"She's hanging out with dwarves now? When did that happen?" - Regina, the Queen
*Fair warning: there are Once Upon a Time spoilers and theories in the Once Upon a Time Recap below.*
I was really looking forward to this week's episode, which further explores Snow & James's backstory while also moving toward their inevitable happy future. Up until now, I have really liked the chemistry between Ginnifer Goodwin and Joshua Dallas – it was the high point of the episodes they led and made both actors look better than they really are. However, I think that maybe their illicit romance has been a subplot too long because this week's episode wasn't really up to par.
7:15 A.M. opens in Storybrooke, with the "dangerous" motorcycle-riding stranger fixes his ride. Henry approaches and questions him, always a danger of living in a small town, which alarms Regina. She orders Emma to investigate the stranger on the grounds that he has taken undue interest in Henry, but really I think she just wants to know what's going on. And what's in his mysterious box? A typewriter! Surprise, he's a throwback kind of writer having his own Kerouac-esque adventures across Maine. My guess is that he's the one who chronicled the stories in the first place.
I hope other viewers did not think, as I did, that this stranger would cause Mary Margaret to stray from David. Based on the previews, I was all set to see him romance her and make her forget David. He seems more interested in Emma, but not enough to make a move this episode beyond buying her a drink. To borrow/paraphrase a joke from one of my favorite comedians, that's third base in Christian baseball. [Editor's Note: It's also a fifty game suspension in Mormon Basketball]
So what exactly is going on with Mary Margaret? Well, she's in a rush to get out of the house in the opening. She heads to the diner, where she nonchalantly reads a book until David comes in to buy coffee. Emma catches her at it and calls her on her stalkerish behavior. I remember thinking when I saw He's Just Not That Into You (a horrible movie, I was dragged to it) that Goodwin can walk this line between adorably earnest and manic panic. The blurred line between these two modes is apparent in this episode and lessened my enjoyment of it.
Meanwhile in the fairy tale world, Snow is hunting when Red Riding Hood brings her food. (How does she manage to look slutty fully clothed?) They discuss James's impending wedding and how Snow isn't really over him. She wants to get over him, so Red suggests she go to Rumplestiltskin. In one of his more ghoulish performances, R-stilts gives Snow a potion that will make her completely forget James in exchange for a strand of her hair. A friend of mine suggested that he's starting his own clone army, but I'm sure it's something much more nefarious.
James is still distracted by Snow, however. The King advises him to forget her because the wedding must happen (there is an implied "or else") but because we know he marries Snow White in the end there has to be something to stop the wedding, right? James sends Snow a letter via carrier pigeon, telling her that if she loves him she must to come him at the castle before his marriage takes place. Snow receives the letter (because pigeons are magic I guess?) and of course she decides to go to him.
Mary Margaret bumps into Katherine (David's wife, the doppelganger of horrible Princess Abigail) at the grocery store, upsetting her basket and causing her to drop a generic pregnancy test. She goes walking in the woods to clear her head, where she finds a pretty dove that has been separated from her flock. She takes the dove to the animal shelter where David works, conveniently enough, and the doctor advises her to return the dove to her flock as soon as possible; otherwise she'll be all alone. Forever. I don't think you're laying it on thick enough, Once Upon a Time. This sort of subtle metaphor will not fly with the general viewing public (pun definitely intended).
Against David's advice, Mary Margaret takes the dove out into the woods while a storm brews overhead. I'm sure our Northeastern readers can attest to the power of such storms, so it's even crazier that she would attempt this. Clearly she is swept away by love, or a budding interest in ornithology. As she follows the coos of the flock, the ground gives way and she dangles above a steep drop. David has followed her into the woods and rescues her, but she has a hard time thanking him. They seek shelter in a cabin nearby.
David tries to be sweet to Mary Margaret, but she brushes off his attempts. Instead of playing it cool, she confesses all her recent feelings for him and her stalkerish behavior. Sweet moment alert: he only goes to Granny's at the same time every day to see her. They almost kiss, but she can't go through with it. She mentions that Katherine might be pregnant, and David is pretty surprised. But... not completely surprised. As in, yes they have been having sex with Katherine even while he claims to be in love with Margaret.
Snow sneaks into the castle, but gets caught by a castle guard. She meets Grumpy (as in that Grumpy) in the dungeon and they bond over love lost and people who take advantage of it. Stealthy (Ha! Stealthy! Hilarious.) comes to break them free, and after some subtle guilt-tripping they take Snow along too. Their paths diverge, and the dwarves are caught by the guards. They kill Stealthy (No! Alas poor Stealthy, we did not know you well enough.) and Snow saves Grumpy by threatening to burn down the castle.
The King takes Snow upstairs and tells her to break James's heart (by saying she doesn't love him) or he will kill James. In what should have been a heartbreaking scene (okay, I had one tear), Snow does just that and leaves the castle physically unscathed. The dwarves greet her outside as they mourn the loss of Stealthy, the mysterious and badass eighth dwarf whose identity kept me up at night for all those years. Grumpy stops Snow from drinking R-stilts's forgetting potion, telling her that erasing her pain would make her less herself.
When the storm lets up, Mary Margaret takes her dove and goes in search of the flock. She finds it and releases the dove back to her mate. The lovebirds fly around the top of a tree, which was probably the sweetest moment of the whole episode, and Mary Margaret and David talk a little more. He tries to explain that he has memories of loving Katherine (false memories from the curse) as well as his "real" feelings for Mary Margaret, but I'm with Mary Margaret on this one. No one gets two women in America, especially if one of the ladies might possibly be pregnant. She tells him that they need to forget each other because their relationship is never going to happen.
At home, David starts to ask Katherine about the pregnancy test but she interrupts him. She wants to go to couples therapy to really try to make their relationship work. Oh and also she's not pregnant. Out of guilt, he agrees to it. Instead of going to get coffee (and see Mary Margaret), they have breakfast downstairs. At their apartment, Mary Margaret watches the clock pass 7:15 and Emma offers her silent support.
Man, this episode has been a downer. How will we get our weekly dose of happy ending? Well, it's a strange ending, that's for sure. James's wedding to Abigail is called off for some reason (Who knows what it might be? We'll just have to wait and see.) and he goes in search of Snow. She's still hanging with the dwarves, but when Grumpy brings her the news she has already drunk the forgetting potion. Was that all of two days? You couldn't handle two day's-worth of pain? Way to be a feminist icon, Snow White.
So there's no happy ending in the fairy tale, but how about in Storybrooke? When David stops at Granny's to get a coffee a half hour later than normal he bumps into Mary Margaret, who was doing the same thing. James runs away from her and she gives chase. Witty banter is exchanged, and he tells her that Katherine isn't pregnant. So that means it's okay for them to kiss? I'm getting very mixed messages from this show. Oh, and Regina is watching from a car nearby, so that's good. [Editor's Note: This is why you don't kiss a married man in public. Their wife's friend who also happens to be an evil secret witch might see.]
Written or Contributed by: Tricia Long