Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Raphael Sbarge
Writer:
 Jane Espenson
Director:
 Michael Waxman
Network:
 ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast: 
December 11, 2011

One of the things that takes ONCE UPON A TIME well past the cartoony single-dimension of its fairy tale characters into something even more frightening and real is that the bad guys have real reasons for being bad. With most fairly tale characters, they’re bad because that’s who they are. In this episode, “Desperate Souls” we find out how Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) got to be the scary wheeler dealer that he is.

Which makes the way he utterly manipulates Emma (Jennifer Morrison) – in his modern day version, Mr. Gold – all the more intense. With Sheriff Graham gone, the town of Storybrooke now needs a new sheriff. Regina (Lana Parilla) decides to appoint the editor of the paper Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito). But Mr. Gold points out to Emma that after two weeks, she inherits the job as the top deputy, then again, that the mayor can appoint a candidate, not the actual sheriff. So Emma decides to go up against Glass to prove to young Henry (Jared Gilmore) that the good guys can win.

At the same time, in the fairy tale world, we see a spinning Rumpelstiltskin with his young son as they witness a young woman being dragged off by soldiers to fight in the ogre wars and the parents zapped by “The Dark One.” The boy knows he’s next, but Rumpelstiltskin is determined to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, they’re caught in their flight, but a beggar (Brad Dourif) tells Rumpelstiltskin how to not only get control of The Dark One, but get his power. The catch, of course, is that Rumpelstiltskin gets sucked into the darkness, himself.

This is the real strength of this show – its capacity to create characters with real depth out of traditional character archetypes, such as the Evil Queen, Prince Charming, and Snow White. They may have the one-dimensional names, but they have been given back stories that make them real people and they’re interesting stories, such as Rumpelstiltskin’s history as the town coward. He has become the desperate soul who gets power and that power takes over.

We still don’t know how all this is going to fall out – Mr. Gold leaves things in a rather ominous state with Emma and those of us who’ve been watching all along know just how dangerous it is to make deals with Rumpelstiltskin. Still, that’s also part of what makes this show so riveting.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD – COMMENT BELOW

Related Link: Exclusive Interview with ONCE UPON A TIME star Raphael Sbarge
Related Link
: Exclusive Photos from the PaleyFest 2012 event for ONCE UPON A TIME

Related Link: TV Review: ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Red-Handed”
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Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Whatever Happened to Frederick”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Skin Deep”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “7:15 A.M.”

Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “True North”
Related Link: Exclusive Interview with ONCE UPON A TIME showrunner Adam Horowitz
Related Link: ABC talks about the success of ONCE UPON A TIME
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Shepherd”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “That Still Small Voice”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Price of Gold”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Snow Falls”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Thing You Love Most”
Related Link: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Pilot”

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Article: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “Desperate Souls”

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Comments:

  1. Excellent review although I would rate the episode higher than a “B”. However I am less than objective, having become a fan of Robert Carlyle. The man could have a bit part walking into a room and I’d rate the associated film, episode, whatever pretty high. That Johnny Walker commercial he made is awesome.

    I agree with your conclusion about the strength of the show: “its capacity to create characters with real depth out of traditional character archetypes”

    foxfire
  2. I agree with your assessment. What I can’t figure out is why I keep watching this show. Its cheesy, a lot of the green screen graphics are terribly done and obvious, it wreaks of LOST, and some of the story isnt quite adding up. And yet, here I am talking about it. I’m fascinated by the Queen, I care about Henry and I want to know just what the unbelieving Emma is really going to do to save everyone. I’m nervous that this will turn out like LOST, drawn out until the ratings diminish then sloppily ended. But I’ll watch, oh yes, I will watch. Its the little subtleties that get me; Emma saying, “It’s another bender year.” in the Pilot, the realization that the mayor knows shes the queen, that adorable kid that I’m wondering about. They’ve presented with me with questions and I’ve come up with more. Sigh. I hope it doesnt dissapoint.

    Kate

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