"Snow Falls" is the third episode of the American fairy tale/drama television series Once Upon a Time. The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the "real world" town by a powerful curse. This episode centers on Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) reading fairy tales to a comatose John Doe (Josh Dallas) in an effort to see if he remembers his past, which parallels with how Prince Charming (Dallas) first met Snow White (Goodwin).
The episode was written by co-executive producer Liz Tigelaar, while being directed by Dean White. It featured the first appearance of David Anders as Dr. Whale and Anastasia Griffith in the dual role of Kathryn Nolan and Princess Abigail. "Snow Falls" serves as a prequel to the pilot episode. Goodwin injured herself during filming and received facial stitches in a local emergency room, though she and Dallas still called the episode their favorite yet.
In the characters' pasts
The story begins in the Enchanted Forest, where a guarded carriage carrying Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and his fiancee, Abigail (Anastasia Griffith), is halted by a roadblock. When Charming checks out the tree that was blocking the road, he notices it was cut on purpose. The carriage is ambushed by a hooded vagabond, who takes the bag carrying the valuables, including a wedding ring. Charming chases the mysterious vagabond and knocks them off the horse. He discovers it is a woman, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). Before he can get an answer as to why she stole the valuables, Snow hits him with a rock, surprising and cutting him to make her escape. Charming promises that he will find her.
Charming tracks Snow and nets her in a trap as she steps out of her hideout with the stolen goods. Snow reluctantly agrees to show Charming where she sold his jewels. Along the way, Charming discovers a wanted poster of Snow in her bag. Snow claims the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) blames her for ruining her life. Charming asks if this is true and she admits it is. As they reach a river, Snow once again tricks Charming and escapes again, only to be captured moments later, this time by The Queen's henchmen. Their orders are to cut out Snow's heart and bring it to The Queen. When Charming sees this, he attacks the henchmen with his sword, killing two. One henchman gets away with Snow, and Charming quickly dispatches him with an arrow. Now that he has saved Snow, she decides to trust him, and agrees to lead him to the place where she sold the items.
As they reach a bridge that was damaged, Snow tells Charming that this was the place where she sold the items to a group of trolls. When she asks the trolls if she can buy back the ring, the trolls become suspicious and discover the wanted poster of Snow, leading to a battle. Snow comes to Charming's rescue by using fairy dust to turn the trolls into bugs. Charming is surprised that Snow saved him, but she wants to repay him for saving her life before with the henchmen. As she hands him back the items, including the wedding ring, Snow looks at the ring, then places it on her finger before handing it back to him as they go their separate ways.
In the present day, during a night out with Dr. Whale (David Anders), Mary Margaret (Goodwin) tries to make a little conversation with him, but he seems to be noticing Ruby (Meghan Ory) a lot more, prompting Mary Margaret to leave the cafe by herself. As she walks back to her apartment, she notices Emma (Jennifer Morrison) in her car reading a newspaper searching for a place to stay, which pleases Mary Margaret now that Emma has decided to stay and offers her a spare room at her apartment if she wanted it. The following day, Mary Margaret notices Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) looking at John Doe (Dallas) while they are setting up decorations at the hospital. Henry believes that John Doe is Prince Charming and Mary is his Snow White, and wants her to read from the storybook to Charming, convinced that it will wake him up. Emma convinces Mary Margaret to go along with Henry's wishes so that they can show him the stories aren't real after all.
At the hospital, Mary Margaret reads the stories to the patient for a while, until his hand grabs hers, shocking Mary Margaret. She gets Dr. Whale and tells him that Charming might be waking up, but the doctor does not believe that the patient actually grabbed her hand. After she leaves, Dr. Whale calls Regina (Parrilla), as he had been instructed to do lest there be a change in John Doe's state, revealing that he had been lying to Mary Margaret. The next day, Emma, Henry and Mary Margaret stop by the hospital to see him, only to discover that the patient has left on his own and might be bleeding. Regina and Sheriff Graham (Dornan) have also shown up, since Regina is the emergency contact for John Doe. She claims that she had found him on the side of the road unconscious without any memory of what or who he was. As Regina takes Henry home, Emma, Mary Margaret and the sheriff decide to investigate what happened, so they pay a visit to the security room. They encounter the janitor Leroy (Lee Arenberg), and the security guard, Walter, who was sleeping on the job (since he is actually Sleepy). Emma and the others discover that John Doe went out into the woods.
As Emma, Mary Margaret, and the sheriff search the wooded area for him, they are joined by Henry. Henry believes that the patient is looking for Mary Margaret. They soon discover the patient lying near a bridge that reads "Toll Bridge" and Mary Margaret revives him. As they take him back to the hospital, Regina shows up with a woman named Kathryn (Griffith), and states that she is his wife and that his name is David Nolan. This news devastates Mary Margaret. Emma becomes suspicious of Regina's ability to find Nolan's wife and questions why Kathryn never bothered to search for him before. Although Regina claims that past hospital surveillance tapes had David mentioning Kathryn's name in his sleep, Emma still believes that Regina was hiding the truth. Later that evening, Emma arrives at Mary's place and agrees to take up the offer of staying with the teacher.
"Snow Falls" was written by co-executive producer Liz Tigelaar, while being directed by The Shield veteran Dean White. The episode features the first appearance of Anastasia Griffith as Abigail/Kathryn Nolan, a recurring role. Her casting was announced in early August 2011, with her character being variously described as "spoiled" and "regal". Actor David Anders also made his first appearance in this episode as Dr. Whale.
The episode serves as a prequel to the events of the pilot. In October 2011, Ginnifer Goodwin told reporters that she was excited to portray the beginning of Snow and Charming's relationship "because it is based more on animosity and manipulation and selfishness." She added that "they have a very far way to go from their moment of meeting to falling in love," making the episode "greatly challenging and fun."
In the scene in which Snow White is captured by The Queen's henchmen, Goodwin tweeted that the horse ran right into her, sending her flying and injuring her hand and face. Goodwin explained that "we go on quite an adventure and I came away with an actual, physical scar from it." The incident required that the actress' face receive stitches in a hospital emergency room. Goodwin and Joshua Dallas said that it was their favorite episode up to that point, with Dallas saying it was "lot of fun to shoot and it’s just great." In another tweet, Goodwin commented that Jennifer Morrison taught her to perform CPR during a scene with Dallas, as Morrison learned the procedure while she was a regular on House M.D.
Apart from the main characters being references to prominent fairy tales, "Snow Falls" contains several cultural references. A ceramic blue bird statue can be seen near Mary Margaret's bed, a reference to the many such birds that are visible in the 1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- Even though she doesn't believe in the curse, Emma is correct in believing the oddity of Regina suddenly finding Kathryn immediately after Prince Charming wakes from his coma (albeit amnesiac).
- "Once Upon a Time: "Snow Falls"". The Futon Critic (October 3, 2011).
- "Anastasia Griffith: Credits", TV Guide.
- Wightman, Catriona (August 2, 2011). "Anastasia Griffith signs up for 'Once Upon A Time'", Digital Spy.
- Abrams, Natalie (July 28, 2011). "David Anders to Guest-Star on Once Upon a Time", TV Guide.
- Gonzalez, Sandra (October 23, 2011). "'Once Upon a Time' stars give scoop on season ahead", Entertainment Weekly.
- Roffman, Marisa (November 6, 2011). "ONCE UPON A TIME: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas Preview ‘Snow Falls’", Give Me My Remote.
- Goodwin, Ginnifer (November 6, 2011). "Right there, before the lift onto the horse? we did a take where that huge animal ran right into me and i learned what it was like to fly.". Twitter.
- Moore, Frazier (November 13, 2011). "Snow White Role Doubles Actress's Fun Goodwin Takes Heroine on New Exploits in `Once upon a Time'", The Journal Gazette.
- Goodwin, Ginnifer (November 6, 2011). "So we had a medic teach me cpr but it looked bad. so @jenmorrisonlive taught me how they do it on HOUSE cuz it's more dramatic on screen.". Twitter.
- (2013) Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale. Hyperion Books. ISBN 9781401305499.
- "Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale". WorldCat.