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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “Snow Falls”

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When I was growing up, my most indelible memories of the fairy tales originated during the Rocky and Bullwinkle show with the “Fractured Fairy Tales” feature. Simply drawn compared to the Disney animated tellings, the best thing about Fractured Fairy Tales was the always dry and often ironic spins on the Grimm fairy tales as told by Edward Everett Horton. And although I read the traditional tales (albeit from sanitized, kid-friendly storybooks) I’ve always enjoyed slightly askew adaptations of these familiar characters.  

In telling the story of how Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) met her Prince Charming (Josh Dallas, whose name we learn is James), Snow White is cast as a highwayman…er…woman in tonight’s Once Upon a Time episode “Snow Falls.” Cool.

Stealing from the rich prince as he rides via carriage with lady love (to whom the very self sufficient Snow refers as the “hag with the bad attitude”), Snow absconds with a pouch of the prince’s jewels, including an engagement ring for his fiancé, fleeing into the woods. And the chase is on.

Eventually, after encounters with trolls only too happy to return Snow White to the queen (Lana Parrilla) for the reward, and a couple of sword fights—not to mention a little magic—the prince and Snow realize they are meant for each other. But we know that things can never be that easy.  I did enjoy this revisionist telling of Snow White as a kick-ass 21st Century woman in Ren Faire clothing.

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is sleeping in her VW, kicked out of her digs at Granny’s. And volunteering at the local hospital Mary Margaret sits beside a John Doe, in a coma for who knows how long? Could he be Prince Charming as Henry (Jared Gilmore) believes, only waiting to be awakened by Snow White? John Doe’s coma, he thinks, is their curse, keeping apart two soul mates (not to mention, his grandparents). The queen certainly has more than a passing interest in the mystery man, and when telemetry notes brain activity, seemingly inspired by Mary Margaret’s healing touch, she moves into action.

John Doe disappears into the woods after fully waking from the coma in the middle of night. But Mary Margaret, accompanied by Emma, Henry and the Storybrooke sheriff (Jamie Dornan) are in hot pursuit, locating him unconscious on his way to the T(r)oll Bridge.

Mary Margaret has saved his life. But will it mean true love will ensue? Of course not; it’s only episode three, after all! No, no, no. Madame Mayor Regina has located a long-lost spouse who is oh-so-delighted to have found her husband. I don’t know; seems suspicious to me! The lonely Mary Margaret is out of luck, and as Regina reminds her, “not having someone is the worst curse imaginable!” She should know. But how much, exactly?

So my question after three episodes is “How much does Regina actually remember about her own curse?” Corollary:  How much does Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) know? We know, of course, that the other characters are oblivious to their true selves, but clearly Regina knows something, but how much—or whether in fact, she recalls it all is still unknown. From last week’s episode, it’s clear that she has no idea that Henry is Snow White’s grandson. He’s simply a boy Mr. Gold has procured for her adoption. Which, of course, suggests that Gold knows a lot more than he’s letting on. Perhaps more than Regina.

His “please” to Regina at the end of last week’s episode suggests that he know quite a bit. Although The Evil Queen argued that her bargain with Rumpelstiltskin was purely academic, since he would not remember anything if she’s successful in implementing it, the trickster apparently had a trick or two up his sleeve to either forestall parts of the curse or its effect on him. The final part of his bargain with the queen was for her to grant him anything he desires. If he says, “please.”

I’m not sure why I think this, but I have a strong feeling that Rumpelstiltskin is far from the maniacal imp he appears as in the Enchanted Forest. There is much more to him, perhaps even a deeply buried heroic streak (hey, I’m always looking for those in complex characters), although likely fueled by a desire for revenge—perhaps on the queen.

He’s in prison when we meet him in the forest. Who imprisoned him—and why? Was it she? There’s something going on there, and I wonder what that is—and how it affects the entire narrative. Perhaps more insight is forthcoming next week in “Price of Gold.”

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Jane E

    I have to say so far, I am really enjoying this show. It is a very unique concept. I do believe after last week that Mr. Gold knows more then he lets on. I can’t wait until the next episode.

  • Brighid45

    It seems to me that while Regina appears to be running things, it’s really Mr. Gold to whom we should be paying attention (after all, he does own the whole town). He knows far more than he’s letting on, that’s for sure. And I have my suspicions that someone who knows the immense power and deep magick in a name–enough for him to demand it as a price for offering help–also knows how to perhaps cast a glamour or two to keep someone from knowing too much . . . We’ll see what happens. Love this dark twisty episode, nicely done.