Two-Sentence Summary After Emma and Henry leave with Rumplestiltskin to find his son, a security screening at the airport leads to a most unwelcome change for one of Storybrooke’s most powerful residents. Meanwhile, Snow and Charming must stop Anton the giant from destroying the town in pursuit of revenge against Charming’s brother James, who (along with a woman named “Jack”) was responsible for the murder of Anton’s family.
Hook: You didn’t even ask about my recovery.
Snow: How are you feeling, Hook?
Hook: Come closer and feel for yourself.
Charming: You want to lose the other hand?
My Thoughts This was a fantastic way for Once Upon a Time to return from its mini-hiatus. “Tiny” incorporated all that’s good about the show into one hour of fast-paced television: feminist twists on classic fairytales, great acting, fun little character moments, big twists, and a heart worn firmly on its sleeve.
I loved the Fairytale Land flashbacks in this episode. I thought Anton was such a fantastic character, and Jorge Gracia was such an inspired casting choice. He really is a gentle giant, and he made me feel so much for this character I barely knew. I loved that his story was kind of a dark twist on Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid, with the endearing love for human culture ultimately coming back to haunt the protagonist.
Another great twist was the gender-switch involving the character of Jack. When she revealed her name, I actually jumped up and down on my couch—that’s how much I love seeing Once Upon a Time turn fairytales on their head and give them new life as female-centric stories. However, Jack’s fate ultimately made me despise James all the more. He was a truly horrible human being, but I have to admit that it was kind of awesome getting to see Josh Dallas really sink his teeth into playing such an arrogant jerk.
Back in Storybrooke, I enjoyed the way we were shown rather than told just how different David is from James. (Anybody else totally call David being his real name?) David is such a beautiful character, one who always strives to do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest choice. He’s a hero not because he can swordfight with a baby in his arms or slay a dragon; he’s a hero because he selflessly fights in whatever way he can for what is good and for the people he loves.
David is noble, but Dallas plays him in such a way that we never believe he’s too noble to be real—too good to be true. He might save Anton when another person would have let him die, but he also has no problem threatening Hook if he even looks at Snow the wrong way. David isn’t just one-note perfect; he has his own dark side, which we’ve seen already in the series.
What keeps that dark side at bay? Like the answer to so many things on this show—it’s love. I was incredibly moved when Snow told Charming that other people would have let Anton die, and Charming simply replied, “You wouldn’t.” One little line said so much about their relationship. Snow is Charming’s moral compass, his center. He may be a good person, but he believes Snow is an even better person. And just by being herself, she makes him a better person; her influence makes him his best self. Theirs is a TV marriage that is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen, one in which they fight side-by-side for the good in the world and in each other. They are truly partners, and this episode was such a great example of their partnership. If “happily ever after” looks like the two of them in this episode, then I can see the appeal of fairytale romance. Their little scene outside of Granny’s was filled with a simple, joyful intimacy that is still making me happy today just thinking about it. (Does anybody have a cuter “in love” smile than Ginnifer Goodwin? I highly doubt it.)
Speaking of dark sides…How about that twist involving the Dark One himself? I’ll admit; I was so confused at the beginning about Rumplestiltskin and the Curse. I didn’t understand why the stakes were so high for him crossing the line and taking off the talisman because I had always thought he’d kept his memories the entire 28 years before Emma came. However, I did not even come close to putting two and two together about his magic until the brilliant scene in the airport bathroom. Now everything makes sense, and I’m more excited than ever to follow their storyline next week. Who is Rumplestiltskin without his magic, his power? How will this affect his relationship with Bae and with Belle once he gets back?
I have to give endless amounts of kudos to Robert Carlyle for his incredible acting in this episode. I adored the scene of him walking through the metal detector just after he lost his power—the camera angles and the sound effects making everything feel slightly off. But it was Carlyle’s stunningly tense nonverbal reactions that sold everything about this twist for me. He was like an addict living with the knowledge that his drug was gone forever, seeing the world in a frightening new light. He looked so lost and so small, like a strange combination of a child in a new world and a broken old man. And the moment of rage as he smashed his knuckles in the bathroom was like an exclamation point on another fantastic episode for him and his character. No one I watch on television right now acts with their entire being the way Carlyle does, and that was so evident once again in “Tiny.”
Before I end this recap, here are some little things that stood out to me this week:
• Belle continues to break my heart more and more each week. I have no idea what’s going to happen now that she’s in cahoots with the outsider, but I know it’s not going to be good for anyone.
• Red continues to be flawless. I love that she is the friend everyone in Storybrooke needs because it’s such a beautiful reflection of her past—how she survived her own darkness and period of being lost because of Snow helping her find her true self. Female friendship is depicted so beautifully on this show, and it always seems to stem from Red.
• Leroy was hilarious this week, and I will always love the brotherhood of the dwarves.
• Henry’s obsession with Cinnabon (and frosting) was a little character quirk that I found absolutely adorable. I love when they let him be a kid.
• One of my favorite character continuity things on Once Upon a Time is the default hand positions Snow and Charming have when they kiss, which we saw again this week when she put her thumb on his cheekbone as she kissed him. It’s the little details between these two that add a sense of beautiful realism to their marriage.
• The way Anton found his place in Storybrooke was another shining example of Once Upon a Time walking the line between sweet and saccharine with grace. This show isn’t afraid to be happy and hopeful, and that’s such a pleasant change from the majority of primetime TV.
• The introduction the magic bean was a great way to add another organic conflict to the story. Do you think the characters will go back to Fairytale Land at some point, or do you think at least some will stay in Storybrooke? What about Emma and Henry?
And now…let’s talk about next week’s “Manhattan.” Actually, let’s not so we don’t spoil anyone who’s managed to avoid spoilers for it, but all I’m going to say is: I CALLED IT BACK IN SEASON ONE! I am way too proud of myself about this.