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Who knew? Grumpy was born to be a dreamer, as we find out in this week's Once Upon a Time episode "Dreamy."

TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “Dreamy”

We’ve met them individually and briefly in a group, but tonight we get the Once Upon a Time version of the “Seven Dwarves” in this week’s episode “Dreamy.” So. Dwarves are hatched, which I suppose makes sense since they are not earthly beings.  And Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) started life as Dreamy, who seems to look at life through the sort of rose colored glasses that come with inexperience and naivete.

Helping out a clumsy young novice fairy as she gathers the year’s supply of fairy dust from in the mines, young Dreamy finds himself smitten by the lovely Nova (Amy Acker). But, as Dreamy eventually learns, dwarves aren’t meant to fall in love; they are meant to work the mines for rock needed to create the precious fairy dust. After all, says Nova’s boss, the Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy), “Fairy Dust is what powers the land.”

The story crosses over into Storybrooke where the town’s convent has run into monetary problems when the young Sister Astrid (and Nova’s modern alter ego), accidentally orders way too much balloon helium for the annual Miners Day. The cost wipes out the nuns’ monthly stipend and they don’t have this month’s rent for landlord Mr. Gold (who, of course owns nearly everything in town).

Knowing that Mr. Gold is unlikely to offer the nuns a grace period for their rent, Astrid, and the convent’s chief fundraiser Mary Margaret has no idea how their going to avoid eviction. So Leroy, who’s as smitten with the unavailable Sister Astrid as Dreamy is with Nova, offers to sell the 1,000 candles crafted at the convent for Miner’s Day to raise the money.

Only one small problem—make that two. First, the candles aren’t a very hot seller; only 42 had been sold the previous year, and that’s a far cry from 1,000. The other problem is that neither Leroy nor Mary Margaret have many friends in town at this point. Leroy, the town grump and drunk just doesn’t have that trusting face—or the charisma to make him much of a successful salesman. And Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) is just this side of Town Pariah, since she’d wrecked Kathryn and David’s marriage. No one is really talking to her, except perhaps roommate—and town sheriff—Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison).

Leroy can’t break Astrid’s heart, so he lies, telling her he’s sold the candles, hoping to make good on the funds by selling his sailboat to Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle). But once Gold learns that the sale is meant to help out the nuns, he refuses, telling Leroy that he’d like nothing more to evict them. “I have a long and complicated relationship with the nuns,” he explains to Leroy, a hint of bitterness in his voice. Hmm. What could Gold have against a group of nuns?

Thanks for asking. The nuns, back in Fairy Tale Land (FTL) are, of course the fairies. And you may recall that Rumplestiltskin (Mr. Gold’s FTL counterpart) destroys Cinderella’s fairy godmother, claiming that her easy magic is a trap—a promise of dreams come true without an explanation of consequences to be paid.

Now, if anyone knows about the cost of magic, it’s Rumple. It’s cost him a lot; it’s also cost many who’ve dealt with him. There’s clearly a power struggle of a sort between Rumple and the fairy godmother clan—or at least a feud—that goes back to the use of magic. “All magic comes with a price,” is practically Rumple’s mantra, and fairy godmothers are all about magic without a price tag at all. So, I’m guessing that Rumple’s issue with the convent goes back to that.

In the end, Leroy finds a more practical solution to the nuns’ financial woes, but like his FTL alter ego, realizes that life with object of his affection is not attainable, and must remain only in the realm of dreams. Once again, love is thwarted, and that realization for Dreamy results in a change of attitude—and the change of his name to the more familiar “Grumpy.”

The story this week is pretty straightforward, both in message and execution, but underneath the overt sweetness (and bittersweet) of “Dreamy,” the seamier side of life in Storybrooke continues as David’s (Josh Dallas) wife Kathryn continues to be missing in action, her car left at the side of a road—with her luggage still inside! When Regina (Lana Parrilla) insists on action, Emma investigates, procuring Kathryn’s phone records from Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito), who’s got “connections.” Of course, he’s still working for Regina, and the phone records have no doubt been doctored to implicate David in Kathryn’s disappearance.

“Dreamy” is a good, straight-ahead episode with few surprises and just a tad too much sweet. But then again, I tend to believe the show’s at it’s best when it hovers slightly on the dark side of fantasy, and it’s been there most of the time. I suppose I can’t begrudge a bit of sweetness amidst the gloom.

Fundamentally the episode is about giving up the love of your life for the greater good, or to fulfill some other destiny, one more profound than happiness or love. It is often true that those who do fulfill some nobler purpose sacrifice their own happiness. It is the cost borne by the noble.

There was also an interesting appearance by Belle (Emilie de Ravin), who runs into Dreamy at a tavern, where she waxes philosophical about love and loss. I’m guessing that timeline-wise, she is on her way home from Rumple’s castle—but before she’s taken by the Evil Queen. She is clearly nursing her own broken heart, and obviously is still in love with Rumple, still believing that it’s possible for them to reunite and reclaim their love.

Several Once Upon a Time cast members and creators participated in a panel at the Paley Center in Los Angeles earlier today as part of the 2012 Paley Fest. According to the Paley website, a replay of the question and answer session will be available on Hulu March 15.

Next week’s episode explores the intriguing tale of Little Red Riding Hood! Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Special Note: The U.K.-based Once Upon a Fan site is raising funds to support one of Robert Carlye’s favorite charities With Kids. Stop by there to learn how you can help. In the meantime, here’s more about the organization from Mr. Carlyle himself:

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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