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Once Upon a Time S03.07 – Dark Hollow

They’ve only been gone 5 days?! This seems far too short a time for the last 6 eps to have happened in! Although it would make Camp Chats-a-Lot somewhat less indecisive.

More importantly, we’re back in the Real World! But soft, who are these two hipsters? OMG if Eric’s one of the hipsters I will be cross. Although it would fit some contemporary imaginings of his ladylove. And back in Storeybrooke, where the Terrible Twosome are headed, I’ve missed Archie! He was adorabubble. More Old-Town Storeybrooke please, writers. Speaking of which, down to the mines we go (because fairy dust), where we learn magic is just about self-belief?! Lame face. Also, more dwarves please. Grumpy’s face when he saw Ariel = happiness. Literally! And then they go to town and Granny is all sassy and it’s like we NEVER LEFT!!! Why would we leave here, writers? WHY? And apparently we’re not mentioning the fact that Red has left the show… that’s not at all awkward.

But now – girly moment in Gold’s shop. Belle and Ariel (who are best friends because of course they are and also SQUEE), *ahem* Belle and Ariel find a Princess-Leia-esque Rumple-projection inna seashell. So sweet to see she’s still on a redemption quest! (inward sigh about men needing to be saved by women who see themselves as weak, thereby belying their own, uniquely female power of healing with devotion…)

Back on Neverland (ugh), we’re shadow-chasing! So this is how the Shadow becomes a big bad – it’s a MacGuffin! Charming and Snow are still having the ‘where will we live oh yeah on Neverland BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T TELL ME YOU WERE DYING’ argument most couples have at one time or another, but you know he’s in the doghouse because he has to call her Mary Margaret. But the one good thing about Snow and Charming – when they communicate? Even if it’s with shouty voices, they communicate good. A+ kids, A+. The others, meanwhile, are off to find more bullshit psychology. I mean the Dark Hollow, or Pit of the Always Dark (Emotions) or something. Gah, whoever designed Neverland lived in 80s fantasy movies. Also I’m pretty sure the entrance to ShadowLand is through the Fire Swamp. No ROUS’s at present though, thankfully (sadly?!).

Elsewhere, lols, Henry is smarter than the average bear. Especially with regards to not going to see the ‘secret things’ with the creepy mini-psycho. Yeah, there was no way to not make that sound molest-y. Pan is just getting creepier and creepier and yet I cannot be bothered writing about him and Henry. He has plans and is epically sketchy, Henry is valiantly resisting but for how long, yadda yadda…

Back to Storeybrooke, where Ariel and Belle are hunting for Rumple’s secret tricksy puzzle. And we get more Ariel lols. Corkscrew! Button! Shiny! When Belle finally realises the ‘strength of their love’ refers to the teacup he used to restore her memory TWICE and GLUED BACK TOGETHER after she smashed it in a fit of amnesiac-pique (which, duh!), they are led to – ta-dah! Pandora’s box! I love Ariel’s very sensible distrust of the most dickish of all the Gods’ curses. Surely Belle’s heard of this before?! I know hope is in the bottom, but there’s a metric crap-ton of dreadful nasties on top, love! Suddenly – villains! *sigh* Why are the baddies always Brits? I know we do good sardonic eyebrows, but typecast much?

In Shadowland, lighter shenanigans result in the ‘revelation’ that Neal is a douche and Hook is gallant. EMMA YOU ARE A DUNCE CHOOSE HOOK. *ahem* Although ugh Hook her ‘choice’ can be to choose neither of you. That’s still a valid option. Or, actually, both, but with their egos that would be super difficult to juggle. Kind of hot, but super difficult and totally probably almost certainly a bit not worth it possibly. Inappropriate thoughts, interrupted by terribly CGI’d shadows!! But now Emma will use Magic! It’s predictably effective! Although also lol her magic-face is funny. Huh, and in another piece of unknown intra-world symmetry, now we have two magic boxes with horrors and hope inside! Ooooh, parallels…

Back down t’mines, Belle saves the day with the slow-moving cart of doom!! And OMFG the villains are the Darlings!!!!!!!!!! So many happies. That explains the glasses. So we flash back to the ‘carefully prepared Henry trap’ that I’m quite disappointed fooled our Boy Wonder, and it’s baited with Wendy, and holy wow Pan is still very rapey. And his Henry/Wendy set up is super creepy, though I’m pleased she’s not all Stockholm syndrome’d, just kind of weak and hopefully unaware of what she’s doing? Don’t wanna think too much about that, please. Henry, get her back to her brothers ASAP pls.

Finally, back to R&R and a successful mission. More of them please. Better introspection together. Also Ariel is very kind and not at all schemey. I would’ve refused to hand over the box till I got Eric’s new name, address and phone number. Sheesh girl!

Camp-Moans-a-Lot is finally getting some action! In terms of rescuing Henry (TINK’S BACK!!) and Hook and Neal showing their hands. Which means Neal awkwardly adverting to the fact he accidentally and unawaredly (not a word but should be) impregnacised Emma, and Hook being all winky and suave and generally gorgeous. HOW IS THIS A CONTEST?! *breath* Sorry. Although, Neal did apologise, and Hook did utter the lame line ‘It’s not the lighter we’re fighting over’ which, yes is cute and self-deprecatingly acknowledging the silliness of the situation and charming and swoon and all, but still. Kind of a ‘jar‘ moment compared to Neal’s subsequent apology.

So we end with Henry and Pan looking at the creepy skull island where heart doings will happen to ‘save magic’. Yeah Boy Genius is gonna end up flayed and deaded if all goes to Pan. Sigh.

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But Tink’s back and Ariel and Belle are friends and Archie is back, so I am content to say that, for now, all is well.

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Once Upon a Time S03.06 – Ariel

Another belated review of an episode themed around a much-loved character – this time it’s everyone’s favourite pre-teen allegory, Ariel!! TBH I kind of envy anyone yet to watch this ep, because it has the most *amazing* Disney callouts all through it and they. Were. Amazing. I squeed a lot. It was pretty awesome. Ahem. Right, no (more) time to waste, on with this week’s recap of last week’s ep…

More of Snow’s backstory, and thus terrible wig. Ugh. I get that she lives in the forect, but get a friendly hedgehog to be your brush, ok? Also why do we have more inexplicable Antipodeans? In more plot-related news, Ariel is a friendly mermaid. Like, super-friendly. Like as friendly as Robin Hood of ‘hi stranger let me give you my child to use a bait’ fame. Also, if this was Snow’s first ever mermaid encounter why was she so suss of the ones who attacked the boat? Did she later find out that Ariel is the Only Nice Mermaid Ever? Maybe something about the Fairytale lands accelerates bonding but does nothing to inhibit basic species-based mistrust. Anyway, she and Snow are BFFs 4 Lyf now, five minutes after meeting, and Ariel tells Snow about this boy she likes who she’s planning to meet! Yay! But once again we get to see that according to all agents for female change in this show (Snow, Tink, Regina), the only happiness that counts is with a man. Ugh. I don’t even think I’m that ardent/aware a feminist and this is pissing me off. Can we have one character who’s not motivated by the pursuit or loss of love? Just one?

Anyway, back at Emotioncamp, Snow’s hair looks shorter, like it got brutally hacked back since last ep. Just me? Looked weird. Anyway, I’m quickly distracted by more classic Emma/Regina banter: “You’re a pathetic waste of talent” “And you’re a monster”. Luckily, turns out rage is the magic-trigger Emma needs to end their little witchy lesson, which will be useful as long as she wants to be the protagonist of any 70s/80s horror movie starring mentally unstable teenagers with supernatural abilities. For combat-magic, less ideal. Elsewhere, Hook tells MM and Charming that Pan has told him Neal’s alive. This is smart – it means he’s not hiding the info, but he also has a chance to discuss it before releasing the bombshell on Emma, which would suck for him personally, but also possibly play into Pan’s hands. The Parentals react predictably – Snow’s all ‘No More Lies’ while Charming repeats his mantra ‘Don’t Upset Teh Wimmins’. Also, point of order, “it’s not lying, just not telling the truth” – between this and the “it’s not evil unless you do it yourself”, this camp is all about the shaky justifications that kind of suck when examined in even the most cursory way…

Back in the flash (lols), I am deeply concerned by Ariel’s costume. It makes heavy use of illusion netting, which is never appropriate unless you are an 80s figure skater, or costumed as such for a Tonya Harding biopic/sports stars of yesteryear themed dressup party. Also I love Snow, Queen of Truth, advocating a relationship based on a pretty monumental deception (Ariel’s actual justification – “just let him fall for me [and then I’ll tell him I’m a mermaid and we *literally* live in different worlds and we can never be together unless one of us gives up *everything* about who we are as a person right now]”). And then we go back to the now-forest and she’s blurting out the truth to Emma. Huh. Regina rightly points out that saving Henry from certain danger is kind of more important than trotting off to see if Pan was lying about Neal being about, but Team Emotion win again and they traipse off to find Neal, with Regina deciding if you want a job done, it’s best to do it yourself and leaving. Gotta say, if I was Henry I know which mum I’d prefer right now!

Moving sideways to Somewhere Else in the forest, we see Rumple – yay!! A characters who isn’t Pan or Camp Hairsplitting. Also, this means he’s not Neal’s wicker-bunk-mate, hrm. Gods I hope it wasn’t Tamara. She better be deaded; if she pulls a Padma I am OUT. Could be Marc though? Anyways, Pan shows up to suggest Rumple give up, go back to Storeybrooke and try to get a replacement family (noting that Belle “looks fertile” *sound of uncontrollable retching*), gets shooed off and is replaced by Imaginary!Belle herself! With whom Rumple argues as a figment of his subconscious. Of course, because that’s… rational and totally sane. But then Regina shows up, chokes Belle like a badass mofo, reveals her to be the Shadow and castigates Rumple for being taken in. She is awesome. And I’m still unconvinced about the Shadow being a Big Bad. So far it seems keen to snuggle with Rumple but has shown no agency of its own – it’s just doing Pan’s bidding. Anyway Regina brings Rumple up to date on the Neal news and stops Rumple’s ‘woe is me’ chat about how hard it is to kill Pan (he [still?] believes his own death is necessary to bring about Pan’s, not sure why or how that happened but assume it’s to do with the Henry prophecy?) with a cute one liner: “You’re not going to die at anyone’s hands but my own”. Bless. Their relationship is actually kind of super cute. I like this team up, carry on.

Flashback again, we’re at the ball and… ok. Ladies. This is a ball. Ariel, it’s your first so I’m not gonna talk too much about how scandalously, mullet-ally short and floofy your outfit is, and the bodice is cute, so you get a grudging acceptance. But Snow. No, Snow. No. Are you hiding a baby bump? That dress is ill-fitting, graceless and generally dreadful. Just, NO! However, the clever, clever writers managed to deflect my anger by referencing the amazeballs Diz fork scene and also possibly TBBT? Happy little fangirl looking for references which probably don’t exist. Also, Eric is introduced and he is pretty. I was gonna make a comment about how I couldn’t see how his parents hadn’t married him off to further political chicanery, but then he starts talking and you realise a) he’s adorably credulous and easily swayed and b) a little intense. Dude, just because you’re a prince doesn’t mean you can meet a girl, dance with her for two minutes, then tell her she IS your future (though nice to see a male equating future with mating partner for once) and invite her on your Gap Yah. Later, when Ariel confides this to Snow, she advises Ariel to ask Eric to give up his plans and dreams to be with her… despite his dream (travelling) being hers also. Whut? It doesn’t always have to be a zero-sum game, doll. There can be a win/win. Ariel, prompted by a comment from Snow, goes to ask Ursula for more leg-time, and ends up insulting her/the empty ocean. Srsly, girl, don’t sass a powerful Goddess, especially one whose bounty you’re enjoying, *especially* without giving her time to answer between your backchat lines! At least pause dramatically! But then, shock! Ursula surfaces! Oh, no, it’s Regina!Ursula, and she is delightfully sassy. This is an epically wonderful nod to the Diz, one of my favourite of the ep. Everything is shiny and right and sassy and happymaking. Except Ariel, who is still a ditz. Watery bints handing out favours is no basis for a system of Government! I mean, not something to be depended on, or trusted! Also her casual assumption that Snow would go along with the tail/leg swap plan was hilarious, as it reflected Snow’s casual assumption that Ariel would want to give up everything to solve her immediate problem (being with Eric). But, when they swap back after the cute use of Checkov’s Fork (/Mini-Trident), why couldn’t Regina blast them? Does her magic not work underwater? Is she a fire-based Pokemon? Silly. Anyway, they escape, yay, but when Ariel takes the (belated) advice of the soggy but safe Snow, to maybe just tell Eric the truth, Regina is waiting and steals her voice. So thwarting true love is becoming kind of an Evil Queen hobby in these flashbacks…

[Parenthetically; Ariel’s whole ‘should I leave everything I know, my family and friends, and venture into the unknown for the chance of being loved by a man I’ve never spoken to / danced with once’ is covered better by DISNEY than this episode. This made me cross-face. I genuinely can’t remember it being discussed. I think there was a throw-away line by Ariel herself, but otherwise the whole issue is kinda ignored. Admittedly, she doesn’t turn irrevocably lose her tail/swimability in this iteration, but she sure as hell wouldn’t be going home every weekend, and it would be super awkward for Eric to visit her parents. Be PRACTICAL, fantasy fairytale tv show writers!!]

Meanwhile, Camp Hairsplit’s been on the move, and Emma tells Snowmom about kissing Hook. Slightly rudely, Snow’s response is “Why?”, so Emma justifies herself. Sigh. Emma, the answer to “why did you kiss Hook” is equal parts “because I wanted to and am a grown woman who’s allowed to kiss who she damn well wants” and “have you *seen* his dreamy eyes/hands/face and heard his melodious and sensual voice?!” Just because he isn’t Henry’s (absent, kind of shitty) dad doesn’t mean you can’t love him. Equally, rescuing Neal doesn’t mean you have to get back together with him – see: Neal’s own indifference towards a relationship while trying (and failing) to rescue you, earlier this season!!!! Grr… They reach the Echo cave, and I gotta say, this place is lame. This may be because I was brought up on the Dead Marshes and the Bog of Eternal Stench, and later came to fear lakes filled with Inferi and cities filled with worse, but this place was weaksauce. ‘Tell your secrets and the bridge appears’. Ok, Hook says outside that the idea is that your secrets will destroy you, but Hook’s is that he loves Emma – no real shock to anyone with eyes who gives him half the credit he deserves (i.e., probs not Emma, and certainly not Snow or Charming), Snow wants another baby, again no shock to anyone (and not particularly interesting, either, unless they’re setting her up to stay in Neverland and ‘mother’ the Lost Boys to be close to Charming?), Charming comes clean about the Dreamshade, which earns him the silent treatment but nothing more, and Emma admits she has feelings for Neal (more on which in a minute). Not so destructive. In fact, most of them are good things to have gotten out. Bullshit psychological mumbo-jumbo is bullshit.

Ok, but actually why does Emma still love Neal?! It’s not love, she just needs closure after all the shit he put her through. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Which may just be because I love Hook so hard. So gorgeous and sad and wounded and rejected and brave and argleblarglewah!! I know the ‘bad boy redeemed by love’ is a rubbish cliché, but when Colin O’Donoghue is involved, it’s just so much more attractive. I mean, believable. And attractive.

We end with Regina and Rumple (I’m’a call them R&R) calling up Ariel, Regina returns her voice and they convince her to carry Rumple to Storeybrooke, where Eric apparently lives. Huh. How’d we miss such a cutie in ss1+2?! Humph. This feels rushed, again. But yay more Ariel, and Belle (if Rumple’s going back, no way she’s not becoming a regular again)!!!

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**Also I have just discovered that Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has started and I have missed three episodes already?!? So, that will have to go on the to-do list. Along with this actual week’s Once (Original Flavour). Eep!!

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Once Upon a Time S3.05 – Good Form

So, this post is the day after the latest ep, which I also haven’t yet seen, because my life is currently too busy to recap A HOOK EPISODE. That is how busy I have been. Consequently a different approach to today’s (/last week’s) episode – brought to you by the letter D (for O’Donoghue. Ok, just because lots of these started with D. Shhh, it’s late here).

Drool. Ok, so this was Hook’s backstory, where we finally see what turned him into a pirate (no-one that cute is born bad, it’s just science), so obviously the main bonus of the ep was lots of Hook screen time. Also included was Hook’s inexplicably Australian brother. Huh. I love the whole “universal” vibe they’re apparently trying to pull off with accents from all over the world happily sharing a postcode, but brothers (especially those who are also BFFs) generally have the same accent. Or at least accents from the same hemisphere. Unless Aus (Oz?!?) is next to Jolly Olde Englande in Hook’s world? Too many conspiracy theories. Moving on.

Disappoint – the backstory went as follows: Hook is the Britishest Britisher that ever Britished, and a thoroughly Good Sport, wanting to see Good Form and Fair Play by all. He’s 2IC to his big brother’s Captain on some King’s ship, and they’re off to a Secret Location (*Hint: Neverland*) to find something their King has assured Captain Broski is a Miraculous Salve to Heal All Wounds and Restore Potency. This is obviously a terrible idea because whenever more than one sibling sets out to accomplish a task, it ends up as a Highlander situation, but they must have missed that memo. They rock up to Neverland, meet Pan being creepy, dismiss his warning that the ‘miracle cure’ is actually the deadly Dreamshade (because he’s just a spirited lad and they are Emissaries of his Majesty Whomever), find the Dreamshade and when Hook sensibly expresses doubts that Pan could be telling the truth and therefore the motives of their King might not be entirely pure and he might know full well that the Dreamshade is poison most foul, Big Brother (in a typically masculine show of stupidity and bravado) rips off a vine and scratches himself with it. He has about three seconds of condescending ‘see, don’t you feel silly for doubting our wonderful King?’ before he dies. From the super-poisonous plant that the friendly (though creepy) native warned you about. Sigh. Ahh the British.

Dastardly – suddenly, Pan appears and tells Hook he can save his brother by giving him water from the waterfall flowing behind the massive Dreamshade bush. Hook does so, Broski revives, all is happy and they return to the boat to get the crap away from creepy Neverland. All is well until, upon leaving Neverland, Broski dies. Turns out the water only reverses the Dreamshade’s effects in Neverland. Outside its nebulous boundaries, you’re toast. For some reason, this trickery of Pan’s is almost unremarked upon by Hook, who instead directs all his anger at his erstwhile King, who would send his men off on a journey to an uncharted land (ruled by a pint-size psychopath) to recover what they now know is a super-deadly poison, presumably to help in their vague and unspecified but apparently long-running war against a Power or Powers Unknown. Cannons which can obliterate entire ships full of men are all jolly hockey sticks, but poison is Not Good Form, apparently. So, what’s a man who has received second-hand orders which turned out to contain inaccurate information from which he was able to concoct an elaborate conspiracy theory to do? Turn pirate, of course!!! This is apparently done by mussing up one’s uniform and shouting a lot. It is not apparent at which point the eyeliner is busted out, but I like to believe he burned his silly hat and, as he squinted into the flames of his old life, some of the ashes settled delicately, catching in the lashes around his gorgeous, dreamy eyes… I’m sorry, I Drifted off.

Duty – Back in the present day, Hook decides to save Charming’s life by tricking him up to the Dreamshade fountain by telling him he has a compass which can get them out of Neverland once they’ve rescued Henry (turns out that does exist, but we don’t yet know where it is). He has to do this because Charming would rather die trying to save his family than take time to cure himself. Charming also claims Hook is selfish because he’s only helping Emma because he loves her. Um, WTF? First off, if you can save yourself, you’ll be around a lot longer to help with the saving-your-family thing. Also, why is it selfish to help someone you love? Hook hasn’t made his help contingent on Emma’s hand in marriage. He hasn’t bartered a single smooch for his inside info (their chemistry, btw, still amazing. Or maybe it’s just his. I get distracted so it’s hard to say. Also the antagonism is totally working. Very Emily and Cranky!Jack. Ahem). ALSO also, Emma rejecting him was deeply ouch. Again, much like Jack and Emily. His gorgeous wounded beautiful sad soulful eyes!! *ahem* Thirdly also, I resent how willing Charming is to die away from Snow and Emma and leave Hook to a) bring back his body b) explain how he died and c) deal with any (fairly reasonable) suspicion of tricksy Charming-killing that may come his way as a result, especially as Pan tried to get him to go all stabby-stabby on the Charmster anyway (sidenote – why? That will need to be explored in future eps, as will Pan’s weirdly seductive tone with Hook. Not ok Tiny Terrorist, although you do get some good lines).

Double Dilemma – Hook, being the Thoroughly Decent Rapscallion that he is, tells Charming of the water’s curse before making him drink, so that he can make an informed choice. Charming decides to go through with it, as it gives him a better chance to help his family. DUH!! Anyway, back on the forest floor, Regina is convincing Emma to let her disenhearten a Lost Boy and puppet-master him back to Henry with a magic mirror so they can talk to him and tell him they’re coming. Snow says no, Emma is desperate and agrees. Regina makes the slightly odd point that ‘that’s what she’s there for’ – she gets her hands dirty so Snow and Emma don’t have to. Couple of points. 1) Lana Parilla is really good at this cold, haughty, yet tragic thing. I wanna see her on revenge taking down Victoria Grayson. 2) Whut? Just because you’re not actively doing something it doesn’t absolve you of any responsibility. Emma agreed and Snow didn’t stop Regina. Consequently Emma, at least, is equally in the wrong. Anyway, Henry gets the message so he’s shiny for the time being, though Pan’s started drawing out his magic. I foresee the onset of the Terrible Teens when he gets back to his mothers, backed up with magic. That’ll be fun!

Darling – Regina and Emma’s simultaneous ‘yech’ at Charming and Snow kissing. KYOOT. Also, obvi, The Kiss. When Charming and Hook turn up, Charming tells them all Hook saved him in a non-truthful fashion (and they fête him by nicking his rum, rude!) and Hook and Emma have a truly adorable ‘oh, I’d kiss you, but you couldn’t handle it’. ‘No, *you* couldn’t handle it’. ‘Nuh-uh, you!!’ back and forth, followed by a paint-blistering smooch. Also, Emma does an adorable Dick-van-Dyke-esque English accent and Hook says ‘As you wish’ and I Died. A lot.

aDditional Dilemma (shhh, late)! We end the ep with yet another quandry. Pan turns up and tells Hook that he’s disappointed in him, and so, to test whether Hook is as good as he apparently thinks he is, Pan tells him that Neal is alive, and on the island right now* – so will Hook tell Emma? Please don’t… but then don’t get busted! Yeah, that’s an awesome plan. So, Denial and Deception until next week, then? Jolly good.

*in case we’ve forgotten that this is true, we immediately afterwards see Neal being hoisted up in a fetchingly rustic, people-sized bird cage next to a Mysterious Other Captive. My money’s on it being Rumple. They need more father-son time. Also, couldn’t Henry have mentioned Neal being on the island via mirror**? Hmm, seems like a natural reaction would be ‘oh, moms, yay! are you with my dad who I heard of recently? No? Ok, well camp is fine, but a bit weird, pls come rescue me soon…’ etc.

**I’m sure he knows, doesn’t he? Memory hazy… If not, forget I said anything, carry on.

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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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Once Upon a Time – Casting Choices

So, Miz and JJ have just heard that Marilyn Manson (yes, *that* Marilyn Manson) is joining the Once cast.

Initial action: WHUT?!

Second reaction, upon further thought: WHUT?! No. No, Once producers, stahp.

This feels like the worst kind of stunt casting, which rarely works out well; the most heinous and egregious recent example of which I still can’t speak about without my blood pressure skyrocketing. Yes, he’s only going to be providing a voice, but it’s for the Shadow, who it seems like they’re shaping up to be a Big Bad (which is odd, as so far it appears the Shadow is either a) an extension of Pan’s self or b) a collection of entities, more a race than a character, so it will be interesting to see how they develop what was previously a plot device as something we can either empathise with or enjoy hating on). This means if he gets it wrong, it could be horribly wrong.

Anyway, his character is set to debut in November, so we shall wait and see, but I’m giving a pre-emptive “Harrumph!”.

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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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Once Upon a Time S3.02 – Lost Girl

Tonight’s Once Upon a Time is brought to you by Therapy. Therapy – how does it make you *feel*? Also this post is very late because I thought i posted ages ago. Yup, I’m that girl.

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We begin tonight’s episode with Rumple. Yay! He’s making camp in the Magic Forest of Doom and Death and Creepy Youths in Hoods. Camping must be significantly cruisier in Magicland what with the magic fire and such. Next up, shadow shenanigans – Rumple cuts away his shadow to hide the knife which alone can kill him. Here’s my problem. It seems like shadows are allegories for souls, and that they’re a) disobedient (per Barrie’s original works) and b) able to be controlled by Pan (per Once). So why would Rumple – whose soul is surely darker and more tricksy than the average bear’s, especially as he’s gone Back to the Bad of late – be able to control *his* shadow? Unanswered questions are unanswered.

And now back to World’s Most Awkward Family, and Friends. Hehe they’re using ‘poof’ as a verb to describe Regina’s (admittedly fabulously lavendery-smoky) magic. Some (you guessed it) awkward girl chat between Snow and Emma (presumably the “Lost Girl” of the title, though I don’t see her joining Pan quite this moment) ensues; I agree, the name ‘Mary Margaret’ is cumbersome, but could you not just call her ‘Mary’ or ‘Megs’ or ‘M2’ or something? There are more choices than “full name” / “Mom”.

There’s no Henry this ep, so we’re really only seesawing between Emma+Friends and Rumple, both of whom have the same goal, both of whom are being frustrated in their attempts by an inability to accept/move on from the past. Rumple keeps having a doll dropped in front of him (which we find out is the last thing his dad gave him before abandoning the family, feeding into his own preoccupation with the way he failed Bael) and Emma has to puzzle out a map which will only be revealed “once she accepts who she truly is” (also – tiny psychopaths are the worst. Also also, what’s Pan’s motivation for giving Emma this life advice/map? And surely someone as distrusting as her would’ve asked what his agenda was. That whole interaction was odd and didn’t ring true).

Two excellent things happen as a consequence of these storylines – with Emma recognising that she still has major abandonment issues and Rumple hinting at his good, ‘human’ self still being very much present under all the sexy snakeskin suits and ‘Dearie’s of his Dark One persona, both characters are pointed in the right direction for happiness – Emma’s fractious relationships with Charming and Snow, and with Neal obviously stem from the fact that both abandoned her (reinforced by the awful ‘shackled teen gives birth alone’ scene from last ep) and Rumple’s whole deal has been trying to acknowledge and atone for the mistakes he’s made, but his emotional cowardice leads him to make further, more serious mistakes. Vicious cycle is vicious. Anyway, enough pop psychology.

The one thing that really irked me was the delving into Snow’s history with Regina (again), as we see her history mirror Emma’s current issues (again). It was really clunky – we saw some of the events last season (or the one before, even?) and this feels like weird additional exposition. And Regina’s awesome outfits make me happy, but Snow’s long-hair wig makes me saaaaad. It’s extremely grotty. Plus, Charming mindfucking her into believing she’s the destined saviour of the land so she’ll one-up Regina in a petty “my magic sword is better than your magic poofy-fingers” was reckless and kind of stupid – he justifies it by saying *he* knows she’s destined to rule the land (and save everyone from Regina, which, yeah ok) and just had to convince her, but it was still a dick move. The only good thing about the flashback was the protective older-brother dwarves. And Regina’s outfits.

My main emotional moment this ep was as follows: Yay Belle’s back!!!! But this cannot be good. Oh yup, she’s some sort of psychic projection of Rumple’s subconscious. BUT yay he imagined Belle not Lacey! Which means he is good deep down and will fix her and all will be well. The end. Oh, more show? Ok…

So *everyone* is having to do Therapy and learn about their True Selves, pointing the way to the Good and Shiny and Inevitably Really Hard Path to Redemption. Rumple is learning about not letting past mistakes/regrets dictate the future, Snow has to become the leader she was born to be and fight for what is hers and Emma has to… be a leader/the Saviour/accept her destiny/forgive her parents? Hmm, not so cut and dried, but a good start.

Weirdly, despite this basically being one long psychoanalytical bushbash for Rumple (literally and metaphroically, as usual in Fairytale land) and group therapy session for Emma (and Snow’s recollected Bildungsroman), there are some good giggles in this episode. Dark lighting and levity. Oddity. Overall, happy bunny, in part just for the continuing awesomeness that is Hook. Swoon.