ONCE UPON A TIME, There Was a Charming Liar…

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Season 1, episode 13: “What Happened to Frederick”

OK. Last week, we got a huge reveal at the end of the episode. Of course, it was just confirmation of something I’ve suspected all along, so it wasn’t a surprise, really. And it has nothing to do with this episode. But for those of you who are still behind (and I know who you are…) I won’t spoil it here. You can read last week’s recap if you want to find out.

Now, for this week’s episode, we start with the warning sign: SPOILERS AHEAD

I’m not going to go in episode scene order on this one. Mainly because there’s a lot to track, and it will just be easier to go through this in story threads rather than scene by scene. Plus, I had a bed frame drop onto my back and pin me to the floor, so I’m in pain and moving through this pretty quickly so I can rest…

OK. Onward!

MotoMan shows up to pay up. (ABC/JACK ROWAND)

The minor thread first: MotoMan’s drink IOU with Emma. He tries to pay up, but she’s not having any because she doesn’t know his name. He reveals it’s August Wayne Booth. I’m not buying it. He’s obviously cribbed “August” from Mr. Derlith, and “Booth” is where he had his first conversation with Emma. It’s a convenient juxtaposition of name elements, and as we’ve seen in this show, nothing is as it seems, so it would be foolish to take his name at face value.

He takes her for the drink, at a well near a big tree. I keep having the niggling feeling that I’ve seen this tree before, but I don’t think I have. Unless this is the same well by which Cinderella’s fella disappeared…

 

Anyway, MotoMan tells Emma the well is fed by an underground lake, and legend has it the water has magical properties. Anyone who drinks of the well, will have a lost something returned to them. Emma, of course, is skeptical. But later in the episode, lo and behold, she finds Henry’s book – destroyed in the post-storm tear-down of the playground.

Of course, MotoMan spent most of the episode restoring and repairing the book, then leaving it where Emma will find it… Who is this guy?


Thread 2: The search for Snow White. This is the Fairy Tale Land bit from which the episode derives its title. Now, you remember that Abigail and Prince James (who really isn’t Prince James but his sekrit twin brother… shhh) are due to be married. But they don’t want to be married – not to each other. So James bolts, Abigail catches him and offers to help him escape. What’s in it for her?

She tells him of her true love, a knight named Frederick who got in the way of some bad mojo protecting King Midas, and ended up a gold statue. Abigail can’t revive him with “true love’s kiss” because the gold keeps her from actually touching Frederick, who’s trapped inside.

Abigail tells James of a legend: Lake Nostos, where the water has a magical property – the ability to return something that was once lost. This is the same description that MotoMan uses as he tells Emma about the underground lake that feeds the well.

That ain’t no Lady of the Lake… (ABC/CHRIS HELCERMANAS-BENGE)

So, James goes on a quest to Lake Nostos, where he encounters a beautiful Siren, the lady of the lake. But wait! That’s no lady. That’s a murdering liar who seduces men to their deaths! And she almost gets her hooks into James by morphing into a faux Snow. Now, he’s just recognized her for what she is: a Decepticon. He knows she’s not Snow White, and yet he succumbs to her deception with almost no real resistance whatsoever, even dropping his sword in the process. How does the Brave One Who Slayed a Dragon get – (ahem, I must) – snowed by a Siren?

Once she gets him in the water, it looks like that’s all for James – magic seaweed can do that to you… Only he manages to take her down, being the first hero to resist her charms (of course, the knife in her gut helped…). And he’s able to take water from the lake back to Abigail, who uses it to free Frederick.

Thus, leaving James inspired by Twoo Lurv to go after Snow White. And that takes us to the scene from a few weeks ago, where James meets Red Riding Hood in the field.

More on Frederick in a moment…


Now, the main course: Mary Margaret the Home Wrecker. This is the main story thread woven through the other two, and it’s plenty-some-big soapy mess.

The truth will out? (ABC/JACK ROWAND)

Kathryn has decided to make a change, and reveals to David that she’s been accepted at a law school in Boston. David has to process this, so naturally he takes a walk with his girlfriend, Mary Margaret. Together they decide to tell Kathryn the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Only David doesn’t, quite.

See, David thinks he knows better, and can spare everyone’s feelings by telling Kathryn only half of the truth – the part about him not connecting with her, not the part about Mary Margaret. Speaking from experience, I know how badly this always goes. And sure enough, it takes bad to epic 90210 proportions when Kathryn goes to Regina, and the mayor lets the cat out of the bag about Mary Margaret.

This is where it starts to go off the rails a bit for the gang over at io9, and I have to admit they make some valid points about the random bouts of just plain dumb our love-struck couple has to endure. Given that everyone pretty much has to be aware that something is going on between David and Mary Margaret, this really should be no surprise that it affects David’s marriage to Kathryn. Of course, Kathryn probably should have known something was up, but she didn’t.

David, it must be said, is a typical guy caught in a love-trap. And he tries to logic his way out of the snare, managing to screw up pretty much… well.. everything. Half-truths to Kathryn come back to bite him because he told half-truths to Mary Margaret about the half-truths he told Kathryn in order to spare everyone’s feelings and now everyone‘s feelings are hurt and the town is treating Mary Margaret like Hester Prynne. She just needs a scarlet A.

Oh, but wait. It’s right in the middle of the scarlet “TRAMP” spray-painted on her car.

Now, the telling part of this is Regina’s interest in keeping Kathryn and David together. When Kathryn tells Regina of the plan to go to Boston anyway, you can see the scheming ratchet up a notch. Even Kathryn sees there’s a spark between David and Mary Margaret that was never present in their marriage. It’s interesting to see Kathryn start to realize that her past feels like an illusion. It’s very much like Graham starting to wonder about the history of the Storybrooke folk.

After last week’s “Beauty and the Beast” episode that really dialed things up a notch between Gold and Regina, this episode felt a little flat. Although it did reveal something I think is the biggest takeaway: Regina is basing her entire strategy on keeping David and Mary Margaret apart. Everything depends on this.

But the question now: if “True Love’s Kiss” can break any curse, and if David and Mary Margaret are really destined to be together, why hasn’t the curse been broken by any of their smooching? Could it be because they were keeping their affair secret? Can the TLK be tainted by dishonesty?


Getting back to Frederick for a moment. It seems a bit contrived that Kathryn rudely bumps into the Gym Coach at the school, and he happens to be Frederick. But in Storybrooke, everything’s a bit off-kilter. So, of course he’s the one who finds Kathryn’s car at the edge of town. Empty.

Line of the Week comes from Emma, to Mary Margaret: “When I met you, you were a top-button kind of girl.”

Line of the Week, Runner Up, also from Emma: “Relax. It’s all in the wrist.” Her comment to Henry about the Space Paranoids game.


I leave you with this brilliant analysis/speculation from two io9 commenters:

mekki – Come on, it’s a small town where no [one…okay], almost no one passes through. White and Charming’s affair was the probably the biggest and most interesting piece of gossip the town has had in months. IN MONTHS. It’s either this or talk about how the clock is moving nicely along.

August Wayne Booth? August, Latin origin meaning Great. Wayne, Old English, meaning cart or wagon maker. Booth, Old English, meaning dwelling place or hut. So, a great wagon maker’s hut? What could that mean?

DeltaEchoBravo @mekki – Great Wayne Hut? The guy’s name is Stately Wayne Manor?Awesome.

And could the inclusion of August Wayne Booth have its roots in Jane Austen?

[Official Show Site at ABC]     [Previous recap: “Skin Deep”]

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.

7 thoughts on “ONCE UPON A TIME, There Was a Charming Liar…

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:50 am
      Permalink

      Actually, I haven’t described Booth as the “handsome liar”, because we haven’t really seen him lying about anything yet.

      At this point, it’s David/Charming who’s the dishonest one, as he’s trying to make things easier for himself by telling Kathryn only little bits of the truth. And complicating things by telling Mary Margaret what she wants to hear.

      But the connection to Jane Austen is intriguing, worth further study, definitely!

      Reply
  • February 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm
    Permalink

    “MotoMan’s drink IOU with Emma. He tries to pay up, but she’s not having any because she doesn’t know his name. He reveals it’s August Wayne Booth. I’m not buying it. He’s obviously cribbed “August” from Mr. Derlith, and “Booth” is where he had his first conversation with Emma. It’s a convenient juxtaposition of name elements, and as we’ve seen in this show, nothing is as it seems, so it would be foolish to take his name at face value.”

    True, I misread that part of what you wrote, but I did so because of the above—Booth is a handsome purveyor of mystery himself.

    Reply
    • February 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm
      Permalink

      It’s interesting to see all of the speculation as to who August may turn out to be. Although many have pointed out he may not have a Fairy Tale Land analogue since he’s just recently come into town (as far as we know, of course). We’ll have to see if he’s actually able to leave town. Although I’m not sure if Emma can leave now, either, can she?

      Reply
  • February 22, 2012 at 8:40 am
    Permalink

    I like this series. Though it’s very difficult to try and explain to my family that has not been watching it. They come in the room and ask me a question about the show. And it’s seems impossible to give a short answer.
    I was not surprised that Abigail did not want to marry Charming. She was never excited about the prospect. I found Kathryn’s empty car at the end kind of scary.
    How many fairytale characters are there? I am surprised at some of the connections that this series has made to fairytales. But there are people in town that we have not met. People that seem to be there with out really being part of the fairytale world except that they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, if you were a chamber maid in the fairytale world, you still got taken along on this ride. Even though chances are the Queen doesn’t even know of your existence.

    Reply
    • February 22, 2012 at 11:08 am
      Permalink

      Yes, the general assumption would be that everyone in the land would have crossed over when the curse went into effect.

      Of course, that begs the question: how big is Fairy Tale Land? Did the curse swallow up everyone, or did it only go out a certain distance? Are there others in FTL who have been working to break the spell over there for the past 28 years?

      Reply
  • July 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm
    Permalink

    [“But the question now: if “True Love’s Kiss” can break any curse, and if David and Mary Margaret are really destined to be together, why hasn’t the curse been broken by any of their smooching? Could it be because they were keeping their affair secret? Can the TLK be tainted by dishonesty?”]

    Because this particular curse was designed by Rumpelstiltskin for Emma to break the curse.

    Reply

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