Sunday, March 04, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Dreamy

What an episode! I’d heard that Amy Acker was going to be on Once Upon a Time this week and I was definitely looking forward to it, and while she was great, Lee Arenberg as Dreamy/Grumpy was truly extraordinary. We’ve seen him throughout the season, grumbling about one thing or another, but nothing could have prepared us for the backstory and performance we saw this week. I’m going to focus on the Dreamy/Grumpy story and leave the Katharine/Emma/David story behind this week. We’ll be able to pick it up next week when it becomes more focal again.

This episode was wonderfully written by Kitsis & Horowitz, and it showed (it’s like when you used to see the “written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse” tag at the beginning of Lost, or saw Joss Whedon’s name at the beginning of Buffy). Not only did it create a great standalone story about Grumpy, but it tied in other stories (Belle and Rumpelstiltskin, Snow and Charming, the Blue Fairy who we’d previously seen talking to Jiminy Cricket) and pulled in the key symbols of the series.

As I mentioned several weeks back, one of those symbols is stars. Emma has a star on her keychain, you can always see stars on buildings or painted onto walls or made of construction paper. Until now the episode that had the most prominent display was the Jiminy Cricket one, which is still one of my faves, but this week outdid that one. For this episode was about dreams. And if a dream is a wish, you make it upon a star.

In the fairytale world, we meet Nova (Amy Acker, who has not aged a day since Angel), who is a fairy godmother wannabe who is currently schlepping around fairy dust for the other fairy godmothers, but she’s a klutz who tends to make a mess of things. And what is fairy dust? It’s ground-up diamonds. And where do the diamonds come from? The diamond mines where the dwarfs work, happily because they believe they have no other purpose in life. And where do dwarfs come from? Eggs.

Didn’t see that one coming. Brilliant.

But one egg is different; one egg accidentally had fairy dust spilled on it (by Nova) and therefore the dwarf inside it isn’t like the other kids. One of these kids is doin’ his own thing. And that thing is dreaming; dreaming of a life outside the mines, desiring more than what is his purpose in life.

And so, when he picks up his axe and watches the handle for his name, it comes as no surprise that he’s Dreamy. The axe, we’re told, never lies, making it a dwarf version of a Sorting Hat. (But seriously… poor Dopey! Then again, he doesn’t seem to mind… because, you know, the dopiness and all…) And with that he begins longing for something more.

When he crosses paths with Nova he recognizes her instantly as the one he’d seen before his hatching, and she tells him to come up on the hill to watch fireflies. That scene was written and shot just for the dreamers in the audience. Who among us wouldn’t want to sit on a hill at midnight, with the moon lighting our way as the lights of the kingdom twinkle below us as fireflies light up the skies around us? That image was glorious. I’m sure other people will call it cheesy; I loved it.

On that hill, he and Nova declare their love for one another, and both decide to follow their dreams: they’ll find a boat and sail around the world together, finding it and being together.

And just as that happened in the fairy tale world, over in Storybrooke we find Leroy, the town drunk who long ago gave up on his dreams and found solace at the bottom of a glass of scotch. He has no time for anyone… until he meets Astrid, a nun prone to mistakes that have cost the convent dearly, and who, for some reason even he can’t explain, brings out the best in him. (Notice that both “Nova” and “Astrid” are named related to stars; they make one think of supernova or astral.) He falls for her, and tells her about his pipe dream of sailing around the world in a boat. Astrid giddily replies, “You can do anything as long as you can dream it,” the very same thing Dreamy had said to Nova in the fairytale world (FTW) when she said she wanted to be a fairy godmother. So, in order to find a way to be close to her, he agrees to sell candles… which happen to be sources of light, little twinkling stars/fireflies/diamonds of light. He does this with Mary Margaret, the other town pariah. And, of course, they don’t sell a single thing. (Interestingly, the candle stand is part of a fair to support local miners, and not only was Leroy a diamond miner in the FTW, but Mary Margaret lived with… seven of them.)

Storybrooke is a very, VERY judgmental place. They have no time for Leroy, but that’s because he’s been biting their heads off for the past who-knows-how-many years. But now they have no time for Mary Margaret, despite the fact she was the town sweetheart for so many years. It seems a little cruel, but then again, we can’t forget these are fairytale creatures, and in the FTW, there are good guys and bad guys, and very few in between. In the Grimm fairytales, there were no uncertain characters with complex backstories that made you think. They were either evil or pure. So, these people have no middle ground. Mary Margaret was pure a few days ago. Now she’s not, and since they don’t understand anything that’s not black and white, she is evil. But looking at the actual FTW, we’re starting to see there was a lot more grey there than in the storybooks we read as kids.

For just as Dreamy is sneaking off, the other dwarfs catch him, and remind him that he has a responsibility. Then the Blue Fairy tells him that if Nova leaves with him, she’ll lose her wings. Together, they’ll be happy, but separately, they’ll do a lot of good for the world. And so, he tells Nova he can’t be with her, sending her off to a life of sadness, as he returns to the mines. Where, when he’s handed a new axe, it reads Grumpy. And with that, his fate is sealed.

As I mentioned, this episode brought in other stories that didn’t at first seem connected to Grumpy’s backstory, but actually fit in perfectly. We get a surprise reappearance of Belle, still wearing the same dress she’d been in when she said goodbye to Rumpelstiltskin. She’s either stopped at a tavern on her way home (probably just before the queen kidnapped her), or she’s working as a bar wench. She acts as the catalyst for Dreamy, urging him to go find Nova, and it’s because of her that he had his moment on the hill. She’s loved (Rumpel) and lost, and doesn’t want him to make the same mistake. Over in Storybrooke, it’s Gold — the other half of that couple — who refuses to buy Leroy’s boat and help him make the money for the nuns. Of course, if Gold hadn’t done that, Leroy wouldn’t have been forced to take matters into his own hands.

This episode was about dreams, and showed the two sides of a dream: the good kind – the kind where you wish upon a star and set a goal and go for it, living out your dream and becoming a happier person for it; and the negative kind, the “pipe dream” that it outside your reach, a goal that’s created a false hope you can never quite reach. Dreamy has wonderful dreams, as does Nova, but the reality of the world won’t allow them to live them out. Dreams are things that you can wish upon a star for; it’s other people who usually tell you what you’re following is nothing better than a useless pipe dream. People try to hold them down, but in Storybrooke they fight back.

When Leroy can’t sell his candles, he takes matters into his own hands, finding a way to make candles a necessity. And just as he fulfills his promise to Astrid, once again becoming her hero as he’d been in the FTW, the camera pulls back to reveal the town walking around with their candles, lights twinkling against the sky the same way they had one magical night in the fairytale world.

Dreams can come true, after all. You can do whatever you want, if you can just dream it.


Unknown said...

I admit that I got a little bit weepy during this episode.

Dusk said...

Amy looks exactly the same! Nova had early Fred written all over her. "Your one?"

Whether LA or Storybrooke she overspends the budget.

Highlight: "I'm not gonna jump! I'm solidly built, I could hurt somebody!"

I don't think Gold hates nuns, he hates fairies. How did he get out of jail?

Aw, Granny forgave MM. (Who should really wash her car.)

Why can't Emma tell Sydney is a liar? Did Reginia make that record I wonder?

I think we may have met the rabbit and Alice tonight.

Dusk said...

We know this isn't the end of Grumpy's quest for Nova, he ended up in prison for her.

I love that their's like 100 dwarfs. We have Bossy, so as the one that cleaned them Dressy? Is the pub owned by a Brewery dwarf?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Dwarves hatch fullgrown from eggs?

They're Orcans?

Anonymous said...

Really liked this episode, except for the romance that happens in ten seconds, a common occurrence on this show. I know fans are always arguing about "wheel-spinning," but love, especially between Amy Acker and that guy on Seinfeld who made George look studly, needs time.

Anyway, I thought some of the concepts were cool, and maybe could have gone further - like the eathly male and the heavenly female coming together to explore the mortal world. There seemed to be something potentially interesting there, but not completely baked yet.

Sagacious Penguin said...

A bit heavy-handed at times, but this show kinda goes there frequently, and if any show ought to be allowed to, it's one about fairy tales :)

LOVED seeing Belle again -- didn't expect it. Loved the bizarro logistics of the dwarf world.

Is the blue fairy godmother the one Rumpel explodes to get her wand? If so, I guess that's why he's at odds with the nuns/faries. As a Catholic, I find it humorous all the faires were turned into nuns :)

And, incidentally, I totally need a Nova in my life.

Pam said...

I loved the tribute to Walt Disney's famous quote "If you can dream it, you can do it"

This show just keeps getting better and better!

Dusk said...

Sagacious: The Blue Fairy is the one that turned Jimminy into a criket and came up with the idea how to save aby Emma from the curse.

Rumple exploded a fairy in yellow.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I was surprised when they sang "Hi Ho." That's a little too on the nose Disney.

The guy eating a carrot reminded me how much more I've always loved Warner Bros. (and Bugs Bunny) than Disney stuff.

Did you say more David and Snow stuff next week? *yawn*

I wonder if Katherine is in the same hospital as Belle now. Maybe the queen's spell zaps them there if they try to escape Storybrooke.

The kid thinks his mom is the key to the town, but she was born in the fairy tale. He wasn't, but he lives in Storybrooke. Maybe he's the key and that's why the queen has him.

Rad said...

@Dusk, I've been trying to figure out who the guy with the carrot could be, nice call on the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. He did have a pocketwatch also didn't he?

I thought it was a great episode and the dwarfs hatching from eggs was probably my favorite moment of the series so far, BRILLIANT!

I didn't mind the instant attraction/love that came between Nova and Dreamy/Grumpy, they are in a fairy tale world after all, I loved seeing Belle in the Dwarf bar (wonder if she got to hang out at the dwarf house for a while and set the stage for Snow White moving in once they got accustomed to living with a woman).

I'm not sure if Emma knows Sidney is lying and is just waiting him out to see where he's going with this. Or maybe her "powers" don't work on Sidney because he is not really a person, he's a genie/mirror.

Rebecca T. said...

This was probably one of my favorite episodes thus far. Grumpy was phenomenal and who doesn't love Amy Acker? She's just so cute :)

I do like the way they are slowly weaving all of these stories together - the pacing is spot on in my opinion. After the first 2 episodes my Dad commented that this might have served better as a miniseries than a full show, but I love the complexity that has been developed.

And I'm SO excited to get a Red episode next week! Finally!

Sagacious Penguin said...

Thanks, Dusk!

kluu said...

I believe that Sydney is telling the truth as he knows it and avoids saying an outright falsehood. This is how he is not detected.

Do the people there (other than perhaps Regina and Gold) actually show they have any powers like they might in the FTW? Or, are they just living lives that would fit what powers they would have.

I'm not sure that being the mirror gives Sydney any special immunity to Emma. His being a reporter is how he reflects what he sees with words and pictures like a mirror reflects light.

Suzanne said...

I wish I had liked it as well as all of you. I think my delight in seeing Amy Acker rose my hopes too high and caused me to feel disappointed. I am also not very good about noticing all of the wonderful details that Nikki and many of you seem to notice. My kids were disappointed by this one, too, though. Maybe we all just had an off night.

Austin Gorton said...

I wasn't as high on this one as Nikki and others, either. Generally, I liked it, but that was born mainly of my affection for the ever-adorable Amy Acker, who can make anything better. I did appreciate the connective tissue with other stories in the FTW, but per usual, the Storybrooke side of things struggled to keep my interest (though that could be born of my increasing frustration with MM's pariah status, though Nikki does make a compelling argument for why that is).

@Dusk: Did Reginia make that record I wonder?

I am 100% sure Regina fabricated the call records in some way.

Is the pub owned by a Brewery dwarf?

Drunky Dwarf. :)

@Anonymous: Really liked this episode, except for the romance that happens in ten seconds, a common occurrence on this show.

As Rebecca T. mentioned, I also chalk that up to "Fairy Tale Land", in which people do fall in love hard and fast. Were that to happen in Storybrooke, I'd be more willing to call BS on it (note that the Leroy/Astrid relationship was much, much more reserved than the Grumpy/Nova one).

@Colleen/Redeem147: I was surprised when they sang "Hi Ho." That's a little too on the nose Disney.

Jane Espenson has said on Twitter that one of the perks of being an ABC show is that they can play around more directly with the Disney characters without having to jump through a lot of hoops, so I assume that was another perk of that relationship.

Mike_D said...

I forgot that FTW in this blog is "Fairy Tale World" and not "For The Win" or "F-- The World." HA!!!

You gotta love Amy Acker. She was in Grimm a little while back, so she likes the fairy tales.

Can Dreamy/Grumpy actually leave Storeybrooke in that boat? Does it only apply to the road? Is there some kind of wolf-shark?

Page48 said...

Awww, the cuteness of Amy Acker.

THAT just never gets old.

Martha said...

Nikki, I was SO excited when I found out you were blogging on the Walking Dead that I started visiting this site after each Sunday viewing to let your insights enrich my vapid TV-staring pursuits! :)

So late last year when I happened to stumble upon this show half-way through an episode I decided to watch it, knowing you blog about it as well. Now I'm hooked - thanks!! ;-) And you must never stop blogging on it, because as someone who pays only half-attention whenver she watches TV I rely on this blog to confirm my various questions that result from said inattention (like this episode, where I said to my hubby "I think that's Belle! I'll have to check Nik's blog to find out.")