REVIEW: Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep 3 – The Garden of Forking Paths

This week on Once Upon a Time, we learn more about Cinderella and Lady Tremaine’s past while Jacinda tries to save a local garden in Hyperion Heights. Rogers, Roni, and Henry continue to investigate the shady dealings of Victoria Belfry while Weaver watches with suspicion. Henry and Lucy explore the ground beneath the city and find a possible clue to a magical past.

Once Upon a Time continues to tread familiar territory and it’s beginning to feel a bit stale. I didn’t expect the formula to grow tedious so soon into the new season, but here we are. There’s a limit to the parallels that can be drawn with the first season and when the exact story beats are being followed, the show can feel tiresome. It’s already a given that Lucy and Henry are the new Henry and Emma. Victoria is the new Regina. And in some ways, Jacinda is Emma too. And there’s a curse. Rehashing some of the good story beats from season one smacks of laziness on the writers’ part. Lucy even points out during this episode that entering the underground was reminiscent of Henry’s doing something similar with Archie in the first season.

Once Upon a Time S7, Ep 3We are properly introduced to Tiana in this episode, and her friendship with Cinderella is established. I love her already and it’s fun to see her as the leader of the rebellion against Lady Tremaine. Once Upon a Time is clearly trying to add a more historical/political take on the traditional fairy tales, allowing for more action scenes. As awesome as Tiana is so far, it’s clear that her friendship with Cinderella is reminiscent of Snow White and Red Riding Hood’s friendship. Their rebellion against Lady Tremaine is the same as the fight against the Evil Queen.

I’m really hoping there’s more to it than what we’ve already seen. The story even comes with the villain resenting the heroine for taking away someone she loves. Again, familiar territory.

Once Upon a Time S7, Ep 3I am enjoying the growing friendship between Regina and Cinderella. Thankfully, the former prevented the latter from grabbing an innocent person’s heart, a true hallmark of Once Upon a Time black magic. Regina also gave her some valuable advice, drawn from her own painful experiences. There’s a greater legitimacy to Regina delivering the hopeful speeches than Snow in previous seasons. Regina has gone through so much more complex moral quandaries. She’s more credible when she talks about morally gray areas because of all she has endured. And she also doesn’t come across as too hopeful or preachy (as Snow sometimes did). So I’m looking forward to seeing more of her supportive side in the flashbacks.

By the end of the episode, following Once Upon a Time convention, Jacinda doesn’t want to disappoint Lucy and becomes a believer in her cause and manages to rally the support of the people against Victoria.

The final minutes of the episode are the most intriguing. First we see Henry visit a couple of graves, presumably of his lost family, and the names on the headstones are Lauren and Abigail Mills. I freaked out when I saw the latter name, because I can’t help but remember the main character of Sleepy Hollow. This can’t be some kind of coincidence, can it? There are so many possible names, why ABIGAIL MILLS.

All that aside, we also meet a mysterious woman Victoria is keeping prisoner, a dangerous individual who probably possesses a great deal of magic. She’s also poised to be an enemy to Victoria later in the game. I’m not sure who she is yet, but some are already speculating that she is Mother Gothel. We’ll have to wait and see.