(Last edit 12/17/11 — added more screencaps)
In this powerful episode, a character dies just as we were getting to know him. And if we ever had any doubts about whether Regina knew everything, those doubts were laid to rest.
Kisses have a lot of power. A kiss brought Snow White back to life in the Pilot. A kiss, in this episode, tears a rupture in the wall between the fairytale and modern worlds and brings Graham’s fairytale memories back.
In the fairytale world, Snow White’s father has died. The Evil Queen, revealed as Snow White’s stepmother, consoles the distraught young woman. Just as we start to think the Evil Queen might have some good qualities, she’s shown to be even worse than we had seen her before: she’s the one who had killed her husband/Snow’s father, and Snow is next on her list. And this is just a drop in her bloody bucket — she’s a mass murderer with a crypt full of hearts to show for it.
Wearing an Amy Winehouse beehive and a sexy red dress, she convinces the huntsman (Graham) to kill Snow White.
When the huntsman doesn’t go through with it and tries to trick the Queen, she adds his heart to her collection – a collection that still exists in Storybrooke in a room underneath her father’s coffin. After Graham ditches her, she takes out his heart and crushes it in her hand. He’s with Emma, their faces moving closer for another kiss – but he dies before their lips can touch again.
In the last few episodes, it seemed like Rumpelstiltskin was pulling all the strings. This episode, though, is about the Evil Queen’s power, which for the first time seems as if it might rival that of Rump.
Rump does not appear at all in the fairytale scenes. Gold is in a single brief Storybrooke scene, emerging mysteriously from the woods, holding a shovel, when Graham is entering the woods to look for the black-eyed/red-eyed wolf. Gold says he is gardening, but who gardens in the woods? – and knowing Rump and seeing the shovel, you have to wonder who or what he might have been burying.
Once again, Gold seems to be encouraging Storybrooke residents to remember the past, telling Graham that dreams could be memories of another life.
This Week’s Themes: Hearts and Walls
Graham cannot feel and is desperate to feel something. Like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Graham has lost his (physical) heart and makes the mistake of thinking that unless he gets it back, he will be unable to love. But both the Tin Man and Graham had the capacity to love all along – they just didn’t know it.
The Evil Queen collects the hearts of her victims – so many, that she stores them in a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling set of drawers that looks like the card catalog in a demented library from Hell.
In the Grimms’ version of Snow White, the Queen tells the huntsman to bring her Snow White’s lungs and liver. I was just about to say that the OUAT writers made a brilliant choice in changing lungs and liver to a heart, but I looked it up and saw that it had already been a heart in the Disney version (editing to add: and also in some versions of the Grimms’ tale). In any case, it’s appropriate that this Queen, who cannot love, rips out the hearts of others.
Emma’s kiss tears a hole in the wall between the modern and fairytale worlds, allowing first Graham’s memories and then his wolf friend to cross over.
Graham’s love allows Emma to take down the wall protecting her heart and to be vulnerable for the first time.
Unsolved mystery: What did Snow White do to the Evil Queen?
The Evil Queen tells the man in the mirror that other people “don’t know the wretchedness inside” Snow White. “They don’t know what she did to me.” We don’t know either. Snow White does, though. She had already admitted to Prince Charming, in an earlier episode, that the EQ’s sense of betrayal was justified. In this episode, she writes in her letter to the EQ, “I understand you will never have love in your life because of me.” We get a hair closer to knowing what’s going on when the Queen says, “I shared a secret with her, and she couldn’t keep it. That betrayal cost me dearly.” We still don’t know what the secret is, though. I suspect the show will keep us in suspense for a while.
Both Gold and Graham mention “another life.” In their Scottish and Irish accents, respectively, they sound a whole lot like Desmond in LOST when he says his famous line, “See you in another life (brotha).”
(Edited to add 12/16): It’s hard to say if this one is a real shout-out or just a coincidence, but Spoiler TV pointed out that the Evil Queen’s wall of boxes (where she kept her hearts) contained 108 boxes (9 columns and 12 rows).
I love the look of the Evil Queen’s palace. The metalwork in the palace was similar to the metalwork in Snow White’s coffin – and there was another echo in the scroll design in the panel beside Regina’s front door.
Once Upon a Time has been following the traditional Grimms’ version (and the 1937 Disney version) of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairly closely. The biggest difference, so far, is the Queen’s motivation. Rather than her traditional jealousy of Snow White’s beauty (“Mirror, mirror, on the wall / Who’s the fairest of them all?”), the OUAT Queen rages about Snow White spilling a secret.
Raised by wolves
The raised-by-wolves story popped up in the ancient Roman legend of Romulus and Remus, in Kipling’s 1894 Jungle Book (1894), and in the 1967 Disney film of the same name. The raised-by-apes Tarzan is one of many variations.
While there have been intriguing reports of real children who were raised by wolves and other animals, the reports are generally believed to be hoaxes or urban (forest?) legends. In the few cases of actual feral children, the reality is not as glamorous as the stories. Instead of driving around town like Sheriff Graham, feral children may be unable to use language or even to stand upright.