The story of Red Riding Hood was no different. At times, the pacing was slightly plodding, but the mythology created and the major twist in regards to the identity of the Big Bad Wolf were smartly written and engrossing.
With the villagers failing with devastating consequences to kill the Big Bad Wolf - not just the slaughter of livestock but also an entire hunting party - Red Riding Hood is compelled to seek the wolf out itself, motivated by a desire to leave town with her boyfriend Peter (Jesse Hutch) of whom Granny (Beverley Elliott) does not approve. Red believes that if she vanquishes the beast, Granny will have no reason to keep her almost suffocated inside the cottage (this is paralleled by Ruby in Storybrooke quitting her job at the diner).
At first, it comes across as stupid that Red is investigating and planning to slay such a dangerous beast (accompanied by Snow White). But the detective work does a great job at misleading you and catching anyone out who may have predicted the villain to be the 'obvious' pick.
Despite the clues, it was never going to be Peter. But with a wolf bite and a clear warning to everyone not to hunt the beast, Granny seemed like the culprit. How pleasantly surprising was it, then, that Red herself was the Big Bad Wolf.
It's not like it came out of the blue, either. Ruby is shown to have enhanced senses when she and Emma find David in the woods. The writers got creative and delivered a resolution that added welcome layers to Red and Ruby. (Also: Poor, poor Peter.)
The Storybrooke plot was dominated by another investigation - Emma's in searching for Kathryn and looking into a possible murder. The investigation itself is a bit of a slog to follow with various filler moments before the last scene (forgive me for saying that I'm getting bored of Regina acting like Regina), but it eventually paid off in two ways.
Firstly, Ruby going back to the diner was a neat and tidy end to her subplot. Again, the parallels with the fairytale story are pretty obvious, but that's par for the course for Once Upon a Time.
Then there was the moment when Emma revealed to David and Mary her findings from the box Ruby found. Up until that moment, David was the prime suspect in Kathryn's disappearance - especially with the blackouts. And it hardly gets better when the box contains a human heart inside.
But a twist is thrown into the story when Emma says that it wasn't David's fingerprints on the box. Are they Regina's? Has her insidious scheming and plans to frame David fallen apart? No. The fingerprints belong to Mary, of all people.
The reveal was unexpected (at least, from my perspective) and subsequently pretty great. The question remains, though, how this sets up the next episode. The 'falsely accused and framed' concept has been done time and time again, so I hope Once Upon a Time can surprise me like this week.
I found 'Red-Handed' to be a solid instalment overall. It still has its slight flaws, but in this case, they're redeemed by some superb moments and an intriguing and long-overdue look at the background of Red Riding Hood.
What did you think of the episode? Leave your comments below!