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Throwback Thursday - Once Upon A Time - Pilot

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past. 

To be honest, the first time I started watching Once Upon A Time it didn't grab me. I think I only saw the first scenes of the Pilot and for some reason I didn’t finished it and it took me a while to pick it up again, but once that happened, there was no turning back, because I binged the first three seasons that I found available on streaming, in just a few weeks, and after that, the series became part of my list of favorites and that's why I decided to dedicate it this trip to the past. 

Before we start talking about the episode, let's recap some of the general aspects of this series. Once Upon a Time premiered on October 23, 2011 and had a total of 155 episodes divided into 7 seasons, ending its run on May 18, 2018. The actors who starred in most of its episodes are Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas and Jared S. Gilmore, although throughout its broadcast there were many more performers who brought to life characters well-known to all, in one or more episodes.

Now, instead of giving a general synopsis of the story, I'd better tell you what this first episode, written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Mark Mylod, is about, since this is where we enter this magical world for the first time.

The story begins like all fairy tales do, with a Once Upon a Time... and we see Snow White being awakened by the love kiss from her Prince Charming in the middle of the Enchanted Forest, to later see them getting married in a castle, to which the Evil Queen arrives to threaten them. After this, we switch to a completely different scenario where we see a boy arriving in Boston, alone on a bus, and then we meet a woman who is apparently on a blind date that ends in a chase when we discover that she is something like a bounty hunter looking for people. 

Emma: “Okay. Your turn. No, wait. Let me guess. Um, you are handsome, charming…” Ryan: “Go on.” Emma: “The kind of guy who… and now stop me if I get this wrong… embezzled from your employer, got arrested, and skipped town before they were able to throw your ass in jail.” Ryan: “What?” Emma: “ And the worst part of all of this is your wife. Your wife loves you so much that she bailed you out, and how do you repay that loyalty? You're on a date.” Ryan: “Who are you?” Emma: “The chick who put up the rest of the money.” Ryan: “You're a bail bondsman.” Emma: “A bail bondsperson.” 

After this, we discover what is the connection between the boy who arrived on the bus, Henry, and the woman who is now celebrating her birthday alone in her apartment, Emma, when he knocks on her door.

Emma: “Can I help you?” Henry: “Are you Emma Swan?” Emma: “Yeah. Who are you?” Henry: “My name's Henry. I'm your son.”

From here on, the episode becomes a back and forth between times and spaces, between the present time and the "real" world, so to speak, and the Enchanted Forest. Henry manages to convince Emma that he is her biological son, whom she gave up for adoption 10 years ago, and she ends up deciding to take him back home to a town in Maine called Storybrooke. On the way, she notices that he won't put down a storybook and asks him about it.

Emma: “What's that?” Henry: “I'm not sure you're ready.” Emma: “Ready for some fairy tales?” Henry: “They're not fairy tales. They're true. Every story in this book actually happened.” Emma: “Of course it did.” Henry: “Use your superpower. See if I'm lying.” Emma: “Just because you believe something doesn't make it true.” Henry: “That's exactly what makes it true. You should know more than anyone.” Emma: “Why is that?” Henry: “Because you're in this book.”

Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest we see that Charming and Snow are still worried about the Evil Queen's threats about they never being happy, as they are now expecting a baby, so they decide, not without some fear,, to consult a rather enigmatic character from their kingdom who can see the future. And as he, in exchange for giving them information, asks them for the name of their unborn child, we end up discovering the connection that exists between these characters of this fantasy kingdom and those who live in the "real" world, since Snow White tells Rumplestiltskin that his daughter will be named Emma.

Rumplestiltskin: “The queen has created a powerful curse, and it's coming. Soon you'll all be in a prison, just like me, only worse, for your prison, all of our prisons will be time, for time will stop, and we will be trapped someplace horrible, where everything we hold dear, everything we love will be ripped from us, while we suffer for all eternity, while the queen celebrates, victorious at last! No more happy endings.”

While they argue with some characters in the Forest, Charming is confident that they can make it through, and at that moment other characters arrive with a solution, as they discover that there is a way to save the baby and her mother, who will be able to protect themselves by entering a portal through a magic wardrobe, which only one person can use.

Charming Prince: “Good can't just lose.” Snow White: “Maybe it can.” Charming: “No. No. Not as long as we have each other. If you believe him about the curse, then you must believe him about our child. She will be the savior.”

Meanwhile, Emma, who has already arrived to Storybrooke with Henry, takes the boy home to his mother, Regina, who happens to be the mayor of the town, and after a brief stay there, she leaves, but when she is already on the road she gets distracted when she discovers that Henry left his storybook there and for dodging a wolf that suddenly appears halfway, she ends up in an accident and loses consciousness, to wake up the next morning in a cell at the Storybrooke police station, with the news that Henry is missing, so she offers her experience to Regina as a people tracker, to find him. Her search pays off, and that's how we arrive at the school to meet Mary Margaret, Henry's teacher, who is none other than Snow White.

Emma: “How's a book supposed to help?” Mary Margaret: “What do you think stories are for? These stories...The classics? There's a reason we all know them. They're a way for us to deal with our world, a world that doesn't always make sense.”

Mary Margaret: “Look, I gave the book to him because I wanted Henry to have the most important thing anyone can have… Hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.”

At the same time, we see Snow White give birth to her daughter, as the Evil Queen's curse approaches the Enchanted Forest, although the magic wardrobe is ready. At that moment, Snow White makes the hardest decision of her life by asking Charming to take their child to the portal so that she can save herself from the curse, trusting that one day she will return to save them.

Snow White: “The wardrobe. It only takes one.” Charming: “Then our plan has failed. At least we're together.” Snow White: “No. You have to take her. Take the baby to the wardrobe.” Charming: “Are you out of your mind?” Snow White: “No. It's the only way. You have to send her.” Charming: “No. No, no, no, no. You don't know what you're saying.” Snow White: “No, I do. We have to believe that she'll come back for us. We have to give her her best chance. Good-bye, Emma.”

Emma finally finds Henry, who is confused because he thought that with her arrival, the curse would end, but apparently nothing has changed. They also have a rather mature conversation for a 10-year-old boy, about how he understands the reasons why Emma gave him up for adoption at birth, and the difficult childhood she had having been abandoned on the side of a road.

Henry: “I was hoping that when I brought you back, things would change here, that the final battle would begin.” Emma: “I'm not fighting any battles, kid.” Henry: “Yes, you are. You're here because it's your destiny. You're gonna bring back the happy endings.”

Henry: “I know you like me. I can tell. You're just pushing me away because I make you feel guilty. It's okay. I know why you gave me away. You wanted to give me my best chance.” Emma: “How do you know that? It's the same reason Snow White gave you away.”

In the Enchanted Forest, the curse finally arrives at the castle along with the Evil Queen, although Snow White remains hopeful that, eventually and in spite of everything, their happy ending will come, knowing that her daughter made it through the portal.

Snow White: “Why did you do this?” Evil Queen: “Because this is my happy ending. The child?” Evil Guard: “Gone. It was in the wardrobe, and then it was gone. It's nowhere to be found.” Evil Queen: “Where is she?” Snow White: “She got away. You're going to lose. I know that now. Good will always win.” Evil Queen: “We'll see about that.”

Emma takes Henry back to Regina, and both mothers have a confrontation, which changes the girl's perspective to leave Storybrooke immediately, as she feels that something is not right, so she ends up renting a room in a Bed & Breakfast quite run-down, whose owners are a nice granny and her red-hooded granddaughter. There, she also meets an enigmatic character who reminds us of someone Snow and Charming visited earlier to know the future. 

Emma finally decides to stay a week in Storybrooke, just as Henry had requested, and at that instant the boy smiles as he discovers that the hands of the permanently stopped clock in the square begin to move, indicating that this story is just beginning.

Some final thoughts 
This series, which could be considered a forerunner of the new era of live-action Disney classics that in recent years have filled the screens of movie theaters around the world, is very interesting because, although through its development we can find elements and characters that we already know, these are not necessarily always as we have known them since we were children, and discovering these twists and surprises is what keeps the interest throughout the story.

Another appeal I think this series has is that the magic we know from fairy tales is mixed with our real, everyday world, and I think that contributes to us being able to connect more with the story and feel closer to it and what happens to its characters, even though the fantasy element is always present.

From this first episode, this series constantly sends messages of hope, of trust in the future and in happy endings, and I think that in these complicated times we live in, it is not bad to go back to those fairy tales, which give us hope, and make us believe that good things will come and that we would be able to find our happy ending, even if before we have to fight endless combats and battle against the most ruthless villains.

Were you a fan of Once Upon A Time? Did you remember the first time you watched this episode? Share your thoughts below.

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