This episode of Once Upon a Time took us back to the aftermath of Snow White's (Ginnifer Goodwin) failed attempt to stop Charming's (Josh Dallas) wedding to Abigail, leaving her so crushed and desperate she drinks Rumplestiltskin's potion, wiping out all memories of her lost love. Of course Snow COULDN'T WAIT FIVE MINUTES for Grumpy's (Lee Arenberg) news that Charming bolted from the altar...and OF COURSE making a deal with the wily Rumple doesn't come without some unexpected side effects -- namely, losing the true sense of one's very self.
But we'll get back to Snow's shenanigans in a moment. First we must discuss what is quite possibly the best opening of an episode of all time -- I speak of the impossible, amazingly deflected arrow. Now the impossible shot is a favorite cinematic device of mine, because who doesn't love a carefully orchestrated moment of computer generated awesomeness like that? But Once isn't content with the impossible shot, they have Charming DEFLECT IT WITH HIS SWORD. I could watch Charming be that amazing ALL DAY, I kid you not. :) Anyways, the shot in question is from Charming's evil faux father's lackeys (King George just will NOT SAY DIE!). Apparently Charming has still been hanging out with Red (Meghan Ory) -- good thing I like you, Red, just sayin'! -- so this is also after Red gets the little bomb dropped on her that she turns into a wolf and EATS PEOPLE. She seems to have come to terms with her dual nature, though, as she sends Charming on his way after Snow, buying him some time by transforming into a wolf and attacking the soldiers (which raises the question, is she somehow self-aware in her wolf state now? just wondering...). Like I said, AWESOME opening, right?! :)
Cut to Storybrooke, and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is taking Mary Margaret's MUG SHOT!! Mary is such a prim schoolteacher type the idea of murder is, of course, patently ridiculous -- but Emma has to follow the evidence or else she'll face ousting on charges of favoritism, and of course that wouldn't be helpful. So the mug shot is setting up the idea of Mary Margaret's guilt as a ridiculous concept -- or IS IT?? Because back in Fairy Tale Land we're treated to a glimpse of Snow, looking every inch the fairest of them all, humming a classic song and appearing to bond with a bird. All is sweetness and light until she tries to whack the bird with her broom -- and people that is yet another reason why I love this show. Turn some of the traditional fairy tale tropes on their heads! :)
Enter Grumpy, who leads Snow right into a dwarf-initiated INTERVENTION headed by none other than Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge)! It has been way too long since we've seen much of Jiminy or his Storybrooke counterpart, so this is a nice development, even if Snow is having none of her friends' concern. The formerly kind-hearted princess is hell-bent on alienating everyone who would call themselves her friend -- and what's supposed to be an intervention helping her recognize that Rumple's potion fundamentally changed her turns into something else entirely as Snow decides that all of her problems will be solved if she kills the Evil Queen. Yikes!
Back at the Sheriff's office, Emma prepares to interview Mary Margaret officially and all, and this raises a couple of questions -- like what in her bounty-hunting background qualifies her to be Sheriff? (I miss Graham.) And two, I have not seen a tape recorder like that since the early '90s. Really that is the best technology that Storybrooke law enforcement has to work with?! *sadness* Regina (Lana Parrilla) helpfully decides to sit in on the interrogation (ha!). When Emma brings out the box that held the heart Ruby discovered, there's a nice little shock because it is really Mary Margaret's jewellery box! *GASP* Okay I can buy this, but how can she not have realized that her jewellery box has been missing since before or shortly after Kathryn's disappearance (of course we know why there's no signs of a break-in -- Regina's creepy skull keys!)?! Regina tries to act all empathetic and nice (gag), because after all a broken heart can make a person do "unspeakable things" (methinks she speaks from experience).
In FTL Snow is all gung-ho about her plot to ambush the Queen en route to her summer palace, and this chick means business since she hijacks a lost knight and threatens to lay into him with a PICK AXE if he doesn't answer her questions. After she knocks him unconscious, Grumpy shows up (so he's a tracker too?) and insists that they revisit the Rumple issue -- perhaps he has a potion that can reverse damage losing the memories of her love for Charming did to her personality. For the convenience of the plot, Snow agrees --
Meanwhile, Emma and Henry (Jared Gilmore) are searching the apartment for signs of a break-in that will back up Mary Margaret's story that her jewellery box was stolen. Instead they find a GIGANTIC KNIFE in a floor vent! Henry is bummed because it looks like is grandmother is going to take a murder rap, which sends him moping to the diner where August (Eion Bailey) attempts to cheer him up. HAVE I MENTIONED LATELY THAT I LOVE THE NAME AUGUST? He suggests the answers Henry seeks may be in his precious storybook, which shocks Henry because here is an ADULT PERSON APPEARING TO VALIDATE OPERATION COBRA! This show is getting really good at slowly parsing out information about the erstwhile Stranger, because while it is a huge deal that he would actually affirm the storybook-as-history concept, we still have no idea why or how he came by the knowledge (the suspense is killing me!). Anyways this cheers Henry right up so he dives into the storybook (I want to read this book cover-to-cover so badly).
David gets a momentary flash of Charming's awesomeness when he storms into Regina's office, insistent that Mary Margaret couldn't have had anything to do with Kathryn's likely murder. I nearly gag as Regina attempts to be all comforting and reasonable, launching into the age-old debate on the origins of evil -- it "isn't born, it's made" (well I have news for you, Regina, I STILL DON'T CARE if you used to be nice because you are the SHREW THAT GROUND GRAHAM'S HEART TO DUST!). She then blathers on about how "evil doesn't always look evil," and because David's biggest Storybrooke downfall is being RIDDLED WITH SELF-DOUBT her carefully placed words hit home. David decides to go see Archie, hoping that some hypnosis sessions will help him remember what he's done during his blackout periods (more on that in a sec).
At the jail, Emma is saddled with the unenviable task of advising Mary Margaret to get a lawyer when *BOOM* Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) walks in and offers his services -- OF COURSE HE'S A LAWYER TOO! Gah! I love this! Mary is getting pretty desperate so she agrees over Emma's objections. When she tells Gold she can't afford to pay him he surprisingly demurs, saying he'll take on the case for free because he's "invested in her future" (I AM DYING TO KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!).
In FTL, Grumpy and Snow have finally made it to Rumple's digs, where he drops the unfortunate news that there's no potion available that can restore Snow's niceness (so he helpfully provides her with a magic bow so she can kill the Queen). This hearkens back to earlier talk in the season about the soul-crushing price of magic, something we've seen over and over, particularly in Regina's desperate attempts to hold onto Henry's affection. The only cure is of course true love (which hasn't been bottled -- yet). After Rumple insists that the bow represents his "investment" in Snow's future, she takes off to kill the Queen and Grumpy presumably overtaxed with all of this patience and forbearance that he's had to practice in her presence heads home.
Now this, people, this is where this episode becomes pure awesome. There's been more of a focus on Storybrooke David, and with that comes a whole lot of wishy-washyness so a person could be tempted to forget just how fantastic Charming is in FTL -- and he's on fire here. :) First he braves Rumple's wiles, consequences be damned of making a deal with the green one because HE HAS TO SAVE SNOW FROM HERSELF. In an interesting twist, all Rumple demands as payment for a map to Snow's sniper location is Charming's cloak, from which he later removes a stray hair -- and combining that with the earlier hair he extracted from Snow as payment for the forgetful potion, the man has bottled true love. The question of course remains what the heck will he do with it?!
Fast forward a few hours (?) and Charming sneaks up on Snow and kisses her, sure that true love's kiss will magically restore her memories. Sadly that idea tanks and it appears Snow might succeed with her assassination attempt, but Jiminy (who really gets around) has freed the Prince and given him a valuable piece of advice -- Snow didn't only lose her memories of their love, she lost all memory of who she is at a very fundamental level. So just when we think Snow's arrow may hit its mark, Charming jumps in its path and at this point I'm ready to scream YES!!! Because if he's not fighting with a sword or horse, taking an arrow in the shoulder for his one true love is the next best thing. :) When Charming tells Snow he'd rather die for her than see her heart filled with darkness (shout-out to Joseph Conrad!), I absolutely melted into a puddle of goo. As Charming, Dallas is in the running for best film prince portrayal of all time. ALL TIME!
Charming's faith, his willingness to sacrifice his life for Snow's, that is the true love magic that brings Snow back. And just when I think (hope) that this adorable couple may have bought themselves five minutes of happiness in FTL, evil King George's men ride up and throw Charming in a paddywagon (boo!! hiss!!!), leaving Snow to co-opt Charming's declaration that she will always find him. GOSH I LOVE THESE CRAZY KIDS! So while Snow may be without Charming in FTL, now that she's nice again the dwarves vow to help her get him back. But in Storybrooke, things are not going so well for the ill-fated pair. David's hypnosis session with Archie has unearthed memories of evil Snow vowing to kill "her," memories hazy enough that David "assumes" they occurred in the present, not in an alternate reality (guess I should cut him some slack on that score). Riddled with doubts he once again CRUSHES Mary Margaret's faith the fact that there is any hope for their future (STUPID BOY), leaving her just desperate enough to use the skeleton key she found conveniently hidden in her jail mattress to break out (question -- key planted there by Regina or Mr. Gold?).
Henry's research has somehow led to him discovering Regina's ring of skull keys, which provides the concrete proof Emma needs to realize that Regina is somehow, for some reason, setting Mary Margaret up. THIS IS PROGRESS! She's so ticked she goes to Mr. Gold for help (YAY), because desperate times call for desperate measures. I may be delusional but I rather think Mr. Gold likes Emma -- and knowing he's no where near as heartless as he'd have us believe, I'm hopeful for a lot of Mr. Gold-related awesomeness in the near future. :) A pretty solid episode, great for picture opportunities, no? :)