Quick Take: Once Upon a Time, “Snow Falls”
“Nah, I still like ‘Charming’ better.” – Snow White
Review: Once Upon a Time, “Snow Falls”
(S0103) It’s difficult to not draw comparisons between Once Upon a Time and Grimm. The reimagining of fairytales seems to be the soup of the day, of the season... and it’s not an entirely cheesy gimmick. There’s a great deal of potential in the way that each of the stories are told – I just happen to like Once Upon a Time much better at this point. I’m typically drawn to the darker, more violent stories – as are promised by Grimm – but the writing so far has been poor, and the most that it has to do with fairytales are its monsters.
What Once Upon a Time offers is a new take on our favorite characters, and even the world they come from. Even in the Enchanted Forest, true love is but a myth – Prince James Charming is arranged to be wed, but not to Snow White, and not to a woman he loves. The princess in question is from an adjacent, more powerful kingdom, and his engagement is just economically practical. His arrangements are subdued, however, when Snow White – a fugitive on the run from the Evil Queen – holds up his entourage and steals his jewels – including an engagement ring.
Back in Maine, Henry’s class is paying a visit to the hospital that is housing Prince Charming’s alter-ego, the comatose John Doe. Henry recognizes him from the giant book of fairytales he carries around, and insists that Mary – as Snow White’s real-world reflection – read to him to make him remember. Emma believes this will finally prove to Henry that there isn’t a world of fairytales underlying the events of their isolated town. But when Mary reaches the part of the story where she and Prince Charming fall in love, John Doe grabs her hand.
Snow White’s reputation proves to be less pristine than her name implies. She hints to the Prince that she does, indeed, deserve the Queen’s wrath, but the charges of murder, treason, and treachery are apparently lies. She also claims that she was released by the kind-hearted Huntsman in the Queen’s Guard, a description that seems to designate Storybrooke’s Sherriff Graham.
Now that we have the mysterious Doctor Weill’s real identity to pontificate over, the Sherriff’s true character is finally revealed as the Huntsman – the eventual saviour of Red Riding Hood/Ruby, who has aptly shed the nominal “Little” in favour of long legs and a tight stomach. The Sherriff demonstrates his elite tracking skills when John Doe flees the hospital, eventually finding him in a creek in the woods.
Once Upon a Time also gives us our favourite fairytale moments – as we know them, and repurposed. We saw Prince Charming wake Snow White with a kiss in the show’s premiere; now, Snow White wakes Prince Charming with her own luscious lips – granted, John Doe came out of the coma on his own at first, but I guess it makes more sense to give her a reason to perform mouth-to-mouth, considering they are technically strangers. We also get to see the Prince and Snow save each other on different occasions in the flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest, where the duo comes upon the Queen’s soldiers and the notorious bridge Trolls before parting ways – I anticipate some seriously adventurous storytelling to bring Snow and Prince James back to where we first met them in the premiere.
Despite regaining consciousness, John Doe has developed amnesia, and is kept at sword’s length from Mary Blanchard due to the Mayor’s meddling. Virginia has conveniently discovered a woman named Catherine claiming to be the wife of the man who she identifies as David – she also happens to be the counterpart of Prince Charming’s arranged loveless fiancé. Though her story sets off Emma’s internal lie-detector, we are all at the mercy of the Queen’s story; we will likely learn that his name truly is James, being one of the last pieces of the puzzle that will remind the Storybrookers who they really are. Don’t mistake that as a complaint about predictability – we knew where the story was heading long before Once Upon a Time even premiered; it’s the unravelling of the plot that holds the most excitement. As for Grimm, well, “protect the world from monsters” is too overdone to yield any promise for a future.