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Once Upon a Time: Red-Handed

“What kind of monster is this?”

Visually impressive, but ultimately useless, ‘Red-Handed’'s message of finding your true purpose ended up making no real sense at all, though the strangely appealing mystery captivated me a lot more than any of Ruby’s personal struggles. It boasted a significant change in tone after our trip to Happyville last week, but as a chapter of a bigger story, it’s a little disposable.

Episodes like last week’s ‘Dreamy’ gave their central characters some eventual growth or transformation, but ‘Red Handed’ didn’t really get Ruby anywhere at all, other than a slightly less sultry look and a realization that her dead end job isn’t quite as constricting as she thought. If she had eventually made the choice to face her fears and join Emma as a permanent Deputy, it would have made a hell of a lot more sense than this decision. As it stands, I’m genuinely baffled as to what this episode set out to achieve. Is facing your fears bad now? Should we all just head home and stick close to our mothers? Ugh.

The fairytale story was infinitely more enticing. Starting out as a creepy old fashioned murder-trial and culminating in a dense family mystery, the hunt for the wolf was one of the alternate-world’s greatest adventures, and the visuals and character insight made it even more captivating. Ruby’s eventual decision didn’t really make a lot of sense when partnered with this story, which was one of the darker interpretations the writers have tried so far, but taken out of the context of the Storybrooke events, it's easily one of my favourite plots. One can only hope that Red’s struggle with her dark secret will show some bit of fruition in stories to come, a la Belle last week.

It’s great seeing all of these flashbacks starting to form a greater picture, making Snow’s friendship with Red a lot more believable than simply throwing two characters together for the hell of it. Snow is obviously the glue holding all these stories together, since it’s her presence that makes all of these characters part of a bigger world, bringing individuals like Prince Charming and Red Riding Hood together in the one story. It sounds a little contrived on paper, but there’s a strange believability to them all finding each other like this on screen.

As weird as this week’s ending was, it’s definitely got me guessing as to where they could possibly take the story next. Emma hardly believes that Mary Margaret is capable of something as despicable as cutting out someone’s heart, but with Regina’s sudden desperation to progress Emma’s investigation significantly you’d know there’s something else behind this. Is it even Kathryn’s heart? Did Regina use magic to implicate Mary Margaret and David?

‘Red-Handed’ had some significant developments story wise, but since this is a character based show I’m not sure Ruby’s growth really got anywhere. Superficially, I’m happy with most of what this episode gave us but I just wish it all tied together a little better.


All of the visuals with the white snow contrasting with the red cloak, and blood were beautiful and striking. The hunting party massacre in particular caught my eye. It was like a collision of innocence and evil. I think it was the first time all of the special effects were perfect.

...Except for the wolf. True Blood could do it believably, Once Upon a Time has no excuse.

Granny was a lot more brazen and forthright than I thought. I kind of speculated about her true intentions once or twice.

This wasn’t the first time that an ogre war has been mentioned. Will we get to see one at some point?

I actually called Red being the wolf pretty early on in the episode. I’m guessing it was a not too subtle dig at letting your inner monster out once in a while. It was strange that it would hint at it as a bad thing though; we all need to let loose sometimes.

I read recently, and minor spoilers here, that the story will really pick up next week, and continue to do so until May. I hope it’s not all Mary and David orientated, though.

I’m not the greatest expert on these matters, but Meghan Ory – Hot or HOT?!

He Said, She Said

Red: “Are you stealing our eggs?”
Snow: “No... Not a lot...”

Red: “Everyone calls me Red.”
Snow: “I’m Sn-Frosty.”
Red: “Frost... really?”
Snow: “No, it’s just that someone’s looking for me, so..."

Red:”I just need something to call you.”
Snow: “Margaret... no, no, Mary.”

Emma: “Buses out of town don’t really happen. You might want a destination first.”

Granny: “Have you ever seen a wild animal just turn its back and walk away like you don’t matter?”

Snow: “So, your Granny’s kind of intense...”
Red: “Yeah... a bit.”

Snow: “...I saw some looks exchanged back there and I hate to break it to you but it wasn’t subtle!”
I really loved this scene. Seeing these famous characters just hang out and chat about boys was strangely endearing. It makes them a lot more relatable and real, which is essential for a story telling platform like network television.

Red: “Mary, this is so bad.”
Snow: “So DO something!”

Ruby: “I said that you wanted me to turn into you, but what I meant was I don’t know how to be you.”

Mary Margaret: “David, it’s going to be okay."
David: “Really, how do you know that because I honestly can’t say anything about my actions anymore.”
Mary Margaret: “Well, there has to be an explanation.”
David: “You’re right, but the problem is I don’t think it’s a good one.”

2 and a half out of 4 red cloaks.

Previously posted at PandaTV.


  1. I liked the Storybrook storyline better than you did, Panda. I agree it was kind of pointless, but I feel it's all set up for later.

    To answer your question, Megan Ory is beyond hot. She has a weird face, a huge mouth and seemingly too many teeth, but somehow it works.

    Great review, Panda

  2. Gus: yes, what big teeth she has, and what big eyes...

    I liked the twist here, even though, like you Panda, I saw it coming. Maybe Ruby returning to the diner is her way of choosing her humanity over her wolfish nature? That's a stretch, isn't it?

    Completely random quibble: Emma's lie detector only works sometimes. Grrr!

  3. Josie, I have a theory about Emma's lie detector not working on Sydney. All the people it's worked on (Gretl, Regina, Henry, David) were human. I don't recall if she used it on Mr. Gold or Archie but they at least started out as human. Sidney startyed out as a genie, a supernatural creature. I think that might throw Emma's mojo off.

  4. It seems to me that Emma's lie detector must be crucial and building towards something important/revelatory. They keep mentioning it (banging us over the head with it to be blunt), but it's so obviously not consistent. I hope this isn't just bad writing and actually means something. Like Gus Fring is really on Emma's side? Or it only works on a certain type of fairytale character? No idea. It's just been brought up so many times that it must mean something. That or they think we are stupid. I hope the former.

  5. I'll trust the writers on the Storybrooke story being important for later. Ruby is smoking hot.
    The Fairyland story was better than the recent movie on the theme..I trust Red learned how to control her wolf.
    I doubt the heart was Kathryn's. I refuse to believe she's dead. So much happended in this episode..Can't wait for the next.

  6. I don't doubt that it might serve a greater purpose, I just feel like Ruby's story was a little disjointed.

    I'm with everyone on the lie detector thing. Emma should be seeing through the cracks by now.

  7. I thought half the point of Ruby's Storybrooke story was finding her way back to a loving relationship with her Granny, instead of always sniping at each other.

  8. You know, I don't mind so much about an episode advancing a larger story if the episode is engaging for an hour. People always used to complain about Lost episodes if they didn't learn anything new about the island or advance the story in any way --- and I frequently see people complain about the slower pace of Breaking Bad --- but as long as an episode gives me a solidly entertaining hour, then I usually don't mind the lack of progress on other fronts.

    For this show, Storybrooke is pretty consistently the weaker side of the equation. So as long as they don't contain something driving me absolutely bat guano crazy (or too much Regina), then developments on that half of the show don't usually affect my overall impression of an episode. This week --- as per usual --- the Storybrooke tale wasn't as strong as the fairytale events, but I rather thought Ruby learning she could face her fears (of responsibility), and beginning to believe in herself and find peace with her life in Storybrooke, was a reasonably solid tale. Or maybe she is just continuing to hide from her true nature. Hmmm ...

    I picked up on the possibility of Red being the wolf pretty early. But I also considered Granny a very strong possibility --- since she was bitten, and since in the original tale, the Wolf dressed up in Granny's clothing --- so I was never quite sure which way it was going to go. I was rather delighted when it turned out they were both werewolves!

    Meghan Ory is definitely a looker. But far more attractive with the lighter eye make-up. I loved Granny calling her out for looking so cheap! And Ruby's Norman Bates retort was pretty funny.

  9. Is it possible that the fact that Ruby turned out to be the wolf has to do with the fact that August added pages to Henry's book? It was the only "bigger picture" reason I could see for drastically changing the Little Red Hiding Hood story

  10. Thank-you for the great review. I was also feeling a bit confused but I so have some limited capacity to just sit with loose ends and hope that they are eventually knit together. It actually took me a while to figure out that red was the wolf. I thought it was granny. Thanks for the comments as well. I thought that August was only copying the book. I didn't realize that he added bits. I haven't had a chance to read all the reviews so I'm missing bits I think. I have actually found this show to be a lot more engaging than I expected and this mostly has to do with the fairy tales.

  11. Gorgeous episode. I was wondering if they just auditioned a bunch of gorgeous actresses with big teeth and chose the one who looked incredibly hot in red?

    ....Except for the wolf. True Blood could do it believably, Once Upon a Time has no excuse. LOL, Panda.

    I did like this one, although your points are all valid, Panda. Ruby/Red didn't do a lot of changing or growing. I was sort of hoping she'd stay working for Emma.

  12. Now that summer's here I'm finally getting to Once Upon A Time, and I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. It was the first time they gave Meghan Ory some real material to work with, and I thought she did great. It's kind of a shame Ruby went back to work at the diner, I think she would've made a great receptionist for Emma. Even though she's gone back to work at the diner, I hope she & Emma hang out more often. Emma seemed to bring something out of Ruby, it was good to see.

    And yes, since I'm a guy I have to answer the Meghan Ory question. HOT HOT, omg HOT! It's funny though. She's certainly "sexier" as Ruby, but I think she looks absolutely breathtaking as Red in that period costume. The only problem is she completely outshines Snow White, who's supposed to be the "fairest in the land" :)

  13. What a great twist on the Red Riding Hood tale. I didn't see it coming at all (you are all much more astute than I!) and had to watch the reveal again to be sure I had seen it correctly.

    But, I agree with you, Panda, that the Storybrooke side of this week's story was weak. I was hoping that Ruby would stay with Emma as well, but I am wondering if the reveal in the fairy tale world will eventually manifest itself in Storybrooke. It wouldn't completely surprise me if Ruby had something to do with Kathryn's death, if she is indeed dead.

    I laughed at Patrick's comment, "The only problem is she completely outshines Snow White, who's supposed to be the "fairest in the land" :)" I spent most of the episode thinking exactly the same thing!

  14. I didn't see it coming, either, ChrisB. I also think Ruby did change in the story. She didn't have the confidence to take on more responsibility in the beginning, but by the end she knows she is capable. I love the line about having a good day as a sheriff is finding a heart. Yeah, I wouldn't want that job.

  15. OK, I couldn't help think of Sergeii Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."


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