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An vast improvement over the premiere, "Once Upon a Time'"s "White Out" gleefully subverts a beloved nursery rhyme to great effect!

TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ – ‘White Out’ and Previewing ‘Rocky Road’

For me, there were three real highlights to this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “White Out.” First was the introduction of the malicious Bo Peep. Yikes! Only the brilliant Jane Espenson (who wrote the episode) could so evilly subvert a beloved nursery rhyme! “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep/And doesn’t know where to find them/Leave them alone/And they’ll come home/Wagging their tails behind them.” And who are Bo Peep’s sheep? Her prisoners, enslaved by her shepherd’s crook. And included amongst them is Elsa’s sister Anna. Clever twist on a tale old as time!

Elizabeth Mitchell debuts in Once Upon a Time

I’m still not enamored of the Frozen story, but, as has been Ms. Espenson’s signature, she managed to really well integrate the Frozen characters into the story, giving the carpetbagging characters a reason to be involved in the story beyond “just because it’s cool.” The second highlight of the episode for me was the introduction of Elizabeth Mitchell’s ice cream shopkeeper, who I believe is the real Snow Queen of storybook fame. And she is a nasty piece of work. The third highlight was shepherd David’s long hair! Love it! He had a quite the Aragorn thing going there, but without the sword-fighting expertise to go up against and extortion mistress Bo Peep. Good thing Anna’s on hand to teach him some “skillz.”

The episode had plenty of time for Hook heroics as Emma nearly freezes to death doing her own bit of heroics. In the meantime, Regina continues to sulk, depressed that Robin’s Marian has returned, and not yet with a plan to change the ending of her story (Where’s the Writer? Oh, he’s been busy playing a real bonafide jerk on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.) Unfortunately, a key scene between Regina and Henry was excised from the final cut of the episode, and I think it’s a great example of how the show seems to be willing to sacrifice important emotional moments for the show’s core characters to advance the interlopers’  new characters’ storylines.

But the episode is a huge improvement on the season premiere. I realized as re-watched it, hoping that I’d like it better, that I actually cringed during the Belle-Rumple dance scene. It says something when a scene involving my favorite character on the series induces a cringe. Rather than honor that iconic scene in the animated Beauty and the Beast, it seemed like a poor cousin. (The effects–emotional and technical– were better in the cartoon!)

So on to next week’s episode, “Rocky Road.” (Mild spoilers ahoy!)

I can only imagine that the title refers to Storybrooke’s Bad Humor woman, who likely dishes out ice cream laced with curare (or something). With her loose in town, the road will be rocky indeed, and I ain’t talking about chocolate ice cream with marshmallows and nuts. No, in this case, the rocky road is intended for Marian, when you-know-who casts an icy spell (and my guess is that the “who” isn’t Elsa, although she is blamed.

The episode will introduce Michael Socha (late of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) as Merry Man Will Scarlet. (Trivia question: Socha starred in a film with one of Once Upon a Time’s cast. Name the film and the star!). And Regina teams up with son Henry to discover the author of the storybook. (And it’s good to get back to that narrative thread, for it holds some nice possibilities).

And in the inevitable trip back to Frozen-land (otherwise known as Arendelle) Elsa and Hans try to save the kingdom. If you care about that, great. I do not. Oh, and Hook begins to suspect that Mr. Gold still has the Dark One dagger (but how would he possibly know he’d ever given it up in the first place?)

Be sure to tune in tonight to Let’s Talk TV on Blogcritics’ Radio Network and let us know what you thought of Sunday’s episode and what you think will happen next!

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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)."

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3 comments

  1. Lydian DeVere Yard

    Hook would know possibly bc when Zelena was discovered dead, Gold and Belle showed those present that she had the dagger, so Gold couldn’t have killed her. Word possibly got around to Hook about this.

  2. As much as OUAT has been underwhelming so far this year (though I like the warlord Bo Peep), the new season of Downton Abbey has me fatigued. Back to OUAT, the I am finding the current de emphasis of Regina and Gold to be disconcerting. And I still have no affinity for Emma and Hook. The whole Snow starting up the power plant was lunacy.