Thursday, November 10, 2011

Once Upon a Time: Snow Falls, a Review

Snow Falls is another solid, entertaining episode in Once Upon a Time's developing series.

The show continues to set the stage for the conflict to come, moving the fairy tale story back in time to Snow White and Prince Charming's(1) first meeting and pushing the plot forward to the first real struggle between Emma and Regina in Storybrooke.

In Snow Falls, Emma and Regina make their first moves directly relating to the curse and breaking it. Emma has found a place in town and, with Henry's help, she and Mary Margaret have wake John Doe/David Nolan/Prince Charming, a step toward reuniting the separated pair. Regina countered by bringing in David's wife--if, that is, Kathryn is his wife. In the flashback, she shows up as his fiancee just prior to Snow and Charming's first meeting. How this relationship played out in Storybrooke is open to question. The interwoven stories and relationships kept the tale moving quite nicely.

The most promising points, however, came right at the end: Regina informed Emma that Storybrooke is "bigger than you know" and the teaser for next week introduces Cinderella. This means that, yes, more fairy tale characters and plot strands can move into the series, making for a much richer and more tangled storyline(2) and also leaving open the possibility of Emma winning some rounds in the ongoing battle. A good, long fight can be fun, but not if it consists solely of the heroes losing over and over and over again while the villain gloats(3). This way, there can be minor victories and defeats along the way, which is much more interesting.

I am, I admit, concerned by the introduction of the Rotten Fiancee/Wife. Bad Fiancees all-too-often are merely bad. They are often so shrill, unsuitable, and annoying that one wonders what possesses anyone to keep them around at all, much less stay engaged/married. So my inner alarm went off when she showed up in our world. It's early days yet, though. Kathryn/Annette has only just appeared. With luck and good writing, she could turn out to be a multifaceted character with her own agenda that may or may not line up with Regina's.

It will be interesting to learn just how much Regina remembers about being queen. She certainly remembers power, and she remembers hatred. Does she remember her former life? After all, she's trapped herself in Maine along with everyone else. And Rumpelstiltskin/Gold(4)--How much does he remember? What is he after?

The character writing continues to be strong, overall. Snow, in the backstory, slides a bit toward cliche from time to time, but we haven't found out yet what happened between her and the queen. I have a feeling that will be worth seeing. Regina remains a complicated character. Wicked, yes, but in a complicated, interesting way. Emma was almost hidden behind her, these last two episodes, but she has a strong enough personality to be able to carry the lead role comfortably. Henry, wonder of wonders, remains a likeable and believable precocious kid.

Things I hope to see:
More fairy tale characters (That's coming, so hurray!) and more of everyone's back story (almost certainly coming)
Fairy tale characters from different traditions. Right now, we've got the Grimm lot plus Pinocchio. There are tales Disney never touched, and a few of those characters could add some variety and interest.
A better sense of what and where fairy land--or whatever it is called--is in relation to here. I'd like some sort of name for it, too, just for convenience sake.
More Maleficent(5). If one Evil Queen is good...
More of the show. I'm glad it at least gets a full season. I like having a show that I want to watch at the earliest possible moment, while it's on.

(1)He has a name, you know.
(2)Just so long as the creators can keep track. I don't mind being lost myself--I kind of enjoy it--but I hate it when the creators have clearly lost control (Just how many basements did the Centre have in Pretender? Did anyone know? By the end, did anyone care?)
(3)See the most recent V for an example. Or, rather, don't. Not even the fact that Anna gloats wonderfully well saves the show.
(4)I'm still trying to get figure out how to deal with this two-name deal. It's not a problem watching the show. Writing about it, however, is a whole 'nother deal. Do I use both names? Or do I stick with the our-world name for Maine and the fairy tale name for--fairyland(?)--whatever-it-is the characters call their real world.
(5)Yep. They have Disney's permission to use the name--plus a few others you may have noticed along the way.


As of this writing, the episode is up on hulu. I'm guessing it'll be there for another month.


  1. I suspect they'll save the reveal of the Snow/Queen incident for a sweeps week. :) (February sweeps, perhaps?) Since Disney owns ABC, presumably they will use as many Disney-owned characters they can get work into the story. Maleficent seemed interesting; I too hope she returns.

    I completely missed this when we watched the episode, but the TWoP recap pointed it out: In the scene where Emma was examining the footage of Doe/Charming leaving the hospital, the incompetent security guards were Sleepy and Grumpy.

  2. Oh, nice catch! I never did sort out which dwarf was which. Maybe I should watch the pilot again.

    Yes, the focus probably will be on characters Disney has dealt with, if for no other reason than that everyone knows them. Still, they could sneak in a few unexpected surprises.