Stories from the fairy tales we all know so well continue being re-defined on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, and this week the show is tackling the tale of Jiminy Cricket. Subsequently, in Once‘s Storybrook realm, we will also find ourselves getting to know the enigmatic Archie (Raphael Sbarge) better after he embarks on an adventure into a mysterious sinkhole with his patient young Henry.
“Henry figures out that this is a place that he needs to go explore, and it’s a link to the other world somehow,” explains Sbarge. “I get involved in that with him as his therapist. Archie is — for Henry, who has no dad — sort of a surrogate father figure. So, he’s there to help him transition and deal with being adopted and now having two moms in his life. So we sort of go on these parallel journeys.”
In fairy tale world, meanwhile, viewers will learn the story of Jiminy Cricket, which will, like all the fairy tale interpretations on the show, have a twist. “The writers use [Storybrook] as a springboard into the story of how Jiminy Cricket came to be, which is so delightful because it gives us such imaginative ways of re-examining who these people are,” the actor says. “You’ll have to see how it affects you, but it knocked me out. Frankly, it made me weep because what they came up with is so lovely and magical and delightful.”
Sbarge says what he admires most about Once is its artful call-back to great literary characters. “Joseph Campbell has written – at great length – about the power of myth and the power of storytelling and how great, epic stories, going back to the Illiad, essentially have a way of crystallizing a hero’s journey,” he says. “There’s something about what our writers wrote, which is essentially that. Archie didn’t become a conscience by, essentially, being right out of the box a good guy. He was tested and is tested terrible on what doing the right thing means. That’s what’s so interesting about it.”
Also interesting is the effect Once has had on audiences. The show is easily the most successful freshman drama of the season, and while the numbers and metrics are there to support it, the in-person result is what really fascinates Sbarge. “It has this 8 to 80 demo, which I find intriguing,” he says. “We all enjoy the CSIs and Grey’s Anatomys and Law & Orders that have populated the dial, but they’ve really done something frighteningly ambitious. It’s not for the weak of heart.”
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Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8p.m. ET