October 31, 2011

Once Upon a Time

**Click over to my sister site for notes on all ONCE Upon A Time episodes- Karen's Adventures in Storybrooke **
When I was a little girl growing up in New York City, I read a lot.  I read anything I could get my hands on; comics, sci-fi, mysteries, fantasy and fairy tales.  My life growing up was extremely rough and reading was my way of escaping that place.  I would read those stories and imagine myself in those worlds- fighting and beating the monsters, discovering gold, solving an ancient mystery and finding my knight in shining armor.  Reading gave me a sense of adventure and cultivated my own imagination. Although at times that escapism was a mechanism to cope with life, it is a special gift that I have taken with me in to adulthood.

Fairy tales give us epic stories of adventure, the struggle between good and evil and the battle and fortitude that lies within.  They can be moral tales and legends; that many times ask us to believe in the stories as if they are truthful or fact.  So, technically a fairy tale is a misleading statement, lie or account or belief.

The thing about being a little girl and reading fairy tales, is that for me, it gave me and taught me to hold on to hope.  Even now as a grownup I still hold on to the magic of fairy tales, with it's motifs of dreams and wishes that can come true; more importantly along the way the main character ends up discovering who they really are inside and that they can be heroic, and on to finding their true purpose and place in the world, all the way through their destiny and happy ever after.   I have to believe that dreams and wishes can come true and I have to believe in happy endings, after all, at times the real world can be a pretty hostile and horrible place.

I was enthusiastically drawn into this newly written fairy tale mash-up.  I was transported back to my own childhood where fairy tales reined important to me, where my creative mind could imagine me not only living in a fairy tale, but fairy tale characters crossing over and living in the "real world".

The show is brilliantly shot and really makes it feel like the fairy tale pages come to life.  The colors are spectacular and the imagery is wonderful.  The cast is dynamic and assume their enchanted role and their real world role counterparts with richness.  I totally adore little Henry.  I especially loved following the magical characters with the concept of existing in more than a singular realm.

The cool part is that I felt like we were allowed to step into the story and that left me excited to see where the adventure will take us next.

I can't help but notice a golden thread of LOST in this new enchanted story.  As I watched Once Upon a Time I felt that I could experience it much like LOST; maybe that's due to the fact that I spent six seasons absorbed in that wonderful mysterious and puzzling world where I had to read between the lines to discover its secrets.  While watching I could imagine myself writing about Once Upon a Time in the vein of my Karen's LOST Notebook site; bold typing clues and nods to things we need to pay attention to. The current show reflected many of the ideas, themes and layers I witnessed with LOST.  I guess I will have to fight very hard to not watch this show and feel like I'm watching another book in the LOST saga- or will I?
Nonetheless LOST fans will love and appreciate the acknowledgment and connections in Once Upon a Time to our time spent on the "Island".  And I can't help but be curious if we'll experience even more of them...I think we will. 

Once Upon a Time brings us a story revolving around some serious mommy issues and it's also about stuck people in need of finding their way back home and back to the ones they love.  It is wonderful that the writers chose the fairy tale genre in modern time to deliver the timeless account of struggle.  I love that Once Upon a Time brings us the human side of the fairy tale characters we've grown up with; to see them enduring the same emotional and insecurity issues real people face on a daily basis. These characters are dealing with pain, hurt, abandonment, loneliness, anger, jealously, greed, sacrifice and not remembering who they truly are.  They are lost.  They are in need of healing, and to find what and who they're looking for so it can help them find their way back to their happy place.

As always, I welcome another trip down into the rabbit hole, where the quest brings us through many strange places and experiences and even more strange people, but the journey teaches us a great deal and there's always a goal...whether you realize it or not.

Here are some notes taken from the pilot episode.  I will share my thoughts specifically on Pilot at the end of this post.  By the way, I have a full version of my notes from this episode that I will keep for future reference or possible updating.
Once Upon a Time
Snow White is found by her white horse riding Prince Charming; as she lays in pause in her glass coffin.  He's informed by the Seven Dwarfs that he's too late; she is gone.  Price Charming breaks the spell that's been cast onto Snow White with a magical kiss. They marry in a grand affair.  It is a nice touch that Snowy's gown in decorated in white feathers.  The Evil Queen crashes the wedding and apologizes for being late.  She warns the happy couple that while she's giving them a gift of not ruining their happy day, she announces to all that she is hell bent on causing all of them suffering; by taking away all that they love...forever.  Out of their suffering will come her victory. The pissed off protective Prince Charming throws the giant sword at Her Evilness, but she disappears into black smoke.
In "our world" we meet 10 year old Henry. Henry has no problem traveling on long bus rides alone. He carries along a Fairy Tale storybook; that he feels is more than just a book.
Orphan loner Emma is a hot chick.  Emma, the birthday girl has family issues.  She has conned her "date" into the meet up so she can do her job as a bail bonds person; she calls him out on all of his crimes. Once caught he inadvertently calls her out on her "family issues".

When you wish upon a star...
Celebrating her birthday alone, Emma closes her eyes and makes a wish upon the star candle that tops her white frosted cupcake.
A knock at her door reveals that Henry, her son, has made a surprise visit.  I love that the door to her apartment has written word on it; illustrating she is written into a fairy tale.

At first, Rubik's Cube owner, Emma, denies the boy.  Henry wants her to "come home with me", but she just wants to return him to his adopted parents in Storybrooke, Maine.  I love that Henry guzzles orange juice right out of the bottle.  Emma and Henry seem very much alike.  Emma claims to possess a super power; she can tell when people are lying.

In the Enchanted Forest
A bird flies away from pregnant Snow White.  The Prince tries to comfort stressed out Snow by telling her she's letting the Evil Queen get in her head; she needs to let that stuff go.
"They're only words."
Snow shares with the Prince that she wants to talk to "him".  The Prince feels it's too dangerous (as there's a reason "he's" locked up), but Snow feels he "sees the future".   She feels that since the Prince can't guarantee their child's safety that "he" can.  The Prince agrees to a meeting.

 "Just because you believe something doesn't make it true."- Emma
Henry feels that's exactly what makes it true.

On Emma and Henry's ride to Maine, Emma inquires about the book Henry holds.  Henry feels she's not ready for the book yet; but assures her that the stories aren't fairy tales- they're real stories and she's in it.  Super power mom realizes Henry must not be lying.  Henry informs her she is going to fix the "problems".

The Enchanted Forest

Snow and Prince are giving the guidelines to meeting the prisoner.
"Don't look into the light. And whatever you do, do not let him know your name. If he knows your name he will have power over you."
As they approach the slithering imp, Rumpelstiltskin, he reveals that he already knows their names.  Rumpelstiltskin appears welcoming and encourages them to step into the light and take off the ridiculous (hooded) robes, to which the happy couple don't hesitate in breaking the rules.
"Fear not. For I can ease your mind. But...its gonna cost ya something in return."
He wants the name of Snow's unborn child.  Snow doesn't hesitate to make a deal.  He knows the Queen's powerful curse will imprison them all; just like him only worse.
"Your prison...all of our prisons will be time. And time will stop... and we will be trapped- someplace horrible. Where everything we hold dear, everything we love will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity. While the Queen celebrates victorious at last! No more happy endings."
Closed eyed Rumpelstiltskin claims that the infant is their only hope. "Get the child to safety and on its 28th birthday the child will return- the child will find you and a final battle will begin! hahaha!"
As the couple walk away Rumpelstiltskin demands "her name"; after all they had a deal.  Prince catches that Rumpelstiltskin mentions it's a girl and he corrects him by saying it's a boy.  Snow gives him the name "Emma".

Good hearted naive Snow White seems a bit, uh, let's say...amendable for coercion.

Over in Storybrooke
Emma and Henry arrive in the cursed "frozen in time" Storybrooke.  Henry claims the clock  that is stuck on 8:15 hasn't moved his whole life.   They come upon Archie Hopper {Jiminy Cricket} the shrink, who informs Henry that he missed his session today.  Henry reveals his field trip but Archie feels he's lying; evidently Henry, the Mayor's kid, has issues with lying.  Henry assures Emma "I'm not crazy".  He goes on to explain that the characters of the Enchanted Forest have been banished and are trapped to life in the unpleasant real world where they have forgotten who they really are.  They can't just leave because if they did- bad things would happen.

The Enchanted Forest
The Prince, Snow White, Jiminy Cricket and many other fairy tale characters are having a round table discussion about devising a plan to fight the Evil Queen.  Snow feels its useless because she feels the future is already written; a sentiment the Prince refuses to believe.  "Good just can't lose."
If Snow believes Rumpelstiltskin about the curse, then she must also believe that their child will be the savior.
Just then the Blue Fairy enters accompanied by soldiers dragging in a large portion of a tree.  She informs them if the enchanted tree is fashioned into a vessel it can ward off any curse; but its limited power can only protect one.  Gepetto and Pinocchio will fashion the vessel and everyone agrees to have hope and faith that this will work.

Back in Storybrooke 
Emma meets Henry's evil mom, the mayor. Henry shares with Emma that he feels Mayor mom only pretends to love him.  The mayor invites Emma inside for a glass of the best apple cider ever; Emma asks for something stronger.
Henry was adopted by Regina when he was three weeks old.  Mother Mayor apologizes for Henry dragging Miss Swan out of her life, as she doesn't know what's gotten into him.  She also confesses that after becoming Mayor that balancing things has been tricky.  The strict Mayor Mom is also unaware of Henry's passion and connection with his fairy tale book.

On Emma's sleepy ride back home, she sees that Henry has left his beloved book in her car.  It appears as though Storybrooke has a mission- to keep Miss Swan in Storybrooke.  A beautiful white wolf distracts her causing her to crash right into the Storybrooke sign.  While Emma is passed out, the pages of the book flips in the wind, from The Wizard of Oz and then landing on The Caterpiller in Alice in Wonderland and then flips to the tree carving in the Enchanted Forest.
At the castle
Gepetto and Pinocchio work diligently on the tree wardrobe.
Snow White confesses to the Prince that she doesn't want to do it (leave in the wardrobe for 28 years as to not be cursed with the rest of them).  But the Prince reminds nervous Snow White "It has to be you".  The Prince is fine with the 28 year time lapse because he as faith in eternal love and believes they can find each other again.  They kiss and Snow announces the baby is coming.

While standing guard, buzzed Grumpy warns the rest of the guards and a fellow sleeping dwarf to "Wake up! Wake up!"  He tolls the bell because the curse is here!

In Storybrooke
Emma's eye opens to the sound of whistling; the tune Whistle While You Work.  She is in a jail cell.  She awakes to LeRoy (Grumpy), whom is in another cell doing the whistling.  Emma seems to have a bit of a headache or something. Gepetto commends Emma for being back in Henry's life, but Emma confesses she is just dropping him off.
The Sheriff arrives to let LeRoy out; but warns him to behave. The Sheriff hints to Emma that she was drunk on Regina's cider. Emma shares how she really crashed.  Regina enters worried that Henry's run away again, and sees Emma in the cell.  Emma learns that Henry doesn't have any friends and is kind of a loner.   Emma suggests they check Henry's emails for clues.  She also offers her help and in return they let her out.
"Finding people's what I do"- Emma

Emma and the old fashioned scruffy Sheriff look through Henry's computer for clues to where he may have gone and to what he's been up to.  The trick to getting into Henry's email-a hard disk recovery utility Emma likes to use.  Note-the Sheriff gets a salary and Emma gets paid by delivery.
Henry bought membership to a site called Who's Your Mama?.org. It's financed by his teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard.  The cost- $265.50

Miss Blanchard is building bird houses with her students.  She reminds them that they are making them a home and not a cage, and also enlightens them to how a bird is free and will do what it will.
"This is for them-not us. They're loyal creatures" and she releases a blue bird out the window.  "If you love them and they love you, they will always find you".
As they break for recess she warns them not to run.  A student gives the teacher a pear-not an apple.

Henry's two mothers enter the classroom and the Mayor asks Miss Blanchard where Henry is and if she gave him the credit card so he can find "her".   Confused Miss Blanchard asks Emma "I'm sorry, who are you?"
Evidently special, smart and creative Henry took the card from Mary's wallet.  Mary feels she never should have given Henry the book about fairy tales. She confirms Henry's loneliness and felt he needed it. But the Mayor feels Henry needs a dose of reality and storms out.
Emma asks Miss Blanchard "How's the book supposed to help?"  Miss Blanchard explains the reason we all know these classics; they're a way for us to deal with our world.  {That is exactly the thing I can relate to.}  She also shares that Henry struggles with his being adopted.  "Why would anyone give me away?"   She also admits she gave the book to him so he can have hope. {Another thing about fairy tales that I understand and relate to- completely.}   Miss Blanchard informs Emma she can probably find Henry in his castle.

The Enchanted Forest
Snow and the Prince are waiting the birth of the baby as the black cloud, the dark knights and the Evil Queen's carriage approaches the castle.
Snow White is instructed by Doc to "push".
Happy Gepetto enters announcing that "it's ready".  But Doc feels it's too late "We can't move her".
Infant Emma is born.  Hearing the castle being stormed by the black knights, the Prince feels their plan has failed, but at least they are together.  Snow is motivated to put Emma in the wardrobe, believing she will come back for them, "We have to give her her best chance".  So the Prince grabs a sword and the baby and makes way to the wardrobe. Snow cries.

The Prince fights off two black knights while holding on to the baby; but he is wounded.  He manages to kick in the door and put Emma safely into the wardrobe and says to her "Find us".  The two black knights enter the room to continue the fight and stab the Prince. He collapses to the ground and before going unconscious sees the black knight open the wardrobe to retrieve the baby, but she has disappeared.  This brings a gentle smile to his face.
Emma meets up with backpack wearing Henry at his playground castle by the water.  She brought him the book.  They can see the clock tower with its time stuck on 8:15.  Henry was hoping it would move and things would change when he brought Emma back, "That the finale battle would begin".   Emma simply tells him "I'm not fighting any battles, kid".   Henry tells her she is, as it's her destiny to bring back the happy endings.  Smart Henry also says "You don't have to be hostile. I know you like me, I can tell. You're just pushing me away because I make you feel guilty. It's OK. I know why you gave me away...You wanted to give me my best chance ".    Henry knows this because it's the same reason Snow White gave her away.
Emma feels she's not in any book and she's no savior, but Henry's right about one thing- "I wanted you to have your best chance. But it's not with me."
Henry begs for her not to take him "back there" and begs for her to stay with him for one week and she'll see that he's not crazy. Henry is getting upset trying to explain how much his life sucks. Emotional Emma comes right back at him sharing that her parents just left her on the side of the freeway and how she was turned back over to the foster system when she was three when her foster parents had their own child.
Henry informs her that her parents didn't leave her on the side of the freeway; that was where she came through when her parents were trying to save her from the curse. 
Emma takes Henry's hand and they leave.

The Enchanted Forest
New mother, Snow White makes her way to the wardrobe room and discovers her Prince stabbed on the floor.  She tries to kiss him back to consciousness but to no avail.  The Evil Queen struts in and smirks "Oh, don't worry- In a few moments you won't remember you even knew him...let alone loved him."   She did this because this is her happy ending.   The black knight informs her Evilness that the child is gone from the wardrobe, never to be found.  This makes Snow very happy as she believes "She got away. You're going to lose. I know that now. Good will always win." 
The Evil Queen replies "We'll see about that."   Just then the ceiling opens up and the darkness and wind swirls inside the room.
Snow holds her Prince and asks the Evil Queen "Where are we going?"
The Evil Queen informs her "Somewhere horrible...Absolutely horrible. A place where the only happy ending will be mine."
Emma returns Henry to his large white house and is greeted by Regina. Regina thanks her and mentions that Henry has taken a shine to Emma.  Emma tells Regina of her birthday wish of not being alone on her birthday- then Henry showed up.  Regina makes it clear that Emma is not to take all of this as an invitation back into Henry's life.  In the last 10 years since Emma's decision to toss him away, its been her who took care of him so he is her son.  Regina will make sure Miss Swan is held to the legal agreement she made for no rights to Henry.  She suggests Emma get in her car and leave this town; because if she doesn't, Regina destroy her.
Emma asks Regina "Do you love him?"
Regina replies "Of course I love him."
Henry's lays in his bed with his eyes open.  Regina is in his room with the book. She takes the book downstairs and looks at herself in the round mirror, holding the book close to her.
Miss Blanchard is making the rounds at in a hospital ward. She is a volunteer who is delivering white flowers to the patients.  A male patient holds up his hand for her to hold for a moment.  Then she enters a glass room where they are keeping an unconscious handsome John Doe.  Miss Blanchard places the white flowers on his bedside table.
Henry looks out his window toward the clock tower with its time stuck on 8:15.

Emma seeks a room at Granny's Bed and Breakfast.  The establishment seems to not have housed a guest in a very long time...if ever.   Granny, who apparently has had a heart attack at some point, is willing to wave the upgrade fee for a room with a view.
Emma also meets Little Red Riding Hood (who, by the way, is quite tall) and Mr. Gold.  Granny pays Mr. Gold a wad of cash.  Mr. Gold tells Emma to enjoy her stay.   Emma wonders who that was.
Red Riding Hood reveals "He owns this place."   Apparently he owns everything including the town.
Emma let's them know she will be staying with them just for a week.  Granny gives her the key to her room and welcomes her to Storybrooke.
Henry, still watching the clock, smiles a big smile when the clock's big hand moves forward.

Pilot is a great episode!

Snow White gives up her daughter in the hopes of giving her a better chance and to insure there will be a way for Emma to return to the Enchanted Forest and restore all the happiness in the land.
These events seem to all be part of destiny; all part of a plan to ensure that all the players paths are destined to cross again and the battle over the Evil Queen and her curse of banishment and misery over the rest of the characters is overturned.

Snow White and Emma both gave up their children.  The choice to do such a thing was for the greater good- to bring happiness back to Fairy Tale Land.
In "our world"- Henry is adopted by Regina (The Evil Queen in the Enchanted Forest) and now is in contact with Emma; the very child Snow and Prince sent away to keep her safe from the curse. Yet here Emma is...right in the Evil Queen's eyesight.

The story shows us elements of how fear and things you let get in your head; and what things and who you give power to.  Curses are only powerful if you believe in them; otherwise they are just words. With that I'm brought back to a quote we learned on LOST..."We are the causes of our own suffering".

The moral of this episode- "Giving into ones dark side accomplishes nothing."

Here's just a few (as there were many) of the LOST connections to mention:
Regina (Evil Queen) is Greta in the Looking Glass Hatch.
Geronimo Jackson
Emma Swan drives a (yellow) VW Beetle
Orange juice
Black smoke
John Doe (no identity)
Possible psychology/ emotional issues
Emma's eye opening.
"He sees the future"- Desmond was thought to be that way too.