"Once Upon a Time" returns its attention to Storybrooke's oft-thwarted star-crossed lovers, David and Mary Margaret. We also learn how Snow White became friends with a certain group of famous dwarves.
In two universes, Snow White is pining away for Prince Charming. Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) is politely stalking David (Josh Dallas), while Snow White is hiding from the arrival of Prince James' marriage to Midas' daughter, Abigail (Anastasia Griffith).
Desperate to forget her unavailable prince, Snow White seeks out the help of Rumpelstiltskin. He makes a deal for a magic potion in exchange for a lock of her hair. The downside is that the potion will cause her to forget James entirely.
Before she can use the potion, James himself reaches out to Snow, asking her to secretly come to the palace. She gets caught, though, and ends up in the dungeon with a dwarf named Grumpy (Lee Arenberg). Grumpy has his own tale of love gone wrong.
When his fellow dwarf, Stealthy, frees Grumpy, he frees Snow in turn. Tragically, Stealthy is killed during the escape, while Snow saves Grumpy from the same fate. But she is captured by James' father.
James' father demands that Snow convince James that she doesn't love him. Otherwise, he'll kill James. To save his life, Snow does what she has to.
Snow White receives consolation and friendship from the seven remaining dwarves, and Grumpy prevents her from using the potion to forget her love for James.
However, by the time James has decided not to marry the princess and comes looking for Snow White, she's decided to drink the potion and has forgotten him.
Meanwhile, Mary Margaret becomes obsessed with helping a lost dove find its flock again, risking an oncoming storm. When she falls down an embankment, David rescues her from certain death.
They take refuge from the storm in an abandoned cabin, where Mary Margaret admits her feelings for David. And as it turns out, he has also been looking for opportunities to see her as well.
Once again, although Mary Margaret and David both share feelings for one another, his decision to stay with his wife gets in the way. They attempt to avoid each other, but fate keeps bringing them together.
Finally, Storybrooke's mysterious new stranger (Eion Bailey) raises all kinds of alarm bells for both Emma and Regina, who try to find out who he is and what's in the secret box he's carrying. He flirts a little with Emma and finally reveals that the mystery package is simply a typewriter. He says he's a writer who finds "inspiration" in Storybrooke.
Stealthy, the unknown eighth dwarf, was a brilliant twist on perhaps the best-known fairy tale.
It's good to see Grumpy getting out of the shadows as well. The town's new stranger is still being kept nicely on the sidelines, hopefully leaving room for interesting build-up about him.
It was nice that in both universes, friendship provided some solace for broken hearts.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
Mary Margaret's fixation on the lost, lonely bird was a heavy-handed analogy. And the on-again, off-again tug of war between her and David and Kathryn could grow tiresome if it's not handled well. Already, they risk treading the same ground too often.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"7:15 a.m." was written by Daniel T. Thomsen from a teleplay by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz. It was directed by Ralph Hemecker.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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