Red Riding and Robin
“Red-Handed,” the cleverly crafted 15th episode of Once Upon a Time, was written by Jane Espenson and proves how the show could be so much more if only her fellow writers could heed her style and irony. I am the first to admit that on a good night I pay about 80% attention to OUAT, and most episodes I pay about 50-60%. This usually means that halfway through an episode I grow very concerned with what I missed when I inevitably get distracted. However, the beginning of this episode had me hooked with the appearance of Red’s gentleman caller at her window. If she said his name at the outset, I missed it. But I took one look at this guy and the arrows slung across his back (or what appeared to be arrows) and I thought…oh! Maybe he is Robin Hood. And then my brain did a double take, Robin Hood AND Red Riding Hood? IT MAKES SENSE. And before I could rear my thoughts in, they were racing down speculation lane. I just knew some crazy twist or explanation for why their names are connected would come out: she wears the hood and incorporates it into her name to match her beloved, they become a tag team in Sherwood Forest because she runs away with him (after the wolf savages her grandmother) in order to help the poor by stealing from the Queen. I didn’t know how it would shake out but I was ready. Then…wait…this guy’s name is…Peter? Still, I thought it was in the realm of possibility: you know, maybe Robin Hood becomes his pseudonym…but as the episode dragged on, I started to lose hope and figured Peter was just the village cutie. Then, the whole Red-savagely-tore-him-to-pieces-cuz-she-is-the-wolf thing completely signaled the death knell for my theory. Jane was apparently working on a kick-ass twist to the traditional story of Red and was less focused on the connection between two names.
As long as the show piques my curiosity in this way, (and demonstrates its occasional flash of brilliance) I will continue to watch. And if “Peter” is an allusion to Peter and the Wolf, then OUAT’s version of the story ended on a much more grim note than the children’s story. And that story came from the USSR.