Finally, America has a show that is willing to highlight the resourcefulness of homeless children. Indeed, If I said to you, “tell me about a Fairy Tale involving two children (boy and girl) who are orphans,” what story would you tell me? Did someone say Hansel and Gretel? Boom, nailed it.
One thing I love, but also deeply hate about Once Upon a Time is when the story I learned from childhood is changed around to better fit the arch of the series. This episode is the perfect example.
The Classic Grimm Tale of Hansel and Gretel that I have in my brain storage is not what is covered in this episode. I was going to rehash the plot for you, but thought that you, as a reader of this website, were of above average intelligence. There is a link provided. Click if you need a quick recap.
In this episode, the woodsman is a widower who loves his two children. He sends them on a foraging errand but gives them a compass to find their way home, and while they are out the Evil Queen meddles. The father is held hostage and ransomed to the children in exchange for sneaking into the blind witch’s candy house and stealing the poison apple. The kids get caught, they kill the witch, steal the apple and escape. Evil Queen offers to adopt them, but the siblings want their family back. “NO!” screams the Queen, and the family is cursed to be forever apart. Evil Laugh.
So that was the past, but what about the present? Well, Hansel and Gretel have turned into homeless orphaned-ish (mom dead, dead-beat dad) twins. They are caught shoplifting by the protagonist Sherrif Swan. The Evil Mayor/Queen meddles in every little detail of their lives, calls social services, blah blah, bureaucracy, blah, the Mayor wants to make sure her curse of never being a family again holds. Well, slow your roll, there Mayor, because Sheriff Swan knows a thing or two about being an abandoned orphan and growing up in foster care. Swan searches the four-square block city of Storybrooke and manages to find their father — see, the father has to be in Storybrooke because the curse of the Evil Mayor Queen prevents anyone new from staying and any citizens from leaving. The father breaks the curse, hooray for family, and then, a kind of super hot stranger dude on a motorcycle shows up.
Okay, so now, assuming you have made it through the miasma of my synopsis, comes the judgement. Only this time it is nice-ish judgement. As I said before, I hate how the stories get twisted and changed. I think this comes from my hatred of adaptations of novels and plays turned into Hollywood drivel that is pandered to the masses. Yeah, I get it is a children’s tale that takes up maybe three pages, but still. Now, the writers of Once Upon a Time have changed things up just enough so the key elements of the story are the same, and the other ancillary details are modified to fit the present day story. Every one of these fairy tales has to be modified in some way because they all have to also now involve the Evil Queen as an antagonist. I believe it takes some pretty creative people to do that. These intertwining tales are sometimes ridiculous, and I still do not understand why the Evil Mayor has so much free time to meddle, but it takes a certain skill to amend a story.
I also want to throw a shout-out to Emma Caufield who played the Blind Witch. I could not tell it was her at first, but the second she spoke, I recognized her. Who could forget Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You remember Buffy, don’t you? That show about vampires and demons and teenagers that was actually well-written, adult and smart? Sure Once Upon a Time has a better wardrobe department, but other than the ability to dissect and re-imagine the plot of Brother’s Grimm story, the dialogue by the writers is awful.
There is a lot of family and orphan drama in this episode. I also got the distinct impression that Sheriff Emma Swan’s past is more colorful than expected, so I cannot wait for that. There are so many hints about her baby-daddy and about her incarceration that I hope the producers kick things up a notch. Emma even reveals to Snow White/Mary Margaret that Emma is the long lost curse-free daughter sent to save the town.
At the end of every episode, there is some kind of reveal. In fact, I think that is what keeps me coming back each week. Little by little, the residents of Storybrooke get a glimpse of their past. After Emma tells Snow White about their fairy tale connection, Snow secretly finds Emma’s baby blanket and smells it…she knows there is a connection. Or she loves the smell of baby blankets. Either way, it is just enough momentum for me to tune in next week and hope that all the dots get connected.