Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (The Stable Boy)

Really, Regina?  THAT’S why you had it out for Snow White this whole time?  Okay sure, it was pretty boneheaded of her to go blabbing about you and Daniel to Cora, particularly after you warned her about your psychotic mother.  I won’t deny that.   But… shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be angrier at the woman who manipulated a ten-year-old girl’s feelings about losing a mother?  You know, the woman who actually killed the guy you loved?  You knew perfectly well how your mother was coco for cocoa puffs.  You’ve known that for what must have been your whole life.   (Seriously, this woman makes the stereotypical overcritical soccer mom look good.)  But Snow didn’t know what Cora really was.  How could she?  I mean, the cumulative amount of time they’d spent together at this point was, what, five minutes?  Put credit where credit is due, lady!  Yes, I understand you’re upset and heartbroken about losing Daniel, and you have every right to be.  But this happened when Snow was 10.  Seeing as she’s now an adult, sometime has passed.  Add the 28 years the curse has been in effect to that, and you get, what, 48 years, give or take?  You’d think that at some point during that time, your anger would have lessened just slightly enough for you to get some perspective.  But then again, what do I know?  Anyway, it was beautifully tragic to see Regina’s interactions with the young Snow White, and how they clearly could have been friends if circumstances hadn’t gotten in the way and messed it all up.  (How ironic was it that it was Regina of all people who first educated Snow about true love?)

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, August steps forward to help Emma locate evidence that proves Mary Margret’s innocence.  (Here, we also get our first clue that something is wrong with August when his leg starts to bother him.)  With Henry acting as a lookout, the pair sneak into Regina’s garage and find a broken shovel that matches a shovel fragment they uncovered in the hole where Kathryn’s heart was found.  But when Emma comes back with a search warrant to legally find the broken shovel, she finds that the shovel had been removed.  Reasonably frustrated, she lashes out at August, believing that he’d betrayed her by tipping Regina off.  Without that crucial bit of evidence, as well as Mary Margret’s disastrous meeting with the DA (oh, so you’ve got King George’s Storybrooke counterpart to interview her, Regina?  As in, the person who shares your distain for Snow White?  Well, this just gets better and better, doesn’t it?), Emma cannot do anything to keep Mary Margret from being taken to trial.  To add insult to injury, Emma then discovers Sidney Glass had placed a bug in her office, hidden within a vase of flowers, and realizes that was how Regina was tipped off that they knew about the shovel.  Contrite, Emma seeks out August to apologize for doubting him.  At that moment, Ruby finds a very alive Kathryn in the alleyway behind Granny’s Diner.  Which, of course, is going to help throw the whole case against Mary Margret out.  How can you have murdered someone who isn’t dead?

So, was Regina right in blaming Snow for what happened to Daniel?  I suppose it depends on who you ask, but I personally think it was a tad unreasonable of Regina to carry around her grudge for so long.  Yes, Snow was wrong to break her promise about keeping the secret, but she was a ten year old girl, and no matter which way you look at it, Cora manipulated her into sharing the secret by taking advantage of her childlike naivety.  Besides, Regina and Daniel could have run away right after Snow White found out about them.  What was stopping them from leaving that very night?  The scene with Snow and Cora seemed to be taking place during the daytime, which gave me the impression that Regina didn’t cut and run right after her conversation with Snow White and waited until the following evening to try and leave with Daniel.  I can understand Regina might have wanted to say goodbye to her father, seeing as he’s the parent who obviously, unlike Cora, loves her unconditionally, but she could have left him a note.  It couldn’t have been because she was hoping to get Cora’s approval, because I’m sure Regina knew that was never going to happen.  Again, what was stopping them from setting off that very night?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Hat Trick)

I’m lost- how did Jefferson/The Mad Hatter retain his memories of his life in the Enchanted Forest?  We know Regina and Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold remember, but that’s because they were both involved in the casting and production of the curse.  And August remembers for reasons that will be revealed later on this season.  What’s Jefferson’s excuse?  Besides, wasn’t he trapped in Wonderland?  Did he finally get his hat to work, but it brought him back right after Regina’s curse took effect and he couldn’t make a return trip for some reason?  Is this something that’s explained in the Wonderland spin-off, which I have yet to see?  Answers, please!

This episode picks up right where the last episode left off, with Mary Margret breaking out of jail with the use of the key she’d found in her cell.  Upon discovering she’s missing, Emma goes off to find her and runs into a man called Jefferson.  Noticing he’s limping, Emma decides to drive him home.  But shortly after helping him get home, she realizes a bit too late that he’d deceived her and drugged her tea.  Upon regaining consciousness, she finds out that not only has Jefferson been spying on her, quite possibly from the moment she first came to Storybrooke, but he’s also managed to capture Mary Margret as well.  Jefferson tries to force Emma into helping him building a new magic hat, challenging her to start believing.  Of course, things don’t exactly go his way.  In the end, Emma manages to convince Mary Margret to not run away, and she returns to the sheriff’s station just in time to avoid being caught out of her cell.  We also learn that Rumpelstiltskin had been the one who placed the key in her cell because Regina put him up to it, prompting us to once again ask what exactly his game is.

I’m really curious where those other doors within the magic hat lead?  It’s safe to conclude the green curtain door leads to the Land of Oz, but there were plenty of other doors.  Will we be able to explore that in future seasons?  Make it happen, show writers!

How adorable was Jefferson/The Mad Hatter’s little girl, Grace?  Every time she appeared on screen, I just wanted to give her a big hug.  You could tell she was an all-around good girl, perfectly content with what she had.  She even was able to graciously accept not being able to get the stuffed rabbit from the disguised Regina’s toy cart.  Her father really did a wonderful job in raising her.  And you could see that Grace was Jefferson’s whole world.  So it’s not too surprising that he allowed himself to be manipulated into helping Regina when she promised him a better life for his little girl.  Speaking of which, come on, Regina!  While I understand you wanting your dad back and all, what you did to Jefferson during the Enchanted Forest flashback was a jerk move, and you know it!

A few episodes ago, we see that Ruby/Red has retained her ability to track people.  In much the same way, Mary Margret discovers her dormant fighting abilities in this episode, so that was cool to see.  I guess it’s like riding a bike.  Once you learn something, you never really forget, even if you're under the effects of a curse.

This episode is really notable for the whole scene with Jefferson trying to force Emma to believe.  While Henry and, to a lesser extent, August, have been attempting to get Emma to that point, they were clearly using the slow-and-steady method.  Jefferson, however, uses the direct, blunt approach.  But, while I do understand why Emma is reluctant to accept the things Jefferson tells her, you would think the events of this episode would have convinced her, particularly after seeing the illustrations of Jefferson in Henry’s book.  That and the fact that he seemingly vanished after falling out the window. (So, did the hat work after all?)  I know it would have made me at least consider the possibility.  Emma, you really are a stubborn one, aren’t you?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Heart of Darkness)

The Enchanted Forest subplot for this episode takes place after the events of ‘7:15 AM’ and ‘What Happened to Fredrick.’  Prince Charming continues to search for Snow White, with Red’s assistance.  But because Snow took Rumpelstiltskin’s Forgetfulness Potion, she not only doesn’t remember loving Charming, but she’s also forgotten who she really is, as she tries to kill a random bird and is downright cruel to the dwarfs.  To find Snow, Charming goes to Rumpelstiltskin for help and ends up trading his cloak in exchange for the information on Snow White’s whereabouts.  His first attempt at getting through to her, through the power of True Love’s Kiss, ends in a failure because, as Jiminy points out when he pops up to help Charming out,  ‘how can she remember who you are when she’s lost sight of who she is?’  This inspires Charming to allow himself to get hit by the arrow Snow tries to kill Evil Queen Regina with.  The whole sequence that follows is a very well-written one, and quite reminiscent of the scene in the fourth Shrek movie.  Unfortunately, even though Snow regains her memories, their reunion is short-lived, as King George’s soldiers capture Charming immediately afterward.  Snow White vows to rescue Charming, with the seven dwarfs, who promptly forgive her for her actions while under the Forgetfulness Potion’s effects, agreeing to help her.

In Storybrooke, Emma is trying to search for proof that Mary Margret was set up for the murder of Kathryn, particularly after a hunting knife, the instrument believed to have cut out the heart Ruby found, is discovered hidden in the apartment Emma and Mary Margret share.  She ends up getting nowhere because there are no signs that anyone had broken in.  Henry, thanks to the help of the mysterious August (who tells Henry that he shares his goal in getting Emma to believe in the fairy tales within Henry’s book), finds Regina’s skeleton keys and brings them to Emma, who finds out that one of the skeleton keys can open the door to her and Mary Margret’s apartment.  However, Emma knows the discovery of these skeleton keys won’t be enough to help Mary Margret when the DNA tests performed on the heart Ruby found state that the heart was indeed Kathryn’s, so she turns to Mr. Gold in desperation.  Unfortunately, before anything can be done to help build up a strong defense for Mary Margret, she discovers a key beneath her jail cell cot which she discovers can open the cell door and uses it to break out of prison.

David really does a number in this episode.  Possibly because he’d spent so long in a coma, the curse’s memory-altering effects clearly don’t affect him as strongly as the others, as his true memories are seemingly trying to resurface.  This results in him having hazy memories of Snow attempting to kill Evil Queen Regina.  Of course, since the memory is only hazy, he’s understandably confused, and the fact that evidence suggesting that Mary Margret may have killed Kathryn is continuing to mount only makes it worse.  For that reason, I don’t blame him for being confused and at a loss trying to figure out what his faint memories mean.  That said, it was a pretty dumb move for him to practically accuse Mary Margret, particularly after, as she states herself, she stood by him when it looked as if he might have had something to do with Kathryn’s disappearance.  So, I also can’t blame Mary Margret for angrily dismissing David.  This really was a no-win situation on David’s part.

The episode ends with us finally seeing the reason why Rumpelstiltskin wanted one of Snow White’s hairs in exchange for the Forgetfulness Potion.  After obtaining Charming’s cloak, he manages to extract one of Charming’s hairs from the cloak and places it into a vial along with Snow’s hair.  The moment both hairs are encased inside the vial, they react to each other, forming a glowing double helix.  So, apparently, all you need to bottle up love is to obtain two hairs from people who share True Love?  Okay, makes sense to me.  And we see in the final episode of this season exactly why he wanted to obtain a vial of Essence of True Love.  (That doesn’t explain why Mr. Gold is so keen to help them now, however.  Come on, guy.  What’s your game?)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Dreamy & Red Handed)

You know, out of all the episodes that have aired so far, this is the one I have the hardest time sitting through.  Not because it’s particularly dull and boring, but because it’s just so mean spirited.  It is apparently Miner’s Day, some fancy Storybrooke-specific holiday, and Mary Margret and Leroy (Grumpy’s Storybrooke counterpart) team up to sell some candles in order to raise money.  Money that the Storybrooke nuns need to save their nunnery from foreclosure at Mr. Gold’s hands.  But because everyone in town still has a bug up their butt about the whole Mary Margret/David/Katheryn thing, they all refuse to buy a single candle from them, going so far as to slam the door in their faces?  Nice community spirit you’ve got there, Storybrooke!  Kudos!  I’m not going to even touch the whole debate about what Mary Margret and David did, because, yes, they probably could have handled the whole situation better, particularly since no one has regained their memories of who they really are yet.  But this shouldn’t have been about what they did or didn’t do.  It’s about saving the convent!  What the people of Storybrooke were doing by snubbing Mary Margret and Leroy’s fundraiser was ultimately going to punish a group of people who had nothing to do with the whole affair debacle.  Can you see why I hate this episode?  And yes, I realize things turn out all right in the end, but that’s only because Leroy destroyed that electrical transformer thingamajig (which I admit was pretty awesome), but that’s just one little drop of good in an ocean of irritation.  And that scene at the end, which is supposed to indicate that Granny has forgiven Mary Margret?  Yeah, that’s great and all, but I think Granny, not to mention the rest of Storybrooke, have reason to need forgiveness as well.

There’s also the Enchanted Forest subplot, which explains what Grumpy was talking about back in ‘7:15 AM’ about how he was in love once.  This flashback reveals how some fairy dust was accidentally dropped onto Grumpy’s egg (so, in this show’s mythos, dwarfs are born from eggs?   Interesting choice.)  Only, back then, he was known as Dreamy because, on account of this fairy dust, he was the most optimistic and hopeful of the dwarfs.  He happens to cross paths with a fairy called Nova, and the two share an instant connection.  But everyone around them dismisses their feelings (i.e. ‘dwarfs can’t fall in love’ etc.).  All except for Belle, who made a surprise appearance in this episode.  I was really glad to see her again, and it was so sweet of her to encourage Dreamy/Grumpy to be with Nova.  This clearly takes place after her time with Rumpelstiltskin, and you can see how her time with him is inspiring her speech to Dreamy/Grumpy.  When Dreamy/Grumpy and Nova decide to run away together, the Blue Fairy decides to stick her nose into their business and tells Dreamy/Grumpy to leave Nova.  But my question is, why?  Why couldn’t they be together?  I mean Dreamy/Grumpy was a dwarf who mined diamonds.  Diamonds that were broken down into magic dust that fairies like Nova gathered.  Sounds like a perfect match to me.  Besides, what’s this crap about how being with him will prevent Nova from being a fairy?  First off, Blue, why do you care?  You made it rather clear in the first scene of this episode that you didn’t think she had what it took.  Even if what you said was true, and running away together would prevent Nova from being a fairy, and how Dreamy/Grumpy had a responsibility to mine the diamonds, etc.?  Come on, it’s not like there aren’t other fairies and dwarfs running around to pick up the slack.  You mean to tell me losing one pair of hands is going to be so catastrophic?  Besides, Nova even said, in not so many words, that she didn’t care about not being a fairy anymore, as long as she could be with someone who was clearly her true love.  And yes, I do believe that what we were seeing between those two was true love, ‘cause, why else would Leroy and Sister Astrid still feel drawn to each other, even with the curse still in effect?  While I get that Nova’s dream was initially to be a great fairy, dreams can change.  People can, and oftentimes do, switch paths.  Why are fairies like Nova and dwarfs like Dreamy/Grumpy denied that same opportunity?  This makes no sense to me.  At all.  Is this a class discrimination thing?  Are you implying that just because someone is from a species apart from human, they are automatically unworthy to the same rights and opportunities?  Do you realize how much that sounds like a warped mix of the feudal system and racial segregation?

Needless to say, this whole entire episode just makes me angry, so I’m just going to wrap it up here.  Plot stuff happens, Kathryn’s still missing, she never made it to Boston, phone records (which may have been tampered with since we see they came through Regina) indicate she was on the phone with David right before she disappeared, Emma pulls David in for questioning, blah blah blah.  Moving on, next episode.

Red Handed
Ruby/Red is a werewolf?  There’s a twist to the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  (Though, not too original, as that plotline was previously explored in the 2011 movie, which also has the heroine’s main love interest named Peter.)  And that whole red herring with Red’s boyfriend, Peter, possibly being the wolf?  (Peter the wolf?  HA!)  My heart really goes out to Red.  The knowledge that she killed a boy she loved?  I don’t know how I could live with that sort of thing.  And what a nasty way for Peter to go, too.  (Pffft.  Once Upon a Time- a family show!)  Still, this whole thing could have been avoided if Granny had told Red the truth from the start.  I understand wanting to protect her from the burden, but that clearly didn’t work out.  And sometimes, the best way to keep someone safe is to make sure they know what they’re up against, so they can protect themselves as well.  At least Granny acknowledges her mistake in keeping the truth from Red, so that does count for something.  On a positive note, we see how Red and Snow White first met.  (Who else giggled at the obvious origin of Snow’s Storybrooke name?)  It’s really admirable how Snow wasn’t the least bit afraid of her newfound friend, even after finding out that she was a werewolf.  Instead, she immediately reached out to her and focused on getting her away before the hunters arrived on the scene.  I don’t think many people could have done the same.  I’m left wondering, though.  What happened to Granny after that scene?  She clearly survived, as we see her knitting what ends up being Emma’s baby blanket in the pilot episode.  Who else is curious to see how she handled things with the hunters?

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Ruby’s relationship with her grandmother is strained when, after an argument, Ruby quits her job at the diner.  In an attempt to help her out, especially after seeing how well Ruby does at answering the phone, Emma offers her a job as her assistant.  It’s by working as Emma’s assistant that Ruby discovers her innate gift of tracking people down, something that’s carried over from her true identity as Red in the Enchanted Forest.  First, she helps locate David in the woods when he starts blacking out again.  (Can I ask what exactly triggered David’s sleepwalking/blackout thing this time?  Did he get bonked on the head off-screen?  Or was that happening all along without our knowledge?)  Then she discovers a box buried in the ground near the T(r)oll Bridge.  A box that has a human heart inside it.  While finding that heart proves to be a bit too much for Ruby to handle, leaving her to returning to the diner and making amends with Granny (who tells Ruby that she’d been wanting to train Ruby to take her place at running the diner one day), things take a turn for the worst when tests performed on the box the heart was found in revealed Mary Margret’s fingerprints were all over the box.  Really, show, can we please let these people have one moment to just breathe?  We’ve barely allowed them to recover from the whole affair blowout.  Now they throw this possible murder subplot at us.  Still, at least they’re no longer dragging their feet in terms of the plot, so I probably shouldn’t complain. 

I was left wondering something about Ruby and Granny after this episode.  While it was established that Red needed her cloak to keep her transformations at bay, Ruby clearly doesn’t have that cloak in Storybrooke.  I gather that the curse’s power is keeping her transformation from happening, but the full moon clearly has some effect on them.  At least, we know it does on Granny, who states that the scar she has on her arm, which was what infected her with the werewolf gene years ago, starts to hurt during the full moon.  So, does Ruby feel some effect from the full moon, too?  Does she just get more irritable than normal?  Is that what led her to blow up and quit in the beginning of this episode?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (What Happened to Fredrick)

So, to quote Michael from 10 Things I Hate About You, ‘The sh*t hath hitith the fan... ith.’  Thanks to Regina, Kathryn finds out about Mary Margret and David’s secret meetings and, as a result of her confronting Mary Margret on school grounds, the whole town instantly finds out about them, too.  I’m kinda bugged by the direction this episode goes in at this point.  I won’t deny that under regular circumstances (because, let’s face it, having your true identities being Snow White and Prince Charming is not a regular circumstance), seeing a married man is not okay, but everyone’s reactions to Mary Margret after they’re found out still seem a tad extreme to me.  Everyone in town just turns on her in an instant.  I get that this is one of those small towns where everyone knows each other, but to have the whole town turn their back on you?  They’re acting like Mary Margret burned down an orphanage, or strangled a bunch of cute little fuzzy kittens.  Was everyone in town really that invested in seeing David and Kathryn work out?  Even Granny, someone who I gather has known Mary Margret for ages, starts snubbing her.  I know if I found out one of my friends messed up like  this, while I would probably be disappointed, I wouldn’t just desert her the way everyone else seems to be doing with Mary Margret.  (Props to Emma for being probably the only person in town who tries to comfort Mary Margret after the whole ordeal.)  What made watching this even more uncomfortable is how we never see David getting the same sort of treatment, particularly since he is kinda the one who was more at fault here, what with not coming clean with Kathryn like he was supposed to earlier.  What’s with that, Storybrooke?  Why are you clearly punishing the other woman but not the man as well?  Does everyone have this whole ‘oh, boys will be boys’ mindset about the whole thing?  Is this town just full of chauvinists?  What is this?

Moving on, I can’t help but wonder. Is there a reason why Boston holds such an appeal for the people of Storybrooke?  Back in the pilot episode, we overhear a snippet of an argument between Ruby and Granny which states Ruby had plans to move to Boston but couldn’t because Granny’s heart attack had nipped those plans in the bud.  In this episode, Kathryn reveals she applied to a law school in Boston.  This is the second time that someone from Storybrooke seems drawn to Boston, the city Emma had been living in before Henry sought her out.  Is this just a coincidence, or something else?

We finally learn the mysterious stranger’s name is August.  In this episode, we see him meticulously repairing Henry’s book.  So, was it damaged off-screen?  I know Henry said in an earlier episode that it was an old book, but….  I don’t know, I’m not entirely certain why August had to repair the book, unless he’s trying to strengthen the book’s binding.  I know few of my hardcover books have some pages that are falling out.  I guess that’s what he’s doing?  Again, I’m not entirely certain, but it does indicate he knows all about the proper order of the stories within the book.  After all, I’m seeing no page numbers printed on the pages.  By then end, he reveals himself as being Henry’s alley in the quest of getting Emma to believe in fairy tales and magic, particularly when he secretly returns to now-repaired book to Emma.  But at this point, they still don’t let us know who this guy really is, or how he even knows about Storybrooke.

Of course, there’s also the Enchanted Forest subplot, where we learn that Charming, after the events of the ‘7:15 AM'’ flashback, tried to escape from King George’s castle and the arranged marriage, only to end up being cornered by Princess Abigail.  Surprisingly, Princess Abigail is not upset about Charming’s actions, and admits she didn’t want to marry him, either.  Because she has her own true love.  Meaning this whole entire time, Kathryn had her own soulmate, who we see is living in Storybrooke as the school’s gym teacher.    Making the whole entire issue with her and David completely pointless?!  Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.  To Kathryn’s credit, she does realize by the end of this episode that her feelings for David parallel the ones Princess Abigail had for Charming (she loves him but isn’t in love with him).  And what exactly compelled the gym teacher/Fredrick to be driving to the Storybrooke town line, mere moments after Kathryn tried to leave town to go to the Boston law school, where he discovers Kathryn’s abandoned car?  Wonder what would have happened if Kathryn had just paused for a moment when she was matching up to Mary Margret to actually glance at the gym teacher.

We also get our first visit to Lake Nostros in this flashback, a lake that’s supposed to have magical healing powers.  During this visit to the lake, Charming fights against a siren to obtain some of the lake’s water in order to restore Princess Abigail’s true love, Fredrick, who had been accidentally turned to gold by King Midis.  (Remember King Midis mentioning Fredrick back in ‘The Shepherd?’)

Finally, we see the return of Regina’s skeleton key collection, which Emma had discovered in ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.’  It turns out that Regina can use these keys to just let herself into every single house, and possibly any shop, within Storybrooke.  And I thought Rumple turning Gaston into a rose was creepy.  This woman can just come into someone’s home at any time?  Lady, you’re sick!  I’m sorry, but you are!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Skin Deep)

There’s a hand!  There is a severed hand sitting atop a pedestal in Rumpelstiltskin’s castle!  It’s a bit hard to see, but it can be spotted most clearly when Belle takes out the vase from the cabinet.  Is it wrong that I was excited to see that?  After all, it might not even be what I think it is, as it looks quite withered and decayed.  But it is clearly a left hand, if the position of the thumb is any indication.  So, yeah, I’m going to wonder about that.  If anyone is wondering why I’m focused on such a random detail, just wait until a certain episode in season 4.

This episode was really a breath of fresh air, especially since the last few episodes were rather mediocre, with the exception of ‘7:15 AM’ and the Enchanted Forest subplot in ‘Desperate Souls’.  We get the return of Ashley (Cinderella’s Storybrooke counterpart), now with baby in tow, who ends up joining Mary Margret and Ruby for a Girls Night Out to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day in this case, because even though Ashley had reunited with her boyfriend, Sean, during the events of ‘The Price of Gold’, he had to work that night.  (Was Mary Margret drinking an apple martini during the Girls Night Out?  Ahhhhhh.)  The evening ends with Sean showing up during his break in order to propose to Ashley, followed by a moment between Mary Margret and David, who are trying to figure out how they can make their relationship work.

But the main plot of this episode involved a feud between Mr. Gold and a florist called Mr. French, a feud that escalates when Mr. French steals a bunch of items from Gold’s house to get back at Gold for repossessing his florist van.  However, when Emma helps recover his stolen items, Mr. Gold goes off the deep end, stating that there is a specific item that’s still missing.  His actions from here on in indicate that this missing item is something extremely important to him, particularly when he goes so far as to kidnap Mr. French and very nearly beats him to death.  In addition, his rants while attacking Mr. French also hint at something even deeper going on here.  It’s the Enchanted Forest subplot that reveals the reasons for Mr. Gold’s actions.  In that subplot, we’re introduced to a new addition to our cast of fairy tale characters.  Namely Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Much like the heroine of the original tale, this version of Belle agrees to go live with the Beast (in this case, Rumpelstiltskin) in exchange for his protection over her family and village, which are in danger of being wiped out in the Ogre Wars.  (Just how long was this Ogre War going on, anyway?  We saw that they were occurring during the events of the ‘Desperate Souls’ flashback, but as we learn later, that flashback took place hundreds of years before the time of Snow White, Charming, etc.  This is clearly taking place closer to the present, as Evil Queen Regina is around.  Were there multiple Ogre Wars spaced out throughout the years?  Were these wars the Enchanted Forest’s version of World War I and World War II?) 

Like with every version of Beauty and the Beast that’s ever been written, the longer Belle stays with Rumpelstiltskin, the more you see them starting to genuinely like each other.  In fact, Rumpelstiltskin comes very close to opening up to Belle about his son, who he’s lost.  That is, until Evil Queen Regina’s manipulation results in Rumpelstiltskin balking and ordering Belle away in an attempt to bury his head in the sand.  Sometime after Belle is cast out, Evil Queen Regina pays Rumpelstiltskin a visit, informing him that after Belle left, her father, Maurice (Mr. French), had her locked up and virtually tortured until Belle took her own life.  And you can see how much that information upset Rumple.  So much so that he takes the teacup that Belle had chipped earlier in the episode and gives it a place of honor in his castle.  And it’s this same chipped cup that Mr. Gold was so upset over loosing. The cup that it’s eventually revealed had actually been taken by Regina in order to force Mr. Gold to admit what we’ve known all along- that he has maintained his memories of his life before Regina’s curse created Storybrooke.

I’m just going to come out and say that of all the old fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast has always been a favorite of mine, and it remains among one of my favorite Disney Princess movies.  (In fact, it’s quite possibly my all-time favorite animated film from the Disney Renaissance period.)  So, I couldn’t not enjoy seeing this take on the old story.  And it was cool to see all the little homages to the original Disney version.  Even the Enchanted Rose is referenced.  Speaking of which, Rumpelstiltskin turning Gaston into the rose and then giving it to Belle?  Yeah, that was rather sweet, but also really creepy.  Particularly since I was left wondering about the implications of that.  Did getting turned into a rose also kill Gaston?  If that’s what the case was, that was a really dark turn, and one of the moments when I was thinking ‘this is a family show?’ 

And finally, this episode ends with a twist that Shyamalan would be proud of.  While Evil Queen Regina told Rumpelstiltskin that Belle had died during the Enchanted Forest flashback, the episode ends with us seeing that she’s actually alive, and Regina is keeping her locked up in some psychiatric cell in the basement of Storybrooke’s hospital.  I remember when I first saw this episode, I was theorizing that Belle, like Regina and Rumple, had maintained her memories somehow, which would explain why she was in a psychiatric ward.  I imagine it would have been very easy for Regina to convince people that a young woman who was insisting that everyone was actually a fairy tale character was mentally unstable and have her committed.  Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case.  But it was what I originally thought.

On a final note, nice bit of foreshadowing in this episode, with Evil Queen Regina mentioning a deal with a ‘certain mermaid.’  A deal that we’ll see occurring in season 3.  It just makes me wonder- exactly how far in advance to the show writers plan out these episodes?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Fruit of the Poisonous Tree)

Continuity!  I said it before, and I’ll say it again.  I love continuity!  Last episode kept talking about a big storm that was going to come through town, and it hit Storybrooke during Mary Margret and David’s mission to return the dove to her flock.  In this episode, we see the storm caused some significant damage to the castle playhouse that Henry and Emma would meet up at.

All in all, this was not one of Emma’s best moments.  In her determination to get back at Regina for having Henry’s castle demolished, she swerved rather badly.  This resulted in her getting egg on her face and Regina coming out smelling like a rose.  It was a bit tough to watch Emma in this episode, because while I understand her anger at Regina, I just had a feeling that the plans she and Sidney came across during their little espionage stunt had something to do with building a new playground place.  Thankfully, to Emma’s credit, she’s enough of an adult to acknowledge she messed up royally (no pun intended) and graciously accepted the consequences of her actions.  That’s a very admirable quality in itself, particularly since there are some people who would try to make excuses for their mistakes and/or try to place the blame on someone else (three guesses who I'm referring to). But Emma doesn’t do that here, so you have to admire her for that.  

As for Regina, a part of me does have to admit she had a point in this episode, what with being concerned for Henry’s wellbeing and not wanting him to be near something that could potentially be dangerous.  On the other hand, I’m someone who sorta went through what Henry did in this episode, making my understanding of Regina’s position begrudging at best.  Growing up, there was this really fun wooden playground on school grounds, and I have fond memories of that playground.  But, sometime after I left Elementary School, it was suddenly decided that the playground wasn’t safe for children and they tore it down.  To this day, I’m still kinda irked about that, because my classmates and I had been using that playground for years, and to my knowledge, we turned out perfectly fine.  While I’m sure we all got our share of scrapes and skinned knees while playing on this playground, that’s part of being a kid.  Kids need to experience the occasional bump and bruise.  If you deny them that, they might never learn how to get back up after a fall and dust themselves off. Besides, like Emma pointed out, I’m sure they could have easily repaired that castle.  So, Regina, your intentions may be good on paper, but your actions were kinda bordering on helicopter mom territory.

The Enchanted Forest storyline was also a bit hard to stomach.  It was mostly just illustrating the unhealthy relationship Sidney Glass/the Magic Mirror had with Regina.  We learn Sidney was originally a genie who was found by King Leopold, Snow White’s father.  King Leopold, who was clearly a very kind man, chose to use his first wish to grant the genie’s freedom and his second wish to gift the third wish to the genie himself.  The freed genie, who had seen the consequences of wishes gone wrong a million times over, chose not to use the third wish but instead decided to stay with King Leopold.   But upon meeting Regina, he develops feelings for her, which ultimately results in him being manipulated into assassinating King Leopold with the use of a pair of Agrabahn vipers, a deadly species of snake.  The fact that he’d turn on someone who was supposed to be his dear friend is hard enough at it is, but it’s made even more painful when we see Regina had only pretended to love the genie, and had intentionally set him up to take the fall for King Leopold’s death.  And this is when we get into the unhealthy territory.  The genie, even after learning that Regina played him for a sap and never loved him to begin with, still refuses to leave her side, using the third wish he never intended to use in order to make it possible.  Which of course, condemns him to live out the rest of his life as the Magic Mirror.  And that level of unhealthy love he has for Regina has clearly transferred over to Sidney, who, as it’s revealed in the final scene, has actually been a mole charged with helping Regina spy on Emma throughout the whole episode.  Really, now?  This is a woman who had you follow around her son and his birth mom, taking photos of them without their knowledge, and go along with this scheme that was clearly designed to drive said birth mom away from the son.  And you still think it a good idea to align yourself with her?  Sidney, I’m sorry, but you really are a sad, pathetic little man.  You have my pity, but not my sympathy.

As a whole, I say this is one episode that could be skipped without missing too much.  The only thing of note is Emma discovering Regina has a sizable collection of skeleton keys in her office, something that will come into play in a few more episodes.  And while we do get one more scene of the Mysterious Stranger, who is clearly interested in Henry’s book of stories (and even manages to obtain it by the end of the episode), we already were aware that this guy knows more than he’s letting on, so seeing this is just dragging it out.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (True North & 7:15 AM)

True North
So, Hansel and Gretel join our cast of characters.  Or Nicholas and Ava, to use the names of their Storybrooke counterparts.  However, I really have to label this episode as one of the closest things to a filler episode that OUAT has.  Particularly since after this episode, these two new additions are never really seen or even mentioned again.  (They may appear occasionally in the background, but as no one ever acknowledges their presence, it’s hard to tell.)  The main point of this episode seems to be Emma doing what she can to keep Nicholas and Ava from ending up in the foster system, so they won’t go through what she did, particularly since they will undoubtedly be separated if they do wind up in the system.  We do get a scene of Henry asking Emma about his father, but the story Emma gives him, about how the baby daddy was a fireman who died saving a family from a burning building?  As she admits to Mary Margret later on, it was just that- a story.  Personally, I think Emma coming up with this fabrication was a combination of her not wanting to disappoint Henry, and her reluctance to relive what really happened, indicating that that is a scar that never really healed, and for good reason.  Overall plot-wise, apart from seeing how Evil Queen Regina actually obtained the infamous Poisoned Apple, it’s not until the end of this episode that things started picking up again.  We see Mary Margret having a moment with Emma, who finally tells her Henry’s thoughts about who they really are to each other, followed by Mary Margret reacting to Emma’s baby blanket.  Then, in the next scene, Emma is looking at an old article about how a seven-year-old boy found a baby (her) on the side of a road, mere seconds before someone brand new rides into town on a motorcycle.  While this newcomer doesn’t give his name at this point, we’ll eventually learn how ironic it was that he made his first appearance right after we’re shown that old article about baby Emma and the seven-year-old.

There’s nothing really more to be said about this episode.  Although, I did get a kick out of Evil Queen Regina’s ‘I would’ve gone with gravy.’ (You had to see the episode for this one.)  And seeing that Sneezy’s Storybrooke counterpart is Mr. Clark, a man who works at a drugstore.  Someone who sneezes randomly, even under the effects of Regina’s curse, ends up working in a drug store? Gotta love this show’s style of humor.  On a final note- to my knowledge, this episode marks the point when we start seeing Emma wearing the laces of Graham’s boots around her left wrist.  You can see it most clearly in the final scene when Emma is talking with Mary Margret.  While it’s not something that’s directly stated or pointed out in the show, the actress who portrays Emma in the show confirmed that it is indeed the shoelace from Graham’s boot in a Twitter post.  I do admit I like that little detail, especially since he’s rarely even mentioned from this point on.  As I said before, Graham was a likable character, so he deserves to at have an ongoing homage to him.

7:15 AM
Ah, another example of history repeating itself.  In the Enchanted Forest, Snow White is desperate for a chance to forget about Prince Charming, who is about to marry Midis’ daughter, Princess Abigail.  So much so, she actually goes to Rumpelstiltskin for a Forgetfulness Potion.  And in Storybrooke, Mary Margret cannot get David out of her head, resorting to borderline stalking by memorizing his schedule.  Of course, while the Enchanted Forest plotline ends on a low note, with King George forcing Snow White to tell Charming she doesn’t love him (threatening to have Charming killed if she doesn’t), followed by Snow taking the Forgetfulness Potion, the Storybrooke plotline ends with Mary Margret and David deciding to stop trying to deny their growing feelings for each other. But we’re left with a sense of foreboding, as Regina witnessed their kiss.  (Guys, I know you were caught up in the moment and all, but it was really a dumb move to kiss when you were out in the open, standing right along Main Street.  ANYONE could have seen you, and they did!)

How adorable were Mary Margret and David in this episode?  While I know it’s a longshot, I’d like to think that the dove they try to reunite with her flock is the exact same bird Charming uses to send his letter to Snow White.  They certainly look like the same species.  If I’m right, how precious is that?  The same bird bringing them together twice!  And that vet talking about the dove being monogamous birds with Mary Margret and David standing right there?  Nice metaphor.

At Regina’s urging, Emma delves into the mystery of who the newcomer we met last episode is.  However, we’re not really given any answers.  Okay, he has a typewriter.  But that explains nothing. Although, now that I think about it, this show is supposed to take place in modern times.  At least, it is during the Storybrooke scenes.  Who still uses a typewriter?  Can you even get typewriter ribbon anymore?  I’m sure if you can, it’s not easy to come by, leaving me wondering if it’s worth the effort. So the fact that he has a typewriter instead of a laptop only further makes you wonder just who this guy is.   All we get about him are hints that he knows more about Storybrooke than he lets on. 

This episode is mostly notable for the small touches.  We’re shown the friendship between Snow White and Red Riding Hood for the first time, something that continues popping up again as the story continues.  Snow White also has her first meeting with the Seven Dwarfs (Wait, there were originally eight dwarfs?  Poor Stealthy.)  In addition, we’re also told that Grumpy was once in love with someone, a plot point that’s further explored in a later episode.  And there’s Rumpelstiltskin taking one of Snow’s hairs as payment for the Forgetfulness Potion.  That’s going to be important later on.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Desperate Souls)

To be honest, I think this is the point when I started to lose interest in what was going on in Storybrooke.  That’s not to say I considered stopping watching the show.  It was just that they were reaching the part when you started saying ‘Okay, we get it now.  Henry’s right about the curse, but he’s not having much luck in getting Emma to believe it.  Can we please pick up the pace, already?’  For example, this episode’s Storybrooke plotline involves Emma and Regina’s stooge, Sidney Glass, both running for the position of town sheriff.  And that’s basically it.  Granted, there is a minor subplot of Henry temporarily losing his desire to fight against Regina’s curse, as well as him doubting that good can win against evil.  And we also see more evidence of how good Mr. Gold is at being a manipulative snake in the grass, what with him resorting to arson in order to make Emma look good in the town's eyes, and how he more-or-less revealed he knew Emma would take the high road and reveal his trickery in the end, which would only result in her looking like an even bigger hero to the people of Storybrooke because not many people were brave enough to stand up to him.

 There wasn’t much else in the Storybrooke plotline for this episde.  So, for a good chunk of the remainder of season one, I was mostly just interested in the Enchanted Forest plotlines.  And the one in this episode was particularly interesting.  We finally are told some of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold’s Enchanted Forest backstory.  And what a backstory it is.  Not to mention a vitally important one.  

We’re introduced to Rumpelstiltskin’s young son, Baelfire, and shown that they lived during a time of unrest in the Enchanted Forest.  More specifically the Ogre Wars, something that’ll be referenced a few times in later episodes.  It’s clearly a very dangerous time to live in, as young preteen children are being taken away from their homes and families and forced to join the army fighting against the ogres.    There is no logic to doing this that I can see.  Yes, I know the old saying ‘there’s strength in numbers,’ but we’re talking about children who clearly have had no fighting experience or instruction.  For that reason, I cannot blame Rumpelstiltskin at all for his desperation in the given situation.  He knows it’s only a matter of time before the soldiers come to take Baelfire away and ship him off to the front lines, where he’ll be little more than a sheep lined up for the slaughter.  That has got to be any parent’s worst nightmare.  We’re also introduced to the whole mythos of the Dark One, who is basically an all-powerful dark wizard entity, with one weakness- he is essentially tethered to a magical dagger, and if someone possesses this dagger, the Dark One must obey that person.  (Magical control over other people seems to be a recurring theme in this show.  First we get the whole control-through-the-heart-possession thing, and now this.)  

There are some very chilling undertones going on in this episode’s flashbacks.  Dark One Zoso, as we’re able to see by the end, is clearly so willing to be free from his life as the Dark One, he’s even willing to die.  Why else would he put the idea of taking up the mantle of the Dark One into Rumpelstiltskin’s head by filling him in on the whole secret about the Dark One’s dagger?  It really makes you wonder, how horrible must it be to live as the Dark One that you’d be willing to die just to escape from it?  Just think about that for a second.  We do get a brief glimpse of what it must be like at the end of this episode, too.  When Rumpelstiltskin was first starting to consider taking in that power himself, he fully intended to use the power to help people; to save his son’s life and make sure none of the other children in the village had to die.  He clearly wanted to use the power of the Dark One for good.  But, once he actually gets that power, his first act is to commit cold-blooded murder against the soldiers who’d bullied him earlier in the episode.  So much for using the power for good purposes.  It’s like the old saying goes: absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Shame that no one told Rumple that beforehand.

It was also this episode when I actually recognized one of the actors for the first time.  I realize that probably sounds odd, but in my defense, I don’t really watch that much television.  I hold no interest in some of the other big shows with large fanbases like Lost, Game of Thrones, and I’ve only seen one or two episodes of How I Met Your Mother.  In a way, I kinda prefer it this way.  With few exceptions, I typically know actors by the name of the character they play, not by their real-life names.  When I really get into a show, I tend to have a slight difficulty in seeing the actors from that show in another role.  For example, I cannot see Fran Dresher in anything without thinking of her as ‘the flashy girl from Flushing.’  But in this episode, we are briefly introduced to the guest-star character, Zoso, the original Dark One.  The instant I saw him, I knew I’d seen his face and heard that voice before.  After a few seconds, I realized why- it was Brad Dourif, who I knew from his role as Saavedro in Myst III: Exile.  But in this case, I think it’s great that I recognized Zoso as Saavedro, even though I kept half-expecting him to start calling Rumple Atrus, (the main NPC in the Myst series).  In the game, Saavedro was a man who had all but completely gone insane because he believed his family and people had all died, and he’d spent I don’t know how many years alone and isolated with nothing but painful memories to keep him company.  While fans of the show have yet to learn anything about the character of Zoso, I can only imagine the horrors he’s seen.  Because of his role as Saavedro, I ended up incorporating some of Saavedro's traits into Dark One Zoso- borderline insane from his experiences and desperate for an escape, regardless of what it would take to achieve that.  Doing so only ended up helping enhance my appreciation for what happened in this episode.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter)

Wait…. So…. Graham just…. died?  Well, that was unexpected.  Seriously, it took me a while before that final scene properly registered in my mind.  The fact that they’d kill off a character so early in the game?  Dang, show.  You don’t mess around, do you?  Even though Graham wasn’t a regular character, he was still a likable one, particular after seeing his Enchanted Forest backstory, which reveals he was the Huntsman who Evil Queen Regina hired to kill Snow White.

I am very much fascinated by the fact that Graham’s true memories are triggered upon kissing Emma.  Henry’s theory for this is because he spared Snow White’s life during his life as the Huntsman, and if he hadn’t, Emma would never have been born, which meant that they shared a connection of sorts.  That’s a good theory, but it probably didn’t hurt that Emma, as we’re told later, is The Product of True Love.  And in this show’s reality, the whole True Love’s Kiss thing is a very potent curse-breaker.  And before you ask, no, I’m not suggesting that Graham was Emma’s true love.  If he had been, I’m fairly certain that their kiss would have restored everyone’s memories, not just Graham’s.  However, notice that Emma seemed to be developing an interest in Graham, someone who we saw believed in the importance of having honor during his life as the Huntsman.  For those of you who have seen the show in its entirety so far, what other character is rather big on being a man of honor?  Could this count as indirect foreshadowing?  I honestly do not know.

I might as well start addressing the big elephant in the room now.  More specifically, the relationship between Graham and Regina.  As I said before, that relationship is disturbing and uncomfortable in general.  But after this episode, it’s even more so, as we see Regina literally had Graham’s heart in her possession.  As we’re told in later episodes, possessing someone’s heart means you’re able to control that person.  The person whose heart is being held captive must obey everything the person who holds the heart says.  They have no choice.  There’s only one conclusion to be made here.  The trysts between these two were not even close to being consensual on Graham’s part.  Yeah, there’s no other way to say it.  Regina was raping Graham for practically thirty years.  And that fact is made even more uncomfortable to process when you remember how, once Graham made an attempt to break away from this relationship, Regina goes off and kills him by crushing his heart.   (Personally, I think Regina chose to do what she did not just because of Graham attempting to end things between them, but also because she realized that he was starting to regain his memories and she couldn’t afford to have him informing the other Storybrooke residents of the truth.  Still, murder is murder, no matter which way you slice it.)

And this is probably the animal-lover in me; I also feel horrible for the Huntsman’s wolf friend.  Just think about it for a minute.  This wolf had been the Huntsman’s constant companion for who knows how long.  It's even briefly hinted that they may have grown up together.  When the curse hits, they’re obviously ripped away from one another.  Once the curse is broken and everyone in Storybrooke finds a way to return to the Enchanted Forest, that wolf is never going to be reunited with his human friend.  Just think about how many stories there are about dogs who mourn the passing of their human owners.  In fact, over in Japan, there’s even a statue dedicated to a dog named Hachiko who waited faithfully at a train station for nine years, waiting for his owner to return home from the University of Tokyo where he worked as a professor.  The poor dog never knew that his owner had died from a cerebral hemorrhage while at work.  And the bond between the Huntsman and his wolf was clearly even stronger than that between a dog and his human owner.  Ugh, that poor wolf!!!!!

One last question.  Gold, what were you doing, digging around in the woods?  We know you well enough to know you never do anything without there being a reason for it.  Were you burying something?  Were you trying to locate a specific item?  Seriously, do they ever explain that, or is this one of the unsolved mysteries this show presents us with?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (That Still Small Voice & The Shepherd)

That Still Small Voice
Oh.  OH!  This episode was…. UGH!!!!  Poor Jiminy!  Poor Geppetto!  That…is just…indescribably horrible!  No joke, my heart was just bleeding for these two at the end!  Especially for Jiminy.  I can’t imagine how terrible it must have been for him to live with the guilt over what happened to Geppetto’s parents!  It really was bad luck that he got stuck with such scavengers for parents.  But… how did he get involved with Rumpelstiltskin in the first place?  There's this one scene where he’s just doing some work for him out of nowhere.  Okay, how’d that happen?  Where’d you two even meet?

So, when Emma first entered into Storybrooke, the electrical wires above her head started to spark.  When she got a room at Granny’s Bed and Breakfast, the old clock tower started up again.  Now, when she takes up the job as Sheriff Graham’s deputy and puts on the badge, the mines underneath the town go boom?  Okay, that’s certainly interesting.  What would have happened if she’d actually bought a house in Storybrooke town limits during the course of this season?  Would the animals in the surrounding woods start a conga line?  …..No…..no that’s just silly.  Forget I even entertained the thought.

We also see more development between the amnesiac David and Mary Margret as David recovers from spending the last 28 years in a coma.  Those two have such great chemistry.  Even if I didn’t recognize them as Snow and Charming, I would probably still love watching those two together.  It probably doesn’t hurt that these two characters are portrayed by a real-life couple.  We also get more bonding time between Mary Margret and Emma as they talk about the whole issue of Mary Margret falling for a man who is supposed to be married.  (Which reminds me- I want those s’mores, Mary Margret!  Gimme some!  Please?  They look so good!)

You know, Regina, if you really wanted Henry to stop thinking you were up to something, maybe, instead of going with your usual tactic of brute force and threatening people, perhaps you might try, I don’t know, being nice for a change?  Cause, you’re not really giving Henry a reason to not think you’re the Evil Queen at this point.  The more you try to impose your way on him (like bullying Dr.Hopper/Jiminy into forcing Henry to stop believing that everyone is really a fairy tale character), the more he’s going to run off and put himself in dangerous situations.  Like running off into a collapsing mine to find physical proof of the curse, for instance.  It was great, however, to see you sorta-kinda working with Emma to save Henry’s life.  It’s a nice testament of things to come.  Although, I get Regina isn’t at that point where she can accept that yet, so it’s not too surprising that she went right back to brushing Emma off again the minute Henry was safe.  Still, a simple thank you wouldn’t have killed you, Regina.  You’re not the only one who cares about Henry.  Deal with it.

Of course, we also get that groan-worthy ending, where we see that if Henry had been able to travel further into the mine tunnels, he would have found the remains of Snow White's glass coffin, which would have been the perfect bit of proof.  Not since the many scenes in An American Tail, when we see Fievel could have been reunited with his family so many times if someone had just bothered to turn around have I felt the need to scream so much.

The Shepherd
So David/Charming’s origin is revealed in this episode.  Also, we get a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘evil twin.’  Turns out, David/Charming was part of a set of identical twin boys born to a peasant woman.  The oldest of the twins was given as a ‘gift’ to King George, who had no heir of his own, by Rumpelstiltskin as part of some sort of deal.  The older twin, whose name was James, grew up to be a strong warrior, but was arrogant and prideful.   In order to obtain gold for the kingdom when it began losing its wealth, King George made a bargain with King Midis (yes, that King Midis).  If Prince James could slay a dragon that was terrorizing Midis’ kingdom, King Midis would reward King George with countless riches.  However, when Prince James’ arrogance got him killed before he could even face the dragon, King George had little choice but to recruit Prince James’ twin, the man we all know as Prince Charming, who had grown up as a simple shepherd.  A plan is devised to have Charming pose as his dead brother for the sake of image, but while he will present the dragon’s head to Midis, it is to be King George’s army who really do the fighting.  But of course, the knights fail to even lay a scratch on the beast, with pretty much all of them dying pretty horribly, leaving Charming to utilize the skills he gained as a shepherd in order to successfully kill the dragon, in David and Goliath fashion.  (Seeing this backstory really makes me think Prince Charming more than deserves to have his Storybrooke counterpart named David.)  And of course, as this flashback wraps up, we’re shown how Charming is being forced to continue his charade as Prince James and marry Midis’ daughter, with King George blackmailing Charming with his birth mother’s life.  (Come to think of it, what exactly WAS Charming’s real first name?  Do they ever reveal it?  I know he said I was James back in the episode when he first met Snow, but this episode seems to indicate he only adopted that name after he was forced to impersonate his brother.  So, what did his mother call him beforehand?)  Our last glimpse of the past shows Charming and Princess Abigail riding off together, en route through the woods, where we all know Snow White is lying in wait to ambush their carriage.  As King George said, ‘On the road to true love.’

 Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, David is out of the hospital and trying to adjust to life with his ‘wife’ Kathryn, but as Henry surmises, his time spent in a coma and subsequent amnesia is preventing the curse from giving him false memories.  His deep connection with Mary Margret/Snow White is also throwing him for a loop, making it hard for him to connect with Kathryn, and possibly making him able to unconsciously resist the curse’s effects.  History really does repeat itself.  Of course, his subconscious memories of his true life also lead him into falling prey to the curse’s power in the end, when he sees the windmill model that supposedly sat in front of the house he was supposed to share with Kathryn and it connects with his memory of the one that stood in his birth mother’s farm.

There’s not much more that’s worth talking about in this episode, sad to say.  Emma finds out about Sheriff Graham’s trysts with Regina.  More foreshadowing to how Regina lost someone she loved.  It is interesting to note that this marks the first time David ever interacts with Emma and Henry, even though you don't get the feeling he feels the same draw to Emma as Mary Margret did.  However, David  was seemingly drawn to the unicorn mobile in Mr. Gold’s shop; the one that should have hung over Emma’s crib had the curse never happened.  So, that does count for something.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (The Price of Gold)

Okay, really now, people. If you’re going to sign a contract, READ IT FIRST!!!!!  It’s one of the first rules of common sense!    If you don’t, this is the sort of crap you might end up dealing with!  Anyway, this episode plays around with the fairy tale of Cinderella, and it’s also the one that really introduces Rumpelstiltskin’s mantra of ‘magic always comes at a price.’  I remember the first time I saw this episode, I had a real mind-blown moment when Rumpelstiltskin kills the fairy godmother.  Really wasn’t expecting that to happen.  On the other hand, I was reminded strongly of the original tale of Rumpelstiltskin I heard as a child; specifically the whole firstborn-child-as-payment thing.  But… why did he want Ella’s kid to begin with?  Especially since we learn later on that there was already someone else’s child he was trying to find (i.e. his own.)  Or was it because he knew somehow that threatening to take away Ashley/Ella’s daughter would be what ultimately leads Emma to agree to do him a favor at a time of his choosing?  If that’s the case, that was a bit too premeditated, don’t you think? Yeah, I know that this is a guy who is supposed to be an expert at planning things out, but it still seems a bit too much, even for Rumpelstiltskin. I also do wonder how Snow White and Ella knew each other to begin with.  Their interaction at the wedding reception, not to mention Prince Charming and Grumpy’s attempts at helping Ella save her unborn child, suggests they had a nice little friendship beforehand.  Will we ever see how they met?
One of the underlying themes in this episode was taking a stand and proving to others that they are wrong about you.  When meeting the pregnant 19-year-old Ashley, who is having severe doubts that she can handle taking care of her baby, Emma is very quick to reach out to her, telling her that even though everyone is telling her that she won’t succeed, it will be her choice, and hers alone, that will determine if they’re right.  It’s a really poignant scene, especially when we realize Emma was also talking about herself here.  She’d just been confronted by Regina, who was rubbing it in that Emma has never stayed in one place for longer than two weeks, insinuating that it’s only a matter of time before she does the same thing and leaves Storybrooke.  Also, it’s rather interesting how Emma comments to Ashley that there are no fairy godmothers in this world, considering who Ashley's fairy tale counterpart is.  (It’s also in these opening scenes that we learn Emma was 18 when she gave birth to Henry, and that she’d spent a period of time in Tallahassee.  Those facts will be important once we get into the midpoint of season 2.  Have I mentioned I love continuity?  Because I do.)

Speaking of undertones, I can’t be the only one who noticed the undertone to Henry and Emma’s conversation in the beginning of this episode.  The part when Henry was telling Emma he needed something to call her for Operation Cobra?  Was it just me, or was that his subtle way of asking Emma if he could start calling her ‘Mom?’  If so, that really brings new meaning to Emma saying ‘you can just call me Emma, for now.’  Not to mention Henry’s ‘I’m not sure you’re ready yet,’ which further indicates that’s exactly what he was thinking.  Yeah, this whole episode was really about Emma starting to take up the mantle of Henry’s mother, and nothing will convince me otherwise. 

Can we all talk about Mr. Gold’s comment to Emma, about how he doesn’t want to see Ashley's baby being born in jail?  Um…guy?  Were you aware about how such a statement might strike a chord with Emma?  Or was that just a coincidence?  I never can be too sure with you.  Although, his later comments to Emma in the hospital make me think he did know, in which case….you sneaky, manipulative little…UGH!

It’s also in this episode where we first learn of Regina’s secret flings with Sheriff Graham, which is a bit disturbing to begin with.  Although, that whole relationship will get even more disturbing/uncomfortable in a later episode, particularly once we see who Sheriff Graham’s Enchanted Forest identity is.  I’ll elaborate on that a little later on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (The Thing You Love Most & Snow Falls)

Because the analyses for the next two episodes are rather short, I'm going to combine them in one post.

The Thing You Love Most-
So, first it was don’t drink the water in Mexico, now it’s don’t eat the apples in Storybrooke.  Good safety tip; thanks, Henry.  Anyway, in this episode, quite a bit of stuff happened.  We learn of how Regina went about casting the curse in the first place, including how she got it from Maleficent (who had originally obtained it from Regina at an earlier point in time in exchange for the sleeping curse Regina used for the whole Poisoned Apple incident) and how it was apparently created by Rumpelstiltskin.  We’re also shown how she even ended up killing her own father, whom she did love, (why else would she end up naming Henry after her father?) in order to complete the curse.  Which begs the question, what kind of woman would willingly sacrifice someone she loved in order to achieve her goal?  It’s in that basic question we’re given the chance to see how desperate she is to obtain her victory over Snow White.  Regina even briefly hints at her reasons for her actions in this episode’s flashbacks, even though we’re not yet told exactly what happened between these two women.  However, I do wonder who exactly were those other people who helped Regina cast the curse in the first place.  Like the blind old hag or the black-bearded gnome (who is now apparently spending eternity as Regina’s garden ornament).  What exactly was their story?  The world may never know.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Regina really goes out of her way to try and force Emma to leave town, from trying to get her lackey Sidney Glass, dig up the dirt on Emma’s past to an underhanded frame-job by forcing Dr. Hopper to willingly share Henry's therapy files with her and then claim Emma had stolen them.  Unfortunately for her, the lengths she goes to only make Emma even more determined to stay.  Seriously, lady, did you ever read Order of the Phoenix?  You remember the part when Hermione commented about how Umbridge forbidding all Hogwarts students from reading the issue of The Quibbler that featured Harry’s interview was the best way to ensure everyone would read it?  The same thing applies here.  The more you try to drive Emma away, the more you are convincing her that she needs to stick around.  (You would think the fact that Emma went after Regina’s apple tree with a chainsaw would have tipped her off.  I know that scene made me think ‘Wow!  Remind me never to get on your bad side!’  But nope, I guess it didn’t.)  And the fact that you intentionally dragged Henry into your schemes only further cemented Emma into staying.  You’ve just proven to Emma that you might just be a threat to the kid she’s starting to care about.  Seriously woman, Sheriff Graham even told you that it might be a good idea to ease up and change tactics.  Try listening to the advice of the people around you for a change.  Ever think you might be happier in the long run if you did?

Also in this episode, we see two things happening that were only briefly touched upon in the pilot episode.  The first of these two things is the growing bond between Emma and Mary Margret, the latter of which has yet to remember their true connection.  In spite of that, Mary Margret is still able to sense that she can trust Emma and helps bail her out of jail after being set up.  The second is the subtle way Mr. Gold, Rumpelstiltskin’s Storybrooke identity, shows himself as the cunning serpent he is.  Yeah, Gold, don’t even try to act like you don’t know  exactly what’s going on here.  We all saw your reaction to hearing Emma’s name in the last episode.  We know you’ve maintained your memories from the Enchanted Forest.  Don’t pee on my foot and tell me it’s raining.

This episode is particularly noteworthy for introducing Emma’s fondness for cinnamon in her hot chocolate, something we quickly find out is a trait she shares with Henry and Mary Margret.  So, was that just something they put into the show to further illustrate the family connection between these three characters, or is that something that’s going to come into play in a much later episode.  Like, is cinnamon going to end up being the key ingredient in a life-saving potion or something?  After all, the brief research I did on the spice does suggest it has medicinal properties.  Then again, maybe I’m just reading too much into it, and the whole love of cinnamon is just an ongoing joke, like the Pineapples in the USA show, Psych and the whole ‘it’s bigger on the inside’ thing from Doctor Who.

Snow Falls-
Oh, this episode!  I think this is the one that really got me into the show.  This is the episode that shows us how Snow White and Prince Charming first met, and it’s a WAY better first meeting story than having the pair instantly falling in love by just hearing each other sing by the wishing well.  (The fact that the animated version of Snow White’s singing voice is capable of making ones ears start bleeding is beside the point.)  By the time the Enchanted Forest plotline for this episode ended, I was sorely disappointed that they stopped there; I wanted to see the story of Snow White and Prince Charming continuing on for much longer.  What made the episode even more enjoyable was seeing the parallel story occurring in Storybrooke, which perfectly complemented the Enchanted Forest plotline.  Mary Margret is seeking companionship from the opposite sex, but isn’t having much luck, as shown by her horrible date with the guy we’ll eventually know as Dr. Whale.  (Ugh. It’s such a dirtbag move to leer at someone else while you’re on a date.  I don’t care if the girl you’re looking at is wearing an outfit as revealing as Ruby/Red Riding Hood.  I get that jerks like that exist, but why even bother agreeing to go on a date with someone if that’s all you what you want to do?)  However, the day after the bad date, Henry, while visiting the hospital as part of the Storybrooke’s school program of visiting hospital patients, comes across a comatose patient and surmises, based on the man’s chin scar, that this is Prince Charming’s Storybrooke counterpart.  I admit I was grinning like a loon seeing Mary Margret ‘connecting’ with her soulmate when she didn’t remember who he was, and how, even when unconscious, Charming still can sense his true love’s presence.  He even slept walked to the location of the T(r)oll Bridge, where they first began to form a solid connection.  That is just indescribably awesome.  These two people were so in love, even when their memories of each other are locked away because of the curse, their subconscious minds still recognize each other.  It’s no wonder these two are considered the very essence of True Love.  And let’s not forget how, when Charming/David was reunited with his ‘wife’ Kathryn (Princess Abigail’s Storybrooke counterpart, whom Charming was originally going to join in an arranged marriage with prior to meeting Snow White), he still maintained eye contact with Mary Margret/Snow.  Oh, the parallels!  I can’t even begin!  As for Regina, while I did like seeing her back off a bit from her tirade against Emma, which was prominent in the last two episodes, this episode began my season-long habit of yelling ‘GO AWAY!’ at the screen every time she appeared.  Believe me, I get how she can’t stand the thought of Snow being happy and all, but come on lady!  Still, it is a bit chilling to see how she’s got the whole town in her back pocket, and how everyone reports to her immediately after anything happens.  Last episode, it was Archie calling Regina after he gave Emma Henry’s files.  This time, Dr. Whale calls her up when a change in Charming/David’s brain activity is detected.  Henry wasn’t kidding around when he said the whole town’s afraid of her.

One question.  So, the bridge Snow and Charming fought the trolls at was transferred into Storybrooke’s town lines.  But we clearly saw trolls living there.  And we did see a dragon flying by in the pilot episode, when Regina's curse was rolling in, as well as Maleficent's pet unicorn that we saw last episode.  Which means there were other mythical creatures living in the Enchanted Forest, right?  What happened to these mythical creatures when Regina’s curse hit and created Storybrooke?  Were they spared from the curse, or did they all become inanimate objects, like Regina’s gnome garden ornament?  If anyone has any thoughts on this topic, I'd be glad to hear them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Once Upon A Time- Episode Analysis (Pilot)

Yes, that's right.  I'm still alive.  I deeply apologize for the long inactivity.  (Thank you, work and social life.)

I've decided to try something a bit new for a while. I've recently became a fan of the ABC show, Once Upon a Time.  

If you haven't given it a chance, I highly recommend you do so.  At the moment, the show is in the middle of the hiatus between seasons 4 and 5.  To pass the time before the season 5 premiere, I'm going to go through each episode and give my personal opinion on them.  That said, please keep in mind that these analyses are coming from someone who has seen the series in its entirety to date, so there might be some minor spoilers popping up here and there.  I will try to keep these to a minimum, and even when they do pop up, I won't be giving away too much.  In addition, I'd like to apologize in advance if I don't really go into thorough detail for some episodes in season 1.  This will be because season 1, while entertaining, can hit moments where the storytelling drags somewhat, leaving you wishing they'd pick up the pace a bit.  So, without further ado, here is my analysis of Once Upon a Time's pilot episode.

This episode is pretty much what you’d expect from a show’s pilot episode, from setting up the premise and introducing us to our cast of characters.  We learn of how Snow White’s stepmother, Evil Queen Regina, placed a curse over everyone in the Enchanted Forest that sent them all into the modern world, more specifically the town of Stroybrooke, Maine, with everyone losing their memories in the process. However, on the day the curse is cast, Snow White and Prince Charming send their newborn baby girl, Emma, through a magical wardrobe that sends her to a location outside the curse’s reach, in the hopes that she will return one day and save everyone.  Flash-forward 28 years later, where Emma, now fully grown, is sought out by her long-lost son, Henry, whom she put up for adoption ten years prior.  Henry, who had since been adopted by Regina (oh, the irony), has figured out the truth about Storybrooke, and convinces the skeptical Emma to journey to Storybrooke herself so she can break Regina’s curse.  This show really doesn’t mess around, as we’re immediately shown what we’re in for from the start.  Pretty much every character we’ve known from our childhood bedtime stories just comes to life in this show.  We’ve got Snow White and Prince Charming, of course, but we’ve also got Geppetto and Jiminy Cricket, with cameos of Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy.  Even Rumpelstiltskin makes a brief appearance, and all it takes is one episode to let us know that this show is really going to build on and flesh out the fairy tale characters nearly every child in the world has grown up reading about.  And it’s really neat to see how everyone, even though they’ve forgotten who they are, still retains a semblance of their true selves.  For example, we have Geppetto’s Storybrooke counterpart, Marco, commenting about how he and his wife never managed to have children of their own, which was the main reason why Geppetto made Pinocchio in the original story.  Even Snow White, now Mary Margret, has managed to keep her tendency to spout speeches about the importance of hope.  Not to mention her affinity to birds.  Although, I do have one slight nitpick.  In one scene, Snow White comments how Regina gave her the Poisoned Apple just because Snow was prettier.  But, as anyone who has seen future episodes could tell you, the reason for the Poisoned Apple was a bit more complicated than a vanity issue.  But I get it.  The show writers don’t want to give away too much at once.  I can respect that.  Besides, it’s the pilot episode.  Pilot episodes are designed to gain endorsement from the television networks that will run the show.  They’re typically used as a test to gain a feel for what works and what doesn’t.  It’s not unusual for some minor elements to change after the pilot episode.  In fact, there are a good number of shows that never make it past the pilot episode.

I also REALLY love how they chose to introduce Emma in this episode, showing us how she busts that guy, Ryan the Embezzler.  Great job show, for immediately letting us know this is a woman you do not want to mess with.  I nearly broke out laughing when we see she’d put the boot on Ryan’s car prior to entering the restaurant.  Yeah, she already KNEW this guy was most likely going to do a runner when she confronted him, and decided to nip that in the bud, just in case.  You’re good, girl.  Props to you.  And that whole scene with her and Henry when the two are talking about their family situations?  That was a very well-acted scene. I always admire  actors who can cry on cue, and it gives us our first real glimpse of how deep Emmma’s scars run when she tells Henry the story about how her first foster family returned her when they had a kid of their own.  Which begs the question of how such a thing is even allowed to begin with.  Granted I know very little about the whole foster system, but we’re talking about living children with feelings here.  They’re not coffee tables.  Seriously, how is returning a kid like a dress that didn’t fit even legal?

I do have a question after re-watching this episode.  So, time in Storybrooke is frozen.  Does that mean that everyone in Stroybrooke is literally frozen in time?  If that’s the case (and the second episode claims it is), I really can’t blame Henry for figuring out what’s really going on.  Later episodes also seem to hint at the fact that there haven’t been any children being born in Storybrooke, and the children that do exist in the town are stuck at certain ages.  In other words, I’m gathering Henry is the one person in town who is actually physically aging?  While I imagine the curse is keeping everyone else from noticing that fact, with the exception of the two people who were actually involved in the actual spell-casting (Regina and Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin), Henry was born outside of Stroybrooke, and therefore isn’t affected by the curse’s memory-altering side-effects. The kid’s clearly not stupid, so he’s bound to notice that and get suspicious.

Bit of advice to Regina.  If you really wanted Emma to leave Storybrooke, which I get that you did, given how you clearly felt threatened by her presence, it probably wasn’t the best move to spout out that whole ‘stay away from Henry’ rant.   Even if I hadn’t already seen the proof that Henry was right with all his fairy tale talk, thanks to all the flashbacks?  You coming out of nowhere with that little hissy fit; I still would have seen that as the big robot saying ‘Danger, Will Robinson!’  Seriously, where did that come from, lady?  Emma wasn’t really giving any indication that she wanted to take over as Henry’s mother at this point.  All she did was comment on how she’d made a wish that she didn’t have to be alone on her birthday, and that Henry had shown up on her doorstop immediately afterward.  In fact, I sorta think she would have left Storybrooke on her own if you had just thanked her for returning Henry and left it at that.  I hate to tell you this, Regina, but you really did kinda dig your own grave there.

One interesting little touch I really enjoyed about this episode was the door to Emma’s apartment in Boston.  If you pause the DVD to read the words on the door right before she opens it and meets Henry for the first time, you’ll see phrases like ‘cast a spell’ written on it.  

You gotta wonder if Emma unknowingly chose this apartment specifically for that reason.  Almost as if the knowledge of her true identity was buried away in her subconscious mind all along.  Rather like with Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled remembering the sun insignia that was essentially her parents’ royal crest, or Moses from Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt remembering his mother’s final lullaby.  And while you really can’t see it very well in this episode, screencaps and promotional photos from other episodes also show that Emma has a tattoo of a flower on the inside of her wrist.  A flower that is practically identical to the flowers that appear on the Charming royal crest.   There’s one more clue that Emma’s memories of her birthplace was buried away in the farthest corner of her mind all along.  Also, when Emma and Henry first arrive in Storybrooke, when Emma slams the door of her car in frustration, one of the electrical wires above her head suddenly sparks.  A little subtle foreshadowing to her currently dormant magical abilities, maybe?  That’s certainly going to be my head-cannon from here on in.

Of course, there was one thing in this episode that still kinda bugs me.  So, Snow White’s stepmother places a curse over all of the Enchanted Forest fairy tale land, and everyone in it winds up in our modern world with absolutely no memory of who they really are or where they came from.  All right, I’ll buy that.  Besides, it’s not too dissimilar to the plot of the Disney movie, Enchanted, and that was a pretty good movie.  You wanna know what I don’t buy?  Henry, a little ten-year-old boy, is wandering around a big city by himself.  At night.  And he’s carrying around a credit card.  And the taxi driver who gives him a ride to Emma’s apartment doesn’t question this?    Okay, where do I even begin?  First off all, what ten-year-old carries around a credit card?  There’s your first red flag there, and I do award the show points for acknowledging that later on.  But there’s also the fact that he’s alone, with no parent or babysitter in sight.  That sort of thing might not be as big a deal in a small town like Storybrooke, but this is happening in Boston.  That’s a pretty big city.  Maybe not as big as New York or Los Angeles, mind you, but it’s still in the top 30.  It’s even more of an issue that this is happening at night.  I’m considerably older than ten, and even I’m hesitant about traveling the city streets at night without utilizing the buddy system.  You’re seriously telling me this cab driver didn’t see this situation for what it was and take that kid to the nearest police station?  I’m calling horse-feathers here.  However, I’m probably being overly-critical because, that grievance aside, this first episode did its job and got me interested enough to keep watching, just to see what happened next.