That Still Small Voice is my favorite episode of Once Upon a Time yet, and Archie Hopper, otherwise known as Jiminy Cricket, is shaping up to be my favorite character. He’s certainly the geekiest-seeming character so far, aside from maybe Henry, and his gentleness and desire to do what is right in the face of grave opposition makes him very appealing. He’s certainly the only character on the show thus far who could find himself on my list of fictional crushes. Of course, while I’ve loved Jiminy Cricket all my life, that’s not something I would have expected to say about him. But as is the case with all the characters on the show, this is not quite the Jiminy Cricket we’ve come to know.
This episode reminded me more of LOST than any other. The random Apollo bar sightings made me squeal, and the wonderful title quote warmed me, but mostly, this episode reminded me of The Moth, the episode early in season one that introduced us to conflicted druggie Charlie. Like Charlie, Archie struggles valiantly in his flashbacks to live a good, moral life, but a close family member undermines his determination. In the present day, he becomes trapped in a cave-in with arguably the show’s most important male character, and they hash out their differences. In both episodes, an insect becomes a metaphor for breaking free of the bonds keeping one tethered to an unwanted lifestyle.
Archie is a sweet man. I’ve liked him from the beginning, even if I haven’t been quite sure what to make of him. While this episode’s structure brings Charlie to mind right away, Raphael Sbarge’s whispery delivery and jittery mannerisms remind me of Daniel Faraday, who, much to my surprise, I came to love even more than Charlie because he lacked Charlie’s mean streak. Despite the detrimental effects his experiments had on his girlfriend and his subsequent cowardly abandonment of her, it seemed Daniel never did anything with malice. He was an innocent soul being yanked around by overbearing parents, particularly his mother, much as Archie is cowed and manipulated by his parents in the flashbacks and Regina in the present.
Sbarge really is wonderful in this episode, with the anguish of this man’s regrets and inner conflicts playing out in his anxious face. I found the twists on the old story to be interesting. I’m not hugely familiar with the original tale, but certainly, in the Disney version, which the episode title quotes, Jiminy Cricket has no special relationship with Geppetto. Indeed, the old man appears to be utterly oblivious to his existence. It’s strange, then, to think of the two sharing this profound friendship dating back so many years, with Geppetto aging normally and his friend remaining the same age, in the same form, until his work is complete. I didn’t expect that, or that his umbrella would have been a gift from an empathetic Geppetto, but I love it.
Rumplestiltskin is a truly menacing character, and the dolls into which Geppetto’s kindly parents are transformed are truly freakish. Rumplestiltskin is very much like Flagg in Stephen King’s world, making impossible bargains that seem so ideal at the time and wreaking havoc wherever he goes. What sends Jiminy over the edge is the way his parents exploit the sympathies of the open-hearted couple he does not yet realize are Geppetto’s parents. What happens instead of his intended curse on his parents leaves him in an agony of guilt for the rest of his life. I hope that when all this is over, those dolls can be transformed back into people. Kinda explains Geppetto’s obsession with wanting to turn his woodcarvings into living, breathing entities.
I really loved this episode, and I am very interested in how this character will develop in the future as he strives to obey his conscience instead of those who would bully him.