Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Once Upon a Time, Season 1 Episode 3 - Snow Falls

The third episode of Once Upon a Time may be my favorite so far. It's certainly my favorite with regard to the fairy-tale sequences. In “Snow Falls”, we get to see how Snow White and Prince Charming met. In Storybrooke, he emerges from his coma to become a player in the action, but things quickly take a heartbreaking turn.

Henry convinces Emma to ask his teacher, to read to John Doe, a coma patient at the local hospital. John Doe is Prince Charming, Henry explains, and he needs Snow White to help him remember who he is. Emma relays Henry's request to Mary Margaret, claiming that if nothing happens, it will disabuse Henry of his fantasies.

I still can't get a read on where Emma stands on the whole “everyone here is really a fairy tale character” idea. It seems like one moment, she's reassuring Henry that she believes him, and the next minute, she's reassuring someone else that she doesn't. Either way, she wants to see what happens between Mary Margaret and John Doe, too.

What happens is that John Doe least long enough to reach out and grab Mary Margaret;s arm. Needless to say, Mayor Regina (a.k.a. The Wicked Queen) is very nervous about this news. That's why the audience gets nervous too when John Doe is missing the next morning.

In flashbacks, we see Prince Charming through the woods in a carriage with his fiancee, who is appropriately shallow and selfish enough to allow the audience to root against her. His family jewels (no, really) are stolen by a hooded highway robber, who turns out to be...Snow White! He recognizes her from the "wanted" poster and everything....apparently “Snow White” passes for a bandit name in Never-Never Land. At any rate, she makes off with the goods, and he returns later and captures her. There was n heirloom ring among the things that she stole, and he of course needs it for Unlikeable Fiancee.

At this point, Snow White is not yet keeping house with dwarves (although they do get a shout-out), but rather using dangerous, ugly bridge trolls as fences. They get the ring back, with some mutual life-saving and bittersweet bonding. Meanwhile, I snicker every time Charming (whose name, it turns out, is James) says “jewels”. The flashbacks end with Snow White and Prince James Charming returning to their respective lives, at least for the moment.

I kind of enjoyed the kick-butt outlaw Snow White that we saw in this week's episode. The only thing is, if the name “Snow White” is supposed to indicate innocence, robbery doesn't seem very...well, snow-white. It's almost as if Ginnifer Goodwin is playing two different characters. While Snow is cynical about love, Mary Margaret speaks longingly to her Obligatory Mr. Wrong about marriage and family. Yes, she goes on one bad date, if only to prove to us that she's not a nun, but that there's only one right person for her.

The story that Snow tells Charming helps to bridge the gap between Outlaw Snow White and the one we're more familiar with. Apparently she was driven into the forest and took up a life of crime when the Wicked Queen offered a reward for cutting out her heart. This was in retaliation for for Snow ruining her life. Only a huntsman got close to the prize, though, and he couldn't do it. My money says that the Huntsman is now the sheriff in Storybrooke.

I'm guessing that as the pre-Curse storyline unfolds, it will be Prince Charming's love that breaks through Snow White's understandable cynicism, and for which she now pines. If nothing else, seeing Goodwin and Dallas together again showed me that I wasn't imagining things during the pilot: they have tremendous chemistry. What I'm still curious about is how Snow White ruined Regina's life. She even admits to Charming that she did, although she doesn't say much else. The writers are still teasing us with this information.

Back in Storybrooke, security cameras reveal that John Doe wandered off his own, but wandered off into the forest. This is better than abduction by mayoral minions, but still far from ideal. The sheriff, with Henry, Emma and Mary Margaret in tow, find him collapsed by a creek. Mary Margaret revives him with a kiss, bringing things full circle rather nicely from the kiss-of-life that appeared in the pilot episode.

With John Doe safely back in the hospital, Emma, Henry and Mary Margaret are relieved and hopeful...until the Regina produces an estranged spouse for him from thin air. Mary Margaret looks on devastated as he hugs the woman uncomfortably. Emma confronts Regina, telling her that nothing about this adds up. “What do you think I did?” Regina asks her. “Cast a spell on her?” Well, now that you mention it...

It's a testament to both the writing and the acting on the show that this episode's final twist really does have quite an emotional impact. Once Upon a Time has me invested. I look forward to learning more of what happened before, and seeing what happens in Storybrooke as well.

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