This episode of Once Upon a Time was simply awesome. I mean flippin' fantastic. The show managed to take what is probably my least favorite fairy tale of all time and turn it completely on its head -- and goodness knows I love a well-executed twist on a classic. :) Plus, it didn't hurt that after dancing around the subject for FOURTEEN episodes, we finally, FINALLY get Ruby's Fairy Tale Land backstory as Red, and welcome layers of character depth shade Ruby's Storybrooke self with much-needed layers of sympathy and interest.
The episode opens with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) questioning a quite frankly flabbergasted David (Josh Dallas) at the Sheriff's office about the missing Kathryn. David, this curse has done you no favors because your Storybrooke self is S-L-O-W on the uptake. *sigh* She's pretty sure he's not guilty, which I'm pretty sure is a fair assessment because David, bless his heart, just doesn't act like he's got it together enough to plot a murder. Over at Granny's Diner, Ruby (Meghan Ory) is getting all flirty with August (Eion Bailey) -- BACK OFF, he belongs to Emma! -- and is completely enamoured with his travel stories about Nepal and lemurs (REALLY?? lemurs???). Granny (Beverley Elliott) is having NONE of this, she wants her granddaughter to GROW UP and WORK WEEKENDS and start MINDING THE BOOKS. Ruby is having none of that and after making a crack likening Granny to Norman Bates (which I thought was hilarious) she quits and storms out.
In Fairy Tale Land, we're introduced to this rather adorable looking woodsy type named Peter (Jesse Hutch) who apparently has this thing for Red, but Granny (surprise, surprise) does not approve. While the show has given us glimpses into Red's FTL character before, this episode drives home the stark differences between Red and Ruby -- Red is all sweetness and light and spunk compared to what we've seen of Ruby, who has been moody and sullen ALL THE TIME (when she isn't acting slutty that is). Before Red can make any crazy promises to run away with Peter, Granny calls her to their cabin's front door, where she's attempting to dissuade bunch of gung-ho townsmen from hunting a killer wolf. Granny clearly takes this wolf threat seriously, sending Red to bed with an injunction to wear her cloak ("because red repels wolves"?? really??) and settles in to wach their heavily-barred front door with a crossbow. Granny is a badass.
The next morning apparently all is well because Granny is still alive & kicking and the cottage door hasn't been smashed in. Red goes out to check on the family chickens and discovers Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) hiding in the hay from "something monstrous" out in the snow (so this is how they become friends). Red explains that it's just the big-as-a-horse wolf who is on the prowl (like wouldn't you be more concerned that wolves that large would BREED?? I digress...). On the way back to the cottage the pair stops to draw some water, and discovers a well full of blood (how did THAT happen?) and the mutilated bodes of last night's hunting party. This is pretty hardcore violence for this show, hmm?
Back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret is in full-on "stand by her man" mode, but can't really offer Emma much in the way of meaningful assistance other than that they weren't together the night of Kathryn's disappearance. They come upon Ruby at the bus stop getting hit on by Dr. Whale (David Anders), who we haven't seen in a while -- and my first thought was "Whale is the wolf!" (I'm so gullible.) Mary Margaret offers to let Ruby crash with her & Emma for a few days while she figures things out (lucky for her, because otherwise I'm sure there would've been one heckuva bus crash as she tried to leave Storybrooke!).
Mary Margaret takes it upon herself to go hunting for Kathryn in the woods -- personally I think this would sorta make her look guilty, like she's trying to conceal evidence, but whatevs. She runs into David who now looks like he's been sleeping out there and the man is completely out of his head. Is it some sort of amnesia-related blackout?? Could Regina be drugging him?? Inquiring minds want to know!
So cut back to FTL for a little bit and Granny is attempting to convince the townspeople to let the wolf be, since back in the day another similar creature killed her father and seven brothers (that detail seems so random to me) in a bloodbath she witnessed as a child. Apparently this wolf couldn't kill her, though -- only nearly took her arm off, leaving her with gashing scars. Granny has a valid point, but Red doesn't care, she's just tired of the wolf being an excuse to keep her away from Peter. Snow, brilliant (*cough,cough*) Snow encourages this line of thinking, and then she's surprised when Red RUNS WITH IT and decides to track the wolf during the day while it is sleeping in his lair. Red has moxie and I love it. She proves surprisingly adept at tracking, and everything appears to be going their way until the tracks they're following transform from paw prints to half wolf, half boot -- and then all boot, tracks that lead STRAIGHT TO RED'S HOUSE. Of course this seems to point to Peter as the culprit, which is a bit of a buzzkill for young love, no? Snow agrees to masquerade as Red while Red attempts to stop her one true love from eating more townsmen -- though seriously they are not thinking this through, right? Because knowing what he is pre-transformation can't help him once the beast within takes over, right? I'm not feeling like werewolves are particularly sentient when it comes to human emotion but I'm open to being proven wrong. But Peter buys it and lets Red chain him to a tree and they VOW TO MAKE IT WORK. Oh those crazy kids...
At the Sheriff's office Henry (Jared Gilmore) is trying to help Ruby find a job, and does anyone besides me think it is funny how many courier positions are open in Storybrooke? I like Henry trying to help Ruby, for a young kid he seems so grounded by comparison. :) After answering a couple of non-emergency phone calls Ruby sort of falls into the position of department assistant, which at first turns out to be not much better than waitressing, when Emma asks her to go to Granny's Diner to pick up some lunch. However, showing a glimmer of the backbone we've seen in FTL, Ruby refuses to let her circumstances cow her. After Mary Margaret comes to the station whigging out about David acting all spacey in the woods, Henry tells mama Emma that Ruby is Little Red Riding Hood and that Emma should let her "do more."* Well Emma listens, and Ruby seems to have a sixth sense for navigating the woods because she finds David LYING IN A DITCH (I can't take David in a ditch, it's so WRONG!).
Later at the hospital Dr. Whale (seriously is he the only doctor in this town?) gives David the okay but drops the little bomb that he could be acting out during his blackout phases and NOT REMEMBER A THING. Regina (Lana Parrilla) then shows up and is all up in arms about Emma not reading David his rights (whatever!). Whale is SO IN LEAGUE with Regina it isn't even funny...the only question remains, what is his FTL identity? I want it to be a good one. Anyways, Emma remembers I HAVE AN ASSISTANT! and sends a reluctant Ruby to the toll bridge to to look for clues. Ruby follows her instincts and unearths a box containing -- wait for it -- a HUMAN HEART. As Emma tells her later, whatever she decides to do with her life she's more than capable (see, this episode is really all about Ruby SEEKING AFFIRMATION!).
Back in FTL, and Peter is chained to a tree screaming at an advancing wolf. Granny discovers Snow & Red's deception and attempts to fly to the rescue, along the way dropping the little bomb that RED IS THE WOLF!!! Apparently Red's mother was a wolf too, and Granny's managed to keep this knowledge from Red even though Red's been "turning" since she was thirteen years old (the red cloak is enchanted, preventing her from turning, which is why she's so insistent Red wear it ALL THE TIME). This raises all sorts of questions like, how did Red sneak out of the house the night the first hunting party was massacred without Granny knowing? Granny is apparently not the smartest watchwoman on the planet. Also, if Granny was turned by Red's grandfather (tell me if I'm remembering this incorrectly), does that mean werewolves aren't born, they're made like vampires? WHO KNEW? And then this becomes what may be Once's most tragic story yet, love done to death by a MAN-EATING WOLF. So now Red has to live with the knowledge that she's killer wolf, and she and Snow disappear into the night. It's all very dramatic, no?
*I'm wondering if Henry's book includes the knowledge that Red is a wolf. Because I would hope that would at least give Henry pause when throwing around Ruby's fairy tale antecedents, know what I mean?
So after this little bomb the denouement in Storybrooke feels a bit hum-drum by comparison. Ruby decides she isn't cut out for sheriffing, and asks Granny for her job back. Turns out Granny's gruff demeanor masks a heart of gold, as she really just wants to train Ruby to take over the Diner, looking toward the day when she'll retire. Ruby and Granny make nice and ALL IS WELL, for now, anyway. Loved how this episode finally, finally gave me a reason to look past Ruby's previously (and mostly) annoying Storybrooke demeanor and to really care about her as an individual just in search of her own purpose and place in the world.
Cut to David and Mary Margaret -- now that Ruby found a friggin' HEART in the woods, Kathryn's disappearance is looking more and more like a murder investigation. Emma interrupts the guilt-ridden lovebirds hanging out at the animal shelter with the news that a fingerprint was found inside the box containing the heart, and SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKERS it belongs to the demure Mary Margaret! (I still don't think Kathryn is dead -- if in fact this is actually Kathryn's heart, I'm thinking it is part of Regina's heart stash -- possibly pointing to the threat that when she cast the curse she came into possession of everyone's hearts? Ick!)
Now that we've touched on all of these wonderful, heart-warming personal growth issues for Ruby and appreciated the brilliance of the twist the writers applied to Red's traditional story, let's address the remaining critical question. Since Red RIPPED THE THROAT out of her love interest in FTL, it is safe to say we won't be seeing Peter again (*sobs*). Ruby needs a love interest -- I'd love to hear your ideas for likely candidates! :)
The above is another gorgeous image I recently added to my Once Pinboard (click through for source). Don't you just love it? Very Snow White and Rose Red (well, almost Rose Red).