Once Upon a Time Review: “The Garden of Forking Paths”

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This third episode of season seven was the most quintessentially Once of the three we’ve seen so far, switching easily between past adventures in the forest and present-day ones in Hyperion Heights. The first two episodes did that as well, but here the stories in both places had the similar thread of Cinderella/Jacinda learning something and Regina/Roni helping her get there. This sort of mirroring was done a lot in the first season especially, and it felt pleasantly familiar here, much like the references to the past in the first two episodes did.

The interactions between Cinderella and Regina worked the best for me. Regina quickly adopted a sort of mothering presence with her, which was both sweet and logical considering Cinderella will one day become Henry’s true love. However, I also got the sense that Regina saw Cinderella as an equal, an independent woman she instantly respected, regardless of the choice she made in this episode.

Their conversations also had the most direct connection to the past, with Regina telling Cinderella that she needs to forgive herself first and that “Believe me, I’ve done a lot worse.” Regina has always made a habit of reminding people of her past deeds whenever possible, almost as if in penance for what she put her family and friends through. It’s a pretty defining part of her character at this point, so it was nice to see that in play here. TV is my favorite storytelling medium largely because of how easily it allows for character development, so it’s extremely satisfying to see Regina go from the Evil Queen terrorizing everyone to a key part of another kingdom’s resistance.

The Henry/Lucy scenes also worked well and did a lot to further establish that relationship. It’s tough because there can only be so many scenes of Lucy begging Henry to believe before it becomes exactly what Emma and Henry’s relationship was in the first season, but I think they’ve done a decent job of differentiating it so far. Even though, as Lucy said, their storyline here was very similar to Henry looking in the mines, I appreciated that they acknowledged that similarity. Plus, it makes total sense that Lucy would use Henry’s book as research of sorts.

Three episodes in, certain new characters are starting to pop for me, like Cinderella and Tiana, while others, like Victoria, aren’t. Until that last scene, Victoria felt like a dime a dozen villain to me, both in the forest and in Hyperion Heights. The mystery prisoner, however, feels like she could be a very interesting villain, or at least play a role in making Victoria a more interesting villain herself. I’m also glad we found out exactly what Lady Tremaine/Victoria’s motivation is. It’s pretty dark for this show but enjoyably so, and I’m sure that information will help make her a more specific villain as well.

A couple of other thoughts on “The Garden of Forking Paths”:

It was a very small moment, but there seemed to be a hint of something between Hook and Tiana. It wasn’t a big enough thing for me to properly gauge how I’d feel about it, but there’s no doubt that seeing Hook with another person might be a little strange, especially at the beginning. Even though he’s not our Killian, it’s been several seasons since we’ve seen him with anyone but Emma Swan.

The Weaver/Rogers storyline fell really flat for me this episode; I just don’t find their dynamic all that compelling yet. They seemed to tread pretty much the same ground they did in the last episode, with Weaver establishing that he also wants to take Victoria down, albeit in a less moral way than Rogers does. I’m assuming I’ll be more interested in Weaver once we find out in next week’s episode exactly what led Rumple there.

What did you think of “The Garden of Forking Paths”? Let me know in the comments!

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