If last week was an example of the worst Once Upon a Time could be, “Red-Handed” was one of the best. There were also two pretty big twists in this week’s episode, but I’ll save the best for last.
In Storybrooke, Ruby is feeling stifled working in her Gran’s diner and longs to have adventures, much like our hot mystery biker/writer, August. Secretly though, Ruby is afraid she doesn’t have what it takes to really do something with her life. But after getting truly fed up with her overbearing Gran, Ruby quits the diner and heads to the bus stop where she plans on leaving town. But in Storybrooke, you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave. So instead, Ruby accepts a job offer to man the phones at the Sherriff’s office, even though she doesn’t believe she’s capable.
Meanwhile, Mary Margaret is searching the woods for the still-missing Kathryn. She runs into David, who appears to be one of the Walking Dead, staring off into the distance, wandering aimlessly and just repeating the words “I’m looking” over and over.
And later, Ruby and Emma again find a semi-conscious David lying in the woods. And it turns out he’s also blacked out any memory of the last several days. After being checked out at the hospital, we learn he’s had an ‘episode’ similar to the coma he was in, only in this state he’s still fully functional. This means he could have very well offed his wife. Hmmm.
But Emma is still convinced David is innocent. So she convinces Ruby (for a beautiful girl, Ruby sure lacks confidence) that she’s capable of finding clues and helping the Sherriff solve this mystery. She sends Ruby out to the Toll Bridge, where David had his most recent “dream walk.”
Once there, Ruby does well and finds a small chest. When she opens it, she gasps, horrified. There’s a human heart inside! Is it Kathryn’s? She’s the only missing person in Storybrooke. And even worse: Mary Margaret’s fingerprints are all over the chest. Mary Margaret’s squeaky clean image has sure taken a beating the last little while.
But the news is better for Ruby. Working for Emma has given her a huge boost of confidence and a willingness to accept more responsibility. So she returns to her Granny and the diner and they resolve their differences.
In FairyTale, Ruby’s alter ego Red Riding Hood gets a humdinger of a story. And Canadian actress Meghan Ory just shines in this first real in-depth look at Red/Ruby. Red, like Ruby, also lives with an overbearing Granny and dreams of a more adventurous life with Peter, the hunter she secretly loves. But Granny hovers around Red, terrified she will fall victim to the monstrous giant wolf that preys on innocent villagers during the night. It seems this wolf can’t be stopped, no matter how many men try to kill it. Years ago, Granny herself watched her entire family be slaughtered by a similar creature and was even attacked, but survived.
The only talisman is a Red-Hooded cloak Granny had an old wizard make. It repels wolves, so Granny is forever admonishing Red to wear the cloak.
One morning, while in the chicken coop, Red discovers a hiding Snow White. The two form a friendship, even though it’s clear Snow is on the run. They walk together to gather water from the well, but make a gruesome discovery. An entire hunting party has been brutally killed by the dreaded big, bad wolf.
Red and Snow, after getting over the shock, come to the realization that Red will never be free of her Grandmother’s over-protectiveness as long as the wolf is still alive. Snow tells Red she needs to “Do Something”. Red decides they will kill the wolf themselves. Go Girl Power.
While tracking the wolf, the two women discover giant paw prints morphing into half boot-half animal prints and deduce the wolf must be half-human. And these boot/paw prints end at Red’s bedroom window. The only logical conclusion is that her secret love Peter is actually the wolf! Confronting Peter, Red and he decide to chain him up and wait for nightfall to see what happens. Will he morph into the wolf? No matter what, Red promises Peter she won’t leave him.
Granny discovers Red’s dangerous plan when she finds Snow White draped in the magical red cloak, pretending to be a sleeping Red. Snow tells Granny that they’ve learned Peter is the wolf and he’s currently chained up, with Red watching over him. Granny oddly responds, “That poor boy.”
Cut to Peter, wrapped in chains and screaming “Red, NO!”, as a giant wolf lunges at him. Oh. Em Gee. Red is the wolf! That is a great twist, OUAT!
Gran explains to Snow that Red comes from a long line of wolf-humans and her family also “turned” Granny when they attacked her all those years ago. Granny has resisted the curse and has spent her life protecting Red from the truth.
But the cat (or the wolf) is really out of the bag now that Red sees she’s killed her own lover. With little choice, Red flees the fast-approaching wolf-hunters and Granny is left to face them on her own. We aren’t shown what happens next, but my assumption is Gran will morph into a wolf and take the fall for her beloved granddaughter. She may be overbearing, but she loves her granddaughter and has spent her entire life protecting her from harm.
This was a highly entertaining and gruesome (as most good fairytales are) episode. Human hearts found in buried boxes and bloodied bodies ravaged by she-wolves…..that’s Grimm stuff. And I loved it.