Monday, November 11, 2013

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x7)

Filler, on TV, is defined as an episode that does little to nothing to advance the overall plot or continue the characters emotional development. When you have to write 22 episodes a season, chances are that will have the occasional filler episode that falls a little flat. I'm not sure if I'd classify this weeks episode of Once Upon A Time, "Dark Hollow," as filler per se, but to be sure it wasn't as good as last week's "Ariel." The main problem seems to be that we are more or less going in circles. Every effort to #SaveHenry ends up taking another tangent--we must find Tinkerbell; we must find Bae's cave; we must #SaveCharming; we must #SaveNeal; and now we must capture a magical flying shadow and trap it in a coconut. (wow does that sound weird). While this does advance the plot to eventually get out of Neverland, the main focus was not the actual capturing of the shadow but instead on the increasingly weary love triangle of CaptainSwanFire. So my take on the Neverland events of this episode are less than pleasing; however, I did enjoy the Storybrooke aspects, if only because it gave us a chance to get out of the dark, back into the light, and my one true pairing (OTP) had a small little reunion. 

BeautyFish

First, how great is it to see my two favorite Disney Princesses on screen together? I am five years old at heart and this is basically a dream come true. Belle needs a friend; she has never really integrated into the Storybrooke Family. She's the odd girl out in a lot of ways--she's the true love of the Dark One, a man who spent 300 years terrorizing most of the inhabitants in an effort to get his Curse cast and find his son. She is the only person who not only understands Rumple, but loves him through and through. Belle has never had much screen time with any of the other cast members because her story is really a reflection of Rumple. It's a big complaint of the fandom who love her and love her for more than just Rumbelle. So for Belle to now have a friend is a nice development and the fact that it's Ariel is just epic. We start this episode in the past, our only flashback for the episode. Because these writers HATE me, apparently, they made me watch Rumple leave Belle on the docks again. Because I didn't scream and cry for a week after it happened in May. (yes, I totally did. Don't judge me. This couple has me under their spell). Rumple has left Belle with a protection spell; he trusts only her to cast the spell and ensure that Storybrooke is safe from other members of the Home Office who are coming.

Belle's confidence is shaken. She tries so hard to be a hero and it never seems to go quite right. Of course, this is largely not her fault. Belle has a nasty habit of being captured, tied up, held prisoner, or shot by errant pirates. And now, Belle has had to watch the love of her life sail away, leaving her behind, claiming that he is going to his death. Poor girl can't catch a break. Let's not forget, it was only moments ago that she even got her memories back from being Racy Lacey. So when it comes time to put up the barrier spell, she is nervous about being able to perform the task. Thankfully, Sneaky Fairy is there to tell her to just believe. So Sneaky Fairy, what is going on inside your head right now? Are you worried? Are you happy? Are you going to become some sort of tyrannical overlord, demanding that the residents of Storybrooke pay you homage? However, cast the spell Belle does. Did you catch the obvious "Under the Dome" reference? It wasn't subtle. So long as Max No-Last-Name doesn't suddenly appear in the middle of the street demanding that Belle and Ariel fight to the death for a candy bar, I'll leave the reference alone.

However, Belle's hesitation allows two mysterious men in a shiny red car to pass over the line and into Storybrooke. I've known for sometime that these two men were coming and I've long suspected that they were the Darling Brothers, John and Michael. One is wearing glasses, the other has a teddy bear keychain swinging from this rear view mirror. My other theory is that these two men are responsible for getting Little Henry to Storybrooke 11 years go. After Emma gave birth, the baby had to be stolen away into the night and taken to a town that doesn't exist. This was all part of Pan's plan; he had to make sure Henry would grow up in Storybrooke, eventually seek out Emma, who would break the Curse thereby allowing his minions to get into town and take Henry. Their current mission? Find out why Ariel is in Storybrooke and make sure that whatever object Rumple wants never makes it back to Neverland. We'll talk more about their motivations in a second.

Rumple gives Ariel a sand dollar to present to Belle. I have been waiting for a Rumbelle reunion for months. MONTHS, ok? Vision!Belle was great the first time around but then Pan had to go and ruin it by having his shadow impersonate Belle and after that, all I wanted was a real reunion. Well, this is as close as we were going to get until the Jolly Roger gang sails back into town. The sand dollar contains a message from Rumple (sigh) in which he tells Belle that he has found another way to defeat Pan without dying in the process (sigh) but he needs an object from his shop; this object is hidden away and Belle will only find it with the power of their love (I died). There was no question about what this meant, really. Rumbelle have an actual tangible metaphorical symbolic object: Chip. Chip is a little tea cup who has survived just about everything that has been thrown at it: being dropped by Belle, almost being smashed by Rumple, being captured by Moe at Regina's suggestion, actually being smashed by Amnesiac!Belle, and then finally healed and cured by Rumple. It is very much tied to the overall Rumbelle story, as Belle puts it: "no matter how much its been through, it survived. Just like our love." (it was at this point during my rewatch that I started crying). The cup leads Belle to a secret trap door in the shop where Rumple has hidden a very interesting little object: Pandora's box.

While I have high hopes that the magical object in question will play a vital role in the arc, this is where ONCE always has problems: too many magical objects that are only useful for an episode or two and then are never expanded upon. We will probably never learn more about the Pegasus sail or sextant of "Good Form." We will never see the magical compass of Season 2 ever again. I hope Pandora's box isn't given the same treatment. So, Pandora then. This is a pretty common myth, one that most people learn in grade school. Pandora, was gifted with curiosity by the gods (Zeus knew what was going to happen but Zeus being Zeus...) and was also given a box (actually it was a jar, but let's leave the Greek vocab lessons at home) and told not to open it. Of course she did and evil spilled out, but Pandora shut the lid on the box/jar before Hope could escape. What does our box hold? It's a good question and a bit confusing. Belle says that according to legend it held the world's darkest evil, but if it's Pandora's box then hasn't it already been opened? Meaning that the only thing left inside is hope. Why does Rumple want a box of hope? Will the hope restore light to Neverland? Will it "cure" Pan? Of course at this point Glasses and Keychain decide to show up and tie Belle and Ariel up and steal the box. These two are not like Greg and Tamara of before: they know who they are working for, Peter Pan. They are not merely lackies. They take the box, intent on destroying it. Belle and Ariel break free and go after them and we learn why the two men are doing all this: Pan has their sister. For over a century, Pan has been holding Wendy Darling captive and has forced John and Michael into service. If they can prevent Rumple from killing Pan then Peter will let their sister go. But Belle, being Belle, manages to convince the brothers to join their side with the promise that Rumple will save Wendy. The box is sent back to Neverland with Ariel. Regina re-enchants Ariel's bracelet so that she can have legs whenever she wants; before Ariel can swim back to Storybrooke and find her Prince, Rumple gives Ariel one final message: "tell Belle I love her and that I will see her again." Dear readers, you really don't want to know what this did to me. Sufficient to say that there was a lot of hugging of random objects and crying. (I need help).

It's a Trap! 

It's good to know that the magic mirror conversation in "Good Form" between Henry and family actually helped Henry hold on to the hope and belief that his family was coming for him. He is now less open to Pan's suggestions, something Pan doesn't like and needs to rectify. Time to bring in the other person in the cage. This whole plan of Pan's to get Henry to do what he wants was overly contrived and I'm pretty disappointed that Henry fell for it. Of course he'd want to help the person in the cage but he should have realized it was a trap all along. The boy has seen TV, I assume? Whenever the bad guy says loudly, "make sure (the good guy) doesn't follow you!" it's pretty obvious what is going on. But still Henry trails Felix through the woods; Felix, who is walking just slow enough, through a perfectly clear path, for Henry to follow. Seriously, kid. You're the son of two thieves and adopted son of the Evil Queen. All this following ends with the revelation of who was in the cage to begin with: was anyone surprised that it was Wendy "Bird" Darling? I've known for sure that it was her for sometime now but I'm guessing it wasn't too hard to put together.

Wendy Darling tells Henry that magic is leaving Neverland and it's killing her. For reasons. Honestly, I was just confused as to why a 13 yr old who has been kept in a cage this whole time wasn't looking worse for the wear. I love Freya Tingly, but she was far too clean, blonde and healthy looking. Unless Pan hasn't been keeping her in a box for 100 years? Henry of course will do whatever it takes to save the girl; it's part of who Henry is. He wants to be a hero, a warrior, someone out of this beloved stories. Also, he's 11. ELEVEN. If I see any serious HenWen shippers....ugh. However, I do think this scene effectively kills the Pandy ship. "Now, get back to your cage!" Oh my. Pan is an evil evil little boy. I was creeped out by his instance that Wendy stay in her cage. The fact that Wendy hasn't aged at all from her 13 yr old self makes me wonder if Wendy ever left Neverland. We know the Shadow can impersonate humans, so who is to say that when Wendy Darling came back home in Season 2 "Second Star to the Right" that it wasn't the Shadow playing a trick in order to get Baelfire to Neverland.

Dante's Forgotten Level of Hell: The Love Triangle 

Let's get the plot part out of the way because I want to talk about Hook and Neal's relationship and the 180 this show has done in a matter of two episodes. Neal's plan is to capture the shadow in a coconut. The shadow can take them home because it can fly. I really hope this isn't how they actually get home. It needs to be the Jolly Roger flying with pixie dust. The shadow lives in a place called Dark Hollow (sorry Emma, no "Sunshine Valley" or "Rainbow Cove"). This is the darkest place on the island, so dangerous that even Hook avoided it. Neal however went there as a boy to get out of Neverland. The trio of awkward, Neal, Hook and Emma, head out but only after Hook informs Neal that he and Emma had "a dalliance" and kissed. Of course this shakes Neal. Hook is the man with whom his mother ran off, leaving his father an even more broken man which eventually lead to Rumple becoming the Dark One and ect. Now the mother of his child and the woman he loves more than anything is kissing this leather clad pirate? Neal is trying to keep it together but these men are just not capable of doing that and a fight ensues. Of course it happens right when the shadow begin to swarm them. The level of testosterone of that fight was disgusting. They aren't fighting over who gets to light the coconut, they are fighting over Emma. "I must prove that I am the man for you by getting this candle lit!" And all it does is piss Emma off, cause the two men to be captured by shadows (and almost have their own shadows ripped off in the process) and then Emma has to light her own candle using the magic Regina taught her (do you hear that? That is the sound of the SwanQueen fandom dying happy death and convincing themselves that Emma and Regina are true love).

I was so proud of Emma reading both men the riot act after the manage to escape Dark Hollow, Pan's shadow trapped inside the coconut. All she cares about right now is Henry. He is all she can handle. I know it seems weird to the audience, but for Emma it has only been about 9 months since she even came to Storybrooke. Emma will choose Henry every time. The rest of this triangle nonsense doesn't mean anything right now because all Emma can handle is saving Henry. Speaking of choosing, let's talk CaptainFire and Hook's "declaration" that he will "win" Emma. I have a major problem with the way Hook has done a 180 in the past few episodes. For the first four episodes of the season, he was just in as much mourning for Nealfire as Emma was. This was a boy whom Hook wanted to raise, a boy he considered to be like a son to him. And now suddenly it is as if all that is water under the bridge and Neal is nothing more than a object in the way of his desire: Emma. It makes no sense given what we've seen in the first few episode and more to the point, all the interviews Colin (Hook) has given in regards to CaptainFire (trust me, I've read them all). Colin has been adamant that the reason CSF is so complicated is because Hook does love Nealfire as his son. And yet right now Hook is acting like a controlling ass and that Emma is a prize to be won.

I did not find his speech romantic at all. I found it possessive. Let's talk Hook's psychology for a second. The man has a bit of OCD. He becomes obsessed very easily. Now in many ways, this is keeping with Hook's original characterization in the novels where he is obsessed with killing Peter Pan and maintaining good form. The same can be said of our Hook; as a naval officer he was obsessed with good form in his men--proper dress and no drinking. Then he (very quickly) became a pirate where he was obsessed with being the best thieving pirate he could be, despite only a short time earlier being an incredibly clean cut gentleman. Then Milah came into and out of his life and his obsessive personality becomes even more clear. After Rumple killed Milah, Hook spent close to 300 years in Neverland plotting his revenge. Nothing else mattered, just finding a way to avenge Milah. He was obsessed with getting information about how to kill Rumple, even taking young Baelfire aboard and trying to get information out of him--of course, Hook wasn't counting of growing close to Bae. So his speech to Emma as the trio of awkward heads to the Dark Hollow is just another show of being a possessive obsessed pirate. He doesn't tell Emma that he loves her or that he's wants to have a shot with her; he declares that he WILL win her heart and that she MUST choose between him and Neal. I'm sorry but what? Emma is free to do whatever she wants. She can choose to love you or Neal or Regina or another man altogether. Hook believes that every woman must be dying of love for him; there is no question in his mind that he can win Emma because he's Hook, why wouldn't he be able to? I found it disturbing at best that Hook thinks he can just make proclamations like that and expect to get away with it. And then when Emma read the two boys the riot act and told them that Henry was her only focus, Neal apologized (twice) but Hook just sulked away looking miffed that Emma hadn't noticed how brave he had been. I am beginning to think that Hook doesn't actually care about saving Henry. To him, saving Henry is just the road to getting Emma. Neal has been apologizing again and again for what he did to Emma, but Hook has yet to say anything about the role he played in Henry getting kidnapped, or leaving everyone to die in Storybrooke. He is being whitewashed like crazy by the writers and I am only growing more resentful of it. And in the end, it is only Neal with whom Emma's interests align. Neal's, "let go save our son" is exactly on point with Emma. Neal had a bad moment in which all his childhood issues were brought to light with Hook's "yeah we kissed" moment but he can take a step back and realize that Henry is the only thing that matters. Hook, on the other hand, acts like a petulant child because he didn't get his way.

Miscellaneous Notes on Dark Hollow

--Snow and Charming finally had their first real fight. The fight felt very real, despite it being about magic. Of course Snow would stay with Charming in Neverland and he knows that but he doesn't want that for her. It wouldn't be fair of him to ask. "Love is sacrifice," Charming says. Ever the white knight, he is.

--Good to see Tinkerbell again. And no, there is no FireFairy ship. And why? Because Bae was 14 when they met and that's wrong. They are more than welcome to be friends but to link them romantically is just ew.

--I liked Regina's incredulous, "you (Rumple) really love her (Belle)." All this time, Regina has seen Rumple as just the Dark One, she's never been able to see behind the mask he wears. It surprises her that Rumple can love someone so deeply. And of course Rumple is spot on that Regina is jealous that she doesn't have someone. OutlawQueen: it's coming!

--Ariel was in Gold's shop and said, "look at this stuff." Oh the joy!

--And one more time, "tell Belle I love her and she was right. I will see her again." (I die)


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