Monday, May 12, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x21 and 3x22)

 Praise Heaven. This season is over. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted by this show. Over the past 11 episodes, I've lost my favorite character, a 'ship I loved dearly, and been confused, angered, and frustrated by the lack of coherent storytelling coupled with insane plot devices and lightening fast character development. So naturally, they gave me a two hour season finale to analyze and review. Here's what you need to know about the two episodes, "Snow Drifts" and "There's No Place Like Home": this was a two hour long CaptainSwan movie. I'm not actually joking. I want to see stats on how much time the other characters had compared to Emma and Hook. Season finales are supposed to be big emotional upheavals for everyone, but instead we went back to the past. Cause now we do time travel, guys. How do I feel about this finale? A resounding "whatever." I've spent all week gearing up for this--I had an inkling that this would be the episode to break me and while I didn't loathe it, it's also exactly what I expected. How do I feel about this show right now? I have no idea. I find that I almost don't care about any of the characters anymore--Rumple is clearly never going to change; Regina is going back to Evil Queen mode; Snowing will continue to be written poorly and idiotic; Belle will be exposition girl when it is called for; Hook and Emma are now the heroes living their own fairy tale; and Henry? Henry will remain the most under developed and under used character ever. Let's just do this. 

We're Going To Need A Bigger Delorean

One of my wishes for the longest time has been to see more of Emma's life--what she was like as a kid. I sorta got my wish with the opening scene of adolescent Emma in the group home. Emma has always been my favorite female character. I find (sorry, found) her compelling and interesting, the lost girl who had such intense abandonment issues, unaware of her destiny, trying to be a mother and figure out what she wanted for herself. Emma was the woman who wore the red leather jacked and killed a dragon. But slowly, over the past season, she's turned into some sort of weak willed woman who can't think straight. She still plans to go back to New York City--which makes no sense for one reason: Henry. Legally, he's Regina's son. She's not actually allowed to pack him up and go back to NYC. If Emma doesn't want to be the Savior anymore, ok fine. But she cannot take that boy away from his mother who loved him (and can roast people with a fireball). Emma spends a lot of time deflecting the NYC question by trying to learn her brother's name, which apparently can only be revealed in a giant ceremony, Granny's. The party seems nice, lots of drinking and lasagna and characters we haven't seen in a very long time--like Kathryn. HINT: she's important this episode! Even though they have totally forgotten Kathryn even existed for an entire two seasons. So why the big party? Yeah, it's not actually for the newborn prince. It's really because we need to give the audience a lot of exposition about events in the past because they matter now and chances are your audience members don't really remember the third episode of season one.

See the ring on Snow's hand? We're going to be following it. Ok, let's break down the episode "Snow Falls" (1x03) because chances are none of you remember it, hence the overly long "here's what you need" in-show between the Charming family. "Snow Falls" is the story of how Charming and Snow met in the past. Snow was a bandit on the run and robbed Charming, taking his mother's wedding ring, which Charming planned to present to his future bride--who at the time was Abigail, daughter to King Midas. Charming goes after Snow, claiming he will always find her, and eventually catches her in a net. The two then embark together to get back the ring from trolls. During this adventure, they fall in love; though they part in the end, they remember each other and over the course of the rest of S1 we see how they find each other time and time again, eventually leading to the True Love's Kiss that has become a staple of the show. Got all that? Good, cause we're going to erase it all. (Again, I'm not kidding). But before we can, Emma has to have one more moment of "I want to leave!!"

I hate to say it, but I agree with Hook here. Emma's running because it is what she always does. She's scared that she's found a home and so she's trying to return to the fake one in NYC. Emma tells Hook that until Henry came into her life, she's never been apart of anything. Which is a load of crap, Emma Swan. It's a load of crap, especially when your definition of home comes from Neal Cassidy. And that's not me being a shipper. That's me watching this episode. Emma says, "I learned something a long time ago...Home is the place when you leave, you just miss it." And where did you learn that lesson, Ms Swan? From a certain thief? But the point remains that Emma doesn't see herself in the world of fairy tales, princesses and princes. She may have been born there, but she's a real world girl. Of course, Emma loves her parents and cares about the inhabitants of Storybrooke, but she doesn't think she'll miss it when she leaves. All of this in depth psychology is interrupted when Hook and Emma notice a giant glowing light. It's the time portal, of course, and because we're being predictable, Emma and Hook fall through it. I'm sure there is some sort of parallel going on here since in 221 (Second Star to the Right) Emma looses Neal down a portal and now in 321 (Snow Drifts) she is lost down a portal, but Hook falls in after her. But I don't care. They've tainted my SwanFire portal scene.

So there was a whole point to the retelling of "Snow Falls" in Granny's diner? Well how about that! Yes, Marty Emma and Hook end up in the Enchanted Forest of the past, right around the time when Snow and Charming meet for the first time. This part of the episode wasn't terrible, to be honest. They quickly figure out that they need to find Rumple because he's a wizard and there is some witty banter about red leather jackets and some clothing changes. This is how I picture Hook and Emma: best friends who snark. Their lifestyles are too incompatible to ever work together (he's still a pirate after all, isn't he?) but they would totally rock it in a buddy cop movie. A few things happen here that you'll need to remember. First, a woman is captured by Regina for helping Bandit Snow. This woman bears a striking resemblance to a certain lady love back in "Lacey" where we met Robin Hood. Goodness, it's Maid Marian isn't it? Ok that's event number one. Event number two is bigger and more disastrous. Charming's carriage is coming down the road, like it should, and Snow is in her tree, as she should be. Emma and Hook are hiding out of sight, watching. It's all very sweet and everything is going according to plan. I like that Emma gets to see this and you can tell she's very moved by it. Emma knows her parent's story but I don't think she's actually given it much thought over the years. It's just a story, in the end. It's a fairy tale and she doesn't belong to that world. But then..oh, but then. Reader, if you ever find yourself in the past watching your parents almost meet to ensure that you will eventually be born, MIND THAT YOU DON'T BREAK A STICK. Emma breaks a twig while watching Snow and Charming and the next thing she knows, Snow falls out of a tree, never meets Charming and history is broken. Way to go, Savior. Way to go. So now we've got two people who are supposed to met and have the ultimate true love, never meet and only a short time to fix it. Time to find a Wizard.

Hook and Emma make their way to the Dark One's castle but Rumple must have super handy dandy alarms cause he manages to sneak up on them. My Imp is quite thrilled with himself, isn't he? He caught himself a pirate! Now here's an issue. Emma knows they have history, and bad history at that. But no one can decide how much she knows. Does she know that Hook sold Bae to the Lost Boys? Does she know that Milah was Bae's mother? Or does she just think that Rumple randomly killed Hook's first love for no reason? The answer to these questions will probably always be up in the air because this episode firmly cemented that Milah, Hook's first and true love, will never be brought up ever again. She doesn't exist. Forget about her, guys. I do enjoy that Rumple takes one look at Hook and is just, "lol. Nope. You're gonna die." Emma does get Rumple to stop by mentioning Baelfire. Sigh. Rip my heart out. It's easier than this. Rumple's face when he learns that he will eventually find his son is just shattering because he doesn't know what is going to happen to our Nealfire. But there is now a problem; Emma's parents haven't met, meaning Emma is never born, meaning there is no one to break the Curse, meaning Rumple will never find Bae. Got all that? This is why Rumple decides to help: because everything, at this point in his character development, is about Baelfire. Even though he's clearly smitten with Belle in her very brief appearance at the castle, everything is about Baelfire. Keep this in mind when we get to the biggest OOC moment of this season. Rumple tells Emma and Hook that in order to get Charming and Snow to meet, they have to ensure that Snow steals the ring from Charming and hijinks ensue. Why the ring? Well besides it being a very important symbolic object for the couple, it's also worth a lot of money. And if Snow can sell it, she can take a ship and get out of the Enchanted Forest.

And now we come to the genuinely bizarre portion of our program: 2 Hook's. Snow needs a pirate ship and Past!Hook just happens to have one. There is so much going on here that I'd be really surprised if the general audience didn't just turn off their sets at his point. So Emma has to distract Past! Hook with drinking and flirting and rubbing certain phallic objects while Present! Hook has to go to the Jolly Roger and talk Bandit Snow into stealing a ring from Prince Charming which is an elaborate ruse to get Snow and Charming to meet. And then there is shenanigans because Past! Hook and Present! Hook meet and Emma is kissing Hook and Hook is jealous of Hook and OMG. THIS IS WHY WE DON'T DO TIME TRAVEL ON THIS SHOW!!. So Present! Hook is jealous of Past! Hook who got to smooch Emma a lot. Okay then. Sure. What is wrong with this picture? Oh, I know. Hook was supposed to be seeking revenge on Milah!! He was supposed to be celibate and and focused solely on Milah. Everything we know remains the same: Hook still goes to Belle's tower and tries to get information about Rumple; Hook still forms an alliance with Cora. All of it is for Milah, but here he is "whoring" it up in the Enchanted Forest as if she never existed! Like I said, the writers are trying very hard to make you forget Milah.

So now that Snow is set on her mission to get the ring back from Charming, the question is where does this all go down. Why a massive ball of course!! Why? Because reasons. It's an engagement party for Charming and Abigail and Hook and Emma manage to "score" an invite. Really, this felt like an excuse to have Hook and Emma dance while Emma wore a very pretty dress. I mean, is there a point? Shouldn't they be focused on the mission at hand instead of deciding to dance to a Waltz (that wasn't a waltz--waltzes are in 3/4 time)? The trick to dancing is to let your partner do all the work. There's some sort of sexist metaphor here, I'm sure, but it's a tortured one and one I just don't care about. I spent all week preparing for this episode and frankly, I'm done with a lot of this shippy nonsense. Regina shows up at the party dressed in finest catsuit (my god, woman, do you own anything that doesn't look like it was painted on you?) and things go...wrong. Very wrong. Charming finds Snow breaking into his room and there is a scuffle and someone alerts Regina. Now, Snow gets away but she leaves the ring behind, which Emma finds. Does this sound like I'm rushing through the plot? Well I sort of am. So much of this episode was stock footage of "Snow Falls" and because this show would never be truly innovative, you know it's going to work out in the end, so there is almost no point talking about it. In a lot of way this episode is just filler. It's an exercise is giving fans their fanfic come to life but has little to do with the arc this season. So, you can guess where it goes from here, right? Snow gets away, but Emma (ring in hand) is captured by Regina who throws her into a cell and Hook now has to save Emma. And that's where the first episode ends. The second episode is all about home, and what that means to Emma. What is home to Emma Swan? Well...

Do I have a kick me sign on my back? Cause of course Emma got her idea of home from Neal. And I have one conclusion: this episode was supposed to be SwanFire. Neal was supposed to go back in time with Emma. Why? Because Neal has always been the one to show Emma what love and family and hope are. Emma's speech in the first half about how home is the place when you leave, you miss it? Yeah, line for line from this moment with Neal. This moment takes place the very first night they met, in Portland. They broke into a carousel and sat under the stars in the rain and realized how alike they were: bad family situation, rough life that messed them up. But they want a home. This was absolutely supposed to be the SwanFire reunion episode. Last year ended with Emma loosing Neal over a portal and declaring her love and this year would be the road back to each other and second chances. Neal was her home. And now, after being a hero and sacrificing his life for the woman he loves, Emma gets to have a life with another. Just rip out my heart, I don't need it anymore.

Emma winds up in a jail cell next to Maid Marian, the woman from earlier. Yes, it's Maid Marian, Robin Hood's love and mother to Roland. Marian and Emma are due to die the next day; in the history that wasn't changed, Marian always died; she is targeted for death, but Emma Swan has a hard time letting an innocent die (except for Neal). Using what Neal taught her (WHY), Emma breaks them out of jail just as Hook was attempting a rescue, with Red and Charming in tow. Go with it. There are reasons they are there, I'm sure. Meanwhile, Snow has descended on Regina in her bedroom to try and kill her with the magic fairy dust. This is a dumb idea, Snow. You really think you can hurl some dust at Regina before she manages to block it? No. All you're going to do is anger her even more and get caught. And now for a writing issue: Snow shouldn't know that Daniel is dead in this scene. Snow learns what happens to Daniel much later, right before she eats the apple. So Snow's speech about how she didn't know that Daniel would die is nonsensical and of course she is captured and "she dies tonight." Dramatic much, Regina? And yeah, then she kills Snow White by burning her at the stake.

Except of course she is not really dead! If she were really dead, Emma would vanish off the face of the planet. Snow was clever for once and used the magic fairy dust to transform herself into a bug and then my favorite Blue Fairy came along and actually managed to do something for a change! Blue is literally the deus ex machina here--she descends from on high, does some sort of handwaving and POOF! Once again, there is a lot going on here that is long and dragged out because it's really just a rehash of Season One. Snow and Charming end up at the troll bridge. Snow and Charming end up falling in love while Emma and Hook watch. Frankly, there are parts I just didn't need because it wasn't anything new. It was actually stock footage from the previous S1 episode and if I wanted to watch that, I would. At this point, I just want to get back to Storybrooke. But before we do, Emma decides to bring Maid Marian with them because it's just not right that she die! Now, this is a problem isn't it? Robin and Marian are loves, probably true loves. And Robin is sitting back in Storybrooke, having begun a relationship with Regina and is falling head over heels for her. So here comes Emma Swan deciding to be the hero and Regina gets screwed out of a love life. Like mother, like daughter, Emma.

Let's try to wrap this up quickly, shall we? Emma and Hook go to Rumple, who is now declining to help them travel back to the future because only the person who opened the portal can reopen, so unless Emma has magic, they are stuck (this makes no sense as Zelena is dead and she is the one who opened it in the first place!) And then for reasons passing all understanding, Rumple zaps Hook and Emma to the Vault of Eternal Goo. I want to say that this was a good moment up until the ultimate OOC extravaganza. Emma needs her magic back. If she gets her magic back, then they can use the Black Fairy's wand and open the portal. Emma is our stand in for Dorothy this season in a metaphorical "lost girl trying to get home" situation. Emma has to wish for her home in order to get back to it. She realizes how much she loves her parents (having just watched one almost die) and that Storybrooke is her home, now. It really is. And once that happens, the time portal opens. Hook and Marian go through, but Rumple manages to stop Emma and demands to know what happened to Neal. Emma tells Rumple everything, about how Neal died a hero. And this is where I became a giant squid of anger: "I loved him too. I wanted to save him. But he died a hero, don't take that away from him." So, Emma can interfere with Marian's destiny and save her from certain death, but with Neal, it's not possible? And then there is Rumple with a choice: memory potion to forget everything or finding a way to save Neal. This is PAST Rumple. This is the Rumple who wanted to tear worlds apart for his son. No matter what this person from the future is telling him, he wouldn’t give up Baelfire and any knowledge he might get–especially in regards to his death. So while I get that it would have caused problems in SB and present day, the fact is Rumple is acting a little OOC right here for me. Dark One Rumple would have said “screw this Savior and her future” and remembered that Neal dies in an effort to try and prevent it. So the moral here is : Neal--- dead. Emma--- hypocrite. Rumple-- OOC.

So Hook and Emma arrive back in Storybrooke and it's time for the ship drama. Ready? 1) Captain Swan is now endgame. There is a lot of kissing and I'm not even going to bother commenting on it. I've been preparing for this. I don't ship it and I won't be shipping it. But whatever. 2) Marian is back in town, reunited with Robin, and Regina is ready to kill Emma because Emma has now ruined Regina's happily ever after with Robin. Time for a new love triangle. Because love triangles on this show go over so well when played out on screen. 3) Rumbelle gets married at the well. What?? Why? They just got engaged! And he is lying like crazy to her! And it sucks because their vows were actually perfect and wonderful, and I couldn't even enjoy them because of all the lying.

Oh and Elsa came to town. Because of course she did. Didn't I make some joke awhile back about how Elsa would be the season 4 big bad because she is what is new and popular right? Heh. Look at that.

I wonder how she is related to Henry.

Miscellaneous Notes on Snow Drifts/ There's No Place Like Home

--So much kissing this episode! What is this, a soap opera?

"You defeated Pan, you defeated Zelena, you broke Regina's curse!" Erm. No? Emma did one of those things, not all three. Speaking of which, what has Emma done lately to call herself the Savior? Nothing. She didn't take down Pan, Rumple did. She didn't take down Zelena, Regina did. What EXACTLY has she done all season, especially this back half?

--"What do I look like, Marty McFly?"
"Red leather jackets don't come into vogue here...ever"
 "Behold the Rolly Joger!"
"The only one who saves me, is me"

--How did these two idiots not break the entire timeline!!! They interfered with EVERYTHING.

--Hook traded the Jolly Roger for a bean to get to NYC. Are you kidding me?! There were beans?! And still Snow and Charming had to go all "dark curse" and Neal had to open the vault?!

--Baby Prince Neal. NOPE NOPE NOPE. "Here Emma! We named your baby brother after the man you repeatedly had sex with!"

--Just glad this season is over. Honestly, I don't have a lot of positive things to say so I'm not going to do a season in review.

See everyone in September


  1. -Honestly, the overall theme for this finale is: Because reasons.
    -I don't get how the portal opened. Zelena was the catalyst, no ingredients were used. Ugh.
    -Thank goodness Rumple (who has never time traveled) knows all of the rules of timelines. And how to fix them, even the small part about returning stolen clothes. The Whovian in me is elated, the Oncer in me is irritated.
    -The Neal bits, both flashbacks and mentions were just kind of mean.
    -Rumple of the past would not have drank that potion. This would have been a great way to get Neal back in the show.
    -Wasn't the dark fairy wand already a plot device in another episode?
    -Fucking Blue Fairy.
    -I thought Red left the show? She can make cameos but Hatter can't?
    -You did call the Frozen thing before; I demand Olaf make an appearance.
    -I thought only dark magic/artifacts were in the "vault;" why is a royal Scandinavianish sorceress a villain?
    -I know you aren't a Regina fan but... that was crap. One of the only characters to make improvements, albeit quickly, and she gets shoved down shitcreek.
    -I also couldn't appreciate the Rumbelle ceremony because it is shrouded in lies.
    -What is OOC?
    -I expected that gold vase to contain Will for some reason.
    -Continuity errors abound.
    -I said before if Hook kissed Emma and she got her magic or broke a curse I would not watch next season. Technically it didn't happen, but that a slop fest did not seem appropriate or necessary. Maybe a quick peck on the lips, but that make-out was unnecessary.

    1. 1) Yes, reasons
      2)No idea
      3) Rumple apparently knows everything except how to time travel...
      4) :( Neal
      5) EXACTLY. PAST Rumple would never do that
      6) Yes, in 311 "Going Home"
      7) BLUE. PFFFT
      8) Because he's busy fighting Captain America?
      9) OLAF
      10) I have no idea...
      11) Yes poor Regina. I do feel bad for her
      12) Rumbelle now sits on a throne of lies
      13) Out of Character
      14) Will will be along shortly
      15) Continuity errors galore
      16) *drinks*
      17) gross make out session was gross.

  2. I actually didn’t watch the last episode. I knew it was going to be all CS so I decided I would read your review first and based on that I would watch it or not. Now I know I won’t. I only watched the scene between Emma and Neal. This show makes no sense anymore, the characters are not themselves anymore, and even the Charming’s story is not itself anymore! I can’t believe they brought Lady Marian back. Of course bringing a person who was destined to die to the future will not change the timeline! Do they realize how ridiculous it is? So Emma saves her but not Neal? Because it is OK to leave your child fatherless, even though they loved each other and he was a good father? It’s terrible that they actually have to make the effort and find an excuse to KEEP NEAL DEAD, and we Nealfire’s fans should be satisfied because they named the baby Neal?! Are they kidding me?
    About Regina: S1 she was evil. S2 she wanted to redeem herself for Henry, then she becomes angry with the people who didn’t trust her (because after cursing and trying to kill them, they were going to invite her for dinner, right?), so she helps mommy dearest who is quite evil, but she ends saving the town. In S3 she tells Pan that she regretted nothing, not the killing, the cursing, the torturing, nothing. Then she sacrifices her life with Henry to save everyone, but found a new reason to live when she found a new person to hate and destroy. After that she becomes a HERO, with WHITE MAGIC, more
    powerfull than the good witches of Oz and her sister. And now she is evil again. Why is Zelena the only one to change color with her moods? Regina should have changed color five times each season!
    Neal’s death was the most ridiculous and disrespectful thing in the show. It made no sense and was completely forced. It was not planned. I remember when Adam and Eddie said that in S3 we were going to see what happened between August and Neal, how Emma ended in jail, and how August knew Neal was Bealfire, a question I doubt we’ll get an answer now. And while Hook was a good villain in S2, he has no purpose anymore, and is honesty tiring. The one thing Hook still had was his relationship with Neal, CS shippers forget that the reason he returns in the S2 finale is because of Bealfire, not Emma! When he remembers the boy he taught to navigate. But as you wrote a few weeks ago: “The man SOLD Neal to a bunch of psychopaths as a boy and now he gets to be a hero? He gets the girl? He gets to be a stepfather to Henry? He gets to be a part of the family? Really? THAT's the message of this show??? You can have everything so long as you make teenage fan girls swoon?” He never showed any interest in Emma before and never regretted any of the things he did. Where is his great act of redemption? What price did HE pay for the evil he did?
    I wanted to be Neal the one to get Rumple’s dagger. I thought it would be really symbolic for him to be the one to fight to get it and give his father back his freedom. I could even hear him say something like ‘as much as I always hated that dagger I don’t trust anyone else with it’. It would have meant that he accepted his father the way he was, dagger and all.
    I would have also loved to see a scene between Neal and Regina, after all they have a son in common, and their story is much the same: they both had an evil parent and suffered because of it, but while Neal rejected magic and tried to save his father, Regina chose to become like her mother. I would have loved to watch at least ONE conversation.
    Someone wrote that the show is now ‘Once upon a Hook’. It makes me sad and angry. This show meant a lot, it was about hope and redemption and now it has become a soup opera. Who liked this finale? I can’t believe anyone other than a CS shipper could have enjoyed it. I could complain about all the things that didn’t make sense in S3b, there were a LOT, but it’s not worth it.
    By the way, did Zelena even appear in the finale, or was she just a plot device to get Emma and Hook to time travel?

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes, I wish Neal and Regina would have talked t each other at least once. If anything, so that Regina could tell Neal about Henry as a little boy.
      Zelena appeared in the finale but only briefly, on a video recording in the jail. They were checking to see if someone let her out. Rumple tampered with it (using magic) to make it look like Zelena killed herself.

  3. Oh, I see. Well, I'm not really surprised.
    I'm sorry my post was such a rant, (and long), I suppose I needed to take it out. I don't know if I'll keep watching the show, but I will surely keep reading your reviews!

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