Once Upon A Time resurrects the werewolf curse first introduced in 1×15 ‘Red-Handed’ (one of the first season’s best episodes). So is the concept worthy of a second spin?
Let’s bitch it out…Unfortunately the answer appears to be no. What made Red’s (Meghan Ory) first background episode so intriguing was the revisionist take the show adopted by having Red Riding Hood be the wolf. ‘Child Of The Moon’ has no such aspirations. In many ways the episode plays out as a straightforward murder mystery: a body is discovered, someone is unable to remember the night before and suspects that they are the murderer, and at the end of the episode the true murderer is revealed to be someone else with a grudge. As a result ‘Child Of The Moon’ more or less plays out as we expect with the only twist being that Red is actually completely immaterial to King George’s (Alan Dale) plan to ruin Charming’s (Josh Dallas) happiness/family by burning the Hatters’ hat.
It’s not so much that the episode isn’t good as much as the concept feels stale. Unfortunately the flashbacks to FairyTale Land don’t fare much better. The show’s fairytale costuming, hair style and over-the-top dialogue don’t gel well with a pack of werewolves. Perhaps it’s due to Twilight fervour, but the terrible-as-usual CGI for the wolves reminded me (in a bad way) of the Stephanie Myers saga. Run Jacob run!
The human actors, meanwhile, particularly Annabeth Gish as leader Anita, come off as campy, Gypsy-like recluses sporting vaguely aboriginal garb and uttering campy dialogue. It’s a waste of a solid actress whom the writers don’t seem entirely certain what to do with: her introduction as Red’s long lost mother plays like a con and her “kill all the humans” declaration feels arbitrary and pointless. For the first part of the episode, I half expected her to ask Red to participate in a heist and there’s no suspense in the conclusion since we know that Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) is in no danger of dying because we’ve seen her and Red at the cabin later. In this way Anita and Quinn (Ben Hollingsworth) both feel like dead – or insignifcant – characters from the moment they’re introduced.
- The Disney family-friendly messaging machine is in full effect: Red is told by Anita that in order to ensure she blossoms and no longer suffers, she must accept the wolf as part of herself. Later, Red thanks Snow for being the only one to encourage her to accept both her human and wolf side. So, just in case anyone missed the message, Once Upon A Time wants you to be true to yourself, kids!
- I will say that I appreciated the fact that Anita did not forgive Red for choosing the humans over the wolf pack. I expected a more traditional feel-good ending, so it’s nice that the show at least stayed true to Anita’s character
- With that said, why did the entire wolf pack leave the chamber so that Anita could attack Snow? It sure did make it conveniently easy to accidentally kill Anita and leave
- Everyone love that the mob is comprised entirely of never-before-seen extras? Once… has such a huge cast and yet none of them are used in the lynchmob (perhaps it’s too unflattering a depiction for Jiminy Cricket or Doc?).
- It also seems silly that anyone would listen to King George’s rants about protecting their safety when Red has allowed herself to be locked up in jail. I guess it’s hard to go against or rationalize mob mentality?
- Side note: Are the pitchforks and torches a precursor to a future mob involving Dr. Frankenstein? Because that seems a little more appropriate
- Why is Granny (Beverly Elliott) on the ground after David rescues Red? Did she fall off the back of her truck? Did King George pull her down? Did she have a mini-stroke? What happened to Granny??? Inquiring minds need to know!
- In the opening the dwarves uncover a chamber full of diamonds that, when broken up, will turn into fairy dust. Despite the destruction of the Hatters’ hat, I’m sure these diamonds will still somehow figure into the reunion of Snow & Emma (Jennifer Morrison) with Charming & Henry (Jared Gilmore)
- Finally, in our sole brief glimpse of modern day FairyTale Land, Aurora (Sarah Bolger) confesses to Snow and Emma that she’s seen a boy named Henry in her fiery nightmares. 1) Clearly we’re going to see some dream conversations between the two sides now that Henry can control the nightmares (courtesy an amulet provided by Robert Carlyle’s Rumple) and 2) So is this A Nightmare On Elm Street? Should we just assume that they’re tossing every other story into the show now? If Freddy Krueger shows up in the next episode, I’m totally calling it quits on this show!
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC