Once Upon a Time never claimed to be a nice show. I should’ve remembered that. They told us from the beginning that the queen was evil, that Regina would do anything to keep her curse and despite all of the families and kids who became fans of the show, no one stepped out and said ‘yeah this is a great family show, just a real feel good story.’ I forgot about that. I thought surely they wouldn’t kill off a character like Graham so soon. Surely there’s redemption, at least in Storybrooke, within Regina. I was a fool. Once captured our hearts and then turned around and ripped them out. How fitting that the same thing was happening onscreen and off screen on the same night. I won’t be so trusting again.
There’s one other thing I forgot. Regina’s curse was that no one would get a happy ending. So what would make us think that Emma and Graham would get to start the journey to one? We’ve been getting so wrapped up in the romantic lives (or at least I have been to a point) that I think it was easy to forget that Storybrooke is a curse, one without any happy endings, and the point of Emma being there is to break the curse.
Anyway, despite the sadness that I’ll get into later, ya’ll need to know that I have been excited about this episode since the moment Sheriff Graham showed up on my TV screen. We had some debate for a while about who he might turn out to be, the Huntsman or the Big Bad Wolf, then learned that he definitely was not the wolf. (The huntsman theory was still unconfirmed until tonight). But ya’ll have joined me in swooning over Jamie Dornan for six weeks now and his day is finally here. So let’s get to it.
Sheriff Graham is throwing darts into the heart of a deer with Sidney (he of The Daily Mirror) and Ruby (who has been confirmed multiple times now as Little Red Riding Hood so we’re dropping this guessing game) looking on. The deer being taped to a dart board just seems a little cruel. Though I suppose Regina doesn’t allow PETA in her town. Thank goodness. I fucking hate PETA. Anywho, Graham is a damn good shot and totally reminds me of Elliot Spencer in that dart throwing scene. Especially the cockiness about his expert dart throwing. So hot. Emma walks in to the diner, sees Graham and is all oh hell no. Ya’ll I really love the way Ruby is totally sweet but also totally sultury at the same time. And it cracks me up that she dresses like a whore while every other waitress dresses completely appropriately. Graham throws a dart right next to Emma’s face so she stops and does this mature version of a freakout. Which is to basically tell him that whatever is going on his fucked up little head (such a sexy head) is his business and she’s not interested. Though she totes is. Obviously.
Emma leaves the diner and Graham runs after her, trying to explain that he doesn’t feel anything with Regina and he needs to talk to someone. Emma suggests Archie but Graham insists he wants to talk to her. She points out that they’re all adults so he could’ve told her about his thing with the mayor and he insists that he didn’t tell her because he didn’t want her to look at him like this (with such disgust) and Jennifer Morrison does the brilliant little thing with her eyes here. Her words and body language say that she doesn’t give a shit and isn’t dealing with this but her eyes are desperate to know why he cares so much about what she thinks. Also Jamie Dornan’s accent ya’ll, fuck that’s hot. He kisses her and gets this weird flash of a wolf with one red eye. He insists that he kissed her because he just needs to feel something and Emma basically tells him to go fuck himself. Hey, look, a mature reaction to a guy begging for sex just to feel something. I wonder if the CW knows that girls can react like that. And in another shout out to Jennifer Morrison, that was a bit of dialogue that could’ve come out pedantic or chunky if delivered wrong and she nailed it. Such superb casting.
Then Graham goes to Regina (since he’s desperate to feel) and starts making out with her and since Henry’s asleep, they go ahead and fuck for awhile. Or at least I’m assuming it’s awhile. Who knows how long either one of them can last. There are two things I want to comment on about this segment because my opinion drastically changed on the rewatch. First, the bit with Graham saying he feels nothing seemed off, like a line you’d feed a bimbo, but as I watched again, I realized it’s not supposed to make sense. It doesn’t make sense to him, to Emma or to us until the end of the episode. The other is that my first reaction to Regina/Graham’s kiss was that’s pretty hot. Watching it back again, I’m disgusted. It’s so wrong on so many levels and mad props to the show for making that so apparent by the end that it distorts the beginning.
As Graham’s banging Regina, we flash back to the Fairytale realm where Snow White and the Queen are mourning the loss of Snow’s father. The top of the evil queen’s dress, ya’ll, I need that to be the style of my wedding dress. Freaking gorgeous. The Queen “comforts” Snow and can Ginnifer Goodwin just stop making me cry? Seriously, I’m super teary-eyed now. Then Regina (it feels weird always calling her the queen and since she chose her name, I think Regina works in both worlds) starts talking to Sidney, who can apparently jump back and forth between any mirror, about how killing Snow’s dad was the first step to her revenge. Interesting that Regina’s revenge involved Snow’s father too. I can’t wait to see how that develops. We get a hint more of whatever this secret is that caused Snow to supposedly ruin Regina’s life and ya’ll I really hope that doesn’t turn out to be a bust plot-wise. I’m also a big fan of a very brief line of dialogue. Sidney asks the question most viewers do in these sorts of situations, ‘why not just kill Snow now’ and Regina responds that since the people are loyal to Snow White, she can’t blatantly kill her without risking losing all she’s worked for. I really like that the Once writers acknowledged that we aren’t stupid. Sidney’s like ‘yo, send a knight after Snow’ and Regina’s like ‘dude I need a fucking assassin not some pansy in armor’. Hee. Sidney says ‘oh, so a huntsman with no heart’ and flashes to Graham who has just killed a deer and is apologizing to the animal. Here too could be a really cheesy scene and while it certainly flirts with that line, I think it comes out on the good side, in large part to Jamie Dornan. It’s a sense of a man of nature, who is acknowledging that death happens but sometimes for a reason. As he apologizes, Graham looks up to see a wolf and clearly knows him.
Back at Regina’s, Graham wakes up from a dream (of the flashback) and is freaking out. Regina seems pretty unconcerned until Graham mentions the wolf (we’ll find out later from Mr. Gold that like crickets, wolves don’t exist in Storybrooke. Chalk another point up to Regina being very thorough in her curse and keeping out memory triggers) and then she starts trying to tell him he’s just drunk. Graham’s dismisses her, insisting he ain’t fucking drunk and I just want to know did he really have to be wearing boxers in bed? Graham leaves to go get his car from Granny’s, aw sad, he’s dressed again and drops his keys by the cop car. As he bends down to pick them up, he sees the same wolf and basically has an am I crazy attack as we go to commercial. Ya’ll, I have such a thing for wolves. All time favorite animal.
When we return from the commercial, we see flowers lying on the table at Mary Margaret’s and Emma dumps the flowers in the trash before Mary can be like those are my flowers bitch, don’t be all self-centered. Ginny Goodwin does this adorable little eye-roll too that is so fucking priceless. This recap is already like 2000 words and I’m just past the first commercial break. Basically, Mary Margaret hooked up with Dr. Whale (Uncle Doctor Snark) but he sent flowers and she called him so it’s not really a one night stand anymore. Mary feels kinda weird about a casual thing anyway because she’s not used to it and Emma’s like one night stands are all I ever do, yo. Mary responds with a moment of judgment and then tones it down by saying that Emma puts up walls with everyone, especially with Graham and that despite Emma’s protests, the floral abuse shows those walls are definitely there. This quote “Those walls of yours may keep out pain, but they also keep out love” is fantastic. So first, here’s what I need. Mary Margaret’s entire apartment. Second, that moment of judgment from Mary Margaret towards Emma is such a mother thing to do. I love these little moments. That was incredibly well-written. It wasn’t so motherly as to feel out of place for these two women who see each other as equals right now but the little nuances were dead on how my mother (and every mother I know) calls their daughter out on our shit.
Graham, meanwhile, is still freaking out off in the woods, looking for the wolf, when he sees Mr. Gold who is apparently doing a spot of gardening. There’s the Robert Carlyle I like. Just creepy, not over the top. Of course, the shovel in the woods doesn’t exactly help make him any less creepy. Mr. Gold tells Graham that “They say that dreams are memories, memories of another life” before leaving.
Such a pretty wolf in the fairytale realms. Graham is walking and stops into a bar for something to eat. It’s notable that most of the people in the bar seem to be cautious towards the huntsman except for two cocky little dicks. (You can read that in multiple ways). A couple idiots start going off, saying the huntsman was raised by wolves, and then asking what kind of man cries over animals. Graham notes that animals are “pure of heart, not selfish and self-serving like people” and then the wolf starts growling so the idiot pulls out a sword. Graham leaps up and in this kickass move, stabs the first guy in a neck then kills the second by slamming him into a mirror, which is how Regina sees him in action and determines that he’s perfect. Two observations from this scene. People in bars should learn to keep their mouths shut around people who don’t talk. That neck stab was kinda hot.
Graham’s still running around like a madman through the forest when he finally finds his wolf (again, a damn gorgeous creature) and realizes that there’s a deeper connection as the wolf allows Graham to pet him. And as Graham pets the wolf, he sees a flash of Snow White and then the wolf is gone. I love that even though Emma’s arrival is instigating many of these changes, there are still elements from the fairytale lives that spark memories as well. Graham’s wigging out, as one might expect, so he goes to find Mary Margaret. He tells her that he thinks they know each other from another life and because no way that’s not an awkward way to start a conversation, it’s time for another commercial.
Huntsman Graham appears before Regina and won’t give his name. He notes that the people who gave birth to him are not his parents, the wolves are his family and Regina starts going on about how people are either wolves or sheep, kill or be killed so she obviously doesn’t get Graham. Now we gotta talk about Lana Parilla in this episode. She was just fantastic. She does this bit in this scene where she goes from slightly over the top (which still fits the scene) to very dangerous and deadly in mere seconds. I get obsessed with the Snow/James story so often that I forget to talk about Lana sometimes but I’m loving her in this show. Graham agrees to kill for her in exchange for a law against the harming of wolves. Okay, that dress with the lace front? The stars of today could take note from that dress. You can look insanely hot without having to wear nothing more than a band of fabric.
Graham asks Mary Margaret when they met and both realize that neither of them can remember how they met. Oooh there’s a development I like. I’ve been wondering how these people remember their lives for 28 years and so much of it they don’t. Like how they met people. They don’t remember that. Love, love, love this development. Graham continues on the other lives theory and Mary Margaret notes that Graham is very feverish and should go sleep. He agrees to go but since she mentioned Henry’s theories, we know Graham ain’t going home.
We flash again back to Graham traveling with Snow White through the forest and he keeps itching at his helmet. I would too. I do not understand the headgear on this show. She’s like want an apple and he says no. She notes that he’s not a knight because all of them have offered her condolences but more importantly, he doesn’t know how to wear armor. I love how smart Snow White is. He compliments her on her instincts, that he’s going to kill her and she informs him that he has too much armor by hitting him with a stick and taking off running. This episode is giving me chills. It’s so good.
Emma’s throwing darts, badly, when Regina shows up. Emma wore quite a bit of makeup to pay darts at the station. They have a little banter and Regina starts threatening her. You’d think that Regina would realize that threatening Emma pretty much does the opposite of what she wants.
Graham shows up to talk to Henry and asks if he’s in his book and it’s a very nice moment by Jamie Dornan here. There’s this combination of ‘I must be crazy to think I’m really a character in a storybook’ with ‘I need an answer and I hope this kid can give it to me.’ Seriously top notch acting all around in this episode.
This was the moment where I realized that Josh Dallas, in any form, had not appeared yet in the episode. I only noticed because someone referenced him on twitter and I happened to look at my feed in that moment and I didn’t notice that he was missing again. I say this not to diss on Josh, because obviously I’m a big fan of his many characters in the show but to note how well the other actors, particularly Jamie, did in this episode. I love that as invested as I am in the Snow/Charming story, this story line was so well done that I didn’t even miss it.
Huntsman Graham finds Snow sitting on a log, writing a letter and he’s like ‘are you a fucking idiot’. He’s nicer but I like to paraphrase. Snow notes quite correctly that he’s a skilled huntsman and she’s unfamiliar with the woods. She’s also a little banged up. She implies that if he’ll find her anyway, she might as well wrap up loose ends and running around like an idiot seems fairly pointless. Snow asks Graham to give a letter to the Queen after he kills her and I like how she looks at him when he starts reading it. He tears up a bit and then draws his knife to cut a reed and cut notches into it to make a whistle. Snow is to use the whistle when she’s in need and she only needs to be told to run twice. Huntsman Graham sees a deer and clearly sees his alternative heart. I’m telling ya’ll, note that whistle moment. I don’t know when or how it will reappear but I guarantee that it will come back into play and that it will bring Graham back onto our screen in some form.
Graham is telling Henry that he had the flashback after he kissed Emma and Henry hysterically asks “You kissed my mom?” Graham gives him this ‘priorities’ look and Henry’s like, what did you see. Henry realizes that Graham is the huntsman and is like, ‘dude, you’re not crazy’ but Graham still questions it. He wants to know why Emma is the trigger. Henry explains that because Graham spared Snow White, allowing her to have Emma, he in essence allowed Emma the chance to exist, creating a deeper bond between them. Graham asks what happened after he spared Snow White. Henry responds, “She ripped it [your heart] out. It’s kind of her thing.” Regina needs to go date an Original. Graham is suitably freaked and then sees a picture of a wall with little doors. Henry says that’s where Regina keeps her hearts and Graham seems to instinctively know the wolf wants him to find it.
Another couple notes. First, this whole Graham can’t feel in Storybrooke because the queen ripped out his heart in fairytale land is fabulous. It has all the complexity of obviousness and subtlety wrapped together that last week was missing. Second, I believe I commented last week that Henry should have a little respect for his mother and stop constantly undermining her. This episode changed my mind on that. I’d somehow been ignoring the fact that Henry is certain that Regina is the queen. And when he notes that she ripped Graham’s heart out, he does it with an air of worldliness that no kid should have. The thing is, Henry truly believes in this curse. And as such, he knows full well what Regina is capable of. So the fact that he is constantly fighting her makes perfect sense.
Anyway, Graham leaves and Emma meets him outside and wants to know what’s going on in his head. She’s still a bit skeptical and is troubled when she realizes that he isn’t speaking metaphorically about not having a heart. He’s deeply upset and on my rewatch this is where I started crying because Jamie Dornan is just fantastic in that scene. Emma then sees the wolf too and they run after it into a cemetery, all the way to a tomb that has the symbol Graham’s been looking for. He tells Emma that his heart is in there. What exactly does Graham think is going to happen when he finds his heart? That he’s going to just pop it back in? He insists that he has to get in and though Emma doesn’t believe him, she seems to get that he needs to find answers for himself and busts down the door. Jennifer Morrison noted on her twitter that this moment makes her think Emma takes after Charming (her dad) more than Snow at the moment since Charming kicked down a door in the pilot too. I could do a whole spiel on that but my real point is that I really like that Jennifer is paying such close attention to the details of her own show to note things like that.
Huntsman Graham returns with the heart and I’m really confused by Regina’s bangs in this scene. She notes that she likes wearing black and insists on Graham reading the letter aloud. I love that Snow White still got the last word on the queen with that letter. Okay, and the fact that she lived but the letter itself was pretty kickass. Regina is furious about the letter and at Graham for having compassion (though she doesn’t yet know about the heart). She says that she told Snow about a secret, Snow betrayed her and that betrayal cost Regina dearly. Huntsman Graham hands over the heart and Regina walks over to her wall of hearts (because that’s not at all fucked up) with the heart but it won’t open the wall so she realizes it’s not human.
Graham is still obsessively looking for his heart while Emma gets more worried. Then, Regina shows up outside the door, all ‘what up now bitches’. Graham won’t tell Regina what he wants and she’s like you don’t look well. He says he won’t go anywhere with her and Regina starts to blame Emma. Emma’s like, I’m not a part of this and Graham agrees, saying that he needs to leave Regina for himself, not for Emma. Emma got excited when Graham said he was leaving Regina for him. Take note ladies of the world. You want a guy who chooses himself, not the guy who just switches to you. The guy who starts by choosing himself will be loyal to you. The guy who just picks a new girl will break your heart down the road when he ends up picking a new one after you. And guys, that works the same way with girls.
Regina starts blaming Emma and Emma comes right back at her, noting that everyone is running from her. Regina punches Emma and Emma comes right back at her. Girlfight! Over too soon though. Emma leaves first, then Graham and Regina watches him go. I’ve spent most of this episode desperately trying to convince myself that the show won’t really kill Graham. This scene was the moment when I started seriously doubting my theory.
After a quick break, Graham and Emma are back at the station where he’s bandaging up the cut on her eye and he comments that he doesn’t know why he was with Regina in the first place. Emma wisely notes that “Not feeling anything is an attractive option when what you feel sucks.” This show and the quotes ya’ll. Fabulous. Regina places flowers on her dad’s grave (it was her family tomb) and then pushes the grave aside to reveal a staircase.
The Queen is raging at the Huntsman and screams that she’ll have a heart either way and rips his out. Why is his heart glowing? (Is it because he’s still alive or because of the wolf’s glowing eye?” He asks what she’s going to do to him, terrified, and she forcibly kisses him then says he’ll be her pet. Anything she wants, he’ll do. That this is now his cage and that if he ever fights her, she’ll squeeze his heart and kill him. Then she tells the guards to drag him to her bedchamber and locks up his heart.
I know this recap is insanely long already but I cannot refrain from commenting on this. I think there are a lot of similar situations in other shows where recappers often gloss over what is clearly rape (or in this exact moment the foreshadowing of ongoing rape). Perhaps it seems more obvious in this scene because the roles are reversed from what we perceive as typical (though it should also be noted that rape and sexual molestation of men, even as adults, is far too common but the stigma against reporting it is even stronger than it is for women) in a rape situation. On the surface, this moment can just seem like the evil queen taking control. But there is so much darkness going on underneath the surface. But the acting ya’ll, the acting is amazing. Graham is clearly terrified and the look that Jamie Dornan shows changes from a look of fear for his life to terrified over the fact that he no longer has any control over who he is. Lana Parilla in turn, is harsh, controlling and brutal in her anger. Both brilliantly play this scene and Dornan in particular is amazing as the victim who is aware of every moment but powerless to stop it.
Regina walks down the stairs and oh fuck ya’ll. She has her chamber of hearts. Oh fuck, fuck, fuck. (this was my in the moment reaction and I knew I was screwed). Graham is with Emma and she starts kissing him and then he truly remembers everything. I cannot get enough of Jamie Dornan’s acting in this episode. The joy in Graham’s eyes at knowing who he is and everything that is happening. He leans forward to kiss Emma again, just as Regina, in the tomb, squeezes his heart into dust. Graham falls to the floor, dead, as Emma sobs over him.
Please tell me this answers the questions for everyone. REGINA. KNOWS. EVERYTHING.
The CGI was much better in this episode. Here’s my thing, like I said in an early recap, I don’t mind that the fairytale world doesn’t look completely real. It’s not supposed to. But I do mind if the show gives us really excellent work and puts effort into the CGI in one scene and gives us something laughable the next. I expect consistency, in whatever form Once chooses.
So the queen basically turned the huntsman into a sex slave and did it to Graham too and just kept on raping him. I think this, more than the grinding of his heart, is what took this show to incredibly dark. Especially because rape is a common factor in fairytale stories. Now, like vampire stories where this issue comes up often, there is a grain of sand to be taken with this because we have to understand how to comment on such plot lines while still remembering it is fictional. And before you pull out the pitchforks, I am in no way excusing the fact that Regina’s been raping Graham this entire time. I’m simply stating that we have to be able to comment on the darkness of such a plot line and move on, otherwise you’ll never be able to watch the show again. Also, please don’t try to tell me that its more like date rape. As the huntsman, he made it clear that his will was to have nothing to do with the queen. Then she took his heart, and with it his free will, and forced him to fuck her anytime she wanted. And then she continued to do it in Storybrooke. That’s rape and I will not brook anyone coming in and trying to excuse it. Fuck. No.
And (with above) that’s something to consider about last week that I didn’t really go into. James’ (yep I’m still insisting his name really is James) parents sold his brother to keep their land. Not to save an entire kingdom or to save lives. Or even to give up the baby to a better life. They sold their child to have a successful farm. The scenery may have been pretty, and the landscape was nice too (bazinga) but at the end of the day, that’s still some dark and fucked up shit. Which further reiterates to me that the writers, though they may slip up from time to time, know what they’re doing. Fairytales aren’t pretty. They’re dark, messy and incredibly disturbing. Happy endings exist in many fairytales but it takes a long time to get there and everyone ends up damaged along the way. Once Upon a Time isn’t throwing the darkness in our faces but there are these little moments here and there that show us just how dark the show is willing to go.
I admit, I was only a little teary-eyed the first time I watched because I was certain that Graham wouldn’t really die. When I rewatched, I bawled like a baby.
So that’s it. Graham is dead, though Jamie Dornan may still be showing up on our screens as the huntsman in the fairytale realms. And for that matter, we don’t know if the curse will change things to the point that Graham returns once it’s broken. Judging by Jennifer Morrison’s tweets however, Jamie won’t be returning anytime soon. I do think that as long as that wolf is alive, there’s a chance though. The glowing red eye of the wolf and glowing heart of Graham are probably linked in ways more powerful than has yet been revealed.
Remember to leave me comments, otherwise it feels like Regina is grinding my heart to dust. (Too soon?) What are your thoughts on Jamie Dornan at least showing up in some form on Once Upon a Time? Did you, like me, not realize that Josh Dallas (in any character form) wasn’t in this episode until it was over? Will Graham’s death spark interest in Emma to investigate Henry’s theories more seriously? And who else is ready to kill the winter hiatus?