Quick Take: Once Upon a Time, “The Thing You Love Most”
“Great power demands great sacrifice.” – Rumpelstiltskin
Review: Once Upon a Time, “The Thing You Love Most”
(S0102) If Once Upon a Time runs for more than a season, which I certainly hope it does at this point, it faces many obstacles that will need to be anticipated. The first – and most important, in my mind – is the age of Jared Gilmore, the young actor who plays Henry, the adoptive son of the Evil Queen. Much like Malcolm David Kelley, who played Walt on Lost, Henry’s aging may be want of an explanation in relation to the time passed in the show. Though he isn’t bound by the curse, per se, a summer can do a lot to a kid’s voice and stature that won’t work well if they want to pick up wherever they leave off.
Another problem this show has already tried to overcome is the expansive use of visual effects when the story turns to the realm of the Enchanted Forest, the Forbidden Fortress, and the Evil Queen’s Castle. Obviously a drain on the budget, the fantastic fairy-tale world is animated in a style that preserves its magic and imagination in a quality that doesn’t need to be as good as a studio-film to just be as good, so long as it is contained in the fairy-tale flashbacks.
All that being said – what a great second episode. We learn rather quickly that the Evil Queen’s curse was not immediate, nor an instant success. Though she first made a mysterious trade with Rumpelstiltskin for this greatest of curses, the Queen proceeded to use this in a deal she made with Maleficent (guest-star Kristin Bauer – True Blood’s Pam) for the sleeping curse she used on Snow White – the same one used on Sleeping Beauty, as it so happens. The Queen steals back her curse after getting the jump on Maleficent and threatening to kill her pet unicorn. Against the advice of the Magic Mirror (guest-star Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad’s Gus) and her own father, the Queen decides to exact her revenge.
The Queen must use the heart of the person she loves most as a sacrifice for the curse; though she claims that person is dead because of Snow White, there remains one person who still occupies the Queen’s affection: her father, Henry. We learn that the Queen’s last deal with Rumpelstiltskin was for his retrieval of a boy for her to name after her deceased father – clearly she was and is unaware of Emma’s identity. Though she is trying her best to force Emma out of town - enlisting the help of Sidney, the Magic Mirror's mirror; having her arrested by Sherriff Graham; even getting her to call Henry “crazy” within his earshot, briefly turning him against her – Emma has found another reason to stay in Storybrooke.
Emma learns from Henry’s teacher, Mary Blanchard, that he believes she is Snow White, who he insists is Emma’s mother. Mary trusts Emma for the joy she seems to bring Henry, offering to post her bail and even taking her in when she is asked to leave Granny’s inn because of the city’s convenient “no felon” mandate. She ultimately convinces Emma to stay in town for Henry’s sake, though we know that there’s more entailed in her advice than they know.
Although there are many questions regarding the identities of those “evil souls” who lend locks of their hair to the Evil Queen’s curse, the most intriguing developments pertain to the Evil Queen’s history with Snow White – why does Snow White’s existence mock the Queen? Did she simply stealing Prince Charming affections, or did someone actually die by Snow White’s hand? At least I finally have answers to the real-world counterparts of the Queen and Jiminy Cricket; Regina’s etymology reveals her “queenly” identity, while Henry’s conscientious therapist, Archie, is given a surname: Hopper.