**Warning: Spoilers Ahead**
We're back from hiatus folks! Hope you enjoyed the Oscars last week. I know I did...n't watch them at all, despite my love of all things French. Let's dive into this week's episode of Once Upon a Time, "Dreamy" and leave behind a world of awards and glamour for one of average-looking men who get beautiful women to fall in love with them.
Okay, they are pretty similar.
"Dreamy" opens with Nova (Amy Acker), a fairy godmother in training, being clumsy. She hopes to be a fairy godmother soon, but the rude blue fairy from "That Still, Small Voice" (Remember Archie? I miss Archie.) basically says that isn't going to happen for a long time. Instead, Nova is put on fairy dust duty. We are treated to an inside look at the industrial side of fairy tale life, and I found it rather dystopian. The dwarves work in the mines, hatch from eggs specifically to work in the mines, and because they hatch from eggs they are asexual and never need to fall in love. Also, they don't have mothers – they have magic axes to name them based on their most basic personality trait. So, if, um, you were wondering about all of that, I guess this episode should be your favorite.
One of these newly hatched dwarves is Dreamy (Lee Arenberg), which should force you all to do a double take because he's supposed to be Grumpy! I wonder what will happen to change him in this episode! Before he hatches, some of Nova's fairy dust gets on his egg and engenders within him the hope of love. There is some weird gender politics role reversal stuff going on here, and I hope there's at least one Women's Studies professor reading this. You could do a whole class interpreting this scene.
Anyway, Nova swings by the mine to pick up some fairy dust and being the clumsy woman that she is (klutzy = adorable, remember your romcom training!) she almost loses it. Dreamy, being the capable dwarf that he is, saves her dust. They exchange some deeply personal information and New Age stuff about dreams before Nova begins dropping hints for a date watching fireflies. It was kind of sweet how Dreamy did not pick up on her hints, but more on that later.
At a tavern, Dreamy is feeling the more unpleasant side effects of hopeless love: loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, dizziness, swelling, and of course diarrhea. Dr. Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and her strange accent diagnose his illness and warn him against the dangers of letting love slip away. Taking her advice, Dreamy meets Nova on a hill and they watch the fireflies. They decide to sail away together and there is some uncomfortable sexual innuendo before they kiss. It is sort of sweet.
Dreamy prepares to leave his dwarf brethren, even Stealthy (Stealthy!). He is stopped by the unnamed leader of the dwarves and the blue fairy, who explain to him that it's best for everyone if he stays away from Nova. Apart they will bring greater happiness to the world than they ever could together. The tension between free will and fate in this episode is palpable, so I guess it's the best possible context in which to place nuns. Predictabley, Dreamy follows their advice and tells Nova he can't go with her. Heartbroken, he returns to the mines and breaks his axe. The new one he receives dubs him "Grumpy." Sad face.
Alright, that was a lot to take in. Do you need a sandwich? Maybe something to drink? Ok, on to this week's Storybrooke storyline. Mary Margaret is still the "town harlot", so she decides to do some PR overhaul by helping the nuns of Storybrooke by selling candles. This explains why David doesn't know what divorce is – Storybrooke is a Catholic state unto itself, beyond the long reach of those politicians in Augusta. Predictably, she is not having much success getting volunteers. She asks Leroy, everyone's favorite practitioner of the custodial arts, for help when he tries to push past her to leave Granny's. He refuses, much like he shut down his fellow dwarves when they wanted to sit near him (wonder what the bad blood is there).
Outside, Mary Margaret monologues to Emma about her desire to make everyone like her again. It is vaguely alluded to that having an affair is not a good thing, and I wonder if they've been getting letters about the importance of the American family. This whole episode comes down rather far on the abstinence side of the aisle.
Leroy is walking through the square when he bumps into Astrid, the Storybrooke version of Nova who happens to be a NUN. None of the nuns who ran my high school were as pretty as her, even when they were young. She is having a difficult time setting up lights for the festival because she is incompetent and helpless, oh someone help the poor widdle woman! There are conflicting gender messages in this episode. Leroy reaches into his cache of double entendres and pulls out "I'll look at your lights." Take that as you will, pretty female. She also repeats "you're my hero" and I gag a little bit.
I'm gonna dial back on my snark-o-meter here and say that I liked the chemistry between Arenberg and Acker. Dreamy (aka Grumpy) has made me smile in every episode he has appeared in thus far and Acker is rather charming. I just think this relationship, like R-stilts and Belle (no disrespect!), suffers from major King of Queens syndrome. Why are all the average-looking men interesting, yet David is such a tool? Is it because Josh Dallas is so pretty? What does this say about society's double-standard for feminine beauty in its starlets? Discuss.
At the school, Leroy offers to help Mary Margaret sell candles. He's mainly there because of Astrid, who has gotten herself into another scrape. She accidentally ordered too much helium (a notable comment on the scarcity of an element that is artificially priced down) and now they won't have enough money to pay the rent on their convent! Back up, writers. Do you not know how convents work? They're usually owned by the order that runs them or by the local diocese. Unless this is the Order of St. Rumplestiltskin (also known as the Gold Veils) I think we've gone overboard here. I love it when you pay attention to details, like in "That Still, Small Voice" so please do your homework!
So how much is the rent that Astrid frittered away? Five grand, which they will need to make off the candles. The problem is, they have to sell all 1,000 candles and they usually sell about 42. Douglas Adams references aside, are there actually 1,000 people in Storybrooke? This show is going to need at least three seasons to touch on that many stories.
Leroy agrees to really help, and throws himself into the fast-paced world of volunteer candle-selling. The problem is, he's the town drunk and Mary Margaret isn't winning any popularity contests. They even go door-to-door, but with no success. Finally, Leroy decides to try to sell his boat to Mr. Gold to make up the difference. Gold, being the bitter but still wonderful man that he is, refuses to buy the boat for $5,000 and even hints that he has a beef with the nuns (Who, we the viewers, understand to be a grudge against the fairies. This is a textbook example of dramatic irony.)
Astrid shows up with a special pie (the entendres write themselves, folks) and Leroy is forced to confess that he hasn't sold as many candles as he led her to believe. She is disappointed and Leroy looks so so so sad. Desperate to help Astrid and somehow win the love of a woman who has committed herself to Jesus, Leroy artificially creates demand for the candles by knocking out the town's power. Candles sell like hotcakes, which is believable because I've never seen a Wal-mart in Storybrooke, and the convent is saved. Mary Margaret's reputation is restored as well, right before David gets arrested for Kathryn's disappearance in front of the assembled town.
Oh, did I forget to mention that? See, in the middle of this jam-packed episode there's also a murder mystery. My fears of budding pedophilia on this show are laid to rest when we learn that the Storybrooke version of Frederick is a gym teacher at the school and not a student. It was he who found Kathryn's abandoned car at the city limits, where Emma is now putting on her Sheriff pants and getting down to solving a crime. It's about time, there hasn't been much going on since the Hansel and Gretel episode.
Sidney, who we must remember is still in Regina's silky and well-tailored pocket, shows up to do some "freelance" journalism. This is a thinly veiled disguise for his actual motive: sowing the seeds of distrust and pointing the finger at David as the reason Kathryn disappears. Emma questions David, who is naturally worried about Kathryn, but Sidney is suspicious still. He says he has a connection who can get them Kathryn's phone records; he neglects to mention it's Regina. Predictably, she forges the records and effectively frames David for murder in an example of small-town justice at it's finest. My question is, where is Kathryn really?
Next week: Granny With a Crossbow: the Crossbowening.
I will be live-tweeting the show on my twitter and also check out my Once Upon a Time-themed Tumblr for all the snarky things I couldn't include in this review, and also Community references.
Hopper and Gold 2012.
Written or Contributed by: Tricia Long