Belief is a weed. It grows wild and deep. If you want to destroy it for good, you have to uproot it.Witch
Starring Lana Parrilla, Colin O’Donoghue, Andrew J. West, Dania Ramirez, Gabrielle Anwar, Alison Fernandez, Mekia Cox, and Robert Carlyle
Episode 5: Greenbacks
“Greenbacks” is more of a typical Once Upon a Time story, especially looking back on Season 1’s storytelling structure. We’ve been given a tremendous amount of expository information about one of our new character’s fairytale history, as well as heaps of twists and turns in the battle against the villainous Victoria Belfrey.
This week it’s Mekia Cox’s turn to take centre stage, both as Princess Tiana in the New Enchanted Forest, and as Jacinda’s best friend and roommate Sabine. Sabine has been a captivating presence throughout this season so it’s nice to see her utilised, as well as now being a part of the regular cast. Having said that, I wasn’t overly fond of what they’ve done, so far, with Tiana’s backstory.
In “The Princess and the Frog”, Tiana is shown as somebody who is constantly grafting to achieve her dream. Following in the footsteps of her father, she dreams to open her own restaurant. That is what drives her as a character is to achieve a dream, and she works hard to achieve that dream, it isn’t simply handed to her. Sure, she meets a Prince along the way, but Naveen was never the reason why she achieved her dream of having a restaurant. It was her own hard work and drive that defines her as a character, and makes her much more down to earth and relatable to an audience.
There are elements of this in Sabine’s Hyperion Heights storyline, as she tries to make something of herself through selling her beignets. However, in the Enchanted Forest storyline, Tiana is not motivated to achieve a dream. She is motivated by the desire not to lose her lavish house and belongings that she and her mother have to move out of following the death of her father. She therefore resolves to find a Prince so that they can keep their house and the life they have grown used to. Additionally, Tiana is also a Princess in her own right.
Obviously, this substantially changes the story that we are familiar with. While that’s not inherently a bad thing, I believe that this robs Tiana of an awful lot of her character. Instead of being ambitious, she appears somewhat spoiled by the fact that she seeks somebody to marry to get herself out of this situation. It makes her seem less independent that she is actively trying to find somebody else to fix her problems instead of doing it herself.
Sabine retains more of the energy of Tiana’s character from “The Princess and the Frog” as she strives to raise enough money for her and Jacinda’s rent. Sabine and Jacinda’s partnership is delightful to watch, and Sabine’s presence definitely improves the mood of those scenes. She is hopeful and optimistic where Jacinda is routinely drab and whiny. While Sabine was responsible for bringing out the best in Jacinda this week, so too were there’s incredibly frustrating moments from Jacinda. The fight that she instigated against Sabine was nothing short of histrionic and self-pitying. We’ve explored Jacinda’s relationship with hero in the past episodes, but she simply does not have the tenacity and the emotional endurance to be one, from the impressions we get here. All it takes is for there to be one small setback and she turns on those closest to her for little justification at all. She completely forgets all that Sabine has done for her, and goes straight to a place of anger. Hopefully her characterisation improves, especially if we are meant to root for her and Henry to ultimately end up together.
When I realised that this episode was about Tiana, I was fully prepared for one of those slightly skippable episodes, but Once certainly also delivered on some meaningful intriguing mysteries that are sure to be explored further in the coming episodes.
The Eloise Gardener case that Rogers is looking into is getting even more curious, with a mysterious man with what looks to be some sort of magical rune tattooed on his arm. I’m intrigued as to who the missing person is, whether it’s somebody that we know already, or a new character that will be revealed in the flashbacks. I also wonder whether this will tie in with Hook’s daughter that we heard a bout in the second episode. There’s not too much to go on as yet, but it’s bound to take centre stage moving forwards.
Even more layers are being uncovered of Ivy. Last episode did a good job at demonstrating that there was a human underneath her scathing exterior, but this week blew that wide open by revealing that she is playing the heroes. Not only is she fooling them, but she is also manipulating her mother as well, and working with the captured woman for her own means. On top of all of this brain rattling information, she also knows her identity as Drizella. It’s certainly an intriguing twist, and brings into question just how much we know about why the curse was cast. I had assumed that Victoria had cast it to enable her to bring Anastasia back to life, but since Ivy is also awake and influencing her mother, who knows what the real reasoning is.
Additionally, Roni also uncovered a picture in the basement that contained a meaningful clue to her forgotten past, as it showed her and Henry in Storybrooke. While neither of them can remember these events, with Rumple also aware of his previous life, it would be nice to see some of these characters returning soon.
Things are only getting more mysterious in Hyperion Heights. With Rumple now aware of his true identity, and nobody knowing that Ivy and the captive are in leagues with each other, absolutely anything could happen next! Hopefully it won’t be long before Regina too becomes aware, as her dynamic with Andrew J. West’s Henry is deliciously entertaining.
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. Seasons 1 – 4 are now available on Disney+ in the UK. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.