Once Upon A Time, I Fell For a Pilot

Once upon a time in the enchanted land of ABC, there lived a television show based on fairy tales of yore with a modern day twist and everyone who watched it fell in love with it. The end. Okay, maybe not everyone fell in love with ABC’s pilot of “Once Upon A Time” last night but I did, or more to the point perhaps, I fell in love with its potential. There’s a lot of it. So let us on to a quick recap and review then, shall we?

Once upon a time in The Enchanted Forest far, far away…

Snow White and Prince Charming, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

…our episode opens with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) on his noble steed riding to his beloved Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) who has succumbed to The Poisoned Apple and been laid to rest in a pretty glass coffin by the Seven Dwarves. Charming plants a Goodbye Kiss of True Love on Snow White’s ruby red lips and behold -she awakens! Still with me? Don’t forget we’re working with a fairytale premise here so hang in there, the fun stuff’s on its way.Now where was I? Oh right, Magic Kiss, Snow White lives and off we go hippity-hop to their grand wedding and happily ever after.

Or at least that was our plan.

Instead, The Evil Queen of Sneer & Smoke (Lana Parrilla) totally crashes the party and casts a big ol’ dark curse on the happy couple and their enchanted subjects. In fairness to said Evil Queen though, you’d sneer and smoke too if you had to wear that wardrobe. But I digress, on with the recap!

The Evil Queen, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Flash forward: Modern Day Land and a very lovely grown-up Princess Emma known as Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), an orphaned bounty hunter with serious mommy/daddy issues who will smash your head into a dashboard if you bring it up. Oh and she has an uncanny gift for knowing when someone is lying. Yes, she is pretty awesome isn’t she? Also, nice jacket. But when Emma blows out the lonely candle of her lonely birthday cupcake, she gets way more than she wished for when a knock at the door reveals young Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore) with a ginormous Book of Fairy Tales under arm (that aren’t really fairy tales at all, but true stories) and oh by the way, he is the son Emma gave up for adoption ten years ago.

Jaw. Drop.

Emma Swan, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Flash back: Fairytale Land and Castle Charming and a now very-pregnant-with-future-Princess-Emma Snow White (now Mrs. Charming) consumed with fear and finding a way to protect her unborn child from the impending Curse of The Evil Sneer & Smoke Queen. Inevitably this forces Mrs. Charming to make a deal with the Devil, alias Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle)  in Fairytale Land and wow this guy puts the Eeeeep! in creep.


With a gift for knowing the future, he does indeed tell it to the naïve young mother-to-be as well as a prophecy: “Get the child to safety and on its 28th birthday the child will return, the child will find you and the final battle will begin.” All he asks in return is the name of the infant she carries in her belly. Annnnd of course, she tells him. Anyone else smell the distinct fumes of foreboding? Me too – so excited!

Back to: Modern Day Land, Emma and young Henry have arrived at 24 Not Telling You Street in Storybrooke, Maine and discovered The Clock of No Ticking and the populace of fairytale characters in human form that have no idea who the really are because Storybrooke is cursed by The Evil Queen of Sneer & Smoke. By the way, said Queen is also the Mayor and Henry’s adoptive mother. Dun, dun, DUN!

Sheriff Graham, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Zip over to the Mayor’s home and a tearful-for-appearances-‘reunion’ between Mayor Regina and Henry (did I mention Henry hates her and knows she’s pretending? Such a smart little guy). Regina invites Emma in for a glass of the best apple cider in town. Apple cider, evil queen, ha! Cute. Oh and another character joins us at the Mayor’s abode: Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) – Irish, scruffy, leather-clad and wearing a gun. Oh my….not that I was especially paying attention or anything. 😉

After an evening of cider pints and the Mayor denying any knowledge of Henry’s book or his tall tales, Emma heads back out of town. But she has a terrible crash when she starts feeling dizzy (Poison Apple Cider anyone?) and swerves to avoid a giant silver wolf that suddenly appears in the middle of the roadway. Yikes!

Flashbask: 28 years earlier in Fairytale Land, Mr. and Mrs. Charming and their enchanted subjects devise a plan to save the unborn princess and her mother. Apparently there is a magical tree they can carve into a Narnian Wardrobe which can keep one person safe from The Curse. Frankly this sucks for everyone else but they build it anyway and happily so. Go figure. Guess it’s the whole belief-in-happy-endings thing. It’s an epidemic with these people, seriously. But enough about Fairytale psychology and back to Modern Day Land!

Emma Swan wakes up to Sheriff Graham…because she’s in jail for drunk-on-cider driving, people, not for any ‘other’ reason…well, not yet anyway; give it a few episodes 😉 Emma tries to explain about the wolf which Graham totally laughs  off (obvious much, Wolf Boy?) and then Mayor Regina bursts in demanding to know where her son is. Quick-thinking Emma offers to use her sneaky bounty hunter skills to hack the kid’s email and figure out where he might be. This leads them to a credit card receipt from his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard.  Off to school we go to meet her and *gasp!* it’s Mrs. Charming aka Snow White aka Emma’s MOM. But so sadly, she doesn’t know that since she’s cursed blahblahblah *sniff, sniff*  but she did give Henry the Book of Fairy Tales. Interesting…

Prince Charming saves Baby Emma, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Flashback: Fairy Tale Land and Emma’s early birth. Now only the baby princess can go into the wardrobe and not mother and unborn child as they had all planned.  So Mr. & Mrs. Jor –El…I mean, Mr. and Mrs. Charming decide to put the newborn princess into the wardrobe alone and trust in Rumpelstiltskin’s prophecy of the child’s return to save them all. Only in a fairytale would you trust a creepy, goblin dude locked up in the dungeon with your child’s future. But once again I digress; on with the daring sword battle! Bravely Charming succeeds in getting Emma to the wardrobe but is mortally wounded doing so. Snow White finds him and tries to revive him with a kiss…then another kiss…but alas has no power in her pucker. Apparently this only works on damsels in Fairytale Land. Sorry, gents. A triumphant Evil Queen of Sneer & Smoke gloats over the lovers and spins her wicked spell to completion, cursing all Fairytale Land to imprisonment in Storybrooke, Maine in Modern Day Land. Muah ha ha ha!

Red Riding Hood, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Obviously a flash forward now: Modern Day Land where Emma finds young Henry brooding in his wooden castle. They poor their wounded hearts out over being abandoned by their parents and Henry proves the more mature one in suggesting perhaps both Emma’s parents and Emma did what they did to give their children their ‘best chance’ at a good life. Emma is not so forgiving however, since she was abandoned as a newborn on a freeway and never had a family. But then again Henry has never  known a mother that loved him. *sniff* Tissue, anyone? Emma does the responsible thing and takes Henry back to Mayor Regina. Regina then threatens Emma to leave town as she has no right to Henry and if she doesn’t leave, things will get nasty. Whoa. Ungrateful much? Emma only asks Regina one thing: “Do you love him?” Regina replies: “Of course, I love him.” The look on Emma’s face says it all (remember her li’l gift?) and in the next scene we find her walking into Granny’s Bed & Breakfast to book a room for the week. And oh yes, it’s that Granny and she’s living in the B & B with her now goth/punk-ish Red Riding Hood granddaughter ( LOVED that little surprise). When Emma reveals her name to register as a guest, both women grow quiet and off-screen a familiar voice croons, “Emma.” And then Mr. Gold is revealed: a respectably dressed, unassuming looking (yet still eerily disturbing) Rumpelstiltskin (sans the freaky eyes and claws).

Jaw. Drrrrrop.

We close on Emma taking an elaborate room key from Granny then a flash over to the town square where The Clock of No Ticking begins to tick: Final Battle ON.

Who stole the show…

Mr. Gold, ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”

Robert Carlyle as the creeeeepy, golden-eyed, dental-hygiene-challenged Rumpelstiltskin without a doubt stole the show in last night’s episode, especially when he made his unexpected entrance into modern day Storybrooke as the equally unsettling  Mr. Gold. I am already swooning over the potential of sinister villainy this character could be conniving.

What’s brewing on my brain…

Why does The Evil Queen hate Snow White so much?

Why does The Evil Queen/Mayor need Henry?

What deal did Rumpelstilskin and the Evil Queen make for him to own Storybrooke in Modern Day Land where she is mayor?

Why did Rumpelstilskin need Emma’s name?

Why did the Evil Queen steal the book back but not have the wolf dispose of Emma? Maybe the Queen can’t just “dispose” of her…..

Is Sheriff Graham the wolf from the roadway? Because I would loooove that!

Is the Book of Fairy Tales called “Once Upon A Time” a key to breaking The Curse? How did Snow White get it? Why does the Evil Queen want it?

Final Thoughts…

Some of my favourite shows over the years are the ones who take me away from the all-too-realness of Life and let my slip for a spell into the wondrous, imaginative, youthful recesses of my mind where I can simply enjoy a story for the good time had while I watch (remember “Charmed“?). When you have a super busy schedule like mine, this is a beloved guilty pleasure to indulge when you can. This show has a lot of potential to be one of these for me and I am really looking forward to seeing where The Writers take it.  As I wrap this up, the sentiments of Miss Mary Margaret/ Snow White come to mind : “Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing…” and I do believe there just may be one for “Once Upon A Time.”

See you next week!


Catch “Once Upon A Time”  on ABC, Sunday nights 8/7 central



  1. I’ve just seen this too. Great review.

    My own take on Mr Gold’s ‘ownership’ of Storybrooke is that it’s ownership in the manner of a high-ranking criminal’s ownership of a town or city. He’s a godfather figure – granted he seems to turn up to take a ‘protection’ fee from Granny personally rather than having a proxy do it for him – but that’s the way I see his character – everybody probably owes him a favour of some sort; what that means in relation to the Mayor/Evil Queen we’ll have to wait and see…

  2. I just got done watching the premiere of Once Upon A Time and LOVED IT! I really hope it takes off….am super excited about the new series….Thanks for the commentary, Lee! 🙂

  3. My 12-year old daughter and I love Once Upon a Time. We love watching to see how the modern characters are connected to the the fairy characters. We were both devastated over Sheriff Graham’s death last week and we hope this show continues to rivet us with interesting stories and twists and turns.

    1. Frankly, I’m still trying to cope myself *sniffle* May have to write about that over the holidays 😉 *raises a pint of Guiness to our Delicious Departed Graham*

  4. I really Like this show. I, too wonder why the Evil Queen blames Snow White for ruining her life. And I think Rumpelstiltskin needed Emma’s name for when she came back, he would know it was her and know when the ‘Final Battle’ will begin. Just can’t wait to see the second season coming on January 8. =)

  5. In the episode when the evil queen takes back the curse from her blond friend (Cinderella’s evil stepmother (?), The blond friend mentions how the evil queen was about Snow Whites age when the evil queen was set to marry and Snow White ruined it somehow. In the original Gimm’s version of Snow White, the evil queen is snow’s biological mother, NOT stepmother. And it seemed to me, though I could not find the moment again, that there is a mention of the evil queen losing someone precious to her, like a child…….could this be Snow White, who “ruined” the evil queens plans for marriage when the evil queen was found to be already pregnant with Snow White? Or perhaps when Snow White was discovered as the evil queens biological daughter who was already given up for adoption thus the evil queen was discovered to not be a virgin and her plans at marriage were dashed?

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