True story, not a bad episode.
Good news, everyone! Once Upon a Time back from hiatus and before we get to the review, I have a revelation to... reveal. In tonight's episode we learn Charming's real name: David. As in the name he also has in Storybrooke. I always thought it was James, but that's the name of his evil twin. A hilarious conversation between Grumpy and David cleared the whole thing up – David's name has always been David. Sorry everyone, I am not infallible.
In this week's episode, “Tiny”, the writers reveal the marvelously sad history of Anton, aka Tiny the Giant, aka Hurley from Lost. I'm not going to lie to you, folks, Jorge Garcia is a hell of an actor. I'm not sure what it is about this show that makes the one-off characters seem far and away more talented than the regular cast, but Garcia benefits from the contrast. Maybe suspending disbelief for that long takes a toll on the actors? Like, Snow and David used to have this awesome chemistry that I just don't see anymore, especially since every single freaking episode is about their families and histories.
Anyway, on with the A plot. Tiny is a bit of a dreamer: he's curious about humans and in general life outside of bean farming. He doesn't see the point in raising magic beans if they aren't going to use them, but his brother says that the point of work is the work. I didn't know giants were so principled. In a fit of youthful (?) rebellion, Tiny descends the beanstalk and finds his way to a pub. His size prohibits entry, but his night is brightened by a hot woman bearing mushrooms (aren't all nights bettered so?). The woman is sleeping with James, David's aforementioned evil twin, and is named Jacqueline. Jack for short. AS IN JACK THE GIANT KILLER. Ow, my head hurts from where they hit me over it. Jack is sleeping with James, and they have orders from St. Cockblock (King George) to grab the giants' gold and beans to cover the kingdom's mounting debt. I'm trying to think of an apt comparison with the modern US... are the giants the equivalent of China? No, they're a nation of pacifists.
Political allusions aside, Tiny eats the mushroom and shrinks to normal size. Jack and James take Tiny into the pub and proceed to get all the information out of them they can. A sympathetic ear can be the best interrogation tool there is. They give him the acceptance he craves, and out of it they get gold to save the kingdom from crippling debt. Tiny ascends the beanstalk, unwittingly leading Jack and James right to his family. They kill the giants with poison swords and James escapes with enough gold to save the kingdom. Jack is not so lucky. Before Tiny's kind and vaguely familiar older brother dies, he makes Tiny promise to continue harvesting the beans their people have guarded for so long.
And so Tiny is left to brood over the memories of his dead brothers, guarding the secret of the one remaining magic bean in the world, until Emma and Hook arrive one day to obtain a magic compass. Emma is kind to Tiny, and he lets her return to Storybrooke. He arrives not long after, a prisoner on Cora and Hook's love boat. When the latter leads Snow, David and Grumpy to the ship they release him. He immediately punches David in the face (I'll admit, that's my gut reaction too) thinking he is the long-lost slayer of the giants and flees the scene.
Not long after, Regina and Hook plot to use the escape of Tiny the Giant to their advantage, mercifully without the overuse of sexual innuendo. Tiny is having his own difficulties navigating the modern world, so Regina reaches out to him to make an alliance. She offers him a second drug to make him big again. HOLY SHIT REGINA THERE ARE SUCH THINGS AS SATELLITES. THEY WILL SEE A GIANT FUCKING GIANT. Oh good, the mushroom won't last forever, just long enough for a good old fashioned rampage.
David and Snow try to stop him, but Tiny has become more cunning since his last encounter with James. He doesn't trust that Emma would say they're okay, especially since she is “conveniently” out of town. He chases after them, and they trick him into stopping by offering David's life in exchange for the safety of all other citizens of Storybrooke. Tiny agrees and pounces, but that backfires. He shrinks and is also down a hole, because why not, there's not enough plot in this episode anyway. A group of extras band together to rescue the giant from his hole, where it is apparent that the infrastructure of Storybrooke is crumbling. Those water pipes were in terrible shape. Also, Tiny has some ridiculous upper body strength. David convinces the giant to cling to life instead of revenge, and they emerge from the hole together.
Remember how Tiny promised to grow the magic beans again at some point? Well, now that he's just another freak in Storybrooke, he can have his own farmland to raise the magic beans once more. The fairy tale characters have a way home – the giant episodes were not in vain! I really hope one of the writers had to research the soil consistency of northern Maine in order to provide Tiny's dialogue in this scene. Grumpy offers the help of the dwarves in farming, and when he says “work is work” you can see the light of hope kindle in Tiny's eyes. It's something his older brother would have said, and also Lee Arensen is delightful. They give Anton his own axe, which dubs him “Tiny” and I'm not gonna lie, everyone, this was pretty heart-warming. For once OUAT hits the right notes. Exit scene to “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho,” which I know the dwarves have been waiting to whistle forever. There was just one thing missing:
While all this heartwarming stuff is going on, Emma and Henry head down to NYC with R-stilts. R-stilts's scarf is effective in keeping his memories intact, but there's a scary moment when he's going through airport secuirty and has to take it off. Henry and Emma keep asking if anything is wrong, and to escape them, R-stilts goes to the bathroom to take out his rage on the toilet sheet dispenser. R-stilts realizes that while he's searching for Bael he will have to live without magic, again, which is the very thing that drove him to be the Dark One in the first place. Either that or leaving Storybrooke has made him a Squib for life.
Also, Belle is still very much an amnesiac. When Ruby pays her a visit Belle immediately starts asking questions about the magic that R-stilts used to heal her, getting hysterical enough that she needs to be sedated. And everyone's favorite outsider (Ethan Embry alert!) is in the background, soaking up the scene. He asks Red how Belle is, and she not so subtly tells him to get healed and out of town. Don't forget, he witnessed magic too and is just as curious as Belle, though a little smarter it turns out (which is depressing, because Belle was always the smart princess). He pays Belle a visit to corroborate her story and presumably set us up for next week. I'm just happy he's still on the show.
Based on next week's previews, I'm right! Henry is R-stilts' grandson! Fingers crossed that Emma FINALLY gets laid. She's wound tighter than the world's largest ball of twine.