Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Once Upon a Time: True North

As I mentioned on my Facebook wall earlier today, I've been really sick this past week, and in between not sleeping because of the cold and not sleeping because my kids have decided to suddenly start routinely getting up at 2am for an hour or two (how do children always manage to know exactly when you need sleep the most and THAT is when they decide you can't have it?) and also working until late every night on a paper I'm giving at Wesleyan University in Nebraska next Tuesday, I didn't manage to post on either Once Upon a Time or Alcatraz. But I want to post on both, so I'm going to write up two very quick posts tonight.

First, Once Upon a Time (which I actually watched TWICE before it had even finished airing in the US and STILL didn't manage to get a post up!) I loved this episode. I don't know what others thought, but I've always loved the Hansel and Gretel story, and from that gorgeous gingerbread house set to the great acting from Gretel especially, this episode was a lot of fun to watch.

And I know I've mentioned it before, but I really do adore the Evil Queen's wardrobe? How fabulous was that black hat?!

In the original story, the part that's always bugged me most is that the pathetic father leaves the children in the woods (in some versions of the story; in others he's let off the hook when the stepmother leaves them) and then when they eventually find their way back he hugs them and apologizes and says She made me do it! How spineless can one person be? (Unless he'd been really ill and maybe the kids were waking up for a couple of hours every night; in that case perhaps leaving them in the woods is justified... hehehe...) So I felt that in this episode they paid homage to that useless excuse for fatherhood through Michael, the mechanic who is the biological father of the two kids, and the way he looks at the compass, sees that those are definitely his kids, and says, "Nope, sorry, can't do it." Like the father of the fairytale, he doesn't have the guts or strength to fight for his kids.

But... he does. Unlike the father in the story, this guy eventually steps up and decides to give these two kids a chance. Who could watch that final scene of the father slowly walking toward the two confused children in the car, knowing the huge responsibility he is walking towards? I do hope we see more of this family and how it works out.

I hope everyone who joined in the Buffy Rewatch immediately recognized our Anya in the Blind Witch! I shrieked when I realized who it was; my husband, on the other hand, despite my, "Oh come ON you have to know who that is" prodding, had no clue. I promptly took away his Buffy fandom card.

I was amused that one thing this episode seemed to suggest is that fairytales are not just full of evil stepmothers, but annoying younger siblings. How useless was Hansel, really?? However, it's actually flipped the original story, where Hansel is the older sibling (the one who leaves the trail that helps them find their way home), the one who outsmarts the witch, and Gretel, though younger, is still helpful and does what he says. She's the one outside the cage who helps get Hansel out, and Hansel is the one who pushes the witch into the fire. Interesting they did a gender switch on these two.

I thought the Storybrooke story was good, too. At first, when Emma left the kids on the doorstep I thought, "What kind of detective IS she? Everyone knows you never pull away until the kids are in the house." So I was very happy she immediately redeemed herself in the next episode.

What did you think?


Gillian Whitfield said...

Has anyone ever seen the kids show Arthur? There's an episode where Arthur has a dream about fairy tales, where he and his sister are Hansel and Gretel, and the mean teacher is the witch. It's pretty entertaining if I recall correctly. Whenever I think of Hansel and Gretel, I think of that episode.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode. As much as I loved Rumple's backstory last week, this episode was better than last week's episode. But next week's episode looks like it'll be great. And Jason Mraz's new song featured in the one promo? <3 <3 <3 The people who pick music for promos know me well.

Speaking of the Evil Queen's awesome wardrobe (I desperately want that hat she was wearing) . . . was she wearing leather pants?

Who is this mysterious stranger?

Christina B said...

Yes! I enjoyed this episode, too!

Nikki, are we SURE we're not sisters?! Belle does that waking up at 2am and then deciding its time to play until 4am too!

Meanwhile, zombie-mommy is begging, pleading and bribing the child to go back to no avail! ;)

But, yes! WHO is that strange man with the wooden box?
I'm afraid to say I think THIS guy is the Big Bad Wolf because we all know how well that went with the Sheriff. :P

Page48 said...

The useless dad was Alex Krycek from "The X-Files" and the stranger was Ben Mercer from the blandness known as "Covert Affairs".

And Anya died again. I wanted her to eat Hansel. With butter. Yes, I would have gone with butter.

The Question Mark said...

Poor Anya! Anyanka, you'll always be my demon-girl!

@ NIKKI: Yeah, Hansel contributed about as much to his sister's efforts as Two-Face did to the plot of "Batman Forever".

Rumple polishing Aladdin's lamp made me squeal. If a genie had popped out of that thing while he cleaned it, I think I would have nerd-gasmed and had a heart attack.

@ CHRISTINA B: When I saw the Rebel Without A Name at the end of the episode, my first instinct was to cry Wolf as well. But, like you said, Graham was a big red herring, so who knows anymore. My guess: maybe...Pinocchio? The wooden box would kinda lend credence, maybe that's where he keeps his growing list of lies or something :P I don't think we've seen Storybrooke-Pinocchio yet.

It could be Jack, with a box of "magic beans".
Or maybe it's Rumple's son, we never did see what happened to him. And any kid who saw their father go through what Rumple went through would most definitely grow up to become a dare-devilin', law-breakin', chain-smokin' rebel.

Anonymous said...

Who is this mysterious stranger?


M. Soparlo
News Reporter


The 7 year old boy would now be 7 + 28 = 35 years old.

My prediction is: now that 28 years have passed, he drives into town on his motorcycle.

Anonymous said...

More thoughts...

* if their mother (Dorrie) had died ahile back, there would have been a funeral (unless the kids buried her somewhere!) Why weren't they taken into foster care then?

* once Mr. Gold told Emma the name "Michael Tillman", why didn't she just look in the Storybrooke phone directory for his name/phone number?

* if Hansel and Gretel are fraternal twins, why is Gretel so much taller?

* Emma had to introduce herself to Mr. K. Why didn't he say, "Hello Sheriff Swan". Wouldn't someone who works in a government office (the Hall of Records) know Emma is the town sheriff?

Efthymia said...

Nikki, please don't take away my Buffy fandom card, but I'm not sure I would have recognised Emma Caulfield had I not known it was her. No hint of Anya whatsoever (which, good for her because it shows versatility and everything, but I did want a glimpse of Anya).

And the mysterious stranger could be the Big Bad Hyena, since he was one of the hyena guys in "The Pack"! (Seriously, Efthymia, the Great Buffy Rewatch is over, get over it...)

But, with Emma Caulfield, Nicholas Lea and Eion Bailey, this episode was like a "I ♥ the 90's" convention.

I can't for the life of me remember what my source was, but the way I always knew the Hansel & Gretel story was Hansel was put in a cage and stuffed with food by the witch so that she could eventually eat him, and Gretel was forced to do the housework, and at some point Gretel tricks and knocks the witch unconscious and frees her brother, and when the witch comes to they put her in the oven together. And I remember it being so because I loved the fact that it was the girl who was the cleverer and more useful.
Then, of course, there are the Hansel & Gretel in "Gingerbread"... (really, GET OVER IT!)

@Anonymous: Hansel and Gretel are indeed fraternal twins (twins of different sex can only be so, anyway), which means they come from different eggs, which means they are not identical and can actually develop the similarities AND differences that non-twin siblings do. I had two classmates in high-school who were fraternal twins and the girl was tall and big-boned (and no, that's not a euphemism for 'fat') while her brother was tiny. Or you could explain Gretel being taller with the usual "girls grow sooner than boys".

Suzanne said...

I can't believe I missed Anya! We were even looking for her and wondering when she would appear, but since I avoid spoilers at all costs, I wasn't prepared to see her. They did a good job of "hiding" her in makeup and even a different-sounding voice. I rewatched her scene this morning after reading this, and yes, it is her, but boy was it hard to tell in the brief time she appeared.

I, too, like the retelling of the story for the same reasons as Nikki. I have always hated the lame way that the father is portrayed in the original, so seeing this twist on it really made more sense. And, the step-mother's costumes are to die for, Nikki!

Anonymous said...

The network will send its regular Sunday night ABC dramas Once Upon a Time and Desperate Housewives to air in simulcast on its secondary CTV Two network.

Fred said...

While this episode was enjoyable, and that's almost damning by faint praise, the show just never seems to handle children very well. The writing for children seems almost on a single note, or overly simplified. And I've gotten to the point that I cringe everytime Henry shows up on screen. Is he going to become the Welsey Crusher of this series? Another complaint was that Emmma Caulfield just didn't have enough time on screen. Waste of such great potential in the interest of moving the story forward--I would have loved if she appeared as the children's mother. Alas can't have everything. Thankfully, Mr. Gold put in an appearance.

Anonymous said...

Map of Storybrooke (Steveston, B.C.)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I was going to say - finally, a story that's not a Disney movie - but I found out that Disney did do one in the eighties - written and directed by Tim Burton! It was shown on TV once, apparently.

Nice to see Nic Lea.

Yeah, pretty sure motorcycle guy was the kid who found Emma. That was too prominent on the newspaper.

Notice that the kids stole an Apollo bar? I think this may be in the Lost universe. There's crazy time-travel stuff too - the kids are the same age that they were before Snow White was wakened by the prince - long before Emma was born. It's the curse! I think that explains things like the kids not going into foster care or people not noticing that they don't age, or that they can't leave town. Which the queen (still so annoying) must have known when she sent the kids off to Boston.