TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.03

Before we begin, I know that Ella is known as Ashley in Storybrooke, but to avoid confusion, I’m just going to refer to her as Ella throughout.

Title The Other Shoe

Two-Sentence Summary When Cinderella discovers that her stepmother and stepsister have found their way to Storybrooke, she has some things to make right after ruining her stepsister’s chance at happiness in the past. As Emma tries to help her, she learns that you have to allow yourself to be happy in the present—even when the future is uncertain.

Favorite Line “I know everything in life is uncertain. Sometimes you have to walk out the door and hope there’s no bus.” (Emma)

My Thoughts “The Other Shoe” was one of my favorite episodes of Once Upon a Time in years. It was funny, it was romantic, it featured new twists on a classic fairytale, it dealt with universal themes in a magical setting, it put the spotlight on the family dynamics that warm everyone’s hearts, and it featured a bunch of women being strong in a myriad of important ways. In short, it felt like the classic Season One episodes that made me fall in love with this show—with the added bonus of focusing on the character development of Emma Swan and all the beautiful ways she has grown since that first season, while highlighting the compelling inner conflict that shows how much she can still grow.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that such a phenomenal episode was written by one of the most universally adored Once Upon a Time writers: Jane Espenson (with Jerome Schwartz). Espenson has an unparalleled sense of who these characters are now, where they’ve come from, and what real relationships between fairytale characters would look and sound like. Her gift for natural dialogue and sincere emotions in the middle of this crazy fairytale world has always made her episodes stand out. Also, she has a great sense of humor; it felt completely right for a Jane Espenson episode to feature Cinderella wearing pale blue Converse and holding a shotgun, as well as Grumpy complaining about doing all the work while Dopey gets his advanced degree. (Side note: Does Storybrooke have a college, or is Dopey taking online classes? Inquiring minds need to know.)

Espenson is also great at crafting thematically cohesive episodes, and this was another excellent one. In the case of “The Other Shoe,” nearly every storyline seemed to revolve around the idea of happiness—what it looks like, how to hold on to it, and what we do when we’re afraid that we’ll lose it. As such, it was an aptly titled episode, as many of the characters were struggling with the idea of waiting for “the other shoe” to drop.

I’ve written about this concept before as it relates to Emma (and to me, by extension), so this theme is very close to my heart. It’s something I think everyone struggles with at times in their lives—believing that your happiness won’t get taken from you. It certainly is at the heart of Regina’s story; she’s now living in fear not just of losing what little happiness she still has in the form of her relationships with the Charmings and her son, but also of losing her sense of happiness with herself and how far she has come from her time as the Evil Queen. Regina’s happy ending is feeling at home in the world, and in last week’s episode, her worst self essentially told her that she was going to watch her destroy her own happiness by showing her that she’ll never be at home among the heroes.

However, instead of giving up and letting pessimism win, Regina enlisted Dr. Jekyll to help her try to come up with a way to defeat the Evil Queen (though, once again, I’m sure this is all going to end with Regina needing to accept that she can’t just kill a part of herself—she needs to accept that part of herself and live with it). And, of course, who was there to help her when she needed to believe good could still defeat evil? The king and queen of positivity: Snow and Charming.

But even Snow and Charming were struggling with their trademark sense of optimism in this episode. I love the realism of Snow being tired of fighting; throughout the show’s run we’ve seen that there have been many times when she’s grown weary of feeling like her destiny is to have brief flashes of happiness interrupted by battles and separations. But instead of waiting for the fighting to end, Snow began planning her future in the middle of the latest crisis. Snow may have moments when she doubts if her life will ever be normal (I loved that part of her misses her cursed life, because that felt honest and relatable. Who wouldn’t miss 28 years of not having to fight every villain that comes along?), but she never doubts that she can do her part to ensure that even in the most abnormal situations she can be happy.

What would make Snow happy? Teaching. There was something so perfect about her admission that teaching is something that brought her joy and something she wants to do again. She may be a warrior princess, but that’s not all she is. She is a wife and mother and a teacher, and I will always appreciate that this show created a character who gets to show all those sides of her personality—and that it found an actress in Ginnifer Goodwin who is so good at making every facet of this character believable.

Goodwin’s talent was on full display in her final scene with Josh Dallas in this episode. What drew me to Snow and Charming from the pilot was the natural, effortless chemistry between those two actors, and that has only grown stronger as they have grown together as spouses and parents off screen. You can feel their dedication to playing Snow and Charming as a real married couple and not just characters from a fairytale, and sometimes being a real couple means disagreeing about what their future looks like.

I was initially incredibly happy that Charming was open with Snow about seeking out the story behind the coin he was given as a key to his father’s past. However, I knew from the moment Snow started to tell him to turn away from the path that would lead to vengeance that Charming was going to lie to her and continue to go down that dark path. Goodwin delivered Snow’s plea with such earnestness that it broke my heart. (The Single Tear of Charming Family Feelings made its grand return in this episode to make me cry once again.) She knows that true happiness is not achieved through dwelling on the past or fearing the future; it is about living in the present and building the best life you can with what you have right now. She wants her husband to believe that their marriage and their children are enough to make him happy and satisfied, but the call of avenging a lost loved one has always been too strong for characters on this show to resist. When Charming chose not to burn the information like he told Snow he was going to do, I groaned. Hiding the truth from those you love never works out well, but at least we know where Emma gets it from now. (Though I suppose we’ve known that since Charming kept his secret about dying back in Never Land—like father like daughter, for better or worse.)

This was a great episode for Snow and Charming, giving Dallas and Goodwin some strong material to work with in the present storyline as well as just enough of them in the flashbacks to make me smile. I loved the nod to the confusion over whether or not there are two Prince Charmings in Disney lore, but what I loved even more was seeing Snow use her tracking skills in the flashbacks. It was such a great reminder that Emma gets those skills from her mother.

Although Snow and Charming appeared in the flashbacks, they weren’t the focus of them, which was a nice change of pace. I like learning new things about the show’s beloved regular characters, but sometimes it’s good to get a break from the stories we’ve grown overly familiar with and explore other fairytales. And this episode took the familiar story of Cinderella (which was expanded in Season One’s “The Price of Gold”) and filled in the missing gaps in a creative way.

The best flashbacks on Once Upon a Time relate to the present story on both a plot level and a thematic level. In this case, the main plot of the present story involved Ella dealing with the fallout of her stepmother and stepsister entering Storybrooke, but it was the subtle way the flashbacks wove in this season’s most important themes that truly impressed me. When Ella first danced with the prince at the ball, it was everything that the start of a happy ending should be, but then she saw the prince give her stepsister Clorinda a rose. Things only got worse when her stepmother—who didn’t even know her true identity—told her that the prince would never choose her. In that moment, Ella stopped believing she could have the kind of happiness that seemed to be within her reach. She let someone else tell her that her destiny was to lose this chance at happiness, and she believed them, instead of believing in her own ability to be happy and loved. So she ran away and planned to travel to the Land of Untold Stories, where she could hide from the fact that she seemed destined to remain unhappy forever. However, when Clorinda returned from the ball, she revealed that Ella’s chance at happiness wasn’t ruined. Clorinda was actually in love with the prince’s footman, and the two of them were planning to run away together.

However, Ella still did not fully trust that she could have a happy ending just by believing in the love between her and her prince. She thought she needed proof that she was special, so she saw her glass slipper as her key to her happy ending. When her stepmother threatened to break it, that was enough to get her to reveal her sister’s secret, proving once again that desperation makes these characters do damaging things to those they love. But then her stepmother earned the “wicked” part of her name by breaking the shoe anyway, which still managed to genuinely upset me even though I should have seen it coming.

When Ella’s stepmother ruined Clorinda’s chance at happiness by dragging her away from the man she loved and into the Land of Untold Stories, it reminded me of Cora’s willingness to do anything to keep Regina from marrying Daniel. For villains on this show, their idea of a happy ending doesn’t involve love; it involves power and control. So instead of choosing to let their children be happy even if it means the future might not look like they carefully planned it to look, they try to dictate their children’s happy endings.

But Ella wasn’t going to let her stepmother destroy Clorinda’s happiness again after finding out they were in Storybrooke. She wanted to save the day, but she went about it the wrong way. By shunning everyone’s help and trying to do everything alone, she left herself vulnerable to being hurt. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Ella being stabbed by her stepmother (which genuinely shocked me in a way I wasn’t sure this show could still do) looked almost exactly like Emma being stabbed by the hooded creature in her dream. Ever since Season One, there have been many parallels drawn between Emma and Ella, and this episode drew several more, the most prominent being Ella’s dangerous attempt to fight without backup because she felt she had to do this on her own.

Emma is continuing to try to deal with her visions and her tremors on her own (except for her sessions with Archie, which she appears to have grown comfortable with, given the adorable way she dropped onto his couch), and that doesn’t seem to be working at all. Like Ella, she believes this is her burden to bear and hers alone, but that is only going to make her more susceptible to being hurt. And bearing that burden alone means existing in a constant state of fear on her own, which is no way to live.

Like Ella after she saw Clorinda and the prince at the ball, Emma has come to believe that she was right to always be waiting for the other shoe to drop because now it finally has. She believes that she is destined to lose the happiness she has found and would rather put her life on pause than try to fight to hold on to the happiness she has found. As she told Archie, she is finally happy, and that is what is making this all so hard. It was written all over Jennifer Morrison’s painfully expressive face as she watched Killian interact with Ella’s daughter. It was clear in that moment that Emma was watching what a natural Killian was with that little girl (How adorable was Colin O’Donoghue in that scene, by the way?) and imagining the future they could have built together—with Henry by her side and a little blonde daughter by Killian’s—if she didn’t believe she was dying. Emma has come so far; she wants a future with her True Love, and she wants a family with him. But she believes it’s less painful to stop working toward that future if it’s only going to get taken away before they can live it out.

But Archie gave Emma some great advice—advice I try to follow in my own life when I’m feeling anxious. You can’t stop living just because you’re afraid of the future. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you stop making plans or living your life just because the future is uncertain. Instead, you have to believe that life is meant to be lived; happiness is meant to be enjoyed. It’s not something that only comes at the end of the story; it’s something that makes the journey to end worthwhile.

Emma is the kind of person who likes to put life on pause until things feel perfect, but that’s not how life works. As Snow proved in this episode, sometimes you have to create your own normal in the middle of the craziness; you have to choose to be happy even when that happiness seems fleeting.

And what does happiness look like for Emma? It looks like helping people alongside Henry and Killian, working together as their own kind of family unit. I loved the warm affection in Emma’s reaction to Killian and Henry’s very cute sword-fighting lesson. (Seriously, was there some kind of “Killian with kids” quota this episode needed to fill? Because it was almost too much for my heart to handle.) That is what Emma is both so happy to have and so afraid to lose—her two True Loves.

But Emma hasn’t lost them yet. In fact, they were both by her side when she needed them the most—when her magic failed her after Ashley had been stabbed. Killian had her back and was there to comfort her when it was all over, but it was Henry—her Truest Believer and first True Love—who gave her the support she needed to believe she could fight through the tremors and the fear they represent in order to heal Ashley. That moment was so important because it showed that the key to Emma overcoming the tremors is belief. Henry didn’t pressure her to use her magic; he simply reminded her that he believed in her. And that support and belief was enough to help her believe in herself and her own power. Fear and pressure are what is causing the tremors; belief and support are what will make them go away for good. But that will only come when Emma is open with her loved ones about what is happening to her.

Although Emma hasn’t told anyone but Archie about her visions yet, this episode ended with her in a much better and stronger place—and much closer to letting those she loves help her. Emma’s fears were keeping her from asking Killian to move into the house he picked out for them (and I think it was wonderfully in-character that he didn’t pressure her to ask him, even if that did mean living on a cot on the Jolly Roger with a snoring Belle). Doing so meant starting down the path toward a future Emma believed she could never have. But, as she watched Killian stare at Ella’s happy family with real longing, Emma knew Archie was right; she couldn’t deny them both happiness in the present just because the future was uncertain. They both deserved better. So she finally asked him to move in with her, to have his black leather jackets take up permanent residence alongside her red ones, which was a truly adorable way for her to ask; Morrison was excellent in that scene, and O’Donoghue radiated joy.

As they kissed after taking that next step in their relationship, I was reminded of the kiss they shared outside of Granny’s when they first began their relationship. Both kisses were moments of hope, promises to embrace the joy of the present even if Emma was scared of the future. No one is guaranteed a happy ending; you have to create your own. And this was a moment in which Emma Swan held on to her happiness with both hands instead of running away from it. She still has a long way to go toward believing she can have the happiness she clearly wants—especially because she still hasn’t told Killian about her fears and visions—but this is a start. For one moment, Emma allowed herself to move forward instead of staying in the same place out of a sense of hopelessness. Love is stronger than fear, and if Emma keeps choosing love like she did in this episode, I have no doubt that she will find the strength to believe that she can have not just a happy ending, but an entire life filled with happiness.

Extra Thoughts
• I was so happy to see David Anders return at the end of the episode as Dr. Whale, and I want to thank this show for giving me the Dr. Jekyll/Dr. Frankenstein crossover I never knew I always wanted.
• It was great to see Mekenna Melvin as Clorinda in this episode. I loved her as Alex on Chuck. I also loved her gown and cape in the scene where she told Ella about her plan to run away; Eduardo Castro has been doing some great work this season.
• This episode was very focused on fatherhood—from Charming thinking about both his father and his son to Killian bonding with Henry and interacting with Ella’s little girl as Emma watched. It also included that bittersweet moment of Rumplestiltskin reading poetry to his unborn son via tape recording. I wouldn’t mind hearing Robert Carlyle’s beautiful voice read beautiful words in every episode; it’s another powerful way to get me to start believing in the relationship between Belle and Rumplestiltskin again.
• I loved seeing Killian and Henry remind Emma that it’s not her magic that makes her special. Emma was bringing people’s happy endings back long before she learned she had magical abilities, so it was nice to see the two people who are always in her corner reminding her that she is not defined by her magic at a time when she felt like losing her magic meant losing herself.
• Is it bad that I think Hyde and the Evil Queen have great chemistry?
• I felt a surge of pride when Emma told the Evil Queen that she owns the fact that she gave Henry up for adoption. That’s the key to not letting others’ definitions of you control you—owning the decisions you made. Emma has never denied who she was in her past, and that’s always been one of my favorite things about her. (It’s also why she and Killian are such a perfect match.)
• Now that Emma and Killian are officially living together, I would like to request some cute “domestic” scenes to balance out all the angst of last season and all the drama that is sure to come once Emma’s secret comes out.

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12 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.03

  1. Lovely job on this, Katie. This was a fun episode.

    I’ll admit that last week’s examination of identity is more my sweet spot. However, this is one of the great things about NGN: seeing people revel in and connect with a theme more deeply than you do. This theme is at the root of all drama that deals with fate. We thrash around, frustrated with the fact that we can’t change the ending and lose sight of what we can control – our attitudes and actions until then. (One of my favorite lines from Kingdom of Heaven — when one character is told he goes to certain death — All death is certain.) Death is certain – not to be morbid, but just practical. Stories have an end. Enjoy your story while it lasts. Make it a good . . . no, a GREAT story.

    I relate to this theme in a very different way, Katie. I grew up with a mother who practiced celebrating the small moments. I learned early: you create your joy. You find ways to make a party out of whatever you have. You enjoy all the small moments. Understand – times were rough. Life was not easy . . . but I never really knew that because of my mother’s attitude. (She is a little Snow White-y.) It’s one of the reasons I love to celebrate NGN. This is our happy space. Like Snow White, we’re not going to ignore the bad, the difficult, or the wrong . . . we’re just not going to wallow in it. Let’s look for the hope and the happy.

    This week’s moment of “AMEN, sister!” — For villains on this show, their idea of a happy ending doesn’t involve love; it involves power and control.

    Moments of sniffle:
    — My Emma
    — Robert Carlyle reads poetry. (Although, he could probably read the phone book and I’d have the same reaction . . .) Am I the only one thinking that the reading was going to release some type of spell??
    — Killian and Alexandra and Henry
    — Snow pleads with Charming to avoid vengeance

    Randoms:
    — We all know how concerned I’ve been about Dopey. I am beyond happy that not only is he de-treed, but he is pursuing an advanced degree. 🙂
    — “Dr Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll – what does that sound like to you?” Ummm. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s an Abbott and Costello movie . . . Please tell me I’m not the only one who immediately thought Abbott and Costello movie . . . please . . .
    — I guess Curse Gus is different than Fairy-Rumple Gus. However, I did love his reaction to the cheese platter.
    — Did anyone else sit up a little straighter when the Evil Queen gave her “posture is respect” speech?
    — Dr. Whale as a teacher worries me. Snow as a teacher delights me . . . I just think she might want to let someone else handle the hiring.
    — I am sooo with you on the Hyde/EQ train. Seriously, they could just walk around monologuing about their evil plans, and I’d be happy.
    — All the Killian moments: Yep. Just . . . yep.
    — Callinda? Clarissa? Clorinda? Loved Emma, Killian, and Henry trying to figure out the name.
    — Of course, Princess Snow would help track Cinderella.

  2. Great review for a great episode! I just dont even know where to start with this episode because I loved EVERYTHING.

    The big moments were obviously fantastic, but its the little things I also loved. Not only did we get our main characters interacting with others in the supporting cast, we had nods to what has been happening off screen that helped make this episode feel even more chock full of great stuff. From the Ashley/Killian talk, to Emma/Grumpy/Archie, to Whale and Dr Jekyll getting their science on together, to Gus getting really excited about the cheese plate at the ball (I feel you Gus), to Belle taking over the captain’s quarters on the Jolly. I just adored it all. This episode felt like it was 2 hrs long, but I mean that in the best possible way, because I feel like for once we actually got to slow down and enjoy every little moment. It felt like a satisfying movie.

    I loved the twist on Cinderella’s story, and Emma once again helping to reunite family. I also loved how the belief theme that you mentioned played out between Ella and the Prince. Ella thought things were hopeless when she lost her proof because she didn’t think anyone would believe that she was the girl at the ball. But the Prince and Snow didn’t need proof, they had faith and trust in her, and that restored her hope for a happy ending.

    I love that Belle knew right away that Rumple must have bribed Charming to bring her the tape, and I appreciate that Charming was honest with her. As happy as I am that Emma and Killian are moving in together, I hope we get at least one scene of Killian and Belle as roommates on the Jolly before he goes, because this whole thing is incredibly amusing to me.

    Emma broke my heart in Archie’s office when she thought she wasn’t going to get her happy ending, and later when she thought that all of her good deeds as savior were going to be undone. Its interesting to see how she has progressed from her denying herself a happy ending (The savoir doesn’t get a day off) to her feeling like her happy ending is going to be taken from her from an outside source. I am so proud of her for choosing to move forward and live her life while she can. While she still has a way to go until she is honest about her visions, this is a step in the right direction.

    As someone who stresses and overthinks everything, there are few things I find more romantic than when guarded people throw caution to the wind and go for what they want, so Emma catching Killian completely off guard with her move-in request was all kinds of perfect. Ive always imagined a proposal between the two of them going the same way, but this was just as satisfying. Emma has always been the one to take those major steps, but I wouldn’t mind at this point if the only breaking of the pattern is Killian’s proposal.

    Its been awhile since a Killian/Emma moment made me grin like an idiot, but I am pretty sure that happened during this entire episode. But out of everything, it’s the dang nuzzling that kills me. I cant stop smiling just thinking about it. Give me all the domestic CS. And not only that, I am really enjoying the fact that the issues the two of them are facing this season are less external and more internal. They have had to endure love triangles and curses and disapproving parents and lots and lots of death and I am totally ok with some good old boring real couple conflicts.

    Randomness:

    I love that they brought back the pumpkin farm this season! It was one of my favorite sets from last season.

    Where is Violet? Are we going to see her at all this season?

    I love we are seeing a bit of spunky Emma again. The little things like her impatiently storming and flopping around Archie’s office, to using Ella’s sneaker to track her (I hope she gave that back, those are cute converse), to her sitting in the middle of the road when they get poofed away. I adore the way Jen plays Emma.

    Also love the little nod to iZombie with Whale telling everyone to steer clear of the fridge.

    Love the Hyde/Evil Queen power couple, not to mention Regina walking into the cell at the beginning to find Hyde living the life of luxury in his cell. I never thought of the implications of trying to outwit yourself, but I love that idea. Along with the Evil Queen reminding Henry that she is still a part of who Regina was when she was taking care of him all those years, good and bad.

    The more episodes we get through, the more I am convinced that the hooded figure is Emma herself. It just seems like it would make sense with all of these identity themes. But I am wrong about 99% of the time, so I tend to remain open to all possibilities.

    • So, I’m having the same reaction to your post as to Katie’s — just one big YES to everything.

      I’m on board with seeing at least one Killian-Belle roomie scene. (I kinda want to see Belle snoring.) Also, how great is Belle this season? I love her gentle understanding that David had to make a deal with Rumple and the fact that she puts the responsibility on Rumple — not David.

      And yes — we need some Violet.

      Emma as the hooded figure — I like this idea . . .

    • Great points, in particular about spunky Emma – she actually seemed to be having a little bit of fun in this episode, which is a very nice change!!

      Dr. Whale and Blaine from iZombie are basically the same delightfully smarmy character, and I love it!

  3. I like you, absolutely adored this episode. The connecting storylines were absolutely incredible and the twists and turns were amazing. I loved the way they retold Cinderella, it felt very much about the motif that says “how you see yourself is how your story will end”. Ella spent much of time believing she’d made a mistake that was completely unfixable and unforgivable and so she believed she didn’t deserve happiness. But how you see yourself is not how your story ends because there are other people in your story.

    I loved the Alexandra and Killian scene and then you had the scene with Henry and Killian sword fighting clearly foreshadowing to Emma that happiness is hers if she goes after it.

    The scenes with Snow and Charming were utterly delightful and I’m so thankful they are playing such a major role. Goodwin has so much sincerity in her desire to live and be happy amongst all the trauma and drama of the lives of Storybrooke. I loved that she was actively planning to go back to teaching and the scene where she telling Charming to let go was so well done. Dalles played that scene with so much regret and anger and indecision, he knows as he blows out the candle that this is going to led him down a darker path. Also the scene at the ball was so out of a fairytale it was unfair.

    Ella and Emma’s storyline have always been traveling along similar roads and that Ella’s demon to face was her own fear and anger at herself gives more credence to my belief that the clocked figure is Emma herself ala Luke Skywalker (we all know how much A&E love Star Wars)

    I loved that Ella chose her own happiness over her sister’s, it reminded me that our heroes can’t be faultless people, they must falter at some point but they must also try to make up for that mistake. The twist on Cinderella’s stepsister and her finding love with a servant was touching but admittedly frustrated me because it reminded of the incredible love story between Ana and Will in Wonderland and how they didn’t deliver on that story.

    Belle was perfect in this episode, she knows how Rumple works and she knows that Charming is doing this for a reason and she can’t blame him. I loved how comfortable and confident she loved through those scenes as well.

    The CS scenes were lovely, I spent much of them squealing like an idiot and the way Emma asked her pirate to move in with her was amazing because she realized that Killian wouldn’t push her so she had to step up. I love that we are hopefully getting domestic scenes and how adorably frustrated Killian was when Ella was grilling him for details, more of that please. Their conflict this season, as with many of the conflicts, is about internal rather than external pressures and dynamics and I love that I can relate the issues in way that wasn’t happening for the past few seasons.

    Notes:

    Seeing Gus made me happy because the actor plays one of my favorite characters on the 100 and I miss that show
    The stepmother had some of the funniest one-liners in awhile, I’d pay to see her do a roast of Trump because omg that would be hysterical
    Grumpy was hilarious and I love that the characters we’ve known since season 1 are playing a more prominent role in the story
    Emma has clearly been seeing Archie a lot if her comfort level in the office is anything to go by
    Cinderella with a gun and Cinderella sacrificing herself were two phases I never thought I’d write but kudos to all of those involved with that storyline, they made it feel incredibly real and emotional
    I love that Henry is the one giving Emma the belief she needs to believe in herself again
    The Evil Queen and Hyde pairing has me both frightened beyond belief and incredibly exciting
    Emma quoting herself to Ella was awesome and the bond between the two of them reminds a lot of the bond between Emma and Elsa, a shared challenge, an ability to overcome, a loneliness that refuses to ever truly fade, bring these characters together to create such a gorgeous friendship
    Emma admitting her mistakes to the EQ was just fantastic, it shows how far she’s come and just how little the EQ can affect her – a key reason why I doubt it’s Regina or the EQ under that hood

    This episode was one of the most seamless episodes from the show in what feels like a long time and I just want to watch it again

  4. I loved this episode. Brilliant. So entertaining and full of feeling. In fact, how fantastic has this season started off? I love how they mix it up with the different story formats each season. It’s really hard to say which has been my favorite, but if I was to pick… it would be 2a, 3a, 3b 4a, 5a and 6 is looking just as good. Actually really the only 2 seasons I didnt love were 2b and 4b – but they were still good 🙂
    Your reviews always gives an amazing added level to each episode. THANK YOU!
    To me, once upon a time is Emma’s fairy tale. Yes there are other fabulous stories playing out for our main characters whom I love, but this has always been about her and therefore an episode that is about her story with struggles and growth makes my day.
    I think for me, a big part of why Emma was scared to move in with Killian was because she feels that it’s unfair to him and feels guilt because if her impending death, she can’t give him his happy ending “He deserves a future and I cant give that to him. I feel like a fraud”. Of note, the show started out with Emma certain that she was going to die. It was an inevitable outcome, but at the end with Killian she says “walk out the door and hope there is not a bus.” Hope. Maybe her healing Ella while in the throws of a fit with the support and belief from Henry has allowed hope to creep back in, as well as the unwavering love and support from Killian.
    Archies comment “maybe it’s not about how you end things, it’s how you live them” is such an important value of life and very relevant to me, who has been stuck for a few months from fear. Emma is also taking that on. Her fear to move forward with life when you “know” the outcome is palpable but she punches back and takes that step forward anyway. Go Emma!
    The EQ really gets the jugular doesnt she? As Emma is struggling with who she is if she is not the savior, the EQ attacks about her life meaning nothing. What I loved was that almost immediately after that at the town line, the boys show her that she’s more than just her magic. (How ironic that the first few seasons were about her not believing in magic, and then trying to accept her own magic, and now she feels she is nothing without it).

    Extra thoughts:
    – Killians look of worry and hurt when he comforts Emma in the barn. He knows it’s bad.
    – Killian with Alexandra – *sigh*
    – Emma’s love, softness and vulnerability as she asks Killian to move in and his return love and happiness. A beautiful, sincere moment by both actors.
    – If I was Charming, I would want to know how my father died and to have justice. I think most people would. Justice is different to revenge. It will be interesting to see how it pans out though as it has to be Hook. Gulp.
    – Belle, please don’t go back to Rumple. (Rumple stalking the Jolly Roger is a little creepy)
    – Dr Jekyll being the bad guy?????? Eek!
    – Yes please to more Mr Hyde and The EQ
    – and YES PLEASE to domestics with Emma and Killian 🙂

    Thanks for letting me put my thoughts on “paper” Bring on next Sunday (well Tuesday for me as I”m in Sydney Australia!!!)

  5. oh, one more thought, I would love to attend the school that they are building… Dr Jeykl and Dr Frankenstien as science teachers, Killian as geography and astronomy, Snow as home room… who else? Perhaps the blind witch as Home Ec teacher? Geppetto as Woodwork…hehehe

    • I am currently reading Harry Potter, and Snow talking about Dr Whale and Dr Jeckel as science faculty immediately made me think of Hogwarts. One of the most amusing things about the books so far is how slightly unhinged all the teachers are and how they are constantly putting all the students in danger with their crazy lessons, and I would expect nothing less from Whale and Jeckel!

  6. I’m with these ladies up ^^ – I’m very interested in this school idea and all the hiring possibilities in Storybrooke. I loved the idea of Whale as a science teacher!! And of course I loved that Snow wants to get back to her teaching. That was an important part of her life, even if she did it during a curse (one lesson plan over and over every day for 28 years, right? until Emma came to town… how did Henry learn anything at all?!)
    I’m enjoying the pace of this season so far. It seems like we’re going to get more breathing room, more time for the relationships and domestic stuff and the characters.
    I was like Meme ^^ I thought that there was room for David to argue for his need for information, for closure, maybe even for justice, without automatically taking it to the level of revenge.
    I loved Rumple’s poem (even if I don’t like him stalking Belle).
    I loved the theme of fatherhood coming up over and over in this episode.
    I like the little nods to actor’s other work (like the iZombie reference). My hubby watches the show in a non-fannish way so his first reaction when someone like Whale shows up again is to start talking about “wasn’t he on that vampire show you watch?” (so that I can’t hear the dialogue while I correct him – grr).
    Lots of other good stuff, but I might need to re-watch this one. It didn’t hit me as hard in the feels as it did everyone else, but I think that was what was going on in my head, not the show’s fault. I love Jane Espenson eps as much as you do, so I’m sure this will become a favorite. And my friend who felt shortchanged by the original Once treatment of Cinderella should enjoy this 🙂

  7. Great review and wonderful comments by everyone as always! For me, this episode should be the model on which subsequent eps are based. It was pretty close to a perfect episode of this show – a fun flashback with themes that flow through to the present, forward motion for all the characters (even if it’s not positive – looking at you, Charming!!) sharp, funny dialogue, and real emotional payoffs. Well done!

    Everyone above has done a great job articulating the many things that worked, so here’s just a quick list of little things I loved –

    -The fact that it’s now a running joke about the dwarves all holding various resentments among them (Didn’t it turn out in the Underworld that Stealthy’s unfinished business was his issues with Bashful?)
    – Raphael Sbarge (Archie) was particularly good this week in his scene with Emma.
    – The Killian/Alexandra scene followed by Emma’s session with Archie both heightened the poignancy of Emma’s situation AND (for me) made her desire to keep her vision a secret more understandable.
    – Gus chasing after the free cheese at the ball!
    – I could write a whole paragraph about how much I loved the scene in which Emma is hunkered down in the middle of the road working through the problem with her two boys.
    – Josh Dallas’ performance in the scene with Belle (“Gone. It was worse having him gone.”)
    – The set decoration for the Captain’s quarters on the Jolly Roger – it looked so cozy! Very nice attention to detail to show Belle’s personal touches to the room.
    – The red and black leather jackets line is officially an all time iconic line for this show

    Really happy with this season so far!

  8. Jane always delivers with excellent writing, doesn’t she? It was nice to learn more about Cinderella’s story. The promo made it look like she was out for blood with that shotgun — I’m glad that wasn’t the case.

    I was a bit upset that one of the step sisters was retconned. I feel like Florinda’s story could have easily been Anastasia’s story and l have to look this up later but the stepmother, I don’t think it was the same actress from Wonderland.

    I liked how Emma was on a mission to stop Cinderella with two of her true love’s: Henry and Killian. Can they talk about that already? Like seriously, I don’t think anyone (aside from Emma and Killian) know that they were confirmed true love in the underworld. I want to Henry, Snow’s everyone’s reaction to it.

    Becoming True Love is a big deal and it hasn’t been addressed at all.

    My hope with Belle is that she doesn’t easily give into fixing her relationship with Rumple. Please don’t let that mixtape be the band aid for the relationship; she needs to stick to what she told him in the premier and think about what is best for her child but also for herself.

    I seriously cannot stand this roller coaster of emotions when it comes to this relationship. I don’t root for them anymore because I don’t feel like there is anything in the relationship to root for. It is so far damaged at this point but knowing Adam and Eddy, Rumbelle will probably reconcile by the end of the season until the next time Rumple screws up.

    (Dopey is probably getting his Master’s degree from an online school). What is he studying? What’s his major?

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