Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NEW!: Once Upon a Time 1:11 - Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Overall: 7.6

This episode's message - while not always communicated with finesse - is positively Catholic.

Plot Synopsis:

Read a full recap here at ABC.com.

The Skinny:

First, before I get started on this week's episode, I'd like to continue the discussion of last week's episode for just a moment, as I see that SABR Matt has registered a polite objection: I actually agree that the Nolans' marriage is invalid. It only exists because Regina planted false memories in their minds. HOWEVER -- I don't believe that's a sufficient excuse for David to lie to Kathryn. If he feels that his "marriage" (such as it is) is not based on anything genuine, then he needs to be upfront about it. This sneaking around with Margaret is the coward's way out.

I also stand by my worries over how love is portrayed in the Charming/Snow (or David/Margaret) relationship. It's early in the game, so this may not hold true forever, but the pairing doesn't seem to be based on anything other than "destiny," sentiment, and hormones. There's no there there as of yet; no explanation as to why their romance should be enduring. And this, I think, sends the wrong message regarding how healthy relationships work. "Love at first sight" might happen on occasion, but once that initial rush wears off, you need to have something else to fill the gap.

But now to the current episode and the reasoning behind my first comment above: The Church states that your actions and intentions must be consistent -- that "an evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention." There are, of course, a few nuances inherent in this teaching; for example, if your only choices are between a lesser evil and a greater evil, then it'd be right for you to pick the lesser evil. Still, as a general rule, "the ends do not justify the means." And that is what this episode is all about. In the fairy tale world and in Storybrooke, the characters' plans backfire precisely because they attempt to employ unethical means to accomplish positive ends.

The fairy tale story is the weaker of the two plots, I think, because it delivers the aforementioned message with a sledgehammer instead of slipping it in through the back door. It's obvious to anyone who's not a sociopath that murder is intrinsically disordered. Additionally, I don't think the genie's motivations are especially well developed. Indeed, his supposed "love" for the queen suffers from the same lack of depth that currently plagues the relationship between Prince Charming and Snow White. We can see the genie's attracted to Regina -- but the presentation doesn't really justify the huge jump to killing the king for her.

The Storybrooke plot, on the other hand, is better. Why? Because the writers don't push Emma so far off the moral cliff that we cease to understand her actions. The manner in which she violates her principles is subtle and moved by the already solidly established antipathy she feels for Regina. And by the way, it's totally awesome that Regina wins this time and thereby tightens her stranglehold on Henry. All the better to extend the conflict, my dear!

Writing: 6.8

This is the score that results when I average my score for the fairy tale plot (5.0) and my score for the Storybrooke plot (8.5). As I noted above, the genie suffers from weak characterization, but Emma's succumbing to temptation makes up for some of that loss.

Acting: 7.5

The performances were decent, but not awe-inspiring.

Message: 8.5

This episode's greatest strength is its message. See the discussion above.

1 comment:

  1. To counter-point this again...We don't know a LOT about Snow White, Regina, or Prince Charming...they haven't completed the telling of that back story. I think it's premature to assume that the fairy tale version of their romance is without character-driven substance. And if the character-driven back story evolves in fairy tale land...then the real-world love interest is not "destiny" and "hormones" but INTUITION. There are many stories of people with complete amnesia feeling drawn to a past love on a much deeper level than they themselves can explain. The soul extends like the Eastern concept of Chi much further than the confines of our memory.

    It's too early to assume that they're talking only of destiny...we need to wait and see I think. Your reservations are fair and could be justified in the end...I'm just not quite ready to be worried yet. :)