The first post-curse full moon is a cause of concern for Ruby (Meghan Ory), who doubles as both Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf in this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “Child of the Moon.” When a Storybrooke resident is brutally murdered, child of the (full) moon Ruby is prime suspect, and not even she believes she’s innocent.
David (Josh Dallas) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) believe in her, trying to help her see the humanity lying within her. And, as Belle points out, she has a bit of experience in seeing beneath the monster to the human.
We learn Ruby/Red’s tragic back story, and in the process are introduced to a new evil in town, much more sinister than Mr. Gold, and perhaps even more than Her Royal Evil Highness (Lana Parrilla). King George has made himself known, vowing to get even with Charming (David) for usurping his authority back in Fairytale Land.
Threatening to expose the sheriff for the simple shepherd he is, Spencer (AKA King George, played by Alan Dale) tries to undermine David’s authority, murdering a mouse of a mechanic and blaming it on David’s good friend Ruby–all to prove that David hasn’t got the leadership skills necessary to be sheriff. He also destroys David’s only real hope of opening a portal with Fairytale Land by casting Jefferson’s hat into a bonfire. And with Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) still trapped there, they must find another way.
“Child of the Moon” is an excellent installment, deepening our knowledge of Red, and at the same time, moving forward the overall narrative through Henry’s (Jared Gilmore) all-too-real and firey dreams, one of which quite literally burns him.
Henry’s dream, explains Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) is less a dream than a limbo state halfway between life and death, the lingering side effect of the sleep curse under which he’d been accidentally put at the end of last season. Those, it seems, who’ve fallen under such a curse may find themselves in the flame-filled horror of this netherworld, itself a portal of some sort.
Gold gives to Henry a substance placed within amulet to be worn while asleep. This potion will help Henry be at peace during these nighttime episodes and help him control the journey within this frightening word between worlds. Notably, Gold gives this to Henry with no strings attached–”on the house,” as he says.
Although Gold seems to be using magic (or is he?), he is using it to help calm a young boy’s fears and let him control his journey through them. I wonder if there’s anything in that pendant, however, other than Gold’s assurances that the potion will work. Is it a placebo, allowing Henry, himself, to control the dream and his place in it? There is a nice parallel between Gold’s actions and encouragement given by Ruby’s mother (Annabelle Gish) to control her own fate when the moon changes her into a wolf. There is no magic here, only belief and calm self-assurance that power over fear lies in one’s own understanding and self-confidence.
By using Gold’s potion (or by Henry’s belief that it’s a magic potion), Henry is able to see Aurora, who’s been having the same dream (which makes sense since she had also been through a sleeping spell). This may finally point the way for Emma, Snow and whomever else is trapped in Fairytale Land to come through to Storybrooke. Of course, there’s still Cora and Hook to deal with, and we know they’re going to be nothing but trouble if they, too come through whatever portal and into town.
I really liked this week’s episode. It captured the tragedy of Red’s life as a she-wolf, living in constant fear that her worst instincts would take over at the full moon. I also liked the parallel drawn between Ruby and Rumple, both of these are tragic figures, seeing themselves as monsters and inherently irreemable. Yet the love they are shown (epsecially by the redemptive character Belle) may in the end help them see themselves in a new and less harsh light, understanding their own humanity through the prism of another’s love.