Monday, October 28, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x5)

Here come the fangirls. Don't worry, I'm not one of them. For whatever reason, I've never truly warmed up to our dear Captain Hook. Maybe it's because I was already a staunch Dearie and my love of Rumple clouded my judgement. Maybe it's because our first introduction to him in 204's "The Crocodile" was as a man who helped break up a family and that didn't sit well with me. Maybe it's because he isn't really Captain Hook so much as a faux-Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. And maybe it's because he uncomfortably reminds me of people in my past I'd rather forget. Whatever the reason may be, I've kept a wary eye on Hook and frowned whenever he graces my screen. This weeks episode, "Good Form," took us back in the past when Hook had two good hands (and a pony tail), and went by his rightful name of Killian Jones. Meanwhile in the present, Hook and Charming set out on an adventure together to try and find a way home. I will be frank: this was the weakest episode of the season for me. It was convoluted, confusing, and complicated. There was a lot of duplicity and deception and randomness that just didn't fit. A host of objects and plot devices were introduced seemingly out of nowhere. While I feel as though I have a better understanding of Hook now, it does not endear me toward him in the slightest. And yeah, Hook and Emma kissed. But we'll get to that. 

My Brother's Keeper

Hook got himself a funny little hat. Or, Jones, I guess I should call him. Lieutenant Jones of the Fairy Tale Land Navy and his (incredibly stupid brother) Captain Liam. Killian was a goody two shoes back in the day. He despaired of drink, sloppy dress, and "bad form." This is a nice tie into the classic Peter Pan mythology in which the fictional Captain Hook was obsessed with gentlemanly conduct and "good form." Even pirates have codes and there is honor among thieves as we learned in the last episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Jones and Jones have been tasked by the King (who knows which one?) to travel to a distant land. This land isn't familiar to anyone and the way to get there is rather complicated. Welcome to this evening's first two "magical mystery objects that have no significance outside this episode!" First up, a special golden inlaid sextant which is used to chart the stars and help guide the sailors. Of course the directions to Neverland are as always vague and no sailor in their right mind would simply say, "second star to the right and straight on 'till morning." 
The second is the Pegasus sail. Was anyone else confused as to who was chasing after the Jones's ship? The flag they were flying looked identical to the Naval flags the Jones' brothers were flying. Why were they suddenly being fired upon? Was it the incredibly vague enemy of the equally vague war Liam and Killian kept discussing in such a roundabout way that all it did was create more questions when I should be focusing on Neverland?
So here we have the Pegasus sail. For those unaware, the Pegasus was a Greek mythic creature who was part horse and part bird. He is normally associated with the hero Hercules. Apparently someone got a hold of this creature, cut all its feathers off and made a nice little sail for this boat. Oh and they painted a Pegasus on it too. Convenient sail is convenient. Why didn't they use pixie dust? You know, the traditional method of travel for the Jolly Roger. There is speculation that because that image of the flying Jolly Roger is so iconic, the writers and producers are saving it until the final scene of season 3. Perhaps. But man was this sail stupid. What happened to the poor Pegasus? He is now locked in some stable, wingless and sad, being ridden by stable boys and girls?

Anyway, the Jones brothers manage to fly, with their Pegasus sail, to Neverland where they run into Peter Pan. After 5 episodes we finally have the classic showdown I think most of us have been waiting for. Peter and Hook are iconic hero/villain characters and the audience has been waiting for that history to be uncovered. But unlike last week where Rumple and Peter met even though they are not traditionally associated with each other, this meeting between Hook and Pan fell flat. There were no sword fights. No taunting. No "codfish" references. Just Peter being enigmatic and Killian making deals he did not understand.

There are no kings in Neverland, just Peter.  Peter has been there for such a long time (seriously, how old is he?!) and Liam reveals that the real reason they've come to Neverland is in search of a plant that can cure any ill. When he shows the drawing of this plant to Peter, Pan laughs and says that this plant is used to kill people, not to save them. The plant in question is of course dreamshade, thus explaining how Hook knows so much about it in present day Neverland. Liam refuses to trust Pan given that the boy is only about 17 (in appearance) and the brothers set off to find the plant. Killian is at least a little bit skeptical and questions if the King would really send them after a magical plant or if this is a way to win that incredibly vague war against the incredibly vague enemy. Liam tells him that the King would do no such thing and to prove a point, cuts himself with the thorn of the dreamshade plant. Because he is apparently stupid. I don't care if you have blind faith in your ruler but rule number one of hiking through a mystical jungle that required you to FLY A SHIP to get to, where there are no living inhabitants except a boy claiming to be king is "don't trust the wildlife." And of course, within seconds Liam is on the ground near death as the dreamshade works its way up to his heart.

Killian is desperate and Peter shows up (the kid can vanish and reappear at will. He gets creepier by the second) to taunt Killian and make a deal. There are mystical waters on the island that are enriched with the magic of Neverland that keeps everyone so young and healthy. If Killian gives Liam a drink of this water, Liam will live. But, as Pan says, "all magic comes with a price!'" (TeamBrothers!) Killian is willing to do anything to save his brother and gives him the water. The two brothers, Liam now restored to health, set sail back to the Enchanted Forest feeling lucky to be alive. But as soon as they leave Neverland the price of magic becomes clear. Anyone who drinks of the water can never leave. The magic only works in Neverland. Liam falls down dead and Killian has lost his brother for good. Having lost his faith in the king and now his brother, the only (logical?) thing to do is become a pirate! Killian wastes no time persuading his men to join him in turning their backs against what he thought was "good form." Killian, the sailor, tosses his uniform off the ship, renames his beloved boat the Jolly Roger and Killian Jones, leather wearing pirate is born. There were a lot of call backs to The Crocodile in this episode; Liam died in Killian's arms and then was buried at sea just like Milah. The problem was that the flashbacks, while maybe the best bit of the episode, fell flat because of the convoluted reasoning behind everything. Why is the fountain of youth in Neverland? How does this affect time--because biological time is supposed to just stop in Neverland. And if the spring if still alive and plentiful today then why does Peter Pan need Henry's heart as the truest believer to restore the magic? What is Henry's heart going to do--make it a pleasant 70 degrees with no humidity and ensure that a nice steady rain falls every day so that the spring never dries up? Is Pan going to drop the heart in the water and *magic* the waters return to their magical ways? Except that clearly the magic hasn't faded in Neverland at all since Pan hasn't aged and the waters healed Charming! Speaking of Charming, let's move on to that little adventure.


Charming is a noble idiot. And I mean that lovingly, I swear. He is willing to die if it means there are no detours in finding Henry and getting out of Neverland. Hook, seeing that he can not convince Charming to tell Snow and Emma, decides to play on Charming's inner knight: he informs Charming that he may have a way out of Neverland but the adventrue is fraught with peril and most likely Charming won't survive. Naturally, Charming jumps at the chance to die for true love and family. It's what he does; it's part of his heroic code. It does make a reasonable amount of sense that Charming and Hook would grow closer. One is the White Knight with the chivalric code of honor; the other is the a pirate, a sort of Dark Knight, with his own code of honor that may not include rescuing damsels in distress but does have its own merits. In a lot of ways, Hook and Charming are each others mirror. Hook's plan is duplicitous at best: up a very tall mountain the sextant Liam used to get to Neverland is buried. They may be able to use the sextant to decode the coconut star map to figure a way out of Neverland. Sounds like a plan?

The two set off into the heart of darkness and it isn't long before Hook runs into Peter Pan. This was maybe my favorite scene of the episode. Peter has the upper hand, he knows why Hook is really doing this: Emma. It isn't so much that Hook cares about Charming as he does the affect of Charming's death will have on Emma, especially if it is found out that Hook knew all along. I'm going to take a side note here. For the first four episodes, Hook has been an honest to heaven gentleman when it comes to Emma. He held a small service for Nealfire in the bowls of the Jolly Roger; he praised Neal's pirate and survival abilities; he has been incredibly respectful about the fact that Emma just lost the man she loved AND more to the point, Hook is also grieving for Neal, the latter having been like a son to him. And then in this episode, despite it being only a day or two since that loss, he's hitting on Emma and eying her like some sort of letch. This entire episode felt off kilter because half our characters were doing things they wouldn't do. Why the sudden warp drive like pursuing of Emma? Was it just to justify the kiss? Way too strong, Hook. Way too strong.

Back to Pan and Hook. Pan alludes to all the business done in the past between the two. Pan reminds Hook of all the "dirty work" Hook did for him. What dirty work? What was Hook doing for Pan for those 300 years he was in Neverland? Was he leaving Neverland for brief amounts of time and bringing back boys to the island? Pan offers Hook a deal: kill Charming to prove your loyalty and I'll let you and Emma leave the island, she left her son once before she can do it again and you can help pick up the pieces. Sadly, we'll never know if Hook would have taken the deal because Charming overheard. Hook and Charming fight (for the second time this episode) and after Charming is lying on the cold hard ground, Hook offers him the waters of Neverland. It will cure Charming but it will force him to stay in Neverland forever. Charming say it's worth it and gulp, down goes the water. The two head back for the camp, new buddies. Speaking of the Jolly Roger Camp, in the intervening time Regina, Emma and Snow have come up with a plan. Y'know...for Henry.

I Sure Hope Neverland Has Insurance

Dear Henry, just because you can turn things into weapons, doesn't mean you should. Just an idea. Some people are wondering why Henry is so taken with the lost boys in such a short amount of time, but I think we need to look at Henry's life up until this point. He was friendless, in a time frozen bubble with an uber controlling mother, who was also an evil sorceress. This is the first time he has been among people who respect him as more than just the "kid." He is special to them. It does worry me that Henry became violent so quickly, but I was mollified by how guilty he felt the next time we saw him. Emma recognizes that Henry might start loosing hope and so they come up with a plan: kidnap a lost boy, bribe him with candy to take a message to Henry. What they don't count on is how loyal the lost boys are to Peter Pan. They don't want to leave or go home; they like Neverland and they like Peter. So what are two desperate mothers to do? Why take a heart of course.

Emma allowing Regina to take Devin's heart was both disturbing and justified. Poor Snow looked so traumatized that her daughter had allowed this to happen but there are lines Snow won't cross, even for family. The last time she did, she ended up with a black spot on her own pristine heart. But Emma and Regina aren't like Snow; they will go as many miles as are required to get Henry back. "I think we need to talk to our son," Emma tells Regina and with that the two of them find common ground in the midst of so much hostility.
Operation-Cobra-Rescue is now in full swing with a helpful little minion to play with but did Henry actually believe that his family is coming for him? He thought it was a trick and instead of pocketing the mirror for safe keeping, he dropped it and it shattered. Might he not want the family to come for him after all? What does he have to go back to? A family that constantly fights and uses magic against each other? A life where he must go to school and is told that his chance to be a hero will come someday, but not now? The appeal of Neverland is that you never have grown ups telling you what to do, you get to be the hero in your own little adventure story and I think that appeals to Henry. Alright, let's talk the smoochies.

My dislike of this episode is not actually ship related, as I hope I've been showing. It was a messy episode where they seem to throw things at a wall and see what stuck. Was I happy about this kiss? No not really. Did I know it was coming? Duh. Everyone and their brother did! They spoiled the heck out of this scene: pictures, gifs, sneak peeks. This is what the marketing department loves: a smoulder. I don't know what it means for "endgame" but the triangle is in full bloom. Is it a one time thing like Emma said? I doubt it. But I think it all depends on what happens next. There is some question of agency when it comes to this kiss: would Emma have done it under normal circumstances if Hook hadn't been making the suggestion and planting it in her head AND if Emma hadn't just been regaled with a tale of how Hook saved her father. I do think Hook was coercing her with suggestion but she did act on it. It's hard to tell what would have happened if Hook had just accepted Emma's thanks instead of asking if "her father's life wasn't worth more to her?" But it's over and done with and now we can move on. Oh wait, what's that? Pan showed up afterwards and told Hook that Nealfire is alive and in Neverland? Well that complicates things, doesn't it? What will Hook do: take the selfish path and keep it to himself or do the honorable thing and tell Emma? Or will it be both? My guess is that he will struggle deeply with this news but then decide to tell her only to find out that it's too late: Emma has already found out.

Miscellaneous Notes on Good Form

--Once again Regina has some of the best lines:
"I don't do rum"
"What I wouldn't give for another sleeping curse."

--Who is in the box? My top guesses are: Rumple and Pan's father, Real Belle, and Wendy Darling.

--One of the regulars over at my forum also thought this episode felt off and said that it felt, in large part, "fan service-y." Quite a few fan bases were appealed to last night: EvilRegals, Hookers, SwanQueen shippers, the CaptainSwan shippers, and the bromance of CaptainCharming. Everyone felt like they were just a hair to the left of where there characters normally are.

--No Rumple, no Neal, and no Belle. Yeah, I was just gonna love this episode wasn't I?

--Next week: ARIEL. OMG. ARIEL. My blog of next weeks show will be nothing but inner 3yr old spazzing with joy.


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