If there’s one thing with which Once Upon A Time is not wasteful, it’s characters. The writers seem intent on getting every possible scrap of plot out of the fairy tale and literary characters we all know and love (or love to hate). This is probably a good strategy considering there are only so many classic characters from which to choose. That’s why when Jack (of beanstalk-climbing fame) was introduced and seemingly killed off all in this week’s episode (Season 2, Episode 13: “Tiny), we grew suspicious. We really enjoyed seeing a confident-if-not-cutthroat female version of Jack played by beauty Cassidy Freeman. Is this really the end of OUAT’s Jack or will we see her again?
Who is Jack?
OUAT got creative (per the usual) with their interpretation of English folktale, “Jack and the Beanstalk.” In the classic story, Jack is a poor boy living with his mother. When Jack’s mother sends him to the market to sell their cow - the last thing of value they own - he is convinced to trade it for some magic beans. His mother is furious, but the beans grow into a beanstalk that leads Jack to the house of a giant. Jack steals a handful of treasures from the giant and he and his mother live happily ever after.
OUAT’s Jack has slightly less understandable motives. In “Tiny,” she - along with Prince James (Josh Dallas) - trick Anton the giant (Jorge Garcia) into leading them into the realm of the giants where they kill all the giants save for Anton in search of treasure and magic beans. This version of Jack seems to have more in common with Cornish fairy tale “Jack the Giant-Killer” than it does “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
Is Jack Really Dead?
In “Tiny,” Jack is stabbed with a poison sword by Anton and left to die in the land of the giants by the callous Prince James. Though we do not actually see her die, Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) tells Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that the skeleton they find in the giant’s home is Jack’s in Season 2, Episode 6: “Tallahassee.”
Is Hook telling the truth? We never can be sure with him. He didn’t have any reason to lie, but that doesn’t mean he knows exactly what happened either as he wasn’t there himself when Jack and James slaughtered the giants. Could Jack have somehow survived?
Do We Want Jack to Return?
The Jack we have seen so far is not exactly a pillar of virtue. She preyed on the loneliness of Anton, pretending to be his friend only to bring about the murder of his family and destruction of his family’s livelihood (the magic bean crops), and all of it seemingly for a bit of treasure.
But the characters on OUAT are rarely so two-dimensional. We can’t help but think there is more to the story.
Could Jack be motivated by love for her mother or destitution, just like the Jack in the classic story? Does she have reason for wanting the giants dead or for needing the magic bean for herself? Or maybe this Jack really does love Prince James? He may have left her to die, but that doesn’t mean her feelings for him weren’t genuine. We’d be more than happy to throw Prince James under the bus for this whole “killing all of the giants” thing if there’s more to Jack’s story.
What did you think of Jack? Do you think she’s gone for good? Let us know in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.