Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: Fruit of the Poisoned Tree / Skin Deep/ What Happened to Frederick?

Episodes 11, 12 and 13

This is my last 'batch' of Once Upon a Time reviews so I'm now all caught up and don't have any unfinished television reviews hanging over my head. Well, except Dollhouse. And as for book reviews - don't even get me started.

Episode 1.11: Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

It’s now the turn of the genie in the lamp and we begin with the genie being released from his lamp. His newest master is the King (who isn’t a King in fairytaleland?) who also happens to be Snow White’s father and the Evil Queen’s husband. He does a true act of kindness and sets the genie free, useing his second wish to bestow the last wish onto the genie. Back at his castle, it is clear that the King dotes on Snow and still hasn’t got over the death of his first wife; the Evil Queen leads a very morose life and the genie is smitten.

The genie gives the Evil Queen the gift of a mirror so that she can prove to herself that she, not Snow White, is the fairest of them all. When the King discovers that his wife loves another, he locks her up and asks for the genie to discover the traitor for him. The Evil Queen’s butler/servant (who is also her father) approaches the genie with an intricate box, the contents being the only thing that will save his daughter. The Evil Queen pleads for the genie to help her with her mission: to use the dangerous snakes in the box to kill her husband so that she can finally be free of him. The love-struck genie does as the Evil Queen bids and proclaims that they can now act upon their love for one another – only to find that the Evil Queen doesn’t love him at all. He doesn’t care and uses the last wish to make sure that he will be a part of her life forever more …

In Storybrooke, Henry’s castle in the playground is destroyed for ‘health and safety’ reasons and his Once Upon a Time book that had been buried underneath is gone! Meanwhile, Sidney approaches Emma vowing revenge against the Mayor. She had him sacked from his job as editor and he wants to expose her for who she really is. The Mayor, being the Mayor is always one step ahead and Emma and Sidney’s plan backfires spectacularly, achieving little more than their new statuses as the laughing stock of the town.

After their kiss in town, David texts MM to meet him at their ‘place.’ I swear, MM hardly ever works. Or else it’s the weekend all the time. Anyway, David has set up a special picnic in the woods. While their affair might be everything that I want, it’s going to land them in big trouble.

Henry is still distraught over the loss of his book and is found by the Stranger sitting at the counter in Granny’s, trying to frantically scribble down everything he can remember in an attempt to preserve what he can of the book. I really want to know what his role is in the show because his elusiveness is starting to get a tad irksome. Some of annoyances are assuaged when we see that the Stranger has Henry’s book!

If that wasn’t dramatic enough, we see that Sidney wasn’t working alongside Emma for the greater good after all, and is actually in cahoots with Regina to dupe Emma into a false sense of security! Is there anyone not in Regina’s pocket?

Episode 1.12: Skin Deep

Again, Disney Princess anyone?
Skin Deep sees the appearance of Belle, my favourite Disney Princess and overall fairytale character. Rumpelstiltskin demands Belle as his prize forever in exchange for doing something or other for the King and while her father and fiancée protest, Belle hands herself over. She’s to be his servant while he sits in his mansion all day spinning straw into gold. There’s some delightful references to the traditional fairytale: Belle drops a teacup whilst serving Rumpelstiltskin tea, leaving a chip and when Belle’s fiancée comes to rescue her, Rumpelstiltskin turns him into a red rose.

Belle (who has a ghastly Australian accent) finds herself falling in love with Rumpelstiltskin and wants to get to know him better. He promises to tell her about his past and his son if she goes to the market to buy him some straw first. Puzzled, for he has never let her out of his house before, Belle obeys and meets the Evil Queen on her way. She tells the innocent Belle that true love’s kiss will free Rumpelstiltskin from his curse and instead of running away as she had planned, Belle goes back to try this out on him.

Rumpelstiltskin, as you might expect, is furious. We see that Belle’s kiss has something of an effect, turning Rumpelstiltskin’s normal grey pallor into something resembling healthy, but the effects are quickly reversed as he wrenches himself away and hurls Belle into a cell.

In Storybrooke, we get a glimpse of Mr Gold’s ruthless nature as he confiscates Mr French’s floristry van on Valentine’s Day because he has not kept up with his payments. Mr French also happens to be Belle’s father, but there doesn’t seem to be any mention of Belle in Storybrooke. There’s then a fabulous moment on the streets of Storybrooke where Regina is desperate to talk to Mr Gold’s and he brushes her off like you would a pesky fly. When Gold later returns home to find his house burgled, he knows that it was French who did it and vows his own revenge if Emma doesn’t find him first. While Emma manages to recover a lot of Gold’s property, the one thing of most value to him is still missing. A blink later, Gold is in jail for beating up Mr French and Regina comes to speak to him. In exchange for the return of the item that was stolen from him, all Gold has to do is tell Regina his name. It may seem like a small price to pay, but until now, Mr Gold has managed to hide from Regina his other identity as Rumpelstiltskin. For the safe return of his property, Mr Gold is willing to pay Regina’s asking price and the shock on her face as this bombshell is dropped is brilliant. In return, we see Regina take out of her handbag a dainty little teacup with a v-shaped chunk taken out of it. Mr Gold’s sentimental attachment to the teacup is evident in the gentleness with which he cradles it in his hands and his actions really speak a thousand words. It’s heart-clenching to see that he actually does have a heart.

As it is Valentine’s Day, we see David in a shop deliberating over cards – two of them. When the time comes for him to give it to MM, he only goes and gives her the one meant for Kathryn! Yes, I love him, but half the time I want to bash him over his head at his utter stupidity.

Just as the episode is about to end, Regina makes a visit to the hospital and enters some hidden underground ward (reminiscent of her father’s grave) which made me think that this is where they keep the crazy people. And right enough, locked up in a cell is a dishevelled Belle. If only Mr Gold knew.

Episode 1.13: What Happened to Frederick?

This is show which requires serious dedication and a good memory. Lucky for me, I have both; I’m pretty adept at remembering what happened when prompted by other events or flashbacks (even if the episodes blur together) but the amount of times that we jump back and forth in fairytaleland boggles even me at times.

This episode takes us back to after the events in The Shepherd when James is told he is to marry Abigail, and just before 7.15am when James finds Red in the forest and she tells him that Snow never came back. I’ll come back to 7.15am later.

James has just run from the palace, having decided that he can’t marry Abigail because he loves Snow. He must escape the wrath of King George but is captured by Abigail who is willing to help him escape to the next realm. Just like James, Abigail’s heart belongs to another and her case is possibly just that tiny bit more devastating because Frederick can no longer love her back. While performing the heroic feat of saving King Midas, Frederick got in the way Midas’ hand and he was turned into gold. Abigail has sent fleets of men to retrieve a flask of water from a special lake which will restore Frederick back to life, but none have returned.

James is willing to sacrifice his life so that Abigail can be happy, but doesn’t appreciate just how hard his mission will be until he arrives. A Siren rises out of the water, morphing into Snow before his eyes. They share a drugging kiss (several, actually) but every time, James manages to tear himself away and not be duped like all the other men who have been presented with their wildest desires. In a heart-breaking scene, he tells the Siren that “I want reality or nothing” and returns to Abigail and Frederick on escaping the Siren’s clutches. As Frederick is restored to life, James’ work is done and he sets off with the parting words, “True love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for.”

So back to what had happened in fairytaleland in 7.15am. I said above that this is where James met Red to tell her that he was no longer getting married and was on a mission to find Snow. This then cut to the seven dwarves’ house where we see that in her pain, Snow has drunk the potion and become blissfully oblivious. Instead of seeing this latter part again, the episode now shows us the other part of the conversation between James and Red. King George and his soldiers are descending and James pulls Red onto the back of his horse and they ride away into the sunset. And away from Snow, if I’m right in thinking that she and the dwarves are in the cottage just on the edge of the clearing where James and Red spoke.

In Storybrooke, Kathryn has just found out that she’s been accepted to law school – in Boston. No one ever leaves Storybrooke, so we know that this won’t end well. David must make a choice: Kathryn or MM and he chooses MM. When the time comes for him to tell his wife of his affair, he chickens out and instead tells her that they both need fresh starts – apart. It is Regina who tells Kathryn, providing photographic evidence too, and like you would imagine, it doesn’t end prettily. MM becomes a pariah and when she finds out that David had lied to her about telling Kathryn himself, she tells him that she can’t be with him either. How is this meant to be a HEA?

In slightly happier news, August W. Booth (the Stranger) has come to collect on his drink with Emma and they hop onto his bike for a ride. They’ve come to a watering hole – literally – with supposedly magical powers so that something lost will be returned when the water is drunk. The next day, Emma finds a metal box washed under her car with Henry’s book inside. Henry is ecstatic. Just at the beginning of the episode, August had been rebinding it. What does he know of the curse?!

Kathryn goes to Regina to apologise for going crazy on her and says that she is now leaving Storybrooke for Boston. Regina is both shocked and delighted because she knows that something terrible will happen when Kathryn tries to leave. Not knowing how much trouble it will lead to, Kathryn lets slip innocently that she has left a letter for David telling him that he and MM belong together – only for Regina to go and steal and burn it later on. Her ring of keys looks like she can open every door in Storybrooke. Kathryn is driving off in the night – why on earth can’t these things be done during the day? – and the next thing we know, another car is driving to the town border towards a crashed car. The man gets out and we see that the second driver is Frederick. He approaches Kathryn’s car, only to find the airbag inflated and the driver’s seat empty. This does not bode well.

Overall thoughts.

I love this show. The alternate universes/lives are brilliantly done – if mind-boggling – and the concept itself is unique. There’s a huge emphasis in Hollywood on fairytale adaptions at the moment and I love that Once Upon a Time allows for all fairytales to get their turn to shine. The concept would never be able to work as a film with this many separate plots and I can see how the show would be successful and build a huge fanbase with its vast array of characters.

The plots are so intricately intertwined that I’m amazed that the producers/writers etc can keep it clear in their heads. Just when you think that there’s been enough bombshells dropped on the viewer for one episode, we’ll end with one more and I’m left astounded at the new path that the show has taken. There aren’t words for how glad I am that UK TV has been airing so many episodes a week so that I can keep on track and mostly up-to-date.

The locations and costumes are beyond beautiful. There's a lot of forest and palace scenes in the fairytale world and they are so so amazing. It's like in Merlin or Robin Hood, only better. Snow’s hair is clearly fake and its messiness is astounding. She could have birds living in it and she wouldn’t notice. Her wedding dress was breath-taking and I just really want to see her as a princess again so we can see her in pretty gowns.

I’m loving the plethora of hot men in this show. Of course, Prince Charming/James/David takes centre stage, but Graham/the Huntsman isn’t very far behind. Even if I hated the show, I think I would probably still watch it for them both alone. Graham looked pretty good in his Sheriff’s uniform and leather jacket, but his outfits and appearance as the Huntsman was seriously drool-worthy. The same for James. He’s hot enough in Storybrooke, but when you see him in his tight breeches, billowy shirts, riding boots and fitted jackets, it’s enough to make you descend into fangirl hysteria for hours on end.

I’m very proud of myself now for finishing this and catching up. Hopefully it will stay that way (I’m probably jinxing it now) and so this means that I can now go and have my daily dose of Once Upon a Time! Expect another episode update later.

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