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How To Be “Selfless, Brave and True”: Once Upon A Time Review

By on March 25, 2013
Sonequa Martin-Green as Tamara in Once Upon a Time. Image © ABC

Sonequa Martin-Green as Tamara in Once Upon a Time. Image © ABC

Being “Selfless, Brave and True” all of the time is a bit of a challenge for anyone, but at least for most people failing does not result in literally turning into wood. This week’s Once Upon A Time episode focuses on August (also known as Pinocchio) for much of the time, including in the flashbacks. We also get to see how some characters that seemed unrelated are actually intertwined in a grander picture.

Neal’s fiancée, Tamara, initially seems doe-eyed and docile, but turns out to be a secretive killer searching the world for magic. As the flashbacks reveal, both she and August went to the same mystical healer titled “the Dragon.” After taking a bottle of magic from the specialist, Tamara whips out what appears to be a taser gun.

In an intimidating fashion, the Dragon rises up into the air with smoke swirling out of his nostrils. He looks threatening, but the moment turns extremely anti-climactic when Tamara merely reaches out and tasers him anyway. Somehow, this attack kills him.

Tamara continues with her wicked ways in present-day Storybrooke, feigning innocence with Neal. She tells a completely wooden August that if he agrees to leave town and never return, he can have the healing magic she stole from the Dragon. Instead of succumbing to his former selfish habits, August makes his best effort to warn Emma and everyone else about Tamara. This proves futile when Tamara catches him and uses the apparently deadly taser on him.

Since August died valiantly trying to correct his mistakes, the Blue Fairy is able to resurrect him – as a child. It looks like we’ll be saying an indefinite goodbye to the actor who plays the adult version of August, Eion Bailey. Young August is unable to remember the warning he was trying to give everyone, so Tamara’s secret agenda is safe for now.

A very awkward bagel date. Image © ABC

A very awkward bagel date. Image © ABC

Snow is still battling a guilty conscience and takes to the woods to get a little archery in. Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” plays in the background as Snow practices with her bow and arrow. The scene feels a bit silly and out of place, as does this storyline concerning Snow’s “blackening heart.” This new idea that doing one bad thing blackens one’s heart and sends a formerly good person spiraling into darkness does not really fit with past history in the show.

Later Snow discovers that August’s father lied about the magical capacity of the wardrobe he built all that time ago. If not for the man’s dishonesty, she could have seen Emma grow up. Snow slaps the man, and is immediately horrified with herself. Emma also acts appalled, which is downright strange. He may have been looking out for his son, but his actions denied a woman the chance to be a mother to her child.

One of the strongest and most interesting parts of the episode is also the least explored – Regina and Owen. At first it is surprising that Regina doesn’t suspect the town newcomer. In a less than subtle nudge, he mentions that he has a soft spot for “little kids in trouble.” (In other words, he’s a human being.)

Appropriately true to her sharp character, Regina ends up realizing who he is, and does not seem worried. Cool and collected as ever, Regina insists she does not know where Owen’s father is, and instructs him to leave town. Of course, that seems unlikely, particularly since we also learn that Tamara and Owen are working together (and romantically-linked, though that seems forced).

Things feel somewhat inconsistent throughout this episode. It seems impossibly illogical that Neal would invite his supposedly unaware fiancée to Storybrooke, and then proceed to calmly explain he is from the Enchanted Forest. Is pulling out a book of fairy-tales like a family scrapbook really the best approach?

What did you think of the episode? Where is Rumpelstiltskin? Somehow it doesn’t quite feel like a proper Once Upon A Time episode without him. However, Sonequa Martin-Green is a force to be reckoned with as Tamara, so it was an excellent introduction to her character. Catch the next episode April 21st on ABC.