Once Upon A Time – Season 1 Ep 1

From ABC: Emma’s life turns upside down when she is visited by Henry, the 10-year-old child she long ago gave up for adoption; Emma brings Henry back to his foster mother in a strange town called Storybrooke.

Once upon a time…Snow White and Prince Charming got married, but then the wicked Queen cursed them and sent angry clouds to attack and banish the whole of the Enchanted Forest to constant suffering by sending them all to Maine, apparently.  The horror!

So let’s see what we have here.

Emma Swan is a gorgeous Bostonian Bail Bondsperson.  She finds people for a living and has the ability … according to her … to tell when people are lying to her.

She’s like a human lie detector.  I could have used her a few months ago when I was dealing with my own pack of lying liars who lie to my face.  After she catches then maims the deadbeat bail jumper she’s currently chasing, she goes home with a sad little cupcake to wish herself a happy birthday.  No sooner has she blown out her little star candle than the doorbell rings and there outside of her ridiculously gorgeous apartment is the son she gave up for adoption ten years before.  Happy Birthday!

Fortunately for her and me, he’s not annoyingly precocious, just a little life weary at ten and ready for his long lost mother to come set things right in fake fairytale land.  And by set things right I mean get the town clock to start working again.  Hmmm, let’s backtrack a little.

After the evil, deposed queen curses the newlyweds at their wedding, Snow is haunted by her words, especially after she becomes pregnant.  She urges Prince Charming, who reminds me of Chris Martin from Coldplay, to let her speak to HIM!  For HE can see into the future and is apparently a spoiler whore.  HE turns out to be Rumplestiltskin, played nicely by Robert Carlyle channeling his best Gollum, who is currently imprisoned in a funky dungeon for what I can only assume is a crime against good hygiene.

Rumplestiltskin, ever the deal maker, will only give up the goods in exchange for the name of Snow’s unborn babe.  Prince Coldplay is like hell no since, apparently, Rumple knowing your name gives him power over you, but Snow White’s a desperate mama bear and agrees to the deal.

Rumples immediately gives up the goods.  The Evil Stepwitch is going to banish them all to a horrible, evil place where happiness goes to die…the aforementioned Maine.  And she’ll also freeze time.  Which accounts for why when Emma gets to town with young Henry, all the fairytale characters look exactly the same even though it’s been 28 years and a whole other dimension.  Which means Emma has out-aged her “now caught in the bubble of time” parents.  Well, that sucks.

But fear not!  Per Rumple, the savior of them all is the wee babe nestled under Snow’s feather dress.  She will return on her 28th birthday and the final battle for Middle Earth…uh fairytale land will begin!

And what do you know, by some strange coincidence, young Henry manages to locate and get his mother back to the Enchanted Forest land on the night of her 28th birthday.  There better be a reasonable explanation for that little happening.  That’s a little much to be just a coincidence even for a fairytale.

The Council of Enchantment, amusingly made up of Jiminy Cricket, Red Riding Hood and her Granny, three of the seven dwarves including Grumpy, Geppetto and Pinocchio, some knights of the roundtable and a weirdly dressed tiny fairy, meet in an effort to brainstorm how to save fairytale land.  Prince Coldplay wants to fight and kill the queen, but Snow White‘s a total Debbie Downer about everything, thinking all hope is lost.

But, as with all these fairytales, it’s the fairy who saves the day with her tacked on help after the fact.  The impressively endowed fairy has brought with her a magical dead tree that, if fashioned into a vessel, will protect whoever is in it.  The catch?  It can only hold one person.  And since she’s carrying the chosen one, lucky Snow White will have the honor of being the first passenger.  Geppetto and Pinocchio are tasked with the job of converting the tree into the fairytale version of Star Trek‘s Transporter.

Snow’s not so keen on the idea, given that she’ll have to leave her Prince Charming.  Unfortunately for her, the choice gets taken out of her hands when she goes into labor on the very day the curse appears on the horizon.  That Evil Queen is not at all subtle in her actions is she?  First she tells everyone of her plans to bring them down, giving them time to find that inevitable loophole and then she totally blows her element of surprise by sending the brightly colored cousin of the Lost smoke monster to slowly envelop Fairytale land, giving Snow White enough time to give birth and have Prince Coldplay place the wee babe into completed Treesporter.  They have to give her the best chance, Snow White says.

By the time Evil Queen shows up to cackle in delight, the baby’s already gone off to parts unknown, much to her consternation.  However she does capture Snow White, and Prince Coldplay may or may not be dead after being skewered by Evil Queen’s men in black.

Which brings us right back to where we started with young Henry and his now savior aged birth mother Emma who thinks the kid may be missing a few screws, so she hustles him back to Storybrooke Maine, the place where all happiness goes to die.  The first person to greet them is young Henry’s shrink, Dr. Hopper aka Jiminy Cricket.

By the way, this entire time young Henry has been lugging around a giant book of fairytales, aptly titled Once Upon A Time.  He tells Emma she’s in it which she dismisses immediately instead of asking to see proof.  Which is kind of lazy writing, but whatever.

Turns out young son Henry was adopted by the reincarnated Evil Queen who may or may not be the original queen, and who may or may not remember that she’s an evil witch.  She’s certainly not pretending to be warm and fuzzy in this life.  She’s still top dog in this town being the Mayor and all though.  Apparently being evil equals being ambitious and successful.  Does that mean Donald Trump is the real life reincarnation of Rumplestiltskin aka Mr. Gold?  That explains so much.

Henry doesn’t even pretend to like his adopted mother who raised him from a babe and wiped his dirty little butt.  He runs off to his room after she hugs him declaring that he found his real mother!  The Mayor immediately sizes up Emma and finds her lacking.  She’s not at all happy with her presence and checks to verify that some random father’s not going to show up next.  Nope.  He doesn’t even know about Henry, says Emma.  Ouch.  See this is why I’m a fan of parthenogenesis.

Also at the mayor’s mansion is someone I’m going to assume will be Emma’s own prince charming.   Who comes with a badge, a scruffy beard and an Irish accent.  It’s like a trifecta of sexy!  His name is Sheriff Graham and he weirdly calls the mayor Mother Mayor.  Who does that?

Mother Mayor aka Regina Mills offers Emma some apple cider.  Ha!  Emma asks for something stronger.  My kinda gal.  Mother Mayor tries to explain away Henry’s hate of her as her being the kind of mother who wants the best for her son, so she’s a little strict.  Emma assures her that she isn’t here to lay claim to Henry and hightails it out of there.  She’s almost out of town when she notices Henry’s fairytale book on the passenger seat which distracts her enough that she doesn’t notice the wolf standing in the middle of the street.  Don’t worry folks; the wolf is safe since Emma almost kills herself swerving to avoid him and crashes into the Storybrooke sign.  Guess Henry wasn’t lying when he told her earlier that the fairytale characters can’t leave town without something bad happening.  And, I guess that now includes Emma since she came back.

She wakes up in jail the next morning to the tune of ‘Whistle while you work’ compliments Grumpy aka Leroy, who is in the cell next to hers.  She also gets to meet Geppetto aka Marco who, in this life, has no Pinocchio.  Sheriff Sexy thinks Emma was drunk on Mother Mayor’s cider and crashed her car, but she tells him about the wolf, and he gives her the same look she gave Henry when he talked about fairytales being real.

Before he can actually call her crazy Mother Mayor shows up frantic because, once again, Henry is missing.  Someone low jack that kid.  Spying an out, Emma offers to find him if they let her out.  They go back to Mother Mayor’s place, and Emma manages to pull up an online receipt from WhoIsYourMother.org.  Oh, show, really?  For $260 he got confidential sealed legal info?  This really is a fairytale.  Turns out friendless, young Henry is a budding criminal who stole his teacher’s credit card to pay for this and his little trip to Boston.

Show of hands to all those surprised that his teacher turns out to be reincarnated Snow White, now with a cute pixie cut.  Loads better than her big fairyland hair.  Her new name is Mary Margaret Blanchard, and she’s still got her blue bird fetish.

Mother Mayor doesn’t appear to approve of Snow Mary who is very surprised to learn what young Henry has been up to.  She explains to Emma that young Henry is lonely (is that an inherited trait?) and that she was the one who gave him the fairytale book to give him hope that things get better.  She tells Emma to look for Henry in his castle, which turns out to be at and old playground one the beach.

Emma heads off to find young Henry, who is a little sad to see that the clock hasn’t moved.  He thought once he brought her back everything would get better.  Emma, the lonely loner that she is, tries her best to rebuff the kid, but I guess he’s also a human lie detector too because he sees right through her BS and calls her on it.

Emma tells him she gave him up to give him his best chance, unknowingly echoing her own mother’s words.  She tells him she’s not some fairytale character and that she was abandoned by her parents on the side of the road and then abandoned again by her adopted parents when she was three years old and they had their own child.  Henry tries to explain that she wasn’t abandoned, but that she was magically treeported to safety.  He begs her to stay for at least one week, but she refuses.  She tells him Mother Mayor is trying her best, even if she doesn’t show it with the warm and fuzzies and takes him back.

Mother Mayor thanks her for returning him.  Emma, for some unknown reason, reveals that yesterday was her birthday and when she blew out her candle, she made a wish that she wouldn’t have to be alone on her birthday and then Henry showed up.  Uh oh, Mother Mayor does not like hearing that and pretty much tells Emma not to even think of developing feelings for Henry and that she has no legal right to him.

“I suggest you get in your car and leave this town, because if you don’t, I will destroy you if it’s the last thing I do.  Goodbye Miss Swan.”

Well, those words aren’t ominous at all.  The ideal thing to say to the woman whose child you’re currently raising to convince her to leave you alone.  Excellent idea Mother Mayor.

Emma says nothing to this tirade but simply asks her if she loves him.  Mother Mayor stares at her and says “Of course I love him.”  Ruh roh!  The look on Emma face clearly indicates that her lie detector just went off.

Mother Mayor goes into Henry’s room and takes his fairytale book, staring down at him in a not at all motherly way.  Yikes!  If looks could kill, young Henry would be a pile of ash right now.  Then she stalks downstairs and stares at herself in the mirror.  Subtle show.

For those of you wondering what happened to Prince Coldplay in all this, rest assured.  Snow Mary is apparently so very good that she volunteers at the hospital, taking flowers to the patients and holding their hands in comfort.  One of them being a coma patient listed as John Doe.  John Doe is Prince Coldplay!

Her lie detector having verified that young Henry isn’t crazy, Emma heads over the hill and through the woods to the local inn run by Granny and Red Riding Hood.  Granny thinks Red is kind of a slut because she goes out frequently.  Nice to know that even in fairytales slut-shaming is alive and well.  While there Emma meets Mr. Gold, aka Rumplestiltskin who, according to Granny, owns the town.  Mr. Gold takes a fancy to Emma’s name.  I wonder if he is aware of who he is and if he’s still a damn spoiler whore.  Well, we’ll find out soon enough.  Fortunately the show got great ratings so no fear that it’ll get cancelled before we meet the three little pigs or something.

And, finally, young Henry gets something to smile about in his lonely, loveless, little world, when he stares out his window at that infernal clock only to see the second hand move for the first time in 28 years, thanks to his birth mama Emma checking in to Granny’s Inn for a week.

Nicely done show.  I wasn’t too sure about you in the beginning, but by the end I was entertained.  I can’t wait to see what other fairytale characters are going to show up.  I swear I saw an image of flying monkeys in the book and one of Absolem from Alice in Wonderland.  Now I kind of can’t wait to see who shows up next.