If episodes like “A Bitter Draught” sometimes make us want to stop watching Once Upon a Time, it’s episodes like “The Other Shoe” that remind us why we fell in love with the show in the first place. Personally, I felt that this episode was so well done it may go down as one of the most rewatched in the show’s history. Jane Espenson (who also wrote“Nimue“) and Jerome Schwartz (writer of “The Brothers Jones“) wrote this episode and it was just a joy to watch. There was just the perfect blend of storyline, screentime, guest actors, cinematography and character development. Every episode should be like this one, and other writers have a lot to learn from this writing duo.
Clock Strikes Midnight
“The Other Shoe” saw the return of Jessy Schram’s Ella/Ashley and we saw the first night she met Thomas and everything that happened next. Although we had seen Jessy Schram’s Ella/Ashley in other episodes this one feels like a direct descendant to season one’s beautiful “Price of Gold”. Price of Gold was written by David H. Goodman and was the first episode that featured another character while telling us more about Emma’s backstory. This episode is the true continuation of that one as the main focus of the story are Ashley and Emma (but we’ll get to the latter later).
In the flashbacks we see the ball where Ella and Thomas first met, featuring a great cameo by Jared Joseph’s Gus Gus. They have the most adorable of meetings, Jessy Schram and Tim Phillips have a wonderful chemistry and their interactions make you want to know more of their story. They share a dance and Thomas asked Ella not to go anywhere because there was something he had to do, the next we see him he is giving Clorinda, Ella’s stepsister, a rose. Ella’s stepmother taunts her saying that Thomas was only making fun of her and this causes Ella to leave the ball heartbroken.
Earlier in the flashback we had seen the stepsisters throw Ella’s mother’s dress in the flames and while the dress had been rescued it was full of cinders. Ella and Gus Gus had found a key that had fallen out of it while Ella rescued the dress. It’s a key to the land of Untold Stories and Ella remembers her mother’s words about how it would take her somewhere else. She’s about to go through the portal when Clorinda stops her and tells her what really happened at the ball.
Clorinda was apparently in love with Thomas’ footman and was going to run off with him and tells Ella that Thomas is looking frantically for her. As these things usually go, the stepmother finds out and breaks Ella’s glass slipper, Thomas finds her house (with the help of Snow), Gus Gus helps them find Ella and they get engaged. Bringing the story of Cinderella, as we know it, full circle. Sadly the stepmother catches up to her run-away daughter and hurts Jacob the footman while taking herself and her daughter to the land of untold stories.
Sometimes the show’s flashbacks are let’s face it, excessive but not in this case. This episode’s flashbacks serve the episode perfectly while still keeping us intrigued in the flashbacks themselves. Even though we know Ella and Thomas get married the tension is still there because we didn’t know how they had gotten from point A to point C. It was also great to see Ella and Snow’s first meeting. The flashback was a wonderful callback to season one while still being along the concept of season 6. This is the way you should make call-backs to earlier seasons, they have to feel organic and here they do.
Cinderella with a Shotgun
Back in Storybrooke we get to see Ashley and Sean again. Emma encounters Ashley in Grannys and she and Killian have an adorable conversation (more on that in a moment). After a while we see a frantic Sean with Alexandra in his arms looking for Emma. He tells her that Ashley has gone after her stepsister and that she has taken his hunting rifle.
This gives us one of the best scenes of the episode as Emma promises to find Ashley by using her shoe.Jennifer Morrison’s playfulness and the smile that appears in her face the moment Ashley’s tennis shoe appears in her hand suggests that she truly enjoyed filming that scene . It’s an incredible use of the shoe motif in Cinderella’s story and a lighthearted moment in a seemingly grim situation. She is later joined by Killian and Henry as they set out to follow the shoe that will lead them to Ashley. When they do find her Ashley tells them she isn’t trying to hurt Clorinda she’s trying to help her.
Ashley thinks that by letting out Clorinda’s secret it made her the evil sister and just wants to help. This is when we get a callback to one of Emma’s greatest scenes and one of the show’s most iconic lines:
“People are going to tell you who you are your whole life,
you’ve got to punch back and say, no this is who I am.”
Emma reiterates that it goes for us as well. If we don’t like who we are we’ve got to punch back and say no this is who I am. Schram and Morrison make the scene especially poignant as Ashley tells Emma that this time she has to fight her own battle instead of letting Emma fight it for her. This was her mistake and she has to be the one that fixes it. Once again Ashley and Emma’s lives are intertwined as Ashley asks Emma “Do you know how it feels when you know all your happiness is a lie?” and considering the secret Emma is fighting, she knows this better than anyone. Of course thinking of this brings back the tremors causing Ashley to escape as Killian just grabs Emma’s hand and holds her close.
True Love’s Support
Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison prove once again that they don’t need words to show how deeply they care about each other. With just a single action O’Donoghue shows us how much Killian understands Emma.
Her magic is still failing when they encounter the Evil Queen and Henry stands firm infront of her while protecting his mother. It’s so good to see Henry once again protecting and defending the mother who didn’t abuse him for half his life. It’s time we got back to Henry and Emma’s relationship, which used to be the core of the show. The evil queen taunts her, saying Cinderella’s story is going to play out and she won’t be able to stop it and then wooshes them away till they end up in a road.
What follows is both a hilarious and heartwarming scene. We’ve seen that Emma is worried about not being able to save people without magic and this is a continuation of that. She pointed out that Ashley was her first save, a pivotal moment for her back in season 1. Which of course leads to both Henry and Killian reminding her that she doesn’t need magic to find people. She didn’t have magic before and she still helped save people. You have to go back to the beginning. Because sometimes you have to go back to be able to move forwards.
The hilarious part comes from them trying to remember what Ashley’s stepsister’s name was. The interaction between these three is pure gold and we definitely need to see more of it. Whenever they are together it feels very realistic as we see them reaction to what the other is saying. Like Emma’s amusement when Killian fumbles the word describing her previous job, or her and Killian’s eye-roll when Henry corrects them on what Ella’s stepsister’s name really is. Thanks to the storybook and to Emma’s skills they figure out where Clorinda is hiding.
Which brings up back to Ashley who has found Clorinda but gets her own gun in her face for her troubles. She explains to Clorinda that all she wanted was to help her and Jacob and you can feel Schram’s emotion and guilt leaking out of every word. The Stepmother appears with a tied up Jacob and Clorinda goes to help him leaving the gun on the ground. And seriously don’t these people learn that you should never leave a charged weapon around a villain? Ashley gets in front of Clorinda and Jacob to protect them but instead of using her gun her stepmother impales her with her cane just as Emma and Co arrive.
Emma’s magic is failing her but thanks to the encouragement from both of her true loves she manages to heal Ashley and just like that crisis averted. Ashley’s stepmother is imprisoned and made to pick up trash with Grumpy as her supervisor. Clorinda and Jacob are reunited and this untold story has a happy ending.
A Future with you
Earlier I said we’d come back to Ashley and Captain Swan’s scene in Grannys. This scene happens near the beginning of the episode but it sets the stage for a lot of Emma’s emotional ride during the episode. I chose to write about it later because I didn’t want to distract from Ashley’s own journey as it relates more to Emma and Killian and their future. The Other Shoe was a big episode was for Emma and it was also a big episode for Captain Swan and their relationship. There were hints woven throughout the episode of Emma, Henry and Killian being a family starting from the first scene. They are all working together to deal with the new arrivals when Ashley comes up to them with Alexandra. Emma and Henry go help Hester Prynne (of the Scarlet Letter) at the counter while Ashley asks Killian to distract Alexandra while she looks over the names of people.
Killian gets a bit freaked out at first but quickly composes himself and entertains Alexandra. It’s one of the most precious scenes in the show. You can tell Colin O’Donoghue is a father by the way he portrays Killian’s emotions in that small scene. First the slight fear of I don’t know what to do followed with knowing he has to entertain her somehow and ends up putting whipped cream on his nose and making dog noises. Emma looks at the scene with a truly wistful expression. You know she’s imagining what her life would be like with their own child.
Ashley and Killian get to talking and we get confirmation that Killian and Belle are roomies. Ashley encourages him and tells him he has faith in their relationship and it’s one of the things that makes me wish she was a series regular. Because honestly? Emma needs some friends who aren’t her parents, her son or her boyfriend and Ashley would be perfect for that.
We see Emma going to see Archie and we see Archie be actually helpful. Emma talks about how she felt slightly jealous of Ashley, not because she’s not happy but because she is. She is terrified of loosing her happiness if her vision comes to pass. She wants to move forward in her relationship with Killian but hasn’t because she doesn’t want him to loose her if the vision happens.
It’s such a relief to see Emma worried about the external rather than the internal and it’s a wonderful show of character growth. Morrison shows us how frustrated she is with the situation and we feel for her the moment she says she doesn’t get one. Why is it she helped everyone else get her happy ending but she gets to loose out on hers?
We see Killian and Henry playfighting with swords and it’s a truly great scene. It’s great to see Henry and Killian’s relationship develop. Emma stares at them with a happy expression on her face as she sees her two favorite boys get along. It’s also nice to see how Henry has no problem with Killian’s place in her mother’s life. When Emma asks Killian if this was his idea he claims the idea was all Henry’s, a little bit of mother-son bonding. O’Donoghue has the most peculiar smile on his face that is half smirk, half proud smile that just makes the scene. Emma and Henry just look amused and it’s easy to tell that the three of them have a lot of fun together.
We see them act as a unit throughout the episode and even when Emma doubts herself we see them prop her up. This is part of what makes this episode so special, we see the main characters actually interacting and telling each other what is going on instead of just coming back whenever they are needed. It helps us see that they are all connected instead of just being characters; it makes the relationships more believable. It makes the story flow much better.
Move in with me?
To the surprise of probably no one the last scene between Emma and Killian is probably my favorite of the episode. While Emma is speaking to Archie she says “Hook is waiting for me to ask him” and it says so much about their relationship. They have so much respect and love for each other that it doesn’t matter if they are confirmed to be true love, they still respect each other’s boundaries. Killian Jones picked out the house where Emma lives he could have easily made it so he had a right to move in, instead he lets her set the pace. And there are no bitter comments here and there to make Emma feel guilty about it he just supports her decisions.
We finally get the moment we were all waiting for. Emma is playing with the hairs on his neck when she just asks him to move in with her. He looks a bit shocked so she repeats the question. She talks about taking advantage of the situation and living life without worrying about what’s going to come next. It’s so much progress I know I for one am very proud of Emma Swan. She makes a quip about making space of his leather jackets and he says he would love to move in with her. And then they kiss and it’s so beautiful and warm it takes your breath away.
Let’s talk about that kiss a little bit more, because it’s very reminiscent of the kiss they shared in the season 3 finale after their time adventure. Not only is it shot in the same angles but the emotions are pretty much the same. The post time travel kiss was the true beginning of their adventure together as a couple, and this kiss marks another milestone in their relationship. The season 3 kiss happens after she found out he traded his ship, his home for 300 years, for her and this one is after she invites him to share a home with her.
Part of their charm has always been that they are two broken souls who found a way to heal with each other. Neither of them had a true home before and now they’ve found a home in each other. They are each other’s home in the metaphorical sense and now they are going to share a home. A home where their future can truly start to grow.
Emma Swan: The way you find Cinderella, with her shoe
Killian Jones: I’m still sleeping on a cot in a pirate ship near a pregnant woman who likes to snore.
Lady Tremaine: You look like a trashbin, and have the education of my cat.
Killian Jones: My Emma’s too strong for that.
Emma Swan: I have a closet full of red jackets I’m sure I could make some space for some black leather
*Operation Cobra Part 2 sounds so much better when it’s coming from Emma. And she gets 3 hugs in one scene and that makes me happy because she deserves all the hugs.
*It was great to see Charming supporting Snow in her plan to become a teacher again, and it was so adorable to see her think of Jekyll and Whale as science teachers. Although if Whale is a teacher who will be the surgeon?
*Very curious to see where this Charming storyline goes.
*I really hope this isn’t the first step into Belle forgiving Rumple this is just another manipulation don’t fall for it.
*I loved Zelena pointing out that Regina is the only one to blame for the Evil Queen situation because it’s true.
*Speaking of the Evil Queen she and Hyde looked like they were headed for the evil prom.
*Although the episode was perfect I’m still peeved that they retconned OUATIW‘s Anastasia as one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
What did you think of “The Other Shoe”? Did it leave you feeling refreshed or do you have more question for next week’s episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images courtesy of ABC.