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Once Upon A Time

May 13, 2012

A Timeline and some unanswered questions about Once Upon A Time! by Kelvin Cedeno


* Rumpelstiltskin’s son Baelfire is chosen on his 14th birthday to fight in the Ogre Wars. To save him, Rumpelstiltskin seeks a dagger that contains the name of the Dark One. Speaking the name aloud summons the Dark One, and stabbing him results in a transfer of powers. Rumpelstiltskin acquires seemingly unlimited power before realizing the Dark One, Zoso, was the beggar who told him about the dagger to begin with. Rumpelstiltskin destroys all the guards who come to take Baelfire, and his new position as the Dark One becomes known.

* Baelfire grows concerned for his father’s well-being and makes a deal with him to restore his humanity should he find a way to do so without anyone getting hurt or killed. The Blue Fairy gives Baelfire magic beans that can transport him and Rumpelstiltskin to a world without magic. Baelfire opens up a portal using the beans, but Rumpelstiltskin backs out. Baelfire falls in, and the portal is shut. The Blue Fairy accidentally reveals that there is but one way to retrieve Baelfire, but it concerns dark magic. Rumpelstiltskin vows to obtain it to get back his son.

- Flash forward an undetermined period of time –

* Jiminy grows tired of his parents’ dishonest methods of obtaining money and wishes to break free of them. Rumpelstiltskin gives him a potion that can do just that. When visiting the home of a young couple, Jiminy’s parents swindle them into buying a vial for protection from a supposed plague. Frustrated at this, Jiminy attempts to use his potion before discovering that his parents switched the vials. It turns out the potion transformed the couple into wooden puppets. Jiminy wishes for there to be a way to undo it. The Blue Fairy offers him a chance at both redemption and freedom by transforming him into a cricket who will act as a conscience to the child the couple left behind– Geppetto.

- Flash forward over 50 years -

* Regina rescues Snow White from a runaway horse, unaware that she’s the daughter of King Leopold. Leopold proposes to Regina to which her overbearing mother, Cora, accepts. Regina is in fact in love with the stable boy, Daniel, and the two plan to elope. Snow discovers this but promises Regina she’ll never tell anyone. However, Cora tricks Snow into telling her about the couple. As they try to escape, Cora catches them and kills Daniel. The morning of the wedding to Leopold, Snow inadvertently reveals to Regina that she told Cora about Daniel.

- Flash forward approximately 9 years –

* The fairy Nova accidentally spills some of her fairy dust while traveling, and it lands on the egg of Dreamy the dwarf. Dreamy and the other seven dwarfs are hatched.

- Flash forward one year -

* Leopold releases a Genie from a lamp he finds on the shore. After using up his first two wishes (one of which to free the Genie), he passes on the third wish left to him. Leopold introduces the Genie to Snow and Regina, and the Genie notices how depressed Regina seems. Clearly infatuated with her, he gives her a mirror to boost her spirits. Leopold finds out about the mirror and that Regina is in love with the man who gave it to her – not realizing it’s the Genie. The Genie makes plans to run away with Regina and has the King killed. He then discovers that he was a pawn in Regina’s plan to overthrow the King, but determined never to leave her, uses his third wish to be with her always. He is then trapped in the mirror.

* Regina arranges for the Huntsman to kill Snow. The Huntsman attempts to, but instead sets her free. He brings Regina back the heart of a deer to pose as Snow’s, but Regina sees through this. She instead rips out the Huntsman’s heart, forcing him to do her every bidding.

* Red Riding Hood catches Snow stealing eggs from her chickens. The two befriend each other and decide to track down the wolf that’s been terrorizing the town. When coming to the conclusion that it’s Red’s beau Peter, Red attempts to stop him alone. Red’s grandmother reveals that Red, is in fact, the wolf, and Peter is killed by Red in her wolf state. Snow helps her flee before the villagers come after her.

* The Ogre Wars begin again, and King Maurice seeks help from Rumpelstiltskin. Rumpelstiltskin agrees with the condition that he take Maurice’s daughter Belle as a housekeeper. Belle volunteers despite Maurice’s refusal.

* Regina seeks the help of Jefferson to retrieve something that was taken from her and brought to Wonderland. Jefferson complies and finds out it was a rescue mission for Regina’s father. Because only the same amount of people can leave Wonderland at once who go in, Regina and her father escape, and Jefferson is captured and beheaded by the Queen of Hearts.

- Flash forward approximately three months -

* Belle and Rumpelstiltskin begin to fall for each other. He sends her on an errand in hopes she’ll use the opportunity to escape. While on the road, she meets Regina who tells her true love’s kiss can break any spell. Belle returns and attempts this, but Rumpelstiltkin angrily turns her away when realizing the kiss was making him mortal.

* Dreamy meets Nova and is attracted to her due to the spilled fairy dust. While in a tavern, he runs into Belle who points out to him he’s in love. Dreamy and Nova plan to see the world together, but Bossy and the Blue Fairy tell Dreamy that should that happen, Nova will never get her wings. Dreamy breaks up with Nova, and the bitterness swells up inside of him to the point where he officially becomes Grumpy. Regina tells Rumpelstiltskin that Maurice had Belle tortured as a means to cleanse her from her months with Rumpel and that she committed suicide as a result.

* King George makes a deal with King Midas for gold should his son James slay the dragon that’s invading Midas’ kingdom. James is killed before this can happen, but Rumpelstiltskin reveals there’s a twin who is now a shepherd. In exchange for this information, George tells Rumpelstiltskin the whereabouts of a magic wand. George has the Shepherd pose as James, and the Shepherd slays the dragon. Midas arranges a marriage with his daughter Abigail. George forces the Shepherd to accept or else his mother will be killed. His mother gives him her ring to give to Abigail before saying goodbye. Snow steals the Shepherd’s engagement ring thinking him to be associated with Regina. The Shepherd, whom she christens “Charming,” later catches her. When finding out that Snow sold the ring to trolls, the two set off to reclaim it. Once they do, they part ways obviously having bonded during the journey.

* Rumpelstiltskin kills Ella’s fairy godmother and steals the wand. Desperate to get out of her current situation, Ella makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to get her to the royal ball, unaware of what the price is.

* Red delivers news to Snow of Charming’s impending marriage to Abigail. Overwhelmed with grief, she bargains with Rumpelstiltskin for a potion to completely wipe out Charming from her mind. Hansel and Gretel are separated from their father in the woods, and Regina offers to help them find him should they retrieve a special item from the home of the Blind Witch. Charming sends Snow a note to meet him at the palace the night before the wedding. Snow sneaks in but is arrested. Meanwhile, Hansel and Gretel sneak into the home of the Blind Witch and throw her in the oven after she tries to eat them. Snow escapes from her cell with Grumpy and Stealthy, but Stealthy is killed in the effort. King George threatens to kill Charming lest she convince him she no longer loves him. Snow does so, and both she and Charming go their separate ways. Grumpy invites her to live with him and the other dwarfs, and Regina witnesses this in her mirror. Hansel and Gretel arrive with the item Regina sought from the Blind Witch – an apple. Regina offers to adopt them as a reward, but they refuse. They go off in search of their father, not realizing Regina has kept him in her prison the entire time.

* The next morning, Grumpy hears that Charming has called off the wedding and searches for Snow. Snow has no recollection of Charming as it turns out she’s taken the potion Rumpelstiltskin gave her. Charming finds out from Red that Snow still loves him and was out looking for him. The two escape from George’s soldiers. Abigail runs into Charming and admits that she’s in love with Frederick, a soldier who was accidentally turned to gold by her father Midas. Charming defeats a siren in order to retrieve the magical water that’ll turn Frederick back.

* With the love and memory of Charming now missing from her life, Snow becomes embittered. Grumpy takes her back to Rumpelstiltskin in hopes of reversing the spell, but Rumpelstiltskin instead gives Snow a bow and arrow to kill Regina with. Charming arrives shortly afterwards and bargains with Rumpelstiltskin for Snow’s whereabouts. He catches up with her and tries to convince her to stop her revenge. Unable to do so, he leaps in front of her arrow. This act proves to Snow that Charming truly cares for her, and when kissing him, remembers him and their love. King George’s soldiers show up and arrest Charming.

* Snow organizes a rescue mission to get Charming back. She and various other characters raid George’s castle, but it’s revealed that Charming is actually locked away in Regina’s castle. Regina sends a message to Snow to meet her at the stables alone and unarmed. Despite the protests of her friends, Snow goes to meet Regina at the stables alone. Here she finds out that Cora killed Daniel because of her mistake. Regina offers Snow a magically-poisoned apple in exchange for Charming’s life. Snow bites into the apple and is sent into a near-death sleep. Her friends arrive at the scene after Regina has already left.

- Flash forward an undetermined amount of time -

* Charming finds the unconscious Snow in the forest, kisses her, and breaks the spell. Snow and Charming are married, but Regina crashes the ceremony to announce the curse. Regina visits Maleficent and retrieves the curse from her. Snow becomes pregnant.

* Ella and Thomas are married, but Rumpelstiltskin shows up to name his price – Ella’s unborn child. Ella becomes pregnant and tells Thomas about Rumpelstiltskin’s demands. The Blue Fairy arranges for a quill to be made that whoever uses it will be frozen. Ella gives the quill to Rumpelstiltskin, and he’s captured. Thomas suddenly disappears. Regina tries to enact the curse but fails.

* Snow and Charming visit Rumpelstiltskin in his cell and find out that their baby will be the key to breaking the curse. In exchange for this information, Snow gives Rumpelstiltskin her unborn baby’s name – Emma. Regina later visits him, and he reveals to her what she must do to enact the curse. Regina kills her father and uses his heart as the final ingredient needed.

* Pinocchio rescues Geppetto from a whale but is killed in the process. The Blue Fairy revives him and transforms him into a real boy. She commissions Geppetto to create a wardrobe that can transport Snow and Charming to another world away from the curse. Geppetto refuses unless Pinocchio can be guaranteed safe passage in it as well. The Blue Fairy agrees and tells Snow and Charming that there’s only room for one person. It’s agreed upon that Snow will be the one to enter it so that she and the unborn savior can be safe.

* Regina unleashes the curse on the land just as Snow goes into labor. Geppetto sends Pinocchio off into wardrobe for safety, and the wardrobe is sent to Snow. Her baby, Emma, is placed there and escapes just as Regina arrives. The curse is enacted, and everyone is transported to the town of Storybrooke.


* After trying to fetch Ella some water for what ended up being a false labor alarm, Prince Thomas disappears. Ella is told by Rumpelstiltskin that this likely the price for using the magic quill on him, but it’s unclear what happened to Thomas in Fairy Tale Land and why something bestowed by the Blue Fairy of all people would come with a catch 22.

* In “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” the Huntsman gives Snow a whistle that he tells her will bring help her way should she need. Snow has yet to utilize this for anything.

* Grumpy tells Snow in “7:15 A.M.” that he was arrested by King George’s soldiers for stealing a diamond for a woman he loved. We know the woman must be Nova, but the circumstances surrounding this have yet to be explained.

* We haven’t seen Belle in Storybrooke since the big reveal of her in the psychiatric ward at the end of “Skin Deep.” The writers have confirmed that this plot point will be picked up again for the finale.

* We learn from Rumpelstiltskin in “Heart of Darkness” that love is the most powerful form of magic there is, and it’s the one thing he lacks. In that episode, he takes Charming’s coat, and earlier in “7:15 A.M.,” a hair from Snow. At the end of “Heart of Darkness,” he manages to bottle up the magic of love in a bottle using these two items. Exactly what he intends to do with it remains to be seen.

* Regina’s mother Cora completely drops out of the story with no explanation. It is quite likely Regina had her killed in some way, though we won’t know till season two (in which Barbara Hershey has been confirmed to be returning for a several-episode arc).

* In “Hat Trick,” Regina reveals her motive for entering Wonderland was to rescue her father from the Queen of Hearts. No details have yet been given as to the circumstances surrounding her father’s capture.

* Jefferson suddenly appears in Storybrooke in “An Apple Red as Blood” after disappearing in “Hat Trick.” No explanation, yet, has been given as to what happened to him.

* In the same episode, it’s clearly spelled out that Regina knows Emma is the savior. We don’t know when in the series she came to that realization, though it’s possible she’s known since “The Thing You Love Most” when Gold makes certain implications towards it.

A Few Fun Facts

* Yensid's hat from Fantasia can be seen in Rumpelstiltskin's home in "Skin Deep"

* A Mickey Mouse phone can be seen in Mr. Gold's shop

* Regina gives Henry a Space Paranoids game, and Henry has a Tron lunch box. The writers of the show are the writers of Tron Legacy.


A Look Back at Season 1 by Albert Gutierrez

Throughout the season, there have been several characters that have wavered back and forth on my likeability spectrum. I initially didn't see the point to Ruby (a.k.a. Red Riding Hood), but that changed once we saw her backstory, however predictable it was. Likewise, I thought that Henry Mills would feature a lot of growth, but his character has eventually stunted in development and now just parrots the same thing ad nauseum. We get it. My one major complaint with the series is that some characters are inconsistent in their presentation. While I'm sure it's meant to show them as complex and more than one-sided, sometimes it's downright frustrating. The whole point of fairy tales was knowing who was good and who was evil, and how the good triumphed. I commend post-modern fairy-tale retellings, which show different layers to a fairy tale character's personality. But when it comes to a weekly television show, character development should at least follow a sensible arc, not the whims of whatever is required for an episode.

Emma, the lynchpin of the entire series, is consistently written, much to the audience's disadvantage. That may not make sense initially, but think about what she's done in the entire season. As someone who is only restricted to Storybrooke scenes, we only know as much about her as she tells us. There are no flashbacks - which would surely be helpful - to her youth, no backstory beyond her, "I had no family, I was an orphan, whine whine whine." She's practically unlikeable in the first episode. Fortunately, her time in Storybrooke helps to slowly chip away at that rough exterior. She gets a sudden burst of motherhood and sticks around for Henry's sake, while unwittingly becoming close to her own mother, Mary Margaret Blanchard (a.k.a. Snow White). However, that's not really enough. She seems to have only two agendas on the series: get Henry back and bring Regina down. Because of that, episodes that could develop her beyond those goals instead make her constantly regress back into them. I understand that those goals are her "arc," so to speak, but the writing for it has been so one-track that I don't really care about her as a character, just as a means of telling a story.

Consequently, Regina Mills (Evil Queen) has been given so many different twists throughout the season, that she's become my favorite character. And it all starts with how she appeared in the first episode. The first half of the pilot episode introduces us to the Evil Queen version, which we always expect to be... well, evil. But when we first meet her later on in her Storybrooke incarnation, she appears much kinder. As Emma and Henry show up at her door, she runs out to him and cries, "Henry? Henry! Are you okay? Where have you been? What happened?" Looking back on the scene now, we know how she really feels. But in a first-time viewing, that moment comes across as genuine concern, and that's what makes her such a compelling character. In the Storybrooke world, Regina Mills is introduced as a career-oriented woman who wants to be as good a mother as possible. Yet, as the season progresses, we see that not only is she already aware she's the Evil Queen, but the entire thing is an elaborate masquerade. It's an amazing about-face.

The writers manage to diminish her motherly quality over the season - think back again to that touching moment when she runs out to her no-longer-missing son - in order to reassure the audience time and again that Regina = Evil. It's an unfortunate circumstance for her, which makes her journey all the more interesting. I've always felt that no matter how much magic - good or bad - she uses, there is still that possibility of the inherent goodness in her. Episodes like "The Stable Boy" and "The Thing You Love Most" establish why she's become evil, but both also show how she is not always. She still has a vulnerability and a pain that makes her good. That's the Regina I'd like to see get explored in future seasons. I'm really hoping that such an issue gets addressed in the second season. It's no fun seeing such an amazing character fall from grace and never rise up again. After all, if we can feel sympathy for Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, surely the same can be done for Regina.

Likewise, there's a LOT of potential and development in Jefferson (the Mad Hatter, or as my sister and I refer to him: Bucky the Hatter). He's only been in two episodes so far (and as of this writing, will presumably be the season finale), but he's provided a whole new level of confusion and intrigue to the "Once Upon A Time" mythos. Although he was trapped in Wonderland - another realm separate from their Fairy Tale world - Regina still manages to pull him into Storybrooke, where like her, he is aware of both realities. This makes him conflicted as to what is real and what is a nonsense, echoing the foundation of the Alice in Wonderland story itself. Also, Jefferson joins Mr. Gold as a character who has lost a child, and is still suffering from that pain. It makes their plights more heartbreaking than Emma's, who only needs to believe in order for all things to go right. Jefferson and Mr. Gold don't have that luxury; instead, they remember both lives and are still reminded of the pain.

I know that Sebastian Stan has a recurring gig on "Gossip Girl," and that he's doing movies, but it would be great if he could remain on "Once Upon a Time" in a recurring basis, much like Ruby or Grumpy. Jefferson is not entirely essential to the grand scheme of the story, despite his Mad Hatter side holding a great deal of magic in his hat. Honestly, I just want to watch the adventures of Bucky the Hatter on a semi-weekly basis. It's a more interesting diversion from Emma Swan's latest decision to be stubbornly adamant that there is no magic in the world. That staunch stance is enough to drive a viewer mad, because the character is intentionally showing they don't want to change.

I think that's why one of my least favorite characters on the series has been young Henry. In the beginning, there was an intrigue about him. The audience expected him to know more than he lets on, but over the season, he's become a disappointment. By the end, we see that he's just a kid who genuinely believes in the fairy tales he reads. Granted, we as an audience know that the fairy tales are true, and so we'd sympathize with him. But because of that very reason, there's little left to Henry that's a mystery. He holds no further secret information, and simply acts as one of the two Audience Surrogates on the show - the other being his mother Emma. Henry has lost his value, because he's lost his own mystery. There's no more secret information he's still hoarding, there's no sense of being wise beyond his years. It's just a kid who believes in fairy tales. When a character like Henry loses what made him unique, he's stymied in development.

Once a character reaches that impasse, the writers need to do something to shake them up. One of my favorite writers, the late Douglas Marland, once listed rules for "How NOT to Wreck a Show" ( It's a very interesting read, and although it was written for the soap opera community, it applies to any serialized storytelling, much like "Once Upon a Time." One of my favorite rules was #6:

"Don't change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn't have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when the audience says, "He would never do that," then you have failed."

In the first season alone, we've seen how the writers intend to write for characters like Emma, Regina, Jefferson, and Henry. And now, I'm hoping that the second season shakes things up with all of them. However, I still want them to be recognizable as good versus evil, or even as evil redeemed (like Sherriff Graham/Huntsman before he was killed off. *sobs*). But they need that edge, the one factor that makes them unlike what they were before. It will make them all the more interesting, and all the more difficult to predict. When characters are predictable, there's no point in watching a show except out of habit or comfort. I want the writers to keep the "Once Upon a Time" characters interesting by constantly showing us that there's more to good and evil. That may be seen as a change, but I see it more as the "edge" that Marland refers to.





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