Once Upon A Time, Ep. 1.14, “Dreamy”: Stealthy’s back

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Once Upon A Time, Season 1, Episode 14: “Dreamy”
Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Directed by David Solomon
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on ABC

This week continues the “Lost” tradition of examining the backgrounds of minor characters. This time it’s Grumpy, one of the seven dwarves, also known as Leroy in Storybrooke. The episode opens with two fairies in the sky, the Blue Fairy of Pinocchio fame and Nova, who’s still “in training” Nova clumsily drops a handful of fairy dust that lands on an egg far down below in the Enchanted Forest. The egg hatches and out comes Grumpy ahead of schedule.

Though, he’s not “grumpy” just yet. When he receives his magical pickaxe, it shows him what his name will be, which reads “Dreamy.” Given that magical fairy dust landed on him, he is no ordinary dwarf, as he possesses the capacity to love. The story then turns to the emotional journey that Dreamy takes to become who we know him to be.

The Storybrooke universe finds Leroy helping Mary Margaret in a fundraiser for the town’s convent. Leroy becomes smitten with one of the nuns, Sister Astrid (Nova in the Enchanted Forest), and finds himself going beyond his usual charity to help Astrid and the nuns from being kicked out of their residence by Mr. Gold.

Written by “Lost” veterans Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, “Dreamy” is a refreshing episode in that it gives us a little break from Snow White and Prince Charming. However, the episode felt a little thrown together in that it follows a formula often seen this season and in “Lost.” We get a little-known/unlikable/tortured character; we see his/her love lost story, and then we understand why that character was unlikable or tortured.

This formula better developed Rumpelstiltskin’s character two episodes ago in “Skin Deep” and motivated characters like Richard, Desmond and Sayid in “Lost.” All these characters benefitted from this formula due to other traits that defined them. Yet, Grumpy gets the leftovers of this stale template that does little to distinguish him from his two names.

Actor Lee Arenberg has the perfectly tough, gruff and weathered face for Grumpy. His appearance embodies no-nonsense masculinity, and his performance matches that look quite well. However, this ends up hurting him in his character’s transformation. Arenberg isn’t very believable as “Dreamy,” the friendly romantic. He looks the exact same as Grumpy and retains his deep voice. It is evident Arenberg really tries in his lighthearted performance, but it feels disingenuous. Perhaps with some more make up effects, Arenberg could have looked younger and more lively, but the way it plays with his normal face just makes Dreamy seem like he’s being sarcastic the whole time.

The episode isn’t a waste, though. It satisfies audience curiosity in showing one of the dwarves’ backgrounds. It’s been building for a few episodes due to Grumpy’s occasional appearances. Overall, it’s still entertaining, just not very unique or significant. Unfortunately, writers backed themselves into a corner with their characterizations of the rest of the dwarves. Since Grumpy got a dose of fairy dust, he’s different in that he can feel love. The rest of the dwarves are supposed to be automaton mineworkers. Their names give all the information necessary to understand them. This is disappointing because the writers abandoned the potential of exploring six more characters (seven with Stealthy). It might have been a stretch, but there could have been a few more episodes devoted to some of the dwarves, delving into their backgrounds and their significance to the main story. Now they’re just egg-hatched, ready made slaves. Hopefully writers will find a way to deviate from this flimsy origin story for these fun characters and give them a purpose.

The main story provides a weak backbone to the episode. The dragging investigation attempts to posit David as a potential suspect for Kathryn’s disappearance. Due to the multiple episodes about his character, we know him better than he himself. It’s clear he had nothing to do with the disappearance. Yet, the episode ends on a somber note implying that David may be in trouble over this. It’s a fitting end to an uneventful episode.

The mystery of writer August W. Booth should be the A-plot right now. The little bit we’ve seen of him has been just as interesting as most of the other character backgrounds, and he could potentially affect the outcome of Storybrooke’s curse. Next week looks promising, though, with Red Riding Hood’s story. Her character exhibits a rare duality for this show in that her Enchanted Forest self and her Storybrooke self seem completely different. It should be fun.

What about you, reader? Did this episode fall flat for you or did you find more redeeming qualities? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Ryan Clagg

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