Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Raphael Sbarge
Writer: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Director: David M. Barrett
Network: ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast: December 11, 2011
When you see that an episode is written by the show’s creators, you have to figure it’s going to be a pretty key episode, especially if you’ve got an ongoing story arc, like this show does. “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” pays off big time. In this episode from ONCE UPON A TIME, we not only find out that Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) does have a fairy tale counterpart, we see that Regina (Lana Parilla) really does know her past as the Evil Queen, and poor Emma (Jennifer Morrison). Alas, can’t say more about that without risking a spoiler. Let’s just say it is not going to be easy for her to open up emotionally after this episode.
It’s also a very tight, very focused episode, which is really nice – you don’t even see most of the cast and when you do, it’s directly related to the main plot. Needless to say, that after Emma finds out that Sheriff Graham has been sleeping with Regina, in the modern world of the story, Storybrooke, Maine, things are a little strained between Emma and Graham. Yeah, right, like Emma doesn’t have feelings for Graham.
But in the confrontation, Graham kisses Emma and suddenly sees a vague glimpse of another world and a wolf with one red eye and one black. He’s startled and upset because, as he explains to Emma, he’s never felt anything with Regina, but he does with Emma.
So we go back to the fairy tale world, where The Huntsman (Graham) has shot a deer (with an arrow) and is tearfully asking the deer’s pardon for killing him, it’s only out of his need that he killed it. In the meantime, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) is grieving the death of her father and finding comfort in the arms of the Evil Queen. However, the Queen, once alone with her Mirror (Giancarlo Esposito), smirks that she killed Snow’s father and now needs to kill Snow to get full power over the kingdom. Plus Snow has done something unforgivable to the Queen, which set this whole chain of events in motion. She revealed a secret and the Queen feels betrayed. So The Huntsman is summoned and we kind of know the rest.
The problem is that Graham is starting to remember all of this. He checks in with Snow’s modern counterpart, Mary Margaret, who has already challenged Emma to break down the wall she has built around herself and be open to Graham. While Mary Margaret encourages Graham to get some rest, she also mentions Henry’s book. So naturally, guess where Graham goes, and while he doesn’t completely remember, he and Emma do see the wolf again and go after it.
As I said, very tightly focused. The only part that might be considered out of place is an encounter Graham has with Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) who’s digging around in the forest for some reason. Which ought to be pretty suspicious because Mr. Gold is the Rumpelstiltskin counterpart who usually has his fingers in everyone else’s misery, whether modern or fairy tale, and he doesn’t show up in the fairy tale section at all.
The other part that was really, really interesting was the way Regina seems to blame everything that’s happening to her on everyone else. As the Queen, Snow betrayed her (we still don’t know how, but you have to wonder). Then Regina blames her issues with Henry and with Graham on Emma. In some ways, this is legitimate. Since Emma is Snow and the Prince’s daughter who was saved from the curse by being hidden as an infant in a magic chest that transported her to the modern world, though not Storybrooke, she is supposedly the one who will begin the battle and presumably break the curse. So Regina’s power does seem to be weakening in ways directly connected to Emma.
Still, whether it was done consciously on the part of Kitsis and Horowitz or not, Regina’s behavior is becoming a real commentary on the narcissism of our time. Everything revolves around her in ONCE UPON A TIME and when things go poorly, it’s everyone else’s fault. Better yet, this also serves to make the Queen (and Regina) even more human and more interesting. Yes, the woman obviously has a problem with anger, etc. But there’s a reason she got that way. How intriguing. That is good writing, pure and simple.
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Article: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”