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Monday, October 31, 2011

Once Upon a Time: For the Love of God, Don't Drink the Apple Cider

Once Upon a Time
Episode 101
"Pilot"

This may come as a surprise to those that find my disposition sunny, but I was not reared on fairytales with happy endings.  I grew up largely unexposed and illiterate of what many would consider standard, classic "every one knows them" fairytale stories and kids movies.  For instance, I have never read the story of Snow White or seen Pinocchio (or Bambi for god's sakes).  I am fairly well read and have a large supply of useless trivia knowledge which allows me to converse on these topics but, if push were ever to come to shove, I would surely be exposed as a fraud when we got into the details.  Indeed, its only as part of my on the job training with my little boy, Lil' TV Watcher, that I am learning these stories known to many as simply part of the basic Western civilization experience. This is all a long way of saying that I am psyched for Once Upon a Time's interpretation of these classics and find myself completely without bias or preconceived notions on how they should play out and influence our show's mythology.  With that out of the way, let's begin as the show's premiere episode did ...

"There was an Enchanted Forest filled with all the classic characters we know. Or think we know.  One day they found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen. Our World.

This is how it happened."
The Enchanted Forest and Enchanted Castle

Riding through the countryside, riding through the countryside, riding through the countryside.  Obviously this is Prince Charming hauling ass through the famous Enchanted Forest and less famous breathtaking land bridge and water views.  Charming shows up just in time to join the Seven Dwarves (of which we only really get to see Doc and Grumpy in this episode) at the graveside wake of one Snow White (previously seen on TV as a hot, third Mormon fundamentalist wife ... Snow White's dirty little secret?!?)   When Charming gets the Dwarves to open her foresty, hyperbaric chamber death tube, he lays a princely kiss on her cold dead lips,  The kiss turns the brown forest a luscious green and wakes up Snow. What a kissa!  We cut to the ensuing enchanted wedding in a chapel in the round kind of place.  Apparently, Snow White was attacked by Edward Scissorhands on her way down the aisle a she is rocking some kind of white, shredded mess and some horrible, horrible Bride of Frankenstein hair.  You sure about this Charming?!?

The wedding bliss is rudely interrupted by a stylish yet clearly evil queen. Man, she knows how to make an entrance and walk the wedding aisle like a model during Fashion Week. It almost looks like she is glide walking down the aisle.  Its impressive, I'm not going to lie.  Snow maybe overreacts as far as being a good hostess goes and pulls Charming's sword from its sheath (not a euphemism). She tells the interloper that she’s no queen anymore, just an evil witch. Charming tries to calm her down and tells her not to stoop to the Witch's level. My experience with women Charming is that its best not to get between them. Especially when we've had some poisoning and death making in the shared past? The Evil Witch tells Snow to cool her heels, she's here to give a gift.  She gives them this one day to have their last happy ending cause starting tomorrow?  Well, starting tomorrow, I am making a vow to take away all you love forever. That goes for all of you in attendance.  The Evil Queens says that her victory will come from destroying all of your happiness. Charming limply throws his sword at her but she disappears in a puff of smoke.  I am sure this put a damper on the reception. 

Next time we see Snow, she is clearly knocked up (which is interesting because I do not think much time could have passed since the wedding ... was it an enchanted shotgun wedding?!?) and playing with some blue birds.  We learn she hasn't slept since the wedding because she can't get the Queen's threat out of her head.  Though Charming tries to reassure her that the Queen cant hurt them, Snow replies that the bitch poisoned an apple and killed Snow just because she was prettier than the Queen ... she's ca - razy!  Yeah, Snow needs to speak to Rumplestiltskin as he knows the future. 

Rumplestiltskin is in the castle dungeon.  He knows that its Snow and Charming come to see him, even through their lame cover-ups. He already knows what's on their mind and he'll answer but as a price, he wants to know the name of Snow's unborn baby.  Charming says no deal but Snow overrules him and agrees.  Awesome blossom says Rumplestiltskin. So here's the dealie, the Queen? She's put a curse over the kingdom. Time will stop and everyone will be trapped. Our prison will be time and all we love will be ripped away from us. There will be no more happy endings (the Queen basically gave them all of this information so I am not sure Snow is getting her bargain's worth?). That is, until your unborn child returns to us on her 28th birthday. That return will signal the beginning of the final war. Having gotten their knowledge Charming tries to lead Snow away but Rumplestiltskin is not having any of it.  We had a deal!!  You owe me your baby's name. Charming lies that its a boy but Rumple knows better. Snow thinks about it for a second and tells him, her name is Emma.

Back in the castle proper, a war counsel of the good guys has been convened. Just to set a setting, we visibly are able to make out Snow, Charming, Geppetto and his real boy, the Dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny and Jiminy Cricket.  Jiminy says that, "giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything." Huh, ask Darth Vader or the Emperor about that Cricket.   Charming doesn't think that a clear conscious will prevent the Queen's curse from descending.  Snow thinks its pretty hopeless and that the future is already written. Charming refuses to believe that. He makes the logical point that if you believe Rumple about his "curse is a coming" business, then you also have to  believe that Emma will be their savior. Just then, the Blue Fairy flitters in along with tome castle workers who are hauling a tree stump.  To be specific, its an enchanted tree stump which will ward off any curse, it made into a vessel. The Fairy fine print says that it will only work on one person.  Geppetto says he and his boy can fashion a suitable vessel for someone to hide out in.  Grumpy thinks this is bullshit and wants to get back to talking about fighting. 

Some time later on (the show is not so good with the Enchanted Forest/Castle timeline of things), Snow doesn't want to leave Charming but he makes the good point that what's 28 years when you have eternal love. *BARF* They make kissy face which obviously causes Snow to go into labor.  Of course it does, the last time he kissed her, he woke her from the dead. Talk about bad timing. Snow goes into labor just as the curse and the Evil Queen bringing up the rear, descend upon the castle. 

Cut to a very yell-y birth scene. Snow, remembering that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for her to go into the magic wardrobe now that she's birthed the savior, tells Charming to take Emma and put her in the wardrobe for safekeeping,. He is reluctant to leave her side but she insists.  Charming grabs the baby in one arm and draws a sword from the sword rack near the bedroom door and heads out.  Do you think Pottery Barn sells those Sword Racks ... because that is a stylish AND useful d├ęcor item.  Charming gets sliced and diced by the Queen's henchmen as he goes (though he is doing pretty well considering he's fighting one handed and holding a 5 minute old newborn in the other) but is finally able to get Emma stowed away before he takes a final sword poke in the belly.  Charming sees the henchmen open the wardrobe door to find it empty and dies with the knowledge that Emma got away.  Noble death Charming. Noble!.  Sometime later, Snow hobbles in to the wardrobe room (shouldn't they had put that in the same room as the birthing?) and finds Charming dead on floor. Unfortunately, her kisses don't pack the same wallop as Charming's and he remains dead.  Also, she probably shouldn't be walking so soon after having a baby. The Queen comes in to gloat over finally having her own happy ending (funny, you usually have to pay extra for that *rim shot*) but its mildly spoiled when the henchman reveals that Emma got away. Snow has a last moment of happiness just as the curse sets in to take them to a "horrible, horrible place" ... Maine. I have to assume that the Maine tourism board did not sponsor this episode.

Boston

Young Henry Mills is on a bus with his book of fairytales. A nosy old lady tries to ask him about the book and he tells her that its more than a book. Yeah, so shut your piehole old lady!  Henry uses a credit card to hitch a cabride to a destination unknown.  Meanwhile, Dr. Cameron Emma Swan steps off a restaurant elevator looking super hot (far hotter than she did on House) in a tight red dress.  She is also wearing a huge chunky high heel and is very awkward in them.  The vibe is instantly taken as a tomboy playing dress up.  She’s supposedly on a blind internet date but quickly reveals that she is a badass bail bonds person and the date is a nasty, cheating husband. When he turns over the table and runs for it, she slowly (the shoes won’t allow any other speed) pursues him outside.  She had a pre-placed boot on his car and so he’s not going anywhere.  She knocks him out with a face plant into the steering wheel after he mocks her for not knowing anything about family. 

As Emma blows out a candle on her own sad little birthday cupcake, Henry comes a knockin. The scene goes pretty much like this, “Hi mom! Remember me from ten years ago when you gave me up for adoption? Yeah, I’d like for you to come home with me to Storybrooke, Maine and no, you’re not going to call the cops cause I’ll tell them you’re my birth mom trying to kidnap me.   Road trip! When Emma spies the Book (its enough of a character to warrant a proper capitalized B), Henry tells her that he’s not sure she’s ready to know about it.  You see, every story in the Book happened and you, Emma, should know because you’re in the Book too. Emma’s natural response is that Henry has got some problems.  He readily agrees and tells her that she’s going to help fix them. 

Storybrooke, Maine

As the mother/son team Storybrooke, Emma asks for Henry’s address.  He smoothly replies, “44 Nottellingyou Street.” That seems unlikely and Emma is not happy about his cheekiness.  She stops the car and gets out to yell at him about the long car ride and how its very late, its … 8:15?!? Well, That can’t be right. Henry fills her in, yeah, time is frozen here, stuck at 8:15. That town clock? Its been broken my entire life. The Evil Queen moved everyone from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke as part of her curse and everyone is trapped here. Also, they have no memory of who they really are AND, when they try to leave, bad things happen.

Uh-oh, here comes Henry’s shrink, Archie Hopper. Dr. Archie wants to know where Henry has been since he missed their appointment earlier that day.  Archie reveals that Henry is the Mayor’s son and they live in the biggest house on the street.  When Henry tells Dr. Archie he took a field trip that day (not exactly a lie), Dr. Archie tells him that, as they’ve discussed before in relation to lying, “giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything.” Heeeeyyyyy, I feel like we’ve heard that already this episode.  Emma is clearly thinking that the doc is putting a heavy load on the kid’s shoulders and I have t agree.  Anyway, Emma breaks it up and says she should be getting Henry home. When Dr. Archie leaves, Henry explains that Dr. Archie Hopper is really Jiminy Cricket (Get it? “hopper” … “Cricket”. Get it?)

Henry continues to try to convince Emma to not return him to Evil Mom; he plays the, “she doesn’t love me, she only pretends to” card but nothing doing.  Emma is not swayed.  Evil Mom’s name is Regina Mills (Get it? Regina is a Latin variation on the word “queen” Get it?) When Evil Mom sees Henry, she plays the “pretends to love me” role nicely and in response to finding out Emma is Henry’s biological mom, offers Emma “the best apple cider you’ve ever tasted.” Creepy. Evil Regina is not sure how Henry found Emma but now that you’re here, “do I need to worry about you Miss Swan?”  Man, Evil Regina is really into apples, they are everywhere.  Evil Regina tells Emma its hard being a working single mom and confesses that she runs a tight ship and pushes for order but, hey, that doesn’t make me evil, right? No I think the creepy apple obsession lends credence to that belief though. When Emma mentions the Book, Evil Regina totally knows what she is talking about says she doesn't know what she’s talking about. Emma says the whole thing is none of her business and takes her leave.  I should note that there is a Sheriff Graham hanging around the house that doesn’t seem to have a direct Enchanted Forest counterpart. Interesting? I don’t know yet.

As Emma drives away, she's distracted by the Book that Henry has left on the passenger seat just as a random wolf appears in the middle of the road causing her to swerve and crash her car. Emma loses consciousness but I think she is lucky that the airbag didn't deploy. That sucks when it happens. 

Emma wakes up in a jail cell. Geppetto seems to be a jailor here and Leroy (Grumpy) is in the other cell. Sheriff Graham thinks Evil Regina’s drinks made Emma drunk and doesn't believe her lame wolf story. Evil Regina shows up because Henry has run away … again.  Emma makes a deal to help search for Henry (finding people is kind of her thing) if they let her out. At Evil Regina’s house, Emma recovers Henry’s wiped history from his computer and finds a receipt from the website, whosyourmomma.org (this doesn’t appear to be a real website, ABC missed an opportunity to take this show to the multimedia level by not running a faux website here .. something LOST did wonderfully) which should not be confused with a Earth Day Festival website whosyourmama.org.  The credit card used is from his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White with shockingly short hair).

Mary Margaret is a teacher and we see her playing with blue birds (I like the cross over characteristics that the characters have between worlds; Regina and the apples, Snow and the birds, Archie and the creepy moralism sayings) She’s currently teaching her kids how to build birdhouses. As the kids head for recess, one hands her a pear. I understand she’d be wary of apples. Evil Regina and Emma show up. Mary Margaret claims to not have realized Henry swiped her card but doesn’t seem overly upset by the news either.  She does claim responsibility for giving Henry the Book.  You see, Henry is super smart and super lonely and these stories are a way to deal with our world. Mary Margaret hypothesizes that Henry is wrestling with the question of why would someone give him away. Since she’s speaking to Henry’s birth mother, I have to deduct style points for her lack of sensitivity awareness. She tells Emma that she meant no offense, just that the Book represents hope which is the strongest thing you can give someone. Personally, it seems to me that Evil Regina’ s apples re the strongest thing you can give someone. Mary Margaret suggest that Emma looks for Henry at his castle. 

The real world “castle” is one of those playgrounds that you find from time to time on the misty moors of Maine. Henry doesn't understand why the final battle hasn't begun; Emma’s return was supposed to bring back the happy endings. Also, Emma should give up acting like she doesn’t like Henry cause he totally knows she does.  He also knows that Emma gave him away so that she could give him his best chance. She acknowledges that but not that Snow was her mom or that she is in any book or the Book. Henry asks that she just stay one week. When he snots that his life sucks, Emma appropriately snots back to the little kid that no, in fact her life sucks more. She wasn’t even given away for adoption but rather abandoned her on the side of a freeway.  At least Evil Regina tries; Emma had no family. Henry corrects her, “dummy the wardrobe dropped you on the side of the road; your parents were trying to save you from the curse.”  Emma is skeptical.

After returning Henry home to Evil Regina … again, Emma sets of the firebells when she reveals that her birthday wish was to not be alone and then Henry showed up. Evil Regina lays some knowledge on Emma, don't mistake this as an invitation back into his life; I'm his mother and you don't get to do anything. You asked for closed adoption and I'm holding you to having no rights to Henry. Also, If you don't leave, I will destroy you if its the last thing I do. Alrighty then. Not awkward at all.  Emma’s only response to that diatribe is "do you love him." With her bullshit detector on full blast, Emma keeps a straight face when Evil Regina says she does.  After checking on Henry, we see that Evil Regina has confiscated the Book (which is called Once Upon a Time). Evil Regina takes a long look in the mirror (which I totally thought was going to speak to her) as she clutches the book to her Evil Bosom. In the wrap ups, we see Snow is also a candy striper or nurse in a hospital./ She totally check on a dude in a coma who is Charming.  So he’s not dead in our World … only mostly dead.  After the Evil Regina smackdown, Emma has decided to stick around for a bit abut and take out a room in Granny’s B and B where she interrupts a fight between Granny and Slutty Red Riding Hood.  At the mention of her name, a super creepy Rumplestiltskin appears as if from no where compliment her on such a lovely name.  He is also there to collect some rent from Granny; you see Mr. Gold owns the whole town of Storybrooke. Emma tells Granny she’ll be staying a week. As she accepts her key from Granny, we see the long dormant town clock tick a minute forward and Henry smiling a gleeful smile in his room.  Oh the final war Is. On.

Not too much to say after this first episode.  The premise, as out there as it seems on paper, makes a lot of sense is a really novel idea.  I am looking forward to the development of the Our World version of the Fairytale characters.  More importantly, it seemed to me that Evil Regina, Mary Margaret and Mr. Gold clearly have some knowledge of their alternaselves and I am curious to see that loophole to Henry’s theory of the situation explained and if there are any other exceptions to the rule (like maybe Charming when he inevitably wakes from a coma since he was technically dead when the curse struck?).

Join us next week as we travel further down the rabbit hole! 

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