I think the writers of Once have seen Disney’s version of Aida one too many times. On this show, every story’s a love story — heck, even the dwarf who would be Grumpy has his very own heterosexual soul mate. Between tonight’s saga, Snow and Charming, Rump and Belle, Abigail and Frederick and even, in some sense, Regina and the Genie, Once has dipped into the “star-crossed lovers” well a few times too many. It was frustrating when Lost got obsessed with pairing its characters into neat, perfect couples; I’d love if OUAT could find a way to avoid a similar pitfall.
On to tonight’s tale of inter-species romance. Back in Episode 10, Grumpy told Snow that he had once loved and lost a girl “beautiful as a fairy.” In “Dreamy,” we learn that the lady in question was Nova, a kindly pixie played by Angel‘s adorable Amy Acker. Nova fits squarely into Mindy Kaling’s taxonomy of rom-com heroines — she’s beautiful but so clumsy that she makes Bella Swan look like Michelle Kwan. As our story begins, the klutzy sprite accidentally spills a bit of the fairy dust she’s carrying across Care-a-Lot. It drifts to earth in a sparkly, pink-purple cloud, finally landing on top of a giant egg.
Soon, a fist punches through the shell — Humpty Dumpty, could that be you? Nope; it’s the fellow we know as Grumpy, wearing an uncharacteristically excited look. The hatchling is quickly dressed and trimmed by Bossy, an older fellow who runs him through the basics of dwarfdom. There are, evidently, no female dwarfs, which is why the lads hatch out of eggs. Like members of the Night’s Watch, they neither marry nor have children — their sole task is mining diamonds, which are then crushed to make fairy dust.
“Do we like it?” asks New Dwarf, with regards to mining. “We love it! We even whistle while we do it,” Bossy replies without winking. He sends New Dwarf into the quarry with seven companions — the diminutive fellows we know from Snow White, plus a happy and healthy Stealthy. Moment of silence, please. Before they go to work, each one is granted a pickaxe that’s magically inscribed with his true dwarf name. (A cute touch: We don’t see Bashful’s face when he takes his own blade.) After our hero grabs his implement, it reveals that he’ll be called Dreamy.
Back in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret is trying to round up volunteers to sell nun-crafted candles with her at the upcoming Miners Day festival. Unfortunately, her invisible scarlet letter — plus the visible scarlet letters that are still decorating her car — means that nobody’s eager to join her cause. MM attempts to recruit Leroy, the constantly drunk custodian who happens to be Dreamy/Grumpy’s alter ego. Leroy rudely brushes her off, saying that she’s the only person Storybrookites hate more than him. Maybe his dwarf name actually should have been Meany.
But all it takes for Leroy to change his tune is a pretty face — and some substitute fairy dust. As he’s walking past the Miners Day preparations, a snowy substance falls on his head. The lady standing on the ladder above Leroy apologizes. She’s Astrid, a Storybrooke nun — yes, there is a convent in Storybrooke — who’s trying to rig the fair’s lighting system. Leroy is instantly smitten. He helps her out with the lights, and before he knows it, he’s also confessing that he’s always dreamed of sailing away from Maine and seeing the world. With a smile, Astrid tells him to climb every mountain: “Someone once told me that a person can do anything, as long as they can dream it. I bet you could do anything.”
NEXT: Oh yeah, Kathryn? Still gone.