The dark fantasy series ONCE UPON A TIME dares to retell all the classic fairytales in ways that we never imagined. It recently revealed its twisty-turn on the Red Riding Hood tale, by revealing that Red is the big, bad wolf. It also showed us that “beast” from the Beauty & Beast story could indeed be the all-powerful and cursed Rumplestiltskin whose true love, Belle, was stolen from him. It also dared to envision that Snow White was a badass heroine and Prince Charming was an imposter brought in to keep peace between kingdoms. Then in a fanciful turn, it also explained why Grumpy of the Snow White and Seven Dwarves is “grumpy” and no longer “dreamy.” Embedded throughout all these reimagined tales is the belief that one over-riding curse enacted by the Evil Queen in responsible for erasing everyone’s memories of their former lives and it has now forced them to live eternally-captive in the town of Storybrooke, Maine.
Like living in a snow globe, none of the fairytale characters can leave Storybrooke, or some awful fate may fall upon them. When Emma (who does not know she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) accepts the invitation of her son Henry (who she gave away for adoption) to accompany him to Storybrooke, a chain of events begins to fall into place. Time no longer stands still in Storybrooke, holding its captive inhabitants frozen in time, and the characters are slowly waking up to their past lives.
Alas, the Evil Queen (now known as Regina and mayor of Storybrooke) is angry that an interloper has intruded into her idyllic, perfect world. This is supposed to be her “happily ever after,” and instead Emma has arrived and has made her home in Storybrooke, both vying for Henry’s attention and slowly eroding Regina’s ironclad control. Emma also stole the affection of The Huntsman/Sheriff Graham, and in a fit of pique and anger, Regina crushed his heart, killing him instantly.
Emma may not know how much power she has in Storybrooke or that there is a curse in effect that she could very well break just by her presence alone. But the ripple-effects of her staying have begun to create cracks in Regina’s dream world. The power is slowly shifting and Regina has no idea why. She just feels the affects of it.
The other key player involved is Mr. Gold (or Rumplestiltskin as he is also known). Regina has only recently realized and confirmed that Mr. Gold is immune to the curse and has known all along exactly who everyone is. He has been keeping tabs on Regina, and it was he who found Henry for Regina to adopt – and assuming Mr. Gold knew that Henry was Emma’s son and that Emma was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming — it was he who toppled the first domino. He knew that one day Emma would seek out her son — though it was interesting that it was Henry that eventually sought her out – and that Emma’s return to Storybrooke would be the catalyst in toppling Regina’s stranglehold.
One of the foundations of ONCE UPON A TIME is the belief that “true love’s kiss” will break any curse. With such a powerful curse, one can only imagine that somewhere in Storybrooke is Emma’s “true love” and with one kiss, the final remnants of the curse will come crumbling down. But until then, there is a power-struggle between Regina and Emma and everyone else is caught in the cross-fire. The latest casualty being Kathryn, the fake wife of David (Prince Charming), who finally figured out that her husband does not love her and tried to leave Storybrooke to pursue her own life. Alas, the curse struck again, and Kathryn’s car was found on the side of the road and soon a jewelry box was discovered containing a human heart with DNA matching the missing Kathryn.
While Regina may hesitate to invoke a war with Emma directly, especially since Regina still has no idea as to Emma’s true identity, Regina has no problem inflicting as much pain and suffering on Mary-Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming) as she can. Framing Mary-Margaret for Kathryn’s murder was only too easy for her.
Yet as this next episode reveals, there is many other factors and people in play than Regina can anticipate. In the upcoming episode, entitled “Hat Trick,” the Mad Hatter comes to town and he promptly takes matters into his own hands. Serial killer, madman, or simply “misunderstood,” the Mad Hatter brings the element of surprise to Storybrooke.
With so many people roaming around the countryside, it is impossible for Regina to keep tabs on them all. She has relied too long on the power of the curse to keep order and control, and imagine her utter surprise as it slowly dawns on her that people in their hearts cannot be controlled. You may erase their memories and make them believe they are someone else entirely, but their actions are unfathomable and unpredictable.
Will the curse be Regina’s undoing? Will it slowly drive her insane? Or will she see the error of her ways and begin to realize that the saying “be careful what you wish for” is an apt warning?
While at WonderCon last weekend, creators and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis shared a few insights on what is upcoming for the inhabitants of Storybrooke.
No matter how far down the “rabbit hole,” the characters may fall, only one thing is certain, we are eagerly jumping right down with them. Big bad wolves, Mad Hatters, and Evil Queens are not going to scare us away. There is too many deliciously juicy morsels of story to still sample and we want to be there to enjoy the feast along with everyone else. After all, were we not invited to a tea party?
Be sure to tune in for an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME on Sunday, March 25th at 8:00 p.m. on ABC. Prepare to be amazed and delighted all over again!
Video interviews from the ONCE UPON A TIME red carpet at PaleyFest 2012 can be seen here:
Recap of the ONCE UPON A TIME panel at PaleyFest 2012 can be found HERE.
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