Once Upon A Time, Episode 3: Snow Falls


I am conflicted…

I have spent the last three days ruminating over my opinion of Snow Falls. This was not a great episode, like the Thing You Love the Most, but at the same time this was not a bad episode.

Once again I really enjoyed the Fairy Land parts of the story, but I think I liked the better connection between the Modern World and the Fairy Land here more. In the Pilot there was little connection, beyond the set-up. In the Thing You Love the Most, there was no discernible connection between the story lines. In future episodes I really want them to keep that interconnectedness going.

It feels, especially with the this and the last episode, that the long-term plan for the show is to use Fairy Land to develop the characters in contrast to their Modern World actions. This is exemplified in Snow White/Mary Margaret.

In Fairy land Snow White is brash, confident and a woman of action.

In the Modern world Mary Margaret is quite, introspective and lonely.

It is too early to tell how the other characters are going to flesh out, though now that John Doe is out of the Coma, we should be able to see how he contrast from Charming. The two Dwarves shown so far, Grumpy and Sleepy, seen to display the same characteristics, but that could be from their limited exposure.

Archie is a small anomaly to this plan, as he acts as a conscience in both “Realms.”

With Regina and the Evil Witch effects of the curse seem to have manifested differently. The promos state that she is the only character that’s knows about the curse, but there are hints in the writing that this might not entirely be the case.

I’ll wait until either is explicitly stated in an episode. And that is one thing that OUAT seems to be doing well, I’m willing to wait to let this show play out.

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
Fairy Land: Opening in the forest a white carriage, carrying Charming and an unnamed blond are traveling to Charming’s castle. A tree has been placed across the road to facilitate thieving. A Highwayman lands on the carriage and steals a leather pouch and a horse.

Charming gives chase and knocks the thief from their horse. He is surprised the thief is a girl and is hit by a rock. The Thief, revealed to be Snow White, escapes.

Modern World: Mary Margaret is on a Date with a Doctor from the hospital at which she volunteers. The doctor ogles Ruby, as everyone seems to, while Mary Margaret is speaking. Mary Margaret then sadly ends the date.

On the walk home she discovers Emma in her VW, looking for a place to stay. Mary Margaret offers her a spare room. Emma declines.

The next day the schools kids are helping decorate a hospital ward. Henry is interested in a John Doe, a coma patient in an isolated room. Mary Margaret states that she does not know the patient.

Later the same day, Henry tells Emma that he has found Charming, and that they need to get Mary Margaret and the John Doe to recognize each other.

Emma recommends that Mary Margaret read to John Doe.

That night Mary Margaret reads the story book to John Doe. Near the end of the story Doe’s hand reaches out for Mary Margaret’s.

Act One
Modern World: Mary Margaret has called in a doctor, the same from her date earlier, but the Doctor is not able to find any difference. He states that it is probably her imagination. Mary Margaret is crestfallen and leaves quickly. Immediately after, the Doctor calls Regina.

At Mary Margaret’s flat, she continues to read the story as we transition into Fairy Land.

Fairy Land: Snow White gathers a few of her belongings from her hiding place, but is caught in a net as she exits. Charming taunts her saying, “”I will always find you…”” Snow White taunts him, calling him Prince Charming. Charming offers to release her if she will return his jewels.

Snow White has sold the jewels. Charming is really only concerned about his mother’s ring. Snow White suspects that the marriage is being used to stave off a war. Charming states that if Snow White doesn’t take him to where she sold the jewels, he will tell the Evil Queen where she is hiding.

Snow White agrees to assist.

Modern World: Emma and Henry meet May Margaret at Granny’s Diner, where she tells the pair what has happened. Henry wants Mary Margaret to read to him again, and she agrees.

At the Hospital they find that John Doe is missing.

Act Two
Modern World: Regina has been called as the Emergency Contact for John Doe, since she was the one who found him. The Doctor states that John Doe needs to be found. Emma states that she will help find the John Doe.

The Sheriff speaks to the Night Guard and the Janitor; they discover that John Doe waked out of the ward alone into the woods.

Fairy Land: Snow White and Charming move through the woods. When he asks about the necklace he has taken from her, since she had earlier stated that she wasn’t the jewelry type, Snow White informs him that it is full of fair dust, from a bad fairy, and the dust will change a fearsome adversary into a form that is easily crushed.

Snow White is saving it to use on the Evil Queen. Snow White denies the charges against her and states that she has been stealing to raise money move to a different realm. Snow White admits to having ruined the Evil Queen’s life.

At the edge of a river, Snow White gets the better hand of Charming and knocks him in the river, but she is quickly captured by the Evil Queen’s black guards.

Act Three
Modern World: The Sheriff, Emma and Mary Margaret follow John Doe’s trail through the woods. The Sheriff has momentarily lost the trail and Mary Margaret asks about Emma’s past. Henry arrives, having escaped his mother and claims that he knows where John Doe is headed. Henry states that John Doe is looking for Mary Margaret.

Fairy Land: Snow White is held by a black guard white the leader attempts to cut her heart out. Charming is able to throw a knifing to the leaders back from forty yards and then kills a second guard with his sword. When Snow White attempts to escape the third guard grabs her and rides off. Charming is able to kill him with an arrow. When Snow White thanks Charming, he states it was the honorable thing to do.

Snow White informs Charming that the Trolls, that she sold the jewels to, are just over the ridge. Charming mistakes Trolls for Dwarves, but is corrected by Snow White and warned to be careful around the trolls.

Modern World: Henry tries to convince Mary Margaret that John Doe is searching for her. The Sheriff discovers John Doe’s wristband, with blood on a tree branch.

Act Four
Fairy Land: Charming and Snow White approach the Troll Bridge, ditching their horse (trolls don’t like horses). Snow White tells Charming to stay quiet.

Snow White lures the Trolls with gold coins. The Trolls are suspicious of Charming and attack the pair. After searching Charming, the Trolls find Snow White’s wanted poster. The Trolls decide to sell Snow White for the reward.

Charming is able to free Snow White, but is caught on the bridge. Almost free, Snow White returns to save Charming by turning the Trolls in to beetles with the Dark Fairy Dust.

Charming informs Snow White that his name is James.

Modern World: The group makes it the Toll Bridge and there find John Doe in the creek. Mary Margaret is able to use CPR to wake him, but he does not know who he is.

Back in the Hospital, Regina introduces the group to John Doe’s wife.

Closing
Fairy Land: When Snow White and Charming return to the road, they split their loot. Charming retrieves his ring from the other jewels commenting that he knows it is not Snow White’s style. Snow White tries on the rings and then returned it to Charming.

Charming states that if she needs him, he will find her and Snow White states that Charming suits him more than James.

Modern World: Regina informs Mary Margaret, Emma and Henry that John Doe is David Nolan and that he is married. He wife states that during a rough patch in the marriage David left and she did not hear from him again.

The Doctor states that David is physically fine, but has no memory of what happened.

Out in the reception area, Emma confronts Regina about her suspicions. Mary Margaret is left watching David and Abigail embrace.

Back at Mary Margaret’s flat, Emma accepts her offer of a place to stay.

Still with me? Good…

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

As I said earlier, I am conflicted with this episode. I really enjoyed following the Bads in the last episode, Snow Falls focuses almost exclusively on the Goods.

This is a love story, and one that has been told about a hundred times (see. Cherry 2000). But here, three episodes in, with two characters we now from the start are destined to get together the romance comes off less as cliché and more as a required step in the story, something we have to see.

Hopefully, other characters will be given the same treatment, it’ll be nice to see how they introduce the Dwarves, and other background characters.

Because not having someone, well… that’s the worst curse
imaginable…

The Dialogue in this dialogue in this episode did not improve much from thelast episode, though that would not have been easy. The Fairy Land dialogue was more natural here, especially the banter between Snow White and Charming.

I gave the Dialogue a 6, that’s above average, as always I’d like improvement from episode to epsidoe, but we can’t always ge what we want. For the Story itself, I give the story for Snow Fall a 8.33, as an average of the six acts of the episode. The story remained steady throughout with one of the best closing scenes I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Together the overall score for the Story was 7.17, that’s a 1 point drop from The Thing You Love the Most, but still better than the Pilot and still a strong showing.

Acting:

There wasn’t much change in casting for this episode, only two additional characters, Dr. Whale and Abigial Nolan, and while they performed well enough, they just didn’t do enough to be real character yet.

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 – If last week was for Lana Parrilla, this week was for Ginnifer GGoodwin to shine. Ginnifer’s Snow White was finally given something real to do, becaome the strong character they hinted at in the Pilot. Mary Margaret was given the heavy emotional lifting, going from quiet and mousey to giddy and then to worried and finally lonely. This was quite a feat when you remember that Mary Margaret is in less than half the episode. Fairy Land: 6, Modern World: 8, Handicap: 0, Overall: 7, above average and an improvement over last week, depressed Snow White is coming, but there’s a ways off. Leave the real emotions to Mary Margaret.
  • Jennifer Morrison, Emma Stone – Emma was back to a passenger as the plot dragged her along, but she was given one really good confrontation with Regina in the closing. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 6, Handicap: +1, Overall: 7, better than average.
  • Lana Parrilla, The Evil Witch/Regina Mills – THe Evil Witch(still the Queen here) was only mentioned and Regina was little more that a supporting antagonist here. Still Lana commanded every scene in which she appeared. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 7, Handicap: =0, Overall: 7, a drop off from last week, but the series would be very different is the Evil Witch ruled every episode.
  • Josh Dallas, Prince Charming/John Doe – Josh Dallas’ Prince Charming almost stole the snow. I didn’t think much of the characer at first, but this performance showed that there is a little more to Charming than the loveable douche. I’m not going to rate his Modern World performance, as with the supporting characters he did so little. Fairy Land: 8, Modern World: na, Handicap: na, Overall: 8, a good showing.
  • Jared Gilmore, Henry Mills – After three episodes I wish I could say Jared is improving, but hey are still giving him crap lines and having him act like a total dick to Regina. So I have to reduce his rating this week. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 4, Handicap: 0, Overall: 4, below average. Please, writers, give him something to work with. Kids have imaginations, show that!
The Supporting Cast:
In a bit of a reverse from last week the support cast was almost non-existant. Ruby showed up as eye-candy and the The Sheriff, but no Archie or Mr. Gold in sight, a little disappointing.
  • Jamie Dornan, Sheriff Graham – The Sheriff is the only supporting character with much time at all in this episode, though that seemed to work to his favor, as less is more. Fairy Land: na, Modern World: 5, Handicap: +2, Overall: 7, above average.

This score for the Casting of the show is a solid 5, the casting of this episode good, but with only two new actors, not counting the Queen’s Guards, there’s not much to say. The average for the actors is a 6.67, about average and that brings the average for the Acting is 5.83, just above 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.

The best thing I can say about any show is that the production is rock solid. In the past most of the Fairy Land scenes were gree-screened, but here the reverse is true with most of the scenes filmed in a forest.

The fight scenes, of which there were plenty, were very well plotted and the Prince’s sword work much better than the Pilot. 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 – This may become a recurring thing with OUAT, and I hope that the Modern World scenes start to improve.
  • The Inter-connected Stories – This is somehting I had hope they would accomplish a little earlier, but still is a welcome addition. Using Fairy Land to drive the action in the Modern World helps keep the Cruse from coming off as a contrivance. The Fairy Land scenes are consistantly enjoyasble and linking the two more closely cannot be a bad thing.
  • Mary Margaret – Ginnifer’s performance of Mary Margaret was was heart breaking. Keep it up.
The Bad: Like last week there really isn’t anything that sticks out as bad in this episode. The story flows, the actors are good and the story progress very well.
  • na
The Weird: I really couldn’t find anything weird in this episode, even the Trolls qualified as appropriate…

For the Good, the Bad, and the Weird this episode earned a 10, I’m not going to search for bad, I’ll know it when I see it.

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 7.17 35%
Acting 5.83 35%
Production 8.67 20%
The Good, the Bad and the Weird 10.0 10%

7.28

B+

Yay!

This is a drop off from last week, but I can forgive it for having a good story and a really moving performance from Ginnifer Goodwin.

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