Today The Dinglehopper presents, for your amusement, the parallels between Moonwalker and Once Upon a Time 4×01, “A Tale of Two Sisters.”
For those who’ve forgotten and those who never knew, let’s recap. Michael Jackson: Moonwalker (1988) was part of the promotional push for Bad and and Jackson’s first solo tour. It’s a series of loosely connected vignettes featuring songs from the album, some of which were released as music videos.
Let’s start with “Man in the Mirror.” On one level, taking a look at oneself and making a change is the dominant theme of the episode. It opens on Regina struggling to accept a tremendous disappointment while being confronted with her past. Sidney Glass as Mirror Mirror allows a Regina retrospective that shows her both exactly what she wants to see, they day she sentenced Marion to death; and what she needs to see, Marion’s maternal and filial motivations.
Mr. Gold’s man in the mirror is more figurative. Belle’s love and Baelfire’s death both show him a better way, but he was, and is, apparently unable to walk it. Nonetheless, he keeps trying. Maybe saying it out loud often enough will make it so.
When I looked at the video, I noticed some familiar magical effects. Jackson’s foot fog and luminous asters reminded me of Elsa. Take a look at the first ten or fifteen seconds:
“Leave Me Alone” is, of course, Elsa’s theme. She isolated herself first in her room and then in her ice palace in Frozen. Here in Storybrooke, she’s sneaking around and hiding away as well. But it’s not just Elsa. Regina’s withdrawing from the rest to sort here sorrow on her own. Emma’s avoiding hook. They’re all feeling guilty about something and pushing away those that could help. The video is actually a crazy roller coaster, so I’m not linking it.
Finally there’s “Smooth Criminal.” I was reminded of it when Gold snapped “A Tale as Old as Time” on the phonograph. Not quite a quarter arching across a crowded room, but close enough. Following this with the chandelier and the clothes and he had all eyes on the best dressed dancers.
Smooth criminal is an apt description for Rumplestiltskin, especially in this and the last two episodes of season three. Deceiving Belle and the rest of the town about the disposition of the Dark One Dagger in order to murder Zelena and then obscure his involvement should cover the criminal part. Smooth is just as obvious with the dramatic staging of the ballroom scene.
What’s interesting is that it’s also an apt description for Regina. Sure, she’s proven herself capable of admirable, even heroic, behavior. But most of what we see is collected restraint. We give her props for not lashing out. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t forget that she’d held Sidney Glass in captivity throughout her reformation.
Which brings us back to the man in the mirror. The smoothest criminal of all. What’s role ultimately going to be this season?
Bonus content: Michael Jackson:Moonwalker for Sega Genesis. With a minor character redesign Elsa could fight her way through thugs and ninja.