Sunday, October 30, 2011

Once Upon a Time 1.2: "The Thing You Love the Most"

I've been looking for a show that's excited me as much as Lost, in a similar way that Lost did. While there have been several shows that I've adored since the end of Lost -- Fringe, Breaking Bad -- they've done so in different ways. But finally, a show in the hands of Kitsis and Horowitz has me once again watching the walls in the backgrounds, looking for clues on signs and in the treetops, and in only its second week, this show somehow feels like home. So, I'm gonna do some old-fashioned Lost-like blogging with it.

In this week's episode, Emma still doesn't believe in the curse, but she believes in Henry, and it's keeping her in Storybrooke. Regina is stepping up her efforts to get this biological mom out of her way so she can keep her son to herself, and when you watch it from her point of view, she doesn't come off as being as soulless as Emma suggests she is. In last week's episode, she told Emma that while she'd dumped her son off at a hospital, Regina had changed every diaper, soothed every fever, and dealt with every tantrum. While she has the Evil Queen inside her, she doesn't actually remember BEING her, so none of her actions have been with any particularly evil motivation behind it. Turns out, by the end of the episode, it's good old Rumpelstiltskin -- he of the name obsession -- who seems to have retained some memory of things and is masterminding Henry coming to their town. After all, if he's the guy who created the curse in the first place, doesn't it make sense that it wouldn't have the same memory-wipe effect on him as it does everyone else?

Speaking of Rumpelstiltskin's obsession with names, let's look at some of the names in both universes:

Rumpelstiltskin = Mr. Gold
As the guy who became famous for spinning straw into gold, this seems very fitting.

Snow White = Mary Blanchard
In French, "white" is "blanc," so that's where we're getting that from. Perhaps Mary comes from the Virgin Mary, and since Snow White was seen as pure in every way, the name seems apt.

Evil queen = Regina
"Regina" means queen; Queen Victoria was often known as "Victoria Regina"

Jiminy Cricket = Archie Hopper
That just cracks me up. ;)

Granny and Little Red Riding Hood = Granny and Ruby

Mirror = Gus Fring The editor of The Storybrooke Daily Mirror

Sheriff Graham is presumably also a fairytale character, but I think we've yet to see him in that world. It'll be fun to see who he ultimately turns out to be. We've seen Geppetto in Storybrooke, but I don't know if they said what his name was there.

As with Lost, time and memory become essential pieces. In Lost, characters flashed back to earlier points in their lives to reveal to the audience what their motivations were. But in Once Upon a Time, those flashbacks are presented as dramatic irony, in the sense that WE know what their pasts are, but none of them can remember it. If they could, it would give them a lot more power than they now have. Now, they're powerless pawns trapped in a town without realizing they're actually trapped. The clock hasn't moved in 28 years, and no one seems to have noticed they haven't aged one bit. Mary tells Emma in this episode that Regina has been mayor for as long as she can remember, but it never occurs to her that she herself has been perpetually 25 for the last 30 years; when time stood still, it prevented them from aging, but also prevented them from noticing that. With time COMES power, and now that the clock is moving forward, some of these people will move forward as well. Memories will now be retained, they will age, and they can vanquish the thing that has been keeping them trapped: the timeless curse.

The very nature of fairytales themselves will no doubt take centre stage as this series continues. As Mary tells Emma in the previous episodes, fairytales are a way for people to make sense of the cruel world they live in; a way to compartmentalize their own lack of happy endings and give them hope that those endings may exist somewhere. In Once Upon a Time, the writers explore this idea through Henry's therapy sessions. Just as many fairytales are parables that explore the human psyche, so are therapy sessions a way of getting into a person's mind by asking them to tell stories to the doctor. Only by telling these stories can the patient actually begin to see their troubles in the context of a larger picture, while allowing the doctor to get to the heart of the matter and attempt to help them through a particularly troublesome time.

I love the idea in this show that the world of fairytales could actually be a hell if you were the bad guy; baddies don’t get happy endings, they’re the ones being pushed off cliffs or dying or just slinking off into the dark while the good, pure people “live happily ever after.” What a great idea to turn that on its head and have the bad guys want to live in our world, where “happily ever after” simply doesn’t exist.

• Henry. I love the actor playing this kid. While there are times where he looks a little uncomfortable, glancing off-camera and not really looking at the person he’s acting against, he’s adorable, charming, and you just want to pick him up and hug him every time he’s on screen.
• Malificent on Snow White never being in pain: “It’s her wedding night. I bet she’s suffering right now.” Ack!
• The reason we have lawn gnomes! HAHAHA!!

Did You Notice?
• The episode opened with Cat Stevens’ “Don’t Be Shy”:

Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by
On by

You know love is better than a song
Love is where all of us belong
So don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
You're there

Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by

• Jane Espenson is a Consulting Producer! How did I not notice that before? Even MORE reason to love this show. ;)
• My mouth was literally watering every time we saw those apple trees. Poison be damned: I don’t think I would have been able to avoid the temptation to bite into each of those apples? Have you ever eaten a Honeycrisp apple? It’s exactly what the name says it is: one of the sweetest things you’ll ever taste. Damn, now I have a major craving for apples. Excuse me for a minute…
• The Mirror is Gus Fring!!!! Oh. My. God. Shivers went down my spine when I saw him.
• Malificent is Pam! I am loving the guest casting this week!
• I was so sad when Archie/Jiminy Cricket tricked Emma, because I really wanted to see these two join forces, so I was much happier at the end when he seemed sincerely sorry for having done that. After all, in the first episode, just before Henry appeared on her doorstep, Emma was blowing out a candle in the shape of a star on a cupcake and wishing that she wouldn’t be alone on her birthday. And it was Jiminy Cricket who sang that if you wished upon a star your dreams would come true.
• The queen throws a horse heart into the cauldron: was anyone else suddenly flashing to Game of Thrones in their heads?
• In Archie’s therapy office, the wallpaper border at the top is a forest at sunset. In Regina’s office, the wallpaper everywhere is covered in black and white trees that are rather frightening. Everything in her office is black and white, just as good and evil is always painted in polar opposition in fairytales.
• Archie’s office also had several toadstools and mushrooms around it.
• Emma and Regina keep saying, “Your move,” as if they’re playing a game of chess, which made me think of Through the Looking Glass (the Alice books also feature a queen who has trees with red objects hanging from them, though where Regina keeps possibly poisoned apples, the Red Queen has white roses that her pages paint red).
• Speaking of which, Regina has white roses in a vase that appear to be sitting in blood, not water (same paint that’s being used on the Red Queen’s roses, perhaps?)

Fairytale Allusions:
• The clock chiming and everyone looking up at it reminded me of the clock striking midnight for Cinderella.
• How wonderful to put two queens together in a room who both concocted a sleeping potion (on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, respectively) and who both failed when their curse was broken by a curse by Prince Charming. (These “Charming” guys sure do get around!)
• When the Guild of Baddies gets together around the fire, there’s a blind witch whose eyes have been sewn together. I was thinking maybe it was one of the witches from Macbeth? The witch in Hansel and Gretel is blind, but when I did a quick search on “Hansel and Gretel blind witch” I saw a casting note that Emma Caulfield (aka the glorious Anya on Buffy) has been cast as that witch, to appear later in the season!! SO excited. So maybe the blind witch at the fire was just a token blind witch, just as the ogre and gnome were probably standing in for all ogres and gnomes in fairytales.
• The Evil Queen says that Snow White took everything from her. This could create a mystery for us if we didn’t already know the story, and know that what Snow White took from her was her certainty that she was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. When Snow turned seven, the mirror finally told the queen that she was no longer the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, and that it was Snow White. After that the queen did everything she could to kill Snow White, and finally almost succeeded with the poisoned apple. But when she says it in the episode, she says it with such pathos we believe she’s lost so much more than just her sense of beauty.
• Jiminy Cricket was assigned to stick with Pinocchio and make sure the boy always had good morals; similarly, in Storybrooke, Archie is assigned to be Henry’s therapist, and watch this boy’s mind as closely as he had Pinocchio’s.


michelle said...

So so so happy you are blogging about this amazing show! Like you said, it's the first show since Lost that has pulled me (and my husband in) totally. Love it! Can't wait to read your recap/disection weekly!

Rebecca T. said...

Oh my goodness! I love this show and I'm so excited to see you posting on it! My mom and dad are really into it too, which is fun - watching it together from the beginning. I was afraid I was kind of forcing my Dad into it, but at 7:50 he suddenly gasped "Wait! What time is it?!" When I told him he sighed with relief and said, "Oh, good, so we didn't miss any of it." HA!

Honeycrisps... oh my goodness. Best apples ever. And I'm not a big apple lover. But I could eat a Honeycrisp every day.

I love the creepy/cool black and white tree wallpaper in the Mayor's office, though I didn't think about its significance, but the black/white, good/bad dichotomy is so true.

I definitely think there is so much more behind the queen's statement that Snow White took everything from her. I really like the way they are building the backstory as flashbacks, but with that sense of dramatic irony you mentioned. And it will be interesting to see how things develop as people do start to remember.

So excited for next week's episode!

The Question Mark said...

Something tells me Regina remembers everything. I think as the person who started the curse, she might be the one who retains all of the details of their former world: she still grows apples, she names her son after her father, and she harbors hatred for Mary Blanchard. Even if it's just subconsciously, I think she totally remembers.
But Rumple definitely knows more than he's letting on.

@ NIKKI: I have a feeling that the Sheriff is the Big Bad Wolf, and he purposely got in front of Emma's car to keep her in Storybrook. Which either means he wants her to help Henry, or he's in league with Mr. Gold.
Oh, and the Emma Caulfield news made me break out into giddy laughter. Anyanka is my Sunnydale crush. <3

Jiminy Cricket is my favourite character so far.

Also, I totally agree that this is a show where the devil is in the details, like LOST was. I'm so glad to finally be scanning backgrounds again with you guys! :D

Nikki Stafford said...

Rebecca: I thought something similar to you about the evil queen: perhaps the stories we've been led to believe aren't exactly true, and what Snow White took from the queen isn't what we thought. We think she's vain and all she cares about is what the mirror tells her (because that helps us see that Witch = EVIL and Snow White = GOOD) but maybe Snow White has some dark secrets of her own, and the witch isn't as evil as we thought. Perhaps she has some valid reasons for doing what she's done.

Nikki Stafford said...

QM: Big Bad Wolf! I love that idea. No wonder he keeps hovering around Granny's B&B! ;)

Page48 said...

Mr. Gold remembered to say "please" when asking Evil Mayor to excuse him. He's having fun with this.

Evil Mayor still has an eye for horses. She has a white horsie statue in her office. Chances are it has no heart.

Emma Caulfield tweeted that she is on 1.09 of OUAT. She's also doing a "Prime Suspect".

I did notice Cat Stevens opening the show. This ("The Wind") is my favourite use of Cat Stevens in a TV show.

Coleman said...

It sounds to me like there's definitely more to what Snow took than just the queen's sense of beauty - when the queen was talking to Rumplestiltskin, it sounded like she took someone that the queen loved. Maybe Prince Charming? There's also the huntsman in the original story, who the queen sends to kill Snow White but who instead kills a boar out of pity for Snow White. Maybe the queen was in love with him, and it's his betrayal that has her so vengeful? And MAYBE the sheriff is the huntsman - who could be the very same huntsman who rescued Red Riding Hood from the wolf! Anyway, it's fun to speculate.

Christina B said...

SO glad you're blogging about OUAT and even more glad that you love it as much as I do!

Did anyone catch the Lost references this week?

-Emma's room at the B&B was #4.
-Archie had a framed photo of an island on his wall.
-Henry's school uniform had a lighthouse on the crest.

I'm sure there are more that I missed!

Fred said...

This week was much better than last's, and the fun it elicited makes this a much watch. I've read often that television shows are often pitched as combinations of previous shows: there is definitely here a feel of Desperate Housewives in the dynamics between Regina and Emma. I also like the inference that Snow White may not be as pure and good as she is portrayed, given what Regina says of her to Henry. (Is this a subtle way of telling us to look at Wicked?)

When we saw the Mayor's office with the b/w forest, I half expected to see the wolf in one corner. Perhaps b/w is not polar moral opposites, but the way Regina sees the world. The only other colour is red--the apples.

The other question I want to know is is Henry, Regina's father reborn?

And I loved the pixie that was turned into a stone garden statue--I'll have to check out the neighbourhood gnomes, if any look familiar.

Anonymous said...

The editor of The Storybrooke Daily Mirror is Sidney, which means "wide meadow".

Something tells me a year from now we'll all be reading:

Once Upon A Time: Season One [The Unofficial Guide] by Nikki Stafford. 8-)

Anonymous said...

What Malificent actually said was: “Well, it’s her wedding night. I doubt she’s suffering right now.”

Linda345 said...

There are several blogs right now that list the Lost references in Once Upon a Time. Off-hand I remember the room 108, Geronimo Jackson sticker on the car, clock stuck at 8:15, close-up of an eye.

I'm as hooked on this show as I was hooked on reading fairy tales when I was a little girl. Such a clever premise!

The little boy is okay but I find it difficult to hear him sometimes. He must stop talking so fast and stop mumbling.

Robert Carlyle is such a fine actor, and he's doing a wonderful Gold/Rumpelstiltskin. Speaking of Rump, remember The Full Monty?

vw: fredyst. A believer in everything Fred says.

Page48 said...

Julian Sark on OUAT next week.

Nikki Stafford said...

Linda345: In the first week of the show, when they went to see Rumpel in the jail, I said to my husband, "Hey, it's the guy from the Full Monty!" Of course I've seen him in a million things since then, but he'll always be that guy to me. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

In this episode there was talk of something that has eluded Regina, and I wonder if it's motherhood? Perhaps she can't actually have children, so she's adopted, and somehow she's unable to connect with the child because of something from her past she can't remember. I wonder if this has something to do with what Snow took from her. Remember, the Evil Queen married Snow's father, so it could have been that, or maybe she brought a child into the marriage (one that wasn't mentioned in the fairytale we know) and there was an accident involving Snow that led to the child's death? I think whatever has happened to her in the past that has made her this way has something to do with a child.

Page48 said...

I've never seen "The Full Monty", but Robert Carlyle, as Nikki says, is everywhere. Most recently in the (by far the) best entry in the "Stargate" franchise, SGU, which ended much too soon.

Also fairly recent was the mini-series, "The Last Enemy", with 'Sherlock' Cumberbatch.

And, inspired by the writers' strike of 2007, "24: Redemption".

TomWill said...

in the fairy tale didn't Snow take the kingdom from the Queen? The Queen had taken over when Snow was a child but when Snow awoke and married Prince Charming she got the kingdom and the Queen was out.

TomWill said...

Regina is Greta from the Looking Glass Station!

Fred said...

@Nikki: Your idea that there may have been an accident invovling Snow is a good one. We shouldn't be too wed to the narratives of the fairytales, as I am sure the writers will bend them in various directions to play with our expectations. I'm still leaning towards the idea that Snow White is not as innocent in her actions as we might guess. But I think you're on the right track with the invovlement of some child--are we channeling Walter and alt-Walter from Fringe?

Anonymous said...

Sunday night’s episode had 11.6 million viewers and a 3.9 preliminary adults 18-49 rating — that actually matches the early rating for the show’s debut, which was later adjusted up a tenth to a 4.0. High concept shows like Once often get big premiere audiences from curious viewers, but fail to maintain their ratings in the second week — that’s a early big hurdle the fairy tale drama just passed.

EsDee said...

Page48 - SARK!!! Hopefully he is a regular and not just a guest star.
I watched Grimm also and this is so much better - although the two have entirely different concepts.
I am not sure who is "in the know" - Regina and Mr. Gold hint at knowing more than everyone else - but it could be that they are referring to past dealings they have had with each other in "this" world, ones that we just haven't seen yet.
I too think that Snow had something to do with the Evil Queen losing a love interest - not as much her being declared more beautiful. And I do hope they go down the path of Snow not being *quite* so perfect and innocent.
As far as Henry - I think his mystery is also compelling. How does he know what he knows? How did he come to the belief / conclusion that they are all fairy tale characters stuck in time in this world? What is his connection - if any - to the Evil Queen's father? Did she just name him Henry subconsciously - or did Mr. Gold find him specifically due to some connection with her father?
Unlike a lot of the other new shows this season, I am sucked into the questions here immediately and already care about the characters and want to learn more.
So glad you are adding it to your list of shows to write about!

Gillian Whitfield said...

So far I have been loving Once Upon a Time. This theme is right up my alley. My parents really enjoy it, too. I think that I have finally found "the next show."

Unlike other shows that I have tried to get into, like Nikki, I am finding myself looking for the small details with Once Upon a Time.

I like that we see what it's like for the "bad guys" for once in a fairy tale. It's always, "The evil queen was bad, and so she was pushed off a cliff, and Snow White and Prince Charming married and lived happily ever after." It isn't peaches and cream for the bad guys. Although, my bubble was burst when she killed her father.

Can't wait for next week!

Anonymous said...

If you go to:

and look on the right side of the page [Videos and Clips] you can watch a short interview with Jennifer Morrison [Emma] who says--as far as we [actors] know-- Regina (Queen) is the only one without a memory wipe and knows what's going on in Storybrooke because she created the curse in order to create her own happy ending (to control everyone else's fate.)

Anonymous said...

So Regina knows what's going on in Storybrooke (no memory wipe), but of course young Henry knows what's going on as well--because of the storybook Mary Margaret gave him.

JavaChick said...

I thought those apples looked a lot more like Red Delicious than Honeycrisp.

Loving this show though!

Anonymous said...

Oh, joy! Screen caps for each episode of Once Upon a Time:

Jeff Heimbuch said...

I think "what the queen loves" that was taken away from her has to do with Snow's father, and the Evil Queen's former husband. Perhaps the King did something to save his own daughter's life, losing his own in the process. The Evil Queen seems to have truly loved him, and never forgave Snow. She was the cause that her love was taken from her.

Tiasabita said...

I've been living under a rock, TV-viewing-wise, since LOST ended and just yesterday saw a beautiful multi-page ad in a celeb mag for this new show from the writers of LOST! I felt a thrill then figured the show would be crap since it seemed overly advertised but I was intrigued enough to give it a shot and now I've been sucked in! As I was lying in bed thinking about the shows it suddenly dawned on me that Nikki would probably be blogging on any LOSTy type show, esp one filmed in Canada, and was so excited to see that she hadn't disappointed me!! :) Nikki, you still rock! U and your followers are so brilliant and insightful and just like with your LOST blog I constantly find myself saying 'that's just how I feel' or 'I never noticed that', or just lmao!! However, this morning what I'm saying is 'what an effin
idiot!'. Should I confess this? I caught the house number 108 and the Smokey lookalikes but I didn't get the 8:15!! Really? 8:15? Does it have to jump off the page and slap me? Evidently! So it appears that not only do I enjoy your blog but that I need it!!
On a different note, this summer during an extended down-time I started watching Dexter and True Blood and am embarrassed to say that I'm up to date!

Anonymous said...

The first fansite for Once Upon a Time:

Once Storybrooke

Anonymous said...

Live Twitter Chat With "Once Upon a Time" Star Ginnifer Goodwin Set to Take Place on Sunday, November 6
She'll be up on Twitter at @ginnygoodwin, during the East Coast broadcast of the show.

LT McDi said...

I've enjoyed both episodes so far, love all the little LOST nods.

My vote for the sheriff's fairy tale character is the huntsman.

He serves the Evil Queen but he let's Snow White live.

Oh and thanks to this blog, Niki I have rewatch the episode a third time to check out wallpaper and white roses.