Once Upon a Time S03.04 – Nasty Habits

Ok first of all we need to clear something up. If you hire a charmingly lanky youth to lurk about in a hoody looking menacing, don’t then give him loads of dialogue. It doesn’t gel with the character and it’s annoying. You don’t pop round to the local council estate to engage the lads tinkering with their scooters in spirited repartee. *ahem*

Anyway, tonight’s ep had the distinctly un-Grimms-brothers-esque title Nasty Habits. They really get a kick out of saying the title name, but in this case it’s really only applicable to Rumple, and the continuation of his psychological odyssey (unless you count Snow and Charming being co-dependant and Pan being full-guano-crazy as ‘habits’, which I don’t). Belle’s there again, sometimes being herself (sweet, kind, vaguely sassy, and belligerently optimistic in a way which is somehow less annoying than Snow’s, perhaps only because we see less of Belle) and sometimes being slightly twisted, as befits a figment of Rumple’s subconscious.

The flashbacks leading up to Bael’s abduction by Pan were so very, very sad, with Robert Carlyle flexing his chops to make you desperately aware of how powerless Rumple feels as an ineffectual father, and how his attempts to keep Bael close just alienate him more. He’s one of the most fully-realised and three-dimensional characters in the show, and it’s definitely not just the writing.

This is why it becomes so frustrating seeing him so deeply committed to the idea of atoning for his sins through suicide-by-Pan – even after a tearful (and violent, and awkward, because this is Once) reunion with his son, he is deeply unwilling to consider any alternative plan where he doesn’t get to die. And once we see him and Pan together, we start to realise where his plan to effectively swap his life for Henry’s comes from – turns out Pan and Rumple used to be mates, and Rumple’s desertion may have been the trigger that set the tiny psycho off on his mission to collect Lost Boys (yeah, there’s no way to make that sound un-creepy), meaning that all of this is, however indirectly, Rumple’s fault. Honestly, between him and Regina, we can probably pinpoint the reasons that the Dodo died out and Russel Crowe got cast as Javert.

Incidentally, it also means that all three generations have sojourned with Pan, and escaped him, even if only for a time before all ending up back with him again (yes, a very brief escape in Henry’s case, and he was unconscious for most of it. But still). I can’t help but think this will be important. Also, Pan’s comment to Rumple – ‘Being abandoned is what you’re good at’?! Ouch, dude!!

But also!!! We are definitely heading for a Hook/Neal showdown – Hook’s teasing but persistent pursuit of Emma (which I’m choosing to believe is presented flippantly to shield his gorgeous feelings if she rejects him – swoon!) is contrasted with Neal’s ambivalence towards her; he never talks about wanting to be *with* her, it’s all just rescue Henry and ‘get my family back together’. Not, ‘rescue my son and the woman I love‘, so I’m still very much Team Hook (shock, surprise). And the pigtail-pulling bromance between Hook and Charming is progressing nicely, so I’m hoping he’ll be in the Eyelined One’s corner come wooing-day – one of my favourite moments this ep is Charming’s “You have no idea how hot I am” – he’s starting to enjoy playing the game and it is adorable!! OTOH, it’s a good thing he’s super-commitment guy, because Oh Holy Wow is Mary Margaret clingy! Yeeech. I can’t even deal with their relationship right now.

Also, can we just take a moment to talk about how awesome Regina is being? Because she is. It’s as if the writers were all a bit emotionally drained after the events of last week, and just decided to have her go Full Emily. And I freaking ADORE it. Also? She’s being pretty damn awesome about the whole “I could poof myself to Henry, kidnap him and leave and NONE OF YOU COULD STOP ME, PUNY HUMANS” / “no-one is recognising the role I played in Henry’s upbringing and ok yeah there were some questionable calls but I loved him and provided a very stable home!” things… I’m just loving her a lot right now and she felt unappreciated this ep. Which made me sad. As did Tink’s ‘lol you’re all mad cya’ because she’s fun and I want more Tinktime pls.

Aaaand once again we have to talk about bad CGI. People of Once! Listen to me, the Speaker of Truth!! It does not impress us when you manage to make it look as though your villagers live in a stage set, it looks weird and means we spend more time thinking about why they couldn’t just make it *slightly* less shit than being impressed about your use of the pan pipes to tie Pan to the Pied Piper (lols). I mean, for srs, my friend Dan knocked this up in a (very stressed, sweary) weekend on his laptop in 2011. And it looks about 8 times more legit than Hamlin. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE. You imported Tink from NZ, send her back to bring over some Weta staff! The Hobbit must be nearly done; I’m sure they will be happy to help out.

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My parting wisdom: if I’ve learned anything from Harry Potter, and I have, it’s this – when dealing with prophecies, pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to the specific wording used. (This is also point number one of most Law exams. Which is why lawyers wear robes. Because we’re wizards. Aaaanyway…) Rumple’s seer never said Henry would lead to Rumple’s *death*, just his *undoing*, which could mean any number of things. The collapse of his business, losing his power as the Dark One (which is where his romance with Belle / soul salvation is tending anyway) or even, on more aptly psychological level, the destruction of all the psychological walls and the healing of the emotional scars, so that he can be reborn like a beeeeautiful butterfly into a happy shiny life with Belle, Bael and Henry!! Ok maybe not. But still – don’t trust seers!! Gosh.

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