After a three-week break, it was understandable to see Once Upon A Time return with an episode that seemed geared towards easing us back into the swing of things. But even without the some of Storybrooke’s most compelling players, “Tiny” was an enjoyable hour, one that focused on the town dealing with “gentle giant” Anton (Jorge Garcia) while Emma, Henry and Gold made their way to New York in search of Bae.

I enjoyed watching the husband-and-wife team of David and Snow in action, having adventures similar to what they would have in fairytale world – it’ s clear Snow has missed being able to play with her bow and arrow. At the end of the hour, we were back to what has been the heated debate for the past few episodes – if given the choice, would the Charmings return to fairytale world? Snow insists she can’t give up her daughter, but David seems to think he can convince her otherwise. Since we’ve been over this exchange a few times and the option now exists via the magic bean that Anton has carried with him and plans to harvest in Storybrooke, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this issue come to a serious head sooner rather than later.

It was fun to see Garcia again, and equally fun to see him serviced in a way that allowed him to leave an impression. We met Anton earlier this season in “Tallahassee,” an episode that seemed to do little for Garcia save for a lot of stomping and yelling with Emma. But “Tiny” treated us to a fleshed out back-story that allowed the talented LOST alum to shine as we learned of his past, where his hatred for humans came from, and his history within the fairytale world.

In fairytale flashback, it’s revealed that Anton is the “outcast” of his family, the one that has a kinder heart and doesn’t believe all humans are inherently bad – a mistake that inevitably leads to the death of the fatherly figure of Arlo and the violation of his trust. While taking a trip down to “the human world,” he meets up with David’s twin brother James and his lady friend Jacqueline, who offer the outcast a chance for new friends and a hope for a better life. After tricking him into taking a magic bean that allows him to become “human-sized,” James and “Jaq” (a clever tie in to the popular fable we’re all so familiar with) con poor Anton into helping them gather some treasure for the kingdom, which is really part of a larger con to get Anton to show them where the beanstalk is so they can steal some magic beans. (Keeping with the tie-ins, the nod to Alice In Wonderland with Jaq procuring the bean as payment for slaying the Jabberwock was a nice touch – and it makes me wonder if we’ll meet Alice at some point down the road.)

Anton unknowingly does his job, but a battle ensues between the humans and the giants which leaves Jaq gravely wounded in the process (James leaves her for dead, and suddenly, we don’t feel too bad that he got the short end of the twin brother stick.) This, of course, is all fuel for the “human hate” that Anton displayed towards Emma. He brings this same anger with him when Cora imports him into Storybrooke, though fortunately, David is able to talk him down and even shows his good heart by saving Anton after he falls into a hole and almost dies himself.

We haven’t touched on David’s family life for some time, and it was interesting that the show used an episode about a giant’s loneliness and belonging to bring Charming’s feelings of self-worth back around. It reminded me of the second episode of the season, “We Are Both,” in which David tried to be the leader that the town wants him to be. At the time, I equated the title of the episode to mean that those in Storybrooke were confused as to who they really were in the aftermath of the curse – could they be their human selves as well as their fairytale identities? But it would be a crime not to associate the title “We Are Both” with David, someone haunted by the fact that his brother was a truly selfish and uncaring individual, a person that David can’t guarantee he’ll become at any point (by the way, as much as I enjoyed the way the exchange was done, did anyone else feel a bit cheated about Charming’s “real” name actually being David?)

Once likes to present us with relationships that don’t necessarily seem like they should work but in all actuality, leave quite the impression (Ruby and Dr. Whale, Mulan and Aurora, Snow and Grumpy.) Despite the fact we’ve seen the two in previous “one-on-one” situations, Emma and Gold fall into this category and I very much enjoyed seeing Emma react to and deal with a vulnerable Gold who, without magic and away from home, seemed more like a lost little boy than a powerful and cunning trickster. All magic comes with a price is the requisite line Gold likes to feed his customers but for Gold himself, the price may be not having magic at all.

While the Charmings were chasing a giant and Emma, Gold and Henry were jetting off to New York, poor Belle was still in the hospital harboring a lost identity. I have to wonder if this is the way she’ll stay until the end of the season, especially now that Craig has gone out of his way to befriend her, wanting to bond over their “non crazy” belief that they saw magic the night of the accident. At the moment, I have no idea how to predict what havoc Craig will end up creating for the town but since it seems that the writers are going out of their way to keep the character around, I’d be surprised if it didn’t involve Belle’s storyline as well.

We were left with very little Regina in this episode, although there was some nice plot set up when Snow and David alerted her that her son had left town (Regina’s face upon hearing Henry had left with Emma was quite wonderful, wasn’t it?) Can we safely say that working with her mother has put Regina back towards a villainous downfall? That certainly seems to be the case after witnessing the brief interactions in this episode, though to the credit of Lana Parrilla’s strong acting, I truly can’t tell anymore when Regina is truly Regina or when Cora is impersonating her. That said, I’m looking forward to when we get to see more from mother and daughter, even though it looks like Regina and Cora will be taking a bit of a backseat as we embark on “Bae Hunt 2013” with Gold, Henry and Emma (do I detect the return of Neil? Intriguing!)

Final Thoughts:

  • The hour was riddled with a multitude of LOST easter eggs, possibly the most I’ve seen so far in the series: the book titled “The Mysterious Island” that Ruby presented to Belle, Exposé, Anton falling down the “hatch”, Ajira airlines (I suppose using Oceanic would have been a tad too obvious), as well as the combination of “Jaq” and James.
  • Gold is clearly distraught at the fact that he can’t heal himself with magic outside of Storybrooke. Is this an affect of the removal of the cloak, or simply something that occurs because he’s too far away the town for magic to work properly? Remember, he healed Belle across the town line, so it’s been proven magic does work outside of Storybrooke.
  • I was glad to see Henry join up with Emma and Gold on their trip to New York. Jared Gilmore, underused as of late, needs some sort of viable storyline and having him tag along will make this journey just a little more interesting for both characters.

What did you think of the episode?

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