Monday, February 20, 2012
Despite Complications, Happier Possibilities Loom for Two Couples in What Happened to Frederick?
What Happened to Frederick? was an interesting episode, partly because the title referenced a character we had not yet met, partly because of the glaring absence of Rumplestiltskin (or Mr. Gold). What’s more, the queen was not directly involved in anything that happened in the fairy tale realm. However, she was intimately involved in the events that unfolded in Storybrooke.
I’ve been unsure what to think of Kathryn thus far in the series. She seemed like a nice enough person, but I wondered if she was either in cahoots with Regina or being played by her. It seems it was the latter and that Kathryn really is a perfectly decent person, and for that matter, so is Abigail, her fairy tale counterpart who hadn’t seemed very appealing up till that point. She came across as very haughty and none too pleased with having to marry James, but with our focus on Snow and James, we’re not thinking too much about the fact that this marriage is as unwanted by Abigail as it is by James. We ought to be sympathizing with groom and bride both.
In the fairy tale realm, there were two antagonists to contend with. One was the king who was so insistent upon this match in the first place. Alan Dale is so good at playing aristocratic dads wreaking havoc with their children’s lives. In this case, of course, James is not really his child but merely a last-minute replacement for the adoptive son that he lost. Thus, his only real concern for him is what he can do for him. There really is no affection attached.
The other antagonist was the siren in the water, and that was a creepy but powerful sequence rather reminiscent of the scene in Deathly Hallows in which Ron retrieves and then destroys the locket horcrux. Going into that water is an action sparking grave consequences, and it means putting his love and resolve to the test. I was rather hoping that the defeat of the siren could involve something other than flat-out violence in the end, but at least getting to the point of battle was more about head and heart than physical prowess.
It was nice to see James and Abigail united in mutual respect and sympathy for each other’s circumstances. Abigail wanted to free James from his obligation so that she would not have to marry him but also so that he could have a love that she was denied. James ended up turning the tables and undertaking a quest to restore her lost love. It was actually quite moving.
The dynamics between the two were not nearly so cordial in Storybrooke, where David’s cowardly half-confession led to heartbreak for all concerned. Kathryn really was a pitiable person here, just a decent woman who had married a man she cared about but for whom she felt no deep, visceral passion. I felt for her as she learned in the worst way that she had been lied to, and while I felt sorry for Mary Margaret too, especially during that school confrontation, I can’t really fault Kathryn for doing it. She had plenty of reason to be upset. Now that we know she has a different love interest, we can root for both her and Snow to have happiness, and there doesn’t need to be any conflict. So much neater. Though no doubt, Regina’s shenanigans will end up complicating matters.
It was nice to see that book again, and the way that Henry’s face lit up at the sight of it was so endearing. What is up with the stranger, though? What does he want? He seems shifty but not necessarily bad news. He certainly knows more than he is letting on, though. It will be interesting to see what his further involvement will be now that he has what he wanted.
All told, a good episode, and despite the rather alarming ending, it mostly seemed a hopeful episode as it offered a way out that not only allows happiness for James and Snow but also for Abigail and Frederick.