Once Upon a Time: Selfless, Brave and True (218)

This episode gets 2 stars.I was so underwhelmed by “Selfless, Brave and True” that I immediately deleted it from my DVR.  Not on purpose, but still.  I suppose I could rewatch it on OnDemand, but ABC doesn’t let you fast-forward, and I’m not willing to sit through everything (including commercials), so… pfft.

Perhaps the episode wasn’t that bad, but it left me unsatisfied.  Not that I know what would have satisfied me, but it wasn’t that.

August shows his damaged leg to the mystic known as The Dragon

The Dragon takes a look at Augusts green, er, wooden leg.

Rather than a trip to Fairy Tale Land, our alternate universe this week is 2011 Thailand.  That’s where August, aka Pinocchio, is partaking in debauchery when his leg turns to wood.  (It’s also when Emma came to Storybrooke and time started moving again.  But I didn’t make that connection until I read Cindy McLennan’s recap.)  He visits a mystic called “The Dragon” who can cure him in exchange for something dear to August.  Oh, and $10,000 cash.

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Once Upon a Time: Welcome to Storybrooke (217)

Sheriff Graham returns to Storybrooke.  But only for a week.

Hello, handsome. Nice to see you and your sweater vest again.

There were so many things to like about this episode.  The return of Sheriff Graham—although he was reduced to barely nothing more than Regina’s slave.  The nod to Groundhog Day.   The “original” Ruby—although non-slutty Ruby can still rock shiny red leather skinny pants.  And other characters we’ve missed recently, including Marco/Geppetto, Archie/Jiminy, and Granny/Granny.

Of course, the best part of the episode was the tale of Storybrooke’s creation.  I’d wondered how come Storybrooke never had any visitors, even though it sat in the middle of scenic Maine, however rural and rustic it be.   Thank you, show, for the awesome reveal.

[I spent some time last night thinking about the possible inconsistency of seeing/not seeing Storybrooke.  How could Owen and his dad see Storybrooke the morning after the storm  when Owen and the state troopers couldn’t?  How could Greg Mendel have crossed over into Storybrooke if nothing was visible from the outside?  Simple!  Owen and Curt had been camping inside what became Storybrooke’s city limits.  The night Greg drove into Storybrooke, Gold had already stepped across the city limits and was talking to Belle.  The barrier was broken.  See?  Easy!  The bigger queston is why Owen Flynn changed his name to Greg Mendel.  Adopted?]

Given all this, and the reveal of visitor Greg Mendel’s true identity, I should have enjoyed this episode more than I did.

This episode gets 3 stars.But now we’re back to vengeful Regina.  Yawn.  Does this mean the attempt to make Regina “nice” failed?  Or was this the intention all along?  I like it when Regina, and Gold for that matter, are conflicted and multidimensional. It’s more interesting and more dramatic than pure evil against pure good.

I like it when Mary Margaret/Snow White is feisty.  I don’t like near-catatonic Snow.  Nor do I like Snow’s heart having a dark spot that will supposedly only grow.  What about redemption?  Isn’t that a part of Storybrooke or Fairy Tale Land?

So, after a run of really excellent episodes, this one only gets 3 (out of 5) stars.

Once Upon aTime: The Miller’s Daughter (216)

This episode gets 4 stars.I was right!  And wrong.  There is history between Cora and Eva.  But they’re not sisters.  Young Eva’s a royal shit who abuses commoners for no particular reason.  Young Cora’s quite a feisty—and shrewdly intelligent—peasant.  But this history leaves a lot of questions.  Is Cora’s only beef with Eva that she tripped her once?  How did Eva go from being a brat to the uber-honorable queen of “The Queen Is Dead”?  And how did Cora go from being a princess to… what was she when we first met her?  She wasn’t royalty.  Was she?

Rose McGowan as Cora wears one of the most beautiful wedding gowns in the history of television.

The fourth Charmed One models one of the most beautiful wedding gowns in the history of television.

Hey!  Once Upon a Time incorporated an actual fairy tale! And it was pretty close to the Brothers Grimm version.  But better, or at least more in line with the personalities of the players.  Rumpelstiltskin teaches the miller’s daughter, aka Cora how to spin straw into gold (rather than do it himself).  With her gold-spinning success, Cora is set to marry the prince.  But she loves Rumple.  The king, however, convinces her to marry for power (his son the prince) rather than love (Rumple).  So she removes her heart to not feel her love.  (There’s other stuff that goes on in Fairy Tale Land, but it’s not that memorable.)  Cora marries the prince, then gives birth to Regina.  So Regina is actually a princess.  Did we know that before?  If so, why is Cora so set on her marrying “the king,” aka Snow White’s dad?  Wouldn’t she have become a queen anyway?  Perhaps it all relates to how we first met Fairy Tale Land Cora and Regina not as royalty.

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Once Upon a Time: The Queen Is Dead (215)

A young Snow White comforts her mother.

Snow White and Queen Eva:  We all should look so beautiful dying.

Bailey Madison, the actress who plays young Snow White is incredible.  Not only does she show us Snow’s heartache and pain, you can actually see adult Snow White in her.  It’s not just a physical resemblance, it’s her mannerisms.  To be able to channel a character defined by someone else when so young is truly amazing.

For the last few episodes (since the car accident?), Hook has been without his hook.  In the meantime he’s worn a glove where his left hand should be.  He’s anxious to get his hook back, even though the glove is more esthetically pleasing.  I suppose he needs the hook in order to stab Gold.  After all, it’d be hard to fatally wound someone with a glove.  Besides, “Captain Glove” doesn’t sound all that menacing.

This episode gets 4 (out of 4) stars.So yes, Hook gets his hook back, sails his invisible ship to Manhattan, and stabs Gold.  Oh, and apparently he’s tipped the hook with a poison for which there is no antidote.  The only recourse for the “Manhattan Four” is to return to Storybrooke and cure Gold with magic.  But for such an urgent undertaking, they seem to waste a lot of time talking and introducing fiancés.

It’s Snow White’s birthday, in both Fairy Tale Land and in Storybrooke.  Storybrooke Snow wants nothing to do with it, and isn’t happy to receive a gift.  But when she finds out what it is and who sent it, she softens.  It’s a tiara, and it’s from Mrs. Patmore, er, Johanna, a  handmaiden in Fairy Tale Land (or, since we’re doing a Downton Abbey mashup, lady’s maid).  Snow finds Johanna planting snowdrops, and they have a heartfelt reunion.

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Once Upon a… First Take

Once Upon a Time:  The Queen Is Dead

This is the second week in a row Once Upon a Time has hit it out of the park.  The “everything changes” tactic they seemed to be going for in 2013 is working.

And… and… Mrs Patmore!

Mary Margaret and David battle evil.

Snow White learns that good doesn’t always win. Damn it.

I seemed to be full of observations tonight.  Were we going to have to start calling Hook “Captain Hand”?  Nope, he got his hook back.  The girl who played Princess Snow White was terrific.  Impressive how similar her expressions were to Ginnifer Goodwin’s.  And I’m looking forward to learning more about Baelfire’s past.  Unless he dies next week.

Sadly,  good did not triumph over evil this week.  Well, we’ve always known that to be the case in the real world.   Many more thoughts to come in a longer recap, if I don’t get too bogged down in Supernatural March Madness.

Once Upon a Time catch-up

Let’s use this Oscar “holiday” to catch up on a couple of neglected episodes.

Tiny (213)

This episode gets 2 (out of 4) stars  Wow.  I hadn’t realized how little an impression the giant story from “Tallahassee” left on me until I looked back and saw I barely mentioned it.   Was the giant’s name ever mentioned?  Whatever, he returns and we get his back story, as well as his present-day Storybrooke tale.  His name is Anton, but all the other giants (in the past, because he’s now the only one left) call him Tiny.  Because, apparently, he is, compared to all the other giants.  Living in the clouds with his giant family and ridiculed for his size and inquisitiveness, he becomes fascinated with the human world.  So much so that he descends the beanstalk to see the other world. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time: In the Name of the Brother (212)

This episode ties in to “The Doctor.”  But since I don’t remember much about that episode, pardon me while I go and read Cindy McClennan’s recap at Television Without Pity.

[While we’re pausing, I want to say I might have given this episode 3 (out of 4) stars, but all the plot holes and conveniences made me kind of nuts.]

Ok, I’m back.  I remembered Dr. Whale ranting something about his brother in “The Doctor,” and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking he was trying to bring his brother back to life.  We got our answer, and we were right.  Sort of.

This episode gets 3 stars.Except that Gerhardt Frankenstein is alive when the episode begins.  He’s the younger brother, but he’s also his father’s favorite.  Hey, another episode about the problem with fathers.  That makes three in one week.  Dad cuts off all Viktor’s funding for his experiments, but Rumpelstiltskin comes to the rescue with a bag full of gold. Geez, Rumpel has his fingers in a lot of pies.  First, he tricked Regina into casting the curse; and here he’s talked Frankenstein into reanimating the dead.  [The Frankenstein scenes are in black and white, except for Rumpel in his red cape and “rosy complexion,” and the bag of gold he lays at Viktor’s feet.  Nice touch, even if it is a monster-movie trope.  I think I shall call this land Black & White Land, since it’s not Fairy Tale Land.]

Dr. Viktor Frankenstein has a brother.

The Frankenstein brothers—in color

Viktor’s digging up a body for his latest & greatest experiment when Gerhardt stops by to disapprove.  Their conversation’s interrupted by a policeman with a shot gun.  The Frankenstein brothers make their get-away, but Gerhardt is shot.  Then dies.  Well, at least now Viktor has a body.  Back at the lab, Viktor tries to shock his brother back to life,  but ends up frying the heart.  So this is where Frankenstein visits Fairy Tale Land to get a magic heart that glows.

The magic heart does the trick.  But Gerhardt is a monster.  Probably because he has all these stitches all over his body, even though this “Frankenstein” wasn’t pieced together (other than the heart).  Gerhardt kills his father and attacks Viktor.  But he stops when he recognizes his brother.  Viktor’s going to put him out of his misery (Gerhardt concurs) but he can’t go through with it.  Does this mean Gerhardt is still “alive” back in Black & White Land?  Perhaps “animate” is a better word.

In Storybrooke, an outsider has driven into the city limits, hitting Captain Hook and crashing into a tree.  Oh yeah, and Belle fell over the city line when Hook shot her, and lost her memory.  Lots of aftermath to discuss.

Hook isn’t dead.  He has broken ribs but he’ll live.  He’s handcuffed to the hospital bed, but is still able to flirt shamelessly with Emma.  Fortunately, she’s not falling for  his bullshit again.  Which is the smartest thing she does in this episode.

Belle doesn't remember Mr. Gold or herself.

Who is the crazy person? And why is he invading my personal space?

Gold tries all sorts of things to help Belle remember—magically healing her, kissing her, showing her the chipped tea cup—but all he does is scare the bejeezus out of her and make her believe he’s loony-tunes.  Bottom line, Rumpel goes evil again.  Like, threaten-to-kill-all-the-Charmings evil.

The driver (named Greg Mendell, for whatever reason) is unconscious and bleeding into his chest.  The townsfolk are at odds whether to save him or not.  Compassion finally wins, but Storybrooke’s only doctor, i.e., Dr. Whale, is 1) drunk, and 2) full of self-doubt remembering his failed Gerhardt experiment.  He runs away, but Ruby and her wolf nose find him.  They have a nice monster-to-monster chat.  He says he wanted his name to stand for life, but everyone just thinks it’s the name of a monster.  (He’s right.  Even Emma thinks the doctor is the one with the neck bolts.  Henry sets her straight.)  Ruby says she ate her boyfriend.

Ruby brings Whale back to the hospital.  He operates successfully.  That’s a bit of a blessing and a curse.  Sheriff Emma interviews Greg to see if he remembers anything, such as Gold’s fireball aimed at Hook.  He says no, he was texting.   Emma believes him, her spidey lie-detector sense apparently working only when it suits the plot.  We know Greg is lying because he calls someone and says she won’t believe what he saw.

Cora gives Gold a mysterious orb and wants to make a deal.  She’ll help him find his son if he’ll help her win back her daughter.  How can Gold help with Regina?  Just one of the many questions this episode raises.  Cora stops by Regina’s house, picks up a cherished memento, a cast hand print of Henry’s.   (Hey, Revenge also featured a cast hand print—of “little Carl,” one of the worst baby names of 2012).

Later we see Henry in the grave yard, going to Regina’s crypt and finding her secret hideaway under the casket.  Oh c’mon, Regina, even I know it’s Cora in disguise.    Regina lets Henry in.  I have to say Jared S. Gilmore is really good, mimicking Cora’s mannerisms to a tee.  Cora reveals herself, saying she’s sorry for everything, ad nauseum.   I don’t believe her, but I’m not Regina.  Cora plays on Regina’s vulnerabilities until Regina caves.  The two team up to get Henry back.  Uh-oh.  That can’t be good.

Gold uses Cora’s mysterious orb, which turns into a mysterious globe when given a drop of blood.  Baelfire’s presence highlighted, and it appears he’s in Virginia Beach.  Gold calls in a favor with Emma, saying she’s to accompany him on his quest outside Storybrooke.  Why?  Perhaps to be his interpreter for such things as airport security scanners and subway turnstiles?  (Like Harry Potter with the Weasley’s.)  He then says tells the Charmings if any harm comes to Belle, he’ll kill them all.  Why the hell would any of the Charmings harm Belle?   Oh, whatever.

And it only took me 3 viewings to catch the “knowing” Dr.  Whale reference.  You know, where Mary Margaret retorts,  “It’s not weird.  We’re past it.  We were cursed.”  In front of Henry, not less.  Hee.

[Photos by Jack Rowland © 2013 ABC]