Quick Cap — Epsode 9 “True North” recap, review, etc.

Episode 9 True North

Hansel, Gretel, and the Evil Queen in one of the best costumes yet!

I’m trying something different this week. I’m writing a “quick cap” right after watching the episode. I’ll also post a “slow cap” by the end of the week, after I’ve had a chance to rewatch the episode, think about it a bit, and get more screenshots. (Editing to add 1/17: On second thought, one recap is more than enough, but I may have some thoughts on various aspects of the episode that I will post later.)

Hansel and Gretel are homeless in both worlds, Emma lies to Henry about his father, and a mysterious stranger comes to town in this episode — which was probably the weakest episode yet.


The episode is about fatherless children — Hansel, Gretel, and Henry.

In Fairytale land, Hansel and Gretel lose their father because the Evil Queen whisks him away — just so she can enlist the children in her scheme to retrieve her magical apple from the gingerbread house of the blind, cannibalistic witch.

The children get in trouble when Hansel can’t resist a tempting cupcake (I know how that feels) but save themselves by pushing the witch into the oven. That is part of the Grimm version of the story, but felt a bit gory for OUAT.

The EQ showed she was into adoption even before she became Regina and adopted Henry. She tried to adopt H & G, but G wisely refused, even though H, with his weaker willpower, was tempted, at least for a moment.

In Storybrooke, H & G have also lost their father, but in this case, they never knew him, and he never knew they even existed.

Emma gets to do the thing she loves most — reuniting children with their biological parents — and in the end, with a nudge from Emma, the father decides to do the right thing and take his kids in, so they won’t be split up in foster homes in Boston.

Meanwhile, Emma lied to Henry about his father, saying Henry’s father was dead and a hero, when he was neither of those things. Emma also has a wistful moment wondering if she will ever meet her own parents, and Mary Margaret looks like she almost remembered her past when she holds Emma’s baby blanket up to her nose.

Before Emma took H & G out of town, Henry warned her that bad things would happen if they left. At the episode’s end a stranger rides in, on a motorcycle — at first, I thought it was going to be Graham, resurrected, and then I thought it was going to be Henry’s father, but it turned out to really be a stranger. From the stranger’s demeanor and unwillingness to give his name, it seems as if his arrival is the bad thing that Henry warned of.


“Families always find one another.”

Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold

I always look forward to Robert Carlyle’s appearances, but he didn’t have much to do in this episode. I was getting worried that he might not be in it at all, and Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t, but Mr. Gold did have a very brief scene. It was an important scene, though, because we learned that Rumpel/Mr. G was once again the conduit of objects between the two worlds, and it was through his shop that the Fairytale compass made its startling appearance in Storybrooke.


The episode felt like filler. Unless Hansel and Gretel turn out to be major characters, which I doubt, I’m not sure why we needed a full episode to learn their story. Maybe I’m just peeved because we didn’t see Rumpelstiltskin — I think he is the focal point of the whole show.

I didn’t really buy the story of H & G’s Storybrooke father instantly changing his mind, and I didn’t find the reunion particularly moving — perhaps because the father was as much a stranger to us, the viewers, as he was to his children.

I’m also getting tired of Emma’s crusade to keep biological families together at all costs. I understand she was scarred by her experiences in the foster system, but she seems to be ignoring all other possibilities. And by pretending to Henry that his father is dead, she’s not even following her own advice. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe this is all supposed to be ironic, showing how Emma gets really upset when other people do the things that she herself is doing in her own life, and that she finds it easier to give urgent advice to others, rather than look inside herself. I keep on thinking, though, that what Emma needs most, in order to move on, is to forgive her younger self for having given Henry away.

Differences from Grimm

In the Grimm version, the father did abandon his children (albeit reluctantly, and at the urging of his wife, the children’s stepmother — and as we know stepmothers are never up to any good in the old fairytales), because he could not afford to feed them. Deliberately leaving them alone in the woods was pretty horrific, the equivalent of attempted murder, because he expected they would be eaten by wild animals. By changing the story to have the EQ kidnap the father, rather than the father deliberately leaving the kids out in the forest to die, OUAT made the father more sympathetic. Someone who literally threw his children to the wolves wouldn’t be a good fit for what was meant to be a heart-warming story of family reunion.

The Queen’s powers

In Fairytale land, the Queen had some awesome magic powers this week — teleporting herself from the road to the woods to block the kids’ escape, commanding tree roots to do her bidding, and incinerating the blind witch at a distance, through her mirror.

I still don’t understand how someone with these kinds of powers is unable to rig an election or drive an enemy out of town — actions that mere mortals pull off all of the time.

Emma’s powers

I was very glad that Emma’s “superpower” — being able to tell when people are lying — was mentioned again. That idea had been set up in the pilot, and I thought was going to be a recurring refrain, but until this episode, it seemed to have been forgotten.

LOST Shout Outs

The Apollo candy bar and the Wolverine comic (written by J.J. Abrams) both make a reappearance in the episode’s first scene. The compass might also be a shout-out, as Locke’s compass played a significant role in LOST’s Season 5.


Who is the mysterious stranger, and how was he able to get into Storybrooke, when until now, Emma was the only outsider who ever got in?

Will Emma regret lying to Henry? (I suspect the answer is yes.)

6 responses to “Quick Cap — Epsode 9 “True North” recap, review, etc.

  1. Could the stranger be either the big bad wolf? Or the beast from beauty and the beast and maybe in the wooden box is the rose? I’m not sure , this one is a tricky one I think. It has for sure left me wondering/thinking :0)

  2. Could be either. I’m leaning more toward the big bad wolf, because he gave off a “bad” vibe.

    I was REALLY expecting him to be Henry’s father — it would have fit in so well with the episode — and I was even wondering if it was possible that Emma didn’t recognize him — but it seems really unlikely she would forget his face. Unless it turns out that they had met at a masquerade ball, and conceived Henry in total darkness, or something really far-fetched like that.

  3. I couldn’t disagree more with your initial impression that this is merely filler. This was my favorite episode of the year. For one, it is left up to great debate what Mr’ Gold’s memory is of the fairy tale world. We know Regina knows everything (?) but what does Mr. Gold know? And with only one scene we are left to ponder this. On another note, this is the second episode where there was a happier ending for the main characters in Storybrooke than in the fairy tale world. This has to be important for plot development. Has Emma’s presence already been positive? But how could it be if Snow White and Prince Charming are still apart? This episode blew me away. I can’t wait for next week.

  4. I think it’s been clear since the second episode that Mr. Gold remembered everything. Take a look at this clip, and notice how, at the end, he uses the word “Please.” It was part of Rumpelstiltskin’s deal with the Evil Queen, when he gave her the curse, that he would be in charge of the town — and that she would have to do whatever he wanted whenever he used the word “Please.” And he clearly remembers that: clip from episode 2

    Interesting point that the characters are having happier endings in Storybrooke than they did in Fairytale land. It certainly could be from Emma’s presence, which has started to lift the curse. No question that the curse is already starting to lift — we saw it right away, when time became unfrozen at the end of the first episode. The reason Snow White & Prince Charming are still apart could be because the lifting of the curse is apparently going very slowly — although we saw with Graham that memories can sometimes break through, at least for several moments at a time. David wouldn’t even be conscious — he would still be John Doe in a coma — if the curse wasn’t starting to lift.

    As for the merits of this episode, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  5. so I understand that rumple and the Queen made a deal before the curse. she also said that he wouldn’t remember anything so that’s why she made the deal with him. i do believe that he know something but not everything. almost like he doesn’t know himself. he did bring henry to Regina. if he does remember anything he remembers more about his old life before he was the “dark one”. i believe that the favor that he is going to ask of emma is to kill him with the dagger or have someone kill him with the dagger. so that he doesnt have to be the dark one anymore. but first he has to find the dagger. that is what he was looking for in the forest when the huntsman say him their. so anyway i wonder who Mr K is? also we saw sneezy in the beginning. if this episode. i love this show it keeps us guessing!!

  6. Well my recap is up and I’m not sure what you all will think about it. I have to agree with Ms. Terry, this episode was a little slow for me. I just didn’t get it at much as some of you. That being said, it was still a great piece of work and loved how both worlds stories coincided.

What do you think?