ONCE UPON A TIME: “Child Of The Moon”

Despite not being one the immediate “main” characters when Once Upon A Time debuted last season, Meghan Ory’s Ruby quickly established herself as one of the show’s most interesting players – learning about her life as Red Riding Hood only served to further intrigue us (“Red-Handed” was actually one of my favorite episodes.) “Child Of The Moon” continued to explore parts of Ruby’s back-story, with a focus on her fear of turning for the first time since the curse was lifted. And with her protective red cloak mysteriously missing, it was understandable that Ruby would be worried about losing control – after all, things are different in Storybrooke where magic is concerned.

Through flashbacks, we saw how fellow wolf Quinn discovered Red and brought her face-to-face with her true mother, Anita, and the rest of her pack (Once does some amazing casting where families are concerned and I completely bought Annabeth Gish as being related to Ory.) Eager to teach her long-lost daughter how to embrace her true wolf powers use that acceptance to control herself during full moons, Anita’s understanding and motherly love seemed to be everything Ruby was searching for in a family – until she turned on her daughter with the decision to kill Snow, whose break-in caused the Queen’s soldiers attack and kill Quinn. Acting to protect her friend, Red accidentally killed Anita instead, forcing her mother to die with the belief that she had chosen her friend over her family.

Each Once character is more or less working towards their own redemption story, be it acceptance of themselves (Ruby, David, Emma) or acceptance of their past actions (Regina, Gold, Snow.) Ruby spent most of her life running from her wolf curse, being afraid to embrace her “beastly” side thinking that it could only cause destruction. Yet by telling her mother “I chose me,” she unknowingly made a very distinct step towards acknowledging a part of her existence as opposed to running from it. In a way, Ruby’s wolf side represents the darker side in all of us – the side that we’re often afraid to accept because of where it could lead. But as Ruby learns, with a little control and understanding, we don’t have to be ashamed of our actions or what we’re potentially capable of.

Just like LOST, Once is no stranger to daddy issues and certainly, no daddy issue is more prevalent than the relationship that exists between David and his father, Spencer (better known as King George.) Still bitter over David’s ascension to the throne in place of his twin brother, Spencer wastes no time trying to cut his son down, going so far as to stage the killing that occurs in Storybrooke (thus making it look like it was Ruby who committed the crime in order to prove that David couldn’t take care of the town.) I have to admit that I expected this episode to have more of a focus on Ruby than it did, since in Storybrooke the plot really intermingled with David and his father butting heads. Still, it’s entirely refreshing to see David as the Prince Charming we know he became in fairytale world and a nice full circle to know that most of the confidence in leading his fellow townspeople came from Ruby. Since Emma and Snow’s disappearance at the beginning of the season, Ruby and David have formed a close friendship, with the wolf girl supporting him through his struggle to guide the town and becoming somewhat of a confident. In “We Are Both,” Ruby was the one who helped David believe that he could stand up and be a leader, a favor he returned in this episode when he helped her believe that she could successfully embrace her wolf instincts without being harmful.

Indeed, the themes of control and fear ran deep through this episode with Henry’s fear of his dream and Ruby’s fear of turning/killing. I would be hard pressed to find parallels between the two if it wasn’t for Gold’s words to Henry, which was also a view that Anita held in the same regard. Despite the different circumstances, both gave advice with literal meanings for what their characters were going through: for Ruby, it was giving into fear, accepting it, and accepting control in return. For Henry, it was taking the journey and embracing fear. At the episode’s end, Henry was finally able to make sense of the person on the other side of his “red room” while Ruby was finally able to accept her wolf side without worrying about being murderous.

My theory on the dreams? With Jefferson’s hat now destroyed, I’m thinking Henry and Aurora’s visions will somehow be the key to helping Emma and Snow get back to Storybrooke. I’m still not sure how the two are inter-connected or what the dreams actually mean, aside from Gold’s explanation about how they take place in a world that exists somewhere between life and death (after effects of Regina’s sleeping spell.) Nonetheless, I’m hoping we’ll get some answers in the coming episodes, especially if we get an Aurora back-story.

We were introduced earlier this season to the beginning of a friendship between Belle and Ruby that I had hoped we would continue to explore in this particular hour. I admit to being slightly disappointed on that front. Aside from Granny, Ruby doesn’t have a real female sounding board in Storybrooke and who better to understand and sympathize with someone’s fear of turning into a monster than Belle, who spent her fairytale life falling in love with one and then defending one? I’ve always loved how this show portrays its women, where the girls are generally fighters who stand up for themselves, don’t back down and are, in some cases, stronger than their male counterparts. Last season was full of amazing female moments (Emma fighting Maleficent, Snow fighting off the Queen, Ruby rebelling against Granny) and I’d really like to see the show move forward with more of those, given how strong the ladies of this cast are. (Speaking of strong women – how many shows would take Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and turn her into a bow-wielding, take-charge leader? I rest my case.)

Final Thoughts:

  • I continue to be in awe of Lana Parrilla’s talents, even when she’s not the focus of the episode. Her face when Henry awoke from his dream, immediately asking for David showed the briefest, subtle flash of hurt – one that signaled that she was still hurting over Henry’s refusal to accept her as a parental figure in his life.
  • Poor, poor Gus. Or rather, poor Billy. I knew from his introduction that he was a goner but kind of hoped I was wrong (for that matter, poor Quinn – the guys on this show just can’t seem to catch a break.)
  • After waking up with real burns from fire-engulfed “red room” Regina confronts Gold looking for a way to figure out where these dreams are coming from. It was nice to see a more sensitive side of Gold in this scene and I think that his interaction with Henry was completely genuine given the feelings that we know exist towards his own son.

What did you think of “Child Of The Moon?” Were you happy with what we learned of Ruby’s story?

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