Once Upon A Time, Episode 2: The Thing You Love Most


I will say this right off the bat, I loved this episode. I loved all the weirdness and the little touches, from the Sheriff checking out Ruby to the Shetland Unicorn, you read that right: A FREAKING SHETLAND UNICORN!

I think what I like best is that a good portion of the actual story is driven by what happens in Fairy Land. There was a good bit of that last week, but this episode put a nice focus on the Evil Witch and her reasons for doing what she did. We’re starting to see that this wasn’t just a case of being driven from the kingdom, but there’s much more behind it.

I really enjoyed the darker aspects of this episode, the Evil Witch wasn’t just a two-dimensional antagonist in this episode, she was the protagonist, and that was a really good thing.

With all that, I think this show might have legs to it, if they can keep up, what I see as, the good work.

The Review…

I use a matrix to determine the rating I give a review, both a number from 0 to 10 and a letter from F to A+, that places a 5/B- as Average/Adequate. The reviews are broken down into four sections: Story, Acting, Production and “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.”

Story

First, a not so brief synopsis:

Opening:

Modern World: The Clock moves, and throughout the morning the citizens of the town begin to notice the clock is working. At her home Regina is reading the book, but the last few pages are ripped out. When she asks Henry, he denies knowing what has happened. Their conversation is cut off by the clock chiming.

In town Regina confronts Emma at her room, using her Apples to intimidate her. Regina states that Henry is in therapy and the Regina knows what is best for Henry.

Fairy Land(Flashback, slightly): The Evil Witch has just threatened Snow White and Charming, now speaking with her Mirror and Butler she claims that he will use the Dark Curse to exact her revenge. The Mirror is skeptical, stating that, “She will not give it up.”

At Maleficent’s Castle, the two witches discuss their histories with their perspective Heroines, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, making snide remarks. Maleficent suggests that the Evil Witch get a pet, thinking that the Dark Curse is too powerful. The Evil Witch threatens Maleficent’s Shetland Unicorn to distract her, ultimately using an iron chandelier to bind Maleficent. Maleficent claims that enacting the curse will leave a hole in the Evil Witch she can never fill.

Act One:

Fairy Land: The Evil Witch has gathered a group of dark characters to enact the Dark Curse, she requires a lock of hair from those with the darkest souls, intimating that she will get the hair willingly or not. All present agree and the Evil Witch uses the heart of her childhood steed. When the curse fails, the Evil Witch turns a mocking Gnome into stone.

Modern World: The Gnome is seen in Regina’s garden, where Regina is met by Sidney, the publisher of the Storybrook Daily Mirror. He has published an unflattering article on Emma. He informs Regina that he was not able to find much information, but that Henry was placed for adoption in Arizona. When threatened, Sidney promises to keep looking.

In the local diner, Emma mistakes a free cocoa as coming from the Sheriff, where in fact it came from Henry. On the walk to Henry’s school, he outlines a plan to defeat the Evil Witch, giving Emma the missing pages from the book. At the school Emma learns that Henry believes that Mary Margaret is Snow White. Emma is visible surprised.

Emma then tries to get information about Henry from Dr. Hopper, he initially rebuffs her attempts, but he gives Emma Henry’s file. Dr. Hopper later calls Regina to tell her that her plan worked (Narrowly avoiding loss of his license and jail time, since he had permission).

Act Two:

Modern World: The Sheriff arrests Emma for the stealing Henry’s file. The Sheriff makes it clear that he knows Regina set Emma up.

At Henry’s school, Regina interrupts Mary Margaret’s class to speak to Henry, claiming that Emma is con artist. Regina claims that she is trying to protect Henry, but he doesn’t believe her. At the Sheriff’s Office Emma is bailed out by Henry and Mary Margaret.

After being bailed-out, Emma chops a bough from Regina’s prized Apple Tree witha chain saw.

Fairy Land: Regina and her Butler, speaking about the curse, hint at a deeper relationship. The Butler warns against revenge.

In the prison below the castle, the Evil Witch asks Rumpelstiltskin why the curse is not working. He informs the Evil Witch that he has told Snow White how to break the Curse.

When she asks why the curse didn’t work, he demands comfort and a good life in the new world, and that the Evil Witch must fulfill he every request, if he says “Please.” Rumpelstiltskin states that Evil With must sacrifice the Heart of that which she loves most. The Evil Witch claims that Snow White has already killed what she loved most. Rumpelstiltskin tells her that there must be something else.

Act Three:

Modern World: Emma is told by Granny that a city ordinance requires her to evict anyone with a felony record. Emma give up her key and collects her things. When Regina reports the damage to her tree, the Sheriff convinces Regina that continued arrests will not help her win over Henry.

Regina invites Emma to her office to work out her differences, but instead tricks Emma into calling Henry crazy where he can hear her. Henry is upset and runs away.

Fairy Land: The Evil Witch knows what she must do to enact the Curse, but is conflicted. Her resolve to take revenge is at odds with her love for her Butler, who is in fact her father. He makes a logical attempt to convince her that she could move on. He tries to convince her that she can have love again, but instead the Evil Witch rips out his heart.

Closing:

Modern World: Emma visits Mary Margaret at her flat to return the money for the Bail, Mary Margaret invites Emma in for cocoa and cookies, where they talk about Henry and why Mary Margaret helped Emma.

At Dr. Hopper’s officer, Emma interrupts a therapy session to convince Henry that she wants to help him, stating that although she thinks the curse is crazy, that doesn’t mean that it is not true. Emma destroys the pages ripped from the book so Regina cannot read them.

Fair Land: The Evil Witch enacts the Curse with the heart of her Father, visiting his grave we are shown his name is Henry.

Modern World: Emma and Henry leave Dr. Hopper’s together. In Regina’s garden, Mr. Gold visits Regina informing her that Emma is not leaving and that she and Henry were, “Thick as Thieves…” stating that he could have fixed Regina’s problem.

Mr. Gold states that he procured Henry for Regina and wondered where Regina got the name. When he implies that he knows more, Regina demands he tell her, he refuses and asks to be left alone, saying, “Please.”

Still with me? Good…

With the synopsis complete we can get in to the review proper, starting with the Story:

As I mentioned before I really enjoyed this episode, the story really filled in the background for a character most viewers might not have even wanted, and that is a really good thing. It also introduce more evil characters to the mix. The Evil Witch and Rumpelstiltskin aren’t the only bad guys, and the fact that Rumpelstiltskin created he curse lends to the idea that he is a much bigger force than he is trying to show.

The use of the Fairy Land/Modern World inter-cutting still works very well here, spending slightly more, at least it feels like more, in Fairy Land this time around.

I think the very fact hat you want to leave, is why you have to stay…

The Dialogue in this dialogue in this episode was much better than the pilot, the lines made more sense in context, the quote above notwithstanding.

In Fairy Land the dialogue also worked better this time around, and I think that may have been because the show focused on the Bads. The Goods have a tendency to sound pompous or cloying, even when trying not to. The Bads either come off menacing or cheesy and that is more fun to listen too. The Bads were also more consistent, even with the Evil Witch showing her emotional side, that the Goods did in the Pilot.

I gave the Dialogue a 7, that’s above average and a good improvement over the previous episode. I would still like improvement in the next couple of episodes. For the Story itself, I give the story for The Thing You Love Most a 9.2, as an average of the five acts of the episode. The story started out strong and got better as it introduced new characters and fleshed out the Evil Witch. Together the overall score for the Story was 8.10, that’s a 2 point increase from the Pilot and a welcome improvement when most shows have a huge drop in quality after the first episode.

Acting:

The Casting for this episode was perfect, the Mirror, Henry and Maleficient are spot on and even the extras looked really good as the Gnome, the Blind Witch and the Giant. The Mirror is the only character, so far, that has appeared in the Modern World, but I hope the Maleficient might pop up.

The Cast is graded on their performance in Fairy Land and Modern World averaged together.

Since I know that I have a preference to certain actors and a disdain for others I have added a handicap, a -1 for actors I like, a 0 for those I have no real opinion and +1 to an actor that I really don’t like. The Main Cast:

  • Ginnifer Goodwin, Snow White/Mary Margaret – Snow White did not really appear in this episode, except for scenes clipped from the Pilot, but that was okay. Mary Margaret took on a greater role in the Modern World, acting as a mentor to Emma, something that will likely become a character trait. I don’t see the Mary Margaret role become more than that, so Snow White will probably be the more action oriented side of the performance. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 6, Handicap: 0, Overall: 6, above average and an improvement over last week, please no more depressed Snow White, they can do so much more.
  • Jennifer Morrison, Emma Stone – Emma took a more active role in this episode. In the pilot she was along for the ride, but here she’s doing more without Henry and confronting Regina and Mary Margaret, this will only help the show in the long run as discovering the story, instead of being told the story by Henry, will keep the audience engaged. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 8, Handicap: +1, Overall: 8, better than average and also an improvement.
  • Lana Parrilla, The Evil Witch/Regina Mills – I sorta lavished praise on Lana Parrilla last week, and I think I spoke up too soon, because she was so much better this week. I’ll admit that I’m biased toward the Bads, but they are giving us so much more to really like. Fairy Land: 10, Modern World: 9, Handicap: =0, Overall: 9.5, almost perfect, as I think some of Regina’s actions were a tad off the mark.
  • Josh Dallas, Prince Charming/John Doe –  Josh Dallas did not appear in this episode. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: na, Handicap: na, Overall: na.
  • Jared Gilmore, Henry Mills – I didn’t see any change in the Henry Character this week, but that’s not necessarily a negative. He is still being force to expound the the curse, but that should soon end. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 5, Handicap: 0, Overall: 5, just average.
The Supporting Cast:
The Supporting cast blew it out of the water this week, and really help everything come together to make this a great episode.
  • Raphael Sbarge, Jiminy Cricket/Archie Hopper – No Jiminy this week only Archie, but even there he worked very well bouncing between the main characters like a normal person would. He moves through the town like someone that is still going to be there a week or a month from now. That sorta ease as a character is something all good character actors should be able to do. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 6, Handicap: 0, Overall: 6, just a hair above average.
  • Jamie Dornan, Sheriff Graham – This is the best improvement of anyone on the show so far. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a Hipster Twat, but he is also not just a lackey for Regina. He tries to flirt with Emma, badly. In the opening montage he snaps a look at Ruby in her way too short skirt. The character is starting to annoy me less. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 6, Handicap: +2, Overall: 8, above average, and good improvement on likebility.
  • Robert Carlyle, Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold – Everything I said last week, just taken up a notch or two. Carlyle owns every scene he’s in and he make Regina look even better when he does. I really enjoyed catching him in the background in a couple of scenes. Carlyle easily has the best carrier of anyone else involved with thei show, but he was willing to just walk across a street in the opening. I really like that, and hope he keeps it up. Fairy Land: 10, Modern World: 8, Handicap: =-1, Overall: 8, above average.
  • Giancarlo Esposito, The Mirror/Sidney- The casting of Giancarlo was amazing, he manages to pull off the near Omnipotence of the Mirror and the weasely Sidney with little trouble, another character I hope they use more often (imdb has him down for three episodes, I really want more). Fairy Land: 7, Modern World: 7, Handicap: =0, Overall: 7, above average.
  • Kristin Bauer, Maleficient- I’ve never seen True Blood, I never plan to. Vampires are supposed to be blood violent animals, like 30 Days of Night. But, I’ve also not seen anything else she was in, so she gets the benefit of this being all I know her from. And I can only see that as a Good thing, he performance as Maleficient was spot on, with the only drawback being it looks t be a one off, too bad…  Fairy Land: 8, Modern World: na, Handicap: = 0, Overall: 8, above average.
  • Tony Parez, Henry – This was an amazing role that you really didn’t expect during the lead up. I’ve not seen this actor in anything else, though going my imdb, he does a lot of TV. In a supporting role he really gave Lana Parrilla a lot to bounce off of and allowed her to show a wider array of emotions as the Evil Witch, my only complaints is that to much of this character will dilute the impact this episode had. Fairy Land: 9, Modern World: na, Handicap: =0, Overall: 9, awesome.

This score for the Casting of the show is a solid 10, the casting of this episode was perfect, everyone was amazing in their roles and they all made me want to see them again. What more can I ask? The average for the actors is a 7.45, about average and that brings the average for the Acting is 8.73, much better than average.

Production:

Since television is a serialized medium, where Directors come and go, I won’t focus on the Director.

My focus, rather, will be on the Cinematography, Audiology and Editing.

I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference between the Pilot and The Thing You Love the Most, and that is good, since the Production was the best reviewed section for the Pilot. What I will say is that since this was not a pilot there was a lot more time for the story to flesh out. The Pilot had a lot of information to get across and that made it feel a little rushed, this episode had a much better pace.

There were better transitions from the Fairy Land to Modern World this time around and I think that will keep improving as the series continues. I gave Production a 8.

And that brings me to the fun part, the Good, the Bad, and the Weird.

The Good:

  • Fairy Land Scenes –  I think I mentioned this last week, but the Fairy Land Scenes are really bringing me back to this show. The Evil Witch and Rumplestiltskin own this show and they are making me want to review this show just so I have a reason to watch it three times a week…
  • The Shetland Unicorn – This concept just toallt blows my mind: A. FREAKING, SHETLAND. UNICORN! There cannot be anything more insanely awesome than that. A unicorn is a symbol of purity and grace, which can only be captured by a virgin. And, this one is the pet of Maleficent! A Witch! Also, this is a Shetland Unicorn, which means, in the Fairy Land they are currently breeding different types of Unicorns! Can I get a Clydesdale Unicorn? Yes Please!
  • The Mirror – This is a combination of the part and the casting. Watch him in Breaking Bad and Nero Wolf. Go watch the Usual Suspects again, I’ll wait.
  • Maleficent – Like the Mirror, this is a combination of the part and the casting. Kristin Bauer is fully inhabiting this role, and I hope she can come back soon.
  • Regina’s Office – This is set design at it’s best. The colors are sparse, except for the apples. Everything looks like it has been placed just so, as to make her look that much more over bearing.
  • Mary Margaret’s Flat – This is just the opposite, lots of drab colors with sparse trappings. What is there is old, but everything looks loved and inviting. Regina’s Office is a seat of power, Mary Margaret’s is the sorta place you wanna wake up in on Christmas.
  • The Witch’s Father – This is the best example of reversing the “Girlfriend in the Fridge” cliche. Here a female character’s development was advanced by the death of a male character. I believe in equity in all things, there needs to be more situations where the woman is advanced ahead of the man, at least until we can have real equality.
The Bad: I really couldn’t find anything bad in this episode, and I think if I tried to look harder it would be more nit picking than actual problems…
  • na
The Weird:
  • The Shetland Unicorn – Shall I repeat? Okay: A. FREAKING, SHETLAND. UNICORN! That’s just weird… and awesome.

For the Good, the Bad, and the Weird this episode earned a 9.38.

The Result:

The final score for the review is based on a weighted system. Story and Acting are 35% of the average score, with Production at 20% and the Good, the Bad and the Weird at 10%. For this episode:

Story 8.10 35%
Acting 8.73 35%
Production 8.00 20%
The Good, the Bad and the Weird 9.38 10%

8.43

A-

Yay!

This is about as good as it gets on TV now days. I really enjoyed this and hope the next is as good.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.