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Moment of Goodness: The Big Bad Wolf is Revealed, Once Upon a Time “Red-Handed” 

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been waiting for this Red-centric episode to come along for quite a while. Earlier this season, I wrote an article wondering why we hadn’t seen anything of substance regarding Ruby/Red as of yet. I then vocalized my impatience with practically all of my friends and family who watch the show. Some of them actually didn’t think I was crazy for thinking the powers that be were taking their old sweet time giving us Little Red Riding Hood’s’ story. Some totally did. No matter, because she was finally the featured fairy tale figure in what turned out to be an excellent hour of television. And even more, it provided us with a genuinely surprising reveal. The episode tackled:

  • Ruby struggling with who she is. She may be beautiful with a great body, but her self-esteem issues are massive. She has no faith in herself and what she can accomplish. There’s a lot of fear brewing within her. Her Granny’s a tough cookie, and a bit judgmental, probably because she feels Ruby can do more with her life and isn’t. That’s why I loved it when the two have a mini-battle that ends with Ruby quitting the diner and wondering what in the world she was going to do next. She runs into Emma and Mary Margaret and not only does she quickly have a place to stay to figure out her life; she ends up getting a job as Emma’s assistant at the police station too. There, she learns she has not only mastered answering telephones and grabbing lunch, but she’s a pro at tracking things down. Emma’s impressed with Ruby’s seriously badass skill that came out of the blue — or so it seems.
Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
  • Red wanting more for herself, including a life filled with love. She lives in a house with her overprotective and cranky Granny. She’s told to wear the red cape and hood at all times because it allegedly protects her from the Big Bad Wolf that’s roaming the woods. Granny’s controlling ways threaten to smother her, especially since Red’s in love with a guy named Peter. She wants to run off with him so they can live a wonderful and adventurous life together. She knows that’s almost an impossible goal because of her Granny’s strict rules. But, Red is fierce, fearless and resourceful. After finding Snow White (who’s calling herself Mary) hiding away on her grandmother’s property, the two become fast friends. Soon, they’re hunting down the Big Bad Wolf that’s responsible for killing many of the townsmen who have been busy searching for this murderous creature.
  • Ruby figuring out she’s not as useless as she thinks. Emma has enough confidence to let the former waitress help out with the investigation into Kathryn’s disappearance. She heads to the toll bridge and quickly finds a box…with a heart in it. This gruesome discovery doesn’t sit well with Ruby. She puts an end to this particular adventure and heads back to the diner where she and Granny have a productive conversation. A more naturally pretty and tame-looking Ruby wants her job back. She feels like the diner is where she can do some good and not have to ruin people’s lives with dark and depressing news. Granny, in turn, finally shows how much faith she has in Ruby. She lets her know she wants to teach her every aspect of the business because she wants to leave her the diner after she retires. She’s proud of Ruby and all’s well in their portion of Storybrooke…for now.
Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
  • Red finding out the identity of the Big Bad Wolf. Granny tells the story of being one of the Big Bad Wolf’s victims back in the day. She shows the claw marks on her arm. She warns the townspeople that searching for the wicked wolf is a bad idea. That they all just need to hide from the animal. Red and Snow, who are trying to track down the thing so Red can be free to be with Peter, find a suspect. They think it’s Peter. So Red goes to the man she loves and tells him her suspicions. He’s due to turn into a wolf soon, so they come up with the idea to chain him up. The shackles should hold him as the transformation happens. Only that’s not what went down. Once Granny finds Snow posing for Red (she’s even wearing her red cloak), Snow confesses the big plan. The old woman instantly knows Peter’s in trouble…because Red is the Big Bad Wolf. When they find her, she’s in wolf form and she’s completely eaten Peter. They put the cape and hood over the wolf and it turns back into Red. That’s why Granny was always forcing her to wear it. It doesn’t protect her from the wolf, it prevents her from becoming the wolf. Poor Red realizes what she is and what she’s done. And as the townspeople approach, Granny encourages Snow and Red to get out of dodge.

Red being the Big Bad Wolf is something I never saw coming. I suspected Granny and Peter but never for one second did I guess that it would be Red. This show is so clever as it again puts its own unique twist on one of these fairy tale stories. I love the duality that this represents. Red will forever have to deal with the internal (and eternal) battle of good and evil on a much larger scale than most. She needs to keep wearing that cape and hood and she’ll be okay. So far, whenever we’ve seen her in the Fairy Tale flashbacks, she’s been wearing it. Will there ever another time when she’s not? Will that Big Bad Wolf rear its ugly head again? Also, Red being the wolf explains why Ruby’s an expert tracker. This is such a clever and fascinating revelation.

However, a big part of me had hopes Ruby would stay working as Emma’s assistant. I liked that dynamic. With Henry’s help, Emma started to give her more responsibility. It’s clear she needs someone to help out at the station. And it’s even more clear that Emma could use someone with Ruby’s talents. I’m glad the waitress was able to break out and have an adventure, even though she didn’t get to leave town. And I’m happy she has found an inner confidence that will help her as she takes over the diner. Hopefully, there will come a time when Emma will need Ruby’s excellent tracking skills. There’s always something nefarious going on in Storybrooke, so it just may happen.

The other part I really liked is how we finally got to see Mary Margaret and Ruby really connect. We had seen their friendship in Fairy Tale Land, but we hadn’t seen too much evidence of that connection in Storybrooke. Now we have. I also loved finding out how Ruby isn’t just some flirt with an attitude. There’s a real depth to her that is cool to see. I definitely hope we’ll learn even more about this character in the future. Meghan Ory (who plays Red/Ruby) really got a chance to shine. She did a great job.

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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  1. Cheryl

    In my honest opinion I don’t think that Ruby’s character was properly explored. The writers created a unique perspective on a popular character. As you and others have said, I’d have loved to have seen her taken on as Emma’s assistant on a more permanent basis. Her wolf-like abilities could have been used in a number of ways especially as when the curse was lifted you saw a more mature Ruby and not the party girl Ruby. I honestly felt let down by it

    1. Tina Charles

      I felt like they missed the boat entirely with Ruby. Loved her. She was one of my favorites.

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