You know, it's harder to review a series I really like than to review one I dislike or just tolerate. I'm thoroughly enjoying Once Upon a Time, with only a couple of very mild protests based on where they might go. The heroes are likeable, the villains properly villainous, the acting is good, the story keeps unrolling and developing interesting new wrinkles, and the creators really are making use of the fairy tales, embroidering and altering the familiar in fun, fascinating ways. What's not to like?
That Still Small Voice gives Jiminy Cricket's past in the fairy tale land.
Meanwhile, in Storybrook, the plot threads are multiplying. A mysterious hole opens up. The mayor wants it closed. Her son wants to it explored. After Regina pushes Archie Hopper to completely destroy Henry's delusion, denying the reality of the tales, he heads down there on his own. Meanwhile, Margaret Mary and John Doe are continuing to spend time together, though his wife/fiancee continually interrupts them. Sheriff Graham officially deputized Emma whose first case turns out to be rescuing Henry and Archie from the sinkhole. We never quite see what is down there, not for sure, but enough is shown to indicate that Henry was right: It should be looked at.
I like the way the two strands, Storybrook and fairy tale are being intertwined. There is usually enough of a tale in the fair-tale side to give a finished story while the Storybrook side moves forward more slowly. Yes, there's always an element of "To be continued..." even in the fairytale side, but still, it's a good balance between the single and the ongoing story, a have your cake and eat it too situation. Also, the two sides usually comment on one another as we see different aspects of the characters and their continuing difficulties. Here we learn more about what kind of person Archie/Jiminy is, and see that he's had a long struggle with the whole matter of conscience.
Does all magic have a cost? Rumplestiltskin is certainly fond of saying so, but he's not precisely a reliable source. The Blue Fairy makes no such demand on Jiminy when she shows up to answer his wish. On the other hand, she turns him into a cricket, which strikes me as doom enough, even if it is what Jiminy wished for (And he can't have been thinking clearly at the time. Crickets are prey to just about every bird, frog, and toad out there, even if they carry really good umbrellas, plus there's the whole "Being a conscience" deal, which sounds decidedly un-fun).
Why are the couple who got turned into dolls in fairy-tale land still dolls in Storybrook? Shouldn't they be, I don't know, paralyzed, or in a coma or something? Does their presence mean Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold remembers who he is and where he is from?
Regina looked pretty unhappy about Emma showing up as a deputy. I guess it wasn't on her orders, after all. She does seem to be losing control of the town fairly quickly. Also, she seemed genuinely worried about Henry. Does this mean that one of the shifts Emma's arrival has caused a shift in the Evil Queen as well? Near as I can tell, she gave up the ability to love as part of her price for the curse. Is she getting it back? If so, what will that mean? (It's not like having the ability kept her from killing her father, pre-curse).
If the curse is broken, will everyone want to return to fairytale land? There doesn't seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with Storybrook as a place to live. The problem is the loss of memory and, in many cases, established relationships. As the series shows more of the fairytale land, it also shows that there were plenty of problems there, as well. If it had truly been perfect, Rumplestiltskin would never have been able to sell his curse.
Where did Henry get that story book, anyway? It is not just any old book of fairy tales. The stories in it do not run the way the fairy tales on my bookshelf run. So--who gave it to him? When? Why?
The mild caveats: Still the same ones I mentioned back in my review of The Price of Gold. I really don't want the "Who is sleeping with whom?" aspect to eat the show. I'm watching the Mary Margaret/John Doe line with equal amounts if interest and uneasiness. It could work out just fine. It could turn into a tiresome tangle. We shall see. The same goes for the possible triangle with Regina, Emma, and the sheriff (Possible. The show could head in that direction. It could not).
Random Thoughts and Observations:
1)Bright green crickets that sing in the rain? Guess that goes along with dark red Honeycrisp apples.
2) My, the blue fairy certainly is busty, isn't she?
3) Who is the sheriff, anyway? In fairytale terms, that is.
As of this writing, That Still Small Voice is up on hulu. There's now a note there saying it will remain up until January 9.