When I first heard about the new series that centers around fairytale characters who’ve been banished to our realm and can’t remember who they are, I had a hard time mustering up any interest. Then a few episodes in, a friend suggested I give it a try.
After the first three episodes I am pretty impressed. There is a lot more complexity to the story and the characters than your typical fairytale story. It feeds the viewer the past timeline when things went wrong in the fairytale realm along with the current action in our realm. I don’t usually like “flashback” storylines but the characters in both storylines are three-dimensional and intriguing and the storylines feed into one another well.
The twist that makes this show work for me is Emma, daughter of Snow and Charming, who was hidden away from the witch Queen who placed the curse. She and her son are the only ones who have continued to grow and age in our realm. The others are trapped in the town of Storybrook, never aging and doomed to be kept apart from all they loved. Emma didn’t know her history and she thought she’d been abandoned by her family. She grew up rough and gave her child up for adoption when she ended up pregnant. The show starts with the son (now 10) coming to find her. He has been living in Storybrook (brought there by one of the Queen’s accomplices), living as the Queen’s adopted son. The son is the one who has figured everything out and he brings back Emma to set things right. These two characters bring some gritty realism to the odd set of fairytale characters.
Emma takes a chain saw to the Mayor/Queen’s apple tree. Gotta love her!
The Queen is also very well-developed. In our realm she is the all-powerful Mayor of Storybrook and by casting the spell to make everyone unhappy she has trapped herself in the same curse. She is evil – no doubt – but she is also tragically sad.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC and is available on hulu.com.