I believe the greeting you’re looking for is “Hello, Mother”.The Black Fairy
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, and Robert Carlyle.
Episode 17: Awake
For “Awake”, Once Upon a Time capitalised heavily upon the Halcyon Days of the original season, and supported the episode with the incredible chemistry of Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas. It’s been a while since the couple have properly taken centre stage; indeed, present day Snow has never truly reached the heights of her Enchanted Forest counterpart, to my eternal consternation.
Having said that, the flashbacks this week gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, Snow and Charming’s dilemma was emotional and intriguing. The audience know, as soon as it’s revealed that it’s 18 years too early – and in fact for the vast majority of the episode – that, somehow, Snow and Charming must end up forgetting their true identities until we meet them in the regular show. My fiancé was, in fact, particularly outraged, continually muttering “but this didn’t happen!” until the timeline reveal.
We are used to Snow and Charming making heroic sacrifices on their own behalf. What makes their sacrifice here different is that it’s wilfully hurting their own daughter in the name of heroism, which is much trickier to justify. Goodwin and Dallas really sell these performances, and it’s a hugely emotional scene to see Snow grapple with her urge to be reunited with her daughter and be a proper family, but to the detriment of all of those whom they knew in the Enchanted Forest.
Of course, this then links nicely in with the present, where the parents are feeling particularly guilty that causing Emma to become the Saviour has now put her squarely in the Black Fairy’s crosshairs. It’s this realisation that leads Snow to ultimately sacrifice the cure to her and Charming’s curse so that Emma and Hook can be reunited once more. It’s dreadfully poetic, you see.
However, it also doesn’t make terribly much sense either. I’m confident that another method could have been found to rescue Hook, but I suppose it all worked out well in the end, and when the entire community came together to rescue the Charmings from the effects of the sleeping curse, it was a delightfully satisfying scene, even though Zelena was randomly, yet conspicuously, absent. Quite why Emma herself – the only one who can defeat the Black Fairy – also took sips of the potion was doubtless questionable, but I suppose that they never really expected it to go wrong.
That’s the positives about the backstory. It certainly adds more depth to the tragic and somewhat undesirable nature of being a hero. However, it also seems to rob a little something from Snow and Charming’s story. The whole narrative of them being cursed for 28 years and then finally finding each other at the end of the first season, all because of the power of Emma’s love for Henry is now somewhat undercut by the fact that they were first woken up by a random flower. It makes the scene where the pair run towards each other in the street a little less impactful to know that they actually had woken up before.
A major – and overly convenient – link between the flashbacks and the present day are the deus ex machina device of the pixie flower. Not entirely sure why this has never come up as a solution to any of their easily fixable problems before now, but then again I’m also uncertain why Snow and Charming have kept their secret “oh whoops we woke up too early” escapade so hush hush for the past six seasons. Plot convenience would doubtless be the answer. The foreboding nature of the flower is that it grows only where there is great evil. The fact that there seems to be an entire field as soon as the Black Fairy turns up, and only a single flower grew in response to Regina’s Dark Curse is very telling. But also, it’s a pretty glowing flower, so it really doesn’t intimidate that much.
Gideon seems to be becoming a shade more interesting, as there’s the suggestion that he is actually fighting against the Black Fairy’s control, despite the fact that she has his heart. Evidence: the pixie flower petal, and also the fact that Hook ever so conveniently ended up in Neverland: the one location of Tiger Lily, who has a weapon that can defeat the Black Fairy. That seems like a convenient way to follow the Black Fairy’s instructions but also undermine her from within. Despite this level of interest, however, the Black Fairy is still not remotely threatening. Just a bit of a deadpan Brit with a habit of growing magical flowers wherever she appears.
Tiger Lily’s inclusion seems almost as if the show runners pressed “randomise” on a list of Disney characters they have as-yet not used, but I was impressed how they actually cast a Native American actress and didn’t whitewash the role. Her history with the Black Fairy seems a little strange considering the traditional tale, so I imagine there’ll be some typical Once fiddling of the narrative before too long.
“Alive” still feels like place setting. Considering there is to be a “final battle”, or the final battle, if you prefer, everybody seems remarkably calm, and also strangely cavalier at surrendering themselves to sleeping curses. There were emotional beats, but it just isn’t capturing the interest of the audience yet. Fingers crossed that now all of the heroes are reinstated, with Snow and Charming free from their curse and Hook and Emma reunited and soon to be married, the fight against the Black Fairy will soon intensify, especially as she attempts to get Rumple onside. I’m also desperately hoping that Zelena, at least, will get more screentime before the finale (sorry, Belle, I’ve given up on you. Not sure what you did to offend Kitsis and Horowitz, but that’s your burden to bear).
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.