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ONCE UPON A TIME, There was a Girl and a Wolf

Episode 1.15 “Red-Handed”

Oh, my. This is a bit of a twist. Nicely done, Jane Espenson. Nicely done.

For the entire season, fans have been speculating about the identity of the Big Bad Wolf, and this episode turns all of those speculations upside down and inside out and sideways. You never saw this coming.


A lot of folks have been wondering if Motorcylce Man, August Wayne Booth, may be the Big Bad Wolf. Some thought perhaps it was Sheriff Graham (only it wasn’t). And now we find out that everyone was wrong.

Where to begin this week? Going in order would be a little mundane, so let’s just do an overview of story threads, shall we?

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to the Town Sheriff

Ruby is enthralled by August’s tale of lemurs with glowing eyes.

In MotoMan’s one scene this week, he’s the target of Ruby’s flirtatious affections, much to Granny’s frustration. And it finally comes to harsh words and Ruby’s deciding to quit. This, of course, is after Ruby hears MotoMan’s stories of mountains and lemurs with glowing eyes. Ruby wants adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things!

Hrm. Excuse me.

A-Hunting We Will Go

OK, over in Fairy Tale Land, Red has a secret. She likes Peter.  Now, Red loves Peter. Granny does not. And she especially isn’t pleased with the hunting party that shows up at her door. Now, why is it they go there in the first place, I wonder? Granny won’t be any help to the hunters, will she? Red wants to go, but Granny’s not having any. They’re staying in, and Red has to keep the red cloak on, to keep the wolf away. (So, why isn’t Granny wearing red?)

The day after the full moon, Red goes out to check the chickens and finds Snow White. In the timeline, this is right after the Huntsman let her go in the woods. The outfit she’s wearing is the same as from that event. So Snow White is on the run, and assumes the name Mary when telling Red that she’s on the run.

This leads to some girl talk scenes, as Snow realizes Red has the hots (red hots.. sorry, had to) for Peter.

Granny’s had dealings with the wolves before, and after the slaughter of the hunting party, she makes it known in no uncertain terms. Her story would curl your hair. And she makes a strong case for simply curling up in a fetal position with the doors and windows barred shut. Because these are “take no prisoners” wolves (so why was Granny spared?)

Dazed and Confused

We interrupt Fairy Tale Land to find Emma trying to figure out just what’s going on with Kathryn’s disappearance. And Mary Margaret goes out to the woods, hoping to find… what? Not sure, but she finds David instead. And he’s walking in a fog. And not just Vancouver fog, either. He acts as if he doesn’t recognize MM. Which, of course, has MM worried.

This is a new bit that Espenson is introducing into the storyline for Kathryn’s disappearance. David is wandering around the woods… why? He’s looking, he says, but looking for Kathryn? Looking for love in all the wrong places? He already went there

Ruby finds a new place as Emma’s assistant; answering phones, fetching grilled cheese sandwiches (hmmmmm.. grilled cheese…) and using her super-hearing to find David in the woods.


Super-hearing? Emma is flabbergasted that Ruby was able to find David so quickly. Taking David to the hospital, Emma learns from Dr. Whale, that this could be the same drunken stupor that David was in when he first woke up. Emma, remembering that he went to the t(r)oll bridge, sends Ruby out to find whatever he might have taken out there. It’s a hunch that pays off when Ruby paws at the dirt and finds…

OK. I have to stop here for a moment. Because from here on in, we get into major spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen it, you should turn back now.










Still here? OK.

FTL: Red decides that she and “Mary” should kill the wolf and be heroes. So they go tracking it in the woods, only to figure out that the wolf also can take the form of a human, and every sign points to Peter.

This is Clever Writer Land. Peter and the Wolf. Surely you caught that.

Red gets the next notion in her noggin that she’ll just tie Peter to a tree and stay with him through the change, and then they can run away.

Erm.. let’s see how this whole running away plan has worked for others… Snow White and Prince Charming? Dreamy and Nova? Cinderella and Prince Thomas? Jiminy Cricket? I think the writers are telling us you can’t run away from your troubles. But you know… that’s subtext.

Onward! Over in Storybrooke, Emma’s impressed with Ruby’s tracking skills, but Ruby has just about had enough adventure. She has an interesting line in the sheriff’s office: “I don’t know what I am.” Because in the box she found was a human heart. Of course, you recognized the little box, didn’t you? So, whose heart do you think is in the box? Kathryn’s? David’s? Why would he be wandering around the woods? Did he put the box there? Or did someone else?

FTL: Granny discovers Mary under the red cloak, and she freaks. Really. This is one of those Stephen King Very Bad Thing type of things. Because Peter – chained to a tree – is not the wolf. Poor boy is in for it now…

So,  let’s review the clues:

  • Ruby has superhearing.
  • She has excellent tracking skills.
  • She paws the ground to dig for the box.
  • She says “I don’t know what (not who) I am.”
  • In the Cinderella episode, we saw a glass wolf hanging from her rear-view mirror. Remember that?

And then there’s the whole bit where Peter is calling the wolf “Red”. Yeah. Didn’t see that one coming. Well played, Jane Espenson. Well played.

Best bits:

  • Granny with a crossbow.
  • Henry helping Ruby look for a job. Delivering things to people, in a little basket? I like it when the writers are clever with their winks.
  • Mary Margaret offers to let Ruby stay with them, sort of returning the favor without really knowing it.


  • Emma to David: “Honestly, liars have better material.” wonk wonk wahh.
  • Red to Granny: “And you dress like Norman Bates when he dresses like Norman Bates’ mother.”
  • Red to Granny: “Emma was my lemur.”

And let’s look at how Ruby’s experience has changed her look, bringing her more in line with her FTL appearance:

Softer, mature Ruby may be around for a while. Just make sure you lock up the chickens…

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

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.

3 thoughts on “ONCE UPON A TIME, There was a Girl and a Wolf

  • This episode totally caught my by surprise — had no idea they were going down this path. Interesting, very interesting. 🙂

  • Yes, it was a nice twist. Of course, it’s consistent with the other variations the show has been taking with the fairy tales, and our preconceived notions about them. It will be interesting to see where this leads in the partnership between Red and Snow (which we saw earlier this season).

  • It’s not an accident, I believe, that August Wayne Booth flirts with Ruby in Granny’s Diner, by encouraging her to get out and see the world—in a way she is like Emma Woodhouse, who has never left Highbury, and he is like Frank Churchill, who flirts with Emma.

    But we can also transpose this to Pride & Prejudice, and see him as Wickham, the charming handsome stranger who rides (on a horse, not a motorcycle) into Longbourn.

    And there’s also a strong suggestion that Ruby’s channeling her inner “wolf” and learning her own powers, is a veiled motif pointing to a lesbian coming out of the closet.

    And the Bible is hidden in there as well, with a veiled allusion to Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well.

    For all of the above, see these posts (in addition to my earlier ones about OUAT) for more details:



    Cheers, ARNIE
    @JaneAustenCode on Twitter


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