Monday, October 7, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x2)

When it comes to identity, negotionating who we are can be a very tricky game. Somehow we have to synthesize who we think we are, who society thinks we are, who are our peers think we are, who society and peers want us to be, and perhaps most importantly who we want to be. Often times, who we think we are doesn't match who we really are or want to be. Are you the Savior or the Orphan? Are you the Princess or the Queen? Are you the Dark One or a Coward? And are these ideas mutually exclusive? In this weeks episode of Once Upon A Time, "Lost Girl," Emma, Snow and Rumple struggle with the question of : who am I? 

No One's Daughter 

This season of Once Upon a Time already feels like it will truly be Emma's season. Last episode, she swan-dove (pun intended) off the side of the Jolly Roger to break up a fight then declared herself a Mother and the Leader of the little clan of mismatch heroes and villains. This week, creeper Peter Pan (who continues to be exceptionally freaky) set Emma a test: to find Henry you must recognize who you really are. And when you do that, your path to Henry will be made apparent. The trek through the jungle is not going well; it has been many years since Hook set foot on the island and things have changed a wee bit. As the Jolly Roger Five take refuge for the night, Emma is awoken by the crying of the Lost Boys. Interesting that no one else can hear the cries, something Pan remarks on. Is Emma's abandonment situation unique enough to warrant this special ability--or is Pan playing a trick on her? Can Pan control Neverland in this way? Hook was abandoned by his father too, or so he claims. Regina did not have a happy upbringing. Why can't they hear the cries? My only guess at this moment is that they all knew their families, however cruel it might have been. Emma, on the other hand, was less than a few hours old when Snow and Charming put her in the magical wardrobe. She never knew her parents or really any kindness at the hands of others until she 18 and met Nealfire. She was utterly alone her whole life--much like the orphans of Neverland. Emma has a connection to these kids, and it's something I expect to come up time and time again this season.

In order to find Henry, Pan gives Emma a magical map that will only reveal Henry's true location when she admits who she is, when she "stops denying who [you] really are." The problem is that Emma--and her great walls of China--prevent her from opening up and saying who she really is. As she talks to the map she starts out very basic: Henry's mother, bails bondperson, sheriff. And then slowly goes into territory that is still new to her--the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, the product of true love, and then something she denied for almost two whole seasons: "the S word" as Regina so snarkily said: the Savior.  Emma's entire life was built around being the Savior, the only person in existence who could break the Curse and bring back the happy endings. But even this belief isn't enough to trigger the magic map.

After a very cool fight between the Jolly Roger Five and the Lost Boys, Emma--more defeated than ever--finally opens up to Snow about who she really is: an orphan. She's a scared lost little girl who has never had parents or a reason to believe that her parents ever loved her. "On this island," she says, "I just feel what I've always been: an orphan." She, more than anyone on this show, was really and truly abandoned. Even if it was "to give you your best chance" she still grew up totally and wholly alone. And Snow, who wants to be a mom to Emma, needs to reconcile how she sees her daughter with how her daughter sees herself. Emma may have called Snow "mom" at the end of season two when they all thought they were going to die, but it doesn't hold weight anymore. In Neverland, people have no future meaning they must confront their past. Snow and Charming's new job is not to be the parents to a princess like they hoped, but to fragile, broken, orphan Emma. "It's my job to change that," says Snow. I look forward to a lot more Snow and Charming parenting moments and Emma gradually opening up to letting them be parents to her.

The Once and Future Queen 

The first flashback on the new season felt very classic Once Upon A Time--Snow White and Prince Charming vs the Evil Queen. Having just awakened from her sleeping curse, Snow and Charming have pledged to take back the kingdom--but Regina would never make it that easy, now would she? Regina offers Snow White a deal: give up your claim to your father's throne and I'll let all of you live. If you refuse me, then it means war and I'll kill your subjects. We've seen many sides of Snow White--spoiled brat, dignified princess, bandit, and warrior. But this Snow is unsure of herself; all she knows is that she doesn't want to be alone. She'd rather take Charming and the dwarves and go live on a farm than have to fight for what is rightfully hers. Notice the parallels between Snow and Emma here--Snow doesn't want to be alone like she has been in the past; all Emma knows is being alone and suddenly the idea of having family around her only reinforces how alone she was for so long. But unlike Emma, Snow has a Knight in her corner. Charming devises a plan that allows Snow to remember who she is--the rightful Queen of the Enchanted Forest. The whole Camelot and Excalibar plot felt a little heavy handed to me, and I think it was pretty obvious that Charming was tricking his beloved, well intentioned of course but ONCE needs to remember that simplicity is better. Even bringing in the idea of Camelot is going to make it hard to not go there someday.
And it also felt like the writers forgot that they already introduced Camelot and Arthurian legend in season two's "Lady of the Lake." So now I'm wondering why Snow didn't mention that she knew more about Camelot to Lancelot in that episode. Keep focused, writers. Your fans know this stuff like the back of our hands. In the end, war is declared between the two sides, as we knew it would. Snow will not let her subjects be left to the Evil Queen. Snow recognizes that she is not the scared little princess anymore, but a warrior, a bandit and a Queen.

I Will Follow You Into the Dark

Let's go ahead and make one thing clear: I ship Rumbelle harder than I've ever shipped anything. It's a little scary how much I love these two. Blame the fact that "Beauty and the Beast" was my favorite Disney movie as a child. Blame my love of Rumple. Blame my own damaged tortured inner psyche. Blame what you will: I squealed like a crazed fangirl during the Rumbelle scenes. They were dark but beautiful. Poignant and sweet and altogether a perfect example of just WHY Rumple needs Belle so much. She is his moral center, his conscience. When Rumple contemplates doing something evil or wrong, or taking the easy path, she is there to remind him that there is good inside of him and that he can be a good man. Rumple's self doubt is obviously evident this episode. His thinks his past and his future are one and the same; he is the Dark One, leather clad and all. In order to stay the Dark One, he carves out his shadow (side note: WOW) and send his shadow with his dagger into hiding. If Pan knows Rumple is on the island, the dagger is a severe liability. Rumple cannot be controlled right now--which is somewhat ironic as Rumple is being controlled by other things, mainly his fear of being just like his father.  Rumple is torn between how he perceives himself--the coward and heir to his father's cowardice--and how he wants to be perceived--The Dark One, who isn't afraid of anything.

Rumple has a physical reminder of his father and both his father's and his cowardice--the doll. This week we learned that the doll is the last thing Rumple ever received from his father before his father left him (cue my heartstrings). When Rumple admits that he's a coward and just like his father, it is heart breaking but there is Belle, the only person who has ever seen the goodness in the Dark One reminding him that just because can make the selfish and wrong decision, doesn't mean he will. And so Rumple rejects the past, and throws the doll off a cliff into the water abyss.

And THEN IT COMES BACK. This is freaky. This is--in fact--beyond freaky. This is something out of a horror film. Can Pan control the doll? Can he continually resend it back to Rumple? Because first the doll of doom and sadness drops out of the sky to land at Rumple's feet. And then he burns it, only to have it appear in front of him again! My on going theory is that the doll will only finally be destroyed when Rumple truly accepts the past and accepts who he is. In this episode, we saw Emma acknowledge that she's an orphan; we saw Snow embody a Queen but we did not see Rumple make a definitive decision about who he is. He is still a lost boy--coward, Dark One, lover, son, father. All these things define Rumple, but he is torn between the extremes.

Miscellaneous Notes from Lost Girl 

--Raise your hand if you secretly thought that Emma would learn she was a succubus.

--This was a heavy CaptainSwan episode. I enjoyed their banter. It reminds me of myself and my best friend and we're about as sexual as a slug and a tree stump. It's pretty much exactly how we talk. And no, I'm not at all biased in this interpretation by my SwanFire goggles. (adjusts goggles)
However, I do admit that the conversation between Hook and Emma about how Hook is depicted in the Disney version of his story was hysterical. As was this little gem:
Hook : “Looks like we’ll be venturing into the Dark Jungle after all”
Emma (deadpan) “You mean the place you told us to never set foot?”
Hook: “That’s the one!”

Fine. They're cute together.  *grumbles and retreats further into SwanFire land*

--Regina has the best outfits in the entire show.

--Rufio shout out! (But what is Hook's history with Neverland and Peter Pan?)

--"I can feel his smugness." Cue the Regina/Peter Pan shippers in 3...2...1...

--Oh no, Charming! I have no doubt that he'll be saved in the nick of time but look for a lot of White Knight angst as Charming struggles to hide his injury from his family. 


  1. -I liked your theory as to why Henry was needed, to preserve the magic of the island it needs fuel. I'm not confused as to why Peter needs/wants Emma. Does he want her as a mother-figure in leu of Wendy? Someone who knows their pain and will care for all of the children? Or is something more sinister at work?
    -I say this with pure logos as I know how you feel about Rumple, but the fact that his subconscious used magic to conjure up a hallucination frightens me; it means Rumple is on the verge of unhinging.
    -Furthermore, the doll reappearing is interesting. Is Peter truly the mastermind in Neverland, or is there someone else either co-leading or perhaps pulling his strings?
    -Am I the slug or tree stump?
    -I was (allegedly) bouncing in my chair at the end where Hook and Emma were conversing and Hook further implied his interest in Emma. I thank you for acknowledging them and I bid you adieu as you retreat back to your SwanFire camp.
    -If people start shipping Regina and Peter...I may vomit. He may be centuries older than her, but his physical form and mentality is that of a psychotic 15 year old. That is not relationship material.

    1. --I don't trust Wendy Darling. I think she made a deal with Peter Pan: you can take Bae so long as you leave me and my brothers alone. I think she may still be working for him, as are her two brothers.
      --I think Rumple will continually get darker as the season goes on. I think the only thing that is going to save him from going totally over board are his Belle visions.
      --The doll is freaky.
      --Slug, obviously.
      --*glares and grumbles*
      --Nah, no real Regina and Pan shipping. But They are shipping FairyQueen (Tink and Regina)