Entertainment Magazine

Review #3260: Once Upon a Time 1.11: “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”

Posted on the 02 February 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss
Directed by Bryan Spicer

The final scene of this episode is exactly what this show needs for the rest of its run. It was earned, and didn’t come out of left field like some twists do. Sidney masterfully played everyone, most notably Emma, and showed his deep devotion to Regina. Regina showed that she can be just as manipulative as Mr. Gold has been. It’s quite different from how directly evil she has been presenting since the beginning of the series. Regina and Sidney’s counterparts in the fairytale world also get a really good, emotional story of their own so I’d say this is one of the more complete efforts of the season so far.

Review #3260: Once Upon a Time 1.11: “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”

It helps that the show uses one of its best assets in Giancarlo Esposito to carry the episode from beginning to end. I felt he’d been severely under-used up until this point and he proved himself capable when he stepped up to the forefront this time. In the fairytale world, he plays the Genie of Agrabah, with the power to grant wishes to anyone who rubs the magic lamp that he occupies. King Leopold happens upon the lamp and frees the genie from his slavery, even granting the genie a wish of his own. This factors in big time later on.

King Leopold, as it turns out, is Snow White’s father and married to Regina. The whole twisted family dynamic could have been played up to the point of caricature, but the story takes a different approach here. Sympathy is actually generated for the Regina character because she feels inadequate in her marriage to Leopold. Snow White is always there to remind the king of his dead wife, Snow’s biological mother, and he seems to dote on his daughter more than his current wife. It’s a story arc that is much more emotional and fluid than the unsubtle evil actions by the Black Queen since the start of the series.

She uses the genie’s blind love for her to make a bold power move, with the genie assassinating the king via snake, thus putting her in the power position she’s accustomed to within the show. The genie is so fueled with anger over this that he foolishly takes his one wish and makes sure he never leaves her side. The genie becomes the Magic Mirror in a seemingly cruel twist of fate.

Within Storybrooke, Regina makes her own calculated move by sending Sidney to work with Emma on a complicated plot to bring scandal to the mayor’s office. It’s a smart play to feed on Emma’s subdued animosity towards Regina and each of Sidney’s information snippets enhances that mindset. Cutting the brakes on her car and having her think it was Regina’s doing was a particularly nice touch. Emma just isn’t aware right now that she’s in the midst of snakes waiting for the right time to strike. Regina’s goal here is to separate Emma from Henry, though I wonder how long that will last.

Since Emma proved in this episode that she’s willing to either bend or break the law to serve her own purposes, she could easily violate the agreement to stay away from Henry at any time. One wonders what Regina’s true reason for separating them might be. I posit that she might be slowly changing his insistent belief that everyone in town is part of a story. His book has been taken by the mysterious writer and his one ally is now being watched by all of the villains in town. It may be a long while before Emma tips the scales of this battle in her favor. All of the things Henry needs to break the curse are slowly being taken away from him.

I’ve been saying this since the show began, but I have found that a truly enjoyable episode requires that I like both worlds and the stories presented in those worlds. If the writers can develop more concrete mysteries like what Regina’s true purpose might be, I can bypass the weaker aspects of the series like the poor special effects. The backstory in the fairytale world here had some real emotion and impact behind it, something that hasn’t consistently shown up before. It was tragic how Regina felt so mistreated and then basically breaking the genie’s heart. It was the start down the road to becoming the Black Queen. If the other characters’ origin stories can have that same amount of intrigue, the show automatically becomes much better. Character development like that is so key to a series, and it’s often ignored instead of correctly utilized.

Grade: 8/10

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