It's nice to have Snow White back at the helm of this story, and it's nice to see people in Storybrooke smiling for a change.
That can't be a coincidence.
While frustrations have been high surrounding the recycling and repeating storylines we've become accustomed to, Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 3 became self-aware.
Is this our life now? Defeat and repeat?Mary Margaret
Mary Margaret became the voice of the viewers, wondering if this story is all that we'll ever have on Once Upon a Time. Defeat and repeat.
As the hour went on, we discovered that there is a way to put a spin on the same recycled story, even one that's already been re-told once before.
Cinderella's tale brought something comforting to the table that we haven't seen in quite some time. Maybe it's because she's a well-known character, or because her story connected to Snow White's at the ball, or because she's a heroine that we instinctively root for as though it's ingrained in us.
Whatever the case, the recycling of Cinderella, along with it's own Untold Story twist, was a pleasant jolt of energy to a series that's started to fall flat.
Adding in a twist between Ashley and her sister, Clorinda, was not only just the right plot device to throw at the audience, but it was also a clever way to ensure that there were happy endings all around by the end of the hour.
Honestly, after seeing the Count of Monte Cristo have a horrible ending to his own tale during Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 2, I feared that Ashley would suffer a similar fate, and had braced myself for Cinderella's death.
But really, there would have been no way for Once Upon a Time to write something quite so awful for a character like Cinderella. Instead of unease, the writers granted us some peace. It couldn't have come at a better time.
Mary Margaret: Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein, you know what that sounds like?
Regina: The world's scariest sounding pediatricians office?
Mary Margaret is tired of feeling complacent in this merry-go-round of fighting and forgiveness. She's ready to create a new normal, and she's inspiring those around her to do the same.
It's not only nice to see the matriarch step back into the driver's seat of her own story, but it's even better to see it come at time when she can share it with Regina, as the two women continue working toward their own new normal, as a functional - albeit disjointed - family.
Snow is the voice reminding Regina that she can beat the Evil Queen. Snow easily puts David's worries aside to remind him of the things that are really important. Snow finds a way to get Jekyll what he needs to work.
Snow White is basically the Savior 2.0, but in her own gentler way. It's episodes like this one that showcase how much Emma is like her mother, and it's a reminder that we don't see often enough. Emma's will to move forward and make things happen is like looking in a mirror at Mary Margaret.
I don't know if we'll ever see this school that Mary Margaret is envisioning come to be, but I love how passionate she is about it, and truth be told, it's just nice to see a character on this show have pure passion about anything these days.
He deserves a future and I can't give it to him.Emma
Speaking of Emma, while she's still not being totally forthcoming with information about her approaching death, she is making strides in some areas.
Her confession to Archie that she's jealous of a life that she won't have is an interesting new way of looking at Emma.
To this point, I'd never considered that she might want a family with Killian. But as soon as I saw her face, and the whipped cream on his nose as he did his best to entertain Ashley's daughter, I realized that there are a lot of things that Emma wants, things that have nothing to do with being the Savior.
It's a really nice way of humanizing a character that has always felt invincible by her own design.
Emma wants to give Killian the life that he deserves, because she loves him, and because he's worked so damned hard to have it. He's been patient with her, in ways he's not even aware of yet.
Emma: I have a closet full of red jackets, I can make some space for some black leather.
Hook: Well, when you put it that way, I would love to move in with you.
By the end, it is growth on Emma's part to take Archie's advice, and let Hook move in. She might not be able to stop what's coming, but that's no reason to stop living until then.
I also really loved seeing that Emma is still strong enough to beat her tremors. Did you notice how she did it? Henry's encouragement gave her confidence. Emma can't be a lone wolf. She needs Henry and Hook to stay strong.
So seriously, she needs to tell them what's really up, like, ASAP because it's driving me bananas.
Regina's story continues to be scattered here, but isn't the dominant focus.
Watching her trying to outsmart herself is entertaining, but it's just not as entertaining as watching the Evil Queen wreaking havoc.
I'm not sure how their story will play out just yet, but I'm loving her new alliance with Mr. Hyde. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they've got a Bonnie & Clyde vibe that I really hope the show explores.
And is it just me, or does Lana Parrilla seem to be having a blast being bad?
Fathers and sons. It's hard for you, I think, because no matter the damage, you need each other.Belle
David just can't help himself. He can't let things go.
I sat in front of my television shouting, "Don't walk away Snow! Watch him burn that card!" but she didn't. She turned her back, and OF COURSE David blew the candle out, and kept that card safe and sound, the information that will send him on a mysterious quest to discover what's happened to his father.
David's story gave him a chance to make a deal with Gold, and gave Belle something to think about.
She listened to the tape of Rumple reading a poem to their unborn son, and smiled. It's not a reconciliation by any means, but it's a step in the right direction. Belle said it herself - fathers and sons need each other. And David's words about his father not being around seemed to truly resonate with her.
Belle won't keep Rumple away from their son, that much is pretty clear. Though, she may take some more time before she comes around to the idea of being one big happy family.
In the end, this episode gave fans everything that's been sorely lacking; happy endings all around, fuzzy feelings, romance, humor, and a clear focus of what comes next, as Hyde and Regina are about to take Storybrooke by storm.
And for the first time in forever, it felt good to watch Once Upon a Time.
Missed a moment of the action, or want to see how it all went down again? You can watch Once Upon a Time online right here at TV Fanatic!