You got me this time, OUAT. Never, ever, ever saw the twist coming.
This week on Once Upon a Time, things get bloody as the show retells the story of Red Riding Hood. Meanwhile, Kathryn’s disappearance takes a turn for the terrible.
In Fairytale Land, Red meets her beloved, Peter, outside her bedroom window and dreams of running away with him. Alas, her super strict Granny has her under constant supervision (and wearing a red cloak) because it’s “the Wolf’s Time”*. Also, she thinks Peter is a wastrel, as maternal figures do. So Red is sneaking around to meet with Peter while a killer wolf terrorizes the village. A group of men, or “village idiots” as I like to call them, come to Granny’s cottage to tell her they’re going out to hunt the wolf so they don’t lose any more sheep. She informs them that they are, indeed, idiots. Red wants to go with them, but Granny refuses, of course. The men leave, Granny and Red batten down the hatches, and it’s time for bed.
In the morning, all appears to be well. Granny sends Red out to make sure the chickens survived the wolf, reminding her to wear her red cloak since red repels wolves. While collecting eggs, Red senses someone or something else in the chicken coop. Unable to stand the deceit, Snow White emerges from her hiding place, holding two eggs. She’s completely ashamed of herself for trespassing and attempting to steal a couple of eggs, bless her heart. She heard the wolf in the night, and she was cold (it appears to be the dead of winter, making for some gorgeous scenery), so she hid in the chicken coop. Red is delighted to meet another young woman her age and immediately invites her to come inside. Snow introduces herself as “Sn…Frosty.” “Really?” Red chuckles. She’s not judging but she needs something to call her new friend. “Margaret. No, Mary. Yes. Mary.” Well played, show.
The pair take a quick detour to haul some water, where they make a horrific discovery. The water in the well is thick with blood…and the wolf hunting party lays massacred nearby.
The remaining villagers are gathered to discuss the next plan, which involves more men going out to get themselves killed, apparently. Granny reiterates that going after the wolf is a stupid idea, then tells them why, for the first time in 60 years. Seriously. She starts by saying, “I’ve never told you why I say to stay inside and hide, have I?” Gee, Granny, it seems like this story might have been relevant sooner, but it’s certainly welcome now. Sixty years ago, a young Granny (obviously not “Granny” then, but we don’t know her real name) watched her six big brothers and her brawny father go out hunting the wolf that terrorized the village at that time. She was supposed to stay inside, but climbed up on the roof to watch instead. The seven men had the enormous wolf surrounded, spears at the ready, but as they advance, the wolf began jumping at the spears and breaking them. The men tried stabbing it with the splintered hilts, but the wolf was too strong. It killed them all. Little Granny fell off the roof, right in front of the wolf. It clamped down on her arm, but she rolled away.* (At this point, Granny dramatically rolls up her sleeve to show the scars.) Then the wolf looked at her, and walked away. Did anyone else get goosebumps?
Later in the day, Red is lamenting Granny’s watchful eye to “Mary” who quickly guesses that a boy is involved. Red tells Mary about Peter and their desire to go away together. Mary encourages Red to trust her grandmother when it comes to staying safe from the wolf, but not to let her steal her chance at love. Somehow Red interprets this as encouragement to kill the wolf herself. She reasons that everyone else has hunted it at night*, and died as a result, so she will track it down during the day and, with any luck, kill it while it sleeps. She informs Mary that she’s going with or without her, so Mary agrees to go along.
It quickly becomes clear that Red is an excellent tracker. Or, so we’re lead to believe because she can tell the difference between prints belong to a wolf, a dog, and a rabbit. Really Snow? You can’t tell those are rabbit tracks? But I digress. After some cross country hiking through the snow, they find the wolf’s prints and begin to follow them. The stride is enormous, but they gather their courage and proceed across more snowy countryside. Soon they find a print that leads to another that’s half wolf, half boot.* Then all of the tracks are boot prints, and the stride also shortens to that of a man. After a few moments of confusion, Red remembers hearing a story once about a man who turned into a wolf.* Suddenly, Mary realizes that they’re back at Granny’s cottage. And the boot prints lead right up to Red’s window.*
*Clues Clues Clues!
By now I’m applauding the writers for naming the werewolf “Peter”. As in, Peter and the Wolf. So clever. Red and Mary quickly realize that Peter is the wolf and set out to find him, hoping to figure out how to stop him on this final night of the Wolf’s Time. It’s nearly dark, and Red knows Granny will worry, so they switch cloaks. Mary lies in Red’s bed, wearing her cloak, while Red finds Peter and tells him that he’s the wolf. He’s horrified that he killed all those people and has no memory of it. Red tells him that she will tie him up and stay with him all night, all of his nights. Although she proudly says she knows where to get rope (er…is that a sought after skill in the village? knowing where to find rope?), Peter gives Red the chains he has with him for some reason and says to use them instead.
Back at the cottage, Granny comes to Red’s room to ask after Mary. It’s dark now, and Mary hasn’t returned. Granny is worried. The jig is up. Mary explains what they figured out and Red’s plan to protect both Peter and the village by chaining him up. Then Granny says the strangest thing, “Oh, that poor boy!” Eh?
OMG! Realization dawns: RED IS THE WOLF!
Granny tells Mary that the reason she keeps such a close eye on Red is because she’s the werewolf, but she doesn’t know it. The red cloak was purchased from a wizard and prevents her from turning, but she doesn’t always wear it. On top of that, Granny is a werewolf, too. The wolf that killed her brothers and father and then bit her was Red’s grandfather (so…Granny married him?); he remembered her, came back later, and turned her. Red’s mother was also a werewolf. The mythology is a little murky here, but it sounds like in the OUAT universe, werewolf-ry is both inherited and passed on through biting. Granny hoped Red had escaped it, but at age 13, she began to turn every full moon. Granny’s own traits have faded, but she can still track via smell.
They race to the clearing where Peter was tied up and discover a monstrous wolf having dinner. *shudder* The wolf turns and sees them, then lunges, but Granny has her trusty crossbow with the silver-tipped arrow at the ready and brings the wolf down. Mary tosses the cloak over the furry creature, and it is transformed back into Red. Red has no recollection of what happened or why she’s there, and the other two women try to keep her from looking back, promising to tell her everything when they get back to the cottage. But she remembers that she was there for Peter and turns to look for him, seeing blood instead. They have to tell her that Peter wasn’t the wolf.
The moments when Red realizes that she is the wolf, and that she killed Peter, are heartbreaking. Special recognition goes to Meghan Ory for her acting and to Mark Isham for the outstanding score accompanying that scene. I had goosebumps on top of goosebumps.
The action in Storybrooke isn’t nearly as intense, but provides some neat parallels and moves the story of Kathryn’s disappearance along a bit. After Emma questions David some more about Kathryn’s disappearance, she tells him he can leave but should get a lawyer. Meanwhile, Ruby and Granny are at odds again. Granny doesn’t like Ruby’s skin-baring attire and Ruby thinks Granny is a fossil. They were more creative in their epithets, but that’s the gist. Granny wants Ruby to start working Saturday nights, training on how to do the books and paperwork. This is the last straw for Ruby who feels trapped in this one-horse town and wants to leave. After some mutual yelling, Ruby quits.
Walking home from…somewhere, Emma and Mary Margaret encounter Ruby, suitcase in hand, at the town’s bus stop where that smarmy Dr. Whale is offering to give her a lift. Yeah, “a lift”. With the Sheriff and the woman he took to dinner while ogling Ruby’s assets standing in front of him, suddenly Dr. Whale has somewhere else to be. Ruby explains that she’s quit her job and wants to go…somewhere. Anywhere but Storybrooke. Emma wryly notes that there aren’t too many (and by that, I think she means “none”) out of town busses through Storybrooke. Mary Margaret offers Ruby a place to stay for a while, and Emma reluctantly agrees.
Worried about David being implicated in Kathryn’s disappearance, Mary Margaret goes to the woods on the edge of town to search for clues. It’s cute that she thinks she’ll find something. But wait! She does! She finds David, apparently also searching for clues. She happily tells him that they’ll find Kathryn, or she’ll just turn up, and everything will be fine. The second time he gives her that vacant stare and says, “I’m looking”, she realizes that something is wrong. And the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.
Back at the station, Henry is helping Ruby look at job listings on The Mirror’s website. Maybe she could be a bike messenger, delivering things to people in a little basket? No, bikes aren’t Ruby’s thing. Maybe she could go on foot, delivering things in a little basket. Very funny, Henry. He knows she’s Red Riding Hood. The phone keeps ringing and Henry explains that non-emergency calls are sent to the answering machine when Emma is busy. Ruby starts answering the phone as Emma walks in, and suddenly finds herself with a job as an assistant. Her first official duty is to go pick up lunch. Mary Margaret arrives and tells Emma that something’s wrong with David, asking her to check up on him.
Feeling rather pleased with herself, Ruby heads to Granny’s to order grilled cheeses (not “grilled Jesus” as I originally heard it) and obviously nonchalantly mentions that she’s practically a deputy now, solving crimes and such. Granny points out that she’s basically doing what she was before, delivering food. Not untrue, but definitely a blow to Ruby’s pride. Meanwhile, Henry informs Emma that Ruby is really Red Riding Hood, who people forget was pretty awesome. In other words, Emma should give Ruby more to do.
Noting Ruby’s low self esteem when she returns with the food, Emma enlists her to go out to the woods in search of David. Ruby is sure she’ll screw it up, “but with flair”, like everything else, but once they’re in the woods she displays almost supernatural hearing and finds David. He’s on the ground, unconscious and with a cut on his head. When they rouse him, he doesn’t remember anything that happened since he left the Sheriff’s office the night before. Uh oh. Gone all night? No memory of anything that happened? This doesn’t bode well. Dr. Whale gives him a once over, but doesn’t find anything amiss. Forgive me, Dr. Whale, but you’re under Regina’s command. I don’t trust your diagnosis. David is worried that perhaps he did something to Kathryn during a “spell” and doesn’t remember.
Regina arrives and insists that Emma keep looking for clues to Kathryn’s whereabouts. Emma sends Ruby back into the woods to look, telling her to “trust your instincts”. Ruby decides to dig a hole by the river, as one does, and uncovers a wooden box. She opens the box…and screams. We never actually see what’s in the box, thankfully, but Emma later reveals that it is a human heart. And there were finger prints on the box; they belong to Mary Margaret. I know Regina is behind this!
After finding the box containing the heart, Ruby decides that being practically a Sheriff’s deputy is not for her. She goes back to the diner, wearing little makeup, discreet clothing, and a much better attitude. She asks Granny for her job back, saying that she’s not scared of taking on additional responsibilities yet. Granny welcomes her back in her no-nonsense way, and reveals that she will be leaving the diner to Ruby when she retires. She also mentions that her arm hurts every full moon, as she rubs a set of horrible, claw-like scars.
New characters this week: Peter
Next week: The evidence against Mary Margaret mounts and Snow White plots to kill the Queen.