Snow and Charming's backstory is revealed as Mary Margaret searches for her John Doe
OUAT Morrison

They really do have miles to go before they sleep at this point. Dark and twisted miles, down that dank and nasty Troll Road. This week’s Once Upon A Time continued down its fortunate path of of getting better each week, giving us a healthy mix of mythology (badass Snow White!) and plot-of-the-week fun. Ginnifer Goodwin stood out as both the weepy-but-determined Mary Margaret and the headstrong Snow White, and I like the new roommate combination of Mary Margaret and Emma. Both women are fiercely loving but ultimately lost, and their riddled-with-secrets relationship is the one I’m most interested in at this point. Henry, former son of Don Draper, is undoubtedly cute, but his unwavering optimism is best in smaller doses. Also, the Fairytale identity of Sheriff Graham, the British apparently Irish hipster Sheriff was revealed. Well, it was strongly hinted at.

As we all turned back our clocks to make room for more sunlight, Time turned back its clock to give us a peek at the strange courtship of Charming and Snow. It began in the woods of Fairytale, where Charming was struggling to entertain his prissy, dour fiancee during a particularly unpleasant carriage road trip. “I told you the Troll Road would have been quicker,” she whined. What’s wrong with taking the scenic route, lady? Before we had time to question what Charming was doing with the half-wit blondie, a tree fell, blocking their path. Blondie didn’t like the looks of this. Charming went out to investigate — nothing. But then, all of a sudden, there was Snow, decked out to the nines in her best Robin Hood attire. She swept in and stole a pouch, (while Blondie sat in terror, completely useless) and even managed to deck Charming before galloping off into the sunset with the president’s rubies safely in tow. “Wherever you are, I will find you!” Charming shouted after her. She looked back at him with a sweet knowing smile that could only mean, “You better!”

How was that for a meet cute? I liked it. I think it’s important to see Snow White as more than your average “Someday My Prince Will Come” princess. This is, after all, a family show, and giving Snow a more post-women’s-lib-friendly persona is crucial, since she will be a role model for young girls watching. She doesn’t need to be the next Buffy, but a feisty temperament, good head on her shoulders, and sense of adventure will do just fine.

Over in Storybrooke, however, Mary Margaret Blanchard struggled to hold on to Snow’s passionate optimism. She took a chance on a late-night date with Dr. Wales, played by David Anders. Anders is best known for playing the double-crossing Sark on Alias, the scheming John Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries, and the immortal evil swordsman Adam on Heroes. When he shows up on TV, you know there is going to be trouble. And trouble there was — Wales was far more interested in Ruby’s waitressing backside than in Mary Margaret’s ramblings on true love and marriage.

Mary Margaret left the date early, as the toll of her painfully unsuccessful romantic life was starting to show on her face. On her way home she ran into Emma, now homeless, sitting in her car on one of Storybrooke’s abandoned streets. You know this town is frozen in time when she’s searching for an apartment in the newspaper. Storybrooke is not an option on Craigslist, apparently. Emma offered her condolences regarding the date from hell (he didn’t even pay!), and Mary Margaret was simply thrilled that Emma was staying in town to be with Henry. She was now starting to trust her, so she offered up her spare room as a solution to Emma’s unfortunate real estate situation. Emma turned her down, supposedly because she doesn’t do well with roommates, but her mannerisms around Ms. Blanchard suggest that she might be turning a corner on the whole curse thing. Also, what 28-year-old woman wants to live with her mom?

NEXT: Good story. Tell it again…

At the hospital, Henry watched over the comatose but still handsome body of Charming/John Doe. As Mary Margaret reiterated his sad, sad tale, a light bulb went off in Henry’s head. This was clearly his grandfather, Prince Charming! Doe’s scar perfectly matched the one Charming got from the Queen’s men in the book, and he was so, so handsome. Got that? When Henry excitedly relayed the news to Emma, she warned him not to go blabbing to Mary Margaret. “Kid, telling someone their soul mate is in a coma is probably not helpful.” Ha, I like it when Emma gets no-nonsense.

But helpful or not, Emma agreed to ask Mary Margaret to read Snow White to Doe next time she did her rounds at the hospital. Henry thought that this would remind Doe of his true identity; Emma thought that agreeing to Henry’s whims was the only way to make him see that his fairy tales were just that. “I can’t talk him out of his beliefs, so we need to show him,” she pleaded to Mary Margaret. Mary Margaret didn’t need very much convincing. She said she would do it for Henry, but I thought that her face suggested a much different motivation. Despite her new world practicality, a huge part of Mary Margaret still wants to believe.

She made herself comfortable over Doe’s sleeping body, and began reading the same section of their story that we saw earlier in the episode. As she went on, her giant smile couldn’t hide the fact that this was exactly the sort of story that she wanted in her own life. Excitedly she read on, until she came to the very end: “They knew, no matter how they were separated, that they would always…” but before she could finish, Doe magically sprung to life and clutched her arm. Spooky, scary!

Mary Margaret excitedly went for the doctor on duty, Wales, but Charming was fully out by the time they made it back to his bed. Wales checked Doe’s vitals, then suspiciously told her that she must have imagined the whole thing. David Anders is definitely working for Regina. This was confirmed seconds later, when he called her to tattle. “You told me to call you if there was ever a change in that John Doe… Something’s happened.” Regina clutched the phone, almost comically, in a state of rage. The camera glazed over her bowl of Ruby-red apples. Something was about to go down.

Back in Fairytale, we saw Snow’s hollowed out tree stump cave of gadgets and gizmos. At this point I’m gathering that Snow was once a very crafty and resourceful young woman. But no one can resist a tree net trap, especially the ones hand-made by Charming. “I will always find you,” he said with obviously feigned anger as she dangled from the tree.

NEXT: Prince Charming? More like Prince Zombie!

He let her down, but only so she could lead him to the engagement ring she stole, lest he tell the Queen where she was hiding. Snow appropriately thought it was ridiculous that he cared so much about marrying Blondie. “The nag with the bad attitude? That’s what this is about?” Charming wore his disinterest in the woman all over his face, but he made it clear that he didn’t want Snow getting too chummy. “I have a name, you know,” he said. “Don’t care, Charming suits you,” she teased. I don’t know about you, but I honestly think it’s cute that their relationship started with blackmail.

Over in our own boring world, Mary Margaret reported the Doe incident to Henry and Emma. Emma was surprised but relatively unmoved, while Mary Margaret was now completely on Henry’s team. How much more proof, or even shocking coincidence, will Emma need before she starts buying into any of Henry’s stories?

The gang hightailed it to the hospital, where they were instantly met with a shocking new truth — John Doe had escaped. Suspicious. Sheriff Graham was there, looking as man-of-my-dreams as ever, but so was Regina. And she was not happy to see Henry with his new lady friends. Henry and Emma both called her out for being there for absolutely no reason, but she counteracted with a probably made-up cover. She was Doe’s emergency contact, she explained. Found him by the side of the road, unclaimed, years ago. And now she was oh-so-concerned that he had gone missing. Throughout this whole scene I couldn’t help but focus on how mentally tortured Sheriff Graham looked as they argued. I feel like Regina is definitely holding something over him, but his conscience is struggling. Might this have something to do with his former identity in Fairytale? Only Time will tell. (Sorry.)

Emma, Graham, and Mary Margaret were now on the hunt. Logically, they first went after the hospital’s security tapes. The original tape from the previous night had been replaced with a fake, but it was quickly found. It showed that Doe had walked out of the hospital by himself, immediately discounting my theory that Regina was behind his disappearance. He was headed to the woods. Note that Leroy, known in Fairytale as Grumpy, is now working at the hospital. Also, he is now more than grumpy. In Storybrooke, he’s kind of a raging mess.

NEXT: You’ve gotta pay the troll toll

The next several scenes cut between the magical, adventurous woods of Fairytale and the dark, depressing woods of Storybrooke. In Fairytale, Snow and Charming discussed her checkered past as they searched for Blondie’s ring. And how did a pretty girl like Snow wind up in a situation like that? The Queen’s Huntsman, sent to rip out Snow’s heart, had succeeded in capturing her. His pity saved her life. From then on, she had hid and thieved in the woods to save up for a one-way ticket to out of there. A new kingdom, a new life. Charming wondered why the Queen had gone to such extreme lengths. “She blames me for ruining her life,” Snow explained. “Did you?” he asked. “…Yes.”

Snow asked for a drink, and the wavering Charming contented. Snow, of course, used this as an opportunity to kick his ass. It was a total KO. She escaped back to the road, where several of the Queen’s men were waiting to kill her on horseback. Snow galloped away to her doom, until Charming saved the day with an impressive long-distance arrow shot. At this point, Snow was sold. Who wouldn’t be? She was shaken when he asked, again, to be taken to his jewels (ha!), which were now in the care of some nasty trolls. They would have to be nice to them, or else they might lose an arm. Ha, trolls. Also, Snow and Charming’s banter was pretty adorable after the attack. They were falling for each other now. It was romance and adventure on the troll road, and now I want to take a road trip.

They got to the trolls’ bridge, where things instantly did not feel right. It was foggy and ominously quiet. Snow paid the troll toll — gold — and the hideous beasts emerged from the depths in which they were hiding. “Who is this guy?” Ugly number one was not a fan of Charming. Snow offered to return all of their money for just the one ring, but trolls clearly don’t know a good offer when they see one. They attacked the budding lovebirds, and rejoiced when they found Snow’s wanted poster in Charming’s things. Snow plus Queen plus blind hatred plus ransom equals even more gold.

Snow managed to escape, but she hesitated when she saw that Charming was about to be totaled. She came back for him, and defeated the remaining trolls with her magic evil-fairy dust necklace. Kazaam! And they all were clouds of dust. “It was the honorable thing to do,” Snow said to Charming. “Anyway, how could I let Prince Charming die?” “I told you, I have a name,” he said. “It’s James.”

Unfortunately, it was now time for Snow and Charming to part. He had to get back to his evil wench, after all. He pulled out the ring intended for Blondie, and Snow tried it on to test it out. Not her style.

NEXT: Some lies, some goodbyes

Their goodbye was tortuous. Neither of them wanted to leave. Their banter was still sweet and adorable, with a hint of sadness and wanting thrown in for good measure. He promised to always find her if she needed anything. She promised to never call him James, because Charming was way better. They gazed after each other, longingly, as they went their separate ways. Soon.

In Storybrooke, things weren’t quite so pleasant. Emma and Mary Margaret followed Graham as he followed John Doe’s trail through the woods, because the woods were “his world.” “What does he mean it’s his world, isn’t finding people your thing, too?” Mary Margaret asked. So — in Fairytale, the Queen used her Huntsman as a hunter-slash-hired assassin. In Storybrooke, Regina has Graham in the palm of her hand, and he claims to know the woods like the back of his hand. Sheriff Graham is almost definitely the Huntsman, and I like it. It’s a good, complicated role for him. The Huntsman is one of the few Fairytale characters who isn’t black or white, good or evil. There’s an in-between, and it’s Sheriff Graham. And Emma.

Henry caught up with Graham and the ladies in the dead of night, still in the middle of the woods. “He loves you!” he pleaded to Mary Margaret. “You need to stop chasing him, and let him find you.” His wishes, as per the usual, were ignored. Graham found Doe’s hospital bracelet on the ground, covered in blood. It wasn’t looking good. Minutes later they found him, unconscious and half-submerged in a creek. A creek in Maine, in what appears to be late fall. That must be mind-and-body-numbingly cold.

Snow tried to wake him with CPR, but much like the case of Wendy the Lifeguard, it was really her kiss that did it. “You saved me,” he said. His voice betrayed a blend of wonder, love and total post-coma confusion. “She did,” Emma said, equally confused. This sequence was sweet, mainly because it was the exact opposite of their first scene together in Fairytale, when Charming rescued Snow from her coffin using only a kiss.

Unfortunately, since this is a crappy, cursed town, things didn’t stay this sweet for long. Blondie showed up at the hospital, playing the role of the mysterious, newly surfaced “wife” who was most likely hired by Regina. “David!” she screamed as Doe was wheeled through the ER. No, lady, his name is James.

NEXT: The not-so-good wife

Regina was wickedly thrilled that Blondie, now “Catherine,” was in the picture. She wears her eeeevil on her sleeve pretty much 24/7, and I sometimes think it’s too much. Why wouldn’t she try to win Henry over? Wouldn’t it be in her best interest to win over her son, and maybe even make a fake friend or two?

Emma, Henry, and Mary Margaret saw right through her act, and also Catherine’s when she gave her excuse for suddenly showing up. She said that she and “David” had been fighting, and she had assumed that he’d left town. Storybrooke. Yes, Catherine wants us to believe that she lived in the same small town as her missing John Doe husband for years, and never checked the local hospital or read an ad in the paper. Her acting was pretty convincing, but her story was simply ridiculous. “That’s wonderful,” Mary Margaret said, holding back tears.

“Don’t believe them, you’re the one he was looking for,” Henry said on his way out. Mary Margaret couldn’t believe it, but she wanted to. Her face was pained as it watched Catherine and David through the window. Emma, for her part, was extremely pissed at the entire situation. “Her story could be a load of crap…something’s not right here,” she said to Regina. “I think it’s rather strange you’ve been his emergency contact all these years, and you only found her now.” True. “Well, this town is bigger than you know,” Regina countered. “It’s entirely possible to get lost here. It’s entirely possibly for bad things to happen.”

Then she said that further review of the hospital security tapes had found Doe talking in his sleep, muttering the name “Catherine.” Emma actually seemed to buy this. “True love won out,” Regina proclaimed. She rubbed in the fact that she had Henry and Emma was totally alone, but from my perspective I would say that this is exactly the opposite of the truth.

In the end, a gloomy Mary Margaret fiddled with her ring until Emma came over to take the spare room. So Mary Margaret is wearing Charming’s ring in Storybrooke, but where does she think she got it from? Does she think it’s a family heirloom? I seriously wonder how they’re going to explain the Storybrooke backstories of Mary Margaret and the gang, because they all have to have at least 28 years’ worth of memories. How did Mr. Gold get so rich? When did Ruby/Red get her Daddy issues? What was Mary Margaret like in high school?

I know that their important histories lie in Fairytale, I’m just hoping that we also learn some Storybrooke 101 mythology soon. I’m thinking that this will be like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica — that they were all programmed with false memories. My only other guess is that they could have been paired, in Storybrooke, with other characters from Fairytale. But what do you think? Is Sheriff Graham definitely the Huntsman? Are you still happy with where the story is going? Is Daylight Savings Time really necessary?


Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

  • TV Show
  • 7
stream service