Once Upon A Time 6×03 “The Other Shoe” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

We are in this world to right our wrongs, love with all our hearts, and give with all our might.

Episode Summary: When Ashley realizes she has a second chance to save her stepsister Clorinda (Mekenna Melvin), she chooses to do it all on her own, but is later in need of healing touch. Emma battles with the desire to give Killian his happy ending, but fears and the savior shakes continue to overpower her. Snow decides she wants to go back into teaching. Charming searches for the truth about his father’s accident. The Evil Queen teams up with Mr. Hyde while Regina and Dr. Jekyll try to figure out how to control their other halves.

Review | Analysis: Once Upon A Time’s “The Other Shoe” was one of the strongest, thematically moving episodes the series has had in a while. An episode I’d give a solid 9.5 rating, too. It’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to perfection in Once Upon A Time history — every minute of it was rich in storytelling and performances. This show is special. It has been special from the very beginning in the unique way it’s delivered our favorite fairytales with a twist and while a series like this can get redundant quicker than most, Once Upon A Time has managed to keep its magnetism for six years. We are never too old or too young to be reminded of the power of belief — a profound emotion that’s capable of achieving the impossible. “The Other Shoe” served as a beautiful reminder of the fact that it’s never too late for anything.

“The Other Shoe” is unsurprisingly the work of the remarkable wordsmith Jane Espenson — a woman who’s no stranger to writing some of the most incredible episodes of Once Upon A Time. And in “The Other Shoe” Espenson and Jerome Schwartz managed to seamlessly take us back to the magic that made us fall in love with season one while exploring the issues we’re facing today.

Fact: It’s easy for humans to get off track. It’s easy for us to think of the “what ifs”. It’s easy for us to fall. And when that becomes the case, we must always remember that no matter what we run out of, we’ll never run out of choices. Emma Swan has had a number of inspiring lines that Jennifer Morrison has delivered prestigiously, but none will ever be as iconic as her advice in “The Price of Gold” (1×04).

“People are gonna tell you who you are your whole life. You just gotta punch back and say, “No, this is who I am”. You want people to look at you differently? Make them! You want to change things, you’re gonna have to go out there and change them yourself, because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.”

And never did I imagine we’d see that come back. Maybe that’s what makes this episode so remarkable. There’s something extraordinary about revisiting exceptional moments from the past. It’s part of what made “Snow Drifts” and “There’s No Place Like Home” so special — we got to revisit “Snow Falls” in a whole new element. That said, both Emma and Ashley have come a long way from the two women talking in the laundry room. Emma may have been the one giving the advice, but it took her quite some time to come to terms with the “savior” label that was placed on her. While Ashley needed to push back against other people, Emma needed to push back against herself. And it was beautiful to see that both women are now at a place where they’re aware of the importance of their choices.

Six seasons later and Once Upon A Time still manages to surprise me. We’ve had a good number of twists on Cinderella, and the story that was told in “The Other Shoe” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful ones. In flashbacks, we learn that Clorinda’s unkindness was merely a façade for the sake of her mother. And as she’s trying to escape, Ella gives has her flee with the magical key left behind, but later reveals the place for her own needs. Now while we can argue that Ella’s choice was selfish, it was understandable. We do crazy things for love. We make mistakes. Our actions can and will sometimes hurt other people. But we are not in this world to be perfect, we are in this world to learn. We are in this world to love, and we are in this world to grow. We are in this world to make sure our choices today are better, and wiser than they were yesterday.

As soon as Ashley learned her sister had made her way into Storybrooke, she immediately set out to find her. And sure she could’ve left a clearer note behind, but then we need some drama. That said, when she finally reveals what she’s up to, it was beautiful to see her remind Emma of the fact that it’s now on her to punch back. Emma was able to help her in the past but this is a mistake she needs to fix on her own. And although she needed Emma’s help, after all, it was lovely to watch her choose her sister this time. While she chose love for herself in the past, today she stood in front of her sister to protect her. She chose to protect a woman who tormented her out of the sheer belief that she needs to make things right. But there are two great lessons to be learned from Ashley this week. While it’s important to make amends and help those in need, it’s also okay to need help. And when Emma told her to punch back, it didn’t mean you’re all on your own because the reality is, human beings are not designed to be alone. Yes, we are more than capable of doing things on our own, but there are also moments in our lives when we need help.

Ashley needed Emma’s help because she had no idea what was awaiting her. And in the same way, Emma needs her family’s help to get through the shakes and visions she’s having. Punching back is essentially a choice. If we want to be looked at differently, we’ve got to first look at ourselves differently, and then we’ve got to work towards the change. But the choice alone is a decision. Ashley’s choice to right her wrongs is enough to showcase growth and character, but sometimes human beings are stubborn and thankfully Emma was there to rescue her in the end. And thankfully, her stepmother is suffering in prison as she’s meant to. Side note: when did Grumpy become the evil stepmother’s guard? Is this part of taking up on more work? (Lol!)

Now while “The Other Shoe” finally showed us what Cinderella’s been up to for the last six years, it also gave Snow a lovely moment of reflection while effortlessly playing with the “we are both” element beautifully. Snow tells Charming that she misses teaching, and truth be told, that was lovely to hear. I miss Snow teaching too. And now while Charming states that it was Mary-Margaret who was the teacher, Snow clarifies that she can do it, too and I agree. Snow White has always been a teacher — even in the cartoons, she’s there to teach the dwarves a great deal about housekeeping they know nothing about. And while Bandit Snow is amazing, it’s unfortunately not a career.

There will essentially come a day in Storybrooke when there aren’t as many bad guys to chase down and they’ll need to find things to keep them busy. For Snow, teaching is perfect. She is a teacher. She always has been — whether she’s giving the advice to evoke hope or reminding people of the importance of optimism, instinctually Snow’s in a constant state of teaching. And as always, Charming’s there to adorably encourage his wife. Mary Margaret’s best asset was her ability to teach with grace and kindness. And I’m thankful Snow’s keeping that in her. It’s easy to forget that if it weren’t for her enthusiasm and dedication to her kids, she would’ve never seen Henry’s sadness. She would’ve never felt the need to give him the storybook.

But the Charming family will never be a simple family — at least not until the series comes to end, and we see “and they lived happily ever after” on our screens. As with all love stories, theirs too contain a flaw. In “The Other Shoe” David learns that his father didn’t die in a drunken accident, he was murdered. And while Snow tearfully tries to remind him of the fact that he should focus on his family instead of embarking on a vengeful journey, David does the opposite. It’s a little shocking, but nonetheless incredibly human. And this is a storyline that fits into this season acutely.

Season one was about telling the forgotten stories and breaking curses, but season six is about uncovering the untold stories, and so far, it’s riveting in the way it plays with real human emotions. It’s easy to understand where Snow’s coming from, but it’s also easy to understand where David is coming from. This is an untold story he can’t let go of. He’s gone through the majority of his life believing his father betrayed him only to learn that he was murdered. It’s only natural to want to learn who did it. And while this is a long shot, what if the person who murdered his father has something to do with who’s behind the hood? Essentially, while it pains me to see David lie to his wife, I’m interested in seeing where this takes his character. As we keep learning, when our agendas aren’t shared with those closest to us, the ramifications are dire, but they often lead to real growth and that’s what I’m looking forward to most.

Furthermore, “The Other Shoe” was an outstanding episode for its display of powerful scene partners. It’s always lovely when we’re given emotionally profound scenes between Snow and Charming because Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are magic together. Goodwin and Dallas mirror one another masterfully and scenes that involve casual intimacy are scenes I can never get enough of. Goodwin’s great at projecting warmth and adoration. Snow would give anything for her kids and husband and she reveals that through her gentle touches and the sincere glimmer in her eyes. She reveals that through the tears she cries at the realization that her husband’s in pain. And I loved the pure adoration Dallas weaved with heartache. Family is number one to David, but at the moment he’s at a crossroads he believes he can handle without getting off course, and Dallas showcased that struggle so well.

In essence, humans are flawed — often times we know what is right for us, and we know which path to take, but sometimes, it takes a drastic event to remind us of the fact that life is short. The uncertainty of what tragedy can come should not encourage us to stand still in fear. We’ve read and watched hundreds of these cases play out on our television screens. We’ve seen it in our day-to-day lives. We’ve read the stories.

At first, there are moments that showcase changes, but that’s the easy part, what we don’t realize is that it is easy to fall back into our old routines. One thing leads to another and we’re right back to square one living inside our heads worrying about lies ahead as opposed to the present. Emma Swan has lived through a plethora of these moments believing fervently in her mind it was best for the time being. And perhaps it was, but today Emma’s no longer the lost girl living for herself — she has the potential of an extraordinary future ahead of her. After her visits with Archie and perhaps even watching Killian adorably entertain a child, Emma chooses to seize what may be their final chapter together. And if it will be then she’ll make sure there are no more bridges in between them. Although we know she isn’t going anywhere, Emma’s afraid this is her end, and since she’s seen Killian die once, as the selflessly driven person she is, she wants to make sure he’s given the best of what’s left of his happy ending.

But before Emma can make that decision she must first save the day even after the Evil Queen tears her down and tells her she’s pointless. Emma’s shakes resurface, but it doesn’t stop Killian and Henry from believing in her. Operation Cobra Part II is indeed more epic — bigger, better, and stronger than they’ve ever been. As mentioned above, humans are capable of taking on a great deal all on their own, but to be in a state where we’re in need of help isn’t a sign of weakness. To be in a place where you’re physically unable to do something, needing a helping hand only showcases that you are worthy of standing up. You are worthy of someone’s faith. At the end of the day, Henry’s been Emma’s greatest anchor. And to see more of the mother/son relationship is always pleasant. One of my favorite bible verses, Matthew 17:20 states that “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Faith is the strongest weapon. Belief in something, whatever it may be can and will do the impossible. Emma may be in a place where she’s mastered magic, but she is a human being, and she has fallen. She’s facing something unlike anything she’s faced in the past, and it’s Henry’s belief in her that fuels her.

The camera work and direction in this episode has left me in awe. It was beautiful to not only watch Henry run to be by his mother’s side, but it was beautiful to see him hold on tightly to her, slowly but not fully loosening his grip. Jared Gilmore is partnered with extremely gifted actors and over the years he’s shown that he can hold his own wonderfully. But never have I been more impressed with Gilmore’s performance than I was today. Gilmore let belief pour out of him masterfully and the proud smile he wore, in the end, did a gorgeous job of showcasing Henry’s love for his mother.

On another note, love is an extraordinary thing because although the battle Emma’s facing is perhaps the most frightening one she’s faced in the past when she’s with Killian, it’s easy to be in a state of pure bliss and it’s easy to be vulnerable. Emma’s always been the person who’s not known how to slow down and at the moment, life’s forcing her to. The shaking of her hands and the physical and mental exhaustion showcase the adversities of a human’s struggle wonderfully. But it’s incredible that Once Upon A Time also chooses to showcase the importance of leaning on people.

Killian has always been especially perceptive of Emma’s well-being, and though he isn’t pressuring her to talk about what’s truly happening, simply holding her as she’s distressed is enough. It’s no surprise that O’Donoghue manifests sincerity gorgeously, but the colossal amount of concern he illuminated as he held onto Emma’s shaking hand broke me. You know he cares to learn whenever she’s ready, but for the time being, all he can do is worry — all he can do is be there to remind her that it’ll be okay. And Morrison has been doing a remarkable job of revealing how worn down and frightened Emma is in these moments thereby, making the scenes that much harder to watch. Nonetheless, it’s moments like this that make me, and presumably most viewers, grateful to know Emma has him by her side. In desperate times, she can lean on him for comfort and reassurance. She can lean on him for defense, knowing with every fiber of her being that though she isn’t okay, for a moment, she’s safe. And let’s never forget that even the savior needs saving from time to time. (This is an idea I’m thrilled we’re going to be exploring more of in future episodes.)

Emma’s an extremely strong woman, but she isn’t okay at the moment and it’s nice to watch how comfortable she is to lean on her loved ones because once upon a time, Emma Swan dealt with things on her own. She may not be telling them exactly what’s going on because she wants to protect them, but that doesn’t stop her from allowing herself to be vulnerable with them. Emma is a human being who’s at a point where she feels like she’s constantly losing. And although it’s breaking my heart, it’s nice to see her open up about not knowing what to do while she’s literally sitting on the floor in a position of defeat. It’s times like these when we learn who’s truly on our side. And it’s moments like this that do the best job of inspiring viewers — reminding us that humans are susceptible to defeat and heartache, but that’s not where we should stay. When we don’t feel strong enough, those closest to us don’t scold us or step on us, they remind us of our strengths. When we succeed, they cheer for us. And it was beautiful to see 2/3s of her boys remind her of the fact that even without her magic, she’s still incredibly powerful. She may not be able to find Ashley with a tracking spell, but she can find her by thinking like a Bail Bonds Person. And to watch the two of them stand proudly in front of her as armors who’ll always root for her was once again camera work at its finest.

Life is a constant battle — when one thing becomes easier, another challenge awaits us. It’s taken Emma quite some time to open up her heart, but love doesn’t move on a steady track just because magic words are exchanged. And choosing to ask Killian to move in with her was an enormous stepping-stone for both of them. Once Upon A Time does character development in a way no other show can — every moment is meticulously constructed to show the intense growth that’s taken place.

Six years ago, Emma told Ashley that if she wanted things to change, she’d have to go out and do them herself. And it’s always easier to give advice than to take it ourselves, but today, Emma’s taking initiative towards the things that matter in life. What we tend to forget about relationships is that everyone prefers a different pace and that’s completely normal. But as human beings, when it comes to taking prodigious steps, sometimes we need to be shaken to be inspired to take the risks our hearts are aching for. Emma wanting to spend every moment she possibly can with Killian is incredible, and while I imagined they were already living together, it’s great to see such a massive decision made on-screen. Jennifer Morrison delivers Emma’s happiness in a way that’s unparalleled, and though the character has often suffered, it’s beautiful to finally see light reside in her eyes. Further authenticating that they’re the best and my favorite scene partners right now, O’Donoghue responds to Morrison’s bliss with profound gratitude and adoration in his eyes revealing the ceaseless adoration that’s in Killian.

There are vital moments in all love stories — the first meeting, the first adventure, the first kiss, the first heart-to-heart, the first “I love you”, and the first morning they spend together. Killian and Emma may have been in close proximity in the past, but for two people who’ve essentially been alone for more than ¾ of their lives, moving in together is a remarkable change. When living together, everything is bared — physically and emotionally. It’s at this point where love becomes most vulnerable, most beautiful; where the choice to share everything results in a lifetime of immaculate partnership. Coming home to each other will make their lives easier and more exquisite. At best, love is messy — mornings aren’t always fun and games, and sometimes they’re groggy and disoriented. However, when love is the engulfing force between two people, even the ugly parts are welcomed. Intertwined with intense passion and ardent adoration, the good and the bad culminate into something extraordinarily life-changing.

It’s also key to mention that for someone like Killian, this is an enormous, wonderful change. Killian may have been surrounded by a crew, but he’s spent more nights alone than in the company of unwavering adoration. For some time, Emma’s at least had her family downstairs. And at the end of the day, for someone who’s been abandoned in his sleep, it’ll be heartwarming to wake up next to someone that’ll never willingly leave him. It’ll be heartwarming to be in the perpetual company of his person — the woman whose heart beats to the same rhythm as his. The woman whose agency he treasures and adores unceasingly. He may have been a little impatient, but knowing how much heartache she’s endured, he’s always wanted everything to be on her timetable.

The equal amount of unwavering respect between this couple continues to grow impeccably and though they’ll always have their own inner demons to conquer, they’re now at a place where they know they’ll never be alone. And for Killian, at this point, Emma’s proven that not even death could do them part, thereby, for someone who still believes he’s unworthy of such captivating love, it’s beautiful to see that it is now her love which serves as an emblem of hope to him. A reminder that he can always grow, forgive, and love himself.

Jane Espenson has unsurprisingly written a lot of fan-favorite episodes, and it’s because she always chooses the perfect words. The one lesson I remember studying most during my last year of university was the importance of word choices. (And so often, it’s why I’ve struggled with my reviews. Have I chosen the right words? Did I say too much or too little? Could there have been another choice for what I wanted to say?) Now while that may be my concern, thus far Espenson hasn’t let us down. She’s mastered writing remarkably, memorable dialogue for Killian and Emma from the very beginning, and “The Other Shoe” is no exception.

Emma revealing that she sees Ashley’s choice to put love before life was outstanding. And essentially, love is life — to love wholeheartedly is to live, for there’s nothing more profound than giving/receiving love. We are in this world to be consumed, moved, and inspired by love thereby, to hear our former lost girl welcome it completely into her life is everything. Love is also great strength and we’ve seen through the years that if it’s true, it brings out the best in people. And for Emma Swan, love is a prodigious part of her journey. To fearlessly and completely trust another person showcases how far she’s come from the girl who’d built walls and bridges all her life. Nonetheless, her bus and leather jacket analogy was subtly brilliant comedic lines.

On another note, just as Espenson is exceptional with her gorgeous word choices, the costume department is phenomenal at symbolically showcasing growth. Emma’s closet may be full of red leather jackets, but it’s clearly also filled with pink and white loose tops. And as we’ve mentioned in previous reviews, choosing to wear light colors with Killian ultimately exhibits the freedom she feels with him. She no longer needs to armor herself because with him, everything’s okay — she feels safe enough to trust and reveal all the layers that define her.

And finally, with Mr. Hyde and the Evil Queen teaming up together, things are bound to get ugly, but it’s about time. I had been wondering when the two of them would team up, and it now makes me question whether or not Rumple will join them. Rumple evidently cares about his unborn child — he cares enough to make a deal that for once isn’t horrifying. Because truth be told, I was terrified when Charming went in to make a deal because we all know what Rumple is capable of, but I surprisingly loved the fact that it was the simple delivery of a tape. (At least I hope it’s that simple.) And I also loved the fact that David delivering it to Belle gave them the opportunity to bond.

It’s amazing how effortlessly “The Other Shoe” delivered unique character interactions because, with an ensemble cast, it isn’t easy to have such a variety of one on one moments in a single episode. Hence, giving Belle and David this opportunity resulted in a profound conversation about fathers and sons. And I loved every minute of it. It was interesting to see David state that despite the fact that his father was often drunk, it was worse when he was gone for good. And that ultimately forces Belle to question whether her decision to keep Rumple away from their son is a good idea. Once again Dallas’ display of heartache wasn’t easy to watch — when one of the toughest characters falls, their vulnerability breaks you. And he reminded me of why it’s so easy to root for the Charmings because they’ve seen more sadness in the series than we can possibly imagine and yet they hold their heads up high for the entire town. That said, it’s great to have moments like this where for once, David doesn’t need to protect someone else, he just needs someone to listen. And Belle is the perfect choice because if there’s one thing she’s especially great at, it’s listening. Thank you, Espenson for giving us this moment with two characters who don’t get to speak as often.

And speaking of characters who don’t get to bond quite often, or ever for that matter, it was adorable to see Killian interact with Ashley and her daughter. Let us take a moment to thank the writers for giving us a scene that features Colin O’Donoghue putting whipped cream on his nose to entertain a child. Let’s be real for a moment, is there anything more adorable than good-looking men interacting with children!? Nope, although Emma watching them comes pretty close. If there’s one thing I’d really like to see in Emma’s future, it’s another child — the opportunity to give birth with family by her side where she isn’t chained down and gets to raise the child. She deserves it. Killian deserves it. And Henry deserves a sibling because he’d be the best big brother in town.

In short, no one is meant to go through life alone — independence is great, but so is the ability to work within a team. And teamwork has always served as an emblem of great strength in Storybrooke. If Regina hadn’t stopped working alone, we wouldn’t be where we are today with the incredible friendships that have been formed. That’s perhaps why Rumple is still in the dark — he knows nothing of teamwork; he’s always worked alone. But if the “The Other Shoe” taught us anything, it’s that it’s never too late. It’s never too late to punch back and inspire people to look at you differently. It’s never too late to choose love over life. It’s never too late to right our wrongs. Human beings are bound to make mistakes until our very last breath, but as long as we continue to remember that things can turn around, we’re on the right track. It all comes back to this idea any day something horrific can happen, but that is no excuse to stop living life. It takes us back to what Charming said about life being all about the moments — the good and the bad. Fear is an incredibly powerful force, and for the longest time, it’s controlled a number of our heroes. But the best part of their journey is that they’re always learning. Change doesn’t come overnight, but if we keep trying, then we’re bound to succeed. If we keep trying, we’re already punching back.

“The Other Shoe” has easily become one of my favorite episodes. This is an episode that exhibits Once Upon A Time at its finest. It reveals that though there will always be someone trying to diminish our success, we’re capable of conquering. We are capable simply through the choices we make and because of those who believe in us. It isn’t easy to lean on people so often we don’t want to burden them, but I admire this series for continuously pointing out the fact that it’s okay. That’s why we have loved ones by our side because no one is meant to take on life alone. It’s okay to ask for help because while society may perceive that as a sign of weakness, it takes more strength to admit we need help than to hide it. It takes great strength to be vulnerable, and this is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn. And whether we learn it today or tomorrow, it’s still never too late.

Worth Mentioning:

  • It was really nice to have Prince Thomas and Cinderella back. And it was even nicer that we got to watch their proposal. There are few things I love more than a good proposal. And having them back also gave us the chance to see another ball which as I’m sure most of you know, we’re huge fans of those here at MGcircles. Give us all the Enchanted Forest balls — please and thank you.
  • It was also great to have Dr. Whale in all his ridiculous glory back.
  • Unfortunately, hearing the name baby Neal still sounds wrong.
  • I may not be a fan of the Evil Queen, but I am a huge fan of her hair and that hairdo looked amazing this week.
  • How gorgeous was the farmhouse Clorinda and beau now live in!? And speaking of Clorinda, I loved the little bit with Killian and Emma forgetting her name. Good humor in the midst of a dramatic episode is always welcomed.
  • Gus Gus aiming straight for the cheese? That man speaks my language.
  • Archie actually giving great advice? A+. Let’s not forget that one time he was rude to Snow. Ugh, Archie. Get it together. Better late than never though right?
  • Best for last, Emma Swan’s wardrobe has been especially gorgeous this season and if you want to know what she’s wearing or how to get the look, be sure to check out JenniferMorrisonStyle.com where our friend Caitlin identifies them all for you.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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