Last week’s episode of Once Upon a Time left much to be desired, but the latest, “The Other Shoe,” was a fun return to form. Cinderella is one of the most well-known characters there is, but also one of least interesting, so I wasn’t expecting much from an episode that focused on an untold story from her life. However, it turned out to be a surprisingly fun experience, one which gave Cinderella another chance to be more human, rather than the simple, suffering saint she’s generally painted as, with all the twists “Once” can provide.
The girl with the glass slipper has a seemingly perfect life with her husband and adorable daughter, but another new arrival from the Land of Untold Stories turns out to Cinderella’s stepsister Clarinda, and Cinderella’s husband worries that Ella may have revenge on her mind. Jeez, a girl can’t borrow a shotgun without everyone getting suspicious?
Flashbacks reveal more of the cruelty Ella was subjected to, and just how sadistic her stepmother could get, reminding us just why she’s one of Disney’s best villains, even without magic or any real power. Think about it: this woman didn’t have a kingdom, and therefore no throne to look down on people, minions to do her bidding, and she didn’t have any flashy enchantments. What she had was control over one person’s life, and that’s it. But we’ve probably all been at the mercy of someone who didn’t have our best interests at heart, thus making Cinderella all the more sympathetic. So even if the Evil Stepmother just has her wits and cunning to use against the good guys, she’s able to inflict a whole lot of damage. (Where was the other stepsister though?)
However, it turns out the so-called evil stepsister Clarinda isn’t so bad. In “The Other Shoe,” she reveals how she feels just as trapped as Ella, and even helps her get her happy ending with the prince. But Ella might not have returned the favor.
The Wicked Queen is even more unsettling, and thankfully there’s none of that creepy sniffing between her and Rumplestiltskin. Did anyone find that sexy? But in this episode her poison is mainly her words. They get under everyone’s skin, and she shows her non-magical powers of manipulation are just as formidable, even when she’s able to break Hyde out of jail. How was she able to do that exactly? No one prepared for that? Guess he was never gonna stay in there for long. Regina’s evil half is still the best part of the season, and I’m not eager for her to disappear anytime soon. Plus, she’s rocking that hairdo.
On the more boring side, Emma is still lying and having issue with the tremors in her hands (which nobody seems willing to call her out on or even worry about), going to therapy and being reminded that a Savior’s work is never done, but she nevertheless finds time to be charmed when Hook becomes even more of a dreamboat after it turns out he’s good with kids.
As for Charming, he’s actually more interesting than his wife this time around as he hunts for the truth about his father’s death. But Snow is in one of her annoying nostalgic phases where she longs for a normal life and decides to return to teaching. She’s also strangely unsupportive of Charming’s own desires for answers about his family. Does she really think he can just leave that alone?
Plus, the mad doctors Jekyll and Frakenstein in the lab together? This had better not be the last time we see this. Overall, “The Other Shoe” is more enjoyable than “Once” has been in a while. Here’s hoping they keep up the good work.