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Review #3244: Once Upon a Time 1.10: “7:15 AM”

Posted on the 25 January 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Daniel Thomsen
Teleplay by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Directed by Ralph Hemecker

The fairytale nature of this show means that certain aspects in a narrative, like love, get heightened in service of what the writers want to do with the overall story. That doesn’t mean it will reflect reality. Mary Margaret and Snow White may talk about how they’re destined to be together with their male counterparts, but that’s not a reason for them to fall in love. Both women have to determine what they like about each man in order to sell the respective love stories. Through ten episodes, there are so many characters and stories that need to be told here that it may be possible to lose any deep character development. That delicate balance between story and character still varies wildly with each aired episode.

Review #3244: Once Upon a Time 1.10: “7:15 AM”

Take the mystery character who showed up on a motorcycle at the end of last episode. He is largely put on the backburner here, as both Henry and Emma try and find out who he is, but are unsuccessful. The character, who is revealed to be some kind of writer, exists primarily as a plot device used to further the mystery of Storybrooke and its odd rules regarding its residents. He doesn’t add much of anything to the plot because he is required to talk in obtuse terms and intentionally lacking in information to add to the show’s mysterious aura.

It’s interesting to note how little everyone in town regards this new stranger. Aside from Regina, who frets in her usual over-the-top way, both Henry and Emma basically shrug at his presence. This is odd because the mystical rules that surround the town indicate that strangers don’t come into or leave town. What makes this guy so special that he can violate that rule? That can be a mystery to be answered at a later time, but it seems glaring to switch focus mid-stream.

This episode chose to show how painful it is to have unrequited love, a common theme in many fairytales and mythical stories. It specifically applies here to Snow White/Mary Margaret. In the real world, Mary Margaret still pines for David, going so far as to head to the diner so that she can get a glimpse of him every morning at the same time. The show sets up a predictable trajectory for this storyline, in that he also comes into the diner just to see Mary Margaret and that he reveals as such near the end of the episode.

David’s wife is nothing more than a wedge to keep the two of them apart. But aside from the fact that Henry says they belong together, there’s nothing beyond idle gazing of each other that would indicate that they should be in a relationship. Thus, it makes the conflict created by David’s wife trying to conceive seem artificial and soap opera-like. But maybe that is more David’s fault since he is starting to pull away from his wife and towards Mary Margaret. His wife is the honest one (probably one of the few in Storybrooke) and he’s hiding the secret love for Mary Margaret. It may end badly for everyone involved.

Snow White’s story starts out seeming almost identical to Mary Margaret’s plight. The connection between Snow White and Prince Charming feels more solid than the pairing in Storybrooke, probably because we have already seen how this story turns out from past episodes. This connection is key to what happens here with Snow White trying to meet Prince Charming in King George’s castle. She gets captured by the guards and ends up in jail. The royal prison is where she meets Grumpy, one of the titular Seven Dwarfs that was seen in Snow White’s company last episode.

How she meets the Seven Dwarfs was one of the few aspects of the episode that I enjoyed. It is just this merry band of guys who will do anything for her in thanks for helping them escape the castle. Snow White is still hung up on Prince Charming however, and getting that amnesia potion from Rumpelstiltskin proved to be a bad idea. The show sets up the cliffhanger well, with the outside possibility that Snow will not drink the potion and the news that Prince Charming will not marry the king’s daughter after all. Only, Grumpy is too late with the news. She doesn’t remember who Prince Charming is. That will be rectified soon, though. For now, it was quite effective to play the story arc all the way through in such a short period of time.

There is balance between the real world and the fairytale world in this episode. I was invested in the stories of both worlds. That’s what I’ve been looking for as the show has been coming along. I do admit to liking the fairytale story a bit more. The way Snow White encountered the Seven Dwarfs was far more interesting than the love triangle espoused in Storybrooke along with the vague dialog from the mysterious stranger who’s new in town. The episode as a whole didn’t really gel, but it was better than recent outings, and that’s a good sign. Some kinks still need to be worked out so I’m exercising more caution with this show than most others. Given how strange the show has the potential to be, I think it’s the right position to be in right now.

Grade: 7/10

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