Episode 1: Pilot (Once Upon A Time)


Helloooo :)   Since I've taken up on watching Once Upon A Time, I thought it would be fun to recap the series; inspired by one of my favorite recapping sites ever, Dramabeans ^_^   I haven't found a site that does picture recaps of OUAT so I thought I might try doing it, at least for just Season 1.  I remember the joys of wasting many an hour reading recaps and what better way to share the love :D?  I'm a sucker for fairy tales with the modern twist thing so I hope y'all don't mind joining me for the ride ;)

I've put this after the jump since this is pic heavy~

Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

Once Upon A Time
There was an enchanted forest filled with all the classic characters we know.
Or think we know.
One day they found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen.
Our World.

This is how it happened.....

Pretty boy with a red velvet cape on a white horse! $10 that it's Prince Charming ^_~   Gorgeous scenery as Prince Charming races towards...something...or someONE.

Doc (front), Grumpy, and Sleepy!

We have our first glimpse of Snow White (Ginnifer Godwin)  in her glass coffin surrounded by her Seven Dwarves. They say it's "too late" but Charming insists they open the coffin so that he can tell her goodbye one last time.

Their kiss washes over the land in a ray of light (literally) and Snow White and her Prince share a tender moment where he tells her to never doubt him since he will always find her no matter where she is.  She sweetly replies that she knows but the "glass coffin gave her pause."  They kiss and we cut to -

Doc & Grumpy again~

- their wedding day :)!   Happiness and kisses all around until the doors burst open and we see a women dressed in black stride in.

You can't see it in the screencaps but she "glides" as she walks down the isle - it's a small but unnerving special effect :)  The intruder is "The Queen" and though told to run by Doc (one of the Seven Dwarves), the couple stand their ground and Snow White fiercely draws the Prince's sword for him and says there is nothing to fear (woot girl power)!

Clearly there is bad blood between them and the Prince tells The Queen to go since "she has already lost."  Of course the Queen ain't going anywhere and says she is in fact she is there to bestow a gift - whether they want it or not.

"My gift to you, is this happy, happy day.  But tomorrow my real work begins.  You've made your vows, now I'll make mine.  Soon everything you love, everything all of you love will be taken from you. Forever.  And out of your suffering will rise my victory.  I shall destroy your happiness, if it is the last thing I do."

Lady needs a hobby.

In rage, the Prince throws his sword at her but she vanishes in a puff of black smoke leaving behind a very much ruined wedding day -_-

Cut to the modern day as we know it and we see a little boy reading a fairy tale book on a bus.

When asked if it's a good book, he mysteriously states that "It's much more than just a book."

In Boston, a sexy blond chica (Jennifer Morrison, House) - Emma - meets her blind date at a restaurant. You can tell "Brian" likes what he sees and that it is their first time meeting (they met through the Internet).   They banter and we find out it's Emma's birthday.  We also find out she is quite a loner with no friends and no family (she's an orphan).   We quickly find out that this is no ordinary date when Emma says that Brian is "handsome, charming, and the kind of guy who embezzled from his employer, got arrested, and skipped town before they could throw your ass in jail."   She's a bails-bonds man (or as she puts it, a bails-bond person).  He runs and she strolls confidently after him in her killer heels as she has already put a carjack thingie? on his tire.   Emma coolly rejects his bribe and says he should just give the money to his wife and family.  He hits a sore spot when he retorts that "What do you know about family?" and ends up getting knocked out.  She coldly replies, "Nothing."

Emma returns to her dark, lonely apartment with a single vanilla cupcake and lights a star shaped candle (oohh wish upon a star from Pinocchio!).  She closes her eyes to make a wish and blows out the candle.  The doorbell rings.

Cool door!

It's the little boy from the bus reading the fairy tale book.  His name is Henry and asks if her name is Emma Swan.   If it is, well, he's her son.  Ten years ago, Emma gave up a boy for adoption - that was him.

Henry wants Emma to go back home with him and Emma refuses.  She threatens to call the cops and Henry, who we can tell by now is very stubborn and resourceful despite his young age, lies that he'll call the cops and say she kidnapped him if she doesn't do what he asks.  Emma replies that even though there's not much in life she's good at, she is good at one thing (she calls it her superpower), she can tell when people are lying (another Pinocchio reference! I keep waiting for Henry's nose to grow or something).  She calls his bluff and Henry resorts to using puppy eyes.  Emma relents and agrees to drive him back home to Storybrooke, Maine.

We're back in fantasy land aka Enchanted Forest (am the only one who keeps thinking of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

She's pregnant and deeply concerned about what The Evil Queen (from now on just TEQ, The Evil Queen) said at their wedding.  The Prince tells her to stop worrying but SW sharply replies that "she poisoned an apple just because she thought I was prettier than her -  you have no idea of what she's capable of."

Charming asks what he can do to ease her mind and SW asks that he let her see "him."  The Prince is dead set against this idea because "he's locked up for a reason."  But no matter how dangerous, he can see in the future and SW wants to know for sure - a guarantee - that their child will be safe.  At the reminder of their child, Charming agrees to let Snow meet "him."

Back in the modern world, Emma and Henry are in the car in uncomfortable silence.  Emma asks what he's reading and Henry replies that "I'm not sure you're ready."   She scoffs at his fairy tale book but he insists that "every story in this book is true.  Everything actually happened."  When Emma doesn't believe him he challenges her to use her "superpower" to see if he's lying.  She sadly replies that "Just because you believe in something, doesn't make it true."   But Henry replies, "That's exactly what makes it true." And that she of all people should know "because you're in this book!" *dundundunnnnnnnnn*  Emma tiredly says he's got problems and Henry agrees that he does - and she's going to fix them (though clearly they're not talking about the same problems ^_~).

While being led down dark tunnels, Snow and Charming are being lectured to "stay out of the light and to NOT let him know your name.  If he knows your name he will have power over you."    Which tells you that they will be doing exactly the opposite -_-  Anyway, considering the name obsession - the mysterious, future-seeing "him" is unsurprisingly none other than:

Rumpelstiltskin (from henceforth Rumple).  Rumple creepily crawls down from the ceiling and tells them to come into the light (which of course they do :P).   Unfortunately for them, he already knows Snow White and Prince Charming's names.   He even knows why they are there and what they want to know.  However, the knowledge has a price.    He wants the name of their unborn child.  Charming refuses, but Snow agrees and makes the deal.  Rumple reveals that TEQ has created a powerful curse and that soon everyone will be in a prison, just like him.  Only worse because their prison will be Time itself. No more happy endings.

Rumple says their only hope is the baby.  If they save the child, on its 28th birthday, the child will find them and the final battle will begin.  As they walk away, Rumple starts throwing a creepy fit and insisting they tell him the unborn child's name.  The Prince lies and says it's a boy but Rumple knows the child is a girl and appeals to SW. Snow reluctantly reveals that the child's name is Emma.

We arrive in Storybrooke and Emma and Henry drive through a rainy town.  Interestingly, the power lines crackle when Emma slams her car door.

The clock in the town square (says 8:15, Lost reference) is broken because "time is frozen here."  TEQ sent everyone from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke, Maine and nobody can leave because when they try to "bad things happen."

A man walking his dalmatian, Pongo, (101 Dalmatians ehe) runs up to Henry - his name is Archie Hopper and he's Henry therapist.  Emma also finds out that Henry is the mayor's son.  Archie is clearly warmhearted and gently reminds Henry to stop lying because "giving into ones dark side never accomplishes anything" when Henry fibs that he missed his session today because he was on a field trip.

After Archie leaves, Henry determinedly says that despite having a "shrink" he's not crazy and that in fact, it's the shrink who needs help because "he's doesn't know who he really is."   Nobody remembers who they really are. Henry says Archie is actually Jiminy Cricket.  Emma jokes that then Henry must be Pinocchio because he lies so much and Henry tellingly retorts that he is NOT Pinocchio.

A la Knights of the Round Table, a number of fairy tale characters are gathered around a round table.  We see Jiminy Cricket in well, cricket form, advising Charming not to wage an all out war.  Note the similar wardrobe colors and the umbrella *sqeee* Jiminiy also echos his real life character when he says "giving into your dark side never accomplishes anything."  We also see differing views on fate: Charming believes you can change your destiny and that good can conquer all, Snow does not and seems almost resigned.

Suddenly a little Blue Fairy (Pinocchio) leading soldiers carrying a large tree enter the room.   She calls the tree their only hope for saving the child.

Grumpy sulkily suggests they just "get back to the fighting thing."

The tree is enchanted and can ward off any curse after Geppetto and Pinocchio (a real boy!) fashion the tree into a vessel.  Snow White sits up and her face is alight with hope.  Unfortunately, even magic has its limits and the the catch is that the tree can only protect only one person.....

As Emma walks Henry up to do the door, Henry tells her that he has no dad and his mom is "evil" and only pretends to love him.  Emma is taken aback at his vehemence, especially when his mom, Mayor Regina Mills - the Evil Queen - comes running out and hugs him lovingly.  Henry angrily spats that he went and found his REAL mom.  Awkwarddddd......

Behind Regina is a man who offers to go in and check on Henry leaving the two women alone.  Regina offers Emma a glass of the "best apple cider you ever tasted."

Inside, Regina tells Emma that she adopted Henry when he was 3 weeks old and that the "birth mother didn't want any contact."   Emma says that's correct.  Under the guise of politeness, Regina makes it clear that SHE is Henry's mother, not Emma.  We also find out that the man is the town Sheriff.

Just in case we missed the 'apple' reference the first time around >_>

The women discuss life and Regina says it's been rough being a single mom, especially after being elected mayor.  "I don't think being strict doesn't make me evil do you?"  It seems that she is aware that her son hates her for some reason.   Emma inadvertently shares Henry's fairy tale obsession which Regina seems to have been completely unaware of it.  Though she looks extremely displeased with the idea, its not 100% clear if she is aware of their fairy tale origins.

Uncomfortable, Emma excuses herself but her face shows how worried she is for Henry.

However, Henry has one last trick up his sleeve and we see that he left his fairy tale book behind in her car so she has to return it ^^

Emma doesn't seem too displeased though but before she can do anything a wolf in the road causes her to crash her car right into the town sign eheh ^_^ I wonder who the wolf is :D :D!!

As the wolf howls into the night (in triumph?), the storybook's pages flutter in the wind and we see glimpses of the Winged Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.  Foreshadowing perhaps :D?

Geppetto and his beloved Pinocchio work on carving the tree while Snow and Charming dread being separated.

Snow White: He said it would be on her 28th birthday!
Prince Charming: What's 28 years when you have eternal love? I have faith.  It will save me as I did you.

*AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW*  Where can I get me one of those!?  Right on cue, Snow's water breaks.

Apparently the mist is supposed to be an allusion to Lost.

Meanwhile out on the watch tower, Grumpy and Sleepy see the curse coming (literally).

Emma wakens in jail to to the sound of Grumpy aka Leroy whistling "Whistle While You Work."  Geppetto's real life counterpart is also there (not in jail, working there or something).  Sadly, in real life, Geppetto is childless. Though he and his wife tried for many years, "it was not meant to be."  No happy endings here :P  The Sheriff that we saw at the Mayor's house lets Leroy out of jail.  Emma tells him that she was not drunk, contrary to popular belief, she crashed because there was a wolf in the road.  I guess now she knows what it's like to have nobody believe her ;)

The Mayor bursts into the police station because Henry has run off again.  She's not happy to see Emma but Emma, who hunts down people for a living, offers to help find him.  We find out Henry used findyourmomma.org (not a real website ;) ) to find her and paid for the service with a credit card from Mary Margret Blanchard.

Someone that the Mayor is obviously not fond of....

Henry's teacher - Snow White.  Showing her characteristic affinity for animals, MMarg/Snow tells her students to build birdhouses with the bird's comfort in mind - they're building a home, not a cage.  She adds that if you love them and they love you, they will always find you - an echo of her fairy tale character.  The Mayor strides in to ask why Mary Margret gave Henry her credit card.  She also coldly introduces Emma as "the woman who gave him up for adoption."  There are no sparks of recognition from the mom/daughter meeting...tho I do wonder how the age gap (rather lack thereof) is going to work in the future especially as people start remembering O_o

Mary Margret finds out her credit card is not in her wallet and berates herself for giving Henry "that book." Mayor loses it and demands to know about this mysterious book and MMarg says it's just a fairy tale book she gave him to ease his loneliness and give him hope. "Even the possibility of happy endings is a very powerful thing."  After Regina storms out, MMarg tells Emma that if she wants to find Henry, she should go check his "castle."

We pick up where we left off and Snow is on the verge of giving birth.   She's on the brink of despair because the "wardrobe" isn't finished yet (a Chronicles of Narnia reference perhaps?) but Geppetto bursts in to let them know the wardrobe is ready.  But when Charming tries to pick Snow up, Doc, the leader of the Seven Dwarves and physician says Snow is too far along to move.  Meanwhile, TEQ draws ever closer....

Oo...how very magic mirror-esque~

Emma is born and and the family shares a happy moment until Snow remembers the wardrobe can only hold one.  The Prince finds comfort that at least they are together but Snow, determined to save her child, insists that the child be placed alone in the wardrobe.

Snow White: It's the only way, we have to believe she'll come back to us! We have to give her her best chance.

The family shares one last moment together and Charming takes the child into his arms leaving Snow behind :(

Meanwhile, the Queen's men have broken into the castle and Charming has his hands full fighting them off with a baby in one arm ><!  ahhh...whether it's in saeguks or fantasy flicks, a man with a sword fighting with a baby in his arms is nerve wrecking ><  Anyone remember Chuno and and the bit with Oh Ji Ho fighting with his baby?! Let's just say it did not go well and I bawled my eyes out.

Anyway, thankfully Charming survives (barely) though he is gravely injured.  He manages to place Emma safely  into the wardrobe and tenderly kisses her goodbye.  He whispers, "Find us." and shuts the wardrobe doors.

More henchmen come into the room and Charming, with all the fight gone out of him, gets stabbed through the stomach O_O (o no he can't die!!) and the soldiers break open the wardrobe doors.

Emma is gone.  Knowing Emma is safe, Charming (dies?!) closes his eyes with a smile on his lips.

We find Henry in a playground and Emma gives him his book back.  Henry sighs and says the clock is still broken...he had hoped bringing Emma back would change things somehow.  Even in the face of Emma's reluctance, Henry is adamant that Emma is the one that will "bring back the happy endings."  When she snaps at him Henry sweetly says, "You don't have to be hostile, I know you like me. I can tell." He can be brat and a little annoying but I can see this boy growing up to be a charmer as well (like his granddad one could say eheh).   He adds,

Henry: You're pushing me away because you feel guilty.  It's okay. I know why you gave me away. You wanted to give me my best chance.

Emma is visibly moved (I must admit my heart twitched a little as well ;_;) and asks him how he knew.  Henry says it's because it's the same reason Snow gave Emma up, to give her her best chance.  He pleads to Emma to just stay one week so he can prove to her that he's not crazy and that life with Regina sucks.  Emma breaks down telling him what sucks is being found at the edge of a freeway and having a foster family till she was 3, then being sent back when the foster family had their own child.   You can tell the wounds are still raw and she defends Regina's parenting as she tries to persuade him to go back.   Henry tries to explain that Emma was not abandoned...the road was just where "she came through."  He says that in fact they were trying to save her from the curse.  Emma clearly does not believe him but tenderly leads him away from the playground.

Meanwhile, Snow has finally limped over to Charming's side and sees him looking very dead ;_; She begs him to come back to her and in a moment of inspiration, kisses him, just as he did her at the beginning of the episode.  But this time there is no magical light...nothing happens. TEQ swans in and Snow angrily asks her why she did this. She answers "Because this is my happy ending."

When it's discovered the baby got away, Snow breaks into a smile and tells TEQ that she's going to lose...because now she knows that good will always win :)  Regina smirks as the room begins to fill with smoke.

Snow White: Where are we going?
TEQ: Somewhere horrible. Somewhere absolutely horrible. A place where the only happy ending, will be mine.

Thhe ceiling cracks and black smog fills the room.   The Curse has arrived.

Emma brings Henry back to house 108 and Henry runs past Regina without a word.   Emma tells Regina how it's funny how Henry came into her life.  The wish she had made when she was blowing out her candle was that she wouldn't be alone on her birthday - and that's when Henry showed up.  Regina quashes the tender moment and tells her she's not welcome in Henry's life.  Regina shows her iron core by acting like first class bitch  when she tells Emma to get out of town or she will "destroy her, if it's the last thing I do" in an echo of her TEQ self.  Unshaken, Emma asks if Regina loves Henry and she replies rather defensively, "Of course I love him."

Regina follows that act up by creepily standing over Henry holding his fairy tale book in her arms.   She takes the book and as she looks in the mirror with a determined stare, it  seems as though she is in fact aware of her fairy tale origin.

Meanwhile, MMarg, a volunteer at the hospital, leaves flowers at the bedside of a John Doe.  As the camera pans, we see that it is Prince Charming though Snow does not recognize him.   At home, Henry gazes out the window at the clock tower and we see Emma walk up the stairs of "Granny's Bed & Breakfast."

Inside, Little Red Riding Hood and Granny are fighting.  We find out that Ruby wanted to move to Boston but couldn't when Granny had a heart attack.  This is probably what Henry meant when he said "bad things happen when people try to leave."  Granny hilariously replies, "I'm sorry if my heart attack interfered with your plans to sleep your way down the Eastern seaboard!"  Then a familiar face arrives:

Rumple!  Now Mr. Gold. He's much cleaner looking and comments knowingly, "Emma, what a lovely name."

Granny hands over a roll of bills and as he leaves, Red and Granny disgustedly reveal that Mr. Gold "owns the town." Emma books a stay for a week and as Granny says, "Welcome to Storybrooke" and hands her a key....

.....outside, the hand on the clock moves...

Arghhh...I had no plans on actually LIKING this episode ><  For all the fairy tale characters and fantasy world settings - I found everything to be remarkably not-cheesy.  The special effects were acceptable and the depth to the characters, especially Snow White are compelling.  Visually, I find OUAT quite attractive and the set doesn't distract from the story.

The best part is seeing the fantasy vs modern counterparts and I see a lot of juicy back stories waiting to be told. G.Goodwin is a lovely Snow White and while Prince Charming is a little one dimensional, this is only the pilot episode. The couple really seem in love, which is the main thing. He plays the devoted husband perfectly and I do admire how he has somewhat simple values yet is not stupid.   Another scene-stealer for me was Rumple. He's deliciously creepy and I look forward to seeing exactly WHY knowing names gives him power of you. He also seems to be one of the two people in Storybrooke who knows about the Enchanted Forest world and I want to know why he's an exception. TEQ is still flat for me too but I have no doubt her motivations will be fleshed out in the future.  For now, she plays the woman bent on revenge pretty well. And can I just say Archie Hopper is exactly how I'd imagine a cricket in human form ^_^?! Jiminy Cricket is a conscious, so I am eager to see how quickly he "discovers his true self" now that Emma's here. I think it's no coincidence he is the first Storybrooke resident Emma meets besides Henry. Emma is the most blase to me so far but still, there's plenty of time and the cupcake scene and her bit with Henry at his "castle" were moving enough. Henry is by far the most mysterious character to me though.  Yes, we know he's Emma's son but he seems SO aware of his surroundings and knows too much about how things out to be. I'm sure the fairy tale book has a background too it too, but even with the guide of the book, Henry is awfully all-knowing. Can't wait to find out who he represents and why, despite how he threatens Regina's entire world, why Regina seems so intent on "loving" him in particular.  And how did Regina end up with Henry anyway?  It's awfully convenient. Also, who is the wolf??  All I can think of the the wolf in Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs...hmmm.....

I'm 5 episodes behind (Episode 6 airs today) but I have plenty of time to catch up because there is a 3 week gap between Episode 7 and 8.  Gahhhh whyyy?!  I hate waiting!! A CURSE UPON US TV SCHEDULING.


  1. Thanks for the recap!! I have been searching high and low to stream at least the first episode ever since U mentioned this tv series, but I guess it is a strictly no US tv shows streaming in OZ. Can't wait for it to be release here. Grrr.... >.< 

  2. The Girlie BloggerDecember 4, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    I love this show. Can't wait til' tomorrow's episode.

  3. 3 weeks gap! I didn't know! Oooooh nooooo!

  4. Thanks for the recap, I just started to watch this, this morning and can't wait to continue :)

  5. Yeahhh ^_^ I'm so annoyed there's a 3 week gap coming up though *sigh*

  6. aww...man... I remember back in the old days I downloaded tv shows b/c streaming was so bad. I hope it gets released so you can watch it soon ^_^

  7. Great site! Thanks, Elle! I live in Brazil and the series just started last week, but I missed the Pilot! Since I could not find a site that lets me watch the episodes from outside the US, it was great to read about it here. The next episode airs tonight.

    1. No problem! I've fallen behind on recaps but I am still watching the show. I hope to catch up shortly ^_^ I'm glad to know you found this helpful!


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