It's Tuesday and we only have a few short, sweet weeks left to discuss Once Upon a Time. The Stranger - here we go:
First of all, this was a surprisingly emotional episode for me. Well, not at first. That CGI Pinocchio on the raft in the storm? I was embarrassed for myself, for all of us, for being so wildly engaged with this show. I mean, the Blue Fairy and Jiminy ... they are bad enough. But the talking puppet boy. Oof. I don't know.
But once I recovered from my momentary humiliation, I found this episode to be quite touching. I think I was so resistant to the August as Pinocchio reveal because I find the Pinocchio story so off-putting. It is soooooooo didactic in its presentation of morality. Not a bit of nuance to the lesson it teaches, right?
BUT. I do have to say that one thing this show does wonderfully is opens up these stories to a fuller incarnation of their origins. In exploring the backstory and the what happened in the happily-ever-after, it allows the viewer to feel a greater connection to the characters. Or that's how it plays out for me, anyway.
And I did appreciate that about The Stranger. The focus was more on Gepetto and the depths of a father's love than on the stupid wooden boy who falls into temptation against all hope of common sense time and time again. Nicely told. Nicely handled, Show.
So, we have some questions answered like who August is (Pinocchio, in case you missed it), and why he is turning back to wood (just couldn't honor the promise to be brave, truthful, and unselfish). We also know how/why August escaped the curse.
But I still have some questions I'm pondering:
Did Regina truly believe she could seduce David? I wonder if anyone has ever turned her down before?
(I probably would have been more engaged in their exchange in the kitchen if I hadn't been so distracted by the color of David's lips. Did your screen show them as being SO PINK?? I was wondering what shade he was wearing ...)
Who did August call at the beginning of The Return?
Does The Blue Fairy/Mother Superior remember who she is?
Is Dr. Whale, then, supposed to be Monstro?
Do they really have "lobster house" diners on the side of the road in Maine? Because if so, I WANT TO GO THERE.
Like I said, I found myself getting quite emotional in this episode. Part of it was because there were some MAJOR call-backs to LOST in this one, right? August's need to convince Emma to take a leap of faith draws on the central tension between Jack Shepherd and John Locke (Man of Science, Man of Faith). The most heart-breaking aspect of the last season of LOST for me was the turn of the phrase "I wish that you had believed me" between John and Jack. My heart aches. And so to see this leap of faith and (wo)man of science/man of faith playing out between August and Emma was really powerful for me.
Also, visually, that shot where Pinocchio/August steps out of the magic wardrobe into our world and the (Oceanic?) plane flies overhead ... oh my gosh. Last scene of LOST, anyone? (Go to the 3:01 mark in this video for a reminder.) And also the way the camera pulls back from August on his back in the dirt, staring up at the sky - perfect call-back to both the opening and closing scenes of Jack.
So my big heart for LOST was beating a little faster in this episode.
Megan, may I venture to say… that’s why you love “Once Upon a Time” and stories like it! That’s why we all do! Because there’s truth there in the fantasy. There’s truth about a big, grand plan, and The Bad Guy, and The Good Guy. It’s not that the Gospel sounds like those stories when you tell it — it’s that those stories sound like the Gospel.
That was fresh on my heart and mind as I watched The Stranger. I've kind of known that for a long time, I guess, but rarely had anyone say it so succinctly. And so when the Blue Fairy is imploring Gepetto to let Snow go through the wardrobe with Emma, and she says
All we can do is have faith that the savior will restore all that we have lost.
I will admit. I cried a little bit. I have a lot of muzzy, fuzzy thoughts on the spirituality of Once Upon a Time, but I'm not ready to put anything to paper/screen yet. But it's there. Absolutely.
Other themes abound (a father's love for his child juxtaposed against Daddy Issues, for one thing), but I think I'll stop there for this week.
So. What did you think of The Stranger? Any speculation on how Season One will end?