Jane Espenson knocks it out of the park with That Still Small Voice. Taking therapist Archie Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) and illuminating his backstory as Jiminy Cricket, not only does Espenson surprise the audience, but she puts an interesting spin on a story we all think we know.
Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is deputized by Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) and the ground trembles beneath Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Henry (Jared Gilmore) continues his attempts to convince Dr. Hopper (Sbarge) that he’s not a delusional patient and Dr. Hopper is Storybrooke’s conscience and it’s time he acted like it.
As Archie/Jiminy’s story is seen within the Enchanted Forest, complete with Fagin-like parents (Harry Groening and Carolyn Hennessy) and an eventual deal with Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) we get a completely new take on the classic Pinocchio, and it’s not what you think.
Archie: “I wish. I wish. I wish.” What he’s wishing for, and what the Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) can grant, aren’t the same thing. It’s a lovely bit of melancholy realism, even within the fantasy framework of Once Upon A Time.
Meanwhile, Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) has an encounter with David/John Doe (Josh Dallas) that leaves her shaken and hopeful at the same time. Goodwin and Blanchard have some lovely moments that don’t detract from the main story, and set up future episodes without hitting the viewer over the head with the fact that they’re destined to be together because they’re Snow/Prince Charming.
Where The Price of Gold seemed to splinter the focus of the show by adding Cinderella/Ashley to the mix, That Still Small Voice begins to tie characters together, and like Snow Falls takes those characters in a different direction than the viewer expects. The quality of Once Upon a Time’s scripts has varied wildly in its first five episodes, but That Still Small Voice elevates the narrative and allows the audience to feel part of the journey these characters are taking to get back to their real selves, rather than merely being observers.
Henry (Jared Gilmore) may be the voice of reason and wisdom in a show where none of the people remember who they were or might be, but the way he’s so desperate for the people around him to know who they are, continues to be a catalyst. Here, the faith he puts in Dr. Hopper is revealed to be warrented, even if Dr. Hopper doesn’t initially have nearly enough faith in himself. That Still Small Voice, is as much Henry’s voice, as it is Jiminy’s.