Monday, October 21, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x4)

Habit (n): an action done on a regular basis, usually without awareness. A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience

Many of the characters on Once Upon a Time have habits that they fall upon when pressed. Rumple has the habit of using his power to bolster is own self interest and proving that he is not a coward. Regina has the habit of using magic to take the easy way out. Emma and Neal both have the habit of running before becoming too emotionally invested. Snow and Charming have the habit of making moralistic declarations of their goodness in the face of adversity. The point is, none of our characters are perfect and they all have some nasty habit that needs to be broken. This week's episode, "Nasty Habits" really focuses on how fathers and sons (and possibly brothers) share those habits and what it takes to break the abusive cycle. 

Home Is Where the Coconut Is

In our B-plot for the week, Tinkerbell makes what is perhaps the best observation of the series so far: how in the name of sanity do you expect to get home? You want to rescue Henry, that's great. Now how are you gonna get off Peter Pan's magical mystery island of mismatched toys? Until they come up with a solid plan for leaving Neverland, Tink ain't got time for this. Only two people have ever left Neverland before: Hook and Baelfire. The former we learn made a deal with Peter (side note: WHAT. What deal? Tell me!); the latter--everyone thinks--managed to escape by his wits and cunning and without Pan's permission. If Nealfire did it once, then surely the intrepid Jolly Roger Five can do it again! To the Baelfire Cave!
Bae's cave is both illuminating and depressing. After being sold given to the Lost Boys, Bae made a life for himself by being resilient--he made his own bowls and utensils. And he spent a lot of time drawing pictures of the lives he left behind, both of the Enchanted Forest and of London with the Darlings, the first place he ever felt like he could call home since Rumple became the Dark One. There are images of portals and Rumple's hand as it opens and lets Bae fall away into the swirling vortex of terror. Baelfire has also drawn the Darling family, their house in London, and even Big Ben with two stars echoing the classic line "second star to the right and straight on 'till morning." One thing before we talk about the coconut and the starry map. I am dying to know how long Hook and Bae were together on the Jolly Roger. After the events of 222, "And Straight On Till Morning" it seemed like the safest guess was about a month. But the more this season continues the more convinced I become that it had to be more than that. Hook knows about Bae's drawing ability (which he got from Milah. Come on Emma, put these pieces together); he knows all about Bae's secret cave of wonders; and most importantly, Hook and Bae were together long enough that Bae became quite the adequate little pirate, navigating by the stars and making coded maps. At this point in time, it's wild speculation but I think I am going to say that Hook and Bae were together, as a family, for at least six months. Hook is so broken up over Baelfire, almost like Rumple, as if he too is mourning his son. It's not even that he is mourning his last tangible connection to Milah, but he is mourning his actual child.
On to the coconut. How clever is little Bae? Kids got mad skills. As of this morning, there is a lot of debate over what the star map showed but at the moment it seems like it it showed the Phoenix constellation. Which makes all my SwanFire feelings exploded in a river of angst. Personally, I have a bit of history with the mythological bird (it played a very integral role in my Master's Thesis) but on a ONCE level, this bird shows up everywhere. Here are some for instances: it was a place of rebirth for Emma and Neal as well as being the birthplace of Henry (the second in Regina’s family to bear that name), who would be the key to the rebirth of Regina. But the map is in code and no one can read it except Nealfire. Who everyone believes is dead.
This inner turmoil causes yet another heartbreaking moment from Emma (Jennifer Morrison is really hitting all the right notes this season). On the one hand, she has never stopped loving Neal but on the other hand he really hurt her. He made her feel unloved and unwanted, the two worst possible feelings for someone with the level of abandonment issues as Emma has. She is beyond angry at Neal not only for dying when she needed him the most but for waiting until he was at death's door to tell her that he has loved her all along. The way back to SwanFire is going to be long but after last night I have faith in these two. Come hell or pirate kisses.Whenever Nealfire finds his way back to the group, Emma is going to be both overjoyed that the man she has never stopped loving is alive, and angry as Hell over the past. But Neverland is where your past catches up with you and you have reevlauate who you are. Emma has a totally myopic tunnel vision her own history. She doesn't know about the level of manipulation on Peter's part to ensure that she was always lonely and friendless and without a home. She, possibly more than anyone, has been played her whole life. Once Emma and Neal begin to put the pieces together, she will see that Neal had no choice in leaving. The lives of thousands depended on her. It's going to be a bumpy ride however. Hold on, SwanFire fans.


"I wish now to go back to mother for ever and always,” they had to tickle his shoulder and let him go.
He went in a hurry in the end because he had dreamt that his mother was crying, and he knew what was the great thing she cried for, and that a hug from her splendid Peter would quickly make her to smile. Oh, he felt sure of it, and so eager was he to be nestling in her arms that this time he flew straight to the window, which was always to be open for him.
But the window was closed, and there were iron bars on it, and peering inside he saw his mother sleeping peacefully with her arm round another little boy."
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy 

Over the summer, at our OncePodcast forums, we began predicting that Rumple and Peter Pan were brothers based on the original text in which Peter goes home to his mother only to discover the window is closed (the worst thing in the Peter Pan-verse) and his mother has a new son and has forgotten Peter. This is what causes Peter to flee to Neverland so that he'll never have to grow up. In this weeks episode we finally got to see some Peter Pan and Rumple interaction. It was worth the wait. Rumple is newly crowned as the Dark One and is having quite a bit of fun using his new found power to prove his worth, however, in doing this he forces Bae to stay home for protection. Bae is restless and wants a life, apart from being the Dark One's son. One night, while Rumple is away doing goodness knows what, Bae hears the call of magic music and follows the sound. The pipes are produced by a skilled Piper who lures children away who feel unloved and unwanted.  Rumple goes in search of his son only to discover the Bacchic-esque hedonistic display of young boys dancing around a fire. Peter has been luring boys to his side because Neverland is lonely and he wants friends, except that friends here really means minions to do his bidding. There is a reoccurring theme of game play with Peter. Every episode he's made some sort of reference to "playing" "games" the "board." All of this is one giant game to him. He is a very petulant (and dangerous) little boy, used to getting his way.
I have no idea how long Peter has been in Neverland but it has been awhile. Did you notice Rumple's face when he revealed the piper to be Pan? It was horror. Horror and shock and torture and surprise, as if all his childhood trauma's were coming back to bite him. Rumple looked like a wounded little boy who was just confronted with his worst nightmare. So based on last night's episode, what do we know for sure about Rumple and Peter Pan? We know they knew each other as kids. Rumple not only tells Baelfire this, but Peter also jokes about how Rumple has "grown up" and become the Dark One implying that they knew each other at a younger age. Not only did they grow up together, but they were once very close but at some point Peter did something that Rumple feels betrayed by. What could that possibly be? Well I think for this answer, we need to discuss the psychology of Rumple a bit. For Rumple, the greatest betrayal is someone leaving. According to Pan, "being left is what you're good at." Rumple's father left, something happened to his mother, Milah left and soon (very soon) Bae will want to leave, Cora will leave him standing in a field holding her own heart in her hands. The only person who has ever come back for him--EVER in 300 years--was Belle. Rumple equates leaving with not being loved (which is totally normal when people have these abandonment issues). If you leave it means you don't love me and that must be my fault. So the betrayal that Rumple feels when it comes to Peter must be along the same lines. What's my theory? So glad you asked.

Peter is the elder brother. He was born in to a mostly loving family and had a good life. Then his mother got pregnant a second time. This pregnancy did not go well and she died in childbirth. The baby survived and was "gifted" with the name of Rumplestiltskin. The death of his wife but the survival of his second child turned the father into a violent and cruel man who emotionally and psychically abused his children. Rumple got the lion share of the abuse and Peter would often step in to help his younger brother. At some point, Peter began to formulate a plan to run away, promising to take Young Rumple with him. But something went wrong, with Peter at least. He found is way to Neverland but fundamentally changed (my newest theory is that the Shadow is NOT Peter's but is controlling Peter and turned him dark). Peter never came back for Rumple leaving him at the mercy of their father. Eventually, Rumple and Peter's father ran away because of his cowardice and fear, leaving Rumple forever alone with spinsters. Rumple continued to grow up emotionally scared, having been left so often, and Peter grew up much slower and continually got darker and more manipulative. We shall see how it plays out.

Papa Don't Preach

 The reunion between Rumple and Nealfire was heart wrenching. Rumple refuses to believe that it's Bae for sometime, thinking it another illusion to trick him into not following through on his mission. For Rumple, there are two options: either Bae is dead and he is justified in dying for Henry to honor his son OR Bae is alive and Rumple has to seriously think about the right course of action. He can kill Henry and live but loose his happy ending with Bae OR he can let Henry live, sacrifice his life in the process and die. Either way, my Rumple looses. Nealfire lived in Neverland for a very long time and knows a few tricks they can use to defeat Peter and his band of creepers (side note: I cheered SO LOUDLY when my Nealfire hit Felix). Neal's goal is Henry, as it should be. This is his child and he is willing to do what it takes for save him from having his heart ripped out. I think in the end, this will bond Neal and Rumple. Or at least cause an understanding between them. Rumple spent 300 years searching for his son, going down many paths. Neal is going to do the same. The things parents do for their children. Oh look, a theme in ONCE! However this is one major difference between the two: Rumple will kill if he has to. Nealfire will not. Neal has always been a more honorable version Rumple, maybe morally gray at times but always with a clear ethical line. While Rumple is willing to do whatever it takes to prove himself a good man and die for Henry, Neal will not cross into the dark territory. Atta boy, Nealfire.

The plan is rather simple: get Henry and then work on a way to get out of Neverland. In other words, like The Jolly Roger Five, they have no idea how to get off Neverland. After a brief stop over at the home of a rather large squid (whom we have dubbed Leggy) PapaStiltskin and son have magic squid ink to render Peter Pan immobile. They then go after the Lost Boys. But of course, getting Henry isn't going to be that easy. They may have immobilized Peter but that doesn't stop the wicked little boy from revealing to Neal that there is a prophecy in place in which Rumple has a vested interest.
And finally after speculating all summer if Rumple would tell anyone, he lays it all out in front of Nealfire. Henry is Rumple's undoing but he was willing to die for Henry after Bae died. But of course, Nealfire goes into protective Papa mode and all he hears is that his dear old dad, who has a very NASTY HABIT of killing people casually, is after his son. It is a heartbreaking moment as Neal struggles between his past with his father and knowing what kind of man he is and his future as a father in his own right, who will protect his child at all costs. And because Rumple never chose him, he will not choose Rumple this time. Neal immobolizes his father, takes his son and declares "we're safer without you," and vanishes into the jungle. Of course, this does come back to bite him. Peter and his gang of miscreants find them and take back Henry but also capture Nealfire. Neal's final shouts of his love for his son and declaring that he WILL find him again killed me. And Henry, thinking that his family really may not come for him, hears the music of Peter's pipes and joins in the Lost Boy revelry.

Miscellaneous Notes on Nasty Habits 

--This episode was full of fantastic quotes:
"I'm not a boy anymore Felix and I'm sure as hell not lost."--Nealfire
"You're my happy ending"--Rumple
"I would have chosen you."--Baelfire
"I'm plenty hot!"--Charming
"Cause I'm sure pre teen Baelfire made lots of pasta."--Regina
"Am I supposed to be impressed that he made a night light?--Regina
"I knew the moment I saw him that I never stopped loving him."--Emma

--Rumple gone native with war paint. Is it ok that I found it hot?

--I can't talk about the Rumbelle stuff yet. It really hurts. Rumple is only going to get worse before he gets better and I think the next few episodes will have the Darker One Rumple do some very questionable things. I hope Real Belle gets to Neverland soon. He needs to see that someone will always choose him and stay with him because right now he is literally shutting out his conscience and moral center, which has always been represented by Belle.

--Snow and Charming unable to be parents is very sad. All Snow wants to do is be a mother but she has no idea how to be a mother to this little girl who is so very hurt.

--CaptainCharming bromance is getting some momentum. I really need Hook to tell Snow and Emma about Charming. I think it would be a step in the right direction. 

--I say this every week but Peter Pan is so creepy. And Robbie Kay, who plays him, keeps nailing it every week. He went toe to toe with Bobby Carlyle this week and was amazing. That takes SKILL.

--Hands down best episode of the season, at least for me.


  1. I agree that if Hook is to begin redemption, he needs to inform either Emma or Snow about Charming. If he doesn't, he'll be the bad guy all over again. Though I'm curious as to what the cure is because it did seem like Hook was holding back a bit.
    I'm not surprised in the slightest that Neal does not trust Rumple, nor do I see him ever doing it. And Rumple's level of hurt is appropriate, but he also cannot be surprised by Neal's response.
    It would have been nice to have had Neal hear everything Emma said when she went on to her parents, that would have been convenient.
    Why isn't Felix effected by Pan's flute? He seems separate from the rest. Is he older? Is he not really a human?
    I really, really, REALLY do not care for Henry. We've talked about this before and though his acting skills have improved, the character is an idiot; why after a cat-nap (which lasted inordinately longer than everyone else's) does his faith in his mothers and family diminish after maybe being on the island for a few days at most?

    1. I do think Hook knows something that he's not telling Charming about a cure. I wonder if it's because he knows it's a long shot?

      Did you just switch to SwanFire???

      Felix! I have headcanon about him actually. I think he came to NL with Peter out of loyalty to Peter instead of any sort of past traumatic experience. I think Felix probably had a loving home but when his best friend Peter asked him to run away with him, he agreed cause that's what little boys do. It is VERY interesting that he can't hear the music.

      There is a running theory about Henry right now that he didn't really hear the music but he was faking it to make Pan believe that he had won. He does tell PP right before he joins that dance that he swears he heard his father yelling for him.

  2. I have not switched to SwanFire, I have just accepted that they are what is to come. I still like the idea of CaptainSwan.
    If Felix came with Peter out of loyalty, do you think that they are the rumored gay couple on the show?
    And I hope that the theory about Henry is true, otherwise it makes me want to kidnap him and put him on an island far away from me.

    1. *ignores first part*

      I hope they aren't the rumored LBGT couple. It wouldn't play out well for creators if their first openly gay couple on the show was also the bad guys who are being described as demons. They're having enough problems with diversity as it is.

      While I would like the theory about Henry to be true, I actually doubt it. I do think Henry will start to trust the Lost Boys and PP more because PP needs Henry to offer up his heart willingly and the easiest way to do that is to make him part of the family.