Once Upon A Time recap – 1×08: ‘Desperate Souls’

Courtesy of ABC

Welcome back Fairytale fans! We’ve had a few weeks to process the first fatality on Once Upon A Time and now we’re back with the aftermath: election fever!

Let’s break it down…

Our first new episode of 2012 picks up two weeks after Sheriff Graham’s death (RIP). Everyone is still feeling the fall-out: Emma is still wearing her dollar store deputy badge, Mayor Mills (Lana Parilla) barks at both Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) when they mention Graham and David (Josh Dallas) has taken over his duties at the animal shelter. Boy, someone dies in Storybrooke and everyone gets a new job. It’s like a fairytale version of an Oprah giveaway special!

This theme of ‘Desperate Souls’ is power – as in who has it and who wants it. Our background story features Rumpelstiltskin’s past before his speech became sponsored by Slytherin and his skin was bronzer than Charlize Theron in those J’Adore Dior ads. No, back in the day, Rumple is just a single father with a son, who works as a farmer (maybe he and Faux-Charming are neighbours?). Rumple is desperate – get it? – to keep his son from being conscripted to join the ogre wars, and so, on the eve of his son’s fourteenth birthday, he hatches a plan to acquire magical powers thanks to some intel from a helpful old man (genre vet Brad Dourif). As we’ve learned several times over, magic has a price, so killing the Dark One (who turns out to be the old man in a twist no one saw coming) has some unintended consequences. Oh sure, it grants Rumple the power to save his son, but it also comes with some fine print conditions pertaining to the power over names, etc. Interestingly his son is nowhere to be seen in the other Fairytale stories we’ve seen, so it’s clear that there’s more to this story.

Courtesy of ABC

In Storybrooke, meanwhile, the race is on to elect a new Sheriff (despite the fact that the body is barely cold!). After the Mayor sacks her, Emma puts on her woh-woh face, retires her leather jacket collection and breaks the toaster in a drunken stupor. But lo and behold, Mr. Gold shows up uttering the same line the Dark One tells him in Fairytale: “I know how to recognize a desperate soul.” And desperate she should be, because without a job there is no way that this bounty hunter can afford the rent in two different places. I can hardly wait for the future episode when she gets the bill for her fancy place back in the city because she’s neglected to sell.

Mr. Gold proposes he become Emma’s benefactor, which seems like a bad idea and has a creepy Daddy Warbucks vibe (god I hate Annie). Before you know it, Gold has gone full on pyro, tossing homemade Molotov cocktails  to win Emma the badge. After she rescues the Mayor from a suspiciously well timed fire, she becomes a hero to both the people of the town and Henry  (Jared Gilmore). Unfortunately even though she wasn’t involved in setting the fire and she didn’t know about it in advance, her moral compass prompts her to implicate herself as complicit in setting the fire (?) and confess at the debate (Side Note: She’s a hell of a candidate for not even realizing that there was a debate). Her decision to call out Gold in public endears her to the people of Storybrooke, however, and she ultimately wins the election. Unfortunately the post is marked by the return of the leather jacket collection (spotted tonight: red, brown and tan!) and the promise that Gold will use her position to his benefit when he calls in the favour she owes him. Cue the ominous music!

Other considerations:

  • Best line of the night: Sidney Glass deadpanning “She doesn’t joke” (in reference to the Mayor) after Regina reveals the outcome of the election and Emma asks if she’s joking.
  • Rumple’s fighting skills against the Duke and his men were alternately cool and silly. Cool: The single hand neck snap. Silly: The low-budget slow-motion swordplay that was over in a mere ten seconds. Effective, but a little too Hercules and Xena for my liking.
  • Henry continues to be best in small doses. Also, his “good never triumphs over evil because evil doesn’t play fair” lines would ring more true if Emma was a more compelling heroine and less of a dunce. Honestly, she’s so oblivious to every trick that it’s a wonder she ever caught any criminals.
  • The show is clearly aimed at family audiences, but the nudge-nudge, wink-wink fairytale cheekiness is best when it’s less overt. Some good examples tonight: Sidney Glass (the magic mirror in Fairytale) observing himself in the mirror before the debate, and resident shrink (and Fairytale Jiminy Cricket) Archie (Raphael Sbarge) muttering “crickets” after one of his emcee jokes bomb.
  • Only a brief scene for my favourite couple, Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David Nolan. Their meet-cute at the bulletin board in adorable hats (see above) continues to make them endearing and sugary sweet. More please!

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

9 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time recap – 1×08: ‘Desperate Souls’

  1. Hey it’s Chris from over at Blast. You’re very funny, and great with the pop culture references. I agree with mostly everything, but I like Emma. I don’t think she is inept necessarily. To me she is just someone who likes to see the good in people and continuously is shocked that Regina continues to take the low road, but once she realizes she has to play hardball she becomes a worthy adversary. I also want more Mary and David, lol

  2. Because this is a “family show” I believe we will continue to be disappointed by the aspects that disappoint us, and Emma will continue to wear a leather jacket like a uniform, almost like this show will spawn a toy series.

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