Prince Charming of Once Upon a Time has always been the ultimate hero. He fears no dragon or witch and stands and fights any villain he confronts. So it was shocking to see him as less than a hero during “The Tower.”
From the moment in the Enchanted Forest where we see his nightmare of Emma’s ball and her blaming him for letting her go to the announcement that he and Snow are expecting, something seems off. There have been hints in interviews with the show runners that Oz should not be taken too literally, but Charming as the Cowardly Lion? He is the least cowardly person we have known throughout three season of the show. Why does this surprise us? Let’s take a look.
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Charming: The Brave
Charming may have started his life as a simple farmer but he has always had an aura of greatness. When faced with the need for a prince, Charming not only meets the challenge but becomes a much better prince than his brother’s ever been. Charming stands his ground against foes. By defeating the dragon, he meets a challenge which his brother never could have fulfilled. Sure, his unknown brother has had years of knightly training, but it is our Charming who fulfills the mission without even knowing what is expected of a prince. While his brother lets stupidity cause his death, our Charming has never been dense or stupid. He senses things before they happen.
This is what makes the dream so disturbing. Charming has gone into the fire room and has faced Maleficent and shown no fear. Charming has taken a stand against Regina so why would Emma’s words make him afraid? He knows he let her go twice but it was to save her and to give Henry a life with his mother. His feelings are more intense with the Witch around. All the choices have been made because there are no alternatives. It has to be some hidden spell that the Wicked Witch is intensifying.
In Storybrooke, the Witch (mid-wife Zelena) tries to make his fears more intense to defeat him. By giving Charming a cup of tea with a special herb, Zelena intensifies the feeling of fear. In the woods, on his way to help Emma and Hook, the fear intensifies and Charming becomes more uncertain and afraid. When the villain is revealed as Charming’s doppelganger and tries to kill him, our Charming admits to fearing that he will not be a good father. Luckily for us, Charming finds the courage to admit his fear (quicker than the Cowardly Lion) and defeats the foe.
Charming: The Sure
Charming has always been certain of the decisions he makes and his ability to lead. He is willing to admit to his mistakes and face the consequences. We’ve seen Charming’s decisiveness play out when he goes on the run instead of committing to a loveless marriage. From the opening sequence of “The Tower,” Charming isn’t certain of anything. In Storybrooke, this uncertainty has led him to become hesitant and unsure in his earlier investigation of Regina’s home office. Later in the woods, and thanks to the Witch’s brew, he becomes afraid of even his own shadow.
Yes, he’s suffering from memory loss of his return to Storybrooke. The Wicked Witch is affecting his ability to trust his judgment due to the haziness of his recollections and later the tea. He does maintain a degree of self-awareness that is a characteristic of his sureness in the past. Charming makes the cellphone call to Emma which brings her to his location. While the witch’s brew amplifies his uncertainty, Charming finds the courage inside of himself to become self-assured again and face whatever foe there is. He may have lost his sword in this battle but he has regained his courage and ability to know that right wins.
Charming: The Ruler
Did anyone feel that Charming left too many decisions to others during “The Tower?” In the Enchanted Forest after learning of Snow’s pregnancy, he is indecisive and turns to alcohol. It isn’t out of character for him to hang out with Robin Hood, but our brave Charming looks to Robin for advice. In doing this, Charming’s sense of authority suffers.
In Storybrooke, Charming has always been an equal to Emma in crime fighting. Again, we see him taking a backseat during the investigations and unaware of the need the others have for his leadership skills. His uncertainty causes him to end up in the woods alone where he must face his fear. Only by facing this fear which involves both Emma and his unborn child does the Charming we love return. It is this Charming who now takes leadership and once again has an active voice on what is going on at the storm cellar where Rumple has been held.
Other Oz Characters
With Charming appearing to have taken on the role of the Cowardly Lion, we must think of what the Wicked Witch may have planned for our beloved characters. Can signs of the Scarecrow be seen in the easy acceptance that Snow is showing toward the mid-wife Zelena? How can Snow accept Zelena’s help when Snow doesn’t remember Zelena from the Enchanted Forest? And does the pirate Hook who doesn’t seem to know true love be developing a heart? The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz wants love and Hook is seeking the same emotion from Emma. We still need to see where Neil fits into the story and into the Witch’s plan (and hopefully it is not as a flying monkey). Will Regina and Emma share the role of Dorothy? Does this make the only role available for Rumple that of Oz? This roller coaster will continue until May so we have plenty of time to debate.
(Image courtesy of ABC)