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S01.E14: Dreamy

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"Dreamy" - Unlikely allies Mary Margaret and Leroy team together for a good cause to help the Storybrooke nuns sell their candles during the town's Miner's Day festival. But Leroy makes a promise to a nun, Astrid, that he may not be able to keep; and Emma looks into the mysterious disappearance of David's wife, Kathryn. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Grumpy finds forbidden love with beautiful but clumsy fairy Nova.

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I know we talk a lot about wishing they had done more worldbuilding on this show, but when you look at what happens when A&E (and this is their episode) actually do worldbuilding, then maybe we were better off without it. They managed to create a slave race bred specifically for hard labor and kept mostly underground in mines, with little leisure time. Not to mention they were hatched from eggs fully grown (though at varying ages) and fully dressed. I say "slave" because clearly they had no free will or choice, since Dreamy wasn't allowed to decide that he didn't want to be a miner living underground, and he was told he couldn't fall in love even though he was experiencing love. The other dwarfs all supported and encouraged his leaving to pursue his dreams, so were they all unhappy, themselves, and his leaving gave them hope? It was just the boss who stepped in, with the aid of Blue, to essentially gaslight him -- you aren't in love, no matter what you feel, because you can't be in love. People like you can't have love, so therefore it's bad and wrong for you to try to get out of line and do something different. Not to mention all the denying of Nova's agency. She may have said previously that she wanted to be a fairy godmother, but now she's saying what she wants is to go sailing and exploring with Dreamy, and everyone around her says that this isn't what she wants. They're all making that decision for her while she's saying that she doesn't want that.

I can't even tell if the show is saying Grumpy did the right thing or wrong thing here. If it was the wrong choice, if he should have ignored what he was being told, chosen love, and let Nova make her own decisions about her own life, you'd think they'd have been given the opportunity to correct that in the present.

Spoiler

And yet we don't see Nova/Astrid again or have any indication that once the curse broke and she realized she wasn't really a nun, she decided to make her own decisions about her life. There's just a bit on a DVD bonus feature in which she's in tears and not wanting to get together with Leroy. Do we even see Leroy's boat again? It was his big dream for just one episode?

It comes across like they're at peace with where they are, that he's okay with just having been her hero, which suggests that him sticking to the role he was bred for and going back to the slave labor he didn't want while also forcing her to stick with the role she was born into and didn't want was the right thing to have done. And this is a show about hope!

This episode does get more fun if you imagine that Amy Acker's character from Person of Interest is the person in this episode, though there would have been more machine guns. I love her, but I hate when she's typecast into the manic nerdy dream girl type, all squeaky and clumsy, like here.

I do like the festival. It's nice to see the town actually acting like a real small town, though I'm somewhat surprised that Regina let them have things like festivals. And the montage of Mary Margaret and Leroy trying to sell candles door-to-door gives us more of a glimpse of a fairytale town than we seem to get in the entire rest of the series.

Oh, and interesting how it's not the mayor's job here to deal with a power outage. Regina's barely involved (odd, for an A&E episode). They have a power company to deal with that.

And then we have Emma running with the idiot ball. She may not have learned that Sidney was actually working for Regina, but she did know that his information before had turned out to be inaccurate. So why is she trusting him? Getting information through unofficial channels may have been okay when she just wanted to expose Regina, but she's working on an actual criminal case here, and any halfway decent lawyer (which, obviously, no one in this town will get, but Emma doesn't know that) could get anything she found based on those phone records thrown out since she didn't obtain them directly from the phone company via legal means. In an investigation that may result in a trial, you can't get evidence through "my contact at the phone company," and Emma should know this. Given that Regina probably has some sway over the phone company and could have altered the official records, there was no reason to have Emma be that dumb. They could have had the same result from Emma doing things the right way.

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I have very mixed feelings about this episode. Weird worldbuilding isn't inherently bad, but the problem here is that it's played totally straight. No one questions it, except for Grumpy after he hatches. He doesn't fight the system because it's slavery as Shanna Marie stated, but because he's in love. Why is it so important to Blue that Nova becomes a Fairy Godmother? It's never explained, and that's why it's a "Shady Blue" moment. 

It doesn't help that none of this worldbuilding ever comes up again. The dwarves must've obtained free will at some point.

 

I like the Miner's Day festival. That's about it.

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The festival really was the only thing I liked. Particularly the part near the end where everyone was walking with lit candles. It was just lovely.

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The modern day stuff plays out almost like a Hallmark movie. I really hate the "liar revealed" trope, but luckily it's brief and contained in one episode about two characters whose story we'll never revisit anyway. 

I don't like this episode and my opinion remains unchanged. 

Edited by KingOfHearts

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I loved the festival too. Even though it doesn't make sense Regina would allow a festival. I wish we had a few more festivals or different events. It was fun to see them celebrate it. It would have been fun to see them post-curse decided to have a festival or holiday from the Enchanted Forest. Snow explaining it to Emma. They had holidays too didn't they? Maybe seeing festivals from the different kingdoms. 

I hate the flashback. The whole how dwarves are born and only for the life of mining? That's messed up. Nova's not allowed to change her mind and not be a fairy anymore? Or fairy godmother. Why not?  It doesn't make any sense. 

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This is one early example of wonky OuaT morality. We're obviously supposed to be rooting for Dreamy and Nova, but the writers don't seem to realize how absolutely horrifying the dwarf backstory is. Or that it makes Blue a totally sketchy figure. 

I don't actually think it is a terrible episode in itself. Had they revisited it, Leroy/Astrid could have been a cute pair to check in on on occasion and give the town a little bit of fleshing out beyond our mains. And, as others have said, I did really like the idea that the town had its own quirky holiday, whether or not it makes sense that it would exist given how and why SB was created.

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Even weirder than Regina letting the town have festivals is the fact that she isn't flouncing around the festival as Madam Mayor, making herself the center of attention. At the very least, declaring the festival open with a ribbon cutting. I guess she's too busy slut shaming Mary Margaret and doing other nefarious scheming.

On 7/14/2018 at 1:21 PM, KingOfHearts said:

Weird worldbuilding isn't inherently bad, but the problem here is that it's played totally straight. No one questions it, except for Grumpy after he hatches.

The problem here is that not only do they play it straight and not even seem to realize how weird and strange it is (from within the story or from the writers' POV), but they don't use what they created to really build a world. Okay, so you've got a slave race hatched out of eggs that isn't allowed free will to choose what they want to do with their lives, and you've got another magical race that uses the results of their labor and enforces the restrictions on their lives. So, what kind of society do you have where that's a thing and apparently people are okay with it? How can we really see the fairies as at all good if they're keeping a slave race to mine the diamonds for the fairy dust that's the source of their power? Is this in Leopold/Snow/Regina's kingdom? Did Leo allow this kind of slavery to go on? Or are the dwarfs considered subhuman, so they don't have human rights? Or is this George's kingdom? (Snow met Grumpy in George's castle.) There's all kinds of stuff to unpack here, and you might even be able to get an interesting story world out of it, but it seems rather out of place for this story. It's a really dark take on the Seven Dwarfs story, not material for a fluffy Romeo and Juliet telling.

It's weirdly both heartening and disturbing that when the other dwarfs catch Dreamy sneaking out, they don't feel at all abandoned by their "brother" leaving them, but rather offer help and wish him well. Like, yay, they aren't guilt tripping him about abandoning them, but at the same time, does this mean they understand his unhappiness? Are they also unfulfilled and wishing they could bring themselves to escape?

It also makes me wonder if the fairies created the dwarfs or if they're just exploiting a race. Is there a reason it has to be dwarfs mining the diamonds? Could they not just hire people?

You can't just throw this stuff out there. Once it's in your story, it means something, and you have to think about what it says about your world.

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43 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

It also makes me wonder if the fairies created the dwarfs or if they're just exploiting a race. Is there a reason it has to be dwarfs mining the diamonds? Could they not just hire people?

J.R.R. Tolkien is rolling in his grave. He resented Walt Disney for his portrayal of dwarves, but this is even worse.

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Well, we asked for world-building, and we got...well, in the words of Hermes Conrad, "That just raises further questions!" So, in the EF, Dwarfs are a whole, one gendered slave race that are hatched from an egg (and the eggs come from where exactly?) in clothes and already fully grown, and they are instantly given a lifetime job and a name that defines their one personality trait that they're allowed to have, and they also cant feel love (I assume they mean romantic love, because they seem to love each other as brothers and thats apparently allowed) for some creepy reason (even though they clearly can, and this is just some bizarre systematic racism thing), and they're all mostly cool with this because of reasons. And I know that we learn mostly about the dwarfs this episode, but I have questions about the fairies too. Is fairy godmother the only career track available for them, or if they arent up to snuff, are they stuck as unpaid interns collecting dust in uncomfortable outfits for all of eternity? Do they just hover all day in the clouds, granting wishes from time to time, or work in the mines? Is being a supernatural creature in this universe just a fucked up form of cosmic indentured servitude for life? And, is this just a naturally occurring part of their life cycle, or did the fairies actually create the dwarfs to be their miners/slaves, and magically engineered them to be happy in their slavery like a magical Brave New World, or did they just happen to find these guys, and decide to have them mine fairy dust for them, and its a symbiotic relationship of a sort, or did both the fairies AND the dwarfs pop up out of nowhere, two one gender races of magical slaves that exist to keep the EF running for the humans? Holy shit, this is a fucked up episode, more so than I remember it being! I remember mostly finding this episode boring the first time around, but now its just confusing and creepy, and raises about a billion questions about this world.

I mean, I guess its nice that they tried to build up some kind of mythology, and, if nothing else, its certainly unique, and its not a bad thing to come up with an interesting, original origin for a magical species. But, its like the show created this whole concept, seemed to only use it as a way to create a rather meh Romeo and Juliette story, and didnt think it through any further. They certainly seem to think its tragic that Dreamy/Grumpy and Nova cant be together because "dwarfs cant love, and fairies have other shit to do"and because dwarfs are apparently slaves who exist to toil in mines, but it also feels like its just something they think thats inevitable. I mean, cant they just, like, hire miners to do that? Or at least pay the dwarfs for their lifetime of hard labor? His dwarf brothers seemed happy for him, so are they all secretly miserable too, can they form a union? 

Spoiler

And nothing ever comes of any of this! We never get resolution to Grumpy and Nova (yeah apparently there was something in the bonus features, but it sure as hell wasn't closure or a happy ending), we never know why it was so important for Dreamy and Nova to not run off together, Blue is looking super shady, the system that apparently exists is a horrible mess of mistreatment, no one ever questions any of it, the dwarfs apparently never question their free will, or lack thereof, ever again, and we never get to find out how they feel about any of this, how this started, or if it continued when they got back! They drop all of this huge stuff on us, and stuff that works perfectly in their Happy Endings obsession, and its like it never happened after this episode! I would have liked for Nova and Grumpy to maybe get some subplots later about her figuring out if she still wanted to be a nun, or if she wanted to embark on this previously forbidden love. But, I guess we couldn't spend time finding out what happened with Nova and Grumpy, we had to see how Regina picked out her favorite hat or some shit. You know, as much as I bitch about the lack of world building on this show, if this is what they give us, maybe its for the best. 

The Storeybrooke stuff was hit and miss. I liked the miners festival, it seemed very authentically small town, and seeing MM and Leroy bond was nice, and reminded me of how much I liked Leroy and the dwarfs, especially in Storeybrooke. He and MM going around the town was great (when I first saw this, I thought the guy with the carrot eyeing MM would turn out to be Bugs Bunny), and the candles were really beautiful. I also liked seeing some glimpses of old/supporting characters here (Hi Stealthy! Hi Belle! Hi Granny!), and I did think that Leroy and Sister Astrid were pretty cute, and I always love Amy Acker, even if she is stuck here playing another "cute klutzy nerd dream girl" type. I've always kind of suspected that she got tired of those, and started deliberately looking for things WAY outside that range later on. I also liked the beat where MM was explaining Miners Day to Emma, and Emma was kind of confused by the festivals backstory. "Coal Miners in Maine?" I think thats what I want to see more of at this point, Emma noticing little inconsistencies and weird details about the town and its history, that no one from there ever questioned before Emma the outsider arrived. So, the SB stuff is kind of boring, while the EF stuff is super confusing and disturbing. And, because its Once, its hard to tell if its supposed to be disturbing, or if its not supposed to be. 

Spoiler

This actually seems like the kind of thing that would have been interesting for them to explore when everyone gets their memories back. Maybe in the EF, everyone knows about how dwarfs are made and what their life is like, and it doesent occur to them that its an issue. Dwarfs being bred to mine fairy dust is just the natural order of things, the dwarfs are fine with it, and no one thinks to question it, because thats just the Way Things Are. However, after being in Storeybrooke, and having the memories of 21st century people who have lived in Maine their whole lives, when they get their EF memories back, it hits them how messed up that whole thing was. They have more ideas now about freedom of choice and democracy and such, and the idea of a whole race of people all having no choice in their livelyhood, and never getting paid, might sit badly with them. It would have been an interesting way to use the We Are Both stuff, and meld the real world with the EF world. Or, you know, not. 

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This is one of my favorite episodes of Season 1, anyway (IMO, the show hit its peak in Season 3). I thought the dynamic of Nova and Dreamy was great & I liked them together. Unfortunately, Blue had to be the dictator as always, and enforce them apart. And Dreamy caving goes against the "hope" mantra that the show consistently preaches. This thought absolutely turns my stomach, but I'm thinking that said mantra only applies to the main characters, and everyone else (including the dwarfs) is outta luck. Too bad too, because this is one relationship I would've liked a couple more episodes of, if nothing else.

As for why Regina wasn't seen near the festival or why she didn't have objections to it, she probably didn't care lol. My guess is, she was too busy planning on what to do next to a woman who had been nothing but nice to her since she was a little girl, or thinking of who she would separate from their father next, or who she would lock up.

Also.....

 

I haven't started a tally on how many people's lives Blue affected negatively over the course of the show, but she's been responsible for several bad things happening. I kept expecting her to turn out to reveal her shadiness officially.

Edited by Virtual
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The episode wasn't as bad as I remembered, but that's not saying much. I couldn't help comparing the scene of Dreamy hatching out of an egg with Saruman's hybrid orcs bursting out of eggs in the LotR movies. 

I liked the Miner's Day festival.

Spoiler

I wish they had kept up the tradition in later seasons. But that would've meant pretending people other than the main characters existed in Storybrooke. 

It's super annoying that we never got any resolution with Grumpy and Nova after the Curse broke. Anyone remember the DVD extra? Why didn't Nova not want to get back with Grumpy? 

It really was super-annoying to see Emma continuing to work with Sidney. She could easily get those phone records in legitimate ways as the Sheriff. 

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17 hours ago, Rumsy4 said:

It's super annoying that we never got any resolution with Grumpy and Nova after the Curse broke

I feel like none of the elements of that episode, the origin of dwarfs, Nova, the festival etc. was ever mentioned again.   Also, having a big annual festival seems at odds with the curse where everyone had a ground hogs day existence, doing the same thing every day, until Emma came to town.

Spoiler

I suppose the reason for Nova's disappearance might have been Amy Acker not being available, but I think part of it is they did not spend much time on the secondary characters after the first season.  Even Red who was temporarily bumped to a regular was largely ignored except for an episode or two.  Once they got distracted by their stunt guest casting for whatever arc they were on, the original background characters got ignored (as well as some of the regular cast).   It was interesting to see how many extras they used for some of the town scenes.  I don't think they did that much afterwards and a street scene would just consist of the main cast.

 

The shunning of MM seemed a bit heavy handed.  There would have been some angry glares and some whispers, but

Spoiler

I am not sure they even shunned Regina that aggressively when the curse broke.

Not that Gold was a nice guy, and it was not inconceivable of him evicting a bunch of nuns, but it seemed rather random.  It seemed like something

Spoiler

 

the ineffective Victoria should have done the first part of season 7 when she was trying to separate everyone, but never bothered trying to even start the eviction process.


 

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On 7/28/2018 at 12:39 PM, Rumsy4 said:

It really was super-annoying to see Emma continuing to work with Sidney. She could easily get those phone records in legitimate ways as the Sheriff. 

These types of storylines always bother me.  Who would actually enjoy watching a character they like being duped?  When it happens effectively (extremely rarely) in certain shows, it's because the audience eagerly awaits the bigger bomb when all is revealed and there is huge payoff when the big secret is exposed.  However, it doesn't work in this case at all, especially because Emma would/should never have trusted him in the first place.

Spoiler

Nova's fate was never revealed, but we NEEDED to find out who Lily's father was in the show's series finale because it was sooooooo crucial and what every fan was waiting for.

Edited by Camera One
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I needed a break from work, and decided it was high time to force myself to watch another episode on this rewatch.  

I enjoyed this episode the first time around, and I wondered if I would still like it with all the negative talk, but I did.  I was intrigued in the "world" of Storybrooke, and in this episode, I felt like I was spending some actual time in it.  I tend not to care too much when a show slows down and episodes don't progress the overarching plot, as long as there are enough character moments, and there were.  I really liked seeing Mary Margaret and Leroy's developing friendship.  I liked seeing the town as a community with Miners' Day.  Ginny Goodwin was good with the humor, as was Amy Acker.  I agree Emma relying on Sydney's source was a bit frustrating, but I did enjoy Emma playing the conflict of her intuition (since she felt David was telling the truth) versus what the phone records were saying.  She had a scene with Mary Margaret, so there was still a nice moment, and she got to interact with her father.  

I was not bothered by the mining dwarves.  It was certainly dumb, but I don't find it out of the ordinary for a fantasy world where different groups had defined roles.  In this world, the dwarves were born to be miners, content and happy, and Grumpy was an anomaly because of the fairy dust.  Just because they were open to Dreamy leaving doesn't mean they themselves were oppressed.  I didn't feel the need to bring in the "real world" concept of slave labor into this fantastical circumstance.  My mind didn't even go there.  The Dwarf overseer and Blue both seem to think in very black-and-white fairy tale-ish ways.  There was no direct link that the fairies were hatching the eggs and forcing the dwarves to work.  It seemed like they both played their part in their "world", and they refused to believe that any of their "kind" would want anything different, since it was the fairy dust which made Dreamy different.  I was interested in exploring more of this world, as well as how fairies were promoted to fairy godmother, etc., but of course, the Writers were never interested in the mythology beyond "Wouldn't it be cool/unexpected if the Dwarves hatched out of eggs?" 

It did strike me that once again, the Writers simply took a character (Grumpy) and wrote an origin story where he started off the complete opposite (Dreamy).  They only have to do this twenty more times before it gets old, eh?

I don't understand why Blue would say fairy dust "powers the world", when it clearly doesn't.  That "year's supply" seems like a trifle, considering the mine seemed to be producing way more than that.  

It was a nice moment when Granny lit Mary Margaret's candle, but I feel that we needed more of a reason why she forgave her.  I thought the moment with David being put into the police car was nicely staged.   

Spoiler

This episode was a light break before the doom and gloom of some upcoming episodes.

Edited by Camera One

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