Now this was a Once Upon a Time episode of old. We had fantastic character beats, whopping great twists and some great exposition as we explored another of the new faces. This week saw Tiana (Mekia Cox) take centre stage as we went back in time to discover how the sheltered Princess became the strong, resourceful resistance fighter we’ve become familiar with in the last few episodes. Personally I’m not familiar with Princess and the Frog, it’s strangely one of the only Disney films that I haven’t seen, but I think the show did a great job at bringing that film to life – with a classic Once twist or two for good measure.
One of the highlights of the episode was the introduction of Daniel Francis’ Dr Facilier who I’m convinced will be back to cause more havoc in episodes to come. Francis was charming but shady and brilliantly brought to life Keith David’s larger than life witchdoctor from the source material. Having seen clips from the movie, I think the English actor encapsulated the role perfectly and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes onto become one of the shows most compelling villains since Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).
Our long running characters took a bit of a back seat this week, particularly Rumple/Weaver who was missing completely this week, luckily Lana Parrilla’s Regina/Roni did get involved in the action. It’s interesting to watch a new spin on the character and Parrilla does a decent job of bringing something different to the table with this iteration of the role. Reinventing a part you’ve played for so long but still retaining certain qualities isn’t the easiest job in the world but the actress does a fantastic job by striking the right balance with new traits stemming from the Roni persona while remaining true to her uncursed self.
Once again she showed great chemistry with Andrew J. West’s Henry, teasing the interesting dynamic that is to come in future episodes. We’ve seen snippets of these two together as Regina and uncursed Henry back in the Enchanted Forest but I’m excited to see what’s in store for the pair when they eventually come to their senses and remember the truth.
A character I’ve been critical of in recent reviews is Dania Ramirez’s Cinderella/Jacinda who I’ve struggled to connect with up until now. She still had her moments this week, specifically when Jacinda was dejected and pessimistic but in the scenes where she appeared to have hope, she was a lot more pleasant. This new found fondness could perhaps be attributed to Tiana/Sabine who I think brought the best out of her friend; bringing fun and laughter to what has been up to now, a character full of only doom and gloom.
Another character growing in promise is Drizella/Ivy (Adelaide Kane) who is continuing to show what a truly wicked stepsister she is. There were moments in last week’s episode “Beauty” where it appeared the writers were trying to make us sympathetic towards the “ugly sister” and while they continued that this week, that massive twist at the very end of the episode blew things wide open. I’m really looking forward to where they take the character next as there are a lot of possibilities they could explore.
Finally, Gabrielle Anwar continued to give the Evil Queen a run for her money as the delightfully spiteful Lady Tremaine/Victoria bringing new meaning to the word vindictive. I’m excited to see what she makes of her daughters revelation.
And I couldn’t not mention that moment in the bar between Roni and Henry. It was a little bombshell we had all been waiting for and I know I’ve discussed the pair already above but I can’t say enough I much I like this relationship. Many would’ve been apprehensive about recasting the role of Henry and while I don’t want to take anything away from Jared S. Gilmore, I honestly think it’s one of the best decisions the show has ever made.
Once Upon a Time airs on Tuesday’s in the UK on Netflix. Let us know what you think of the season.