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OUAT The Tower: Charming is the Cowardly Lion

Rapunzel and Charming must face their worst fears.
Rapunzel and Charming must face their worst fears.
Photo courtesy of ABC/Jack Rowand

Once Upon A Time - "The Tower"

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Episode Cast:

Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin), Evil Queen/Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla), Prince Charming/David Nolan (Josh Dallas), Belle (Emilie de Ravin), Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore), Grumpy/Leroy (Lee Arenberg), Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), Wicked Witch/Zelena (Rebecca Mader), Rapunzel (Alexandra Metz)

Once Upon A Time starring Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla airs Sunday at 8 p.m/7c.

After two weeks setting up a background story for the Wicked Witch, comes a side story with a new character to pass the time. 'The Tower' is a Charming-centric episode devoted to facing your fears. We meet Rapunzel for the first time and learn why she’s been trapped in the tower for so long. She’s the first African-American princess on the show and the first African-American side character since Lancelot, who was killed in the same episode in which he appeared. OUAT certainly deserves kudos for making diversity matter. So, read on to find out more about the fear that haunts Rapunzel and Charming.

The root cause (Fairytale Land)

Charming is having nightmares about Emma. He can’t shake the guilt that he never had the opportunity to raise her and then he wakes up to find that Snow is pregnant with his second child in real life. Overcome by fear, Charming resorts to sneaking a drink in the stables. Who knew he was a closet lush? Robin Hood catches him and tells him to use the night root to cure his fears. The only catch is that it's located in an haunted forest, which is somehow less scary for Charming.

He ventures into the woods but just as finds the night root, he hears a voice calling for help. It’s Rapunzel. He climbs her hair into the tower and learns the sad story of her capture.

Rapunzel feared leadership after her brother died saving her in the river accident, passing the crown onto her. Fearing that she wasn’t good enough to lead, she used to night root to calm herself but it didn’t work. A witch in a hooded cloak appeared and chased her into the tower and there she stayed until Charming arrived. The only problem is that she can’t leave because the witch stops her every time she tries to.

As mentioned previously, Charming has no fear of the witches or goblins, so he faces the witch head on. She reveals herself to be fear in the guise of Rapunzel. In order to leave the tower, Rapunzel must face herself. Charming aids her by forcing the witch out the window and Rapunzel cuts her hair, killing the witch who was barely hanging on. She reunites with her King and Queen parents and all is well in Fairytale Land once again. More applause for OUAT for casting African-American royalty. It was refreshing for a lot of little girls watching to see royalty that looks like them.

Man in the mirror ( Storybrooke - 9 months later)

The Fairytale Friends (Charming, Hook, Emma and Regina) search Regina’s office for clues. Charming finds trampled holly berries on the floor but in the middle of his investigation, he's called away by Snow to interview the new nanny, Zelena. Charming is suspicious of her from the start but Zelena puts night root in his tea to calm his fears, easily landing her the job.

An unknowingly drugged Charming then heads to the woods to find the source of the berries but quickly finds out that he’s being followed by a hooded witch. Just like Rapunzelle, he must face himself. He sees Emma’s car in the midst of battle and admits that he’s afraid to that he won’t be a good father. This realization gives him the power to defeat himself with a broken sword. However when he tries to grab what’s left of his sword, it disappears in a puff of green smoke. Regina arrives with Hook and Emma and tells him that his courage transferred to the sword and that the Wicked Witch took it. Now Charming's the Cowardly Lion metaphorically, if not physically.

Continuing the investigation, The Fairytale Friends trace the berries to a farmhouse and open the cellar. They find straw spun into gold, but no Rumplestiltskin. He’s escaped but he’s still not free because Zelena has the dagger that controls him.

Speaking of Zelena and Rumplestiltskin, the web has been buzzing that Rumplestiltskin is actually Zelena’s father, causing her to be green. OUAT alluded to this earlier in this episode when Zelena shaved Rumple and told him about how she used to do the same for her father. The net just might be right.

The moral of the Story

This was a cute episode and it addressed a very real problem for so many people, fairytale characters or not. Sometimes you can slay the dragon, fight goblins and save the princess but you can’t face your own demons. Charming’s story illustrated it best. He wasn’t afraid to fight enemies. That part of the battle was fun, not scary. It was facing himself and his own inner turmoil that made him cowardly and it wasn’t until he faced himself and owned up to his fears, that he was able to defeat himself. Like all morality tales, it’s question of choice. Are you going to face your challenges head on or are you going to stay in the tower for the rest of your life? Choose wisely.

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