Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Raphael Sbarge
Writer:
 Jane Espenson
Director:
 Paul Edwards
Network:
 ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast:
December 4, 2011

Funny how this episode “The Shepherd,” while interesting, didn’t seem to do much to advance the overall story of ONCE UPON A TIME. It wasn’t a bad episode. It just didn’t seem to do much.

Now that John Doe (the Prince Charming who came through the evil spell that sent all the fairy tale characters to present day Storybrooke, Maine, and landed there in a coma) has woken up and been identified as David Nolan (Josh Dallas), we get to find out why Nolan is married to Kathryn (Anastasia Griffith) rather than Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) – since Mary Margaret is Snow White’s modern counterpart and was clearly married to Prince James Charming back in fairy tale land.

The problem is, David is seriously attracted to Mary Margaret and has little to hold him to Kathryn because he doesn’t remember anything about his prior modern-day life. Nobody seems to remember the fairy tale world, but that’s not clear, either, although the narration suggests that Regina (Lana Parilla) – who as the Evil Queen in the fairy tale world brought on the curse that moved everyone to Maine – does remember. Funny thing is, she doesn’t always act like it.

On the parallel side, we see Prince Charming dueling a monster man and supposedly winning, with his father King George (Alan Dale) and King Midas (Alex Zahara) looking on. Apparently, all myth is considered fair game in this world. But just after Midas leaves the scene, Charming gets run through and killed. Funny how Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) is on the scene. He lets King George know that Charming, who was actually adopted, has a twin brother who can take his place. And thus we see a young shepherd plucked from his farm to kill the dragon and win the hand of Midas’ daughter Abigail, who, gee, has a modern counterpart in Kathryn Nolan.

Rumpelstiltskin’s modern counterpart, Mr. Gold, is not supposed to be remembering about the fairy world, but he sure has something up his sleeve and whether modern or fairy tale, it’s hard to say what his game is. You know that he has one, but it’s going to be interesting to find out what.

And that, I think, is the main problem of this episode. There’s not enough of story action going on, if that makes sense. Yes, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) catches onto Sheriff Graham’s (Jamie Dornan) little escapades with Regina, but we don’t see any fall out from that. Yes, Mary Margaret and David Nolan are trying to figure out how to deal with their attraction when David is still married to Kathryn. And, yes, we see the set up to the scene in the episode “Snow Falls” where we find out that Charming was engaged to another woman – whom we now know is Midas’ daughter Abigail. But nothing’s really happening. It’s all set up for this big battle that has been prophesied that we haven’t seen much of yet.

The result is all questions, since it didn’t take the final scene for me to figure out who Kathryn had been and why she was married to David the second I saw Abigail.

So, ultimately, while necessary to the overall story (I presume) and still being reasonably good, this was not the best episode for ONCE UPON A TIME. It wasn’t a bad episode. It just wasn’t a great one.

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

Related Link: Exclusive Interview with ONCE UPON A TIME star Raphael Sbarge
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Article: TV Review – ONCE UPON A TIME – Season 1 – “The Shepherd”

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