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Once Upon A Time: ‘Red-Handed’

“I’m pretty sure I’m just going to screw it up. I mean, I’ll screw it up with flair, but…”

Since the pilot of this show, one of the stories I have most been looking forward to is Red Riding Hood’s, perhaps because she is such an iconic fairy-tale character. This week, we finally got it and it certainly wasn’t a disappointment. It had everything a great episode should have: humour, character development, shocking twists and turns, a good standalone story and developments in the overarching plot.

Before this episode, all we’d really seen of Red was a few glimpses connected with the Snow/James story, and all we’d seen of Ruby was that she was a waitress in Granny’s. This week, we got a lot more development for both aspects of this character, and I hope we get to see more of her in the future as she turned out to be a very interesting and enjoyable character to watch. As well as having some great dialogue (although that may be to do with the fact that this was a Jane Espenson episode), such as the above quote, she also has very unique talents connected with the shocking revelation that (in the Fairy Tale Realm at least) she is a frickin’ werewolf!

I have mentioned on multiple occasions how much I like it when this shows gives us a twist on the original fairy tales and this one was one of the most satisfactory yet, as we discovered that Red Riding Hood is also the Big Bad Wolf. Despite being Red Riding Hood’s story, the plot in the Fairy Tale Realm this week was actually more similar to the tale of Peter and the Wolf, especially considering that Red’s boyfriend was called Peter. Much like in that story, Peter (and Red) lives in a village which is being terrorised by a wolf, causing the residents of that village to go out in hunt of it at night. Also like in Peter and the Wolf, Granny (in place of Peter’s grandfather) keeps Red (in place of Peter) locked in the house to keep her safe from the wolf. Where the story differs is that it turns out that Granny wasn’t keeping Red in to protect her from the wolf, she was keeping her in to prevent her from turning into the wolf and attacking the townsfolk.

Naturally, it all goes wrong. Red finds Snow hiding in the chicken coop and lets her stay at her house while she’s on the run. There, Snow convinces Red to ignore her Granny’s instructions and go after true love with Peter, and Red decides that the only way to do that is to find the wolf and kill it. As she follows the trail of the wolf she discovers that it leads back to her house, and assumes that Peter is the wolf. She tells him that and ties him up so that he can’t hurt anyone, but unfortunately she is the wolf and attacks and kills him. She then runs away with Snow before the townsfolk can find and kill her.

It’s a fantastic and original retelling of the story, and provides a great background for Red. This episode was more about introducing us to Red’s personality and shocking us with Red being the Big Bad Wolf than it was about showing us the effect that knowledge has on Red and her reaction to it, so I hope we get more of her in the future where this can be dealt with.

In Storybrooke this week, there was a less shocking story line but perhaps one with more in the way of character development. Ruby quit her job at Granny’s in order to go out and have adventures, and ended up working with Emma at the Sheriff’s station. The main purpose of this plotline was to allow Ruby to realise that she isn’t as useless as she thinks is, and also to show us some of Ruby’s special abilities, like enhanced hearing and smelling, and how they can be used to ‘solve crime’. Hopefully these will be used again in the future as they seem quite useful.

The background-esque plot this week was once again following Emma investigating the disappearance of Kathryn, although it was very connected with the main plot as Ruby was helping her. By the end of the episode, she had found a box containing a heart presumably belonging to Kathryn which had Mary Margaret’s fingerprints on it. This is clearly a set up, and Regina seems to be the obvious suspect considering the use of a heart. Could Kathryn still be alive without a heart, like Graham was? Is one of the hearts that Regina owns Kathryn’s? I look forward to seeing where this plot goes, and how Mary Margaret is going to get out of the situation she’s in.

Other thoughts:

  • The title card this week featured Red walking away.
  • A wolf can be heard howling outside Granny’s near the beginning of the episode. Is it the same one from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? Is there any connection between that wolf and Red/Ruby?
  • August tells Ruby that he visited Nepal and there were prayer temples overrun by lemurs. According to my very quick research, lemurs and endemic to Madagascar, which raises the question of why the mistake? Is it perhaps indicating that he actually hasn’t ever left Storybrooke, or is there some other significance?
  • Peter threatens “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow the-“, which is of course the threat the Big Bad Wolf makes in The Three Little Pigs.
  • Snow tells Red her name is Margaret then Mary, which is presumably where her Storybrooke name came from.
  • Emma says that “buses out of town don’t really happen”, which makes sense seeing as no one can leave.
  • In the Fairy Tale Realm, Granny’s ‘real’ name is Widow Lucas.
  • Granny’s six older brothers were veterans of the Second Ogres War. There is presumably also an Ogres War going on ‘at the moment’, as we have seen human Rumpel’s in the war and also Belle’s kingdom.
  • What’s going on with David’s memory losses? Is it Regina’s doing, or is there some lasting effects from the curse and him being unconscious when it happened?
  • Ruby tells Henry that she wouldn’t do a job taking things to people as she can’t ride a bike, and when he suggests not using a bike she says that she’s “not sure that’s a real job”, clearly referencing the original Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.
  • Red tells Peter that she knows where to get rope. Where?
  • One of my favourite lines this week was Emma’s reaction when Henry told her that Ruby was Red Riding Hood: “With the little basket? Yeah, she seems like a badass.”
  • Granny says she got a wizard to enchant Red’s cloak to prevent her turning into a wolf. Is there any significance to this wizard? Is it Rumpelstiltskin?
  • Granny uses a silver-tipped arrow to stop Red. Traditionally, silver is the only thing which works against werewolves.
  • “Emma was my lemur”

Like last week’s episode, this one wasn’t especially significant in moving the overarching plot forward but it did provide a fantastic standalone story and some great character moments. It was great to see more of Red/Ruby’s backstory and I look forward to seeing more of this character in the future.

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