Normally the episodes that focus on a peripheral character are rated as "boring" by half the fans, and "cute/intriguing/introspective" by the other half. From what I hear so far, this episode was no exception... but I've enjoyed it more than any other peripheral character episode since Belle's first appearance last year.
Let's be honest. Jorge Garcia is probably one of the most endearing actors around. He perfectly captures an attitude that - while very grounded, realistic (and sometimes pessimistic?), is nonetheless utterly adorable and endearing. Like his role on ABC's other hit drama, LOST, as Hurley, Garcia here plays a well-meaning, loyal character... who is just a bit misunderstood.
Or maybe more than just a bit.
We previously met him through the eyes of Emma and Hook, and learn that he has a good heart, but distrusts humans greatly and has been very jaded. In "Tiny" we learn why. And it's a good explanation. Although it was pretty funny to see David's face when Anton tried to kill him.
Because apparently it is David now, which explains a lot, although I find it interesting that in a world where no one but Regina was supposed to have a "Happily Ever After," David was actually restored to his true identity and given his birth name back. Is this just a slip in the writing, or is there some deeper meaning here?
Anyhow, Prince James makes a return, and apparently he was an arrogant, selfish womanizer. Who is having a fling with a woman named Jacqueline, aka Jack the Giant Killer. (Who seems to have just been to Wonderland, where she slew a Jabberwock and got some magic size-altering mushroom). Jackie was an interesting character, but her appearance was abruptly begun and ended. Will we get to see more of her? How did she take up with Prince James?
Another scene we didn't get to see nearly enough of was the interaction with Belle and Ruby. I loved the Little Red Riding Hood nod with the basket of goodies, and also the exchange of the book. As for the other patient sharing his knowledge with Belle... ominous! What is going to happen?
Rumplestitlskin's "Quest" was likewise given minimal screentime, although the scenes we did get were probably the most insightful and profound in the entire episode. I really, really enjoyed the dynamic between Rumple and Emma, seeing Rumple vulnerable and Emma comforting him. Loved that she called him "my father" for the security guard's benefit. It certainly seems to be foreshadowing the family dynamic that the preview for next week all but confirms...
Henry's Father Neal is Baelfire.
Most popular fan theory of all time, and there's still a chance that they could throw a major twist, but at this point I think it unlikely. It would make sense, it's been strongly foreshadowed, and it will have maximum emotional impact. We'll see what happens...
Two final notes. #1 - Yes, Regina has reunited with Cora... but I'm not sure she'd really become that evil again that quickly. Her conversation with Hook was a bit too much... could it have actually been Cora in disguise again?
#2 - while the bit scenes did actually work pretty well in this episode, we have to be honest and acknowledge that the cast is really getting too big to really keep the fans happy. I'm delighted that Anton joined the dwarves - it was one of the best scenes in the episode and gave me tons of sappy happy feelings... but how often will we get to see him? And we haven't seen present-time Mulan or any sign of Aurora since before Christmas.
Seriously. It's time for a spin-off show.