ONCE UPON A TIME, There Was a Mysterious Stranger and a Dove


Season 1, episode 10: “7:15 A.M.”

[All images: ABC]

So, in last week’s recap, I posited the notion that Motorcycle Man is not the Big Bad Wolf, as everyone wants to believe, but perhaps is a different Grimm character altogether – a more obscure one, to be sure, but what’s in that box?! And Snow White with a spear? Grumpy has a reason to be Grumpy? That means…


OK, so we start with a prologue. I’m still wondering why they didn’t put on one last week’s episode. Unless they had to trim it for time.

Who is he? Big Bad Wolf? Robber Bridegroom? Boy who found Emma? We’ll call him “MotoMan”.

’tis a dark and stormy day, when Henry the Precocious catches the Motorcycle Man asks what’s in his box. Motorcycle Man says it’s what he needs to do what he needs to do. Ooh. Mysterious. MotoMan (can’t use MM for obvious reasons…) tells Henry to toddle off to school. “Looks like a storm’s coming,” he says as he rides off. Now, this is more clever writing. Because that line can have three meanings: the obvious storm that’s about to hit Storybrooke, the storm he’s about to bring, and the storm coming as Regina comes out of the house.

Clever writers. Trix are for kids.

Emma likes Froot Loops? While the weather person (where’s the TV station?) talks about the looming storm, Mary Margaret blows through the house like a tornado, spitting her toothpaste into the kitchen sink (ew) and making noise that she’s late to help the kids with their science projects before school! Zounds! Where’s that white rabbit? He’s always late. Oh, wait. Never mind. (remember Emma’s superpower?)

Oho! Mary Margaret is not only a married-man-chaser, but she’s also a liar! Because there’s no science project at the diner, where she waits all casual and demure and has her book out (The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne) and her coffee, and checking herself in the spoon… uh huh. So, when David comes in and gets coffee, oh! David, what a surprise! Right. They share inanities about his work (go look it up) and he takes the coffee out to the car, where the wife is waiting.

And Emma catches Mary Margaret in the act. At the diner, instead of at school working on a volcano. (well, a different kind of volcano…) Emma: “So, you’re a stalker.”

Yes, folks. Yon prim and proper Mary Margaret is a lying married-man-chasing stalker.

[Insert note: What is the meaning behind Mary Margaret reading The Mysterious Island? With as much world-building as the show has done, there are no accidents.]

Red is much more attractive than Ruby. Likely this is the beginning of a story thread.

In Fairy Tale Land, Snow White is hunting a turkey. With a spear. This is not Walt’s Snow White, folks. And she almost impales Red Riding Hood, who shows up for their monthly rendezvous and check-in. Red has her basket of food supplies, along with the latest gossip: Prince James is marrying in two days. Snow can’t forget him. There must be a way to get him out of her head. Red knows something, but she’s reluctant. Snow White: “I helped you when no one else would.” What is this? What do they have in their history? I expect this is the beginning of a thread that will play out over the next couple of episodes.

There are whispers, she finally shares, whispers of a man who could do it. Of course we know of whom Red speaks. Over the river and through the fog, Snow White makes her way to the pier, just as Rumpelstiltskin shows up in the boat (and he likes her little rowboat, yes he does). Snow  wants a cure for a broken heart. Oh, tut tut, dearie. Rumpelstiltskin can’t make him fall in love. But alas, Snow only wants to forget him. Now, that’s workable. All the magic man needs is a vial of river water (unfiltered) and a bit of Snow’s hair. Drinking it the presence of her source for pain, and she won’t remember him at all. “Love is the most powerful magic. The cure must be…extreme.” In exchange for the potion, he only wants the hair he already took from her head.

Now, how will a potion concocted with Snow White’s hair help her forget James? Shouldn’t she have something of his? But I overthink… and let’s not overlook the fact that Rumpelstiltskin knows exactly who she is.

We have a classic cliche: crashing into each other at the store (I’ve done it myself, so I can’t throw a heavy stone). Mary Margaret, shopping for storm supplies (batteries, flashlight, giant Apollo chocolate bar, etc.) runs into David’s wife and knocks the pregnancy test to the floor! Gasp! (anyone else notice everything is generic? Is that a curse thing?)

And of course Regina is right there. What is it with this woman? When does she ever do her mayor-job stuff? She reminds MM to be discreet. Yeah. Of course.

Fairy Tale Land: James is pacing. King George comes in with a bribe gift from King Midas – a gold crown. Now, George, he knows the score. He knows that “James” (who really isn’t James, remember) has the hots for someone other than Midas’ bored little rich girl. And George (who’s not really James’ dad anyway) says “Boy, you better get your act together.” Or something like that. Because the whole thing is an act, and they both know it. But George has been playing the political theatre for so long, it’s old hat for him, and he tells the Prince that it is what it is. The power they hold has a high cost. Nothing will stop the wedding.

So James writes a letter to Snow White and sends it out by carrier pigeon. (And not a Dick Dastardly in sight…)

But there’s a really cool transition right here. James releases a bird to find Snow White, and Mary Margaret finds a bird in the woods. Serendipity! She takes it to the pet store/animal shelter, where the vet gives the bird a clean bill of health. Only there’s a bit of a snag. This particular bird is a North Atlantic Dove, monogamous in its relationship to a flock, which means it gets back to the flock or it’s alone forever. MM determines to find the flock before it’s too late. Her “nobody deserves that” comment could just as easily apply to herself. (which, of course, is the point)

Love the hat.

More foreshadowing on the storm, as Emma packs the SheriffMobile with flares, battery charger, etc. as Madame Mayor Regina tells her to look into the stranger; no one knows anything about him. Emma says “He must be one the untold millions you cursed.” Zing. I do believe this is the first time that’s been put out in the open. Bold, Emma. Bold. That badge must be giving you a new superpower…

Snow White gets the bird, and the note from James. In which he professes his undying love (aww) and wants her to come to the castle, and then he’ll know she loves him for realz! Now, of course something’s going to complicate this. You know this.

MM driving in the rain, looking for the flock; here’s another nice transition, as Mary Margaret gets out of the SUV and throws her rain hood up…

Snow White puts her hood up and pretends to be a flower delivery maiden at the castle. Once inside, though, she’s caught by the guards, thrown in lock-up, and paraphrases Princess Leia with her “I am a royal emissary” line. As soon as she said it, I heard in my head “You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor.” Really, James Earl Jones should show up on this show. Just because.

Grumpy has a reason to be grumpy.

Now we get into the (sort of) fun part, where we first make the connection between Snow White and the dwarves. Because this isn’t the Disney version. In the next cell: Grumpy (a nice touch that he whistles the “hi-ho” tune briefly). He gets the Line of the Week: “Love, huh? Good luck with that.” He’s in jail because he was framed in a diamond theft. And while they’re flapping their gums about how hard it is to get out of the dungeon, Stealthy (the eighth dwarf) comes in, easy as pie because Doc made a sleeping gas.

Stealthy? OK. I’ll roll with it. Because what are you gonna do?

In the Storybrooke Forest, Mary Margaret is out with the dove. Is there some significance to the cleared area? A bunch of fallen trees? I guess there is, because it’s enough of a mess to cause her to slip and fall, ending up hanging from a cliff. Oh, noes! So she’s hanging from a tree root, and of course David shows up to save her. (Because he will always find her, remember? That’s his superpower.)

The CG started to break down in a few shots (like this one). And you know why Stealthy isn’t the eighth dwarf, right?

Back the flashback, Snow and the two dwarves are the mine tunnel. Stealthy wants to go out through the courtyard. Snow says over the wall is the way to go. Grumpy goes with Stealthy. And guess what? Stealthy gets an arrow in the chest (which is why there are only seven…). Snow shows up and gets Grumpy out before George gives him a Ned Stark haircut. (too soon?)

Out in the Storybrooke Storm, David & MM find a cabin in the woods – whose is it? Now, we all know this formula, right? Empty cabin + soaking wet clothes + fireplace = either a horror/slasher flick or they’re going to make a very big mistake. MM confesses that she’s in the diner just to see him. David confesses that he’s in the diner just to see her. Ain’t love grand and Granny’s? MM stops him just before he kisses her, asks about the pregnancy test. “WHAT?!” oops.

Emma finds MotoMan at Granny’s. He has the box. And he teases her – he’ll drag it around and let her curiosity and frustration grow; or he could let her buy a drink and and he’ll tell her right now. Of course Emma goes for the drink. MotoMan ever so dramatically opens the box to reveal… a typewriter? A manual typewriter? He’s a writer, he says, come to Storybrooke because it inspires him. Has he been here before? Writers and Maine go together, right? (shades of Stephen King)

[Note: there’s speculation at io9 that MotoMan is Big Bad Wolf. Another possibility – since we saw the newspaper clipping last week – is that this could be the boy who found Emma. We’ll have to see how this plays out. For now, I’m sticking with my theory that it’s the Robber Bridegroom.]

The physical storm is over. Mary Margaret and David get out of the cabin and find the dove’s flock. All is well. Except for that whole “I can’t get you out of my head we can’t see each other I wish I could forget you.” stuff.

King George has Snow White in his clutches, and Snow gets the whole political intrigue thing. Even tells the king that she would like to be rid of her feelings, but it won’t happen. George says love is a disease that can be healed by a cure or death. George threatens to kill James if she doesn’t break his heart. An assassination would make James a martyr, and the whole deal with Midas would still be intact. Then George makes what could be a costly mistake. He reveals that James isn’t his son. Oh, noes!

Will we see the madness of King George?

So, in order to save Prince Charming’s life, Snow White breaks his heart and leaves him forever, saying she’s never loved him, never will. Ouch.

David and Catherine have a little meeting of the minds. She’s not pregnant, but she wants to have a family. Before that, they have to fix things. Because David isn’t “here” even when he’s here. So maybe they’ll go talk to Jiminy Cricket Archie Hopper. David stays home instead of going Granny’s for coffee.

Snow is out in the woods, miserable. Grumpy and the dwarves show up in the same shot that was in the mirror last week. Grumpy offers to take her in and protect her. She pulls out the vial, ready to put the whole thing behind her, but Grumpy stops her. Snow can’t understand why Grumpy, of all people, would want to hold onto the pain of a lost love. And Grumpy quotes Captain James T. Kirk for the Line of the Week runner-up: “I need my pain.”

Now, here’s a quick little set of shots where we get a lot of physical acting, as Emma and Mary Margaret are at the breakfast table, and it strikes me: there is so much mother-daughter subtext in the beginning of this scene. Look at the shot. Emma sitting on her legs, eating Froot Loops, across from Mom with her coffee. It’s subtle. Blink and you miss it. Unless you have someone with keen observation skills able to point it out. (That’s my superpower… this week.)

Quick hits: James searches for Snow and meets up with Red, who tells him she’s gone. James says he’ll find her. “I’ll always find her.” And next thing we know, he’s left Abigail. Grumpy comes into the dwarf domicile to tell Snow the good news! James left Abigail! The wedding is off. Prince Charming left! Snow: “Who?” She drank the vial.

Back at Granny’s, Mary Margaret has waited until 7:45 to get her coffee (she drinks a lot of coffee) and David comes in. Even trying to miss each other, they can’t miss each other, and Catherine isn’t pregnant, which of course means a big kiss in the square (where everyone can see it. hello!!) Regina sees it and is not happy. Not happy at all.

This will lead to a disASter! Right?

Next week: Girls Night Out! With Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.

[Official Show Site at ABC]   [Previous recap: “True North”]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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