Wednesday , February 28 2024

TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ – ‘The Tower’

There is little more frightening than coming face to face with your fears, and on this week’s Once Upon a Time, “The Tower,” David’s (Josh Dallas) story of confronting his deepest fears intersects with Rapunzel’s. David, confronted with the the now pregnant Snow White is terrified that he will fail this next child as he feels he’d failed Emma (Jennifer Morrison)–a fear that manifests in a great opening dream sequence.ROBERT CARLYLE

But the far more interesting story lays this week in Storybrooke, where David’s concerns about being a parent come to the fore. But he has an extra antagonist to them on: the Wicked Witch of the West (AKA Zelena, played with malicious glee by guest star Rebecca Mader). What’s her plan? I’m still uncertain about what exactly she wants from Charming, Snow–and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). But it is clear that our favorite Storybrooke heroes (and anti-heroes) are being cast in Once Upon a Time’s re-imagining of the The Wizard of Oz.

Poor Rumple, captive in Zelena’a storm cellar. He’s certainly under her control, for she wields the dagger that bears his name. He spins furiously, straw into gold, trying to chase from his head the voices he says he hears. I have to say, the scene involving Rumple and Zelena sizzled. Great closeup camera work enhanced the two intense performances as Zelena gives Rumple a close shave, and to what end? To get a dab of his blood and a bit of his beard.

And I think the scene lays to rest the speculation that Zelena is Rumple’s daughter. The father she describes is not Rumple–and the scene was far too sexually charged for there to be any hint of familial hostility of a scorned daughter for an estranged father.

Rumple fully expects Wicked to slit his throat with the dagger and claim the title of Dark One for herself. He welcomes death, desires it, for as he says, the voice in his head will not vanish until he’s dead. What madness did the Wicked Witch wreak upon Rumple by snatching him from his death? But, it is not his death she wishes, but only to exploit him, this time to use his blood to break into his safe and steal his night root.

Wicked is seeking, she says, something Rumple has sought his whole life–could she mean courage? Is that what she is seeking to acquire by drugging David’s tea with the night root? In the end, she steals his sword: a symbol of his courage.

So if David represents the Cowardly Lion’s courage, does Rumple represent the scarecrow’s brain? He is certainly half mad, and of course, the straw represents the scarecrow’s stuffing. Who, then is the Tinman in this retelling of The Wizard of Oz? Who is Dorothy? Glinda? I’m sure those parts will be revealed as we continue toward the end of season three.

Tune into my weekly radio show tomorrow night on Blogtalk Radio to discuss this week’s episode and weigh in on who you think will be revealed as the Oz in Storybrooke cast of characters.

Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC.



About Barbara Barnett

A Jewish mother and (young 🙃) grandmother, Barbara Barnett is an author and professional Hazzan (Cantor). A member of the Conservative Movement's Cantors Assembly and the Jewish Renewal movement's clergy association OHALAH, the clergy association of the Jewish Renewal movement. In her other life, she is a critically acclaimed fantasy/science fiction author as well as the author of a non-fiction exploration of the TV series House, M.D. and contributor to the book Spiritual Pregnancy. She Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (

Check Also

Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Films: Stephen King, David Lynch and Storytelling

'King on Screen' and 'Lynch/Oz' explore the evolution, inspirations, and techniques of two of the most influential storytellers in the world of film.


  1. I can’t say I see sexual anything here, just a sick and twisted witch tormenting a man who doesn’t deserve to suffer like this. I’m just so angry at her……. ugh, I hate WW.

    I guess I get why he wants to die after being tormented like this, but I don’t get how the thought of Belle and Bae aren’t helping…… I hate to think like this, but it does seem like Belle fights for him more than he fights for her.He knows Belle is alive, so why isn’t he fighting his “madness”?

  2. Robert Carlyle was excellent in that one extended scene. This guy deserves an Emmy. Not just a nomination, but an Emmy. Come on, ABC. How about campaigning for a truly great actor.

    Rapunzel? She could have stayed in the tower and I could care less.

    Why was Regina smiling when they “discovered” that Rumple was alive?

  3. Amazing portrayal of Rumple by Robert Carlyle yet again, just that small scene showed us Rumple in a torment of emotions, the torment, the hurt, the confusion. It’s like he was waiting for death but it never came and now he’s tormented by the damn WW (I hope a house drops on her!!, like a mansion) and the spinning of his wheel *sobs*, his mind his all jumbled and he needs his family to get him back…

    Agreed with what WML said, Robert deserves an Emmy!

    I like the creepyness overtones of the eppy, Charming scenes were good and I do get the feeling that Hook let out Rumple, hmmm…that little smirk by Regina at the end ;), she knows the WW is going down…well she thinks she is…

    Can’t WAIT for the Belle/Bae team up next eppy, by the promo alone, next eppy looks awesome

  4. I just watched last Sunday’s episode and ,despite all the spoilers and complaints on Tumblr, I generally liked it. That scene with Rumple and Zelena was absolutely intense, and beautifully shot (there was one blooper where Zelena didn’t shave Rumple’s mustache, but still it was great). This was definitely Charming’s story, and I’m glad he got a centric because most of the time he’s with Snow, and she’s the one making most of the decisions. It was nice to view things from Charming’s perspective, particularly Snow’s pregnancy when he had this fear that he was going to fail at fatherhood as was highlighted in the dream (that was a great costume for JMo). Sometimes I think Charming has a little more common sense than Snow, and it was particularly evident when the couple had their first meeting with Zelena and Charming was expressing his doubts about her. The Rapunzel story, I agree, was a bit of an appendage but I liked the concept of it (that the only thing keeping you hidden away is your fear). The Belle scene was also interesting in a way, Zelena asked her if she was “Mrs. Gold”; I wonder if that was a bit of foreshadowing, hmmm… I also thought it was very sweet that Belle took over the shop, instead of leaving it empty. Overall, the episode was good, and the next one looks like it’s going to be awesome 🙂