Every now and then, Once Upon a Time treats us to a delightfully fear-filled episode. Usually these episodes happen around Halloween, when we are all in the mood for a good scare. However with “The Tower”, the writers decided that Halloween was coming in March this year.
Since Once Upon a Time returned to our screen three weeks ago, the writers have been doing every possible thing to make up for the monstrosity that was the first half of season three. And they have done an exceptional job redeeming themselves. With a cast as big as Once’s though, it’s very hard to keep every single character in the spotlight. This is a common problem in shows with large ensemble casts and those that avoid it, such as LOST, tend to focus on one character per episode, developing them individually. Once has been following this framework pretty well, but there have been some characters lately that have just gotten the shaft. For example, even being back in Storybrooke, Belle still hasn’t been the main focus of any episode. This is also what happened to Meghan Ory’s Ruby aka Red Riding Hood. And sadly, it was beginning to happen to our dear old Charming, until “The Tower” crashed onto our screens.
Josh Dallas has always been a vital part of the Once Upon a Time universe. He plays the beloved Prince Charming, but as more characters were introduced, his more Charming one began to recede into being a back line character. That changes this week, as the writers create for us a wonderful story arc for Charming. It’s interesting to discover that one of Charming’s biggest fears is indeed himself- where he came from and the choices he has made concerning Emma. He’s been guilty of losing her twice now, and he is frightened about this happening again and again. Dallas handles everything that the writers throw at him with ease and grace. It’s obvious that he’s proving a point; he is still there and can indeed run with the likes of Lana Parrilla, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Jennifer Morrison.
One of Charming’s story arcs crosses paths with none other than Rapunzel. The writers cleverly twist the very well-known tale with their Once Upon a Time touch and make the terrifying story even creepier. After climbing up Rapunzel’s hair to her chamber, Charming attempts to rescue her. Rapunzel then complains about the witch that won’t let her leave. We automatically think that the witch will turn out to be the Wicked Witch of the West, but when we first catch a glimpse of her our own fears begin to wonder. A brief shout out to the CGI department is needed here. The effects used to make the witch move are absolutely terrifying and unearthly, looking like something out of well-known horror movies The Ring or The Grudge. Rapunzel’s buildup of the witch terrifies even us when the CGI department finally reveals their terrifying creation.
The other story arc in “The Tower” features Rebecca Mader’s Wicked Witch of the West, known in Storybrooke as Zelena, continuing her mission to become Snow White’s shadow. It also features a very intense and somewhat disturbing scene between the Wicked Witch and none other than Rumplestiltskin, who is being held in a cage by her. Even for the few minutes that Rumplestiltskin is there, it is nice to see Robert Carlyle and the big reveal at the end of the episode (his cage being empty) gives us hope that Carlyle will be more predominantly featured in next week’s episode.
“The Tower” is a nice addition to the wickedly delightfully second half of season three. Here’s hoping that the writers will continue to follow this yellow brick road and not stray too far from the path.