After two and a half years, 54 episodes, and countless reminders that magic always comes with a price, I think it’s time for Once to officially make a royal decree: No more fairybacks.
Think that’s too harsh? Perhaps instead, the show could simply try cutting way back on glimpses into the pasts of Snow White, Prince Charming, Regina, and Rumpelstiltskin – unless those glimpses convey crucial new information that’s actually relevant to the show’s main narrative arc. (Lil’ Rumpel’s trip to Never Land with his dad would count; Regina’s brief encounter with Tinker Bell wouldn’t.)
At this point, we’ve already seen nearly every important beat from each of those four’s pre-Storybrooke lives. Additional flashbacks just seem to keep reiterating things we’ve been told over and over again (hey, did you know Regina and Snow are enemies?!). And at this point, those gratuitous subplots are starting to feel less like mirrors of the show’s present-day action and more like filler. Once’s network ancestor Lost made a game-changing, groundbreaking shift from flashbacks to flash-forwards at the end of its own third season; the fairy tale crew would do well to follow in its forefather’s footsteps by shaking up its formula sooner rather than later.
What brought on this mini-rant against fairybacks? That’d be tonight’s entry, a detour unnecessary enough to have me wondering if one segment might feature Bai Ling giving Charming a set of bitchin’ tattoos. The plot, as it were: After Snow and Charming’s wedding, the prince is eager for some dwarf-free, non-G-rated alone time with his new bride. But Snow just can’t let her hair down – or, unfortunately, take her wig off – because she’s too worried about Regina’s wedding-day threat (presented once more in a helpful replay of a scene from Once’s pilot: “I shall destroy your happiness if it is the last thing I do”).
Snow’s solution? Take a trip to her family’s old summer palace, conveniently located near the cave where, according to legend, the snaky computer-generated gorgon Medusa lives. (Don’t complain at this late date about Once mashing together Greek mythology and Grimm’s fairy tales; remember King Midas?) There, Snow plans to cut off the cursed lady’s head and use it as a weapon against Regina. Spoiler alert #1: Medusa’s cave is actually a fairly expansive underground house with a well-marked, man-made entrance. Spoiler alert #2: The Charmings nearly fall prey to the Gorgon – Charming, of course, gets himself turned into a statue for a few minutes – until Snow remembers her Ovid and presents Medusa with a shiny shield, promptly causing the monster to turn herself into stone and reversing David’s petrified fate.
NEXT: Anything can happen in the woods!