“Once Upon a Time” treads a difficult line this week as it intersperses multiple storylines in both the fairytale and real worlds. The result is mixed.
In the fairytale world, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) are looking for a portal back to the real world. Snow hopes to use the magic cupboard in which Emma escaped the curse, so they travel to her castle with Mulan (Jamie Chung) and a slightly-unlikeable Aurora (Sarah Bolger).
Along the way, they battle ogres (well, one ogre), Aurora’s desire for revenge, the evil Cora and their own inner demons. But the cupboard is destroyed and the two are left looking for another solution.
In the Enchanted Forest’s past, Prince Charming’s (Josh Dallas) mother, Ruth (Gabrielle Rose), is mortally wounded just as she meets her future daughter-in-law. When Snow is poisoned by a vengeful King George — leaving her unable to have children — Ruth insists that Snow drink the last drops of a magical cure instead of prolonging her own life.
Snow and Charming get married just before his mother passes away, fulfilling her greatest desire.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Henry (Jared Gilmore) and David spend more time bonding as grandfather and grandson. Henry convinces Jefferson (Sebastian Stan) to reunite with his daughter, and James finally grasps how much Henry needs to be involved in finding his mother.
Next week … Capt. Hook!
Mulan continues to show the potential to be a great addition to the series, although she’s still underused. She deserves more focus, which will hopefully come soon. The same goes for Lancelot (Sinqua Walls), who came and left us much too soon.
Speaking of underutilized characters, please give Jefferson more to do. Sebastian Stan brings life and honesty to the Mad Hatter, no matter how small his part.
Snow and Emma’s emotional scene in the nursery was the most powerful part of the show, but Snow’s final tears upon closing the door to her child’s nursery forever (and all the baby steps she missed out on) were beautiful.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The ogre. The less seen of that, the better … at least until they can make the CGI less laughable.
Four or five storylines in one episode was possibly a bit much. As the story juggled a lot of characters with a lot of things to accomplish, some things got short shrift. Lancelot, for example. Or Aurora’s revenge plotline. Mama Charming’s death. Even the much-hyped ogres only got one scene.
For the third episode in a row, David and Henry’s storyline is still stuck circling the airport. They run around a lot, but make no actual progress in their purported goal to find Emma and Snow. At least the ladies followed a good lead on their end, even if it didn’t pan out.
Why does neither Emma nor Snow try putting out the fire? It might be the last way home in the entire Enchanted Forest, and no one can bother to look for a bucket? Sorry, but that’s just a sloppy plot device.
Actually, come to think of it, Emma’s behavior doesn’t do her any favors through much of the episode, between immediately buying Cora’s lies and then bumbling through Ogreville.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Lady of the Lake” was written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. It was directed by Milan Cheylov.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.