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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “Selfless, Brave, and True”

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I’m really liking the way the various narratives are finally weaving together so nicely in ABC’s hit Once Upon a Time. In this week’s episode, focusing on the long-lost Pinocchio (aka August Booth, played by Eion Bailey), we learn how his story interweaves with Baelfire’s (Michael Raymond-James), Baelfire’s fiance Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the enigmatic Greg Mendell (AKA Owen, played by Ethan Embry). Phew! 

Quickly turning back into wooden puppet form, August appears back in Storybrooke after having failed to forestall the transformation after hooking up with a mysterious magician called Dragon (Tzi Ma). All the while he’s been stalked by Tamara, who, it turns out, is in confederation with Owen..I mean Greg. Tamara is the “her” on Greg’s cell phone. Hmm. 

Presumably, Owen has been searching for Storybrooke for 28 years, and somewhere along the way he confederated (ok, well, hooked up) with Tamara. I wonder how long that’s been going on? So she attaches herself to Baelfire to gain access to Storybrooke. I imagine that Owen has been looking for “magic” and other supernatural delights since his dad was taken captive by Regina (Lana Parrilla). Tamara has been following the magic trail wherever it leads like Woodward and Bernstein “followed the money” during Watergate. 

That it has led her to Storybrooke is no wonder. But what do she and Owen want? Is it all about finding Owen’s dad or is there something more to it? I do know Tamara’s going to break Bae’s heart But we all know he’s destined for Emma’s (Jennifer Morrison) arms again at some point, don’t we?

All of this is wrapped around August’s return and eventual demise (as August Booth, anyway). Finally learning what it means to be brave and selfless, August gives up his life rather than cooperate with Tamar, whom August believes is there to harm the good citizenry of Storybrooke. He uses his last breath to try and warn Emma of the imminent danger posed by Tamara. Although he may be too late, he is rewarded with his life-long wish. To be human, redeemed from a life of wooden puppettude. He is not, however, turned into the flawed adult August, but is returned to the truer, untarnished version of himself as a small boy.

Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) also learns a thing about giving into the darkness when she must tell August the very words she needs to hear for herself. That everyone deserves a second chance as long as redemption is possible, and that includes Mary Margaret herself. And by the end of the episode, while not cured of her depression, she is beginning to come out of her funk just a little.

To me, there are several open questions about this week’s episode. First, who the heck is Dragon within the weave of the Once Upon a Time tapestry? Second, who is Tamara? Is she a human with a fairytale axe to grind? Or is there something more to her? And finally, is this the last we’ll see of August? 

Next Sunday night (March 31), ABC will air a repeat of “Queen of Hearts” as an “enhanced” episode, featuring on-screen text that will let viewers behind the scenes. “The Miller’s Daughter” will get the “enhanced” treatment the following week, April 7. “The Price of Magic,” a Once Upon a Time special will air April 14. 

New episodes return April 21 with “Lacey,” an episode that dives headlong into Belle’s story, followed by the final three episodes of the season, including a two-part finale! 

In observance of Passover, my Let’s Talk TV Live show will not air this week, but I’ll return next Monday to bring us up to date about Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones and a lot more.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • WML

    When Rumbelle is whole again, does it become LaceyRum instead?

    Also, I am glad that the enhanced episodes that will be airing in the next two weeks are the ones that feature Cora. She was a great villain in the show. And Barbara Hershey and Rose McGowan were great! Please, OUAT writers, more Rose! She and RC had great chemistry together (what’s this about RC – he’s just great with all the people he’s with).

    On a non OUAT related note, the Bells of St. John’s will be ringing this weekend. Clara and the Doctor will be back this weekend!

  • WML…sorry about that. Dragon didn’t die–just his body, anyway. hmmm about that taser. It could be a very specially designed one. Besides, I recall quite cleary on Stargate Universe when poor Dr. Rush was tortured with some sort of taser device.

    Emily–I liked the episode. I also got a bit tired of Snow’s despondency, but I can understand it, given who she is. She is ultimate good and pure, killing someone had to have been a shock, but killing someone out of revenge (and not self-defense) could have pushed her over the edge.

    WML–Hmm. I’m not sure, but I imagine that Lacey will be Rumbeller’s delight (have no idea yet, however).

  • WML

    What is the probability that Rumbelle fans will be happy (or at least not as despondent) after “Lacey” airs?

  • WML


    I had this rather long commentary that was banned for some reason. In any case, there are some tweets that allude to the fact that the taser is not your ordinary $99 taser. The mystery grows.

  • Emily J

    Sorry, but this episode really annoyed me! I mean who kills people with a taser?! And also the Dragon said that “this isn’t the real me” and starts acting all powerful and then promptly gets killed with a taser?! How does that happen unless he wanted it to. He may just make an appearance later. And how is it possible to kill a wooden puppet with a taser? And snows poor-me slump is killing me! Since when did she turn into such a wimp? She got rid of a terrible evil, and saved her people and now she can’t deal with life?! And don’t even get me started on the kid! Why is he giving his mom the cold shoulder just because she wasn’t honest with him? She made a mistake, his dad is far from perfect himself, can’t he give her a break? Has he not witnessed all the other people he loves and trusts being dishonest all the time? (which I can’t stand either!) and why is everyone always turning their backs on Regina after she makes a good, full of love choice? “oh thanks for not cursing me, but we’re all going to go off together now and leave you behind…again!”. Anyway, I’m done ranting now!! Can’t wait to see how it all resolves, wish it wouldn’t take so long, because who can that Tamara possibly be and why does she want magic so bad? She could be an evil queen herself!

  • Wondered about the dragon myself. Only thing I guessed was the one from Mulan. Doubt Puff the Magic Dragon would work. What do you think are the chances Tamara is from the cartoon movie?

  • WML

    I think narrative shows like OUAT should go back to the twenty six new episodes per year schedule (or at least 24).

  • Jo

    Why do they run a few new episodes then take a break for a few weeks?
    Revolution is coming back and by now who even cares? It’s been off since Dec. Grimm is another one who does this. I didn’t know it even came back on since the tv listings didn’t show it as being back. I wish the networks would knock it off.

  • WML

    I liked this episode. Who is the Dragon, and will we see him again? Tamara is probably in legion with Hook now. She almost seems like a siren, able to get men to do her bidding at will (and being nasty to those who don’t). We shall see.