Sunday, March 11, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Red-Handed

“… So your granny’s kind of intense.”

Best line of the night!

This week’s episode was the long-awaited backstory of Red Riding Hood, who is also our favourite waitress in Storybrooke, Ruby. We all know the traditional story: Little Red Riding Hood went out into the woods to take some baked goods to Grandmother’s house. Along the way she meets the Big Bad Wolf, and he finds out where she’s going. He overtakes her, gets to the grandmother’s house and eats Granny, then dresses like her. RRH comes into the house, eventually surmises that that’s not Granny (mostly because of her overly large facial features, which she slowly details one… by… one…) and the wolf leaps out of the bed and eats her, too. Just then a woodsman comes along and slices the wolf open, and Granny and Red emerge unscathed (as you do).

Or there’s the version where Red runs around the room as the wolf chases her and the woodsman gets the wolf and cuts him open and Granny comes out. Or there’s the version where Red discovers the wolf, the woodsman arrives, and they find Granny tied up in the closet (later generations of children have the cleaned-up versions of fairytales). Or there’s the version in Hoodwinked where a bunch of cops catch everyone in the act and take each of the four people in for questioning to get to the bottom of what the bloody hell was happening at Granny’s house, considering there’s a tarted-up little girl, a caustic Granny, an “evil” wolf and a crazed woodsman.

And then… there’s this version, the most sinister of them all, and one that FINALLY made the Little Red Riding Hood story interesting again. For… what if the wolf – who always seemed man-like, walking on two legs with his little smoking jacket and hat – wasn’t really a wolf? (I recommended the book The Book of Lost Things a few weeks ago, and in it the wolves of the fairytales are becoming human and beginning to walk on their back legs like men and talking.) In the original version the wolf seems almost sexualized, as if he’s after Red not just to eat her, but because he’s attracted to her, and Red talks to him in a way she shouldn’t and tells him too much.

Kind of like if a boy came up to Red’s window and began smooth-talking her through the shutters. Setting up Peter (get it? Peter and the Wolf?) to be the Big Bad was brilliant, but there was something about him that I thought was innocent the whole time. I had my money on Granny, but I didn’t see the Red thing coming. What a great twist.

This episode was written by the luminous Jane Espenson (another one of that small group of TV writers whose name appearing at the beginning of an episode generally makes me squeal with delight) and while some of the overall plot was a little predictable, the unpredictable twists were wonderful.

I couldn’t help but think of my other favourite werewolves – and no, Jake isn’t one of them… thank god THIS werewolf doesn’t run around topless – namely Oz from Buffy and George from Being Human. As soon as Red was chaining Peter to the tree I thought, OMG, she’s not protecting others from him; she’s leashing him to one place where he can’t move (and yes, I realize she did this entirely not knowing what she was getting into). And I remembered how both Oz and George put themselves into cages for a couple of days every month. And, like Red, how Oz has absolutely no memory of anything he’s done while he’s wolfy.

What was interesting, too, about this take on the Red story is that in the original, a male wolf overpowers the wolf and a male lumberjack saves their lives. In this one, Granny is anything but a delicate sort, and Red is quite sure of herself and is absolutely fearless.

Over in Storybrooke, Henry has figured out exactly who Ruby is (of course), even goading her into asking if she might want to work as a courier taking things in baskets to people on foot, and Emma invites her to come work as an assistant at the station. While the fairytale world flashback is showing Snow and Red tracking the Big Bad, in Storybrooke Emma, Mary Margaret, and Ruby are all tracking a different kind of Big Bad: they all think Katharine disappeared under suspicious circumstances and are combing the woods for any clues. Meanwhile, David loses his mind for about 24 hours and can’t remember where he was or what he was doing during that time, and suspicion has firmly been planted on him.

While Ruby’s not a wolf in Storybrooke, notice how she’s still always on the hunt, flirting with every person who comes through the diner and always knowing where everyone is – whenever Emma says someone’s gone missing, Ruby’s always known exactly where that person is. Now, she uses those superior tracking skills to hunt for anything remiss in the woods, and immediately finds a box that contains a human heart. (I called it the moment she uncovered it.)

Now. Who keeps boxes of human hearts? We’ve all seen Regina’s crypt full of ’em. And how is it possible Mary Margaret’s fingerprints are on it? My theory at this point is that it’s not actually Katharine’s heart (Emma said they’ve sent it out for tests) but someone from the fairytale world, and the box was handled by Snow White somehow – maybe she found it in Regina’s care and took it and buried it somewhere. Maybe it’s her father’s heart. Maybe it’s the heart of someone else – remember how the Evil Queen keeps saying Snow took someone who mattered more than anything to her? And that’s how Mary Margaret’s fingerprints are on it.

But time will tell. I just hope that look on David’s face was disbelief that someone would set up Mary Margaret, and not a look that he actually thinks she did it. I would stop liking him immediately if that were the case.

I thought this was a really good episode. Meghan Ory, who plays Red, put in a great performance (like Lee Arenberg’s Grumpy last week, I’m thrilled by the side players stepping up and giving fantastic performances) and the scene where she discovers that she is the wolf actually had my 7-year-old daughter moaning with sadness, she was so taken by Ory’s devastated performance.

Speaking of which, I was thinking I should probably include my daughter’s review of the episode, since her take on it is very different from mine. (I forget that she doesn’t have the TV viewing experience I do, and the twists each week BLOW HER LITTLE MIND because she’s never seen anything like it.) She summed up this week’s episode with “scary,” and her favourite line was Snow’s understatement that I quoted at the top (probably because I laughed out loud when Snow said it... it was such an Espenson line). But don’t worry, dear readers: as a seasoned TV viewer I could tell when the big scary moments were going to come, and covered her eyes (and she let me, thank goodness).

And finally, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the colour red is really prominent in Storybrooke and in the fairytale world. I wonder if the red is some subconscious way that these characters help prevent their monster side from coming out? Could that be the reason Ruby is such a sweet character? Have we ever seen her NOT wearing red?


Dusk said...

Called Ruby as the wolf when she had super-hearing. I like this twist. So far, the curse has ruined everyone lives, but I would say based on this episode, it's actually a good thing for Granny and Ruby. They fall into a grey area, good people that are worse off if the curse is broken. (And could possibly cause deaths without Red's cloak).

Did Snow go from the Huntsman to the chicken coop?

Also my theroy: it looked like a heart box like Graham's. Snow touched it some point in FTW.

The question is who planted in there? So far Regina's plans have been instant in effect, curse cloud, bad apple, squeezing Graham's heart. This seems more someone else's style. Mr. Motorcycle maybe?

But why in Regina suddenly defending David? She knows he's her 3rd or 4th worst enemy. After Snow, Rumple, and maybe Emma of course.

Totally Lost style shots and music in the David/Mary forest scene.

Gillian Whitfield said...

In my opinion, this is the best episode since Skin Deep. At first I thought that the wolf would be Granny, considering she's really intense as Snow said. I didn't think for a second it was Peter because he had enough innocence for it not to be him.

This was above and beyond better than the Amanda Seyfried movie that came out last year.

I think that David is becoming recursed because he and MM called it quits two episodes ago. But, they did seem to be quite friendly together in the Animal Shelter

Colleen/redeem147 said...

On one hand, I like the twist, but on the other, I'm not sure I like the werewolf thing on a fairy tale show. Are we going to get a vampire next?

Austin Gorton said...

Good episode. It had a few nice surprises, and like the best episodes, did a nice job of contrasting a FTL character with their Storybrooke counterpart.

I had my money on Granny, but I didn’t see the Red thing coming. What a great twist.

Ditto. Maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was genuinely surprised by Red being the wolf. Neat inversion of the standard tale.

@Dusk: But why in Regina suddenly defending David?

I wondered that too. The only thing I can think of is keeping up appearances?

Ken said...

The girl turns out to be the biter. Where have I seen that before?

Nikki Stafford said...

@Ken: LOL! Um... about three minutes into Buffy the Vampire Slayer? ;)

@Gillian: Nice idea about David being recursed because his link with Mary Margaret is breaking. I think whenever a fairytale character begins moving on the path they were on when the curse took effect, it crumbles the queen's hold just a bit, but when they move off the path, it strengthens their resolve.

As for why Regina is sticking up for David, I think if she tried to implicate David, it would simply strengthen the bond between him and Mary Margaret. But by putting the blame on Mary, it instills doubt in David, and breaks the two further apart, and it strengthens her curse.

kluu said...

@Dusk: But why in Regina suddenly defending David?

I believe it is more to keep Emma from putting too much together and finding out what is going on. The more she talks to people about the strange things with her ability to tell the truth, (I don't think she can tell if they are being deceitful only if they are telling the truth. There is a subtle difference that is important.)the more she will start to unravel the curse and break it.

Seeing Red and Snow together I wonder why the mirror said Snow was the fairest in the land. I guess it is personal taste.

Fred said...

@Dusk: Also my theroy: it looked like a heart box like Graham's. Snow touched it some point in FTW. That sounds about right. But it sure makes Regina the uber-planner of all time. She'd have to have placed the box by the T(r)oll Bridge, known that Katherine was going to disappear, and that Ruby would leave Granny's for a job with Sherrif Emma. But all said and done, could it also have been placed there by Mr. Gold. We've seen him digging in the forest--what for?

About the whole curse thing, I am begining to wonder if the curse is not StoreyBrooke, but waking up from an eternal sleep once Emma arrived and the clock started working again. I mean, fairy tales are about growing up, and what's more frightening than leaving the idyllic (and eternal) world of childhood and moving into adulthood. The world since Emma arrived has been the cursed world. Afterall, this is Henry's world, and Henry is the one growing up--we can make whatever Jungian interpretation we want with the fairytale characters as archetypes, but transplanted into our world.

And we still are anticipating what happened to Katherine. Has she been stolen by one of the trolls? Is there a dragon in the woods, and we'll get a story of a chivalric knight saving her? Or did she actually cross the border of the town, and then just vanish? I'm hoping that if they cross the town line their memories disappear of who they are, like David seems to have. But I'll go alone with Gillian's idea that David is becoming recursed.

I also liked how Mary Margaret got her name. Is it the same for the rest?

Oh, I just heard that The River may not have a second season. While not the best show, it certainly had its moments. Same with Terra Nova, which is now axed. We'll have a long wait before another Lost appears.

Dusk said...

@Fred: That's why I'm not so certain Regina planted the heart, her plans so far have been short but quick in effect, not long and drawn out (unless she has Ben Linus's playbook). Although anyone could have found the box, it didn't have to be Ruby.

Fred said...

@Dusk, in that case my bet is on Mr. Gold having planted the box. He seems the best candidate for the Ben Linus leadership award. Afterall, didn't he manipulate things to get Emma elected sherrif?

Say does anyone know or think they know what Regina's last name is? If it were "Regina Queen" that'd be a bit repetitive. And what about Granny, doesn't she go by anything else? Really, Granny! At least Emma is Swan, which makes sense--the story of the Ugly Duckling.

@Gillian:I think that David is becoming recursed This sounds so much like when Sayid was cursed from drinking the water in the pool. Is there something about the well Emma and the writer went to? I wonder if its a cure for the curse.

Dusk said...

@Fred: It's Mills. In the first episodes tey kept calling her Mayor Mills.

It is possibly Rumple since he pulled the strings on both sides when the curse was created and set up how to break it. It could also be Mr. Mysterio since we know zip about him yet.

Also, the whole "Next Lost" thing people keep looking for isn't really going to have a clear winner I feel. Lost was unique for very many reasons. A show needs more then a bunch of questions in it to reach Lost's level. Some shows have failed at this even before Lost ended. OUAT has magic to advance the plot without being bogged down like Lost was in logical puzzles.

Also it depends on what kind of Lost fan you were. But in my view Once has come close as I'll probably get to another Lost. If handled properly it may reach Lost level in a few seasons. My reasons are more then just the Lost refrences on OUAT although they are a fun side-game to play.

Both shows start out with an identifiable premise. Plane crash/fairytale stories we grew up with. Both have memory as a key plot point- Lost's chance meetings, Sideways, time flashes/Storybrooke & FTW. Both shows have these charcters in two different realms or points in their life flashbacks/fairybacks. And both have a key set of characters with many people alongside them.

Diana B said...

First of all, I just loved this episode. The twist at the end blew me away, and I was so intrigued to find out Red's and Granny's story, finally! Megan Ory is just gorgeous and it was great to see her without the extreme makeup both in the FTW and in Storybrooke at the end. The scenery and costumes in FTW are just stunning.

Some random thoughts--
My theory on what happened to Katherine--what if she were abducted by Regina and is now in the asylum that Belle is in? Regina would have done this to keep her in town, and to cast suspicion on both David and Mary Margaret.

How could Red (as the wolf) have killed the men in the hunting party if Granny kept her in the cabin all night?

Is it possible that Henry really is Regina's father, and knows what happened? Maybe he is trying to break the curse and save his daughter?

I love the idea that the women are so empowered in the story.

My favorite quote by Red to Granny: "and you dress like Norman Bates when he dresses like Norman Bates' mother"!!

Nikki Stafford said...

Diana: I'd forgotten that Norman Bates line, ha!

As for how Red got out, if you remember, she had those shutters on her window, and she was opening them to talk to Peter. Later, when Red and Snow were tracking the wolf prints, Snow said they led to Red's window. So clearly she was climbing out the window. Why Granny was sitting by the door facing AWAY from Red's door is beyond me, since she was trapped in the cottage with Red/The Wolf and knew it.

Fred: Excellent catch about Gold digging in the forest!! I'd forgotten that and I think you could be absolutely right. I love the mystery of his character.

Dusk said...

@Nikki: Granny had her arrow ready in case the villigers found out Red was the wolf and tried to come in and kill her.

Fred said...

@Dusk:Also it depends on what kind of Lost fan you were. But in my view Once has come close as I'll probably get to another Lost. If handled properly it may reach Lost level in a few seasons. My reasons are more then just the Lost refrences on OUAT although they are a fun side-game to play. I suppose like a lot of viewers I am not keen on the Lost references that keep popping up. It distracts from what OUaT is giving us, and it become like "Find Waldo", except "Find Lost."

What is intriguing about OUaT is the retelling of fairytales. As Teebore noted in this last episode, Neat inversion of the standard tale. And I think OUaT is building up tom something more complicated than just a retelling of fairytales. Much as Benchley's Jaws was more than just a novel about a shark and a New England town, but a moral tale of politics. Right now I'm still puzzled by what the colour red means in the series. In this episode, red is the colour of protection--but for whom? So add that along with the red apples, the red hearts, etc. Does anyone recall seeing red associated with Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin?

Thanks on the Regina Mills. I had forgotten about her Mayor Mills title. As for the next season of The River, the last episode was pure narrative adrenalin. And the last line spoken in the episode was oh so funny. That's one series I hope will make a comeback.

Fred said...

Granny said she got the Cape from a wizard who made it for her. The only wizard I recall is the Dark One, whom Rumpelstiltskin killed with the dagger. I suppose Granny got the original wizard to make the Cape for Red before Rumpel. got to him.

Dusk said...

Your welcome. In FTW a vilager called Granny Widow Lucas (Lukas?) I didn't know it was a female name but OK. That might be her name in Storybrooke too.

I don't mind the Lost refrences, I don't activly divide my attention from OUAT to them, but when I do see them, it's a "Hey cool!" moment in my head.

Missy said...


I'd say Lukas is the Grandmother's last name(it was a last name long befor it became a popular boys first name)

As for how it fits into the FTW/OUAT story

There are several hypotheses on the origin of the name Lucania, inhabited by Lucani, an Osco-Samnite population from central Italy. Lucania might be derived from Greek Leukos meaning "white", cognate of Latin Lux ("Light"). According to another hypothesis, Lucania might be derived from Latin word Lucus meaning "Sacred Wood" (lucus = lux; or from verb lucere), or from Greek Lykos meaning "Wolf".

Did you notice the one word that fits with the storyline? ;)