Once Upon A Time Goes To The Dogs

Evil Queens, sleeping curses, and true love's'd be forgiven for not being sure what season it is.

This season of Once Upon A Time is a little all over the place, isn't it? Given the show's tendency to get stuck in a rut until its endless episode order runs out, I'm not sure I mind, but it does make it hard to pin down. Hyde's the big bad! Just kidding, it's The Evil Queen! Or is it maybe going to be Rumple? We don't know EQ's endgame -- which isn't that unusual for the show, which likes to cloak its villains in mystery -- but it's just hard to tell what she's getting out of any of this. Revenge on Snow? Sure. Control of Storybrooke? Lord knows why, but sure. Just swanning around in impractical outfits? I mean, fun, yes, what end?

Now that I think about it, I just described every episode of this show, didn't I? So let's look at the numbers. How Once Upon A Time-esque was this week's episode?

Once Upon A Time-ish Element Present?
F-ed Up Fairy Tales This week's flashback is set in Snow White's "bandit" days, while she's being pursued by "The Woodcutter." Meanwhile, Charming is sent to town to sell his struggling family farm (he doesn't have any magic beans, alas, but he does have what may be the cutest dog in television history). Later, a certain glass (very, very plastic) casket will make an appearance.
Good vs. Evil, But Which Is Which? The Evil Queen tells a story about how a young Snow received for her a birthday a pony that had been trained to bow to her. I don't know that this would make me want to murder anyone, but it definitely makes Snow sound like a spoiled brat.
Family Feud In addition to Snow and EQ, Regina sows seeds of discontent between the Evil Queen and Zelena by arranging for Zelena to walk in on EQ and Gold making out (ew). Zelena, as revenge, tells Belle all about the Shears of Fate and Gold's plans to use them on their child as soon as he's born. Belle gives Gold a big guilt trip about how he should know better because he's capable of love, not pure evil, which just makes him mad at Zelena.
True Love's Blah Blah Blah The Evil Queen's plan is to get Snow to willingly give up her heart (and David's too, since they now share two halves of hers) by threatening to "use" some water Gold somehow brought back from the River of Souls "on the town." It's never explained how this would work but suffice to say it would kill everyone. A possible defense is a sapling created by the first spark of true love from the Enchanted Forest, which Blue suddenly and conveniently believes is in Storybrooke. When Snow and David find it and touch it, their entire relationship flashes before their eyes, including a moment they didn't know they shared: It turns out they'd met before they knew it, when Snow was locked inside the Woodcutter's wagon. And when their hands touched for the first time they made the sapling. Awww. And then the Evil Queen destroys it.

Also, Killian gives Emma a pep-talk about how she's the product of true love, which somehow cures her tremors. Sure, why not?

All Magic Comes With A Price None of this week's magic is that explicit on the spell-caster, but the Evil Queen does enact an ingenious curse: Rather than killing Snow and David, she explains that she's tormenting them with loneliness before returning their hearts and placing a sleeping curse on Snow. Which seems far too easy; David can just wake her with True Love's Kiss. But since they share one heart, they also share the curse: Whenever one of them is awake, the other is asleep, and they can never be together.
Shut up, Henry Henry appears in several scenes this episode but utters not a single word. It's actually a little strange.
This Show Has A Deep, Rich History This story calls back to Season 1 to bring us more details on Snow and Charming's early days, Snow's history with Queen Regina, and even brings the plexiglass casket prop out of storage for Snow's sleeping curse.
...As Long As It's Convenient There was definitely already a Huntsman, but we know Jamie Dornan's never coming back, so hey, look over there, it's The Woodcutter! That's totally a thing!

Regina also says that she and Rumple always had "a certain amount of chemistry," which is 100% untrue.

O, Canada! IMDb says The Woodcutter is from Spokane, but he has a hell of an accent on him.
Wig Cop On Patrol Belle has a new 'do this week and it looks good! The only other significant wigs are Bandit Snow's, which is meant to look ratty, Blue's, which is meant to look whackadoo, and...
Drag Queen Realness I mean...


On top of the look being flawless, Lana Parilla does an exceptional job this week of being campy but still believably evil. She seems genuinely hurt when she talks about teen Snow, with just the right amount of unhinged to make her seem truly scary.

Green Screen Fakeness It's been a long time (maybe ever?) since we've seen the Blue Fairy in full-on fairy form and even though their effects have gotten better it's an overreach. So, frankly, is her entirely real and entirely horrifying costume.
It's A Small World After All Amazingly, no other Disney properties are referenced during this episode. I don't even think there was a commercial for Aladdin or The Lion King on Broadway during the break!
9 / 12
Final Score
Once Upon A Time
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