Season 1, Episode 01 – Pilot, Once Upon a Time Recap

Meet Emma Swan, an orphan who just discovers that she is the only saviour of a fairy tale fantasy world…

If you ever wanted to see Snow White and Prince Charming getting jiggy with it, Once Upon a Time is the right show for you. Based loosely on some of the finest fairy tale classics, this series explores what could happen beyond the typical ‘happily ever after’ endings.

Ever wonder about the alternative universe where Snow White abandoned her firstborn on the side of the highway? Yeah, me too! Once Upon a Time will be sure to taint your childhood innocence and bastardize all the fairy tale stories that we hold so fondly in our hearts

The story begins with a magical kiss that breaks off Snow White’s curse and revives her back to life…which always freaked me out a little, because isn’t the prince technically kissing a dead corpse? (Oh sorry, Disney, she is in a ~*deep coma*~ or whatever.) Then again, I don’t really mind a dash of necrophilia in my fairy tales.

It was kind of an anticlimactic revival though, because Snow White is like “i miss you seksi ;)” and then Prince Charming goes all “k let’s get married nao”.

WOOO!!! Everyone is invited to the royal wedding of the century, though the guests aren’t wearing enough wacky designer hats for my liking.

But wait, a challenger enters the arena! The Evil Queen makes a fashionably late appearance and crashes the royal wedding. She’s like “mwhahaha u r all cursed, kthxbye~~~”

(BTW, I see that they used the same visual effects team who also worked on the V mothership, where the CGI graphics look impressive as long as you don’t look at it closely for more than three seconds.)

Evil Queen: You made your vows, now I 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.

Wow, bitter much?

There’s an unintentionally funny moment, which no one else will find comedic except silly ol’ me, when Prince Charming angrily proclaims “HAY!!!!” at the queen. I know he’s trying to say ‘hey’, but the actor enunciates the word so that it sounds like he’s randomly yelling ‘HAY~~~’ instead. This makes me *lol* because I’m very easily amused.

We jump forward in time, twenty eight years later, to meet our protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), who is not living in the fairy tale world. Despite being a beautiful badass babe, she has to spend her 28th birthday alone without any family or friends.

In actuality, Emma is the orphaned daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She was separated from her parents at birth, and sent away to live in the real world in order to escape the evil queen’s wrath. Twenty eight years later, her fairy tale journey commences…

Emma only finds out about her parentage through a precocious all-knowing child named Henry, who shows up at her doorstep one night, claiming to be the son that she gave up for closed adoption ten years ago. Henry insists that she’s the only one who can save the fairy tale world from the diabolical queen, but Emma is like “LOL BITCH JOO CRAZY.”

Henry is like “If you don’t go along with my fairy tale fantasies, I’m gonna tell the police that my birth mother kidnapped me”, so Emma gets blackmailed into driving this kid back home. I know some people find his character annoying because he’s such a little shit who thinks he knows everything, but I see him as a Mini-Machiavelli and his diabolical schemes are kinda awesome.

BTW, I have mad respect for the child actor playing Henry, since he called out January Jones for being a callous child-hating ice queen in a recent interview. *rofl*

We jump back in time, after Snow White got frisky in the sheets with Prince Charming, and she’s now pregnant with their first child. The hormonal Snow White (I can’t tell you how much great pleasure it gives me to type that) feels very anxious about the witch’s wicked prophecy. Despite her husband’s reassurances, she needs to confirm her worst suspicions…

The expecting couple visits Rumpelstiltskin, the all-knowing imp who exchanges valuable secrets for a certain price. He spends most of the time cackling evilly and talking in riddles, but ultimately conveys the message that they’re all ~*doomed*~.

According to Rumplestiltskin, the witch will lock up all of the fairy tale characters in an eternal ‘time prison’, where their memories are erased and their identities will be altered. They shall forever live in blissful ignorance with hazy memories and no progress of time. In this alternate world, the only person who will live happily ever after is the Evil Queen.

Welcome to Storybrooke, a small mysterious (and possibly disenchanting) town where the main story takes place. In this eternal time prison, the evil queen has conquered the fairy tale world and transformed everyone into their modern alter-egos. Snow White is now a lonely teacher named Mary Margaret Blanchard, Jiminy Cricket is now a psychiatrist named Archie Hopper, and so on.

The Queen herself is now Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla), the mayor of Storybrooke, whose character introduction is along the lines of HAI, I’M AN EVIL CONNIVING GIANT BITCH! She’s also the legal parent of Henry, but the little brat hates her guts and rejects her insincere parental affections.

And this hot dish right here is the yummy Sheriff Graham, who seems to be wearing a belt over his crotch area, but okay we’ll roll with that. The sheriff is probably a fairy tale character too, though his alternative identity is undisclosed at the moment.

(My personal theory is that he’s the huntsman in the classic Snow White story. The Queen ordered him to kill Snow White, but he had a change of heart at the last second.)

After constantly giving her the evil eye, Mayor Regina tells Emma to kindly fuck off and don’t let the signage hit her ass on the way out…oh wait. In order to avoid a RANDOM WOLF that appeared out of nowhere, Emma crashes her car and falls unconscious into the steering wheel. Yikes. What a shitty way to spend her 28th birthday.

The fairy tale superpowers are panicking over the witch’s wicked curse. The Boob Fairy comes up with some kind of convenient plot-induced loophole that allows one – and only one – character to be protected from harm’s way.

Like with most fairy tales, you really have to suspend your disbelief while watching Once Upon a Time. This show is quite out there in terms of creativity and believability, especially with plot devices like the ~*magical*~ tree. You either buy into it or you don’t, and how much you enjoy the show is based on how much you are willing to stretch your imagination.

It is decided that Snow White will be the one to hide inside the magic tree, so that both she and the baby will be protected from the curse. Naturally, Snow White has a good hormonal cry about being separated from her hubby.

Prince Charming: What’s twenty eight years when you have eternal love? I have faith. You will save me as I did you.
Snow White: But…but…but next time we see each other, you’ll be so old and wrinkly and possibly going bald!!! *weeping* Love might be eternal, but my sexual desire is not!

Ooh look, it’s an uncomfortable looking extreme close-up shot of a human eye! You can practically hear all the LOST fans squealing in joy and rushing to the nearest message boards to discuss all the hidden references in this episode.

Back in the Storybrooke world, Emma landed her ass in the slammer due to suspicion of drunk driving. Sheriff Graham flirts with her a little, but their banter is interrupted by Regina, whose kid has gone missing again. KEEP HIM ON A LEASH, WOMAN!!!

Emma agrees to help locate the missing child with her mad tracking skills, yo. Sheriff Graham is so old school that he’s like, “Shall I go fetch the scouting dogs?” and Emma tells him straight out: “I’ll do the investigating here. Just shut up and look pretty.”

She finds the answer by hacking into Henry’s computer. These days, you can learn a lot about a person through their online browsing history (aka. the bane of husbands and teenage boys everywhere). You’d think a ten-year-old probably uses the Internet for some innocent recreational purposes, such as looking at stupid Youtube videos or posting obnoxious messages like ‘FIRST!!!’ in the comments section. But as we all know, Henry is no regular kid.

You’d think a website with a name like ‘WHO’S YOUR MOMMA?’ would have an awesome arsenal of yo momma jokes – like yo momma so stupid, she ate a poisoned apple – but no, it’s just some lame investigative service online. How disappointing.

Nonetheless, Henry is already stealing credit cards and making illegal online purchases (to track down his real momma) at the age of ten! He’s pretty badass for a kid!

ANIMAL ABUSE! ANIMAL ABUSE! Who is this androgynous woman and why is she trying to choke a bird to death!? Bitch, this isn’t a mustard bottle in your hand! You don’t have to squeeze so hard!

Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the modern incarnation of Snow White in this alternate timeline. She’s a sweet, gentle, and mild-mannered elementary school teacher with a fondness for all her woodland creature friends. Mary Margaret? Pfft. More like Mary Sue, amirite? I wouldn’t be surprised if she breaks into a song and dance routine at some point to express herself.

Remember when Regina almost seemed civil and diplomatic…for approximately five seconds in this show? It didn’t take long before her inner demon bitch fully emerged. She certainly has a way to cut you down with her razor sharp words.

Mary Margaret: I assume Henry was home sick with you…
Regina: You think I’d be HERE if he was???
Mary Margaret: Umm… *points at Emma* …who are you?
Regina: The woman who GAVE HIM UP for adoption.

Well, at least we know Regina’s monstrous animosity is not limited to just Emma. We also learn that Mary Margaret, as Henry’s teacher, was the one who recently gave him a book with all the classic fairy tale stories. The adults believe he’s using this gift to fuel his overactive imagination, and that’s why Henry thinks they are all secretly fairy tale characters.

But nothing Regina says could outmatch the unintentionally callous remark that slips out of Mary Margaret’s mouth.

Mary Margaret: It’s like any adopted child. He wrestles with that most basic question they all inevitably face. Why would anyone give me away? *awkward pause* Oh whoops!

OH DAMN. That must’ve hit Gemma where it hurts the most, considering her life circumstances:

1.) She gave up Henry for adoption.
2.) She was abandoned on the side of the highway herself.
3.) And the person who made this comment is (secretly) her own mother, who gave her these abandonment issues in the first place!<

Meanwhile, the SMOKE MONSTER is about to sweep over the entire kingdom!!! (How many Lost references can we squeeze into this show, I wonder?)


We nearly got a glimpse of Snow White’s lady parts during the gruesome birthing scene. There’s also that awkward moment when you realize Doc of the Seven Dwarfs will be the one delivering the baby. But fortunately, most of the gritty action takes place off camera, so let’s just assume that the baby magically popped out of her womb for our innocence’s sake.

The married couple share a brief moment of joy, as they welcome their baby daughter Emma into the fairy tale world…

…and this little family gathering lasts for approximately fifteen seconds. Prince Charming and Snow White tearfully agree to put the baby inside the magic tree, so that Emma will be protected from the witch’s curse.

What is it with those LOST producers who seem incapable of keeping a mother and her child together? Claire and Aaron, Sun and Ji Yeon, now Snow White and Emma. This is becoming a pattern, you sick heart-tugging bastards!

Watch out, man with baby and sword coming through! For some inexplicable reason, instead of putting the magic tree directly in the birthing room, Prince Charming has to travel through ~*baby assassination battles*~ to reach his final destination.

What follows is an action sequence where Prince Charming is holding a suspiciously empty bundle in most of the camera shots. There was a brief moment when the actor broke character, as he tries his best not to drop the baby or burst into a hysterical fit of giggles (which is the only screenshot I capture, of course).

Prince Charming was able to deliver Emma to the magic tree safe and sound. Can you imagine if the pilot episode of Once Upon a Time actually featured A DEAD BABY??? It would certainly be a…err, *memorable* fairy tale, that’s for sure.

BTW, please tell me you did not just laugh or even quietly chuckle at a dead baby joke. If so, I’m gonna have some rowdy company on my way to hell.

Prince Charming succumbs to his fatal wounds in the end. Snow White takes this opportunity to indulge in her necrophilia fantasies. And the random tiger in the background is like GEDDIT AGAIN AND AGAIN, GURL! YOU GO SLIP THAT TONGUE IN YOUR HUSBAND’S DECAYING CORPSE~

(First a dead baby jab and now necrophilia jokes too!? This recap has it all!)

Once again, the Evil Queen makes a fashionably late appearance at the death scene, but she’s really just here to rub her victory into Snow White’s face. She’s like “LOOK AT HOW EEEEEVIL I AM! *glitter bomb* GET READY FOR MY TORNADO ATTACK!”

And then the cameras started spinning, and someone in the control room got a little too excited with the special effects, which led to a scene that looks like Walt Disney had farted glitter and sparkles all over the room.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma finally locates Henry in his little playground castle. She gets a little tense when the twerp rehashes the whole spiel of “Oh no, all the fairy tale characters are imprisoned! You are the only one who can save us!” And then, Henry gives this dead-on psychoanalysis about how Emma must feel guilty putting her son up for adoption, but he doesn’t fault her decision due to his abnormally high emotional intelligence.

Emma looks gobsmacked that she just got schooled in life by her ten-year-old son. He’s truly wise beyond his years. This kid is like ten going on ninety.

Henry explains that he’s running away from home, because he doesn’t want to live with his evil mother anymore. Emma tells him STFU KID, AT LEAST YOU HAVE A MOMMA. She eventually loses her composure and begins pouring all twenty eight years of emotional baggage at this child.

Henry: Please don’t take me back there! You don’t know what it’s like with her! My life sucks!
Emma: You wanna know what sucking is!?
(HEY-O!) Being left abandoned at the side of a freeway! My parents didn’t even bother to drop me off at a hospital! I ended up in a foster system and I didn’t have a family until I was three and then they had their own and they sent me back! Your mom is trying her best. I know it’s hard, and I know sometimes you think she doesn’t love you, but at least she wants you.

Henry goes home after losing the “MAH LIFE SUCKS MORE THAN YOURS” contest. However, Regina is not a happy camper. She lays an epic smack down and clearly marks her mama bear territory. Since Emma agreed to a closed adoption years ago, this bitch has no legal right to come swooping in and claim a child that she tossed away like a bag of sick. And if Emma doesn’t crawl back into the gutter hole where she came from, Regina swears in the holy mother of god that SHE WILL ~*DESTROY*~ HER if it is the last thing she does!!!!!

Emma then asks Regina a thinly veiled question: “Do you love Henry?” which translates to “Bitch, you clearly have deep psychological issues that should not be exposed to a young child. So I’m gonna stay around and fuck with your head just because I can. GAME ON, SISTER!”

And Regina answers accordingly: “Of course I love my son” which translates to “Of course I’m gonna rip your soul out when I’m through with you.”

Time begins to flow again with Emma’s presence in Storybrooke, which means the queen’s evil spell is weakening with each passing minute. The war between good and evil is officially *AWN*.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, we see that Prince Charming exists in this alternate timeline as well, albeit just barely. He’s in a deep coma at the hospital and it doesn’t seem like Mary Margaret (aka. Snow White) even knows who he is…

e also meet Little Red Riding Goth and her innkeeper grandmama, as well as the elusive Mr. Gold – the richest man who owns all of Storybrooke – but he is really Rumpelstiltskin in disguise. Despite only exchanging a few lines with Emma, this guy still comes across as a CREEPY MOTHERFUCKER with very bad vibes.

Overall, I really enjoyed the premiere of Once Upon a Time! I was never a big fairy tale fanatic, but this left me quite impressed. It has an intriguing premise highlighted by a very creative execution. The show is fun, imaginative, and with just the right dash of ~*magical*~ in all the right places.

5 Responses

  1. Default avatar Anonymous November 30th, 2011 / Wednesday

    I laughed at the dead baby joke… sorry lol:)

    • Default avatar Recap Everything February 4th, 2012 / Saturday

      Oh boy.
      Recap Everything: making readers laugh with dead baby jokes since 2011. *lol*

  2. Default avatar Anonymous December 7th, 2011 / Wednesday

    Best recap I have read. Please don't stop

  3. Custom avatar Nikki May 8th, 2017 / Monday

    Where did the other recaps go? These were solid gold

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