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Once Upon a Time - Murder Most Foul - Review

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Normally the second episode in a season of half season run of Once Upon a Time always feel lacking to me. They become info dumps that flesh out the action of the first episode. "Murder Most Foul" was not the case. I genuinely enjoyed this episode. The flashbacks added depth to the story after being a sort of filler for a lot of season six, and many things I pondered over or expressed interest in in last week's review have come up. I am very positive on the direction this half of season six is taking, the writers are answering questions as fast as they pose them but are also allowing room for the conflicts to be explored. Having Charming in the spotlight was refreshing, well-deserved, and truly allowed Josh Dallas to stretch his legs acting-wise.

So, quickly addressing the flashbacks. Learning more of the original deal Rumple made with Charming's father gave another layer to a story we haven't visited in a few seasons. Among other things, we learn that young James wasn't born an evil twin; it was the influence of King George that made him an insufferable prince. So Charming's worry that he could have turned out like his brother isn't unfounded. The design of Pleasure Island was at times beautiful, but it also looked like a nightmare, which obviously was the point. It was as if getting sick on too much candy was made into a location.

I enjoyed the return of young, wooden Pinocchio, as well as August in the present day. I'm glad he wasn't brought back for the premiere alone and especially impressed the writers referenced all the way back to season one with those missing pages. Also, there was a bit of a hint last episode that Pleasure Island would come into play as we saw August typing about it briefly. I wouldn't want this device used in every episode since it would make things become more predictable and fans would try to comb through episodes for clues as opposed to enjoying them as a whole, however here it helped make Pleasure Island's introduction flow more organically rather than just be dropped into the story out of nowhere.

Hook being the one to kill Charming's father was a bit of a glaring coincidence, but given how much these fairy tales bleed into one another in the Enchanted Forest, I'm tempted to turn a blind eye to that. Part of Hook being the one to do away with Charming's father does appear to be a conflict for the sake of conflict, while on the other hand it shows how far the pirate has come. While Hook wasn't misleading Charming during the episode (it's pretty obvious he only realizes who the man was when he saw the illustration in the pages August gave him), his silence after learning the truth will put strains on all his Charming Family relationships. However, given how much Regina has done in the past and she's now welcomed as family, it's safe to say forgiveness is in the future when all this comes out, though the road to that reconciliation will be messy.

Charming was excellent in "Murder Most Foul". I love that he got the focus this episode and had some really heartbreaking scenes. Seeing him obsessed with revenge and the state it put him in was off the beaten path for our prince, and Hook's involvement as a partner in crime/conscience was really a treat to watch. It was also welcome that while Hook was a huge part of Charming's quest here, Charming was the focus. Josh Dallas brought it this episode and this is exactly what I meant last week when I said I wanted to see more of the character in a solo aspect. I absolutely love how Once Upon a Time has opened up the idea that Prince Charming is truly distraught over the fact that he may not win, that he may not live up to the tales that surround his name, and his concern that his family could be casualties of that. The comedy bits with the pirate and the prince attempting a potion were enough to lighten the mood before a very heavy emotional scene in the hospital basement, an appreciated balance.

Speaking of Charming, his other half had a few key moment's in "Murder Most Foul" as well. While Snow's involvement was fleeting, it was nice to see her have her own story counseling Regina and not be dragged in to Charming's plot. Snow was the voice of reason here, expressing the reality of Regina's spontaneous decision to bring Wish Realm Robin to Storybrooke. What I find most interesting for future episodes is that this Robin and Regina didn't click and Once Upon a Time didn't waste anytime introducing that. While Regina deserved the opportunity for happiness, the fact that it didn't happen instantly makes the involvement of this Robin somehow more satisfying for me. It doesn't cheapen the love and relationship between the Regina and the Robin we knew, nor does it detract from a character many fans loved.

Wish Realm Robin has become more intriguing in that we are now seeing how different he is from the Robin that sacrificed himself. This new Robin is more stoic, more aggressive, and lacks the boyish sense of humor we had grown accustomed to. And he's also more conniving if his returning to the vault and pilfering the dangerous box Regina warned about is anything to go by. Could this Prince of Thieves become an antagonist in future episodes? Also, I'd like to see more Zelena, though I appreciate her small role in this episode with her outright denial of Wish Realm Robin's right to see Baby Robin. It goes to illustrate the point that no matter how much Regina (or the audience) wanted Robin back, he can't just climb into the skin of the man that had died.

"Murder Most Foul" again utilizes the expansive cast of Once Upon a Time well. There aren't any superfluous scenes with actors that don't fit the current story. And this allowed for old favorites like Archie and King George (who admittedly isn't so much a favorite as someone we all love to hate) to return and round out the world within Storybrooke. Even Henry's book makes a welcome return. The lack of Emma, normally an annoyance to me, was admissible since her father took the spotlight. However, even if this worked well in this episode, I hope to see more of Snow, Emma, and Henry further on in the season. Something that stand out to me is that "Murder Most Foul" picked up right where the last episode left off on the very same night. I can't put my finger firmly on why that's interesting, other than it makes it seems as if the clock is indeed ticking towards something big.

Tune in next week for another ominously titled episode, "Ill-Boding Patterns"!

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