Once Upon A Time, Ep. 1.07: “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is truly heartbreaking

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Once Upon A Time, Season 1, Episode 7: “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”
Written by Edward Kitsis (creator) & Adam Horowitz (creator)
Directed by David Barrett
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on ABC

After locking lips with Emma, Sheriff Graham remembers his former life back in fairytale land. As expected, we learn Graham is the notorious Huntsman hired by the Evil Queen to kill Snow White and deliver back her heart as a souvenir. Only the Huntsman realizes that he cannot take White’s life and lets her run free instead. Thinking he can fool the Queen, he brings her a stag’s heart instead, but when she realizes she’s been double crossed, the Queen takes his her revenge, enchaining his life to her evil hold, forever.

With the series going on hiatus during the Holiday season, “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” offers a heart-wrenching cliffhanger, as they keep to their promise that death would come to Storybrooke. While the ending is a bit predictable, one has to wonder if this really is the last we will see of our handsome sheriff. After all, why would the writers spend so much time building a romantic bond between him and Emma (and give him back his memory), only to kill him right away? As history has taught us, never bet on a character’s fate immediately after an episode cliffhanger.

The Fairy Tale Land story in this week’s episode doesn’t parallel the Storybrooke arc so much, but it does ably move forward the overarching plot while finding time to answer one important question on everyone’s mind: How much of Storybrooke does the Queen control and how much does she clearly remember? We learn that nobody in Storybrooke (apart from Mr. Gold and Regina) remembers how they met anyone else, but more importantly, it becomes clear that Regina carries more power in Storybrooke than we were led to believe. We still don’t know what harm White inflicted on the Queen, but the writers have scripted a rather clever, political/family drama-twist to the back-story. “They don’t know what she did to me,” the Queen says, but what is the mystery behind their troubled past?

The heart seems to be the big metaphor this week. To invoke the curse, The Evil Queen needs to extract the heart of her father and to take revenge she needs someone without a heart to murder White. She may be royalty but she sure is twisted, collecting the hearts of her victims and storing them away in a vault. Graham can no longer live with his lack of feeling anything at all (which in itself totally contradicts his supposed curse), and Emma tries to break down the wall that keeps her from getting close to anyone else. It isn’t so much that Graham can’t feel love, but more like he doesn’t remember how. Memory is of course a major focus as always, and Mr. Gold enigmatically suggests that dreams are perhaps memories of another life, leaving Graham with a clue, leading him on the right track.

What is Gold’s place in Storybrooke? Will he play villain or hero? Perhaps he isn’t too happy with the parallel world he too is trapped in? And what exactly is Gold digging? Is he too, trying to dig up answers to the mystery? But back to the hearts. The Queen herself appears heartless, but even the rotten monarch clearly has feelings. Does she really care about Henry and Graham, or is it that she only cares for herself? Storybrooke is cluttered with broken hearts, but by the end of the episode, Regina isn’t broken hearted when she digs up the Huntsman’s excised heart and crushes it in her palm. No not at all; the Queen is only doing what she does best- protect her power and control over everyone and everything around her.

While the identity of Graham remained a mystery there was still enough speculation that he was indeed the Huntsman, sadly leaving no big surprise to his reveal. Still, it was intriguing to finally get confirmation as to who he is and even more refreshing to see someone other than Emma or Mary Margaret take notice in Henry’s quest and his book.

The Huntsman, played by Irish-born Jamie Dornan, was this critic’s favourite character in the series thus far. Apart from his good looks, he was truly compelling week after week, showcasing Dornan’s talent and range. If this truly is the end of his journey, he will be missed. The question is left for us to ponder and the writers are doing a fantastic job in keeping their audience theorizing. We shall have our answer come January 8th.

– Ricky D

 

Other observations:

Giancarlo Esposito is absolutely ridiculous as the magic mirror.

Rumour has it that in the new year, we will get an origin story to Rumpelstiltskin!

How incredibly awesome was it to see Emma and Regina brawl?

Is there a reason why the wolf has one red eye and and one black?

The visual effects are much better this week.

Director David M. Barrett helms the best episode yet, masterfully cutting back-n-forth with some incredibly creative transitions, as Graham’s disorientation see his previous life bleed into his current one.

 

 

 

 

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