Monday, November 18, 2013
In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (3x8)
I very rarely flat out hate TV characters. Even if I find them taxing or unsympathetic, I try my best to at least understand them: their motives, their desires, their impulses. Even with Milah, my former least favorite character on ONCE, I tried to understand her boredom and dissatisfaction with her lot in life, lashed to the village coward and stuck in a dreary lifestyle. However, Malcolm might be the very worst character I've ever seen on ONCE. With these writers, backstories of villains are supposed to elicit sympathy and give the audience a better understanding of how our villains became who they are. Regina, the villain of season one, was an emotionally and physically abused young girl who lost the love of her life when her mother (another truly nasty person) ripped out his heart. Cora, the villain of season two, was poor and shunned and the daughter of a drunk who often forgot to do his work. Rumple...well, let's face it. Every time we get another Rumple backstory, it only add to how incredibly tragic his life has been. When ONCE first started a few years ago, I was instantly drawn to Rumple because he was so freakish; alone in his cell, green gold skin and obviously insane. But with his first backstory, "Price of Gold," I couldn't understand why they weren't mixing Rumple's story up; it appeared to be the very typical Rumplestiltskin story we all know. And then "Desperate Souls" happened, and I think I fell--well-- desperately in love with the man. Every single Rumple episode since then has been one of desperate loneliness and self hatred. Rumple's entire psychology can be reduced to one moment in his life: when his father left him. And this week we finally saw how that played out.
Man, this review is getting long. And I still have to deal with the present day stuff! (Mark of a good episode is a long review). Now that the Heroes have captured the Shadow inside the magical coconut with the candle (giggle), they can finally put into action the plan they devised with Tinkerbell back in 304. Do you remember the plan? No? That's because it was forgotten in the crazy CaptainSwanFire mess. The plan is actually quite simple: attack Pan's camp from behind and grab Henry, trapping Pan inside Pandora's box. Then using the Shadow in his coconut (giggle) get out of Neverland on the Jolly Roger. Plans this simple never go the way you intend and there are several bumps along the way.
First bump: Regina and Rumple rejoin the gang. The family is finally back together and shockingly enough, they still don't quite trust each other. You see, there is still this prophecy to deal with. You know, the one that says Henry will be Rumple's undoing? The one that only Neal knows and that he tells to everyone. Because Neal had to! This is his son and trust with Rumple is tricky. How can Neal trust Rumple at all when all Rumple has ever done is let him down? As Belle said a season ago to Rumple, "you toy with words like you do people." Actions are what they need from Rumple, not words from our master wordsmith. So despite his protestations, Rumple agrees to not use magic and to hand over the box to Nealfire for safekeeping. I love every interaction between Rumple and Neal; they are my two favorite characters for a reason and every time they are together on screen, magic happens. I really wanted Rumple to open up to Nealfire, though. I think Rumple being open and honest about just who Peter Pan is would really help heal the breach between father and son. This is an abusive cycle; secrets are kept, trust is lost, fathers hurt sons and sons hurt fathers. I'm counting on Rumple to break the cycle at one point and tell Nealfire about his life, his abandonment, his loneliness, and his self hatred.
--Ok let's talking Saving Charming. This is by far the most wasted storyline of the season. It really served no purpose. In the end, all it takes is getting some magic water to take back to Storybrooke and then allowing Rumple to come up with an elixar out of stuff he already has in his shop. I am reminded of how the Blue Fairy came up with her magical memory potion at the end of season two. The dreamshade arc was totally pointless except for one thing: get CaptainSwan to kiss. That is all it served in the end. Charming as a character neither grew nor developed because of this arc. The dreamshade never even seemed like that big of a threat; Charming sweated a bit but he it barely affected him. He didn't hallucinate and outside of Hook, no one even suspected he was sick! I don't mind natural romantic moments that gradually build, but what I do mind are when other characters simply become plot devices in service of a romantic storyline.
--Best line of the night: "I'm not going in there with just my good looks." Oh Rumplestiltskin. I can't even with you sometimes. Just let me love you.
--Second best line of the night, when Rumple tries to swindle a deal for a favor out of Emma to save Charming, Neal said, "no. You'll do it because it's the right thing to do." What a contrast to Hook, who saved Charming just to get closer to Emma and then asked for smoochies in return for saving her father. Neal makes no demands. He tells Rumple there will be no tricks.
--The reason for Malcolm's name change was a bit wonky but I was ok with it in the end. Rumple named his doll (the doll that has been following him) Peter Pan and thus Malcolm takes the name of the symbol for childhood for himself. Does Malcolm care at all for Rumple? Peter claims that his actions were for the best because he could never be the father Rumple needed, but they were all motivated by selfish reasons.
--Trying to rank this episode with the others of the season so far. I'm not sure it was better than "Nasty Habits" but it's close. I think this is a solid 3rd place for me.
--The Neveland storyline is close to wrapping up! And we still have pieces that need to be connected. How do Tink and Peter know each other? How do Hook and Tink? What was Hook doing for Peter? Do Hook and the Darlings know each other? How did Wendy get back to Neverland?
--We have a one week break but then it's back to the fun! #SaveHenry