ONCE UPON A TIME: PILOT (S1E01)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … oops, sorry … I’m getting my genres all mixed up! Let’s try that again shall we?!
Once upon a time in a fairy tale land, a wicked witch casts an epic curse and the land is encased in darkness. The only way that the good can triumph is if a hero can save the people and defeat the evil witch.
Sounds fairly normal – for a fairy tale – doesn’t it? Well this show is anything but! Once Upon A Time while still a fairy tale, is one that has been reimaged for our generation and while many of our favorite characters are there – they are changed in weird and wonderful ways.
The first episode of Once Upon A Time introduces us to each of the main characters of the show:
- Jennifer Morrison – as Emma Swan
- Jared S. Gilmore – as Henry
- Ginnifer Goodwin – as Snow White and Mary Margaret Blanchard in Storybrooke
- Lana Parrilla – as The Evil Queen and Regina/The Mayor in Storybrooke
- Robert Carlyle – as Rumpelstiltskin and Mr. Gold in Storybrooke
- Joshua Dallas – as Prince Charming and David Nolan in Storybrooke
There are a host of other characters and we’ll be discussing them in future posts as Once Upon A Time does a great job of focusing on the story of one individual and using that story to drive the underlying mythology of the show forward.
Format of the reviews … Once Upon A Time is going to be somewhat different to most of my other reviews I suspect simply because of the two completely different yet related storylines running simultaneously throughout each episode. It probably makes sense to cover the Storybrooke elements as one piece and the Fairy Tale elements as another vs. jumping back and forth between them, but lets see how it goes!
We are first introduced to Emma in present day Boston as she meets a man in a restaurant for what we think is a blind date. In reality Emma Swan is a tough as nails bail bondsman and bounty hunter and her date is a bale hopper that she is set on pursuing. Quickly capturing her prey while lecturing him on the importance of family, Emma returns to her single, lonely apartment where she pulls out a birthday cupcake for herself. Making a wish while blowing out the candle, Emma is surprised to hear a knock at her door.
Henry – Emma’s long lost son – has it seems managed to track her down and once he is able to persuade Emma that he is in fact who he claims to be, Emma agrees to take him … back to Storybrooke, Maine. Along the way, Henry shows her a large book of fairy tales he has, insisting that all of the stories in it are real. Emma – of course – like all good Mom’s simply rolls her eyes!
Arriving in Storybrooke, Henry further informs her, that not only are all the stories in the book real, but in fact all the people in the town are characters in this book and they have all been cursed by an evil witch and have no memory of who they really are. Coincidentally just when Emma is thinking Henry must be a complete and utter lunatic, she meets Henry’s therapist – Archie Hopper. Archie gives Emma the directions to Henry’s home so that she can deliver him to his step mother and as he walks away, Henry lets Emma know that Archie is actually Jiminy Cricket! Henry claims that time is frozen (see below) in Storybrooke and the people are unable to leave, but that the curse will be broken by Emma.
Emma manages to get Henry back to his home where he meets his stepmother … who just happens to be the Mayor of Storybrooke and she is definitely not happy to see Emma and is also quite upset with Henry for running off. Regina (who happens to be the Evil Queen/Witch) gives Emma some apple cider (remember the story of Snow White?) which causes Emma to have an accident when she tries to leave Storybrooke. Emma is arrested by the town Sheriff and taken to the town jail, but when Henry runs away from home again, she makes a deal with the Sheriff and Mayor to have her released so that she can help find Henry.
She manages to track Henry down and after speaking to him, agrees to stay on in Storybrooke – at least temporarily – until she is sure that Henry is safe as while she still thinks he’s nuts, she has started to care about him and about having someone in her lonely life.
Emma books a room for herself at Granny’s Bed & Breakfast where she witnesses Granny & Ruby (both from Little Red Riding Hood) having a dispute. Getting a key to a room – we see here that Granny has not had many other visitors by the looks of the cobwebs on the keys, so how is she staying in business? Is there truth to Henry’s fantasy? – she bumps into Mr. Gold … Mr. Gold (Rumpelstiltskin) owns Storybrooke and by the look on Granny & Ruby’s faces, he is much feared.
Emma’s decision to stay in Storybrooke causes the hands of the town clock, previously frozen at 8:15, to begin moving again.
In the land of make believe
Prince Charming rides to rescue Snow White who is in a crystal coffin after eating a poisoned apple given to her by the Evil Queen. Breaking the curse by giving Snow White a kiss (true love – see how this is handled in Maleficent) Snow White and Charming are married in a magnificent ceremony.
On the day of the wedding however, the Evil Queen arrives and threatens the whole kingdom with a powerful curse that she will release upon the land. Stating that they should enjoy this time now, as the future will be terrible for all she escapes into mist as Charming throws his sword at her.
After what is assumed, many happy months, Snow White and Charming are expecting their first child. Worried now about the threat from the Queen, Snow White visits Rumplestiltskin who informs her that the curse is real and that the only chance they all have is Snow White’s unborn daughter. Rumplestiltskin states that Emma will return when she is 28 years old (see the previous note about Emma blowing out her birthday cupcake and the clock) to save them all.
On the day that Snow White gives birth to Emma, the Queen’s prophecy comes true and Charming is only able to save Emma by placing her in a magic wardrobe that removes her from Storybrooke, but in doing so he gives up his own life. The Queen stands triumphantly over Snow White and Prince Charming, as the Curse takes them “somewhere horrible.”