by Jeremy Grossman
Cinderella is a mere guest star, however, and her story has little to do with the show’s overall narrative. Her story is short and sweet, and the actress that plays her (Jessy Schram from “Falling Skies”) is a real charmer. “Gold” is ultimately a filler episode, which wouldn’t be so awful if the cast already in place didn’t require some much-needed guidance. The dynamic between Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin was an interesting one, but it would be all the more powerful if it were between Rumpelstiltskin and a main character. As of right now, it’s difficult to root for a group of people who are essentially in the same positions as they were in episode one.
The show excels in lavishness — Spells! Fancy balls! Spooky woods! — but if “Once” really wants to work its magic, it better start working on the relationships amongst the real world characters. Regina and Emma are still bickering, Henry’s still whining, and Sheriff Graham is still making pretty boy faces. The show’s twists — Regina and Sheriff Graham are sleeping together — simply did not pack a punch, because there’s nothing really at stake in either the relationship or the show as a whole. Nothing makes this particular twist emotionally effective, since Sheriff Graham is a poorly developed character, and Regina is nothing more than a mean (albeit well-played) witch. Why should we care that these two characters are sleeping together? It’s not like they’re terribly intriguing.
So if a random character like Cinderella is going to take over an episode as was the case in “Gold,” then the show better make some sure its main players are also being similarly explored. It’s ironic that the people of Storybrooke are magically bound from leaving the town because it feels like the characters are magically bound to caricature versions of themselves. “Once Upon a Time” is not a cartoon, and the characters can’t keep going back to the status quo. Cinderella was the most well-developed character of the episode, and that’s a problem, because she was only a guest star, and there are only so many guest stars that this show can have before it has to focus on the main plot.
Jeremy Grossman is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.