Once Upon a Time: Snow Falls

In “Snow Falls”, the latest episode of Once Upon a Time, passion is re-awakened and the bonds of parenthood prove stronger than dark magic.

Poor Mary Margaret Blanchard is a walking cliché. She’s a lonely, reserved schoolteacher who yearns for a family, but can’t find a love connection. She lives alone and suffers through bad dates with lecherous men who feign interest in conversation while salivating over the waitress’ rear-end.

Emma Swan has built her own brand of isolation. She’s prickly, defensive and wary of everyone’s intentions. She prefers to be alone and would rather sleep in her car than accept an invitation to stay in Mary’s spare room.

But the town clock is ticking again, magic is seeping in slowly, and Henry Mills has big plans that will kick start change for both ladies.

Henry enlists Mary Margaret in his quest to break the curse, suggesting she read to John Doe – who is actually a comatose Prince Charming. I love the clever role reversal there. It’s nice to see the fair damsel watching over the sleeping Prince for a change! Mary agrees to the scheme, but only after Emma suggests it’s the perfect way to gently break Henry of his delusions. If the dulcet tones of his true love don’t wake Prince Charming from his slumber … maybe Henry will realize that fairy tales are nothing but fables.

But destiny is stronger than logic and when Mary reads to John Doe from Henry’s fairytale book, she breaks through to him. From the depths of his coma, he reaches up and grabs ahold of her hand. She’s shocked, but clearly exhilarated by the possibility of a deep connection. Maybe John Doe isn’t a fairy tale Prince, but could he be someone special? The next day, John Doe disappears from the hospital and surveillance footage reveals that he woke up and stumbled out into the night. Emma, Mary and Henry embark on a frantic search, tracking him to the conveniently located forest on the edge of town.

The parallel fairy tale story also takes place deep in the woods, where Snow White and her Prince Charming first crossed paths. In this version of the tale, Snow White is one tough cookie – on the run from the Queen’s guards, resorting to thievery to survive. But she chooses the wrong pocket to pick when she makes off with Prince Charming’s jewels, including his mother’s engagement ring that he was about to bestow on his pampered, insufferable and blond (GASP!) fiancé. The Prince chases Snow White and manages to snare her in a tree net; letting her down only after she agrees to take him to the trolls she sold his ring to. As they set off on their journey, hostile flirting and sexual tension naturally ensues. She knocks him in a river, in an escape attempt, but he remains chivalrous and saves her from approaching guards anyway. She returns the favour by fairy dusting the trolls into teeny cockroaches when they get handsy with him.

It’s interesting that the writers have gone in an unconventional direction with this romantic origin story. They’ve placed their heroine on equal footing with her brave hero, opting for a more modern, slightly feminist retelling. Snow White is no quivering innocent. She gallops on horseback, makes deals with trolls and has no problem getting a little dirty. And she’s doesn’t exactly sit around whistling tunes about the day her prince will arrive. “There’s no such thing as love at first sight. It doesn’t exist.” It all serves to humanize her budding relationship with Charming, making it more relatable. It reminds me of my favourite Cinderella story, the fabulous Drew Barrymore film, Ever After.

It does, however, seem at odds with the powerful vision of “the fairest in the land”. Shouldn’t Snow White be stopping men in their tracks? Taking their breath away? Also … one quick quibble: her lips are supposed to be as red as blood!!! That is key. Girl’s got a rep to protect and should stay on top of that stuff!

By the time Charming finally retrieves his ring, he’s slightly less anxious to return to his fiancé. After all, the ring DID sparkle appealing on Snow’s hand. But she was only giving him a hard time by trying it on and they part ways reluctantly. I like that they’re drawing it out for us and we still have more of their love story to unravel.

And in case you were wondering … Charming’s real name is James. But we won’t focus on that for too long. So weird!

Back in Storybrooke, John Doe is finally located – unconscious in a stream. Mary finds herself desperate to revive him, babbling, “I found you” and “Come back to me” as she does chest compressions. She finally applies mouth-t0-mouth and he sputters back to life. True love’s first medical kiss? John Doe has no memory of who he is, but stares deep into the eyes of the beautiful stranger who saved him.

And what has Queen Bitch Regina been up to all episode? It’s looking like her memory DID survive her evil curse. She’s been keeping tabs on John Doe. As soon as he starts to stir, the Doctor (played by David Anders – Sark in the Ho-use!) calls Regina to update her.

While the others were searching for John Doe, Regina ‘helpfully’ located his long lost wife who believed he had simply left town years ago after a nasty fight. It’s the same blond woman who Charming was engaged to back in fairy tale land. The woman’s story is a little too convenient for Emma who questions its validity and is suspicious of Regina’s involvement, but she can’t prove anything. Mary is crushed and Henry looks defeated, but Regina takes a sick satisfaction in the situation. She twists her features into a frightening expression and reminds them they should be delighted that “True love won out”.

Although Regina’s manipulations may have torn Mary and her would-be Prince apart for the time being, they inadvertently helped bring Emma closer to her mother. Emma realizes how important connections are and how lonely life can be without people to share it with. She reconsiders Mary’s offer of a place to stay and shows up at her door. Mary gladly welcomes her into her home.

I am loving the special bond developing between Emma and Mary. It’s such a complicated situation, yet weirdly sweet! It’s not as if Emma actually believes that Mary is Snow White and she is her daughter, but because Henry put the idea into her head she feels slightly awkward and self-conscious around Mary. Previously when Mary asked Emma which fairy tale character Henry thought she was, Emma lied and said she wasn’t in the book. Even if you think it’s a bunch of hooey, how do you tell a woman you just met (especially one the same age as you) that she might be your mom? Even still, Mary admitted to instinctively trusting Emma and feeling that they’d met before. Just like with her Prince Charming, an evil curse cannot completely block her connection to her daughter.

Overall it was a really great episode and I’m happy to see that the show is developing well. It would be so easy to implode with this type of subject matter, but I really dig the groundwork the writers are laying down.

Photo Courtesy of ABC

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