Last week’s episode of Once Upon A Time’s seventh season was fantastic, reminding me of the classic writing and acting of past seasons. The fifth episode, “Greenbacks”, continues this winning streak, now focusing on perhaps the most exciting addition to the cast, Princess Tiana/Sabine, who, so far has remained a promoted extra in the show until now. This episode serves as an adaptation of The Princess and the Frog, but also harkens back to the original fairy tale. It also throws some delightful new monkey wrenches into the plot.
Let’s start in fairy tale land, now called the Kingdom for this episode. Will Ezekiel and Shiva be making an appearance? The Princess and the Frog was set in 1920s New Orleans, so a direct translation of the jazzy town doesn’t quite make the leap to your generic fairy tale environment. But, we get the dresses and parasols, a swamp, and fireflies, so, it’s better than nothing. Tiana and her mother Eudora are reimagined as royalty or at least self-made aristocrats, Tiana’s late father going from a cook to a king, and died in war. However, with his death, Tiana’s family is now broke, forcing them to sell off their goods. I have no idea how that works if they are royalty, but fine then.
Tiana is a bit different than her film incarnation, remaining strong-willed and able to solve her own problems. But, she is now looking for a prince to solve her family problems, and is a little more attached to her possessions. No signs of owning a restaurant sadly. Tiana sets off to find herself a prince, entering into a slum where many peasants live in squalor thanks to the greedy king who rules over the whole land. Kingdoms within kingdoms, I guess. They ask her for help, but Tiana can do nothing. She is “rescued” from the desperate mob by the Shadow Man himself – Dr. Facilier! Please excuse me for a second while I squeal internally!
How I have waited for this day. Dr. Facilier is only on screen for a little while, but it is a thrill to have such a great villain appear. He tells Tiana that he can help her find a prince, telling her to follow a red crow to an inn called The Red Crow. Inside, Tiana is harassed by a drunk man with a very thick Texan accent that sounds right out of place, but saved by a handsome prince named Robert. However, it turns out he is a charlatan, working for Dr. Facilier to obtain a magic gem owned by Tiana’s dad, and free his true love, who was transformed into a frog.
Tiana confronts Dr. Facilier, who claims the gem can free him from being stuck between two worlds, handing over the frog, and vanishes in a puff of smoke, implying he will be back. The film had Dr. Facilier as a suave conman indebted to otherworldly spirits, while here, he appears to be a being of greater sorcery. Tiana returns the frog to Robert, who turns out to be a frog himself when he kisses his lover. Encouraged to do better, Tiana decides to take destiny into her own hands.
In Hyperion Heights, Tiana’s cursed self Sabine decides to tackle the raising of her rent by selling beignets in the takeaway shop Jacinda works in. Victoria, having received one of Sabine’s beignets earlier in the episode, tries it and seems to like it. But, being the cow that she is, Victoria orders her unseen minion Ralph to “wreck it”. Sadly, Wreck-It Ralph himself doesn’t make appearance, but decides to set the restaurant on fire to dismantle Sabine and Jacinda’s operation. Jacinda immediately blames Sabine and cuts off all ties with her, because she is an idiot, breaking Lucy’s heart for the thousandth time in a row.
Okay, look, Cinderella/Jacinda is the weakest character in this soft reboot. Her fairy tale self is a rehash of Snow White, her romance with Henry is virtually transparent and dull, and I really don’t like questioning the talent of actors, but Dania Ramirez doesn’t really feel like she is invested in the character. I thought the same way back when she was in Heroes, and I really have little care for the character. Jacinda seems to spend every episode stuck in a vicious cycle of cynicism, cutting ties with everyone around her, then has a moment of catharsis offscreen and makes amends by the episode’s end. This happens here. Jacinda has a change of heart and buys a food truck for Sabine with a little help from Rogers.
Speaking of which, Rogers reopens the missing girl case he has mentioned in past episodes, and encounters an arrested thug sporting a tattoo resembling a drawing in the missing girl’s journal. Nothing really comes from the subplot, but Tattoo Guy warns Rogers that the tattoo is actually a “powerful rune”, which means nothing to a cop who thinks he lives in a world without magic. Later, the thug calls someone, warning them that Rogers is looking for the girl, whose name is Eloise Gardner.
Perhaps the most exciting moment in the episode, aside from the appearance of Dr. Facilier, was what Roni got up to. Getting fed up with her mother’s assholery, Ivy tries to team up with Henry to investigate Victoria’s secret lair at the top of her skyscraper. Roni, distrusting Ivy, deletes the messages she sends to Henry and confronts her. The two women explore the room where Mother Gothel is held up in, but the witch is missing. Instead, Roni finds a rather unexpected surprise – a photograph of her and a young Henry in Storybrooke! This leaves both her and Henry baffled.
But, then, comes the big twist of the week. Ivy returns to Mother Gothel’s room, revealing she knew that the witch was there and even asked her to hide so Roni could find the photo. She then identifies herself as Drizella, revealing she is awake from the curse, and is plotting to get payback on her mother with Mother Gothel. This keeps getting better and better, and we are only five episode in! This episode was another good installment for the series, but I do wonder if they are relying a little too much on plot twists and familiar ground to tell their story. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Regina regains her memories in the next episode.
What are your thoughts on Once Upon a Time‘s latest adventure? Let us know in the comments section or send us a Tweet!