Once Upon A Time: ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree’
“Be careful. Emotional entanglements can lead us down very dangerous paths”
This week’s episode may as well have been called The Long Con, as in both the Fairy Tale Realm and Storybrooke the main plot was of the Evil Queen/Regina executing a carefully planned out trick in order to get something she wanted. In the Fairy Tale Realm it was the death of Snow’s father, while in Storybrooke it was the upper hand in her on-going fight with Emma. I have to say I suspected that Sidney might be working with Regina in Storybrooke, so the revelation at the end wasn’t a huge surprise to me, but, perhaps stupidly, I didn’t see the double-cross in the Fairy Tale Realm coming. I was thinking that whatever happened to the Genie that caused him to become stuck as the Mirror might be the reason why the Evil Queen had such a grudge against Snow and her father. Instead, that grudge was already in place and the Genie was simply a pawn in her overall scheme.
While last week focused on a more character-driven arc with Mary Margaret and David, this week’s episode concentrated more on the plot so I didn’t like it quite as much as last week’s. It was certainly good, and I did enjoy the twists and turns it took, but personally I prefer the episodes which are more about the characters than the plots so this wasn’t my favourite so far. I’m not at all surprised that this is the 11th episode (out of 22, i.e. the midpoint of the season), as it did feel like a fairly transitionary episode setting things up for the second half of the season.
One of the great things about this show is how it gives new twists to the original fairy tales, and also how it blends all the different fairy tales together in one world. This week’s Fairy Tale Realm plot was a fantastic example of this, as we learnt that Mirror Mirror used to be the Genie in the Lamp, who ended up trapped as the Mirror due to a wish gone wrong. One big theme in this week’s episode was that, like with magic, “making a wish comes with a price” as Mr Gold says. The King’s wish to free Genie lead to his death, as it was Genie who killed him, and it was Genie’s wish that cursed him to be Mirror forever. It also added to the theme of love being incredibly dangerous, as it was Genie’s love for the Evil Queen that sealed his fate.
While in the Fairy Tale Realm it was Genie being played by the Evil Queen, in Storybrooke Emma was the victim of Regina’s manipulations. Having been fired from the paper, Sidney Glass convinced Emma to join him in taking down Regina. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan as Sidney was working with Regina and the evidence Emma used to try and dethrone the Mayor turned out to only make her seem an even better Mayor, while also giving her the ammunition she needed to keep Emma away from Henry. As Regina said, Emma’s lost the high ground and it will be interesting to see how the story develops following this.
- The title card this week featured Genie emerging from the lamp.
- Henry has been hiding the book of fairy tales from Regina. Could anything bad actually happen if Regina got her hands on the book, or it is just that Henry thinks she’d take it away from him? Regina did of course see the book earlier in the season, after she took it from Henry’s room, and nothing significantly bad seemed to happen then.
- We saw a lamp in Mr Gold’s shop a few weeks ago, which I assume is the one from here. The last person we see who has it in this episode is the Evil Queen, so I wonder how it got into his hands.
- There were some pretty good special effects this week, especially of Genie coming out of the lamp. The only slightly dodgy ones are when the characters are walking on a CGI background, which always look very clearly computer generated.
- Genie comes from Agrabah, which is the land from Disney’s Aladdin. The Disney versions of the fairy tales clearly have a lot of influence on this show, as well as the original versions.
- The scene where Genie explains the rules of wishes is very well done, and one of the more entertaining scenes this week. It was also very well acted by Giancarlo Esposito.
- Genie says he has granted 1001 wishes, clearly a reference to the 1001 Arabian Nights which contains the original Aladdin story. With the appearance of Genie here, it is presumably possible that we might see other characters from these stories, like Aladdin himself, Ali Baba or Sinbad the Sailor.
- We don’t see much of Mary Margaret and David this week, but we do get a scene of them meeting at the Toll Bridge and having a picnic. They are clearly going ahead with the affair even with Kathryn still in the picture, which doesn’t really seem like the kind of thing Mary Margaret would do, but it will be interesting to see where this plot goes. Also, Regina hasn’t told on them so she’s clearly got something up her sleeve.
- Is there any significance to Snow’s mother? She was apparently the “fairest in all the land”, but is she anybody we know?
- The tree in the palace was from the Evil Queen’s childhood garden, so I wonder how it ended up where it is. Will we at some point get a flashback to the Evil Queen’s childhood?
- Much like in Desperate Souls, there was discussion this week of whether it’s okay to do something bad if it’s for the right reasons. The show tends to be indicating that it’s not, based on what happened to Emma at the end, which doesn’t bode well for Mary Margaret and David.
- You can tell that Emma and Mary Margaret are related purely by their fondness for beanie hats.
- When we first saw Snow’s father he felt quite unrealistic, as he was so virtuous and kind, so I’m glad that the show gave him such a human emotion as jealousy to make him more realistic.
- There is a game of chess in the scene with the King and Genie, which is quite appropriate for an episode so much about game-playing.
- The King talked about the man who had stolen the Queen’s heart. Actually, she’s more the type of person who steals hearts rather than the other way around.
- Regina was speaking on the phone to Miss Ginger about working conditions and air temperature. Is this a reference to The Gingerbread Man, or another, more obvious, fairy tale which I’m missing? Could it be a reference to the Gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel? According to imdb, Patti Allan, who played the blind witch in The Thing You Love Most, appeared in Desperate Souls as Miss Ginger, but I can’t recall seeing her.
- The Evil Queen’s father said the guards “know [he]’d die for her”. Well, he will.
- Emma drove into another of Storybrooke’s signs. Perhaps Graham wasn’t wrong when he said that Emma staying was “bad for our local signage”.
- It was a bit risky of Sidney to cut the brakes on a car he was going to be in.
- What are the keys in Regina’s desk for? I imagine they will make an appearance in the future.
- The mysterious stranger seemed particularly interested in Henry’s book, and we discover at the end that he is somehow in possession of it. What is his game?
- Who would stop Emma from breaking any restraining order Regina took out? She’s the sheriff.
- Does Genie’s wish to never leave the Evil Queen’s side extend to Storybrooke? Is that why he doesn’t betray her? Or does he still love her?
Overall, while not as emotional or character-driven as last week’s, this week’s episode was still a very enjoyable one and has set several things in motion for the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens to Operation Cobra now that Emma can’t see Henry, and I look forward to finding out where this show goes with these plots. I can’t believe we’re already halfway through this season, and I hope the second half is just as good, if not better, than what we’ve seen so far.