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Once Upon a Time 1.06-Prince Charmings Identity Crisis

12/04/2011 11:42:17 PM

Well, no-one said that it was going to be easy. The course of true love never did run smooth, as Shakespeare wisely wrote, and for those of us hoping that Snow White and Prince Charming might find their happily ever after six episodes into the show's first season, this week's installment of 'Once Upon a Time' certainly had its share of emotional ups and downs.

We were treated to a little of Snow and Charming's backstory in episode three, but 'The Shepherd,' written by genre mainstays Andrew Chambliss ('The Vampire Diaries Seasons 1-2 DVD,' 'Dollhouse Seasons 1-2 DVD Boxset' and 'Heroes') and Ian Goldberg ('FlashForward' and 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles') proved to be a perfect companion piece to 'Snow Falls,' bringing us right up to the events of that episode while also providing some surprising revelations about "Prince James."

I'd been wondering why Charming's Storybrooke alter-ego was called David instead of James, since James would be a fairly innocuous name for the real world -- but since no-one else in Storybrooke has an identical name to their fairytale self, I figured it was just a random choice, much like Kathryn and Abigail.

But now I'm curious whether James' farmboy twin was actually called David (since I don't think the episode ever revealed his real name?) and his Storybrooke name simply hearkens back to his true identity. The episode title may lend credence to this, since, in the Biblical tale of David and Goliath, David was a humble shepherd who became the savior of his people -- and later a king -- after defeating and beheading the unbeatable giant (or, in this case, dragon). The allegory seems a little too perfect to be coincidence, and I must admit that I'm digging the intertexuality that the writers continue to incorporate in every episode.

Since Snow and Charming are the heart of the story for many viewers, it was thrilling to have another episode devoted to them so soon after 'Snow Falls,' especially when it filled in so many blanks from that excellent episode. We now know why it was so important for Charming to retrieve his ring after Snow stole it, and his mother was absolutely right in predicting that "true love follows this ring wherever it goes." Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin did an outstanding job portraying the starcrossed lovers, and their longing was palpable, even when both of them were trying to do the supposed right thing. But as David pointed out, "the most hurtful thing would be me pretending," and I doubt that the sense of wrongness he feels when he's with Kathryn is going to dissipate any time soon.

We got to learn a little more about Kathryn, who seems far nicer in her Storybrooke iteration than snooty Abigail in fairytale land. It's nice that the show isn't immediately painting her as a hateful shrew whom David should easily be able to leave, since Mary Margaret observed in the last episode that if she were mean, it would at least make it easier to lust after her husband. I don't know if we'll begin to see a side of her more reminiscent of Abigail as the series progresses, but for now, it's more compelling for David to be conflicted over his feelings of obligation to Kathryn and the love he has for Mary. But since Kathryn is apparently Regina's only friend, I'm guessing the erstwhile Evil Queen will be a bad influence on Kathryn, rather than Kathryn being a mellowing influence on Regina -- especially since Snow White/Mary Margaret is once again ruining her nefarious scheme to give everyone an unhappily ever after.

Clearly, Henry has a much better handle on the intricacies of the curse than Emma gives him credit for, because there was probably some logic in his theory that David's amnesia was keeping the curse from replacing his old memories with false ones from Storybrooke. Obviously, Regina knew that a trip to Mr. Gold's would somehow allow the curse to take hold, but was Mr. Gold in on Regina's scheme, or is he still playing both sides to see who'll end up on top?

(Sidebar: it always does my heart good to see the "family" in scenes together, as when David immediately gravitated to Emma and Henry at his welcome home party -- it's touching, knowing what we know, even if he doesn't realize that he's talking to his daughter and grandson yet.)

Rumple's baby-stealing ways once again played an integral part in the episode, as Charming's father (played by the fabulous Alan Dale) made a deal with the imp in order to get a son. It was lucky that there happened to be a spare safely tucked away on a farm, just in case the king was careless with the first one. I was very satisfied to see that the king's second deal, to replace his son, directly linked to Cinderella's episode, so now we know that Rumple was able to destroy her fairy godmother and steal the wand thanks to a tip-off from Charming's father. These fairytale folk never learn, do they?

It was heartbreaking to see Mary Margaret wrestling with the morality of stealing a married man from his wife, only to have her hopes dashed when Regina's curse took hold and David's "memories" returned. Both Mary and David seem to have resigned themselves to the pessimistic view that Charming held after agreeing to marry Abigail: "you can't have everything."

But this is still a fairytale, and after saving each other from an apple-induced death and a coma, it's patently obvious that true love is far stronger magic than an evil curse, even if it takes a little longer to work its mojo. I'm not thrilled to see Mary warming up to the lecherous doctor while she's feeling sorry for herself (David Anders is always up to no good!) but perhaps a little jealousy is just what David needs to realize the depth of his feelings.

Elsewhere, Emma finally discovered that naughty Sheriff Graham is sleeping with Regina -- with Henry in the house, no less -- and needless to say, she wasn't amused. Next week's episode is Graham-centric, and the promo warned that someone in Storybrooke would be meeting an untimely end. I'm sorry to say it, given how much I love his skinny jeans, Irish accent and penchant for cardigans, but I suspect that our hunky sheriff isn't long for this world. What say you?

'Once Upon a Time' airs Sundays at 8PM ET on ABC.

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