Who else is totally thrilled that Once Upon a Time is back tonight? Don’t raise your hand, I know everyone’s excited. I’m still in mourning over the loss of Sheriff Graham (so hot!) but I’m willing to believe that Prince Charming can sweep me off my feet and take the pain away. Here’s where we left off:
Graham was dead. I know nothing else because I’m still terribly upset about this.
This week gave us the history of Rumplestiltskin and Emma’s “race” against Sidney for Sheriff of Storybrooke. One story was really interesting. The other was really boring. I’ll let you guess which is which.
We start in the fairytale realm as a rather depressed looking Rumplestiltskin is spinning his wheel. An ogre war has decimated the land and so the Duke’s men are rounding up more soldiers. I don’t really understand the point of taking children when there are able-bodied men and women, but whatever. A girl is taken and Stiltsie is worried about his own son who is 3 days away from being of age. While I was creeped out by the soldier leering at the girl, I did appreciate the continued implication of sexual abuse and rape in these stories just like real fairytales.
Emma comes in to see Mr. Gold, for what she doesn’t say, and he notes that because she’s been acting sheriff for the last two weeks, by law she automatically becomes the sheriff. Emma isn’t ready to move on past Graham’s death (us too Emma, us too) but Mr. Gold convinces her to take some of Graham’s personal effects. It was either her or Regina. I’d take Graham’s shit too rather than let Regina get it.
Among Graham’s belongings are two radios, one of which Emma gives to Henry to “help” with Operation Cobra. Henry however is convinced that they should stop the operation now that Regina killed Graham. Obviously Emma doesn’t believe that he was killed by Regina but she’s clearly troubled by Henry’s frame of mind. That has to be so twisted as a kid to believe that your step-mother, who you have to live with, is killing people who stand up against her.
Back at the sheriff’s office, Emma starts to put on the sheriff’s badge when Regina walks in. They do their usual variation on the ‘pull out the ruler and start measuring’ routine. I’m getting pretty tired of this. Without Emma believing any of the fairy tale stuff, it’s just a lot of posturing on both sides and it is so fucking boring. Emma isn’t going anywhere, Regina doesn’t like her, end of story.
Still in Storybrooke, Emma is drinking Scotch, digging a knife into a toaster and playing loud music. Naturally, Mary Margaret is concerned. I can’t decide if I like Emma’s shirt or hate it but I do love her hair. It’s pretty damn gorgeous. As Mary Margaret tries to talk to Emma a bit, Mr. Gold shows up with the town charter and a way to possibly bring down Regina’s threats. He tells Emma:
“Two people with common goals can accomplish many things. Two people with a common enemy can accomplish even more.”
Rumplestiltskin (whose name has not actually been said) wakes his son and they begin to run away. The soldiers are on the road and find them. His name is revealed by his son and the lead soldier tells Stiltsie’s son that Rumplestiltskin ran before, on the front lines of the ogre war he ran away, causing a battle to be lost. When he returned home as a coward, his wife left him. The soldiers threaten to take his son but if Stiltsie will kiss the boot of the lead soldier, they’ll let the son go. Stiltsie succumbs to this humiliation and kisses the boot, only to be brutally kicked. An old man helps lead the two to safety after the soldiers leave, saying that Rumplestiltskin can repay him with whatever he has.
The line delivery on that isn’t that creepy or foreboding but I have the feeling that the old man is a bigger player than he seems. There’s something off about him and he said the same thing that Stiltsie always does about not always needing money as a form of payment. Of course, this was my speculation 20 minutes in so we’ll see.
Regina is hosting a press conference to announce Sidney’s new position when Emma comes in to state that the mayor can only suggest a candidate, she can’t put someone in office. So Emma’s running, blah blah they threaten each other blah blah. Part of me wonders why Regina wouldn’t keep the town charter more specific to insure her control. But I have this feeling that it’s a combination of not believing there would be an Emma to threaten her life someday and that even within the curse there is a need for balance so these little loopholes are included whether Regina likes them or not.
Rumplestiltskin is talking to the old man about how the only choice he has is which corner to hide in. He says his son is the only thing he has and that when they take him away, he’ll truly become dust. The old man says not if he has power and Rumplestiltskin says he has none. It is revealed that The Dark One is controlled by the king through a mystical dagger. On the dagger’s handle is the true name of the Dark One and knowing that would mean controlling him. If Rumplestiltskin has the dagger, he’d be in control. Stiltsie doesn’t think he could handle controlling The Dark One so the old man suggests that Stiltsie take the power for his own. If Rumplestiltskin kills the Dark One, he’ll get the power instead of just controlling the one who has it.
Regina goes in to threaten Mr. Gold, knowing that he’s behind Emma’s decision to run and he basically threatens her right back. She’s all ‘you’re a bitch’ and ‘you’re going to lose by backing Emma’. And he’s like ‘fuck you, I do what I want’. (I paraphrase of course).
Emma goes to see Henry at the diner and learns that Sidney printed a story about how Henry was actually born in jail. Henry assures Emma that he’s not completely scarred for life about this news. He’s just worried about Emma. He says there’s no way to beat Regina because she plays dirty and Emma tries to reassure him. It’s honestly hard to watch Henry at this point. He’s clearly so dejected and upset. He believed there was hope and now he’s afraid everyone around him will die at the hands of Regina.
Emma goes to confront Regina about the story and potentially traumatizing Henry. Regina says something in response. BORED NOW.
They’re walking somewhere (I really wasn’t paying attention to where they were) when Regina opens a door and an explosion knocks them both back and starts a fire. Regina can’t move or some shit and tells Emma to help her.
After the commercial we return to the fairytale realm where Stiltsie and his son are gathering the things needed to break into the castle. Rumplestiltskin says if he kills the Dark One with the dagger, he gets his power and can free his son (Baelfire is his name according to IMDb but Stiltsie seems to call him Bey or boy. It’s like I’m watching the CW what with all the mumbling) from having to fight. The boy insists that he can fight for his country and Stiltsie insists that he wouldn’t be fighting; he’d be dying in what is basically a sacrifice if he went to the front lines. The son is clearly concerned about his father’s cowardice but decides that he too wants to help take the Dark One’s power. I seriously don’t know what to call the kid. I first thought Stiltsie was calling him Ben, which made sense because Ben means son and in some mythologies is a beloved and favorite son. Baelfire however is a reference to either a signal fire or the fires of hell as Bael (or Baal) is a name for Satan. And bey is an older military term. I think I’m going to go with Ben because it makes the most sense to me.
Emma leaps through the flames and grabs a fire extinguisher then comes back through to help Regina. Regina starts complaining the minute they get out and Sidney makes a rather soapdishy decision to take a picture of Regina as a victim. Several of the townspeople note that this could be a great aspect to Emma’s campaign but as they talk she notices something in the burnt items from the house. I’m completely baffled as to how the firemen who had just shown up were able to douse the fire and clear out a pile of burnt shit, but whatever. Also what is going on with Mary Margaret and Ruby’s hats?
Emma goes to Mr. Gold and says that a rag smells like the cleaner he uses in his shop and is apparently highly flammable. She says she’s dropping out of the race because she won’t be a part of these sorts of things. I want to know if she really paid that little attention to politics out in the real world. This shit happens all the time. He tells her that she’s playing with fire (heh) and might want to think about what repercussions could happen if she drops out of the race. Emma walks out on him. Good girl.
Rumplestiltskin and Ben start a fire at the walls of the castle using straw and wool and in the distraction he gets into the castle and takes hold of the dagger.
Mary Margaret is doing a really bad job at hanging up campaign posters. Seriously, they’re uneven and she sticks staples in the middle of the poster. The point though is that she sees David Nolan (Squee! I love anyone with Nolan in their name!) and they have an awkward moment. That man looks far too good in a newsboy cap. Mary Margaret then heads inside to talk to Emma and ask her why she’s so focused on beating Regina. Emma finally comes clean and says that if she can’t be a hero or savior for Henry, then what purpose does she have in his life?
Rumplestiltskin returns to the woods where his son is and tells Ben to go home. Stiltsie holds up the dagger and says the name, then tells the Dark One he is summoning him. He doesn’t show up (it would seem) but then Stiltsie turns around and realizes that Emperor Palpatine did manage to make it and is now making threats about how Anakin can’t handle this power. Oh wait wrong story. Turns out the Dark One is actually the old Man from the woods. He pretty much tells Stiltsie that even with the dagger he’s still a coward and hints that Ben isn’t really Rumplestiltskin’s son. He keeps mocking Stiltsie . It was kind of funny when the Dark One was like “uh, you can wield the power any time”. After being fucking pissed, Stiltsie stabs Palpatine Zoso but he doesn’t die and instead turns into the ugly version of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Or as I like to call him, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. PSH tells Stiltsie that he wanted to get rid of the burden of his power, noting that magic always comes with a price. He says he chose Stiltsie because he knew how to recognize a desperate soul.
I find this interesting because Stiltsie also seems to seek out desperation and is constantly reiterating that magic comes with a price but he always seems so happy about the magic. I’ll be curious to see if the power drove him mad or if he just likes it more than Zoso.
Let’s take a moment on this Zoso name business. Zoso is a sigil for Saturn. It is also the symbol that Jimmy Page used for his symbol on the Led Zeppelin Fourth Album. Sigils are a symbol used in magic and are often found in grimoires. Ya’ll have no idea how much I love that grimoires might be showing up on two shows that I watch. The Zoso sigil is most commonly found in French grimoires. There’s a lot of info about the Zoso symbol out there. Besides being a sigil for Saturn, it also incorporates both the alchemical symbols for lead and gold (Mr Gold). Honestly, there’s a lot of discussion we could have about the name Zoso so if ya’ll want to get into that do so in the comments and I’ll add more details if I can.
Archie is trying to make bad jokes but not even crickets can be heard in the silence of the room. Heh. Emma has on a new brown jacket. And a weird skirt. The patterns don’t really work together. Whatever. Sidney spits out some random couple of lines fed to him by the mayor then Emma gets up. She reveals what Mr. Gold did and says that she won’t win this way. Mr. Gold walks out first, not exactly worried in any way, and then Emma walks out as well. Mary Margaret and Henry seem to be proud of Emma’s honesty and integrity while Regina is smirking like she just guaranteed the win. Sidney at least has the decency to look sheepish.
Back from commercial, Emma is drinking at the diner (truly full service). Henry brings back the radio and says he should never have given up on Operation Cobra while Ruby brings her whiskey and Henry, milk. Then Regina and Sidney walk in and we get an actually decent who’s got the bigger balls scene. Because this time it is a little different. Regina acknowledges that Emma ended up winning the election and notes that while Mr. Gold may be a questionable friend, he’s a formidable enemy. She intimates that Emma just bit off more than she can chew.
The soldiers come for Ben and then one of the menial soldiers is killed. Rumplestiltkin is there with his new power. He threatens and makes the soldier kiss his boot before killing him and then whips around, killing the other soldiers. It’s pretty kickass but it also shows that Rumplestiltskin hasn’t yet seen how to wield his new power. There’s almost a placebo effect in motion, like Stiltsie thinks he’s powerful so he’s no longer a coward. Which shows us how much worse he’ll get when he learns to use the power. Ben is frightened and terrified of his father. Rumplestiltskin however has no fear any longer and is decidedly creepy as fuck.
Emma returns to the sheriff’s office, her office, and sees Mr. Gold. She’s changed to a simple blue t-shirt under the leather jacket and it looks much better. Mr. Gold informs Emma that he knew saving Regina wasn’t enough. As fearful as the townspeople are of Regina, they’re more scared of Mr. Gold, and they would vote for someone seemingly brave enough to take him on. Gold informs Emma that he knew she’d agree because he knows how to recognize a desperate soul. He reminds her of their deal and that she owes him a favor. He says he’s sure she’ll be able to pay him back somehow and walks away.
My overall thought from the episode is that I’m curious to learn more about this whole Dark One business. Obviously there’s a darker power going on, Palpatine and Stiltsie have just been wielders of it. It sort of reminds me of Narnia, where there was an evil side to the deep magic. And the magic was there regardless but it was personified in Jadis (the White Witch) then in The Green Lady. They weren’t evil themselves, they were just so obsessed with power and control that they agreed to anything to get that power. So I’m sure there’s a lot more behind this power and The Dark One stuff and I’m curious if even Rumplestiltskin has seen just how much there is to it.
My other issue is with the continued lack of Snow/Charming. I’ve been watching a lot of One Tree Hill lately so I’m going to compare them to Naley. Initially, Nathan/Haley weren’t the focal point of OTH but as fans fell in love and the actors proved their skill, those two grew to be a cornerstone of the show. In fact most people I know struggled to get through S2 because Naley was the only good part & then that was taken away. Anyway, the point of all that is to say that Snow/Charming in either world is a key part to the show. I’m interested in a lot of the stories on Once Upon a Time but I’m invested in their story. I really hope they become a bigger factor soon.
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree that it’s unfair to take away Graham and then give us next to zero Charming sightings? And are you as tired of the Regina/Emma posturing as I am? Remember that comments make me happy and will keep me from finding a mystical dagger and killing people while displaying evidence of a terrible dental plan.