Monday, April 28, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x19)

Hearts are curious little things on Once Upon A Time. The concept of taking a heart was introduced in season one, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," where it was established that not only could you physically take a heart but that in doing so, the heart became enchanted and the taker could control the person. It was a very interesting idea that has since morphed with bendy rules whenever the writers want it to. So first hearts can be removed (very cool idea); then hearts can be crushed and the person killed (still a very cool idea); then hearts get darker if the person commits crimes (logical); unless the heart is outside of their body at the time and thus the crimes don't reach the heart itself (that doesn't make sense but okay); then hearts can be transferred back into bodies (makes some sense); but if you didn't give the person their own heart, then they turn into a zombie (what?); and now you can split a heart without breaking it and two people can share it (oh come on, you're just making this up now!). In this weeks episode, "A Curious Thing," the Dark Curse is cast from an unlikely source. And rules are broken left and right for the sake of plot. 

Actually, Honey, I Wanted The Left Ventricle

In the Enchanted Forest of the past year, Snow and Charming are ready to announce their pregnancy to their people, thinking the peasants (those poor peasants) need some hope and good news. Do the peasants care about Snowing? It's an honest question because think about it: every bad thing that has ever happened to them is because of Snow and Regina's feud. They've been moved across worlds, they've had their memories erased, they've been moved again (and then again). At this point, if I were a peasant, I think I'd distance myself from the royals as much as possible. At the castle with Snowing and Regina, Aurora and Philip make an appearance just so they can tell Snow what we, the audience, already know: Zelena wants your baby. Shock. Did we really need Aurora and Philip to make an appearance for this? Yes, turns out that Zelena threatened their baby and that's why they lied to Snow and company when they landed in the Enchanted Forest. Why doesn't Zelena want the Philora baby? Shouldn't that baby be the product of true love too? And why isn't Aurora more pregnant in this scene? I understand that Ginny Goodwin (Snow) is pregnant in real life, but she looks *huge* next to Aurora who isn't showing at all. Aurora should be about 6 months pregnant here, while Snow should only be about 3 months. While I know that I have to suspend for some stuff, glaring errors like this really take me out of the scene. Zelena must have really good hearing because she knows just when to show up at the castle. Aurora makes one little mention of the witch and in she flies on her broomstick! Zelena freezes everyone but Belle, who earlier came into the scene to announce that Rumple was alive and Neal was dead. Zelena then does some freaky touchy-touchy with Snow's pregnant belly. Oh she also turned Aurora and Philip into monkeys. Is the baby now a monkey? EVERYBODY IS MONKEY (keep this in mind when we start killing people). Zelena tells Snow that "what's yours will be mine," before cackling and flying away.

The heroes wait 8 months before deciding to do something. Because when my child is threatened and my close friends are turned into flying monkeys, I take my sweet time too. Snow and Charming have had poor Grumpy (more Grumpy for everything. He is like a breath of fresh air) going from fairy to fairy looking for a way to defeat Zelena but to no avail. I am officially frustrated on the fairy front. So the Black Fairy is the most powerful fairy in existence but Blue banished her and now the Blue Fairy, who is the original power and supposedly more powerful than the Dark One, can't help defeat one wicked witch. What is the POINT of these fairies? So when you can't depend on the good fairies, turn to the Dark One. Robin Hood, thankfully, is there to assist our heroes break into the Dark One's Castle, which is conveniently empty of the green skinned witch. One note here but Robin and Regina don't even really like each other in the Enchanted Forest. And now they are doing nothing but making out in hallways? This is my biggest problem with this relationship: it's way too fast. Unless the show does a 180 and shows Robin and Regina falling in love in the past, then them being so cozy and happy now makes very little sense.

With little difficulty, the gang breaks into Rumple's home to asks him how to stop Zelena. Bear in mind, this is post "Quiet Minds," so Rumple is utterly insane because he has Neal living inside of him (the sentences I write because of this show). And Crazy Rumple speaks in riddles! I'm sure there is a lot to Rumple's mumblings about time and finish lines and such but then again, it could be a massive misdirection. Look at the crazy man! Listen to the crazy man! Except don't because it doesn't matter. Rumple summons enough coherence to tell the gang that they need "light magic" to defeat Zelena. Well DUH! Come on! That's obvious. When has darkness ever defeated darkness? Rumple then tells the heroes to go find Glinda, the good witch of the south. Because it's the season of Oz so time to trot out all your old favorites even if it's for a total of five seconds and they do absolutely nothing to help. Glinda is at the edge of the Dark Forest (where is that in relation to the Infinite Forest, Sherwood Forest, and the Enchanted Forest? Why does this realm keep getting bigger and bigger with every passing episode?)
But only the pure of heart can cross over the threshold to see Glinda, so naturally Regina tries to go along. Come on. Really? Regina thinks she has a pure enough heart to go through the magical door and see the good witch? I mean, Regina's great and all but there is no way she would ever be granted access. Also, can we talk about these little filler moments? Charming picking flowers for Snow? And I appreciate Regina's snark about the flowers (because Lana Parilla delivers them so well) but just get on with it! Snow, being Snow, rushes head first through the door to see Glinda, Charming trails after her.

Why is Glinda not in pink? She should be in pink. I guess it doesn't matter; she's in the episode for a grand total of about five seconds. Snow with her pure heart and her baby's pure heart manage to get through the door just fine. Which makes no sense given that last weeks episode was all about Snow being a murderer! How is it that she now has a totally pure heart? Every week, the writers take a different route with their characters. Snow is a murderer last week and now she is the most pure hearted one on the show, which I've always believed, but the show can't have it both ways! Anyway, Glinda gives a little overview of her history with Zelena--and when I say little I mean she mentioned two things that are probably super important in passing. One, Zelena and Glinda used to be good friends--probably school chums and Glinda wanted Zelena to be popular (Wicked reference). And second, Glinda gave Zelena her giant necklace to help channel Zelena's power (Oz the Great and Powerful reference). However, despite how powerful Glinda is supposed to be, she can't help Snow and Charming. Her magic is no good against Zelena. Oh. My. God. WHY?? Why is this GOOD witch useless against the EVIL Wicked Witch? If all you need is light magic to defeat Zelena then Glinda should be more than adequate, right? Turns out, no. But luckily, Snow and Charming do know that their daughter Emma Swan is the Savior and born of True Love! Emma can save them all. Oh, small problem: Emma's in New York City without her memories and there is no way to reach her. Except that every time someone says that it's impossible to jump realms, they find a way to do it. Beans, hats, shoes, tornadoes, ect. The show keeps coming up with alternatives to what Snow will ultimately suggest: "we must enact the Dark Curse."

Yes, the Dark Curse. The Curse that started this whole show three years ago. Snow White, pure of heart, decides to cast it. But in order to cast the dark curse you need something: the heart of the thing you love most. Snow's only child is in New York City but luckily she has the consummate White Knight as a husband. Charming, who is sometimes a little too noble, steps forward and tells Snow to take his heart and use it to get their child and save their unborn baby. Now, on some level, this is kind of poetic and beautiful. Regina finally manages to take Charming's heart but it's to help everyone, not to hurt. And I will admit that the goodbye scene between Snow and Charming was well acted and very heartbreaking. It helps that Ginny and Josh Dallas are married in real life. But here are some issues, crushing a heart is murder and enacting a dark curse is dark magic, so Snow should now have a giant hole in heart, just like Regina did after she cast the Dark Curse in Season 1. For those who are now confused, a brief sum: Charming just died but is alive in Storybrooke somehow (we'll get there); The curse has been cast by the most pure hearted person in the Enchanted Forest. Snow outright killing Charming seems so out of character; I half expected her to be unable to do it and for Regina to step in. As the Curse begins to move out over the land, Zelena swoops in on her broom and tosses something into the pot. How did she know?! Was it because of Aurora and Philip monkey? The potion she added to the curse causes everyone to loose their memories of the past year, so Snow won't remember killing Charming or why he isn't in Storybrooke, no one will remember why they cast the Dark Curse or, indeed, that they even cast it, and no one can go get Emma to have her defeat Zelena. In other words, everything is moot.

Snow, though, has an idea. Snow has so much faith and hope in her and Charming's love that she asks Regina to take her heart and then split it in two so that she and Charming can share the heart. This makes no sense. None. You can't break a heart in two! It should just crumble into nothingness. But of course it works because you can't just kill off Prince Charming now can you? Snow's price to enact the curse is now nullified meaning the Curse shouldn't take at all, but it does. So what is the price of magic? The sacrifice was supposed to be Charming’s life, but Snow found a way to circumvent that. And they got to be reunited with Emma and Henry, so they’ve actually got a reward out of this so far, as opposed to paying a price. So Snow hasn’t paid a price for casting that Curse yet. Which by rights should mean that there’s a price coming. Also, this action does make Snow and David look like the world’s biggest hypocrites for telling off Neal when he wanted to find a way back to Emma and Henry. I guess Snow and David now have more in common with Rumple and Regina than they’d ever have believed possible. They all had a hand in casting a dark curse. Snow took a walk in Regina’s and Rumple’s shoes. The villains are the heroes and the heroes are villains. It all comes full circle. They are okay with going after Emma when it benefits THEM, but when Neal wants to get to his family pronto, "there is no way! Give up Neal!!" Speaking of...

I hate the writers. Zelena needs a way to remember the past year once the Curse is cast, so she drinks a nice plot device potion but because she is such a nice Witch, she gives one to Rumple so that he might remember the past year as well. Rumple, thinking only of vengeance, is seconds away from drinking it when who should force his way out of his father's body? Nealfire. Because NEAL IS A FREAKING HERO. With his last dying breaths, he breaks free from his father, takes the memory potion and a dove, writes a message to Hook, and tells the bird to find the Jolly Roger. So you mean to tell me, the only reason Emma got her memories back, the only reason why Emma is back in Storybrooke, the only reason that Henry remembers anything and has a family again, the only reason Snow and Charming's plan worked, the only reason why their baby now has a fighting chance, the only reason EVERYONE has a fighting chance is because of Nealfire?! AND THEN YOU WENT AND KILLED HIM ANYWAY DESPITE THE FACT THAT APPARENTLY YOU CAN SPLIT A HEART AND TWO PEOPLE CAN SHARE ONE HEART????? Do you see my issue here? Neal is clearly the REAL hero of this story and they went and KILLED him. That was his reward for everything: death. What kind of moral message is this? Neal fighting his way out was just rubbing his death in my face and now I'm just angry. Let's go to the present.

Full Circle

In Storybrooke, the troops have gathered because they are in total agreement: we must stop Zelena. Well, good that we're all on the same page. Here I was thinking that maybe someone would be totally fine with Zelena and her "change the past!" plans. The gang discuss Emma breaking the curse, but the problem is that until Henry believes in magic and fairy tales, Emma's TLK won't work on him. So finally after several episodes walking around it, the gang remembers the storybook. The storybook was what set Henry out on his journey to being with and it's what Emma used to believe in magic and the Curse in S1, so it's only natural that it's Henry's talisman. The last time the book showed up randomly in Snow's closet right when Henry needed it most, so it's time to hunt it down again.

Meanwhile, Rumple has captured Hook and stuffed him into a car trunk and brings him to Zelena. Hook is living in the center of town and no one saw Rumple or Rumple’s car or Hook getting captured and thought, “maybe we should follow it….?” Or what, “Here Dark One, whom I have been keeping in a basement in order that no one might rescue you…drive into the busy town and fetch me the pirate who is never alone, but always with those pesky heroes and my sister! Do it sneakily! Don’t want anyone to follow you! Meanwhile, I shall stand by a tree and think deep thoughts with my monkey” Anyway, Zelena is very angry that Hook hasn't gotten with the kissy kissy of Emma Swan. She needs Emma to be powerless because Emma is the only one that can stop her evil time travel plans. Zelena tells Hook to either get with the kissing or she'll kill Henry. So basically, "forcibly kiss a woman or I'll a child." The morals of this show are outstanding.

Before heading off to Snow's apartment to look for the book, Emma and Henry have a fight because Henry is officially fed up with Emma's lies. Emma tells him that she is the mom and what she says goes, end of story. And Henry is totally his mother and father's child. Henry's solution? Run away! Henry tries to break into the Yellow Bug and drive to a bus station. It was a nice little call back to both Neal and Emma trying to steal the car. But who should appear and stop him? Hook, of course. Hook has a much better plan, you see. We'll get to that. In Snow's apartment, the book is found much to Emma's chagrin. You see, unlike what she has been saying in the past two episodes, Emma still wants to return to New York with Henry and have a normal life. Because Emma Swan is officially unable to make up her mind about anything. Magic! New York! Past is the Past! Past matters! Girlfriend is all over the place, but I love that Snow is trying to set Emma right: you were only happy because you didn't remember any of us. It seems to strike a chord in Emma that maybe she needs to focus on having her family instead of remembering a false life.

Meanwhile, Hook takes Henry to the docks where Mr. Smee is waiting with a boat. You see, Hook's brilliant plan is to put Henry on the boat and send him back to New York City. Let me get this straight, Hook thinks it's perfectly okay to take another person's child, stick them on a boat with a total stranger, and then leave him in the largest city in America. I get that he thinks he is protecting Henry, but he is not allowed to make these kinds of decisions! He's not Henry's father nor mother nor even creepy uncle! He has no rights over Henry's life! And of course actions have consequences because the monkeys suddenly descend (I wish I was joking) to stop this idiotic plan. Hook tells Henry to run while he begins firing on the monkeys. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!!! Look at all these people we are killing! There goes Little John, there go the dwarves, there go Philip and Aurora! Hope their baby is being looked after! Now I can't hate Hook too much for this because the heroes show up and start going the exact same thing--Charming kills one, Regina kills a few. All these murdered people! I don't care if they are really just random Ozians or peasants or even if they are the characters we know--they were still people, right?

And Henry finally has his eyes opened. I mean, flying monkeys will do that to a kid. Emma tells Henry that he must trust her, he must believe, and she pulls out the book. I did like the call back to the opening season where Henry says that it's more than a book and now Emma is saying it here. Tentativly, Henry reaches out and touches the book, and BOOM--memories restored. They had some nice flashes of Henry's life, including one of my favorite Henry and Neal scenes (play sword fighting). Henry remembers everything and he and Regina have a nice reunion before it is time to get with the kissing from Emma. But oh no! Too slow, Ms Swan! Zelena POOFs Henry to her side and begins to strangle him (is this still a Sunday show?)

"You can call me Auntie Zelena." Poor family tree--so very messed up. Zelena tells Emma that this is all Hook's fault for not listening to her (to which Hook gives a wonderfully delivered "damn you, Zelena" *sarcasm*). As the life is slowly chocked out of Henry, Emma summons all her savior strength and proceeds to do...something? I honestly have no idea what Emma did because I couldn't get over how silly she looked squatting and pushing. Let's try that scene again. Some sort of white light surrounds Zelena, causing her skin to burn? And it's enough that she lets Henry go, who runs back to his mothers.

Zelena having been "dealt" with POOFs away and Regina is super relived to see Henry unharmed and gives him a nice forehead smoochie. And BOOM. Curse broken.
First off, let me say I’m happy it was Regina. It was a nice parallel (in reverse) to S1 Emma breaking the curse, so I’m not complaining about that. I’m questioning this from a “what we’ve been told/shown before” perspective.
In Season 1 we learned that Emma is the Savior because Rumple took a strand of her parents hair and created true love potion, then put a drop on the Scroll of the Dark Curse. Thus, Emma was the Savior as well as being True Love Incarnate. So what about Regina? She’s not born of True Love between Cora and Henry Sr. And our gang of heroes were trying to perform the curse away from the eyes of Zelena meaning Zelena didn’t intend for there to be a savior and we never saw Snowing and Regina do anything to make sure it was Regina who could break the curse. And the last time we saw the Dark Curse scroll, Regina tore it up in order to cast the counter curse to Pan’s spell. So there was no way to put “Regina as Savior” on to the scroll because it had already been destroyed.  So how did they ensure that it would be Regina who would break the curse with TLK with Henry? I'm also glad it didn't take until the end of the season for Henry to get his memories back and for the curse to break, that would have been a bit much. One more important conversation: Emma asks Hook what is going on with him and Zelena and Hook confesses everything, including that he was about to send Emma's child away. And Emma is FINALLY fed up. She tells Hook she can't trust him and that he had no right to decide something like that. I may have clapped. Henry meets Regina's new squeeze Robin Hood and then pays his respects to his dead father--who is never coming back. Neal is gone, isn't he? It doesn't matter that he was the real hero and made sure everyone would be saved. It doens't matter that everyone gets to come back except him.

Oh and then Snow goes into labor. Here come the baby.

Miscellaneous Notes on A Curious Thing

 --The title for this episode comes from one of the main songs in the movie "Back to the Future": The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Change a hawk to a little white dove
More than a feeling thats the power of love; 

-- "Why do women keep their shoe boxes?" "Because after true love, there is no more powerful magic than footwear – It has to be protected." Oh Snow, don't try to joke. It doesn't work.

--"Where you come from people bathe in the river and use pine cones for money.” – Regina to Robin

--I never wanted to see Neal again because it hurts too much. I have anger over this. They have abused his character and now he is the real hero and he never gets a second chance with his family. And oh, yeah: massive parallel between Snow killing Charming with Charming's permission and Emma killing Neal with Neal's permission. But only one gets to come back.

--How the heck did Hook leave? Did he a make a portal out of the Jolly roger *gag*

--Was this a bad episode? I don't know. I really don't. Parts of it were good but the glaring inconsistencies are just annoying and frustrating now. 

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