Once Upon a Time S3.01 – The Heart of the Truest Believer

Two season premieres in one night! So many words!!! Once is another show that lost its way a bit in the second season (even George R. R. Martin would call their character intro rate a tad excessive, but at least not *everyone* dies in Once), but the chat I’d heard leading up to season 3 had me hoping for good things. The characters they were introducing (not nearly as many as s2, see above) sounded cool and the action would be mainly in the Fairytale world, which is much more fun. Plus, Captain Hook was coming back. So, y’know. Yay!

And now follows my reactions.


Wow, we’re jumping right in on the emotions, huh? (Foot?)cuffed to the stirrups, under guard and lacking faith in anything, especially herself, what a way to be reintroduced to Emma, as she gives birth to Henry, shorting all the bulbs in the room. Because magic.

Back in the here-and-now, and Henry got big in the season break! He looks a couple of years older. Kids are so tv-problematic. He’s still being kidnapped by Greg and Tamara, which is disappointing. These two mooks annoy me with their quasi-military chatter. Shh silly people. At least Marc still seems to be a bit religious about the whole ‘mission’. I can always deal with cause-based fanaticism, but cold practicality, as evinced by robo-spy Tamara, leaves no room for empathy so I just get bored. And haha, you just got played by your god-master-generals with a fake walkie-talkie full of sand? Nice. Henry will thrive here, because like all awesome people he spent most of his childhood in books, so he has an idea how places like Neverland work.

Back on the boat (most of this ep’s action is either back on the boat – BotB – or in Neverland – NVL), much soul-searching. Regina and Hook question their quests and motivations, while Emma and Snow have deep, dark girl-talk and address the most awkward family dynamic outside of Patrick Grayson(?). I think Snow’s aggressive optimism is adorable, but might be getting annoying soon as it’s going to be opposing Emma’s pessimism and depression in close quarters all season if they quest as a family the whole way.

Speaking of deep and dark, we’re given a moment to remember why Robert Carlyle is ‘slumming it’ in tv; he has a wicked character (literally) and he kills it. Insightful, eloquent and deeply subversive, he’s the perfect antidote to Snow and Charming’s determinedly fluffy world-view. Plus he rocks that reptileskin jacket. Obviously Emma’s belief (in herself, in magic, in her family) will be a key theme this ep (and probs season) given the title and he’s offering a compelling counter-argument to her parental cheerleaders. And then he vanishes via cane, because he’s badass.

NVL now and oooh Lost Boys!! I adore the darkness of this version of Neverland  – it feels much closer to the original, which scared the living Bejeesus out of me as a ten-or-so year old who assumed Barrie’s stories would be like Disney in a book. So no. Also, the hoods are kinda snazzy – Kiefer’s lot would fit right in.

And now Greg’s down (though not definitively killed, good, I need more Marc pls) – maybe coming back later as a zombie/Lost Boy? And yay someone shot Tamara! I was bored of her. And her hair looked weird this ep. AND we have a younger, softer-featured Lost Boy saving Henry! This one must be good, because he’s pretty and little. He looks like a Darling. So he’ll probably be a Leviathon. No, wait, mixing my fandoms.

So, BotB Emma’s working out ostentatiously and with unnaturally smooth armpits, while Hook leers. So, business as usual. Then he gives her Bael’s sword. FEELS!! I really want these two to get together. Mainly because I don’t like Neal without a Cajun accent. Cajun = hot.

Oooh and speak of the devil, he’s dropped into Princess land (PLand)!! Aurora’s hair is more auburn and sexy than I remember and I love that the Prince gets no lines this scene. Step aside, the Princesses have this in hand.

BOtB Hook has an angry emotionfeel about Neal and the sea gets stormy in sympathy. And YAY killer mermaids approacheth!!! I knew they were featuring Ariel but I didn’t connect her with Barrie’s murderous sirens! Ooh this promises to be good. Also why is Snow dressed like a boy? No time, fight the seabeasties!! So Regina has her mojo back and is throwing fire. Good! She was getting all weak and boring without. Speaking of which, the mermaid they’ve hauled aboard is, I’m sorry but I can’t not make this pun, a wet fish. Disappoint.

So, back to NVL and I’ve decided wee Losty looks like Jojen Reed, so he might be good after all. And Henry is channeling the Fourth Doctor. Or, I’ve been watching too much tv lately. And it appears that Henry’s faith (in everything) will be mirroring Emma’s cynicism, as usual. He’s just so adorably earnest!!

Back to Neal in PLand and no-one’s bothered by the Prince pulling an Edward Cullen over Aurora, while Neal and Mulan discuss his love of Disney. Lols. This whole subplot is mainly exposition. They’re gonna find a magic something that Rumpel must have left because Magic and Family.

Flick to NVL and Tamara, still disappointingly alive, is confronted by Rumpel-on-a-mission but is too stupid to recognise her own uselessness and inconsequentiality, so dies. Heart-squished and all. Excellent. Though that does sadly mean it’s a longer way back to Good!Belle and happiness for Rumpel. Sadface. *But* Emilie de Ravin is still billed as a series regular, so hopefully she’ll show up soon and be awesome at everyone and get her memories back and Save Her Man.

BotB and I’m guessing this isn’t Ariel. She can’t act, or even writhe convincingly and has had one line so far. So far all of my feelings about her consist of unflattering Spongebob associations.

Wow, there’s a lot of short scenes this ep. Back to PLand. Mulan is suddenly into girl-talk on a Walk in the Sand Wastes with Neal, going… to get dinner? Belief comes up again, this time Neal’s belief (or lack thereof) in love. I love a theme. I don’t think that helps. Sorry Neal (I’m gonna keep calling him Neal until he gets to apologise properly to Emma, or does something totally badass. Baelfire’s too cool a name for him right now).

BotB. Hook’s new plan is ‘do a U-y’. Love it. Everyone is arguing except the mermaid, who’s flopping, and Emma, who’s just seeming totally out of her depth. Charming goes a bit cray and suggests killing the merfish, which is odd as it’s Snow who has the black heart-spot doofer, but she’s just cranky. Maybe he’s PMSing? Anyway, Regina lashes out with magic and it goes predictably horribly, ridding us of the annoying mermaid (yay!) but sending the ship up against a solid wall of surprisingly gentle-seeming water (boo). A tsunami of regret. Or just a big angry stormwave. Weird shot choices in this sequence – no-one looked particularly invested and the ship was flat/vertical/diagonal at different points. Huh. Bizarre.

With little or no cliffhanger, off to Castle Stiltskin, which, it turns out, is where Mulan and Neal were off to. Right. To get the magic thing. Seems it was close by; always handy. Bad CGI heralds the intro of New!Robin who is every bit as gorgeously-accented and eye candyish as I’d hoped when I heard the casting choice. He plays Hood vaguely roguish and understated, which I approve of thoroughly.

Neal magics up a secret door and alludes to future family rift-mending, before deciding to go exploring with his new BFF Robin. I feel like the people in this show, especially those from Fairyland, have little to no concept of stranger danger. Despite their lives often being the way we teach our chidlets that exact lesson. Ah well.

BOtB Snow and Regina bitch at each other (seriously, just get over it, you’re both queens without kingdoms so settle), with some fantastic lines culminating in a full-on fist-fight and Emma left looking inept at the wheel, until she chucks herself over the side, solving the problem with belief in the improbable / power of narrative and sacrificing herself / making a point / leap of faith. Or something. Although I’m pretty sure the subsequent debris hitting Emma that hard is physically unlikely, but that’s probably just narrativium again. Anyway, it stops the bickering.

In NVL, Henry similarly takes a ‘leap of faith’ and saves his little friend with pixie-dust, and the glee on his wee face as he jumps makes my heart happy.

But apparently five seconds was enough for Henry’s storyline, because while he and Emma are saving and being saved by believing, Rumpel walks alone. 😦 And then chats to the head Lost Boy, who I’m assuming is Pan in disguise, given the way he talks about Pan like a High Priest who knows his absent God is long-dead. Or like Norman Bates talks about his mother (not in the prequel show. I don’t like that). Or it’s past my bed-time. Probably that one.

Anyway, Rumpel does his heart-breaking evil-tragic thing again, basically acknowledging he’s giving his life to save Henry and being vaguely psychopathic in the same breath. Looks like Pan is a force to be reckoned with. So, not hoodyboy then?

Back at Castle Stiltskin, Neal found a snowglobe that’s actually a crystal ball and uses it to find Emma by having feelings, and sets his cap (and by extension, Robin’s and the Princesses’!) for Neverland! Where Emma is giving a pep talk (and Regina is being cynical and Hook is leering) and setting off on the Heroic Adventure that will probs shape most of the season for that group. Yay!! But, I do worry that the Henry-and-pal boys-own adventure can’t last a whole season. Ah. Which it doesn’t. Turns out his new bestie is Peter Pan, who wants to carve out his heart (as he is the Truest Believer of the title) because he’s a cranky little nutbar. Obvi. No idea what he wants it for, maybe just for funsies, maybe he’s trying to collect the whole set. And the credits roll and that is that!


Huh. That was an awful lot of exposition. And they managed to fit in quite a bit of action, too, what with jumping off boats and cliffs, and fighting mermaids and dodging (or not, haha Tamara) arrows, and making new friends and cementing enmities. I still don’t quite get how Greg and Tamara could’ve been so easily fooled by the Hooded Adolescents, or why Regina didn’t use her magic to get them out of the mermaid/storm/general shippy mess earlier, or why she wasn’t allowed to use it to repair the boat once wrecked, or why Neal, Mr Jaded, trusts Mulan and Robin so easily, *but* I liked this as a series opener! There’s a lot I’m interested in seeing played out and I look forward to meeting the other new characters. My only gripe is all the short scenes. It felt quite disorientating at times, but hopefully once the stakes and plots have been established we can settle in for some more chat. That’d be shiny, thankee.


2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time S3.01 – The Heart of the Truest Believer

  1. Pingback: Once Upon A Time – The Heart of the Truest Believer (S03E01) | TV And Comics

  2. i’ve just found this blog, i’m already totally hooked. I could not stop laughing. I have to know – are you a discworld or firefly fan by any chance?

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