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Once Upon a Time: The Shepherd

“Smile, son. You're on the road to true love.”

It’s funny that the plot I’m least interested in has brought the best episodes so far. I really don’t care about Snow White and Price Charming because I’m absolutely sure they’ll eventually hook up, despite the obstacles put in the way. Despite that, I was wowed more than once watching this episode.

There were many things I definitely did not see coming, one of which was the sudden death of the original Prince Charming. My eyebrows hit the ceiling. Knowing our Charming wasn’t born a prince adds a lot of depth to the character. When he said earlier that he didn’t care about the money Snow had stolen and that he only wanted the ring, I assumed he had so much money that he could do without that much. Now we know that’s true, but also why he cares so much about that ring. He’s much more of a romantic than Snow is.

I also liked that he was not as great a warrior as his late brother, but could slay the dragon using his cunning. Also, his shepherding skills. He did to the dragon pretty much what he did to the goat at the beginning. Though why the dragon kept trying to bite him instead of roasting him is beyond me. Maybe it ran out of lighter fluid.

Regina’s way of making David “remember” his pre-coma life was also very cunning (but what if David remembered the way to the toll bridge?), and proves that Mr. Gold is aware of the situation. The intro to the series has been lying all along. There isn’t only *one* who remembers the truth.

But what I liked best about this episode is that the backstories have started to interconnect, much like another show you probably haven’t heard about. There was the obvious ending that takes us to the beginning of Snow Falls, and also a more subtle one. Rumpelstiltskin, who, as I said last week, seems to be involved in every bad thing in fairy Tales, said the price for having the dragon slain was information on a certain wand’s whereabouts. Probably the very wand we see him killing Cinderella’s fairy-godmother for at the beginning of The Price of Gold, which makes Alan Dale indirectly responsible for Rumpy’s imprisonment.

Have you noticed any other connection I missed? Let us know in the comments.

Bits and Pieces

- I was incredibly surprised to see the dragon in the title sequence, and more surprised to see that the title sequence always has an extra element. How could I not have seen it before? It took the subtlety of a dragon roaring to draw my attention.

- I was also surprised to find out that Alan Dale was not the great villain behind it all. I was expecting him to have brought the dragon for some nefarious purpose. At least he threatened to kill Charming’s mother.

- Is King Midas in Storybrooke, too? Shouldn’t he be at the party?

- It’s funny that Mary is so inexperienced that she takes Emma’s advice to the letter. It’s funnier if you consider Emma is actually Mary’s daughter, and should be giving *her* advice on love.

- What whiskey does Emma drink? MacCutcheon. And precisely in the episode where Alan Dale’s character is introduced. But how can she afford it?

- Abigail is much nicer in this version. Being Midas’s daughter is the ultimate “my-father-can-afford-anything” lifestyle.

- Dr. Whale seems to be much nicer this time around. Is he the whale that ate Geppetto and Pinocchio? That would only confirm that the characters were based on the Disney versions, since book-Pinocchio was devoured by a giant shark.

- I feel I should clarify something. Last week I said the characters had been based on the Disney version, but my dear friend Daniel retorted that Disney Cinderella was much sweeter than this one. What I mean is that the starting point was the one that Disney made iconic, mainly in visual terms, not that they were merely transported to the series.

- Emma found out about the Sheriff and Regina already. That was fast.

- Are bear claws that delicious? We don’t have it here.

- I have to repeat myself and say that the cast is top notch. I like Robert Carlyle’s Rumpy the most.


Original Charming: “Next time, make sure I'm really dead.”
He made the same mistake right after saying that.

Emma: “You might wanna ease up or that brillo pad's gonna press charges.”
I love Emma’s snark.

Midas: “You were promised gold, and gold you shall have, but I did not get to where I am by thinking small.”
No, it was because you can make gold. You can literally make money. Don’t act superior.

Gold: ”Charming.”
David: ”I'm sorry?”
Gold: ”The mobile. Isn't it charming?”

Emma: ”You did this with Henry in the house?”
Graham: “He's sleeping. He doesn't know.”
Emma: ”Oh, my God. I wish I was Henry right now.”

The season is starting to pick up some pace. Four out of four ugly garden windmills. Or golden dragon heads. I couldn’t decide.


  1. Gus, you've raised some very interesting points here. It seems like you see this show through Lost-colored glasses, and so do I.

    I really look forward to OUaT each week, especially because my Mondays are superlong, so it's nice to have a pleasant Monday-eve. But I'm not fully invested in the show yet. I tune in curious to see what they do rather than what happens or how the characters develop.

    I hope this doesn't hijack the thread, but I'd love to hear from other Lost fans. I started watching that series on DVD and had crazed marathon of the first season--that craziness kept up my momentum for, y'know, the entire darn show. Do the Losties who remember what it was like to view the first season episode by episode feel like the momentum here compares? Do you think OUaT is building towards the delightful complicatedness of Lost, or is it going to be delightful standalones for all of its run? Does that question even make sense?

    And, the most important question of all: Are bear claws that delicious? We don’t have it here.

    They're okay. Apple fritters are better.

  2. - Sorry, Josie, I haven't seen Lost.

    - "The intro to the series has been lying all along. There isn’t only *one* who remembers the truth."
    You know, this got me thinking... what if the Queen doesn't know what's happening? (I know it doesn't make sense at this point, but it would be kind of cool...)
    The fact is, though, that Henry knows the truth too, so that statement was false from the beginning!

    - I hadn't noticed the intro additions before the dragon either.

    - Maybe Midas isn't in Storybrook because the name "Mr Gold" is already taken?

  3. I did like this one, but I thought that the dragon was WAY too stupid. Not only not lighting the shepherd prince on fire, but going through the rock. It was clear what was going to happen. Way too easy.

    And the shepherd prince had the strength to sever the dragon head with a half-assed strike of the sword?. That must be a really REALLY sharp katana, otherwise it's just plain impossible.

    As for the lost-colores glasses, I stopped being a Lostie in the penultimate season finale, when it was clear that they had no idea what they were doing, and felt the final season (and especially the final episode) was an enormous f*ck you to the fans that followed the series religiously.

    I myself would prefer to have no Lost references in the reviews, since they make me remember how badly that ended, but I understand that not everybody shares my opinion.

  4. Josie, I was a bit annoyed by all the LOST references in OUaT, because I just can't see how the two stories can happen in the same universe. I also think OUaT should cut the umbilical cord soon, or else they'll live forever in LOST's shadow.

    I started watching LOST weekly from season 4 on, and it was my favorite.

    Anon 1,I thought about the possibility of Regina not knowing. I think I even mentioned it in another review. But I think it would be too contrived. I don't know.

    And the Midas Joke was very funny, and it remindedme of Reservoir Dogs.

    And watch LOST! I recommend youwatch no more than one ep per day, though.

    Anon 2, I agree the dragon was stupid, but we have no idea if a dragon is supposed to be smart like a dog or a pig; or stupid likea chicken or a turkey. A turkey would definitely fall for the trap.

    And I'm still a Lostie, and am going to be forever. Season 6 is not my favorite, but I see why all that was thematically necessary. And, from the end of Season 5, I thought it was very clear they'd go on a mysticaldirection, so I'm sure they knew where they were going. Please don't attack it;it makes me feel sad =(

  5. I forgot to mention, Josie. The creators have stated that the series won't be arc-heavy, and that it will be more of a character study. That's what the LOST creators had told the studio, too.

  6. I'm enjoying the show, but don't think it compares at all with Lost in terms of momentum and complexity. Season 1 of Lost was just outstanding (with only a few episodes that weren't really winners), and this show isn't on that level at all. For me.

    I liked this episode though. Especially the MacCutcheon reference coming in an episode featuring Alan Dale. It amused me.

    I like the idea that Regina doesn't know what's going on, but I'm not sure that tracks with her dropping the piece of glass coffin into the mine shaft. Mr. Gold almost certainly knows what's going on. He seems to be the key to the whole thing. Especially since Henry can't figure out who he was in Fairy Tale land.

    I've been trying to figure out who Dr. Whale is supposed to be. I didn't even realize his name was 'Whale' until I read it in reviews this week. I thought it was 'Well' or 'Wilde.' I couldn't understand what people were saying every time they referenced him by name. Him representing the whale from the Disney Pinocchio tale would be very strange. I hope that's not who he's supposed to be.

  7. First I want to say that I am enjoying this show a lot and thanks, Gus, for the great reviews. You are helping me to pick up elements I don't think I would ever see since I should probably watch more carefully for subtle visual clues. ;)

    @Josie, I began watching Lost during Season 1, beginning with the eighth or ninth episode and then immediately watching all of the reruns of the earlier episodes during the holiday break when the re-aired them. From that point forward, I never missed a week, all the way through its entire series airing. As much as I am enjoying this show, it is not Lost yet in my book. I can't even describe how exciting it was to watch Lost almost from the very beginning. I remember that I wanted to watch it from the beginning, but I was busy with young children and didn't get around to the pilot. My brother, however, watched from day one, and he kept telling me how fabulous it was and how I needed to give it a try. I am so thankful that I did. It was always an edge-of-your seat type show and one that made you think about it all week. I couldn't stop talking to him, his wife, and anyone else who would listen to me about that show throughout its entire run. Much later when I let my by then much older children watch it on Netflix streaming, they couldn't stop and watched episode after episode.

    This show is fun, and I am really enjoying the way it is like a puzzle. Many characters are very likable, and they seem to have great potential for depth. However, at this point, I am not feeling the same way about it as I did Lost. That doesn't mean it isn't good, though, because in my experience, shows like Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer don't come along every year. Maybe this one will get there, though, because it has had a much stronger beginning than Buffy did. Not all shows begin as strongly as Lost did and sometimes that can be a good thing since they build slowly and get better and better.

  8. Suzanne,I thank you for reading and commenting.

    It's funny that I didn't care so much about LOST until late season 3, but by season 4 it was my favorite show.

    Jess, I hope he isn't the whale either, but I won't mind so much if he is.

  9. The little Lost references, the existence of an enclosed group of enchanted people, the mimicking of the basic Lost structure with the out of order backstories is all just fine with me, because this is series is so definitely not Lost. I'm not deeply into it yet, but I always come to the end a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Obsession might come later. Or not. The jury is still out.

    Gus, I'm definitely a Rumpy fan, too. Robert Carlyle is acting the hell out of that part. It's hard to take my eyes off him when he's in a scene, whether he's in the fairy tale makeup or not.

  10. I'm not a Lost fan - I was hooked on the show from pretty much the beginning but completely lost interest in it after about season 3 - so a lot of the Lost hopes and references are, well, lost on me! But I hope it's not taking place in the same 'verse - maybe the references are just sly in-jokes?

    (Possible spoilery speculation below)

    It's pretty much been established that the lovely Sheriff Graham is The Huntsman - I guessed it several weeks back and I'm usually terrible at spotting things - and it makes the most sense but also previews for next week make it overt. On a rewatch of the first episode tonight, I noticed that one of the black-visored armour-clad guys who tried to kill Charming replied to the Evil Queen's question about where the baby was in a voice that sounded very much like Graham, only less Nordie and more Anglo. So there's that.

    Regarding Dr. Whale, there's some speculation on TWOP that he might be the Big Bad Wolf. He certainly seems like a bad guy, he couldn't take his eyes off Ruby when he was on his date with Mary Margaret and one Twopper said that Whale could be a reference to 'big' and also that killer whales are referred to as 'wolves of the sea', because of their behaviour. I think it's very likely.

    Loving the reviews, as always! Adoring the show in a head-over-heels kind of way. It's just so special and lovely. Love it.

  11. Oooh, forgot. Some bear claws are delicious, and some are just sugary cinnamony dough. It depends on the bakery.

  12. The Mayor knows a lot of the truth but she doesn't know the truth about Emma (does she?) Maybe that's the truth only one remembers and that one is Mr. Gold.


  13. You can argue that the dragon didn't incinerate Charming was (a) because it was hungry and wanted a worthy dinner; and (b) because in such an enclosed space, the dragon knew that the flames would blast back into its own eyes. We don't have any evidence that fire DOESN'T hurt his eyes ;)

    My guess about who knows the truth: I think Mr. Gold definitely knows (since it was originally his spell, which he sold to the Queen). Also, just a guess, but since he could see the future in the fairy tale world, it's possible that he can see the past in this world. I don't think Henry KNOWS exactly, based on his conversation in the earlier episode with Archie --- more that he believes and wants it to be true. Also, given that time was frozen in this world, but Henry grew up anyway (being Emma's son), it's possible that he noticed a lot of problems in the town, in terms of everything staying the same, even while he's changing. Because of the spell, though, he's probably not able to fully form this connection. I'm on the fence about the Queen/Regina knowing the truth or not.

  14. Nice post. I'm enjoying the show in a relaxed way and you are helping me see more of the details.

    I'm a little confused by the implication that Mr. Gold knows what is going on because my somewhat hazy memory of the opening episode where Regina seemed to believe he wouldn't remember. Have I got that wrong or was he just tricking her the way he tricks everyone?

    I agree that the Prince Charming/Snow White plot is unfolding more interestingly than I expected.

    Also, that pastry Emma was eating didn't look like a bear claw to me. I love bear claws. This is what they look like here and where I grew up. http://www.aldenteblog.com/2008/07/almost-edible-8.html Yummy sweet almond paste inside a pastry cut to look like a claw. Mmmm.

  15. Eris, "He certainly seems like a bad guy, he couldn't take his eyes off Ruby when he was on his date with Mary Margaret" is an interesting point, though I wonder if we're so used to seeing david Anders play the villain that we can't help but see it this way.

    turtle pirate, I've read many people complaining of that scene and others pathetically trying to explain it. You're the only one I've seen who could give a good explanation. Bravo!

    Holy cow, Jane,that looks delicious!

  16. Sorry, but I don't buy turtle pirate's explanation either. Such a clumsy dragon would have been killed by any decent warrior years before.

    But this comment is just an excuse to ask Gus: where's our 1x07 review?!?!?! ;)

  17. Fear not, Anonymous, I'll finish the review up as soon as I'm through grading this heap of tests on my left. It'll be up by tomorrow.

  18. I was a bit annoyed by all the LOST references in OUaT, because I just can't see how the two stories can happen in the same universe. I also think OUaT should cut the umbilical cord soon, or else they'll live forever in LOST's shadow.

    I couldn't agree with you more. Enough already with the references. One or two would have been fine. It's beginning to seem forced and self-reverential. As I commented on in the last review, move on. Especially, and I agree with Jess here, these first episodes have been nowhere near as good as the first of Lost.

    But, I am enjoying the show. Am I fanatical about it? No, but I come away from each show with a smile. I am willing to let it play out for a while.


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