Emma, Rumpelstiltskin, and Henry skip town just in time to miss a certain Hurley-burly beast's rampage
Way back in “Tallahassee,” Hook told Emma that the big kahuna at the top of Fairy Land’s famous beanstalk — the only surviving member of his kind, played by Lost alum Jorge Garcia — was “the strongest and most terrible” of all the giants. In tonight’s episode, we found out that this was actually a tall tale: Anton, the guardian of that once all-important golden compass, is actually the runt of his giant litter, a leviathan puny enough to earn the nickname “Tiny.”
Beyond this amusing reveal, which itself seems borrowed from a few other sources — see Harry Potter‘s Grawp or The B.F.G‘s B.F.G. — the most recent episode of Once didn’t have a ton to offer, especially as the first hour back after a mini-hiatus. Like “In the Name of the Brother,” it spent precious time giving backstory about a character who didn’t really need more backstory; also like Once‘s previous episode, it did little to move season 2’s master plot forward. But hey: At least we got more goofy-looking Giant Land CGI!
Rumpelstiltskin and Emma are getting ready to head to New York City, where the Dark One is hoping he’ll finally reunite with his long-lost son. Emma’s surprised to learn that when Rump says they’re going to fly, he doesn’t mean via bedknobs or broomsticks — he’s booked them a couple of tickets on a normal, human plane. There’s just one wrinkle: Emma is bringing Henry along, because she doesn’t feel comfortable leaving him in Storybrooke when Cora De Vil is lurking about. Ugh; you just know the kid is going to sing “The Song That Never Ends” all the way to the terminal.
Meanwhile, the Charmings are taking advantage of their daughter and grandson’s absence; finally, they don’t have to worry that anybody’s going to walk in on them getting intimate in that bed that’s inexplicably in the middle of their apartment. Just kidding! Instead, Snow and Charming are enlisting Grumpy and a sneering Hook to help them figure out where Cora is, or at least what she’s up to. The wounded pirate leads the crew to his invisible ship, which is unfortunately witchless — though it does contain Anton, who’s trapped inside of a flimsy-looking wooden cage. Too bad Sawyer isn’t in there with him.
Charming wants to awaken the sleeping giant — er, former giant; he’s shrunk to a size that’s almost normal — to find out what he knows about Cora’s plans. They poke Anton through the cage’s widely spaced bars so that they can question him without having to fear being attacked. Kidding again! Snow recklessly opens the cage’s door and touches Anton gently, telling him that he’s safe now. All seems well at first… until the giant spots Charming and starts freaking out, shouting that the prince will pay for the evil he’s done. He runs away before anybody gets seriously hurt, but still, our heroes are confused: Why is the big guy so angry at Storybrooke’s most noble good guy? (Maybe he’s a David/Kathryn shipper)
NEXT: Jack, of beanstalk fame, gets a sexy makeover
Answer: Giant Hurley’s beef isn’t actually with Charming — it’s with James, Charming’s not-so-dearly departed twin brother. King George’s actual adopted son was also charming… as well as arrogant, devious, completely untrustworthy, and possibly a more interesting character than his goody-two-boots brother.
Before he met his sticky end, James spent his days cavorting around with a beautiful, Jabberwock-slaying woman named Jacqueline, a.k.a. Jack — played by Cassidy Freeman, whom you may recognize as Smallville‘s Tess or The Vampire Diaries‘s Sage — and happily doing his evil father’s bidding. Tonight’s fairyback finds him and his ladylove befriending giant Anton, who has journeyed down the beanstalk because he wants to be part of their world. They begin by giving Anton a bit of magic mushroom — no, not that kind of magic mushroom — which makes him small enough to actually fit inside the local tavern.
There, Anton enjoys a pint and the view — a.k.a. Jack’s magnificent cleavage — while being showered with compliments that are in no way suspiciously enthusiastic. It’s not long before the giant learns that James’s kingdom is deeply in dept. But wait: He’s got a whole bunch of treasure at the top of the beanstalk, just gathering dust! Aww, Anton is the dorky rich kid everyone tolerates just because his dad has a pool.
In the hospital, Belle flips out at Red when the werewolf addresses her as “Belle.” “Why does everyone keep calling me that?!” she screams as a nurse swoops in to sedate her. Dude. You already know you lost your memory. Have you maybe considered that people keep calling you Belle because it’s your name?
Also flipping out: Rumpelstiltskin, who’s incredibly nervous about going through airport security — especially after a TSA agent tells him he can’t wear his talisman shawl while walking through the metal detector. (Pro tip, Rump: When you drive places, you don’t have to go through any metal detectors at all!) He’s terrified that removing the shawl will mean losing his regained memories… but somehow, though he starts to get a little woozy when the shawl is off, the Dark One’s identity remains intact even after he’s on the other side of security. Was this Emma’s magic at work, or did he just get the shawl back on in the nick of time??
And back at the ranch, Hook has told Regina that Anton is on the loose. She tracks the ex-giant down to the forest, where she tells him that the two of them are actually on the same side: “I hear you’re in town because you want to kill someone. I can help.” Ha! She hands over something that looks like an iced cookie but is, in fact, another Wonderland mushroom. Only this one makes you bigger… which means that Anton is once again large, in charge, and ready to get some vengeance on the man he believes to be Prince James.
NEXT: And David was his name-o! Seriously!
But vengeance for what, exactly? It takes four more flashbacks to reveal the whole story, but here’s the gist: Jack and James are, of course, using Anton. After promising to give them treasure, the giant shows them where the beanstalk was — because before that, the stalk was totally inconspicuous? — allowing the couple to bring an army into the giants’ cloud city. (We never see this army, because Once‘s budget could use some of that giant treasure.) A war ensues; all the giants save Anton are killed by the poisoned swords the humans carry. Jack, too, doesn’t survive, which explains why Emma and Hook discovered her bones among the giants’ treasure. As Hurley might say: bummer, dude.
Back in Storybrooke, Anton’s in full-blooded rage mode. He almost calms down when Snow tells him that Emma, the woman who once saved his life, is her daughter — but when the princess has to admit that Emma is, uh, kinda out of town, Anton begins raging anew, unable even to appreciate the perfect way Ginnifer Goodwin delivered that line. And then, as they’re fleeing the giant, Grumpy and Charming have this immortal exchange:
Grumpy: “So you got a twin brother? Whose name is James? But your name is James!”
Charming: “Actually, it’s not.”
Grumpy: ”Charming, then?”
Snow: “No, that’s a nickname I gave him.
Grumpy: “So what the hell is your name?”
Grumpy: “Your cursed name?”
Charming: “My real name!”
Grumpy: “What, you’re David, James, and Charming? David’s like, a middle name?”
Charming: “No, it’s my name name!”
Grumpy: “You know what? I’ll call you whatever I damn well please!”
Let’s pause to allow that to sink in.
Sunk enough? Great: back to the chase scene. Charming — or should I say David? — finally tells Anton that he’ll turn himself over if the giant agrees to spare everyone else in town. Anton agrees and bounds forward to claim his prize, stomping down so hard that he creates a giant hole in the asphalt. Unfortunately, Regina’s wacky mushroom chooses this very moment to wear off. Anton shrinks back down to human size, clinging to a broken Super Mario pipe within the hole for dear life. It’s up to the rest of the townspeople — and, primarily, Charming — to save him from certain doom.
Once he’s out of the ground, Storybrooke’s infinitely forgiving townsfolk forget that Anton just tried to murder them all and bring him to Granny’s, where they share some beers. To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems! As it turns out, it’s a good thing they didn’t let Anton fall to his death — because right before he died, Papa Giant Arlo gave the sole surviving giant a preserved beanstalk clipping. (Note: I’m calling him that because he seems to be the Papa Smurf of the giant crew, not because he’s actually Anton’s father.) Once it’s planted, magic beans can be harvested once more. And once those beans are harvested, Storybrooke’s finest (and least fine) can use them to finally go home.
As long as Cora doesn’t get to the stash first. Which you know she totally will.
NEXT: Fee fi fo fum, I smell breadcrumbs
– Stranger Greg is more certain than ever that there’s something rotten in the state of Storybrooke, and now it looks like he’s allied himself with Belle (who’s bewildered by magic since losing her memory). When he told his floor-mate that he wanted to talk about something, I was certain he was going to ask how she gets her hair to look that good using only hospital shampoo.
– Also, Rumpelstiltskin has discovered that he’s got no working magic outside of Storybrooke’s town limits. It doesn’t seem like that’s an issue for Emma, though…
– Early in the episode, Snow and Charming apologize to Regina for thinking that she killed Jiminy Human. Regina should be flattered; you’re nobody in this town unless you’ve been sloppily framed for murder.
– Hook’s ship is made of magic wood, and that’s not a double entendre. Still, it can’t travel interdimensionally without a portal. So the wood is magic… how, now?
– All of the giants have names that begin with “A,” and one of them is called Andre. Anybody want a peanut?
– The giants have been harvesting magic beans for centuries, even though they stopped giving them to humans years ago because the humans were using the beans to pillage other worlds. “Why do we still grow them if nobody uses them?” asks Anton. After a long pause, Papa Giant Arlo answers, “It’s what we do.” Ohhhh, that explains everything.
– Red brings Belle a copy of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. Snow White — when she was still Mary Margaret — read that same book back in season 1.
– Anton’s conversations about the human world with King Triton — I mean, Papa Giant Arlo — were so closely copied from The Little Mermaid that I hope Disney paid itself royalties.
– I loved Grumpy’s flippant explanation for why the dwarfs, who are ostensibly miners, were the ones to help Anton plant his beanstalk: “Work is work, no big deal.” It did not, however, explain why a) six dwarfs (minus cursed Sneezy) plus Anton were digging, even though there was only one mini-beanstalk to plant and b) Anton is somehow a dwarf now. So the whole egg dealie suddenly means nothing?!
Next week’s episode, “Manhattan,” should be a little more exciting (and a little more of a serialized story) — especially if it turns out that Henry’s baby daddy Neal isn’t actually Rump’s long-lost son. But in the meantime, let’s talk “Tiny”: Did you enjoy the episode? Or do you wish you had watched the first hour of the Grammys and just caught it the day after on ABC.com?
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