The Great Once Upon a Time Rewatch | Episode 15: Red-Handed

It’s Ruby’s turn in the spotlight this episode, as she attempts to strike out on her own away from Granny. Meanwhile, the investigation into Kathryn’s disappearance unearths a chilling find.

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Eion Bailey, and Jared S. Gilmore

Season 1
Episode 15: Red-Handed

The Enchanted Forest

We open the past storyline with a happy, flirty Red Riding Hood, with her love Peter, before she is whisked away from the window by an irate Granny. A group of villagers are intending to hunt a giant wolf that is responsible for killing their sheep. Red wants to go, but Granny wants her to remain inside, with her cloak on, even when they are inside and have secured their defences.

In the morning, Red discovers Snow White in the chicken coop, who hid inside during the night. Red offers to help her, though Snow gives her the name Margaret Mary, seeing as she is a fugitive at this point, and does not yet know if she can trust Red. While getting water from the well, they notice that the well is filled with blood, with a corresponding trail of blood and dead bodies scattered over the snowy ground.

At a town council meeting, the villagers vow once more to attack the wolf and destroy it once and for all. Granny warns them of an encounter with a wolf that she had as a child 60 years ago, which killed her family and left her permanently scarred. She attests that there is no way that anybody can kill the wolf. Even in spite of this dire warning, Red and Snow decide to search for the wolf alone, as Red is eager to prevent her Granny from keeping her trapped in the name of protecting her.

Snow and Red find the wolf prints, but discover that they turn into human prints as they pursue them. Even more concerning, they lead straight to Red’s window, leading them to believe that Peter must be the wolf. Red meets with Peter to tell him that he’s a werewolf, and he starts to feel wracked with guilt over the men who he believes he slaughtered. They tie Peter up with metal chains, and Red promises him that he will stay with him through the night. Meanwhile, at Granny’s, Granny finds Snow masquerading as Red with her cloak on the bed. Snow reassures Granny that Red is safe, as she has Peter tied up, but Granny seems more concerned about Peter than Red. Indeed, we soon see Peter tied to a tree, terrified, while a large wolf, who he is addressing as Red, advances upon him.

Granny explains to Snow, as they track down Red, that she was turned into a werewolf by the wolf that killed her family, and this curse has been passed along the bloodline to Red. The cloak that she wears was created by a wizard to prevent her from turning, and Granny has kept this secret from Red her whole life. Snow and Granny find Red feasting on Peter’s remains, whereupon Granny shoots her with a silver-tipped arrow and Snow puts the cloak over her, reverting her to human form. At first, she is confused at where she is, before reacting in horror to her own actions. The girls escape into the woods, while Granny promises to fend off the hunting party.


After his arrest at the end of the previous episode, Emma ultimately decides to let David go, since there is yet to be any evidence that a crime has been committed. Meanwhile, at Granny’s diner, Ruby is inspired by tales of August’s travels and resigns her job. While walking, Mary Margaret and Emma run into Dr. Whale being a bit of a creep to Ruby, who is waiting by the roadside with her things, eager to travel away from Granny’s. They take her home while she figures things out.

The following day, David and Mary Margaret run into each other at the spot that Kathryn disappeared, and Mary Margaret becomes increasingly concerned at him constantly repeating that he’s looking for his wife and not really registering her presence, even when she is telling him that she believes him to be innocent. In the sheriff’s office, Ruby is looking for jobs, and accidentally stumbles upon one when she answers Emma’s phone, and Emma realises that she would be a good assistant. Mary Margaret expresses her concerns over David to Emma.

Ruby finds David passed out in the forest, with no memory of anything that has happened to him since he left the sheriff’s station the previous day. Dr. Whale indicates that he could have been sleep walking throughout the entire time. Emma instructs Ruby to search near the toll bridge to see if she can find any clues, and she manages to unearth a box in the sand. She is horrified at the contents, and delivers it back to Emma, before deciding that she isn’t cut out for police work. She returns to the diner, and speaks to Granny, saying that she wants to learn as much as possible about the diner so that she can look after it when Granny retires.

Emma talks to David and Mary Margaret about the contents of the box, which was a human heart, as well as containing fingerprints. David instructs Emma immediately to arrest him, scared that he could have hurt Kathryn during one of his blackouts, but Emma reveals that the fingerprints instead belong to Mary Margaret.


  • Finally! An episode about Red Riding Hood! How did it take this many episodes for this marvellous woman to be the centre of an episode? I mean, sure, she’s not part of the regular cast, but how can we have an episode all about Cinderella, and even one all about Leroy/Grumpy, before we have one about her? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about Red Riding Hood’s alter ego, in which she dresses aggressively provocatively? There’s so much to unpack there. Alas, Ruby is yet another one of the characters who tends to get lost in this ensemble show (see also: Belle).
  • I love the adaptations that they have made to her backstory as well. Instead of making Red the lolloping, foolish girl who is unable to tell her grandmother from a wolf, she has some hidden depth and power. No, quite literally power, since she can turn into a wolf and dismember people. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops within the flashbacks, and whether she manages to gain more control over her powers. It’s also good that they’ve actually contextualised the red coat, instead of it just being a rogue fashion choice.
  • Meghan Ory is just delightful, isn’t she? She’s so captivating to watch, I adore her in every scene that she’s in, even if she’s not the focal point. So many strong performances to love in this show.
  • It’s nice to see another element of Snow’s backstory appearing here, even if she isn’t the focal point of this storyline. We start to understand how she came to become the practical and skilled vigilante we see when she accosts David’s carriage in Episode 3, as we are now filled in on the events that happened after the Huntsman let her go and refused to kill her. It’s also nice to see her have a genuine friendship.
  • It’s also delightful to see when Snow and Red first meet, having seen Red tend to Snow in the Enchanted Forest while she was in hiding previously.
  • Granny still has her scars in Storybrooke, which apparently hurt more on a full moon.
  • I’m certain that it’s intentional that Ruby is dressed more conservatively at the end of the episode. I’m not certain if I entirely buy into the entire “she wears lots of makeup so she’s damaged so when she stops wearing lots of makeup she’s sorted her life out”, but it does seem to be a fairly deliberate decision that when Ruby is growing up, she is wearing more appropriate and sensible clothing, with more muted and subtle makeup.
  • Everything’s heating up with Kathryn’s disappearance, isn’t it? I’m still not entirely sure where this is going, or who exactly is trying to disrupt things like this. It seems so crazy for it to be Regina behind all of this, and yet surely it must be, unless I’m missing something critical. It’s frustrating, for sure, but I suppose something has to pad out the season to stop the curse from being broken too quickly.
  • I’m also very curious as to what is causing David’s lapses in memory. I honestly can’t remember this from my initial watching. Is this a genuine side effect of his being in a coma (in which case, convenient?) or is whoever is responsible for Kathryn’s disappearance messing with him in some way to make him look unreliable? Or is it just a complete coincidence.
  • My head is starting to hurt with the number of different storylines I have to keep up with with these fairy tale character backstories. I feel like I need one of those police cork boards with the string and the pictures. It’s intense. This is sort of why I fell out of love with the show, because it just became quite impossible to work out what had happened with every single cast member. Every week you’re adding another layer until everybody has lived an unrealistically eventful life and your head feels like treacle. I’ve just about worked out where this all fits in with Snow’s story. So I believe that this is before she meets Charming, and then is in hiding, before she goes back to find Charming, and ultimately tells him that she doesn’t love him, and then he goes looking for her, but she is with the dwarves and has taken a potion that has made her forget about him. I think that that’s where I’m up to with Snow’s backstory. As you were, folks.

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