Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Video: Book People Unite

Sorry for the radio silence, folks! Its the end of the semester, so work and masters degree have been taking up most of my time. However, I wanted to give you this cute video today! It's part of a campaign for Reading is Fundamental, an organization devoted to making sure all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading. It stars some of our favorite literary characters, including Pinocchio, Three Blind Mice, Humpty Dumpty, Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the three bears, and the Three Pigs. And a cameo by Levar Burton. What more could you ask for!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Article: Are Fairy Tale Villainesses the New Anti-Hero?

There has been a fluttering around the blogosphere due to a recent post in thinkprogress from Alyssa Rosenberg who takes the stance that fairy tale villianesses are the new anti-heros. So many critically acclaimed shows center around a strong, complex, morally ambiguous middle-aged male character (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire). Middle-aged women more often than not have more success in comedies:

"But if middle-aged anti-heroes are what we’ve decided give us an opportunity for moral sophistication as viewers and for complex, intriguing storytelling, where would we start in creating these kinds of women? It’s possible that one answer lies in a rising boom: fairy tale villainesses. Fairy tales are full of older women who are trying to hold onto the kinds of things about which great dramas about men are made: their power within their professional setting, their sense of sexual desirability, their status within their personal communities. In the trailers for Snow White and the Huntsman, we’re clearly meant to side with Kristen Stewart’s insurgent Snow White. But I’m intrigued by Charlize Theron’s evil Queen, who speaks of giving her fallen world the ruler it deserves, who commands armies and welcomes challenges.
And as production ramps up on the Maleficent movie, Angelina Jolie told People Magazine that she felt some ambivalence about defending her character (the movie will be told from the perspective of Sleeping Beauty’s rival for the throne): “It sounds really crazy to say that there will be something that’s good for young girls in this, because it sounds like you’re saying they should be a villain. [Maleficent] is actually a great person. But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect.” But why should we be so squeamish about suggesting that we should sympathize with female villains? Especially in settings where women have to be unusually tough to hold on to power and authority (which, let’s be honest, is not so different from the tightrope women have to walk today)?
If boys can grow up to sympathize with Tony Soprano, why shouldn’t women get a world where it’s permissible to sympathize with the stepmothers, crones, sorceresses and evil queens we taught were lying in our paths growing up? Reclaiming fairy tale villainesses wouldn’t just give us a crop of powerful female anti-heroines—it would help break a cycle of storytelling that valorizes younger and prettier women overthrowing older ones. Sisterhood is weird, and complex, and powerful." (Full Article)

Kyle Cupp from the League of Ordinary Gentlemen pondered whether sympathizing with villains would create a moral relativism in fairy tales whose defining feature is often the clear distinction of good and evil:
"I suppose sympathy with fairy tale villains and villainesses could lead into relativism’s dark woods if the villainy itself were considered to be something virtuous, but there’s nothing remotely relativistic in remaking images of unadulterated evil into morally-complex images of the human condition.  Which is, you know, morally complex.  Sure, Maleficent can turn into a dragon, laugh maniacally, and perform black magic, but she’s still a potential figure of humanity.  Flawed humanity, to be sure.  She really should have had staff meetings more than once every sixteen years: she would have learned early on that her orcish minions weren’t considering the aging process in their years long search for the princess Aurora." (Full Article)
Forbes wrote about how they would love to see more complex female characters in general. While there are several great ones currently on television (Leslie Knope is deliciously flawed), they are often few and far between:
"In a very real sense, female characters face the same challenges that female politicians face. Strong women are given the “uppity” treatment far too often,  described as haughty or cold or in other less-friendly terms. This is a huge barrier to entry when it comes to crafting a female anti-hero. You can see how precarious this becomes in a show like Weeds, though to be fair that show suffers from a myriad other problems." (Full Article)
I definitely agree that more complex female characters in the media would be a great thing! We are more often than not relegated to the stereotypes of virgin, whore, mother, and crone. Wholly good or wholly evil. However, there are many notable exceptions. The entire female cast of Game of Thrones, for example. The women are there, we just need them to be the rule, not the exception.

As for fairy tale villianess as the new anti-hero, I have some reservations. I believe that as long as the women are infused with humanity, like Maleficent in the new movie, and Regina in Once Upon a Time, it is a great thing. I don't think we should be holding up purely evil women as role models. I think that morally complex women, strong women, women who you sympathize with, struggle with, and watch them make the wrong decisions are more what we need.

We live in an age of absolutes, especially during this election year. I keep being confronted with the attitude that if you are a Republican, all Democrats are evil, and if you are a Democrat, all Republicans are evil. There can be no negotiation and compromise because each side is completely assured that the opposing side is lying and cheating and stabbing them in the back.

I think that a little moral ambiguity might actually do us good. Humanize those we assume to be villains, find the motives behind their actions, and slowly begin to sympathize them. I do not think we should condone their actions, but I think there is a lot to be gained by looking at the why. I think there are very few people in the world who go out and decide to do some evil that day. "Villains" always think that what they are doing is right. Context and motivation are key.

Creating more complex, morally ambiguous women (and men), might actually allow us to see life from our "enemies'" perspective and open the way for negotiations and compromise.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Places: La Balade des Gnomes, a Fairy Tale Bed and Breakfast

A few weeks ago, Io9 posted an article about a fantasy-themed bed and breakfast in Belguim called La Balade des Gnomes (The Walk of the Gnomes). Each room looks straight out of a fairy tale:
If you'd like to sleep inside a fairy tale (and not the parts where you're being eaten by wolves or danced to death by enchanted shoes), you might want to pay a visit to La Balade des Gnomes, a quiet bed and breakfast where you can live out your fairy tale dreams, including one inside the belly of a wooden bull.
La Balade des Gnomes sits outside Derby, Belgium, and includes ten rooms, each with its own fantastical theme: a cabin in the forest, a neighborhood on the moon, stars in the desert, the legend of the trolls, and, of course, the Trojan Horse, which is actually a bull. Presumably, you can't liberate the Trojan bull room to invade enemy nations. (Full Article)
Here is the video.

This fantasy-themed bed and breakfast lets you sleep inside a Trojan bull

Movies: The Next Fairy Tale Adaptation Should be...... The Blue Light?

Recently, Cinemablend posted an article suggesting three classic tales Hollywood should adapt after Mirror, Mirror and Wrath of the Titans. They list the myth of Prometheus, Paradise Lost, and "The Blue Light."

I was ecstatic when I saw "The Blue Light" as a suggestion, as it is a very obscure, but excellent tale. Yes, it has it's problems, but Cinemablend has some ideas about how to change the story.

ORIGINAL STORY: "The Blue Light" is a grim, Grimm tale of revenge that follows a poor soldier cruelly dismissed from the king's employ after being seriously wounded in battle. Penniless, he wanders upon a witch's home, and does her bidding in exchange for food and shelter. Until he rescues a magical dwarf—who lives within a blue light—from her cunning clutches.
Together they exact revenge on the king by stealing the princess away each night to serve the soldier as a maid. She recounts this to her father as a terrible dream. Suspicious, he instructs her to put peas in her torn pocket so his guards can follow the trail they'll leave. But the clever dwarf covers every street in the kingdom with peas. So the next night the king tells his daughter to leave her slipper behind in the soldier's room. This somehow outwits the dwarf, so the soldier is captured and sent to the gallows. But when allowed one last smoke, he unleashes the blue light dwarf who topples all the king's forces. Finally, the humbled monarch saves himself by giving the soldier his throne and daughter. The End.
THE MOVIE VERSION: Obviously the original story is filled with misogyny and dated attitudes toward little people. Yet a couple of tweaks could make The Blue Light a thrilling romantic adventure in the vein of Stardust.
First off, make the king a power-hungry regent who will rule over the kingdom until the princess comes of age. He's slowly trying to convince her to marry him, to maintain his place, but the willful princess falls for a noble soldier, who encourages her about taking on the crown. The regent hears this and so has the soldier beaten and exiled without the princess's knowledge. From there, the witch and discovery of the magic dwarf play out as before, though making this magical being a dwarf seems unnecessary. Anyhow, having been saved from the witch, the wish-granting being decides to aid the soldier by helping him reclaim his love.
So he uses his magic to steal the princess away at night for romantic trysts. But soon the regent discovers her absence and tries to track her, battling against the cleverness of the dwarf. The soldier is ultimately caught and the regent attempts to kill him, but after much derring do and swashbuckling the princess stands up and strikes down her corrupt adviser. She takes the throne, marries the soldier, and the blue light jettisons to the sky to become a star that shines down on the kingdom from that day forth. (Full Article)
I don't agree with the author that the story cannot stand on its own. I think that if we keep it as is, a lot of fun could be had as the soldier and the princess start out hating each other, but then develop a relationship over the course of the story. THEN, they can save the kingdom from the evil regent. As for the blue light, I don't know that we need it to be corporeal. Having a weird magical servant dwarf seems a bit indelicate, unless the character were amazing. I'm not certain what the solution would be, though. Thoughts? 

How would you adapt "The Blue Light?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Article: Who's the Whitest of Them All?

Movieline posted an excellent article recently that brings up a crucial point in the midst of all these fairy tale movies: all the protagonists (and 99% of the supporting cast) are white. I don't think I have seen a fairy tale adaptation with a diverse cast, or a black, Indian, hispanic, asian, etc. protagonist since Brandy's Cinderella which was a delicious Benetton ad of color-blind casting). In a medium that is usually not restricted by historical accuracy, we should definitely be seeing more diversity on screen. The author of the article, Maria Aspen, hammers some points home:
1. Paying lip-service to feminism is no longer enough. I love seeing movies with strong roles for women and heroines who actually get to do things. And yes, it’s great that Lily Collins’s Snow White learns to defend herself and beats Armie Hammer at flirty swordplay, and that Chris Hemsworth is going to teach Kristen Stewart how to fight the evil queen in her version of Snow White. All of this would be way more impressive if Drew Barrymore hadn’t done the same thing fourteen years ago in Ever After. If you want to be edgy, Hollywood, let’s move beyond grudging admissions that women can stick up for themselves and find something new to say about race or sexuality or all of those other Gender Studies words the Brothers Grimm didn’t have to deal with....
2. Stop appropriating culture without showing the people who made it...The color in Mirror Mirror is amazing, but it’s not even skin-deep. For much of the movie, the brilliant costumes and set designs hide the fact that there are very few nonwhite people wearing Eiko Ishioka’s crimson peacock dresses and gumdrop courtier costumes and black accordion stilts – which makes the final scene stand out all the more. The Bollywood homage is a fun break from tradition on one level, but it’s also deeply weird considering how little evidence there is that any non-WASPs actually inhabit this magic kingdom....

3. Think outside the casting box. I saw Mirror Mirror a few days after racists came out of the woodwork for The Hunger Games, which dared to cast black actors to play characters who were originally described as “dark-skinned.” As Anna Holmes pointed out at The New Yorker, that ugly reaction highlighted how many movie viewers expect characters to be white until explicitly proven otherwise – and Hollywood reinforces those expectations all too often, even when casting fantasies about imaginary lands where, you would think, anything goes. But no, it’s still sticking to the sidekick sidelines. The dwarves provided Mirror Mirror with pretty much its only diversity; at the very least, the movie could have included more people of color among the speaking courtiers and villagers and downtrodden castle servants. Snow White and the Huntsman, from its latest trailer, is going even more pasty-Eurocentric with its crowds of faux Crusaders. That’s not even considering the television variations; despite its modern setting and larger cast and serialized format, ABC’s Once Upon a Time has made room so far for only one regular non-white character. (NBC’s rival Grimm is doing a little bit better.) Just think what could happen if Hollywood got really radical and reconsidered how it casts its fairytale leads. In fact... 
4. Dare to rethink who’s the “fairest of them all.” It could be problematic and somewhat predictable to cast a person of color as the main villain in a fairytale, especially if all of the heroes are white. (Though I think Michelle Yeoh or Angela Bassett could mop the floor with Julia Roberts.) Future fairytale filmmakers could also consider looking for a prince who’s slightly less Caucasian than Armie Hammer – he’s charming and nice to look at, but I suspect there are plenty of attractive young actors out there capable of handling a role where the heavy lifting entails imitating a puppy. But the most interesting possibility, and the one I’d most like to see the next big-budget, postmodern Hollywood fairytale attempt, would be to cast a young woman of color as Snow White or Belle or Red or any other virginal, virtuous, smart and beautiful heroine, especially if she’s a character whose beauty has traditionally been defined by the paleness of her skin. These stories have been told for centuries, and by now they’re desperately in need of some real reinvention. Challenging their most outdated assumptions about who and what is beautiful would be the easiest – and most interesting – way for Hollywood to make its next round of adaptations far more worthwhile. (Full Article)

I am all for this! What do you folks think? What would be your ideal non-white casting for the next fairy tale princess?

Books: What about the Prince? An Interview with Author Christopher Healey

With all this talk about kickass princesses, the princes are feeling somewhat neglected. Even ordinary princesses who do nothing heroic have the story named after them, rather than the prince (See my opinion on Passive and Dumb Heroines).

Enter author Christipher Healy, who has written a book about those neglected princes, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I will leave the book details to other bloggers, but in a recent interview on the blog Stories are Good Medicine, Healy described the way he created his fairy tale characters by digging deep into the original stories to glean what sort of person would make those choices:

Question: Christopher, your book has four main protagonists – Frederic, Gustav, Liam and Duncan — all former Prince Charmings (er, I mean, Princes Charming. As your character Duncan would remind me, the noun is made plural, not the adjective).  Where did you come up with their off-kilter personalities? And tell us the truth – which one is closest to your own?
Christopher: Well, the original fairy tales don’t give us much to go on, but it was still important to me that my princes’ personalities made sense with what little we do know of these guys already. I asked myself, for instance: What do we know about Cinderella’s prince? He can dance. He’s sophisticated. And he’s got noble ladies swooning over him. But beyond that, we don’t know much. So I took what Charles Perrault gave me, and got creative with the rest. From that starting point, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that Prince Frederic is probably not very outdoorsy, perhaps a little too focused on his fashion choices, and (to put it mildly) not the most daring guy in the world.
I did the same for all the princes. Rapunzel’s prince wants to rescue her, but never thinks to get a ladder — so Gustav is the kind of guy who rushes into things without thinking. Sleeping Beauty’s prince actually rescues an entire kingdom in his story, and gets major kudos for it — so Liam bases his entire identity on heroics and has a bit of an ego about it. Snow White’s prince gets lucky by wandering through the forest and stumbling upon a bewitched princess to kiss — so Duncan is a carefree oddball who spends a lot of time walking the woods by himself, just waiting to see where life takes him next...
Question: Your book plays with the princess stereotype as well. How did you decide on your princess’ personalities?
Christopher: While I did work to make sure that my princesses were different from previous depictions of those same characters (especially their film incarnations), I crafted their personalities the same way I did the princes. I built them out of the original stories.
Cinderella worked hard labor for years, so she’s tough and strong. Rapunzel has the power to heal people with her tears (in the original tale), so here she’s got a bit of a savior complex. Sleeping Beauty was hidden away and catered to for her whole childhood, and has thus ended up somewhat spoiled.
And Snow White, just like her prince, spends a lot of time wandering the forest and chatting with wildlife, so as it turns out, she’s actually a good match for Duncan.
But those were just starting points for the princesses. The ladies come into the spotlight a whole lot more in Book II, and the further changes you’ll see there should come across as a natural evolution for the characters.  (Full interview)
I love this method of finding character! So many people complain that fairy tale characters in their original form are too flat and uninteresting, and that is often the case. We never get to see what they are feeling, or what they are thinking, just what they do. But I think its a great game to extrapolate what sort of person they are from the actions that they take. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Home: How to Decorate Your House like a Fairy Tale

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From My Life- My Loves
Home Goods' Home Decor section recently posted an article about how to decorate your home like a fairy tale by focusing on certain central fairy tale elements: 
Think of all the instances where fairy-tale characters interact with elements of nature: Hansel and Gretel get lost in a forest; Snow White shares a forest cottage with the seven dwarves. In some versions of Rapunzel, the story begins with her parents stealing from a sorceress’ garden.
One of the easiest ways to achieve a fairy tale-inspired look is to bring the outdoors into your home. Jennifer Duchene, a designer and author or Le Chic Cocoon, suggests a few ways to create the feeling of being in a forest. "Maybe have side tables that use twisted wooden pieces, as if from a forest. I might introduce roses. I would create drapes made up of hundreds of fake roses in a mix of shades of pink," she says....
Like nature, animals are a key element in many fairy tales. Characters often transform into animals or receive guidance -- both good and bad -- from the animals they encounter. To work creature elements into your home’s style, decorate with faux-fur throws, pillows or rugs. Adorn the wall with photos or artwork featuring classic fairy-tale animals such as wolves, birds, bears or horses....
Kings, queens, princesses and princes are common characters in fairy tales. They live in luxury -- and you can too. To design an area that reminds you and others of these classic stories, be prepared to give the space the royal treatment.
Interior designer Laura Michaels offers several tips that are particularly helpful for decorating a fairy tale-inspired bedroom. Describing a bed fit for a princess: "The headboard would be covered in white satin with small rhinestone nailheads. It would be quite high and have a tall arch. In the middle of the arch I would have an oval mirror inset and the nailheads would outline the shape of the mirror inset as well. The running boards would be covered in the mirror." (Full Article)
You could always add a bloodstained key and some dead wives in a closet, or a witch-sized stove, or maybe a dummy of a kid with an apple in his hand whose head falls off if you touch it.

But these are some nice basic starting points! I always reccomend Pinterest to find decor with a fairy tale aesthetic. Here is my Dream House page, you can judge for yourself! Gypsy from Once Upon a Blog has a fantastic fairy tale board collection!

Movies: More Fairy Tale Adaptations in the Works

Hailee Steinfield in True Grit and Saoirse Ronan in Hanna

The Telegraph recently posted an article about the fairy tale movie phenomenon, and teased us with other fairy tale and children's book adaptations in the works, an additional "Snow White," two more "Sleeping Beauties," three Peter Pans, two "Cinderellas," one "Beauty and the Beast," one "Little Mermaid," one "Jack the Giant Killer", one "Hansel and Gretel," one Oz, and one "Arabian Nights." And a partridge in a pear tree.:

"Disappointingly, it could then be another 18 months before a third film based on Snow White is released, although Disney plans to have The Order of the Seven, it own loose adaptation of the tale, in cinemas before the end of 2013. The premise should appeal to anyone who liked the Seven Dwarfs but only wished they were taller and more violent: here, they are an elite fighting unit of average height who come to the rescue of a banished English maiden in 19th-century China.
While Snow White gets three films, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan and Cinderella have to make to with two apiece. Hailee Steinfeld, the 15-year-old actress nominated for an Oscar for her role in True Grit, is attached to a feminist take on Sleeping Beauty in which the princess Aurora fights her own way out of the dream world rather than waiting for a handsome prince to pucker up. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie will play the wicked queen in Maleficent, a reworked version of the Disney animation, told from the villainess’s point of view.
Then there’s Pan, which recasts JM Barrie’s boy who never grew up as a baby-faced kidnapper pursued by Detective Captain James Hook, played by Aaron Eckhart. And indeed Peter Pan Begins, which reveals that the hero and his one-handed nemesis are in fact estranged brothers, with the former fashion model Channing Tatum attached to play either Peter, or Hook, or possibly both. A third script for a Twilight-inspired take on the story called The.Never.Land is currently unoptioned, but the threat remains that it may yet be made.
A live-action version of Cinderella has been developed for Disney by Aline Brosh McKenna, the writer of The Devil Wears Prada, which itself was a modern-day Cinderella story of sorts. When news of this adaptation broke, Universal instantly announced that it too was working on its own production.
This is not The End. Emma Watson was recently cast in a new version of Beauty and the Beast. Joe Wright, whose thriller Hanna was dotted with references to Red Riding Hood, is planning a live-action Little Mermaid. Bryan Singer’s take on Jack The Giant Killer, starring Nicholas Hoult, will be released in the 2013 post-Oscar lull, which does not bode well. The Will Ferrell-produced Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will star Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, which does.
Sam Raimi’s Oz: the Great And Powerful boasts James Franco as a young version of L Frank Baum’s Wizard. Chuck Russell’s Arabian Nights boasts former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Sinbad. The combinations of stars, plots and settings sound like the results of a strange Hollywood parlour game. “Liam Neeson as Rumpelstiltskin, in an action thriller! Justin Bieber as the Clever Little Tailor, in space!” (Full Article)
While I am extremely excited for all of these, who wants to sign a petition for a movie adaptation of "The Goose Girl"? Or "Wild Swans"? Or "DonkeySkin"? Or "Twelve Dancing Princesses"? Or "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"? I think the movie producers need to delve a little to come up with fairy tale movies that have not been over done.

But I am a bit giddy about the Sleeping Beauty adaptation with Hailee Steinfeld. That girl can do no wrong. And I will watch Saoirse Ronan (the lead in Order of Seven) read a phone book.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Article: Why Snow White? Why Now?

Julia Roberts Beauty Treatment

The NPR Monkey See blog recently released an interesting article about why Snow White has recently risen to the top of the zeitgeist. For a while, Cinderella held the crown, but she seems to have passed it along to a paler princess. In the article, Maria Tatar discusses cultural shifts that may have given rise to this new look at Snow White:
 "It may be that there is something about the boomer anxiety about aging that is renewing our interest in Snow White," she says. "In the Disney film, there's that terrible moment, that terrifying moment when the Wicked Queen drinks the potion, turns into an old hag, and we see the aging process."
Maria Wallack, the screenwriter of Mirror, Mirror agrees:

"The new Snow White movie, Mirror Mirror, is also meant for families with young kids, just like Disney's version was. But screenwriter Melissa Wallack wanted to make the story contemporary. Part of that meant acknowledging baby-boomer grandparents' concerns about aging. "What's interesting now," Wallack says, "is that almost the first time really in history, you can remain young. Everyone now is out there shooting themselves with Botox." In the movie, in fact, Julia Roberts gets an Evil Queen spa special with scorpion bites, bee stings, bird poop and grubs digging around in her ears.
 Wallack says every time she opens a magazine or turns on the television, she sees actors like Angelina Jolie looking as young as they did decades ago. That was not the case for stars of an earlier generation, like Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn. She says ours is an age where chemical peels and other enhancements are pitched to almost everyone. "You can kind of stay in this state of youth forever," she observes."
In light of Snow White and the Huntsman, Maria Tatar thinks the Mother/ Daughter Rivalry is a factor:
 You can even see that, says Tatar, on a reality show fairy tale like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It's filled with beautiful princesses, sham weddings — and, like Snow White, an older-versus-younger-woman dynamic. "The mother is constantly competing with her daughters for attention, and she's got these gorgeous daughters; she becomes more anxious than ever about aging." (Full Article)

While I see that we live in an age were manufactured beauty is easier, I think this dynamic has always been in place. Women have constantly been trying to enhance beauty stave off aging, throughout every era. Think of the Egyptian make up regime! Perhaps aging is a bit more terrifying now, because elders are less respected in the modern day that they were in ancient times. Now age often equals obsolescence, not wisdom. I think this is particularly telling for the Huntsman interpretation of the story, where beauty and youth equal the Evil Queen's power.

I do not think this article solves the mystery of why Cinderella relinquished her crown to Snow White, but hopefully this will pave the way for other fairy tale heroines to have their chance in the spotlight.

TV: Review of Once Upon a Times "Hat Trick" Episode

Well, that was refreshing! A real world story that was more interesting than the fairy tale world story.

"Hat Trick" begins with Mary Margaret racing through the woods, stupidly running away from jail. Emma, of course, has to go after her, or she is royally screwed. She does and runs a man off the road, who tricks Emma into giving him a ride back to his house by feigning an injury. He drugs her with tea and ties her up.

Turns out he's the Mad Hatter who was separated from his daughter by the Evil Queen who trapped him in Wonderland, doomed to forever make hats in hopes that he will find the one hat that will take him back to his daughter. In the real world, he is mad because he is the only one who remembers fairy tale land, and can watch his daughter every day with her new family and can't do anything about it. He knows Emma is the key, and is trying to force her to make the magic hat to send him back to fairy tale land so he can be with his daughter.

Anyway, after some thrilling heroics on the part of Emma (and Mary Margaret!), he falls out of a window and dissapears into the night. Mary Margaret and Emma have a heart to heart, and Mary Margaret goes back to jail, deliciously foiling Regina's plan. Though now we know that Regina and Mr. Gold are in cahoots, and we're all in deep shit. Except that Mr. Gold is a double-crossing bastard, and no one should ever trust him, including Regina.

So this was a very compelling episode! I do wish that the trailer was not so obvious as to who Jefferson was. The story built up nicely, so if you hadn't seen the trailer, you would not have guessed who he was until he pulled out his hat, about half way through. It would have been a great reveal, if they hadn't spoiled themselves.

The story in fairy tale land was kinda blah. It would have been a bit better if the CGI wasn't so horrible.

See? Rather a horrific image if you didn't have the Barbie dream landscape in the background.

The best part of the episode, though, was the conversation between Jefferson and Emma, when he starts to convince her that the curse is real. He explains how there are many worlds, all touching, some with magic, and some not, and that stories are real.

Jefferson: Stories. Stories? What's a story? When you were in high school, did you learn about the Civil War?
Emma: Yeah, of course.
Jefferson: How? Did you read about it, perchance, in a book? How is that any less real than any other book?
Emma: History books are based on history.
Jefferson: And storybooks are based on what, imagination? Where's that come from? It has to come from somewhere. You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.

Emma becomes emotional, and it looks like her barriers are breaking down, ready to believe. Then she clobbers him with a telescope and the moment is ruined.

When he retaliates, though, there is a beautiful reveal of a scar on Jefferson's neck from when he got his head chopped off in Wonderland. A smart, incisive touch.

Then Mary Margaret goes all Snow White on his ass and kicks him out the window. She says that she has no idea where that came from, but to the audience, it was a brilliant emergence of Snow White in the timid Mary Margaret, which leads us to hope that the bleed between the two will continue. Mary Margaret certainly had a touch of Dark Snow White harshness in the end exchange with Emma at the end, which turns into a touching affirmation when Emma slips and calls Mary Margaret "family." Though Emma looks slightly emaciated in this scene, and I am worried for her.

The ending gives me hope. Emma asks to borrow Henry's book, and see's that Jefferson's story is all in there, with pictures that look like him. There is a prevailing theory that the pictures in the book will become clearer as Emma's influence becomes greater.

I realize I am a week behind, but this past Sundays episode is apparently really good, because the Tumblr fans are flipping a shit.