will break his trust in her. She also tells Regina that she will never see the boy again. And top it all off,  they have Mother Superior throw fairy dust on her to bind her powers.

But Regina is too swift and dodges the dust. She angrily uses her magic to push Emma away but Emma gloatingly tells her that there is no way Henry will believe her now after what she’s done to Emma. Emma tells Regina they all know how she is and who she will always be. Defeated, Regina disappears in a puff of purple haze.

Later that day, Emma tells Henry what has happened to his friend as Regina looks on at a distance in tears knowing that no one, especially Henry, will believe her innocence.

Cora heads to the docks where Hook awaits. She tells him that Regina is now where she wants her to be – in a place where she has lost everything. Hook congratulates her but what about him? She promised to help him with Rumplestiltskin. Oh ye of little faith, Hook, as Cora had a nice little present for him in the hold of his ship.

As she leads him to the area, she tells him her “gift” knows all the secrets of Storybrooke and will be able to tell them of Rumplestiltskin’s weaknesses. As the camera pans down we see it’s Archie! He’s alive! Cora, very pleased with herself, tells Hook, “It may take some work, but this cricket will chirp.”

What a wonderful way to start the second half of the season! While the tale of the “character with a past being accused of committing a crime they didn’t commit” has been done before (see “Child of the Moon”), the twist at the end made it worthwhile! Unfortunately, there was parts in-between that was a little hard to get through.

For example, when Ruby knew that Pongo was telling them something was wrong, they couldn’t they have her ask him who did the crime? I guess her fluency in dog is a bit rough (pa rum pump – couldn’t resist folks!) And the fact that Emma now has magic? How convenient!

The backstory in Fairy Tale land for this episode was a showing of how the evil Queen cannot change and how her hatred toward Snow just engulfs her whole being. No matter how many chances she’s given, her revenge continues to drive her on the dark path.

Lana Parilla did a very nice job here in her portrayal of Regina’s obvious difficulty in changing. Just like alcoholism, dark magic seems to be very addictive in ‘Once Upon a Time’ and her obvious struggle with it was tangible in this episode.

Next week should be a bit more exciting as Hook finally gets a chance to come face to face with this Crocodile and we find that the residents of Storybrooke may not be trapped in their town after all.

So what did you think of last night’s episode? Will Regina turn to the dark side once again? If Emma has magic does that mean Henry will too? What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below.