TV Recaps

Recap: Snow Falls on 'Once Upon a Time'

According to every great soap opera storyline ever told (and William Shakespeare), the course of true love never did run smooth.  And in “Snow Falls”, the third episode of Once Upon a Time, we witnessed this in a most delicious dose of boy meets girl. Or in this case, Prince Charming meets Snow White.

According to every greatsoap opera storyline ever told (and William Shakespeare), the course of true love never did run smooth.  And in “Snow Falls”, the third episode of Once Upon a Time, we witnessed this in a most delicious dose of boy meets girl. Or in this case, Prince Charming meets Snow White.

Originally this column was going to be your standard, run-of-the-mill episode recap. But after watching the episode, it seemed way more important to focus instead on why this show is working so well, at least this far into its initial season. While overnight ratings slightly dropped from the previous week, OUAT is still going very strong.  It tied as the most-watched show for Sunday night and any network is going to take those numbers and run. Once Upon a Time is a bona fide hit.

And the reason is really very simple. While Once Upon a Time is telling an engrossing story with the classic backdrop of good against evil; and building great character development with each passing episode; more importantly, it’s giving us a great love story.

Seriously, it’s Prince Charming and Snow White!  It just doesn’t get more classic than that. And as any good soap fan will tell you, shipping a SuperCouple is what it’s all about.  As an added bonus, we not only get Prince Charming (or James, for short) and Snow in Fairy Tale land; we also get their counterparts Mary Margaret and John Doe (or David Nolan) in Storybrooke. Two for one! If that’s now Shipper Heaven, I don’t know what is.

With the help of flashbacks, we learn how Snow and Charming originally met, when intrepid tomboy Snow robs our fair Prince and his shrew of a fiancée, in the troll-filled forests of Fairy Tale Land.

(As an added bonus, the location shoots for Fairy Tale and Storybrooke are absolutely awesome, and as a resident of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland (where OUAT is filmed), I’m proud to say, “That’s my town!”)

But back to our star-crossed lovers. After being robbed, Prince Charming promises Snow, “Wherever you are, I will find you.” Which taken at face value is a threat to exact retribution, but us romantics in the audience know this is also a promise of an eternal love. Cue the squeals of delight.

Viewers are also given little snippets of information, just enough to whet the appetite for more details, regarding the feud between Snow and the evil Queen. We learn Snow is actually wanted for treason against the Queen and that our fair heroine admits to ruining the Queen’s life. What exactly happened, we don’t know yet, but it’s a super tease and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Along with the tantalizing character development, and hints of storylines to come, the episode let us see the dashing Prince save Snow from the Queen’s henchmen and in a nice turnabout-is-fair-play moment, Snow then saves her future beloved from some pretty scary-looking Trolls.  You may not remember such a strong heroine from your childhood fairy tale books,  but this is a 21-st century story, even if  half of it is set in mythical times.  As a  modern-day women, I love the equal opportunity heroism.

Back in present-day Storybrooke, Snow White/Mary Margaret bonds with comatose Prince Charming/John Doe by reading their own fairy tale story to him.  And as a life-long soap fan, when the previously unresponsive J. Doe grabbed her hand, as she read aloud their own love story, I got for-real goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. This is soap opera storytelling at its best and this is what I’ve been missing from daytime drama.

But as earlier stated, and as Emma herself tells Mary Margaret, “If true love was easy, we’d all have it.” So by episode’s end, we learn Mr. Doe is actually named David Nolan, and has an estranged wife (who also happens to be his spiteful betrothed in Fairy Tale), who says she’s learned the error of her ways and is determined to save their marriage.

But is she really working for the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina (aka the Evil Queen)?  It’s certainly hinted at, and that adds just one more delicious layer  to an already overflowing bin of possibilities for this show.  We have star crossed lovers in two separate worlds, evil forces trying desperately to pull them apart, trolls and henchmen, mothers and daughters separated and yet together, secrets and betrayals, the possibility of a third romance with Emma and the Sherriff, and gorgeous scenery to boot.

And best of all?  All these plot points are balanced by characters that I’m already rooting for, and to use an overworked phrase, invested in.  Even the bad guys (Queen/Regina and Rumplestiltskin)  fascinate me and show flashes of humanity that are the hallmark of a truly memorable soap opera villain.

I said previously that OUAT isn’t perfect. And it’s not. Even though I’m a sucker for a love story, I’m not watching this show through rose-colored glasses. But each passing episode is cleverly building upon what we’ve already been shown and that bodes well for its future. So I am very much excited for what’s yet to come. After all, it’s a long and winding road to Happily Ever After.

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