Today, I began my Once Upon A Time rewatch of my favorite episodes before the start of season 4, September 28 8/7c (throwing in some promotion), and of course, I am beginning with the episode what started it all, “Pilot” or season 1 episode 1(creative title, I know).
So, shall I begin with a recap?
The episode begins with the title cards with as small a synopsis you can give for this ever complicated show. To put it simply, a curse was cast and our favorite fairytale characters were sent to the horrible place that is… Our World.
Suddenly, we see a shot of the ever so charming, (pun intended) no name-yet prince galloping off to wake Snow White up from the sleeping curse that those who know the film should know that the Evil Queen cast upon her. Fun Fact: Josh Dallas (Prince Charming) revealed in an interview (link to come) that as he was about to kiss Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) it actually started to snow (Fate? I think, Yes!)
The scene then quickly cuts to the couple on their wedding day, all happy, until the Evil Queen (no name revealed yet) comes to tell everyone at the wedding of the curse she plans to enact on the land, which leads to Snow White, acting very out of character from how we know her, to threaten her with her new husband’s sword.
Fast forward a bit of time to our world, and we are finally introduced to the most important character of the series, one Miss Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), who arrives in a restaurant for a date, on her birthday, to end up busting someone for running out on bail, Emma is a bail bondsperson, not man which she made sure to mention. After a little persuading (i.e. locking the guy’s wheel and shoving his face into the steering wheel), she ends up at her beautiful Boston apartment, where she makes a wish on her birthday cupcake, cue knock at door, and then arrives Henry, her long lost 10 year old son. End Act 1.
Phew…let’s make acts 2-5 shorter.
The next act begins back in the past Fairytale Land, where Snow White is pregnant, months after her wedding to her Prince. Snow stresses her concern over the Queen’s threat and asks to see him. Who is him, you may ask? Well, we finally see that he is locked and guarded in a jail cell and his name is Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who has scale-like skin, scary eyes, and has the temper of a certain Beast-like character (foreshadow). He predicts that Snow’s daughter, her name Emma, will save them all from the Queen’s curse on her 28th birthday. Yes, Emma Swan is the daughter of Snow White and her Prince. Side note: Carlyle’s performance as Rumple makes this scene all the more creepily-fantastic.
Back in present time, Emma has arrived in Henry’s hometown of Storybrooke, Maine, after being so cleverly convinced by Henry. On the way, Emma endured Henry’s theory of everyone in his town being fairytale characters, which of course Emma found ridiculous, and brought him on his way home.
Fairytale Land then showed a wonderful roundtable with Grumpy, Red Riding Hood, Jiminy Cricket, and Geppetto discussing how they would take control of Queen’s curse, when the Blue Fairy comes in and shares that there is an enchanted tree. Geppetto would turn the tree into a wardrobe so it could transport one, and only one, to another land to save them from the curse. This means that Snow must leave her Prince behind for 28 years. Of course, months later as the due date closes in and the curse is barreling down the path in front of them, Snow goes into labor.
Present time, Henry is returned to his mother who turns out to be Regina, the Evil Queen (dun, dun). Also present, Christian Grey himself, Jamie Dornan, as the town’s sheriff (not really important, however, I find it hilarious). Continuing on. After a shocked Regina (Lana Parrilla) meets her son’s birth mother, and a quick drink, Emma is sent on her way and finds Henry’s fairytale book in her car, but suddenly a wolf appears causing Emma to crash into the town’s “Welcome to Storybrooke” sign.
Suddenly, Emma is awoken in a jail cell with the Storybrooke versions of Grumpy and Geppetto greeting her. Sheriff Christian Grey (nah, it’s actually Graham) also chimes, in when Regina comes back to tell Graham that Henry ran away, again, and to her not-so-very happy surprise—
Emma is still in town. Emma uses her sleuthing power to find out how he found her and how he paid for it and quickly discovers that his teacher Mary Margaret, also known as Snow White, mysteriously helped her.
Mary Margaret is introduced in her classroom, with a bird in hand (how very Snow White of her) and dismisses her class when Regina, Emma, and Graham walk in to find out that Henry used her card (he stole it). For those who never noticed, a student gives Mary Margaret a pear not an apple, as most students would do—throwback to her bad luck with apples, maybe? Regina begins accusing Mary Margaret of helping Henry lie, while Mary Margaret, who gave Henry the book, accuses Regina of not caring for the lonely kid, which cues her to storm out knocking some books on the floor. Unknowingly, mother and daughter come face-to-face and begin striking up conversation, leading to one of the best quotes of the episode, and overall theme of the series, “Believing in the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing,” said by Mary Margaret.
We’re getting close to the end, I promise.
In Fairytale Land, Snow White is trying to give birth with her world, literally falling apart around her, as the Evil Queen heads toward Snow’s castle to gloat and take her baby. She really isn’t a very nice character in the beginning of the series. Once Baby Emma is born, the new family has a short amount of time before Snow decides to send her newborn daughter into a wardrobe, “…to give her her best chance,” leaving her devastated as Charming takes the baby away (no worries, because Josh Dallas and Ginny Goodwin have their own baby now).
Charming valiantly fights his way, with Emma in his arms, through the Evil Queen’s black knights, but after sending her off in the wardrobe, his injuries were too much to recover from—so we think. Later on, Snow finds him with his bloody shirt, thinking she can wake him up with True Love’s Kiss, just as he did for her. When it doesn’t work she shields him as the curse hits as the Evil Queen confronts Snow about making Snow’s unhappy ending, her happy ending.
One of the most touching scenes in the episode comes next, when Emma finds Henry at his “special place,” a tree house-type castle near the water. Henry continues to tell Emma about the fairytale theory, ending on a jump back to why Emma gave Henry up, which just so happens to be the same reason Snow gave Emma up, “…to give him his best chance” (*sniff, sniff*). After a comparison of whose life sucked more, Emma in the foster system or Henry with Regina, they walk off with Henry grabbing hold of his mother’s hand (excuse me, while I…*sniff*).
Emma returns Henry to Regina, where she is noticeably happier now that she has met Henry. Regina is not as happy for this reunion and threatens Emma about taking Henry away from her, since of course, she gave him up.
As the closing montage begins, Regina takes the infamous storybook from Henry’s room. Then we see Mary Margaret volunteering at a hospital where she delivers flowers to the patients, one who just so happens to be (dun, dun, dun) her husband, the Prince, in a coma, and she has no idea. Emma then arrives at the only inn in town, Granny’s, with the wonderful introduction of the Storybrooke version of Red Riding Hood, Ruby, and her Granny. Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke for one week (not so much) and is greeted by yet another new character, Mr. Gold, the scary man who owns the town, who just so happens to be the scaly, temperamental man himself, Rumpelstiltskin.
Of course, as this first episode ends, an important thing happens. Just as Emma is given the key to her room and decides to stay in Storybrooke, the clock tower moves from 8:15 to 8:16. According to Henry, the broken clock was a sign of the town being frozen in time, so when that clock began to move, time could move forward again and the Savior could begin the process of finally breaking the curse, 28 years later, all she had to do was believe.
So, this ends my first recap. Don’t worry, they will not all be this long, but I felt that the pilot episode warranted more explanation than others.
Thank you for sticking with this first real post. Let me know what you think and I will be back tomorrow with a new addition.