Once Upon a Time S3.03 – Quite a Common Fairy

Today’s episode is brought to you by Second Chances, Pixie Dust and Things Which Don’t Fly and are Cranky.

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Unintentional double Once post!! Yay JJ’s inability to understand the oh-so-complex world of WordPress! Self-recrimination aside, this episode of Once had one big shiny anticipated excitement – KOIWOI TUNKERBELL!!! I loved her bitter-commando-hobo incarnation as well as her chirpy tomboy backstory character. 🙂 But enough squeeing – on to the recap!

I am deeply concerned that the references to Neal and Hook’s respective interests in Emma in the “Previously…” segment mean we’re heading for a love showdown. Because it will be a mutual “Oh, no, I am not good enough, you go make her happy” and Hook will insist more (because he is English and wears eyeliner, which makes him better and more gentlemanly) and Neal will go get Emma and she will find out and be super-ragey at both of them. Because she is a kick-ass lady and not a prize to be discussed and awarded to the Most Worthy Chap (which, for those not following at home, is Hook atm). And that means fewer smooches and more dark solitary brooding from all three of them, which is less fun for everyone.

Also we need to have a talk about the use of Terrible CGI in primetime TV at the moment. (See also: Revenge – post coming). The establishing shot of Rumple’s castle, everything with the fairies; it’s just uniformly a bit embarrassing. And often deeply unnecessary. What they did with Wonderland, last series? So much better!! The Screensaver Tulip Fairy Land? Awkward and gave me flashbacks to this wrapping paper I was obsessed with in fifth form.

But *inside* the Dreadfully CGI’d Castle it’s business as usual – Neal knows just enough to know he doesn’t know enough (that makes sense, I promise) so crashes around messily, Robin is being weirdly friendly and forthright (“Hey random dude I met literally minutes ago, meet my son and all my outlaw friends!” – how has he stayed alive this long?) and Mulan stalks about being quietly efficient and having great hair. Boring.

The backstory with Regina and Tink is interesting though – a bit soap opera-ish in that if either had communicated in a less ridiculous fashion, we wouldn’t be in this mess, and why are you both pinning your lives on each other, having met yesterday? Fast bonding seems to be a thing in Fairytale Land. It is nice to see someone who hates Regina for a reason other than “she’s the evil queen!” though. And Tink is so cute to start with, but in a new way! Chirpy, too; I feel like she and Snow would get on well. Also I love that they’ve made no attempt to hide her Koiwoi accent. Also also, her outfit is CUTE. I love that they haven’t made her a “sexy fairy” (this is evidently the season where Jen wants ALL THE OUTFITS). The sassy innocence of it makes Blue’s boobage-and-frills look all the more fussy, and btw, has she always been such an autocratic bitch? Or is this the legacy of Nova’s disappointment?

Slight gripe at this point, in the reinforcing of the sexuality = evil trope reinforced; Bad!Rumple is all up inn-ur-endo while not-yet-bad Regina swans about (loved Rumple’s prophecy pun, too) wearing loose, virginal white nightgowns instead of the Big Bad Morticia-Addams-meets-Ann-Summers power-and-cleavage getups of her Evil Queen days. Which I love, obvi, making me even more against this regressive and puritanical association. *English-major-feminist over-analysing hat off*

But back to the events at hand. There’s a lot of emotional blackmail going on this series, as Neal pulls a Jerk Move to get Robin to agree to use his adorable wee bairn as Shadow bait (which is itself a Jerk Move). Although the idea of Robin-as-daddy annoys me, I don’t want anything to happen to the sproglet! Lucky for Neal, Mulan saves the day and the plan succeeds, and the tiny Locksley’s acting is utterly adorably atrocious!

In less happy circumstances, and a continuation of last week’s theme, Regina is Left Alone, and thinks about her Bad Choices. Angry!Tink turns up (though she’s still not that scary, bless her) and we find out what happened between them – Tink nicked some pixie dust so Regina could find her True Happiness, and incidentally prove to Blue that Tink’s a good fairy. Regina bailed on the plan upon finding her True Happiness is a bloke (fair enough, he had a ropey Lion tattoo and also harrumph, guess Tink’s not much of a feminist – “you’re unhappy with your political marriage and consequent feelings of isolation, purposeless and loneliness? Let me find you a man for that”). Back in the Here and Now, Regina gives Tink her heart (why? Also, not.a.metaphor) and says she knows Tink is still good because she won’t kill her. Um, what? Weirdly low-stakes and clumsy scene there. This whole storyline is a bit weak tbh – we didn’t learn enough about Tink to understand her burning need to be a ‘good fairy’, Blue seems unnecessarily harsh (these two points especially glaring compared with the Nova storyline), and Regina’s never been interested in being interested in anyone but her dead loverboy until now – it all just feels rushed. Should have been a 2-ep arc, minimum.

Moving along to Pan’s Creepy And Dangerous Shifting Home For Menacing Urchins, after some very brief scenes confirming Pan has been obsessed with Henry for a bit (this didn’t make him less creepy or more rational-sounding, writers, and an undated drawing is not proof of anything [/lawyer]), we get some proper Henry-story and find out Pan wants to use Henry’s powerful belief to resurrect magic, which is dying “in all worlds”. So, less eat-the-heart, more harness-the-child. Not sure how that’ll work with Pan simultaneously trying to turn Henry to the Dark, dismissing Emma as relevant only for giving birth to Henry and angering Henry while providing him with pointy, poisonous objects. Interesting tack, given belief is usually allied with childhood and therefore innocence/goodness.

Speaking of Good Gone Bad, Tink as angry bitter commando girl is cool, and I liked her dismissiveness of Snow’s chirpy “I believe in you”. I also appreciated the highlighting of how not-hugely-healthy Snow and Charming’s co-dependency is, but I’m already a bit bored of Charming’s Heroically Hiding A Mortal Wound So As N

ot To Upset The Delicate Females. He’s not gonna die and should stop being so antiquated.

In the Castle, with Neal having hitched a ride to Neverland via Shadow (and been taken straight to Pan and Henry – yay?), Robin offers Mulan a place in the Merry Men, which hopefully means this isn’t the end of his story. His character needs a lot more work to make him interesting. Mulan demurs, saying she needs to go tell someone she loves them (because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas you tell the truth) and SURPRISE!! The woman who passed as a man for years to fight for her country is in love with Another Woman!! But Aurora and Other Prince (yeah I can’t be bothered learning his name) are having a baby!! And thus the Token Sapphic Subplot is safely defused before it’s even voiced. Unimpressed. That could have been really interesting and plus I liked Aurora!! Now, no doubt Aurora and OP will retire to the Enchanted Forest to breed and be unseen. Lame. Plus, *no-one* else in the Land of *Fairy* is other than strictly hetero? Come on.

Finally, in the last shots we realise that “Ehrmagerd Regina’s soulmate is ROBIN?!” Huh. This could play out… disturbingly, especially given Tink’s claim that Regina’s inability to grab her happy ending man (so many inappropriate comments) ruined his life, as well as her own and Tink’s. But also, are they setting it up so she can stay in fairy with Robin and Roland-as-Henry-replacement while Emma and Henry go back to the real world?! That would be deeply uncool. I don’t have crotchfruit of my own, but from what I understand you can’t just sub another one in if your original is unavailable because of, for example, custody issues, illness or dimensional incompatibility.

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Overall takeaway from this ep – more Belle and Tink pls. Less CGI. More Hook and less Charming. More explanation of Pan’s weird little world view/motivations, and less awkward backstory which feels like it was written at the last minute to fill a plot-hole / introduce a character you’d forgotten about. BUT, stellar work on the costumes, wardrobe people.

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