Entertainment Magazine

Review #3122: Once Upon a Time 1.3: “Snow Falls”

Posted on the 09 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

“Once Upon A Time” has a large cast of characters to introduce us to, and, as they did in “Lost”, the creators are using these initial episodes to focus on each of them. In “Snow Falls”, it’s the turn of Snow White and Prince Charming, and their Storybrooke doppelgangers. Once again, they make the episode work by crafting a back-story that recasts the traditional into the believable, while the conventional turns a little more sinister.

Review #3122: Once Upon a Time 1.3: “Snow Falls”

We open in the Enchanted Forest, with the Prince enduring, sorry, escorting his insufferable ice queen fiancé. They are waylaid and his jewels are stolen by the girl, sorry, woman bandit, Snow White. While this does allow them to meet cute, as he chases her down, it also establishes Snow White as a more resourceful and cunning character. She’s not quite Robin Hood, since she steals from the rich to fund her own revenge, but she is a far cry from the traditional Disney princess. Certainly none of them clock the Prince with a rock on first meeting him.

In the present day, Mary Margaret is enduring another bad date, this time with a guy who only has eyes for the comely waitress, Ruby. Since he’s played by David Anders, known for morally dubious villains from “Alias” to “24” to “Heroes”, it’s not a stretch to figure out whose side he favors in the town. We discover he’s the doctor attending John Doe, lying in a coma at the hospital. Henry is convinced the patient’s Prince Charming, and, in a lovely twist on tradition, insists Mary Margaret, aka Snow White, is the only one who can wake him.

Emma persuades her to try, if only to show Henry there are no fairy-tale endings in the real world. Instead, John Doe grabs her hand at the moment they pledge themselves to each other (in the story, of course.) The insidious Dr. Whale dismisses the whole thing, and then confirms our suspicions by reporting the incident to Mayor Regina. Although, she is the unknown man’s emergency contact, so why should we be suspicious?

The eventual manhunt for John Doe, who has actually woken up fully, takes them into the woods. This allows for a natural interplay between the search for him, and the Prince and Snow’s search for his jewels. Both of which culminate at the Enchanted Forest’s troll bridge, and the mirroring toll bridge. At the toll bridge, Mary Margaret’s kiss (in the form of CPR, of course) brings him back to life, completing the fairy-tale inversion. After the troll bridge, the two part, with the Prince returning to his fiancé and his imminent wedding. All of which presages the Mayors last surprise, as she unveils the long-lost, long-suffering wife, a final sign that happy endings are more complicated in this world.

In some ways, this episode was trickier to pull off than the last, focusing on the evil queen. Filling in her motivations was more of a blank canvas. Here they had to take iconic figures that verge on the trite and maudlin, and recreate them as real people. The best example was the deft way they recast the Prince’s name. Making “Charming” the ironic pet name Snow White dubs him with after he re-captures her was brilliant. It also gives them license for some snappy screwball comedy dialog that further humanizes them. We see a real relationship taking root, and hints of what made their eventual union so problematic.

The show continues to impress, doing a masterful job of building both worlds. As they continue to introduce characters, I can’t help continuing comparisons to “Lost”. Its fourth episode was “Walkabout”, which revealed John Locke’s secrets. This fourth episode will focus on Mr. Gold, and presumably Rumplestiltskin. I am sure Robert Carlyle will take as much advantage of the opportunity as Terry O’Quinn did.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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