Regina is accused of murdering one of the town's most beloved fairy… (Jack Rowand / ABC )
"Once Upon a Time" returns after a brief hiatus with "The Cricket Game" episode, and it seems as if the show's creators are determined to make Regina's road to redemption as rocky as possible.
The biggest deterrent to her growth? Well, besides her anger issues, it's her manipulative murderous mom, Cora, who has finally made her way to Storybrooke to churn up trouble for her daughter. In tow is Captain Hook, bent (so to speak) on getting revenge for his lost appendage by killing one Rumpelstiltskin. Seeing as how magic is now in Storybrooke, and Rumpelstiltskin and Regina are two of the more powerful beings in the city, Cora thinks it's best to have a plan.
Meanwhile, Prince Charming and Snow White are happy to be back together, as is the town, which throws Mary Margaret (Snow) a welcome back party at Granny's. And an invited Regina stops by with lasagna. Emma wants to give her a chance, but she's still pretty isolated. As she leaves, Emma tells her that she knows the queen is trying to change, per Jiminy/Dr. Hopper. Doctor-patient confidentiality breach? Regina thinks so, and tells Hopper so in an intimidating speech (To a prying Red Riding Hood: "Private conversation. Go take yourself for a walk.") that brought memories of the Enchanted Forest.
TIMELINE: Snow White through the years
Back in time, in that same Enchanted Forest... Snow and Charming's forces have taken down the King, and an earlier trap set by the fairty tale couple resulted in the capture of the queen. At a little roundtable powwow, Jiminy Cricket, Granny, Red and others agreed that something had to be done about Regina. Charming says to kill her -- and everyone, except Snow, seems all right with that.
Back in Storybrooke, Red sees Regina enter Hopper's place after hours. Cora -- as Regina -- kills, or does something, to Jiminy. Since Red only saw her go in for "therapy," only Pongo the Dalmatian sees what really happened. Important later.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Charming had Regina in front of a firing squad. Regina's final words are as evil as she can make them, wishing that she'd have been able to hurt more people while she was in power. Definitely a death wish. Despite pleas from her dad, she was evil up until she thought it was the end. Did she want to die? Didn't matter; Snow, with a little help from the Blue Fairy, stopped the arrows from killing Regina. Snow wants to forgiver her.
Regina is brought in to the police/sheriff's station after Emma and Red discover Hopper's body. She says that she didn't kill Jiminy and seems genuinely surprised that he's dead. Sheriff Charming and Snow don't believe her. Emma does, and she's the law, so they let her go while they try to get more evidence. But there's only one witness ...
PHOTOS: Movie princesses through the years
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Snow goes to Regina's cell and lets her have one last chance at redemption. She opens the cell door to allow her to escape. Instead, Regina tries again to kill Snow, and plunges a knife into her. But the knife was enchanted, and this was all a test. The Evil Queen failed, and with her now not being able to harm Charming and Snow, Snow White banishes the Evil Queen to live a life of solitude forever. Of course, this was all Rumpelstiltskin's plan. Now, he introduces the idea to Regina to curse the whole kingdom in order to get back at Snow White.
Back in present-day Storybrooke, Rumpelstiltskin uses a dreamcatcher to nab Pongo the Dalmatian's memories, then prods Emma to use her hidden magical powers to will the memory be shown. Emma does it (or so we're led to believe), and extracts the dog's memories of the night Regina committed murder. And, yep, it shows Regina killing Jiminy -- though they didn't finish watching the memory! Hate when that happens.
An irate Emma, Snow and Charming confront Regina, with Emma maybe feeling a little overconfident because of her supposed new-found powers. Regina still denies it, and then Emma brings Henry into it. She won't let Henry interact with her. Uh-oh. Gloves are off and Emma goes flying. She's shaken, but tells Regina that she'll never change and it will break Henry's heart. Regina teleports away.
Emma later tells Henry what's going on, and as much as it breaks Henry up to hear that his other mother killed his favorite confidant, it also hurts Regina to see her son slipping away over a lie.
Meanwhile, Cora is sitting back and loving all of this. She and Hook keep close watch over the whole thing. But ... twisty mctwist! Hopper is alive! Cora took him and killed someone else, disguising the body to look like Hopper's. Relief, except we'd like to know who was actually killed (a little) even though Cora doesn't care.