Yes, Snow White, we are! Three months is a terribly long time without this show. A small confession first; because of how active I am in this fandom, I know way more about these 11 episodes than your average viewer (though despite all that, the show still managed to surprise me this week with "New York City Serenade"). Because I knew so much going in, I was more or less dreading this episode. From all the media spin, it sounded like I wouldn't find this episode very appealing at all. But, as I shall remember henceforth, the media blitz is all hype to get money. Don't trust them, kids. This episode was phenomenal. It had something for everyone, which is what I loved most--if you're a SwanFire, a CaptainSwaner, a Rumbeller, if you love Snow White and Regina or if you love a strong fierce Emma Swan, you got it in this week's episode. If the theme for the first half of the season was belief, then the theme for this second half is "home." Each of these characters are searching out for their home--be it a fortified castle, a quiet spot in the woods, a ship, or an apartment in the heart of the city. When we last left, the fairy tale characters were being sucked back to the Enchanted Forest away from Storybrooke while Emma and her son Henry drove off to their new life, ignorant of everything that happened in the first 2.5 seasons. They started a life in New York City, a good quiet life, before a certain one-handed pirate showed up on Emma's door stoop claiming that her parents were in danger.
Did you catch all the callbacks to the pilot in this episode? It began with Philip riding down a road (a la Prince Charming) where his wife, Aurora, waited, though not in a glass coffin, but with a nice little picnic. But instead of a nice holiday with the wife, a dark purple cloud OF DOOM descended upon them. And lo' all our characters magically (pun!) appeared back in the Enchanted Forest, dressed in their Fairy Tale Land clothing. There were a few problematic continuity issues, though they didn't bother me as much as I thought they would. Snow, Regina, Belle, and Neal are not in their clothing from when the original Curse hit, but I can excuse most of that. Snow and Charming waste no time getting caught up with Philip and Aurora. Turns out the ogres were defeated? Good to know. This is nit picky of me, but that was a potential storyline that never developed and it bugs me. That would have been a very cool plot line for season 4--retake the Enchanted Forest from the Ogres and make a new life.
This moment between Snow and Regina was brought up again a little bit later when Regina decided to separate herself for a very heart wrenching (pun!) reason. Loosing Henry, knowing that he doesn't even remember her, is too much for the Evil Queen. That hole in her heart that Henry filled is empty once more. So in a drastic moment, Regina decides to remove her own heart and bury it. Snow caught Regina in the act and the two had a very beautiful conversation about loosing their children and how it's important to not take the easy path out. Regina has to feel her pain; she has to learn to live without Henry because that's her sacrifice and taking an easy path past that pain is not allowed anymore. Snow understands this more than anyone. This is the second time she's lost her daughter to a curse. I am really excited to see these two lean on each other--deep down, I think they really love each other. Before there was the feud, there was a budding friendship between Young Regina and Snow.
Speaking of easy paths and trying to hide the pain away, let's talk about Hook and Neal. Studies in contrast, no? Hook wants nothing (and I do mean nothing) with this plan to trek to Regina's castle. This isn't his home. This is some forest that means nothing to him. His home is the Jolly Roger and he intends to find it. Emma is gone but instead of making a plan to go after her, he decides to find his real home, his ship. Now, if you think about Captain Hook's character, this makes a lot of sense. Of course his home is the ship! He's a pirate. And as he says to Snow, "I've always been a pirate." This doesn't mean that Hook, as a pirate, can't be a hero or perform heroic actions, but that at his core he is what he is--a scallywag, a rapscallion, a pirate. He has no intent to go after Emma, to try and get back to her. She's gone and that's horrible and he's very distraught but what's the use of fighting? And so, taking a horse and some supplies, Hook rides off into the great unknown and the rest of his story will be filled in as we go along I imagine, because somehow he got to NYC.
Let's get one thing straight: I love Neal. I love Neal a lot. Like, a crazy amount. Rumple may be my favorite, but Neal is a very close second. Neal is (to quote the actor Michael Raymond-James) "super not cool" with this new life. He wants out, right now. He wants to go to Rumple's castle, see if his father is alive (because he doesn't believe that he is really dead) and get back to Emma and Henry post haste. They are his home, where he feels he belongs, with the woman he considers his true love and his son. Home isn't the Enchanted Forest, it's wherever Emma and Henry are. And Neal is determined. He's lost them before, he has been down this path not so long ago and he is not about to go down it again. He won't sit idly by and accept this fate. He is going to get back to them, "this isn't over. I'll see both of you again." (Look, I have a lot of Neal feelings, okay?) Now all of this is coming on the heels of Charming and Snow telling Neal that it is impossible to get back to Emma and Henry; those two have a new life and they need to live it. Let them try to be happy and we, here in the forest, must try to move on. What's next for Neal? Well that's hard to say. Belle also thinks that Rumple is alive and that "we can get him back." Will Neal go off on an adventure with Belle? Will finding Rumple then lead to Neal trying to get to Emma? We shall see.
Why hello there Wicked Witch from Oz! What could she want? Why is she living in Regina's castle? Why does she want Regina's blood? All good questions. Theory time! The Wicked Witch is Regina's half sister, born of Cora and the Wizard. She was swept away to Oz as a baby, long before Regina was ever born. Later in life, the Evil Queen and the Wicked Witch met, Regina being unaware of who the Witch was but with the Witch knowing, and Regina causes the Witch to turn that lovely shade of green. The Wicked Witch is envious of Regina and all that Regina had--namely Cora's love. Her plan is one of envy (being green with jealousy) and she wants to take everything away from Regina. Look out folks, it's Wicked vs Evil and "wicked always wins."
Emma Swan is not the Emma Swan we once knew. She is ever so subtly different--a red pea coat replaces her red leather jacket, plaid mommy pants replace her skinny jeans, cute blouses replace functional sweaters. Our Emma Swan is now a full time mother and that comes first. Emma has a great life and a new guy! Meet Walsh, a furniture salesman with a cute smile who helps Henry with his science projects. He seems like a nice guy, actually, which sorta makes me hate him. I don't want to like him. Thankfully by the end of the episode, I will have sufficient reason to no like him at all. The two are having a nice dinner out when who should appear? Emma's own stalker (her words, not mine!)
I'm not exactly a Hook fan but I did appreciate how kind he was being. He was genuinely trying to get Emma to remember. Her family is in danger and he knows she is the only hope. But with Emma, it's very difficult because her walls will always be up. Hook tells her to take a leap of faith and drink the magic blue potion he has with him (who knows from where?) But Emma still can't take that leap of faith--it's not enough. She can't open herself up enough to trust Hook, and in a moment paralleling "Tallahassee", Emma pulls out some handcuffs (kinky) and chains Hook to a bike rack and then promptly has him arrested. What would it take for Emma to believe? Not Hook, not even some of Neal's things though at least that made her open up a bit. With Emma, it's always going to be Henry. Remember that Emma still has the camera she found in Neal's apartment--well there are photos on there. Photos of her life with Henry in Storybrooke, of taking a trip to Manhattan with him to find Neal. Evidence of another life that she can't remember.
--Some good one liners.
"You are a stalker!!"
"Here I thought you'd gone and changed." "I tried the hero thing. It didn't take."
"I don't run from monsters. They run from me."
"Drink the thing the crazy man just offered me? No thanks."
"He smells of forest"
--When will Henry get his memories back? If they are reverse paralleling the first season, then it will probably be 322.
--The Belle/Neal stuff was short but perfect. "You'll see them again, Henry and Emma..."
-- The season so far is off to a great start. We'll see more of the lost year in the Enchanted Forest as well as watching Emma take down the Wicked Witch. Or will it be Regina who takes her down? Is Regina the new Savior? Should be fun!
--I'm looking forward to Oz but I hope the stick more closely to the original text, unlike what they did with Peter Pan and Neverland.