If there’s one thing that ONCE UPON A TIME made clear in Season 7 episode 5, “Greenbacks,” it’s this: never underestimate a pretty girl.
The women of Once Upon a Time are always full of surprises. In this episode, those surprises range from a knack for beignets to… well, let’s save that reveal for later and take a look at these women one at a time.
Roni (Lana Parrilla) doesn’t get a lot of screentime in this episode, but the few minutes she does get pay off in a big way. We first see her coming into a meeting between Detective Rogers (Colin O’Donoghue) and Henry (Andrew J. West). Rogers has brought a box full of files from Eloise Gardner’s missing persons case from ten years ago. After Rogers leaves, Roni asks Henry about his encounter with Ivy the other night.
Later, after Ivy (Adelaide Kane) has called Henry with some dirt on her mother, Henry returns to the bar to tell Roni. She questions Ivy’s motives and accuses Henry of being attracted to her. In turn, Henry accuses her of trying to be his mother.
Yeah, well, if your mother were standing here, she’d tell you three things: get back to writing, take Jacinda on a date, and tip me well for giving you the advice you so desperately need to hear.
While Henry’s in the bathroom, Roni sees a text on his phone from Ivy. She texts Ivy back without telling Henry and goes to meet her at Belfrey Tower. After a heated discussion about Ivy’s motives, Ivy offers to prove her loyalty by showing Roni the tower that Victoria frequents. While there, they discover an abandoned tea tray (more on that later) and a picture sticking out of an unlocked safe.
Roni calls Henry back to the bar. After a brief explanation of what she did behind his back, she shows him the picture she found. She recognizes herself, but not the clothes she’s wearing, the place the picture was taken, or the boy she’s hugging. Henry, of course, recognizes the boy. It’s him.
This episode’s flashbacks focused entirely on the backstory of Tiana (Mekia Cox), so let’s talk about Tiana before we get into her alter ego’s storyline in Hyperion Heights. We meet Tiana in the courtyard of her family’s castle, where her mother Eudora (Robin Givens) is holding an auction. Drizella makes a brief appearance to make fun of Tiana’s ill fortune. The auction is a last-ditch effort to save the castle from the king’s tax increases. Tiana wants to find a prince to marry her and save the day. Now, initially, I heard that and said, “What? That’s not the Tiana we know!” But never fear, Once Upon a Time‘s writers are too smart to make that kind of mistake.
Tiana visits a poor village known as Tent Alley in search of a traveling soothsayer. Before she finds him, she’s recognized as the princess and accosted by the villagers, who are desperate for her help. They are shooed away by the soothsayer, who introduces himself as Dr. Facilier (Daniel Francis). He assures her that there is a prince in her future – all she has to do is follow the red crow.
Although she initially rejects this as nonsense, Tiana soon finds a pub called the Crimson Crow. A man approaches her and threatens to steal her earrings, but a prince appears to save the day, just as Dr. Facilier had predicted. He sweeps her off her feet, and they end up back in Tiana’s castle, where she shows him her father’s medal from the war, called a firefly ruby.
The prince takes his leave, but before he can escape, Tiana realizes he’s stolen the ruby and stops him by throwing a pan at his head. You go, girl! She confronts him and takes back the ruby, but he insists that he was only a commoner, and he had no choice; Dr. Facilier kidnapped his true love and forced him to steal the ruby in exchange for her life. He says that he’s a man, and his true love is a frog. Tiana is unsympathetic to his claims and throws him out.
Eudora finds Tiana on her balcony, lamenting the fact that she’s been selfish. She’s ignored the needs of the people in Tent Alley and only focused on her own small woes. Eudora encourages her, saying that she is her father’s legacy – not the firefly ruby. Tiana takes the ruby to Dr. Facilier in exchange for the frog. Dr. Facilier explains that the ruby is transformative, and it’s going to set him free. He tries to leave with the ruby and the frog, but Tiana pulls a sword on him. After a brief fight, Dr. Facilier vanishes with the ruby in a puff of smoke, but only after assuring her that he’ll see her again soon.
Tiana finds the false prince and returns his true love to him. He is grateful and amazed at what she’s done for him. This leads to one of the best lines of the episode:
I finally figured out I don’t need a hero if I can be a hero.
There’s the Tiana we know and love! The false prince kisses the frog, but instead of her transforming into a woman, he transforms into a frog and hops away with her. Tiana is startled, but smiles fondly after them.
Now that we’ve covered Tiana, let’s move on to Sabine. The owner of the diner is away for a few days, and Sabine decides to take advantage of this opportunity to turn things around for her and Jacinda (Dania Ramirez). Sabine’s beignets are a favorite of Lucy’s (Alison Fernandez), and Sabine wants to use them to get out from under the thumb of Victoria Belfrey (Gabrielle Anwar), who has just increased their rent by 8% for no particular reason. Sabine and Jacinda use the diner’s kitchen to make and sell a lot of beignets, and Sabine is risking a lot on this venture: she used all of the rent money to buy the ingredients. Jacinda is reluctant, but goes along with her anyway. Sabine expresses her hopes in the best possible way:
With a little bit of sugar and spice and everything nice, we are going to show that bitch who is boss.
Everything seems to be going smoothly – Lucy even shows up with a firefly stamp to put on the beignet bags – until a fire erupts in the kitchen. (From a separate scene, we know that Victoria Belfrey called someone named Ralph to set the fire.) All of their big plans have gone up in smoke, and Jacinda blames Sabine for trying to give her hope when nothing ever gets better. Sabine gives her the money they earned and tells her to find a new roommate. As Sabine packs her bags, Lucy tries to convince her not to leave, but Sabine explains that she can’t fight anymore.
Before Sabine can leave, Jacinda catches up with her and apologizes. There’s a sweet moment between the two as Jacinda recognizes that Sabine always gives her hope, and now she needs to be there for Sabine and give her hope, too. Jacinda shows Sabine the food truck she bought from the police impound lot with Rogers’ help. Sabine goes to the station to thank Rogers for his help, and he tells her that the fire was deliberate.
Oh, Ivy. Last week you seemed like a sweet misguided soul just looking for a friend.
Before we get into Ivy’s tale, let’s take a quick detour into Victoria Belfrey. She visits her prisoner in the tower (Emma Booth) early on in the episode, bringing her tea and asking her for help with her Lucy problem. The Witch gives her some interesting advice.
Do you know what your mistake has always been? You see belief as something solid, independent – something easily removed with one singular blow. But belief is a weed. It grows wild and deep. If you want to destroy it for good, you have to uproot it.
Now on to Ivy. Victoria orders Ivy to find the special herbs for the tea her prisoner likes – without revealing anything about her prisoner, of course. After Ivy hunts all over town and finally finds the right herbs, Victoria dismisses her without a second thought. She even threatens to find a real assistant instead of her own daughter. This inspires Ivy to watch her mother on the elevator cameras, figure out where she’s going, and call Henry with the information. As described above, she inadvertently gets ahold of Roni instead and shows her the tower.
Later, Ivy asks her mother if she can help her, as it seems she’d had a bad day. Victoria is nothing but insulting and rude to her. We’re just starting to feel even more sorry for her when Ivy goes into the tower by herself to see the Witch, whom she apparently knows quite well. They discuss the fact that she now has the trust of Roni and Henry, and Ivy tells the Witch to call her Drizella.
A few additional notes:
- We learn a little bit more about the case of the missing girl with which Rogers is obsessed. He suspects a connection between a drunken man and the girl based on a tattoo the man has, which is just like a picture in her notebook. And he’s not wrong – later, the man calls an unknown number and says that there’s a problem; someone’s looking for the girl.
- When Rogers first encounters the man, there are a couple of Pinocchio references: “Pleasure Island,” men turning into jackasses. Could there be a Pinocchio-related storyline coming up, or are those just fun Easter eggs for us?
- The look on Victoria Belfrey’s face when she tried of Sabine’s beignets was priceless. She thought it was delicious and hated herself for thinking it.
- There are a lot more people aware of their “Another Realm” identities in Season 7 than there were in Season 1. The Witch, Victoria, Tilly (sometimes), Rumplestilskin, and potentially Henry and Roni soon… this could get really interesting, really quickly.
- After a very Rumple-heavy episode last week, he was conspicuously absent this week.
What did you think of “Greenbacks?” Who do you think is more sinister at this point – Victoria or Ivy? Let us know your thoughts!