Once Upon A Time, Season 1, Episode 5: “That Still Small Voice”
Directed by Paul A. Edwards
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Airs 8pm ET on ABC
Once Upon A Time is crippled with one major handicap and unfortunately his name is Jared Gilmore, who stars as Henry, a key character to the overall plot of the series. While each episode continues to improve in direction, production, character development, acting and so on, little Jared seems to be getting worse. Even with Jane Espenson – a veteran of the Whedonverse – onboard to pen the script, “That Still Small Voice” just can’t escape the problems that the small boy brings. Be it the character beats or the awful acting, something needs to be done in order to elevate this series from good to potentially great.
Once Upon a Time continued their reinvention and reimaginging of classic fairy tales, this time with a truly unique twist in changing our perspective of Jimminy Cricket, Pinocchio’s little sidekick who served as his conscience. Cricket has always stood in for making the right decisions and advising Pinocchio to steer clear of danger. Thus the reason why in Storybrooke, Jimmy acts as Henry’s therapist, Archie Hopper.
The title of this week’s episode refers to someone who lived his entire life with a voice so faint, his biggest obstacle was finding the confidence he needs to to free himself. The episode tells the story of a young boy caught in a life of larceny and deceit, shackled both by his parents and the desire to change his ways. Bad parenting seems to be a reoccurring theme for the show and continues here. Jiminy’s (Raphael Sbarge) parents (played by Harry Groener and Carolyn Hennesy) are thieves and con artists, swindling others with false promises and false hope. In desperation, Jiminy seeks a way out, and gets his hands on a magic potion courtesy of – who else? – Rumpelstiltskin. That potions ends up in the wrong hands, and after a switchover, he and his family accidentally kill a young couple, leaving behind their now orphaned son Gepetto.
Where Once Upon A Time excels is in how the writers take these fairytale characters (whom we’ve always seen as role models) and injects them with deep flaws, broken dreams and troubled pasts. Jimmy might not have had much choice on how he lived his childhood, but he knew in his heart that it was deeply wrong to continue. “That Still Small Voice” is about overwhelming guilt, the need to escape, and believing in yourself to make a change.
For the first time in five episodes, what works best isn’t the scenes in present day, but those in the fairy-tale flashbacks. Espenson really does wonders in writing a couple of neat reveals throughout the episode. In Fairy Tale land, Jiminy struggles to find the courage to leave his parents and escape a path of crime, while in Storybrooke, Dr. Archie Hopper, a timid psychologist, acts as Regina’s puppet, giving in to her every demand. In the fairytale world, Jimmy was a boy trapped into a life he didn’t want by his thieving parents. He didn’t know how to break free, just as he doesn’t know how to get out from under Regina’s influence in the real world. The motif of this week’s episode is puppets. “That Still Small Voice” opens with a puppet show in the Enchanted Forest public market. Later, Geppetto’s parents are rendered into wooden puppets – an interesting antithesis to the actual Pinocchio story. His now wooden puppet-parents end up in Mr. Gold’s shop in Storybrooke, an artifact from the past.
Finally, wracked with guilt, Jiminy is offered another chance to free himself. When a Fairy Godmother appears, she offers him a way out, but the only way to be free is to no longer be human. And so the episode ends with Jimmy, now a cricket, setting out with the promise to guide Gepetto through life.
One still has to wonder if the Sheriff is indeed the Big Bad Wolf, or did he hire Emma as his deputy knowing that it would somehow help break the curse? Either way, it isn’t written in stone that our Wolf has to be be bad, considering the writers have taken the liberty to reinvent the characters and fairy tales we once knew.
A nice touch: Geppetto giving Jiminy his trademark umbrella.
Perhaps the little boy in Jiminy’s flashback playing Gepetto should have been cast in the role of Henry, as he is a much better actor.
A glass coffin under the town? What’s that about?
Was anyone else expecting some megalomaniacal laughter when Regina dropped the piece of glass down the elevator shaft?
Some of you may remember Harry Groener (who guest stars this week as Jiminy’s con man father), from his role as Mayor in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Welcome Pongo from 101 Dalmations!