I believe in fairytales. I always have, always will. I love the whole sweeping nature of them, the way it’s another world and while many original versions are pretty dark and disturbing, the truths don’t change. Good beats bad in the end, though good may suffer a lot to get their victory. The concept of manners, solid work ethics, loyalty, and compassion are prevalent throughout these stories. I’ll confess to loving the Prince Charmings of the world as well. Granted, I like a princess who can kick some ass (which I learned can be real when I was nine and read about Cimorene) so I’m loving this version of Snow White. But I really do love Prince Charming. I love that the Prince in the fairytales, both old and Disney-fied, have to wait for the princess to agree to ride off with them into the sunset. And I love the idea that there are people in the world who can fall madly and passionately in love with one another and create an epic love story. So when I heard tonight’s story would give us Prince Charming’s background and that the man who portrays him (Josh Dallas) would be live-tweeting through the episode, I was ecstatic.
First let’s talk about the writing. The actors did phenomenally, but could this episode be any more ripped off?! Setting aside the blatant David and Goliath rip-off (which yes, I get has been used in multiple stories and is practically a cliche in stories today but still, doing it that directly is ridiculous), the whole “I Will Always Find You” because he’s a shepherd and always find that lost sheep/always find Snow White is just…well, actually I’m torn. See, to me, there are these stories and parables that I’ve grown up with through church so the comparisons seem endlessly obvious. But now I’m writing it out and I’m realizing that a lot of you probably aren’t familiar with these Bible stories like I am so it maybe it is more clever than I’m giving the writers credit for. Y’all tell me in the comments.*
That said though, I love the way the writers are blending all of the stories together. Each new piece we learn may set up more questions but it also weaves in answers and that I appreciate. Mad props to Andrew Chambliss for writing this episode on that aspect because the little details were brilliant. It was the big stuff that bothered me.
I also love that David/James, Snow/Mary & Emma have good values and motives. They are all trying to do the honorable thing in life. It makes me love them so much more. And damn, Ginnifer Goodwin & Jennifer Morrison are fabulous together. Also, while it sucks that David/James chose Kathryn for now, it honestly makes him more deserving of Mary/Snow in the future. She wouldn’t accept less than an honorable man and he needs her to be the same. It’s so true to fairytales and it makes it so much more delightful to watch.
I’m writing this intro after an initial viewing because I think first impressions matter. I’ll be rewatching in a few minutes to get a thorough recap for y’all but I like to do an intro after the first go-round. My thoughts might change a bit but I feel like this adds a level of honesty. And my initial opinion is that while I do like the episode, I wasn’t blown away by the story itself. The cast is wonderful and I was invested in their emotions, but unlike a lot of people on Twitter tonight, I wasn’t constantly shocked by these reveals. I certainly didn’t see them coming but it just was like oh okay, whatever. Maybe I watch so much television that it’s hard to shock me anymore but that’s how I feel. So with that in mind, let’s get into the episode and learn about Prince John-David-James-Nolan-Doe-Charming. There’s a fucking identity crisis for ya.
We open on Kathryn/David’s house (I’m only calling him David here because he’s with her) and they head into the house for a Welcome Home party. And I’m calling complete bullshit on the doctor thinking this is a good idea. I can’t imagine that it would be healthy for an amnesiac to be inundated with people so soon after coming out of a coma. Henry meanwhile is sure that the amnesia is why James/David isn’t full of Storybrooke memories—it’s blocking the Queen’s curse. Henry’s theory sounds good to me. Amnesia is perfect as a reason that the curse doesn’t work as well as it should on him. Plus, I adore how smug Henry is about the whole thing. Emma’s like, “how would this work?” and Henry’s all “it woke him up, don’t be trippin’ Mom.” Fucking priceless.
Anyway, the important part of this is that he uses a toothpick to spear a carrot (who does that) and clearly remembers some of his swordsmanship training and has a moment with his daughter and grandson. Seriously y’all, how trippy is that? Like, right now, you have all of these equals who either don’t know about or are indulging the whims of a ten-year-old boy. But imagine when they do get those memories? Or for that matter, how intense must this be for Henry, who believes in all of these stories, doesn’t really have a father figure in his life, and gets to meet his grandfather for the first time, as a guy the same age (or possibly younger) than his mom? The Oedipal complexes of this show are awesome.
Then in a nice scene, we get Regina talking to Kathryn. Obviously, Regina is doing this to hold onto her curse but you can tell she has a bit of an emotional reaction to realizing that Kathryn sees her as a friend. It’s sweet and twisted.
David/James snuck out of the house to go find Mary Margaret and in a bit of kick-ass awesomeness leaps the fence in a single bound before hanging a birdhouse for her. (Apparently Josh got a lot of practice jumping fences in Kentucky. I thought that was a horse thing but who knows what really goes on in Kentucky). He’s like “Come on, don’t tell me this is all one-sided” and I fucking melt because he does this perfect little knee bend like he’s just begging for a crumb of affection and then Mary Margaret responds with “You’re married, it should be no-sided” and my heart keeps breaking because she’s right and her actions are everything I love about fairytales and all my favorite couples are the honorable ones but part of me just wants them to just kiss under the starlight. AND WE ARE SIX EPISODES IN. DAMN THIS SHOW.
Mary Margaret is doing dishes and freaking out and Emma’s like, you need to stop cleaning and have a drink. So true. Scotch > ScotchBrite. Emma pours delightfully full glasses too. Love her.
Back at David/James’ he’s going through pictures and trying to find a memory. Kathryn’s like, “I’m going to bed, will you come with me?” and he’s like “go to bed, sleep or go to bed, sex?” She’s open to either and tries kissing him but he says this isn’t right and breaks off the kiss. Though he does spend a moment apparently trying to see if it can work with seems like a kind thing to do for Kathryn.
I adore the fact that Mary Margaret completely forgot that Uncle Daddy Snark didn’t call her after their date. That’s all I have to say about him. Regina however comes in to be confrontational and tells Mary Margaret to back off. She’s adamant that she did nothing and Regina tells her that David/James left Kathryn. Regina insists that Mary Margaret should stay away and not wreck multiple lives and then takes off. So fun.
David/James is hanging out in the doorway looking fucking fine in a Henley/plaid shirt (and I have a debate on that down below) and tells Mary Margaret that he wants her. She tells him to go and he says to meet him at the bridge where she found him. David/James is like if you choose this, if you choose us, you’ll know where I’ll be and ya’ll that smile is going to be the death of me. Mary Margaret is very confused but turns back to her class as he leaves.
Emma is at the police station and groaning because Graham is asking her to work tonight since he volunteers at an animal shelter and has to feed the dogs. Emma agrees to the shift, but only because he brought her a bear claw. I want coffee and a bear claw. Mary Margaret comes in to the station spazzing again and Graham says “I’ll just go patrol my office” and y’all I just died laughing. Jamie Dornan’s delivery of that line was so perfect. Mary Margaret is like, “what do I do?!” and Emma’s all, “go for it.” She points out (quite rightly) that David/James made a choice, not a mere comment and that now Mary Margaret should do what she feels is right. MM can’t quite believe what’s happening and Emma’s like, “do it, get yours and screw Regina in the process!”
David/James is in his house in an awful room with the worst decorating taste ever, fiddling with his wedding ring and gazing out the window thinking, “I should be conflicted but I’m not so I’ll just stare all broody for a second.” He then starts walking and Regina finds him and asks if he’d consider changing his mind. He insists that he can’t change how he feels. She gives him bullshit directions and then tells him she hopes he finds what he’s looking for. Mary Margaret is waiting just below the bridge under the moonlight and David/James walks past Mr. Gold’s to discover Regina gave him the wrong direction. He walks into Mr. Gold’s shop and pauses at the “charming” unicorn mobile. Mr. Gold tells him that Regina told him the wrong directions and gives him the right one. But clearly Regina’s entire point was to get David/James into the shop to see the windmill that used to be on his front lawn. As David/James spins the windmill, his memory comes back. Oh that windmill is dangerous. I wonder what was traded to Stiltsie for that to get its power.
Mary Margaret spins her ring and waits and then David/James shows up. He’s surprised and almost disappointed that she is there and he tells her that he remembers everything. He says that he has these crazy unexplainably intense feelings for Mary Margaret, but that he knows he needs to do the right thing and give the relationship with his wife a chance. Mary Margaret walks away with tears in her eyes and I’ve got tears and I just don’t understand how this show can make me feel this way after six episodes. SIX!
Emma is out on patrol when she sees someone sneaking out of the Mayor’s house and like a BAMF takes him down with her baton. Which only leads her to discover Graham is sleeping with Regina, and Emma just wishes she could be Henry and not know about this disgusting bit of information. She informs him that she doesn’t work nights and walks away, visibly upset.
David returns to Kathryn’s and says he remembers. She almost looks pretty in this moment. He says that he wasn’t planning on leaving but just wanted to have time to work things out and—due to the accident and subsequent hospital stay—got a lot of time. He apologizes and asks to work on it. I’m a hardcore Snow/Charming/Mary/David fan, but I do like this further development with Kathryn. Abigail still comes across as a complete bitch, but Kathryn seems like maybe she does love him. I’m still very wary of her but I would like it to be that way, and not that she’s pretending because it adds more depth to the story.
Mary Margaret is softly crying in the diner that I swear looks like a thing out of Pleasantville when Dr. Daddy Sark comes in and says she might as well talk since she doesn’t give a shit what he thinks anyway. So she basically says she does the predictable thing in life and is now punishing herself and he tells her to do the unexpected. Then he offers to buy her a drink and she says to buy her two and just no. Ew, ew, ew.
So then we flash to Charming fighting some “brute” (his words, not mine) and just when the guy thinks he’s dead, Charming jumps up and kills that dude and is all, “next time make sure I’m dead.” Oh, Charming. Don’t taunt if you can’t follow through. Did Buffy teach you nothing? So Charming is now apparently qualified to kill a dragon for King Midas but as he’s giving a speech about not turning this into a party, the Orc/Man halfbreed stabs Charming and kills him. And we’re all left going, “Well that doesn’t make sense. How is he dead?”
I swear, that first scene just made me think that we’d somehow taken a wrong turn after the troll bridge and ended up in Mordor. Or maybe Mordor is what exists at the bottom of the troll bridge. I mean seriously, the Alvin & the Chipmunks preview had a better LOTR rip-off. Josh Dallas looked cool with the sword fighting and I greatly appreciate that the costume designer put the soldiers in armor that fits, but it would be nice to get the same green screen level work. C’mon ABC, fork out a little extra money for one of the highest rated shows on your network.
So what appears to be a lead knight is like, “dude we need a champion or we lose the kingdom because we have no money.” King Not!Charming is all, “how do I get my son back?” to Rumplestiltskin and he’s like, “I can save your kingdom but I want to know the whereabouts of the fairy godmother to get her wand.” Which explains how he was able to kill Cinderella’s fairy godmother and get her indebted to him. Stiltsie’s like, “dude, I can’t bring people back from the dead. It’s not a pretty picture. I don’t like doing it!” (Or the genie said it, whatever.) I still love the character of Stiltsie but I see what’s been meant about Robert Carlyle chewing scenery in this episode. It was just a little much in some scenes. Anywho, it turns out that the king and his wife couldn’t conceive, so Stiltsie got them a kid at a price and now he can fetch Charming’s TWIN BROTHER for the new price. I say twin brother like that because I know I’m supposed to be shocked but my brain just sort of took it in like, “okay that’s cool, so what’s his real story?” We get a teeny tiny flash of
Westley a shepherd and my word that wig. The Vampire Diaries wishes they had the budget for a wig that good.
Then we really meet James (more on that later) who is a shepherd and finding his one missing sheep, bringing it back to the farm. His mother tries to tell him about a grain merchant’s daughter and James insists he won’t marry for anything but love. Rumplestiltskin shows up and is all well I can find a solution for the farm. James needs to pretend to be Prince Charming and help slay the dragon in King Midas’s realm, and then the king will take care of the farm and his mother. James is like, “I just don’t have a choice” but Stiltsie insists that there’s always a choice, it’s just a matter of making the right one.
So James isn’t really a Prince. No wonder he constantly insists on being called something other than Charming. He doesn’t like being identified with something he’s not. I heard a few comments over the internet that James’ name must not really be James, but I think y’all are missing the point. He’s playing the role of Prince Charming but James is the shepherd boy. So when he insists his name is James, it’s because it is. He isn’t Prince James Charming, he’s James, playing the role of Prince Charming. With that in mind, I’m going to call him James from here on out. (Am I the only one seeing it this way? That James is his real name?)
James is checking himself out in his shield and then one of the Knights Templar is all “you may have the title of hero but not the job.” Because his job is to stay back while the knights kill the dragon and just take the credit. James is confused but tries to make conversation with the knights left with him for a moment. As soon as he hears screams, he runs in to save the knight and drags him away from the dragon’s lair. The dragon keeps coming but James tricks it into running into a tight canyon and chops off its head. Y’all, I love a good dragon fight. And now I’m willing to forgive the Mordor scene because that green screen was perfect.
Back in the castle with the now golden dragon head, Midas is all, “Score!” and James whispers to King Charming that he wants to know when he can go home. Midas makes it clear that we need a hero! And not Shrek, in this case. Midas wants to bind their kingdoms together and brings out his daughter Abigail, saying he wants James to marry Abigail. I want to ask Abigail, why feathers? But she’s probably tell me they’re stapled on. (Um, in the original fairytale, Midas turned his daughter to gold. I hope that happens down the road. Because Abigail/Kathryn is a bitch. ) Anywho, James starts to refuse but King Charming goes, “if you do I will kill your mother and burn that farm to ash,” so of course James accepts. Now here’s a tricky bit. Midas calls him Prince James, not Charming so this could throw my theory off. I still think James is his real name because I don’t think he would’ve made such a big deal about it to Snow later. And as we will see at the end, these things happen fairly close in time so it would still be an issue for him. I’m willing to believe two possibilities. Either Midas didn’t know the Prince’s name as anything but Charming until now (and Midas’s snotty attitude makes that believable) or both boys were named James which is also just as likely. Plus, Rumplestiltskin has a thing about names and he had a hand in both boys’ lives. Actually I’d bet good money on the latter. Stiltsie definitely influenced the name James. Also, the name James means “supplanter” and is a derivative of Jacob. Jacob is a Hebrew name from the biblical Jacob who took his brother’s birthright by pretending to be him after his brother was incapacitated. (In Jacob’s brother’s case it was from drinking too much to be clear.) Now James is taking his brother’s place and considering Stiltsie can see the future, yep he planted those names. This show kills me with its detail y’all. Absolutely kills me. Not to mention the whole name of David in Storybrooke, tying not only into the damn David the shepherd boy who slew the enemy bit, but also David means beloved, which he is by multiple people. Seriously, this show is brilliant at this naming stuff.
So James rides home on an actual white horse to greet his mother and explains all of the details of the deal they made and that to keep her safe, he can’t ever see her again. James’ mother is horrified and realizes the error of her ways and tells James that his freedom to choose is more important than anything. He says goodbye and his mother gives him her wedding ring (see, details!) and tells him that true love follows that ring. First I got teary-eyed in that scene and then I wanted to know the back story of James’ mom. And that ring is of course the one that we now know Mary Margaret has.
James and Abigail (who isn’t into changing her dress ever so girlfriend must smell like the most awful fucking body odor ever) head out from the castle and after a like 10 second goodbye, Kathryn is like I’m tired of waiting, let’s go. Bitch. They head out, planning to take the scenic route and King Charmin goes “smile, you’re on the road to true love” and we see Snow White waiting in the tree with a smile on her face.
Bits & Bobs:
I would say, keep in mind, what Rumplestiltskin said about not being able to raise people from the dead. Like that’s not going to come back into play later. (If you’ve been reading spoilers and are worried about next week or just watched that preview, I’d definitely remember this comment). Especially considering the fact that certain people are still tweeting from set.
I saw Aladdin’s lamp this time!
I noticed a few things on Tumblr when I was searching for gifs & pictures that made me go, “Where the hell did you get that cockamamie idea?” so let’s sort a few things out. Now obviously a show can still change things but based on tonight, here’s what we know. King Charming and his wife did not actually have any children of their own. They made a deal with Stiltsie to get a child and got one, Prince Charming. That Prince Charming’s son is the twin brother of James, who was born to a farming couple. The farm was doing poorly so the farm family made a deal with Stiltsie to save the farm, giving up one of the babies. James is the son that stayed on the farm, with his real parents. Now I don’t know if Rumplestiltskin did some truly impressive magical shit and got it to seem like the Queen actually gave birth to Charming or if they just faked it with a bed rest story but still, James is not that guy’s son. And before you say well the mom could be the Queen, do you really think she would be that obsessed with turning it all down, or that the farm would be failing again if she was really the Queen? No. James is the shepherd, Charming is the Prince, James is now pretending to be Charming.
*Okay, the rewatch made me like the dragon slaying more. I think I just haven’t watched or read a good quest story in so long that I forgot how prevalent it is in most stories. I do however stand by the fact that making him a shepherd who slew the fearsome GIANT dragon was pushing it. The slaying part however I can deal with.
JOSH DALLAS IN PLAID VS NICK WESCHLER IN PLAID. Let the battle begin.
Okay, so as always, I love, love, love comments even more than y’all love wallpapering your room with pictures of Prince Charming. Feel free to leave loads of comments short or long. I expect everyone to weigh in on the plaid shirt/slow smile battle as well. You can always feel free to say hi on twitter too (@onlymystory) if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to comment.