Well, he’s a Stranger no more. After weeks of lurking mysteriously around town in his motorcycle jacket, August Booth’s (Eion Bailey) story is finally told.
The episode’s fairytale flashback centers on Geppetto (Tony Amendola) and his formerly wooden son, Pinocchio (Jakob Davies). Geppetto fears that the coming of the Evil Queen’s curse will change Pinocchio back into wood (or worse!). In a world without magic, he wonders, what would happen to a wooden boy?
Geppetto, of course, is tasked with the job of carving the enchanted wardrobe to save Snow White’s baby. To save his own child, though, he uses half the available magic of the tree to send Pinocchio through first.
Pinocchio promises his father that he will take care of baby Emma, because his transit now bars Snow from going through with her child.
Sadly, though, Pinocchio is but a boy and doesn’t know how to take care of a baby. He leaves her and heads out into the world. And August, the now-adult Pinocchio, has never gotten over his failure to keep his promise to his beloved father.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, August desperately tries to make Emma believe in the fairytale reality by taking her to the enchanted tree. But she digs in her heels in and refuses to believe, feeling too burdened by the responsibility to be the Savior.
August reconnects with his unaware father instead, and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) decides to take Henry and run.
Eion Bailey is a nice addition to the cast. After a long buildup, August Booth doesn’t disappoint. His attempts to sway Emma and his hesitant reunion with his father were gorgeous. And who couldn’t feel for the boy who had no idea how to take care of an infant alone in a strange world? As well-meaning as Geppetto was, this was always a bad plan.
In a style reminiscent of ABC’s earlier fantasy epic, “Lost,” this episode also brought us back to the beginning of the season in a nicely circular manner, filling in some gaps to earlier stories.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Regina’s attempt to seduce David was just uncomfortable and out of the blue. Fortunately, it didn’t work, and the audience does not have to suffer that storyline.
August Booth looks nothing like young Pinocchio. The series has done very well with matching characters in both worlds and multiple timelines, so it’s odd that they completely blew this one.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“The Stranger” was written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. It was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.