Once Upon a Time: We Found Love in a Hopeless Place
(Spoilers, if you haven’t seen the episode from 1.22.12)
“I will find her. I will always find her.”
Last night, I caught up on the latest episode of Once Upon a Time. It really struck a chord with me, and I found the episode (titled 7:15am) was beautifully hard to watch. There was no graphic violence, no death, and no gore. But watching it, it made me feel too much. I was rendered a heap, trust me.
For those who don’t know, the premise of the show is simple. In Fairytale Land, the evil queen cast a spell that trapped all the fairytale characters in Storybrooke (a fictional town in our world). Their only chance for rescue is Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming; she was shielded from the curse. There’s a lot of back and forth between Fairytale Land and Storybrooke, showing the parallels and disparities, giving the audience insights into each character. For instance, the episode that centered on Rumplestiltskin (aka Mr. Gold) exposed his beginnings and that he does, indeed, have a heart.
This show has taught me a lot about storytelling, even though it’s a different medium than I’m used to. Each character is nuanced. Each actor plays it to the hilt. And there are so many layers in a single look, so many whispers in a single word; it is inspiring. There is no black and white (except, if you ask me, the Evil Queen – aka Regina, the Mayor).
There is nothing that steals my heart more than a good, obstacle-laden romance. This most recent episode centered on Mary Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming). First, it expanded their fairytale love story, giving us another remind that “the course of true love ne’er did run smooth.” Then, in Storybrooke, we find the two running into each other, with increasingly deliberate measure. Until, that is, Mary Margaret tries to spare herself the pain. She can’t have him, and it hurts to see him. Who can’t relate to THAT? You see, in Storybrooke, David is married to someone else (blonde, kind of annoying. I cannot remember her name). Personally, I think that it is the work of magic, but only time will bear that out. You see, David was in a coma for YEARS; he didn’t really remember The Wife, until he spied a windmill at Mr. Gold’s. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway, Mary Margaret and David keep looking at each other, their entire faces infuse with joy and longing. It is intense. It’s enough to stop hearts and clocks, causing the world to spin just a bit slower. (Or am I editorializing again? Oh, well.)
The interesting thing, here, is you NEVER get the feeling that David is a typical douchebag. He’s not playing both sides against the middle. He’s not some shady guy. You really get the sense that he’s genuinely conflicted, that he has feelings he doesn’t know how to handle, tamp down, or exorcise himself of. In that wasteland of confusion, he’s instantly every person who’s ever felt something “wrong,” who has loved in the wrong direction. It’s the same for Mary Margaret, too. She’s really TRYING to be a good person. She’s trying hard not to muck up lives, sacrificing her own feelings in the process.
Sometimes, what can be said with a look cannot be said in words. The same goes for a kiss, for all the passion that goes into it. Feelings gather and pull, laud and leap. A smoldering look can sing. A kiss can fill up the heart until it almost dares to burst. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are superb at conveying this. You look at them, struggling against their own hearts, and you can feel the pain of it. It’s not as easy as right and wrong. It just is. And it’s hard to talk about shoulds and shouldn’ts, when they (after each trying to avoid the other) finally kiss. (Skip to 1:10, to see the Present Day)
Call me heartless or evil, if you want, but I’m rooting for these two. Even if their Fairytale Land counterparts didn’t exist, I would still be cheering them on. Because they are two characters with enough love and passion to burn through the screen. It reminds me that love and passion lead us to do crazy, unusual things. It makes us foolish and bold, but it is often the very best kind of madness. And, really, they want what EVERYONE wants at the end of the day: to be found. We all want to be seen. We all want someone we can’t live without, who doesn’t run at the first sign of trouble (and hell, who often goes rushing headlong into it for our sake). A love that, despite the obstacles, can overcome just about anything — even amnesia, even obligations, even a broken heart.