Monday, March 17, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x13)

 Bring it, Greenie.

Regina gets the best lines. Another fantastic episode of Once Upon a Time with this week's "Witch Hunt." I am tentatively optimistic about this half of the season at this point. The writers seem to have recognized a few mistakes from the first Neverland portion of the season--namely, leaving huge reveals until the last possible second and dragging out the plot. The fact that the *big* reveal came in the second episode of the season sets a nice pace for building the mythology the writers are exploring. But the added bonus  was wonderful character moments and actual dialogue instead of constant action. People sat at tables (or cars) and talked! Heaven be praised. A bit of an English lesson first. What is a witch hunt? Yes, in our case it's an actual hunt for an actual witch, but it can also be the act of unfairly looking for and punishing people who are accused of having opinions that are believed to be dangerous or evil. This episode saw a lot of people accusing an innocent because she has wronged them in the past. Oh Regina Mills, how far you've come.

Wicked vs Evil

Despite last week's pep talk, Regina still can't see a way to live without Henry. Everywhere she looks, her life seems to be slipping away from her. Someone has taken over her castle; she is working with the people she attempted to curse and kill and her son doesn't remember who she is. All in all, Regina is having a bit of a bad day. The heroes are still looking for a way into the castle and luckily Regina mentions the super secret tunnels that run underground. A bit of a complaint here, but since when? And why doesn't Snow know about them? It was Snow's castle before Regina drove her out. Super convenient tunnels appear when the plot dictates,  I suppose. But still, it's a tad annoying. But my focus on the magically appearing never before mentioned super secret tunnels was only momentary as our group was then attacked by a flying monkey sent to retrieve Regina.

These things are freaky as hell.While it does appear that they serve the Wicked Witch, the one sent to retrieve Regina seems to do it willingly and with fervor. It also thinks the Wicked Witch looks good in Regina's clothing. So the monkey has independent thought? Good to know. Can it turn into a human too? How exactly does that work? Was it a human first and then monkey? Or monkey first then human? Is anyone else confused by the monkey? The monkey, of course, misses Regina and almost gets poor little Roland--Robin Hood's son--but Regina swoops in and saves the little tyke. And then presents Roland with a stuffed monkey that was formerly trying to kill him. Regina, you get points here for effort but if I was a little kid I would not want a toy of the thing that almost killed me. Would you want to cuddle up with that thing? Have it stare at you in the darkness? No. I think not.

We get a bit of exposition here in which it is revealed that our characters don't know things I feel like they should know. Nobody know that Oz is a real place? Really? How is that possible? Only two people know--Regina and Belle. Regina is understandable; she traveled with Jefferson and his hat and I'm sure one of the doors inside the hat takes you to Oz. Belle is also understandable in that she has read the Oz books. But why doesn't Snow know? Does this mean that her mother, Eva, wasn't from Oz as many people have speculated? Did the Enchanted Forest never receive guests from foreign lands? Neither Snow nor Charming seemed surprised that Neverland existed, so why not Oz? It is possible that this was a way to get Belle to speak some dialogue since the writers never quite know what to do with her, but it is also possible that Oz is a bad land that people just don't talk about. In the opening scene, the Witch remarks that Regina's jewels could feed a family for a lifetime back home and later she'll talk about Oz as if it's not the best place to grow up. This is a bit of a disconnect in my head as I've always associated Oz with happiness and fun and color! Yes there are witches but overall, it's a perfectly jolly place. Then again, so was Neverland...

The plan, then, is to have Regina sneak into the castle through the tunnels and then drop the barrier, allowing an army to come in and drive out the Witch. Regina insists she go alone so of course that doesn't happen. Whenever a character says the must do something alone, you can count on someone else tagging along. Enter he-of-the-lion-tattoo-and-cute-kid. Alas known as Regina's soul mate. Also known as Robin Hood. Hello, sparks! Wow. I wasn't quite sure about Outlaw Queen going into this season because the fact that some pixie dust already declared that this is Regina's soul mate without letting Regina discover it for herself was a let down, but after this episode, I am all aboard the Outlaw Queen ship. These two are quite scene stealers. I enjoy that Robin stands up to Regina; she needs a strong man in her life who won't put up with her Evil Queen ways. Robin acknowledges that he owes a debt to Regina for saving Roland's life and insists that he go with her. So long as he stays out of her way, Regina begrudgingly agrees. While traversing the tunnels, the two have a nice little chat and we learn that Marian was killed, accidentally, and that Robin blames himself. I'm guessing Marian found herself on the wrong side of an arrow. Mutual loss will bring them together. Interesting coupling tactic. The two find the entrance to the castle which Regina has sealed in blood magic, meaning only her or a relative could open the do--and the door is open! Cue the dramatic music.

How powerful is this Witch that she could break through blood magic? Or is something else going on here? (Yes, it's the latter of those two options.) Now inside her bed chamber, Regina reveals her real plan for coming to the castle. She doesn't care about the Witch--she can have the castle and her clothes and the jewels and whatever else she wants. Regina just wants to end her suffering. Oh sure, she'll put down the barrier in order to let Snow and Charming in (character improvement!) but then after, she's going to prick her finger with a needle laced with a sleeping curse and go into a deep sleep, full of nightmares. Maybe someday her true love, Henry, will wake her up. But until then, Regina wants no part of this game of heroes and villains. I love that Robin called Regina on this nonsense, told her that she'd find a new reason to go on living: "we all get second chances." Yes, you will Regina, and he's standing right in front of you! Quick Robin! Flash your tattoo!

Regina is determined to fall into an eternal sleep, but the Wicked Witch has other ideas. Enter, show down number one (for I am sure that there will be plenty more). Like Regina's interactions with Robin Hood, the chemistry between the two is rather sparky and fun to watch. We learn a bit more (ok a lot more) about the Wicked Witch. First, her name is Zelena (it means green in Croatian) and she doesn't really want Regina's castle or jewels. She wants to destroy Regina, take her down several pegs. Why, you ask? Family, of course. To the casual viewer this was probably a huge shock, but for me it was just confirmation of a theory long brewing. Zelena is Regina's half sister--daughter of Cora and (insert father of your choice here). Who is the father, you might ask? There are several possibilities floating around right now. According to Zelena, Cora had the baby before Cora became royalty. It's possible that Cora had the baby when she was still poor and the Miller's Daughter and was then forced to give the baby up. A lot of people are speculating Rumple, but I really don't think so. Cora said in "The Miller's Daughter" that no child of hers would ever be Rumple's. This would be a major retcon and not one I am prepared to live with. Some people are also speculating on Leo, Snow's father, thus tying the two families further together. My personal headcanon is that the father is the Wizard himself, a traveling salesman/gypsy who had a fling with Cora while he was moving around the Enchanted Forest and then ended up taking the baby to Oz with him, perhaps at the behest of Cora and perhaps not. So why is Zelena going after Regina? Because Regina had everything--the mother, the father, the castle, the life, the love and Zelena got nothing but Oz. Regina was even chosen by Rumple to cast the original curse, something Rumple was apparently training Zelena to do until he gave up on her. Why? Was it because she was too dark and loved nothing? That should be a good story. In the end, Regina chooses not to put herself to sleep because she finally has the one thing she has been without for awhile, "someone to destroy!" Good luck with that Regina.

I Think the Newbie in Town Might Be Hiding Something

People are disappearing. They go into the woods and don't come out. This is how all horror movies start. Now I just need a girl dressed in a nighty running barefoot screaming for help and the image is complete. There are a lot of questions being asked in this episode: who is missing (Neal?), what happened to them? Who cursed the town? And how did Hook get to Emma? Did you notice that Hook changed his story in this episode. Last week he got a message (no mention of the bird) and then scavenged for ingredients for the memory potion. This week, a bird landed on the wheel of the Jolly Roger with a note to fetch Emma. The bird was also carrying a vial of memory potion. There is something fishy about all this. I'm not trying to say that Hook is working for Zelena but rather the real story is far more complicated than a message from a bird. Message via bird does sound like Snow, but we've seen others use the same method including Rumple, Neal and August. The mystery remains! So who is missing? So far, 5 dwarves and Neal. Of course. Neal is always missing. Can't have a season without Neal missing now can we? (frustrated fan moment). But at least Emma asks after him (happy shipper moment).

So what is happening to the good folks of Storybrooke? In season one, if they got too close to the town line, "bad things" would happen, but it was always left somewhat vague about what those bad things were. In this season, get too close to the town line and a monster comes and snatches you up out of the sky and tries to make you his dinner! The flying monkeys are in Storybrooke. Of course they are. What's a Wicked Witch without those flying monkeys? But let's make this even more strange. What happens when you get bit by a flying monkey? You turn into one. So they are Vampire Flying Monkeys! Excellent. This is what this show needed--vampire flying monkeys. I don't know if this so so stupid and strange that it actually works or if it's just stupid and strange. I will say the transformation of Little John into a monkey was very well done. Charming's reaction (and everyone else's) was also perfect. "Okay. I didn't see that coming." Also, hello Star Trek shout out! "I'm a doctor not a vet!" Very nice ultimate geek moment there for the viewers who enjoy such things (like me!).

While the boys are dealing with monkeys, Emma is trying to track down who cast the new Curse. Instead of talking to people one by one, Emma gathers the town into the hall and tries to talk to them calmly. Except these people are never calm. But it does give us a nice opportunity to see who is there and who is not. Granny is still there, Belle and Archie and Whale are too. So far it seems to be just Neal and the dwarves who have gone missing. And as expected many are placing the blame on Regina, who insists she is innocent. Why would she do this and not find a way to get Henry back? She curses other people to make them unhappy, not to make herself unhappy. Good point, Regina. Emma joins in with the accusations, but in a nice turn of events, Emma and Regina have set up a ruse. They are trying to smoke out the real person who cast the curse. The Emma and Regina interactions this episode were really spectacular. It's interesting to see how far they've come. Emma can tell that Regina isn't lying about not casting the Curse and instead they decided to help each other. Regina can't get back her memories but they can try and catch the baddie.

There were a lot of really good Regina character moments, but by far my favorite was the final one with Henry. When the show first started, I really loathed Regina. A lot. I thought she was a horrible villain with a terrible agenda based on anger and rage. It has taken 3 seasons but now I really do like her. And watching her have to shake Henry's hand and act as if she has never met him before was heartbreaking. Regina thought she'd never see him again but there he is, except he has no idea who she is. And also, props to Jared Gilmore for managing to convey that Henry has no idea who this lady is. It can't have been easy since they spent the first few seasons together as mother and son.

So is the curse caster in Storybrooke? Of course. And if she's creepy in the Enchanted Forest, then she's doubly so in the Maine burg. Apparently in this world, Zelena is a midwife. That's nice. Do we have any pregnant ladies around who might be in need of her help?

Run away, Snow White. Run away.

Zelena has the nice lady act down, I'll give her that. She's sweet and kind and helpful. Snow White seems to have fallen for her lies, hook line and sinker. Of course niceness is just a facade because we know that Zelena is the Wicked Witch. And what do all good Wicked Witches need? Apart from flying monkeys and a plan?

A hostage.

Alright. Zelena must die.

My poor Imp!! What has she done to you?! Rumple is alive, in a cage, and out of his ever loving mind. He is totally batty--full on loony Dark One Rumple with the giggle and the voice and the crazy! How did Zelena find him? Where was he? Why is he insane? Why does she have him hostage? Where can I get a bucket of water to throw on her? Current theory: Zelena found Rumple's dagger and is using him to do her evil deeds. But where is Neal? Is he locked up too? Is he a flying monkey? Is he *gulp* dead? Something tells me it's only going to get stranger from here on out.

Miscellaneous Notes on Witch Hunt

--This episode was written by Jane Espenson, and you can tell because it had some fabulous lines.
"Are we talking east or west?" "Does it matter?" "Well, one you drop a house on and the other you throw a bucket of water at."
"I don't care if she's being guarded by the lollipop guild."
"You mean the monster you were going to marry?" "You were going to marry someone?" "Did you miss the part where I said it was a monster?"
--"We were cellmates." "What were you in for?" "Banditry?"
"They're turning into flying monkeys?" "Yes. He took on simian form with the added bonus of wings"
"The Wicked Witch?? She's real too?" "Says the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming."
"That's impossible! You're green!" "And you're rude"

--I really don't want Neal to be a monkey

--When will Henry get his memories back? At the end of the season? I hope not.

--I think Zelena's curse will be broke by TLK between Henry and Regina


  1. I took far too long to respond to this and now I just want to watch the latest episode so I'll be brief.
    I am enjoying QueenHood or whatever the ship name is.
    This episode had so many good lines, I wish every episode was written by Jane.
    My theory has tied in from Wonderland, Jafar will fail so it has no impact or breaking the laws of magic. I think Zelena was watching for quite sometime and she poofed Rumpled and Pan out in a cloud of green smoke. She snatched the dagger and took control of Rumple. You won't like this part... she forced Rumple to cast the same curse but in her favor this time, and Rumple needed to kill Nealfyre to do it.
    We both know I'm wrong though.

    1. Your theory is actually far more popular than I wish it was. If that happens...then it's very possible that I am going to dedicate an entire blog to the concept of fan service and misleading audiences.

  2. But would they be allowed to kill Neal? (Eddy and Adam)
    Technically Neal isn't a main stream fairy tale character, but that means Emma won't get her "true love," right? Or are we anticipating Emma to irrevocably die as well, leaving Henry destroyed forever with his adoptive mother who will be powerless to help him?

    1. Depends if you think Neal is her true love or not. A lot of people believe Neal's story isn't tied to Emma, but rather Rumple and now that they've reconciled (malarkey in my opinion. They had one scene together where they started to heal that breech) Neal can go as he is "unimportant" to the show.