Thursday, November 5, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (The Bear and the Bow)

Wow.  I think I nearly fell asleep while watching this episode.  That hasn’t happened since I watched ‘Nasty Habits.’  Maybe I just generally find Rumpelstiltskin eccentric episodes boring when they’re presented more as a side story instead of advancing the overall plot.

So, in Camelot, Killian, Charming, Merlin and Belle infiltrate the dungeons, where they successfully free Lancelot.  They also free Merida upon discovering she’s also being held prisoner.  This prison break scene was one of the only moments in the episode where I actually felt invested in what was going on.   I really love this take on Merlin.  He is awesome, and I REALLY hope he’s not written out of the show after this story arc.  At this point, I’d be fine if we never see what became of all the other minor storylines that the writers have forgotten about (Jefferson and Grace, the relationship between Grumpy and Nova, and Anton and the bean field to name a few) as long as Merlin can still be around when this is all over.  And it would be awesome for them to have a resident magic expert in Storybrooke apart from Regina and Rumple.  Although, can Gold even qualify as a magic expert now?  You know, since he’s an ordinary mortal man again.  I realize he remembers everything he’s done as the Dark One, but seeing as how he wasn’t the least bit magical before his name appeared on the dagger, I don’t think it would make much sense if he was able to use magic again.

Anyway, after being freed, Merida decides to thank the Nevengers by kidnapping Belle with the intent to use her book smarts to concoct the potion that will transform her into a bear.  One thing I did like about this moment is when Belle actually asks Merida why she couldn’t have just asked for her help.  Merida’s response was that she didn’t want to take the chance Belle would say ‘no,’ which kind of makes sense, considering Merida’s clearly desperate and doesn’t know Belle well enough.   And it could possibly parallel what’s going on with Merida and Dark One Emma in the Storybrooke plotline.  I’ve now got a mental image of Merida trying to chew out Emma for heart-compelling her at some point in the future, and Emma apologizing, saying she couldn’t risk Merida refusing to help her willingly.  I’d love to see the look on Merida’s face if hearing that makes her remember her mini-quest with Belle, and how she more or less treated Belle the same way.

The reason why Merida wants to turn into a bear is because she believes it’s the only way she can save her brothers and convince the other clans that she is worthy to be queen.  She eventually admits to Belle that the other clans began to question her ability to rule over the clans when she failed to bring down an assassin before he fatally wounded King Fergus.  And I admit, that was a pretty sad story.  And I can sympathize with Merida on this.  If this version of Merida is anything like her animated counterpart, she prided herself on being an expert archer who never missed her target.  And the one time she did miss, it cost her father’s life.  I can’t imagine living with something like that hanging over my head.  So it’s not just the clans losing faith in Merida that’s the problem, but Merida losing faith in herself as well.  Belle obviously picks up on that, and knows that using magic to solve the problem will not help the underlying problem.  Merida turning herself into a bear will only show the clans she needs magic to be strong, and without it, she’s got nothing.  And it won’t help restore Merida’s confidence, either.  For that reason, she switches the potion with a vial of water, preventing Merida from turning herself into a bear.  However, when push comes to shove, Merida finally figures out that she doesn’t need to become a bear when she’s able to deflect the arrows that were shot at her brothers, who have obviously grown significantly.  The fact that Merida can fire off her arrow in such a way that it actually snaps the other three arrows in half proves to the clans that she is indeed worthy of leading the clans.  And on a deeper level, it helps Merida make peace with the fact that she couldn’t save her father’s life.   Honestly, I didn’t mind this flashback story that much.  It actually helped deliver a pretty mature message that you can’t let one failure or setback destroy your confidence.  You just have to press on with your head held high.  I can’t find fault with that.

It was the main storyline I had the problems with.  Dark One Emma is still using Merida to turn Gold into a hero.  When Gold manages to utilize the same method Emma used to escape her bounds in ‘The Hat Trick’ by sacrificing the chipped teacup (great, just when I was actually starting to make peace with the notion of never seeing Jefferson again, they go and remind me of his debut episode), Dark One Emma decides to up the ante by ordering Merida to go after Belle directly.  In a desperate attempt to keep Belle alive, Gold plans to drive them both over the town line, relying on a bag of magic powder to protect them from the barrier spell that would turn them into trees.  But Belle refuses to abide with this decision, stating that running from a problem is never the right answer.  They go back and forth a bit until Gold up and admits that he’ll always be a coward that will constantly run away from danger.  Belle is clearly not pleased with seeing this side of him, so she refuses to get back in the car with him.  Instead, she begins to walk back to Storybrooke, where she is greeted by Merida, who ends up drinking the potion that was brewed in the episode’s flashback, prompting her to turn into Bearida.  Bearida ends up attacking Belle until Gold suddenly reappears.  He ends up stopping Bearida by throwing his bag of magic powder at her, which causes her to revert back to human form.  Merida leads Gold and Belle back to the underground chamber where Excalibur resides, and Gold, after a brief exchange with Dark One Emma and a whole ‘if this doesn’t work, goodbye Belle’ speech, ends up pulling out Excalibur.

Okay, so now everyone is all ‘oh, Gold’s a hero now.’  I’m sorry, but… no.  He’s really not.   Yeah, he came back to try and save Belle, which is great.  But one good deed doesn’t make you a hero, especially after you’ve spent centuries inflicting pain and suffering on a lot of people.  Being a hero is a lifestyle.  It’s someone choosing repeatedly to do the right thing.  In addition, I’m not sure how his actions in the forest were supposed to earn him any hero points.  So he saved Belle.  As great as that is, it’s pretty much the same thing as when he chose to die to save her and Nealfirebagelperson from Pan at the end of the Neverland arc.  No one was calling him a hero after that.  So why is this any different?  Was it because he threw the magic powder at Bearida?  Because I fail to see how that constitutes as an act of bravery.  It was more an act of self-preservation than anything.  Unless the act of bravery was him finally admitting that he was a big pants-wetting coward who crippled himself in the Ogre Wars because he didn’t want to die.  Because I can see how admitting that could be considered brave.  Even so, just because he did good in this episode doesn’t mean he’s going to continue that pattern.  He’s still got quite a lot to do before he can really prove himself worthy of being an official member of the Nevengers.  For starters, does he have anything of merit to bring to the table?  Charming and Killian are both skilled swordsmen, Snow and Robin are expert archers, and Emma and Regina wield formidable magic.  In addition, Henry is able to come up with some pretty clever plans, and Belle has extensive book knowledge that can be hugely beneficial when they’re facing some manner of unknown.  But even though Henry and Belle are more or less the thinkers/strategists of the team, they’ve also had their moments to shine in terms of being where the action is.  Just look at ‘The Outsider’ flashback as well as the majority of Henry’s time in Isaac’s AU world if you don’t believe me.  But what’s Gold got in the way of practical skills, now that he’s back to being a mortal man with no magical prowess?  Unless something happens that will take away that self-inflicted limp of his, I can’t see him being able to hold his own too well in actual combat.  And his magical knowhow might also have been directly linked to the presence of the Dark One’s essence inside him.  Now that he's not the Dark One, he might not even have that knowledge anymore.  In fact, his defeat of Bearida only occurred because he just happened to have a bag of magic powder within reach.  So what’s Gold going to do the next time he’s called up to bat?  Hope there’s another bag of magic powder nearby for him to throw?  This also contradicts the message from the Flashback story.  They made it a point that Merida couldn’t rely on a magical solution to her problem.  And here, that’s exactly what Gold had to do to escape the ordeal with Bearida- he relied on magic to solve the problem while not doing anything on his own.  Again, Gold’s still got a ways to go before he can really prove himself as an actual hero.  As for the whole pulling out Excalibur thing?  It’s not as impressive when you remember Arthur also managed to do so, and he’s nowhere close to being a real hero.  In all honesty, I’m fully expecting Gold to do what Arthur did, in letting all this go to his head, which will result in him getting all haughty and too sure of himself.  And I think we can all agree arrogance and true heroism are not good bedfellows.  Besides, Gold virtually threatening Emma’s life at the end was not exactly the act of a hero.  A REAL hero would actually join the Nevengers in trying to find a way to save Emma from the Darkness, not imply they plan on killing her.  Not to mention Gold had a taste of being a hero before in Isaac’s AU world.  And in the end, he chose to behave like a villain when he resorted to attempted murder to protect his cozy lifestyle.   So, I’m really not buying this whole ‘Gold’s a hero, and the fact that he pulled out Excalibur proves it’ nonsense.  There’s gotta be more to this story that we haven’t got yet.

I’m also really irritated with Belle in the main storyline.  Now that the Nevengers know they managed to free Merlin in Camelot, they decide to contact him with the magic toadstool Charming re-found a few episodes ago, to figure out why Emma is still plagued by the Darkness.  But Belle is all ‘no, we gotta go save Rumple first!’  Now, I completely understand that she’s worried about him.  But in this scene, she just comes across as a total b-word.  She’s all ‘why should we focus on helping Emma when she’s no better than Rumple?’  Seriously, Belle?  Are you really reverting back to the persona you maintained before the Author arc?  The one where you totally excuse every single horrible thing your wayward husband did?  So much for the character growth you displayed when you finally put your foot down at the end of ‘Heroes and Villains’ and kicked him to the curb.  It’s particularly disturbing that she’s actually stating Dark One Emma is equally bad as Dark One Rumpelstiltskin.   Even though Emma’s only been the Dark One for roughly two months while Rumple was wreaking havoc for centuries.  And so far, the stuff we’ve seen Emma do as the Dark One are actually pretty tame in comparison to what Dark One Rumpelstiltskin got up to.  Top that off with the fact that Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One after committing arson and murder and embraced the power right away, while Emma became the Dark One when she sacrificed herself to save the whole town and actually tried to resist giving into the lure of the Darkness.  Of course, we thankfully had Killian to diplomatically remind Belle that she had given Dark One Rumpelstiltskin multiple chances to turn himself around, so it would be unfair of her to not give Emma at least one.  But Belle just basically sniffed and sauntered off with her nose in the air.  Again, I get she wants to make sure Gold gets out of this all right, since she never stopped loving the man, but her actions in this scene really made it seem like she doesn’t care about anyone else except Gold.  Which makes what she later tells Gold when he’s trying to leave Storybrooke nothing short of laughable.  She actually mentions the fact that there were people they cared about in town.  Oh, really, Belle?  You mean the same people you refused to stand with earlier?  Believe me, I really do want to like Belle, but she was really inconsistent in this episode.  I’m really hoping the friendship between Belle and Killian doesn’t suffer from the events of this episode.  After all, Killian, despite the long and bitter vendetta between the two men, has previously made efforts to reach out to Gold for Belle’s sake. (His ‘she truly loves you’ speech comes to mind.)  And Emma’s only in the state she is in now because she willingly sacrificed herself in the attempt to save Gold when the Darkness was leaching off what was left of life.  But when Belle has the chance to return the favor and do the same for Killian and Emma, she turns and walks away to go back to Gold.  You know, I’m starting to wonder if Belle is going to turn villain at some point in the future.  While I know that the show writers are probably not going to go there, the fact that Belle continues to gravitate back to Gold’s side even after he’s constantly lied to her and virtually turned her into his mob wife does seem to mirror the way Regina kept being swayed back to her mother despite how often she saw how toxic Cora was.

On the plus side, the Nevengers have finally started figuring out (again) that they shouldn’t be trusting Arthur.  When they give him the magic toadstool so he can contact Merlin, Arthur insists on doing so alone, stating that he was always alone whenever Merlin contacted him during his boyhood days.  Of course, Arthur takes advantage of the fact that he’s been left alone to simply toss the magic toadstool into the fire.  The Nevengers figure out his deception when Charming finds the seared toadstool in the ashes later on.  Thankfully, the toadstool wasn’t completely destroyed by the fire and can still be used.  Now knowing they can’t rely on Arthur, they decide to turn to the only other person known to have been chosen by Merlin- the current Author, Henry.  (Also good to finally have confirmation that the Apprentice is dead, even though it is sad to hear).  Henry, showing a great deal of emotional maturity, is deciding to not let what he saw occur in Violet’s trapped memory stop him from doing what he can to help free Emma from the Darkness.  He knows he can’t hold whatever Emma does as the Dark One influence how he views the real Emma.  On that note, I am a bit bothered with how everyone is acting like what Emma did to Violet in Camelot is the worst thing ever.  While I’m not saying it was a good thing, it was nowhere near as bad as some of the stuff Regina got up to.  It’s like the show is trying to say that massacring entire villages, sending countless children to their deaths in the cannibalistic Blind Witch’s house and making constant attempts on the lives of her adopted son’s biological family, among other things, is completely forgivable, but heart-compelling a girl to friend zone her crush is simply too much.  As for Regina criticizing Emma for taking a young girl’s heart?  Remind me again how many hearts Regina had collected throughout the years.  I’m pretty sure she still has that vault of hearts in that hidden chamber of the Mills Mausoleum, meaning there’s probably quite a few people with missing hearts running around.  At least Emma gave Violet her heart back, which is more than I can say for Regina.  I’m sorry, but I really don’t like double standards.

When Henry uses the magic toadstool to contact Merlin, all they get is a magic automated message from the great sorcerer, instructing them to seek out someone called Nimue.  Before he can go into detail, however, he’s interrupted by the fact that he’s already been found by the Dark One.  Which leaves the Nevengers, and us, with the question of what happened to Merlin after he left that cryptic message.  I do hope he’s not dead.  I really like Merlin, and hope he’s at least a recurring character from now on.

We get a short scene with Zelena, when Dark One Emma tries to get her to agree to help her with something in exchange for the Apprentice’s wand, but Zelena is all ‘not interested.’  But if there’s anything I care less for at this point then Rumple/Belle, it’s Zelena.  Although, I did roll my eyes at Zelena claiming to have killed Neal.  Because she really didn’t.  He killed himself through sheer stupidity.  Neal KNEW perfectly well he was walking into Zelena’s trap, but he chose to do so anyway.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s his own fault Neal’s dead.  To her credit, Dark One Emma seemed to give off a ‘who’s Neal?’ sort of air when Zelena brought him up.  Which I totally approve of, especially since this happened after Dark One Emma commented on how she can relate to Zelena in the sense that she knows the feeling of being in jail while pregnant.  And we all remember who was responsible for that, right?   You know, I would actually comfort hug Dark One Emma after this scene, if I wasn’t worried she’d respond by turning me into a squirrel.  Come to think of it, have we seen Dark One Emma use magic at all during the Storybrooke scenes?  I mean, apart from turning Sneezy into stone.  Because while she has performed that whole teleportation thing, she hasn’t actively used magic since they all returned to Storybrooke after the six week gap.  And that’s one more thing that seems to differentiate her from Dark One Rumpelstiltskin, who frequently used magic every chance he got.

The final Camelot scene in the episode was a short moment between Emma and Merlin, in which the former remembers their fateful encounter at the movie theater.  I’d question how Emma remembers that moment from when she was six-years-old, but then again, I’m sometimes surprised by some of the stuff I remember from my childhood.  Although, that moment is made even better by the fact that this is the same woman who questioned the possibility that Evil Queen Regina would recognize her upon her arrival in Storybrooke if she saw her face in the past.  Obviously, you CAN recognize a glimpse of someone’s face after thirty years.  Merlin once again warns Emma to leave Excalibur alone, or something bad will happen.  Which once again begs the question what got Emma to seemingly ignore that warning.

All in all, this really came across as a filler episode to me.  Sure, some important stuff happened, but it didn’t really advance the plot all that much.  But I was kinda expecting that coming in, so I probably shouldn’t be too disappointed.  But since the next episode pretty much kick starts the final five episodes of the current story arc, I expect the plot to pick back up again after this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Dreamcatcher)

When I first saw the title of this episode, I inwardly groaned, fully expecting this episode to be a virtual love letter to Nealfirebagelperson who I’ve made clear I was never a fan of.  But then I remembered something.  Back in ‘The Cricket Game,’ they were able to use a dreamcatcher to extract memories.  So that’s when I started to speculate that someone would try to use a dreamcatcher to replay their memories of the missing time in Camelot.  And it was revealed in the last episode that Emma had been making quite a few dreamcatchers during her time in Camelot in the hopes that they could help keep the voices in her head away.   Well, it turns out I was right on both counts.  And I’m actually pretty cool with that.  With one small exception, which I’ll get to.

In Camelot, Emma somehow is able to figure stuff out.  Not sure how she got to that point.  The last time we saw her in the Camelot storyline, things seemed to be on a high note for her.  But now, bam, she suddenly has figured out her parents are under the control of Arthur’s magic powder, and is also able to access Merlin’s memories within a dreamcatcher.  Is there going to be a deleted scene that explains the sudden change in Emma’s demeanor?  Because this really bugs me.  Last episode left us with a sense of hope that Emma would be freed from the Darkness because of the strength of the love between her and Killian.  But now, we suddenly open to Emma, seemingly standing on the brink of the abyss.  For that matter, where exactly were Killian and Robin during the majority of the Camelot scenes?  There was absolutely no explanation where they were during the episode that primarily featured Emma and Regina working together.  The last time we had one of those episodes was in ‘Breaking Glass,’ and that episode was able to spare 15 seconds to say Killian was taking Henry sailing, so there was an explanation for his absence during the majority of the episode.  Why wasn’t there a similar effort to explain the whereabouts of Emma and Regina’s boyfriends while the two women were busy making the potion to free Merlin?  Did someone skip a line or two?

Anyway, by accessing his memories in her dreamcatcher, Emma learns Merlin was trapped in the tree by the very first Dark One, who was responsible for the loss of the woman Merlin loved.  (Just calling it right now- the first Dark One WAS the woman Merlin loved.)  Regina and Emma figure out that if Merlin’s heartbroken tear could be used to trap him in the tree, perhaps another tear of heartbreak can free him.   Regina ends up offering one of her own tears, using the memory of Daniel’s death.  With her tear, they concoct a potion, but because the heartbreak of Daniel’s death wasn’t’ fresh, and the pain of that loss has been lessened by the presence of Robin, the potion failed.  However, they can use Henry’s tear instead.  There was a subplot with Henry in Camelot, as he tries to impress Violet, especially after Violet’s father voices his disapproval with Henry, on the grounds that he can’t wield a sword or ride a horse.   (I guess they’ve forgotten that Henry had been getting sword fighting lessons during season 2, and that Grandpa Charming had also gifted him his own horse.)  But when Henry tries to arrange a date night for him and Violet, following the advice of his two mothers, she ends up friend zoning him.  Thanks to the heartbroken Henry’s tears, Emma and Regina are able to finish the potion they need.  Even though Arthur chooses that moment to barge in, he is ultimately unable to stop Emma from freeing Merlin, who promptly reads Arthur the riot act, resulting in the disgraced king to effectively sulk off with his tail between his legs.  But of course, we know that it’s not going to be that easy to deal with Arthur, and that he’ll be back once he puts some ice on his metaphysical burn.

With Merlin’s help, the Nevengers are able to reverse the effects of the magical powder, thus freeing Snow and Charming from Arthur’s control (which answers one of my questions from last episode).  Once that’s done, Merlin agrees to help free Emma from the Darkness.  However, he states that he can only help if Emma is completely ready and willing to give up the Dark One’s power.

Now this leads me to my first real question of this episode.  If they succeeded in freeing Merlin in Camelot, where is he now?  Come to think of it, where’s Lancelot?  The last we saw of him, he was in Camelot’s dungeon.  But so was Merida, and she’s clearly out and about now.  So why isn’t the same true for Lancelot?

In Storybrooke, the Nevengers have discovered the disappearance of Griff and automatically assume he must have used a magic bean to whisk himself away.  (Why no one thought to check the stinking SECURITY FOOTAGE to confirm that suspicion, I can’t quite understand.)  To try and raise the spirits of the Camelot crowd, Snow and Charming, on Henry’s suggestion, decide to throw a block party.  Which brings me to my current grievance with Snow and Charming.  They’re really putting a lot of effort into catering to Arthur and the Camelot crowd.  Instead of bending over backwards for people they can’t currently remember knowing too well, shouldn’t they be more focused on helping or talking to their daughter?!?  We haven’t seen them try to reach out to her ONCE since the mind wipe happened.  And I know it’s not because they’re still under the effects of the magic powder, because the Camelot storyline revealed Merlin freed them from that stuff.  (Also, I notice Baby Neal is once again MIA.  Where do they keep stashing that poor kid?)

Before the block party could begin, Henry finds out Violet’s beloved horse has gone missing.  Wanting to help her, Henry goes to Dark One Emma, asking for her help in reopening Operation Cobra so Violet could get her happy ending.  They end up finding the horse at Peter Pumpkin Eater’s pumpkin patch (ha, so he’s real, too?), allowing Henry to return the horse to Violet at the block party.  While Henry and Dark One Emma are off, Killian, Belle, Robin and Regina take advantage of her absence to sneak into Emma’s house, to find out what’s behind the Mystery Door and to locate the missing Gold, who they realize Dark One Emma has abducted.  As a result, they find Excalibur, and immediately take note of how similar the blade is to the Dark One’s dagger.  Killian moves to pull out the sword so they can get a better look at it, but Regina stops him before he could do so, on the grounds that it may be booby trapped somehow.  (For those of you who have heard about the current fan theory going around, you know why seeing Killian reaching for the sword was such a big deal.)  When they begin to leave the house, upon being notified by Henry that Dark One Emma is returning, Killian notices a dreamcatcher sitting on a nearby table.  Regina, figuring out the dreamcatcher might hold their missing memories, activates it once she returns home.  The memories trapped inside the dreamcatcher are revealed to be Violet’s.  These memories reveal Emma had actually forced Violet via heart-possession to break Henry’s heart in Camelot, so they’d be able use his tear to free Merlin.  Unfortunately, Henry was present when this memory was revealed, so he was able to witness that moment as well.  And because no one remembers that they needed his tear to free Merlin, Henry ends up shutting Emma out. 

So, yeah, this episode didn’t exactly end on a positive note, with them suggesting Henry might have joined the group that has pretty much washed their hands of Emma.  Now, I completely understand why Henry and Regina are so put out with Emma after they witness that particular moment.  After all, all they’ve seen is that one moment, so unlike the viewers, they have nothing else to go on.  They don’t remember what was going on in Camelot at the time.  While I’m sure there are some people out there who will disagree with me on this, I can’t completely vilify Emma for what she did.  Mostly because I understand where she was coming from.  She’d recently found out Arthur was Shady McShady, and was plotting some sinister stuff.  Snow and Charming had already fallen victim to Arthur’s magic Avalon powder, and Arthur was most likely going to figure out that the Nevengers were onto him at any moment, which would undoubtedly lead to him moving against them at full force.  Obviously, they were running out of time, and needed to free Merlin before Arthur could stop them.  And to get Merlin out of that tree, they needed the tear of someone who’d just gotten their heart broken.  I’m sure if there hadn’t been a deadline, Emma wouldn’t have felt the need to resort to the method she ended up utilizing.  But because of that deadline, they really didn’t have the luxury of looking for an alternative way of getting that tear.   And it wasn’t as if Emma was unaffected or apathetic about heart-commanding Violet.  On the contrary, she was practically near tears herself.  Clearly, this wasn’t what she wanted to do at all.  But she felt it had to be done in order to free Merlin before Arthur had the chance to stop them.  Was Emma’s actions in this episode wrong?  Probably.  But again, because I understand where she was coming from, I cannot bring myself to be that angry at her, especially after letting the shock of that reveal wear off.  Like with Killian’s actions in ‘The Jolly Roger’ flashback, the fact that I understand the reasons why a character behaves in a questionable way makes it hard for me to be all that angry with them, especially when the questionable action not only has no real lasting repercussions, but ultimately leads to something beneficial.

In all honesty, the thing that disturbed me the most was the show’s attempt at comparing what Emma did in Camelot to what Cora did in pre-curse Enchanted Forest.   I might be alone, but I’m just not seeing the similarity.  Cora was a cold, heartless social climber who had a long history of putting herself first.  And when she killed Daniel, it was because she couldn’t tolerate or respect the fact that her daughter didn’t share her agenda.  As I mentioned in the last paragraph, Emma was in a rather tight spot at the moment.  If she didn’t force Violet to break Henry’s heart, they might never have been able to free Merlin.  And without Merlin, not only would Emma be doomed to spend the rest of her life as the Dark One, but they also might not have been able to free Snow and Charming from the magic Avalon powder, let alone stop Arthur from his own diabolical schemes.  And to be completely honest, even after taking a few days to process things, I cannot for the life of me think of any alternatives to the method she used, especially considering if she hadn’t taken the steps to obtain Henry’s tear, Arthur might very well have captured them before they could complete the potion.  So on the one hand, we have a woman who frequently abused her daughter emotionally and resorted to murder when the daughter in question tried to stand up for herself and her agency.  On the other, we have a desperate woman who, with great reluctance, chose to put her child’s happiness on hold in order to do something that would ultimately lead to the benefit of all.  Emma’s actions in the Camelot flashback reminded me of someone, all right.  But it certainly wasn’t Cora.  You know who it did remind me of?  Snow and Charming- the couple who chose to send their newborn baby daughter through a magical wardrobe, knowing they were sentencing her to a life where she would grow up without the love of her parents, but that doing so was the only way to ensure Evil Queen Regina’s curse would be broken.  Since the show has made it clear Emma has long since forgiven her parents for that, I’ll be very disappointed if Henry doesn’t forgive Emma once he remembers why his tear of heartbreak was needed.   And unlike Cora, Dark One Emma showed genuine remorse for what she did to Henry.  And she even made a successful effort at making it up to him, by helping Henry find Violet’s missing horse, which led to them being able to pick up on crushing on each other again.  And even if Dark One Emma had to resort to manipulative ways to achieve that, Henry was manipulating her right back in this episode.   When he got Dark One Emma to come with him in the search for Violet’s horse so they could spend time together while reminiscing about the days of Operation Cobra, he was also making sure she was out of the way so the Nevengers could have free reign to search her house.  Really, you can’t tell me it’s okay for Henry to manipulate Emma, but it’s not okay for Emma to use manipulation herself.  You can’t have it both ways, show.

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but even though Dark One Emma is resorting to things that she wouldn’t normally do, like willingly hurt the people she loves, I have yet to see her do something all that evil.  For starters, we haven’t seen her kill anyone, have we?  In fact, the stuff we do see her do is stuff that Regina does on a regular basis.  And no one ever calls Regina out on that.  I suppose it’s possible people are simply setting the bar much lower for Regina than they do Emma.  But even so, it’s still bordering on hypocritical of them to get mad at Emma for the stuff she’s doing while possessed by an ancient evil entity but simply shrug it off when Regina resorts to questionable stuff when she’s supposed to be currently classified as a hero.  The only one Dark One Emma seems to be particularly cruel to at present is Merida, and there might very well be a story behind that that we have yet to learn.  As for her bullying Gold?   After everything Gold did to her and the people she loved during the last four seasons, the guy really could use a taste of his own medicine, so I have no problem with this.  Long story short, even though Emma has supposedly given into the Darkness, she still seems to be toeing the line.  Which makes me suspect she’s only holding on to her Dark One status because it’s necessary for her to complete some sort of plan, and once that plan is complete, she’ll be more than willing to cast the Darkness aside again.

The subplot with Gold and Merida was rather short in this episode.  Basically, Merida begins her task of molding Gold into a hero, but when his cowardly nature gets in the way, Merida decides to use his love for Belle to force him into action, by waving around the symbolic chipped teacup a few times.  However, if the promo for next week’s episode is any indication, we’re going to be given an entire episode dedicated to Belle and Gold.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I’m currently indifferent to this particular pairing.

There was a bit of possible subtle foreshadowing at the block party, when the Nevengers tell Arthur that Dark One Emma has Excalibur.  It could just be me making a mountain out of a molehill, but Killian seemed to be giving Arthur the stink eye when they discussed the connection between Excalibur and the Dark One’s dagger.  I’m just remembering that this isn’t the first time Killian has encountered a corrupted king.  It was such a person that cost him his brother’s life centuries ago.  Perhaps Killian will be the one who realizes Arthur can’t be trusted during the Storybrooke storyline, which will lead to him saving everyone from this corrupt king, the way he hadn’t been able to save Liam from that corrupt king of the past.  He certainly had his perceptiveness on overdrive in this episode, considering he was the one who first noticed the similarity between Excalibur’s blade and the Dark One’s Dagger, and he was the one who spotted the dreamcatcher sitting on the table.

Now, can I just say, could we please ease up on the Neal talk?  I know there is a small group among the viewing audience who actually liked the guy for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but the way they kept bringing him up in this episode seemed a bit forced.  Okay, I was fine with Henry mentioning him with Violet when she said her mother had passed away.  It was something for them to bond over.  And I was even fine with Killian mentioning him when they found the dreamcatcher in Dark One Emma’s house, mostly because it once again indicated that Emma had confided in him about her past.  (We saw a hint of this before in the Wizard of Oz arc, when Emma brought up the fact that Neal had sent her to jail during one of her conversations with Killian.)  I’m fairly certain that Emma has confided more in Killian than anyone else in Storybrooke.  But why was Emma speaking of Neal so positively when Henry was trying to think of ways to impress Violet in Camelot?  Seriously, I know he was her first love, and they were trying to play up the whole first love thing in this episode, but she actually states she liked Neal because he was always himself when they were together.  The guy didn’t even tell her his REAL NAME!  Or where he was really from.  How can you be yourself if you can’t even be completely honest about your past?  Also, was it really necessary to praise his ‘signature move?’ You know, considering he used these ‘signature moves’ on someone who wasn’t even a legal adult at the time?  Seriously, show, stop trying to canonize Neal like he was some kind of saint.  He was anything but.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (The Broken Kingdom)

This episode goes into the backstory of King Arthur, and how he started sliding downhill.  We learn that Merlin has been trapped in that tree for YEARS.  At the very least, since Arthur’s boyhood days.  But Merlin had managed to communicate with young Arthur in his dreams, informing him of a prophesy that said Arthur would one day pull a sword from a stone and become King of Camelot.  However, no one believes that a stable boy like Arthur could ever become king.  The only one who shows faith in Arthur is his childhood friend, Guinevere.  When Arthur reaches adulthood and locates the fabled sword, he pulled out Excalibur and found out that the sword was incomplete.  He very quickly becomes obsessed with finding the other half, the Dark One’s Dagger, in order to restore it.  So much so, he began to neglect everything else, even his wife, Guinevere.  Wanting her husband back, Guinevere decides to find the dagger on her own so he could put this obsession to rest, using the magical gauntlet we saw in the ‘Heroes and Villains’ flashback.  With Lancelot accompanying her, they manage to locate the Vault of the Dark One.  When they find the dagger by walking through a portal door that leads to a garden of some sort, they get confronted by Dark One Rumpelstiltskin.  Of course, he won’t hand over the dagger, but he offers them some magic powder that would make it look like Excalibur was whole again, in exchange for the magic gauntlet (which explains how he obtained the gauntlet in the first place).  So, Lancelot and Guinevere return to Camelot with the magic powder.  Lancelot, realizing he’d fallen in love with Guinevere, decides to leave the kingdom in order to keep a wedge from forming between her and Arthur.  But Arthur had been spying on their farewell, and when he confronts Guinevere, she explains that their quest to find the dagger for Arthur had resulted in them obtaining the magical powder.  She goes on to say that she’d originally planned to use it to make Excalibur appear whole, but realized at the last minute that she no longer wanted that.  Because Arthur had become too obsessed with the sword, he’d become blinded to what REALLY mattered.  However, her words fail to get through to Arthur, who decides to use the magical powder to make Camelot seem like a perfect little kingdom, with Guinevere becoming the brainwashed little wife who will simply go along with whatever Arthur decides.  So, our great king of Camelot is now a total psycho who has turned Camelot into this whole False Utopian style kingdom.  Once again, I’m getting Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes from this show.  This is very similar to what was going down in Ba Sing Se during the show’s second season.  It’s even creepier that he’s now pretty much gotten Guinevere brainwashed into loving him.  And I thought the Rumpelstiltskin/Belle pairing was borderline unhealthy and toxic. 

Flash-forwarding a few years, now that Charming is a Knight of the Round Table, Arthur fills him in on the secret of Excalibur, and explains his intention to merge Excalibur to the Dark One’s Dagger.  In his desperation to help Emma, Charming allows his judgement to become clouded and refuses to pay heed to Snow when she tries to tell him what Lancelot said, about how Arthur couldn’t be trusted.  Going behind Snow’s back, Charming tries to bring the dagger to Arthur.  But it turns out Snow anticipated this and took the dagger to hide it with Lancelot.  They try to return it to the place where Lancelot and Guinevere found it before, in that garden dimension that could be accessed in the bowels of the Vault of the Dark One.  Before they can return it to the holding pedestal thing, they find Arthur had followed them.  When Arthur tries to kill Lancelot, Snow decides to surrender the dagger to save her friend’s life.  Arthur then reveals his ultimate plan is to force Emma to restore Excalibur so he can use it to kill Merlin before eliminating the Darkness forever.  Okay, but why does Arthur want to kill Merlin?  I mean, if Arthur wants Merlin out of the way, wouldn’t the smart move be to just leave him trapped in the tree?  I guess Arthur’s afraid someone might find a way to release Merlin, and the only way to be sure Merlin can’t ever come after him is to kill him, but if Merlin is supposed to be this great and powerful sorcerer, you’d think it would be all too easy for Merlin to dodge and deflect Arthur’s killing blow.  So, wouldn’t it be more prudent for Arthur to just set fire to Tree Merlin and be done with it?  That’s not even mentioning the obvious question of why Arthur seems to not want Merlin around to begin with.  Weren’t Arthur and Merlin supposed to be buddies?  Unless it’s because Arthur realizes deep down that he’s no longer worthy of wielding Excalibur because he’s let the power go to his head and doesn’t want to give Merlin the chance to take the sword away from him.  Which would kinda make sense, I suppose.

Anyway, when Arthur tries to use the dagger to summon Emma, it’s revealed that the dagger was a fake.  Turns out this whole thing was actually a clever ruse devised by Snow and Charming, with the latter following Arthur in secret.  (And this is me, expressing my genuine apologies for doubting Charming in this episode.)  With Arthur’s true nature revealed, Snow and Charming plan to use Excalibur to save Emma’s life instead of destroying her, the way Arthur had planned.  But before they could begin, Guinevere, still under the effects of the magic powder, arrives with the rest of the Camelot knights.  Lancelot is captured and thrown into Camelot’s dungeon, where he meets up with Merida, who was also captured off-camera.  (Does this mean Arthur was the one who kidnapped her brothers?)  As for Snow and Charming, they are both placed under the power of the magic powder, which brainwashes them into becoming willing allies of Arthur’s evil plan.

Yeah, so this is not looking like it’s gonna end well.  Although, this could explain how the Nevengers ‘failed’ Emma in Camelot, especially since Arthur and Guinevere could just use the magic powder on anyone who suspected Snow and Charming were not acting of their own free will.  If it is, it’s obvious they were not at fault- they were under magical mind control, courtesy of King Nutso.  I’m now wondering if Killian and Henry will be able to figure out what’s really going on before the mind wipe occurs.  After all, they’re the only two Dark One Emma doesn’t seem to be miffed at in Storybrooke.  But the question remains if Snow and Charming are still under the effects of the magical powder.  Unless the mind wipe counteracted the magic powder’s effects.  Which would explain why the memory wipe was necessary.  After all, Guinevere still seems to be affected by it, but she got blasted with the stuff before the Nevengers even made it to Camelot, so the memory wipe would not have counteracted it.

Meanwhile, while things were quickly spiraling downward into madness in the main storyline, Emma was finding it harder and harder to block out the voice of the Darkness.   So much so, she was actually becoming physically ill.  When Regina suggests that she could benefit from going somewhere quiet, away from prying ears, Killian and Henry decide to take Emma out on an outing so she could clear her head, with Henry deciding the perfect place would be the stables that belonged to his new friend, Violet, and her family.  Of course, Henry went ‘peace out’ pretty quickly when Violet actually shows up.  And I adore that whole scene and everything it stands for, especially Emma and Killian’s reactions to learning Henry now has a love interest.  Emma was all ‘wait, what?  But my son’s too young for this!’ And Killian was all ‘yeeeaahhh, attaboy!’  Which were such typical mother/father reactions to a boy bringing home a girl for the first time.  I can’t even stand how good they’ve got the whole parental thing down, especially Killian.  Who cares if he’s not Henry’s father by blood?  There’s a lot more to being a real father than simply providing the sperm portion of the child in question.  If this moment is any indication, Killian is Henry’s father in all the ways that actually count.

When Henry leaves with Violet, Killian gets Emma to open up to him, and she tells him all about the Dark One Rumpelstiltskin Hallucination, and how she’s struggling to block him out.  Killian, remembering how he was sometimes able to block out his internal demons by sailing about aboard the Jolly Roger, decides to utilize the same method to help Emma.  Of course, the Jolly Roger is currently docked at Storybrooke’s harbor, and Camelot is apparently too far inland for them to borrow a random ship for a few hours.  So, Killian goes with the next best thing and borrows a horse from the stables.  Emma is doubtful at first, since the horse is able to sense the Darkness that currently possesses her, and the Dark One Rumple Hallucination tries to feed on her hesitations.  But Killian instructs Emma to simply put her trust in him, because he’s not going to stop fighting for them or their future together.  Once again, you have to truly admire Killian’s unyielding love for Emma.  He’s not fazed at all at the news that she’s being plagued by voices in her head.  He just remains completely confident that they can beat this and return to Storybrooke, where they can continue their life together.  Even in the opening scene, when Emma nearly hits him with a magical blast during her emotional meltdown.  He barely even blinks and simply reaches out to Emma to calm and comfort her.  It’s very reminiscent of that moment in ‘Snow Queen,’ when Killian barely took note of the fact that he nearly got struck with a falling lamp pole when Emma’s magic was going haywire.  Instead, he remained solely focused on Emma and her obvious distress and physically reached out to her in his desire to help her.  No matter what the situation, Killian always manages to put Emma’s well-being first.

With his encouragement, Emma is able to mount the horse behind him, and Killian brings them to a really beautiful clearing filled with pink roses, which were the same roses that more or less symbolized the love between Arthur and Guinevere before Arthur went off the deep end.  (Well, the show calls them middlemist flowers, which are apparently a real thing, but they’re so rare, the only two known locations are a greenhouse in the UK and a New Zealand garden.  So I guess they had to represent the middlemist with pink roses.)  Upon reaching the clearing, Emma realizes the Dark One Rumpelstiltskin Hallucination is nowhere in sight.  Because she was able to place her complete faith in Killian and his love for her, it left no room for the Darkness to take root.  This revelation helps restore Emma’s hopes of becoming freed from the curse of the Dark One, and she and Killian share one of the most beautifully filmed kisses to date.

And that brings us to the million dollar question- did Emma and Killian have ‘coffee’ after the cutaway?  I mean, look how the final moments of that scene played out:

Emma: Well, now that we’re alone…
[Killian does that eyebrow thing, and they initiate a very romantic kiss as the camera pans upward to show they are standing in the middle of a field of the middlemist flowers/pink roses]

I mean, come on, people!  That is one of the oldest tropes in history- the couple making love for the first time while surrounded by rose petals.  And there’s also the fact that we see Dark One Emma has held on to the flower Killian had given her when they reached the clearing, which might indicate that particular moment held special meaning to her.  Obviously, I know we’re not going to get to actually SEE anything, since this show is on the family-friendly ABC and not the more adult-themed HBO.  But if the next episode has the first Camelot scene with Emma and Killian still in that field of middlemist, I’m fairly certain there will be Captain Swan riot, especially if we see something like Killian putting his coat back on.

In the final moments of the episode, we see Dark One Emma beginning her plan to mold the revived Gold into a hero.  Taking possession of Merida’s heart (because Merida was obviously brought over to Storybrooke as well), Dark One Emma tasks Merida with helping Gold learn how to be brave.  All I can say is that Merida has her work cut out for her.  After all, if Isaac’s twisted AU world showed us anything, it’s that it is very hard to change a person’s true nature.  Even in that world, when Gold was supposed to be the hero, he still was perfectly willing to strike down a young boy like Henry to protect his cozy little existence.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (Siege Perilous)

Okay, at this point, I’m in a state of mental chaos.  In the sense that I’m trying to be optimistic, but I have absolutely no idea where they’re going with this story arc.  It’s made even worse that this is the first time I have to really wait to find out what happens next, as I wasn’t introduced to the show until season 4 was still airing, so the first episode I had to actually wait to watch was ‘Mother
In Camelot, Regina, during a brainstorming session, decides to use some magical toadstool that,according to one of Merlin's spellbooks, was supposed to help reach across magical boundaries to possibly communicate with Tree Merlin, in the hopes that he could offer some insights on how to free him. (And again, why are they automatically concluding Emma can’t use Light Magic anymore?  On what basis are they making this conclusion?  It’s really bothering me.)  To obtain the toadstool, Charming decides to set off on a personal quest, with King Arthur volunteering to come along.  During their expedition, they bond over their similarities (such as peasant beginnings and similar tastes in wives).  They eventually find the toadstool in the middle of a swamp, but when Charming goes to retrieve it, he discovers that the toadstool is guarded by cursed suits of armor, which I guess belonged to the poor souls who failed to get the toadstool.  Charming gives his best effort to fight them off, but ultimately has to be saved by Arthur when the cursed armor drags him underwater to drown him.  Unfortunately, Charming ends up losing the toadstool.  But they still are able to return with heads held high, because… something to do with true courage coming out when you refuse to give up in the face of failure.  Anyway, Charming is honored for his efforts by becoming a Knight of the Round Table, and is given Lancelot’s old seat, which is supposed to be the most honored place around the Round Table.  But when Snow steps out of the room to calm Baby Neal, who got upset with all the applause (because babies and loud noises don’t mix too well), she discovers Lancelot is alive after all (So Cora WAS lying about killing him?  SHOCKER!  Though it does beg the question of where he’s been hiding all this time.)  Lancelot warns Snow that the real villain in Camelot is not the Dark One, but is actually King Arthur. 

Oh, I’m sorry.  Was I supposed to be shocked by that reveal?  Cause I really wasn’t.  I knew he seemed a bit shady.  It certainly did strike me as a bit fishy how he just let Charming go for the toadstool in the swamp while he sat back and did pretty much nothing.  And hey, if Pan can be a bad guy despite being traditionally viewed as the hero in our world, why not King Arthur?  It’s not as if anything was sacred in this show, anyway.  If anything, I feel bad for Charming, in the sense that he’ll eventually discover his new BFF was just using him all along.  To drive the fact that Arthur is the original Shady McShady home, we then see that Charming DID get the toadstool after all, but Arthur squirreled it away from him in secret with the intent of using it for himself in some way.  Whatever he needed the toadstool for, however, he apparently wasn’t able to go through with it, because by the episode’s end, Charming and company find the toadstool again in Storybrooke.  But because of their lost memories, their only hint about why they needed the toadstool comes from the fact that Regina had marked the page that discussed the toadstool in Merlin’s spellbook back in Camelot. 

In the Storybrooke plotline, Arthur once again approaches Charming to inform him that some of the Camelot treasures, which were brought over in the new curse, have been stolen.  One of the stolen items was apparently a magic bean, which Arthur had planned to use to return to Camelot.  Charming, not bothering to question how Arthur managed to obtain something that rare, devises a plot to weed out the thief, which ends up going quite well, and they manage to apprehend the culprit, who is Sir Griff, who claimed to have stolen the treasures because he felt wronged by King Arthur somehow.  But as we learned in the Camelot Flashback, King Arthur is all kinds of shady, and its revealed that, not only was there never a magic bean to begin with, this whole thing of Sir Griff stealing the royal treasures was all just a ruse devised between Griff and Arthur to ensure Arthur could gain Charming’s trust.  Because Arthur wants to overthrow Storybrooke and make it into a new Camelot.  (And I’m once again getting Pan vibes from him.  After all, that little devil child also wanted to turn Storybrooke into a New Neverland.)  Arthur even gets Griff to poison himself so the evil scheme won’t be found out.  So, does this mean Arthur is officially the new Pan?  Although, I have to point out a major flaw in Arthur’s poisoning plan.  The poisoning thing occurred in the Sheriff Station.  You know, the place where there are security cameras, as we saw in the season 3 finale?  And unlike Dark One Rumple, Arthur cannot magically alter the security footage to remove the evidence that he was there.  So, if Charming has the foresight to check the footage when he discovers Griff is missing from his cell, Arthur’s cover is pretty much blown.  Unless the show writers conveniently forget about those security cameras this time around, which would pretty much indicate they dropped the ball on this one.

Meanwhile Dark One Emma is trying to get Excalibur out of the stone, but to no avail.  Not even the dwarf pickaxe she stole from Happy helps.  The Dark One Rumple Hallucination just sorta laughs at her attempts, telling her she knows what she has to do to get the sword- find a hero that can be worthy enough to pull it out.  With those words still ringing in her ears, she seeks out Killian aboard the Jolly Roger, where she goes about recreating their first date back in ‘The Apprentice.’  However, while it’s clear that Killian is feeling tormented by the reminders of happier times, he’s placing his full effort into keeping his head in the game and refuses to let Dark One Emma get under his skin.  He repeatedly asks that Dark One Emma be upfront and honest with him and asks her about the Mystery Door.  When she continues to deflect Killian’s requests, and instead brings up precious memories he undoubtedly cherishes, Killian loses his temper and straight up demands Dark One Emma level with him about what she’s after.  Dark One Emma again chooses to be all cryptic, stating she just wants his trust.  She then asks him if he loves her, stating she’ll let him go if he says he doesn’t.  In response to that question, Killian simply states ‘I loved you.’  Of course, this isn’t them saying Killian has stopped loving Emma.  It’s just his way of saying he loves the real Emma, and isn’t going to pander this version of her by being her enabler.  That was Belle’s fatal mistake.   She allowed herself to constantly turn a blind eye to Dark One Rumple’s misdeeds and just ended up getting burned.  Of course, Belle was already approaching the task of being the current Dark One’s True Love at a disadvantage, since she never got the chance to know Rumpelstiltskin before he absorbed the Dark One’s essence.  Dark One Rumpelstiltskin was the only Rumpelstiltskin she knew, so she had no standard to compare him to.  Killian, however, is the exact opposite.  What’s more, he has already set himself at odds with the very identity of the Dark One.  It was that entity that murdered his first love and left him permanently maimed.  So he’s not about to let the Dark One walk all over him now, even if it’s currently using the face of the woman he loves.  Instead, he’s going to continue fighting for the real Emma, by encouraging her to fight against the Darkness that’s currently possessing her by utilizing some much-needed tough love.  Of course, taking this particular stance is never easy.  And you can see how the method Killian utilized has left them both feeling hurt.  So much so that Killian cannot meet her eyes anymore, and a small bit of the real Emma breaks through momentarily.  But Dark One Emma teleports away before she can break too much, and when she reappears on screen again, she’s once again put on her full-on Dark One mask.  (Although, she clearly doesn’t appreciate the Evil Jiminy Cricket's reminder of how her most recent actions have hurt Killian.)

Oh, and it gets even better.  It turns out that Dark One Emma swiped Killian’s cutlass when she left the Jolly Roger and uses that to pull Rumple out of his coma.   Because this was the same cutlass he was wielding during their confrontation aboard the Jolly Roger way back when, so it was a vital ingredient in the spell designed to wake him up.  I'm kinda sad that Killian has once again lost that cutlass, which he'd apparently gotten back from the Dark One Rumple's forbidden vault off-camera.  Except, since it's now been crushed to dust, he's probably lost it for good. That aside, the revival of Rumpelstiltskin results in me getting an answer to my earlier question- he does remember everything he’s done up until this point.  Because Rumple’s heart is now apparently a blank slate, Dark One Emma plans to mold him into the purest hero ever, so he could pull out Excalibur. Yeah, that’s great and all, but wasn’t Rumple supposed to be a sniveling coward? Now that the Dark One’s influence is gone from him, shouldn’t he revert back to that, considering he now has nothing to hide behind anymore? And there is the little issue of his limp, which should make it a bit hard for him to do any derring-do even if he can grow a backbone.  Okay, this show has gone complete cray-cray now.

But things might get even more nuts after this.  Killian is not going to let that Mystery Door go, so he turns to Robin, asking him to utilize his old thieving skills to help him find out what’s behind that door.  I admit, I’m completely on board with seeing Killian and Robin becoming buddies.  Whether it be teaming up for some mad misadventure in order to set things right again or looking at Zelena’s ultrasound picture.  (And who else laughed at Killian’s reaction to Robin’s poor attempt at explaining what it was a picture of?)  Like with Henry, I think it’s time Killian branched out and developed more friendships.  After all, Belle was able to develop nice little friendships with Ruby (who has yet to reappear) and Grumpy.  Why should Killian not have the same opportunity?

To be honest, I’m still not completely convinced Emma really is the big bad everyone thinks she is this story arc.  I haven’t ruled out the possibility that someone else cast this new curse instead of Dark One Emma as we’ve been led to believe.  It’s not as if we haven’t seen it before.  We spent the majority of the Wizard of Oz arc believing Zelena had cast the second Dark Curse when it was ultimately revealed to have been Snow and Charming.  And then there’s the fact that she still didn’t tell Killian what she’s planning, simply asking him to trust her.  While it could be just the Darkness influencing her into toying with him and his feelings for her, there is a fan theory going around that I'm on board with- that something or someone is actually PREVENTING her from openly explaining things.  If that’s the case, it would give new meaning to her request for Killian to trust her in this episode.  It would mean she was trying to inform him in a cryptic way that, even though she couldn’t be completely upfront with him, she had a plan and needed him to trust her.  However, I know I could be completely wrong about that.  That said, if Dark One Emma was the one to cast the new curse, this episode might have offered us a clue as to why she did so.  Maybe it was the only way to stop Arthur from doing something really bad in Camelot, but there was no real way to spare her loved ones from the mind wipe.  So it was either wipe away everyone’s memories or do nothing and allow Arthur free reign or whatever.

Now I gotta discuss a certain aspect of Killian and Dark One Emma’s conversation.  More specifically the part where they discuss Killian’s initial meeting with Rumpelstiltskin centuries earlier.  According to Killian, he was the one at fault back then, and he shouldn’t have prevented Rumple’s attempt at keeping his family together.  Okay, I completely get what his intent was in this moment, and that he was trying to get Dark One Emma to realize becoming the Dark One did not change Rumple for the better so she’d realize embracing the Darkness was not making her better, either.  He was trying to convince her that the only thing that would really make her better was rejecting the Dark One’s power and returning to the person he fell in love with, walls and all. (It was also the writers’ way of showing how much Killian has grown to be ashamed of his past misdeeds, and also disproving the belief amongst certain viewers that Emma doesn’t know the whole story about Milah.  This exchange proves she’s been told all about it.)  But I really don’t like the idea that Killian is quite possibly placing the full extent of the blame on himself, because he really doesn’t deserve that.  If they’re really going to play the blame game for this incident, there was plenty of that to go around.  If Rumple really wanted to keep his family together, he should have made an effort to consider Milah’s feelings.   Milah was dealing with serious depression and wanted a fresh start in some other village where she wouldn’t be ostracized by the neighbors because of her husband’s actions in the Ogre Wars.  But Rumple refused to even consider moving away.  Even if Killian hadn’t entered the picture, Miliah might very well have walked out on him anyway.  And while it was possibly a low blow of Killian to virtually mock Rumple when he ventured onto the Jolly Roger to get Milah back, his actions in making Rumple believe they were abducting his wife might very well have protected Milah’s reputation.  Better that people think she was kidnapped by pirates than know she willingly ran off with another man.  Somehow, I don’t think people would be very open-minded about something like that in the medieval-style world of the Enchanted Forest.  And it was entirely possible that Milah had also asked Killian to lie for her, because she didn’t WANT to go back with her husband.  Like I said, there was blame to share.  The only one who was entirely guiltless in this particular situation was Boy Baelfire.  So I sincerely hope Killian isn’t trying to place all the blame on himself.  Then again, this could have just been him reverting back to his tendency to be all self-loathing.  It has been shown repeatedly that people are generally at their worst when they’re separated from their True Love.  And Killian is in the unique position of having his True Love being there physically but being gone at the same time.  Regardless, I have a seriously hard time in seeing how Killian simply acting like a smug frat boy in the past was synonymous with him being villainous.  Maybe people just have a different morality back in the Enchanted Forest.  There have been a few instances when this show has suggested actions that seemed reasonable enough to me were actually a sign of giving into the darkness.  (i.e. Emma nearly punching the landlord guy in ‘Lily.’  I still say if someone is callous enough to start badmouthing a dead person to someone who might have been friends with said dead person, they’re ASKING to get hit in the face.)

Once again, I am 1001% DONE with Zelena’s storyline, but this time, however, I was equally miffed with Regina.  She practically berates Zelena for wasting all the chances they gave her to change her ways. Please remind me how many chances YOU got, Regina.  And then there was her ‘you keep painting yourself as a victim.’  Yeah, says the woman who spent YEARS blaming Snow for people seeing her as the Evil Queen when she was the one who chose to slaughter hundreds amongst other horrible acts.  Says the woman who once spat Emma sympathy back in her face during the Neverland arc, stating that Emma had parents when she didn’t, even though it’s really Regina’s fault she no longer has her father in her life.  Says the woman who spent the majority of season 4 throwing a tantrum at Emma for the whole ‘Not-Marian’ issue and then claiming the Author purposely set her up for failure.  Says the woman who, just last episode, whined about how King Leopold never danced with her and then tried to blame the comatose Rumple for turning her into the Evil Queen.  I don’t want to make a whole pot and kettle analogy, but it’s getting close.   And is she seriously contemplating taking the child away from Zelena?  Does Regina even realize when she’s telling her sister that she can’t take that child away from his father that SHE’S planning to take a child from its mother?  I realize this is a sticky situation to be in, but I just keep remembering that this baby is the result of Robin being raped through deception.  I completely understand how Robin must have mixed feelings about the unborn baby, but I can just see it being a constant elephant in the room if Regina and Robin get full custody of the baby and Zelena is cast aside.  I’m not one to promote the practice of sweeping problems under the rug so people can just ignore they exist, but if all Zelena wants is to keep the baby, she’s not going to go away willingly without that child.  At the present time, I see no downside of just letting Zelena walk off into the sunset with her offspring, just so we’d never have to deal with her anymore.  Besides, I’m sure Robin and Regina could have kids of their own one day.  I’m still convinced Regina’s barren state could be rectified if they just took a little day trip to Lake Nostros.  Seriously, why is it so hard for people to spot the solutions that are right in front of them?

On a final side note, was it just me, or were the dwarves major jerks in this episode?  I realize they’ve got a lot on their plate in trying to figure out how to restore Tree Dopey to his original flesh and blood state, but like Grumpy said last episode, Emma used to be one of them.  But now that she’s full-on Dark One, it’s like they feel that they’ve got to completely wash their hands of her.  Weren’t the dwarves supposed to be Snow and Charming’s loyal guards?  Where’s the loyalty now?  I mean, they’re talking about the daughter of the royal couple they once swore to serve here.  You’d think the ‘loyal’ guards would want to stand by their rulers’ desire to find a solution that would help restore their daughter instead of, you know, killing her or whatever.  Then again, we have seen Grumpy resort to an angry-mob mentality in the past, so I suppose I shouldn’t expect any better from him anymore.  (And to think Grumpy was my favorite dwarf in the original Disney film.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Once Upon a Time Episode Analysis (The Price)

Okay, when this episode began, my first thought was ‘why is Sneezy still stone?’  You can’t tell me no one knew how to turn him back.  We’ve SEEN Regina use the exact same spell during ‘The Thing You Love Most’ flashback back in season 1.  Don’t think I haven’t forgotten that.  So shouldn’t she know the counter-spell?  And at the end of the episode, I got my confirmation- Regina COULD turn Sneezy back.  So why did she wait so long to do so?!  What was stopping her from turning him back right after Dark One Emma teleported away at the end of last episode?  I mean really, she only turns him back after everyone is convinced she can successfully pose as the new Savior.  Is that really the act of a hero?

During the Camelot flashback, the Nevengers are introduced to the royal court, including Queen Guinevere, and King Arthur is all set to throw a ball in honor of their prophesized arrival.  (*Sigh* Stinking prophesies.  What good has ever come about from listening to them?   Nine times out of ten, they just turn out to be self-fulfilling.)  Killian, however, is focused solely on helping free Emma from the Dark One’s curse for good, and announces his eagerness to begin the search for Merlin.  Which results in the reveal that Merlin is actually in Camelot, but trapped inside a tree.  I kinda like this detail, as I seem to remember something about Merlin being trapped inside a tree in the original mythos.  I’m guessing there’s also a connection between this and the new town line border spell.  Yeah, this time around, if anyone tries to cross the Storybrooke town line, they get tuned into a tree, as Dopey found out the hard way.  Which makes me wonder how Dopey’s going to get turned back, because it’s not like anyone can step over the line to bring Tree Dopey back into town limits.

Anyway, Arthur states that only the Savior would be able to free Merlin, but when Emma starts to step forward, Regina cuts her off, announcing that SHE’S the Savior, while keeping a hand on the Dark One’s dagger in order to prevent Emma from contradicting her statement.  Emma is not pleased with this, and she makes sure to inform Regina of this once they’re alone.  But Regina waves off Emma’s irritation, stating that if she’d tried to free Merlin, she would just end up using Dark Magic, and risk sinking deeper into the Darkness.  Okay, I’m sorry to be all nitpicky, but…. how do they KNOW Emma would instantly produce Dark Magic?  Where is it written in stone that she can’t use Light Magic just because she’s now the Dark One?  I mean, they’ve only seen ONE Dark One in action before.  And maybe the only reason why Dark One Rumple never used Light Magic was a) because he didn’t WANT to or b) unlike Emma, Rumpelstiltskin didn’t have a drop of magical blood in him to begin with, so there was nothing to transfer over.  I’m just saying, it seems like a bit of a stretch to instantly assume the person who once was able to wield pretty strong Light Magic can’t do so anymore.  I mean, they don’t even allow Emma the opportunity to try using Light Magic before making that conclusion.  Granted, that seems to be the case later on, but maybe this is similar to what we saw in previous seasons, when you can only see magic stuff if you believe in it.  Emma wasn’t able to see August was turning into wood until she believed the curse was real.  When they were looking for the book to restore Henry’s memories during the Wizard of Oz arc, Emma wasn’t able to find the book in the box when Snow was able to do so seconds later because she didn’t really WANT to find the book.  When Zelena was defeated, Emma believed that she hadn’t gotten her magic back, but it was later revealed the only reason they hadn’t returned was because Emma hadn’t wanted them to.  The moment she changed her mind on the matter, they instantly manifested again.  During the Neverland arc, Tinkerbell was only able to get the pixie dust to glow when she believed she could.  And when we saw how Author Isaac was initiated, the Apprentice stated that Author Isaac could only see the magic portal door because he believed.  Maybe if Emma believed she could use Light Magic while she’s still the Dark One, she’d be able to.  And the only reason why she doesn’t seem to be able to do so during this episode was because that’s what everyone has been telling her, so of course she’s going to believe that.  Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it CAN’T be done.  It could just mean no one has tried to test the limits yet.

And this is when things get super ridiculous.  When everyone is getting ready for the ball, Regina states she’s not going- because she doesn’t know how to dance.

Okay, show writers, WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?!  Just because the Nevengers have lost their memories doesn’t mean the viewing audience have.  We all remember what that nutjob Cora was like, and how she most likely was grooming Regina to become queen from the millisecond she could WALK!  Are we seriously expected to believe Cora neglected to cover flipping BALLROOM DANCING in those non-stop etiquette lessons?  I’m calling horse bunk on this one.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she actually has the gall to comment on how whenever she attended a ball in the past, King Leopold was more interested in dancing with young Snow than with her.  Yeah, like we should TOTALLY feel super bad for Regina that the man she eventually had MURDERED via snake bite never danced with her.   Also, dare I remind people that Regina had plenty of opportunities to get dancing lessons and attend balls during that span of time when she was Evil Queen Regina?  We CLEARLY saw her attending King Midas’ ball in the season 3 finale.  What are we supposed to think she was she doing all evening?  Skulking in the corner and stuffing her face with h'orderves?  Granted, that’s what I would be doing, but the difference is I’m not of noble birth like Regina was.  Seriously, show writers, I’ve been willing to overlook a lot of the questionable storytelling stuff you’ve done in the past, but this?  This is getting dangerously close to ‘insulting our intelligence’ territory.

And it gets even better.  When they attend the ball, one of the Knights of the Round Table, who’s later revealed to be Percival, approaches Regina and invites her to dance.  As they dance, he reveals himself as the sole survivor of a village Regina had massacred during her reign as the Evil Queen.  He then attempts to strike her down with a sword, prompting Robin and Charming to come charging in to save her.  The struggle ends with Charming killing Percival and Robin getting stabbed.  I’ll get to Robin in a minute, because I can’t overlook how people kept reacting to Percival.  Everyone is instantly talking about how horrible it is that Percival tried to kill the ‘guest of honor.’  Yeah, how dare Percival react with reasonable anger towards the woman who killed his entire family and pretty much laughed at his misery upon seeing him.  Look, if you want us to believe Regina is a good guy now, great.  More power to you. But stop trying to make us forget stuff we’ve already seen happen in past episodes by pretending Regina was just some poor little misunderstood victim who doesn’t deserve it when people harbor resentment towards her because of her past sins.  In a related story, why is no one making an issue of Charming killing Percival?  Especially since it wasn’t completely necessary for Percival to get killed, as I’m sure Charming could have just restrained him instead.  But instead, he goes right for the kill, and no one bats an eye.  In a glaring contrast, when Snow caused the death of Cora and Emma killed Cruella, everyone was instantly worried that their hearts were going dark.  I don’t get it.  Why is it okay for Charming to just up and kill someone who was threatening Regina but it was super bad when Snow and Emma killed someone to protect their family?  What’s with the double standard?

Anyway, Robin.  Because the sword that he was stabbed with was enchanted in some way, Regina’s magic cannot heal him.  So Regina turns to Emma, asking her to step in.  Despite Snow and Killian’s fears for Emma’s wellbeing, and Emma’s own trepidation, she ultimately decides to try and heal Robin.  While she succeeds in healing him, the effort involved takes its toll on Emma, as her actions have only resulted in the Darkness starting to take hold, which is indicated by the skin on her hand starting to alter in appearance.  Not even her attempt at utilizing True Love’s Kiss with Killian seems to stop the transformation, which, according to Emma’s Evil Jiminy Cricket, means a part of her enjoyed the feeling of using Dark Magic.  You know, the more I watch this show, the more I start to think that Dark Magic is synonymous to illegal drugs.  After taking a few hits, it starts to get into your head.  It’s not the person’s fault that they eventually can’t stop, of course.  There’s a reason why addiction is sometimes referred to as a sickness.

In present day Storybrooke, everyone is reacting to Emma becoming fully Dark One in their own way.  Killian, determined to free Emma, once again considers utilizing True Love’s Kiss.  Because of this plan, we get one of those Killian/Belle friendship moments I was hoping for, in which Killian checks with Belle to see why it didn’t work with her and Dark One Rumpelstiltskin.  Belle’s answer that Rumple got scared and chose the power over love gives Killian the push he needs, since he’s convinced that it won’t be the same for Emma, and he leaves, seemingly ignoring Belle’s warning that it’s easier to hate the Dark One than to love the Dark One.  This ultimately leads to one of the most devastating moments for the Captain Swan ship to date.  Upon meeting up with Dark One Emma, she brings Killian to her new house. Yep, the curse of the Dark One has gotten Emma to fulfill her earlier goal of getting her own place.  I’m really hoping she keeps that house once this whole Dark Swan thing blows over.  On a side note, I fully admire Killian for immediately taking note of the mysterious wooden door.  That man wasn’t kidding when he said he was perceptive.  But Emma cuts him off before he gets the chance to investigate the mystery door properly.  When Killian does attempt True Love’s Kiss, he is devastated that it once again failed, because Emma has grown too attached to the power.  This is a painful moment, which is made even worse by the agony in Killian’s eyes as they take in every inch of Emma’s face, hoping for some sign of it working after all.  But on the bright side, it could have been a lot worse.  Remember the last time Killian tried utilizing True Love’s Kiss on Emma, and having it fail?  His comment about how he’d been hoping she felt as he did suggested he took the failure of that attempt as an indication that they weren’t True Love after all.  But it’s different this time.  This time, there is no doubt at all in Killian’s mind that he and Emma are True Love, and he doesn’t need a successful True Love’s Kiss to prove it.  (The fact that Emma also tried in the Camelot flashback indicates the same is true for her- she KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt that Killian is her True Love, too.)  But the fact that it didn’t work does present a problem- if True Love’s Kiss can’t pull Emma back, what will?  In the final scenes of the episode, Killian once again has a friendly heart-to-heart with Belle, vowing that he’s not going to give up fighting for Emma, and he won’t rest until he finds a way to save her.

I also have to applaud Killian for standing firm in this episode.  After the failed True Love’s Kiss, Dark One Emma clearly tries to seduce Killian into bed.  But Killian refuses the offer, because he knows that partaking in that particular act would be meaningless when Emma is in her current state.   He only wants to experience that moment with the Emma he fell in love with, and he’ll accept no substitute.  (And let this put to rest the silly belief among the people who are opposed to Captain Swan that Killian is only after Emma for her ‘assets.’  Because if that was all he was after, he wouldn’t have turned her down here.)  Also, the fact that he rejects Dark One Emma’s advances goes back to his grievance with Gold back in the Frozen arc.  Killian was disgusted by the fact that Gold believed he could continue seeking more power and still have Belle’s love.  He knew what Gold failed to comprehend- that you could not have both power and True Love.  You had to choose.  So he’s not about to allow Emma have both, either.  Regardless of how deeply Killian loves Emma, he’s not going to let her lead him on while she maintains her grip on the Dark One’s power.

As devastating as the Storybrooke scenes were in regards to the Captain Swan pairing, we did at least get some beautiful moments of them at the Camelot ball.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I was getting butterflies in my stomach every time I saw Emma holding Killian’s hook so casually, as if it was nothing more than an ordinary hand.  Even Robin and Regina could see how perfect those two were, as evidenced by Robin mimicking them at one point during the dance.  And just TRY to tell me that Killian wasn’t picturing Emma as his bride when he saw her in that gorgeous white ball gown.  I mean, come on people, she even had a crown of flowers in her hair!  The symbolism is just too much to deny.

As for Henry, he seeks Emma out to apologize for whatever he did in Camelot.  Dark One Emma, however, reassures him that she doesn’t blame him for what happened.  Of course, Regina chooses that moment to interrupt their talk.  (And I’m seriously rolling my eyes that she’s back to the whole ‘my son’ crap.  I thought we were past that.  Just because Emma’s the Dark One doesn’t mean she stopped being Henry’s mother.  And if you say it does?  Need I remind you of the stuff you did during Season 1?)  Regina starts talking about how whatever sort of memory-stripping curse Dark One Emma cast, they will find a way to beat it.  Dark One Emma, however, practically scoffs, commenting on how they only managed to beat all the past Big Bads because of her, and now that there’s no Savior, there’s nothing anyone can do.  But Regina insists that she can uphold the position just fine.   Dark One Emma once again reacts with skepticism, stating that something’s coming to Storybrooke, and only a Savior can deal with it.  That something reveals itself shortly after it’s discovered that King Arthur and his knights have also been brought over, and while helping set up a refugee camp for the new arrivals, Robin is abducted by some sort of creature.  With the help of Belle’s books, they discover the creature is a Fury, who plans to drag Robin to the underworld.  Unless someone gives their life in his place.  Because apparently when Robin was healed in Camelot with no one taking his place in death, it upset the great balance of the world or something along those lines.  Now the Fury has come to collect.  After a bit of moping and doping, Regina decides to offer up her life for Robin’s.  However, when Regina steps forward to offer her life in exchange for Robin’s, Snow, Charming, Grumpy and Arthur all charge forward to offer themselves too.  So the Fury, I’m guessing, takes a few years off all of their lives and thus spares Robin.  This prompts Grumpy to comment that perhaps Regina can protect the town after all. 

Okay, Grumpy.  Not to be a Negative Nancy, but it took all five of you to drive off the Fury.  Meaning Regina wasn’t able to stop the threat on her own.  And then there’s the fact that the person being threatened this time around was Robin, someone who Regina is particularly invested in.  So, I don’t think this proves anything.  When Regina steps up on her own and saves someone outside of her inner circle, like one of the nameless background Storybrookers, THEN perhaps I’ll be impressed.  Until then, I’m not gonna be convinced.

After watching this episode, I think I’ve started to figure out why Emma might have gone full Dark One- It was watching Regina claiming to be the Savior.  I mean, think about it.  That was always Emma’s role, and even though she was quite reluctant to accept it at first, she got there eventually, and once she did, she kept proving repeatedly that she deserved that mantle.   Now, after Emma had made the greatest sacrifice to date by willingly allowing herself to be possessed by the Dark One’s Essence, she has to sit back and let Regina pose as the Savior.  While Regina claimed it was all for Emma’s protection, imagine how much it must have stung for Emma to watch Regina take the credit for saving Robin’s life, even though Emma was the one who did all the work, and possibly risked her very soul in the process.   While we have yet to see more of what went down in Camelot, what if that pattern kept continuing, with Emma repeatedly saving the day in secret while Regina takes all the credit?  In addition, there was the fact that this episode also showed us Snow and Charming helping Regina learn how to dance, which made no sense to begin with.  That should have been a milestone bonding moment for Snow and Charming to experience with their daughter.  Granted Emma had already gotten a crash course in Ballroom Dancing 101 from Killian when they attended Midas’ ball, but even so, Emma should have gotten that bonding moment with her parents, too.  Instead, Regina is the one who is experiencing that instead of Emma.  So, not only is Regina taking the credit that should be going to Emma, Regina is also getting all the bonding moments that Emma should be experiencing with her parents.  If that pattern continued throughout the Camelot arc, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emma began to feel like everyone was trying to replace her.  As painful as that feeling would be to anyone, Emma grew up in the foster system, where she grew up feeling like no one wanted her.  And we’ve already been told her first foster family returned her to the system when they had a kid of their own.  So she might just feel even more sensitive to the feeling of being replaced.  This episode did seem to have her give off a whole ‘fine, you think you can be the Savior?  Have at it.  Just don’t expect me to bail you out; you’re on your own this time’ sort of air during her scenes with Regina.  It would also explain her extreme reaction to Sneezy in the last episode.  She didn’t turn him into stone because he sneezed.  It was because she saw he was wearing her trademark red leather jacket, and she got all ‘oh, so now YOU think you can replace me, too?!’

In addition, there was a slight hint that Regina might get to be a bit too gung-ho with the Dark One’s dagger.  Even though they treated it as an offhanded comment, Regina actually showed an indication that she might start relishing in the fact that she can have complete control over Emma’s every action.  And when Regina was asking Emma to heal Robin, she stated that she could use the dagger to force Emma to heal him but instead was going to ask her.   But what if Emma had said no?  Would Regina have gone ahead and whipped out the dagger after all?  I mean, she did actually say ‘I can get used to this.’   Having Regina begin to abuse her position as the dagger carrier might also be a possible factor in all of this.  But again, that remains to be seen.

Speaking of Dark One Emma, for someone who has supposedly embraced the Darkness, she didn’t really strike me as all that evil in this episode.  On the contrary, she seemed to actually be trying to help her loved ones, in a cryptic way.  She did warn Regina about the Fury, after all.  And at the end, we see her forlornly gazing at Granny’s Diner, clearly wishing she could go in and be with everyone again.  In all honesty, the worst thing she seemed to do in this episode was simply drop a few truth bombs on Regina.  An actual line from Dark One Emma was ‘that’s your problem, Regina.  You're always looking for someone else to blame.’  Yes, exactly!  Thank you, Dark One Emma!  Regina has always fallen back on this same habit, and it’s about time she quit it.  In fact, a few scenes earlier, Regina actually goes up to the comatose Rumple and says ‘you made me like this. You made me the Evil Queen. You're the reason no one believes in me.’  Dang it, Regina!  While I won’t deny he manipulated you, it’s not as if he was holding a gun to your head the whole time.  You were the one who practically begged him to teach you magic, and you could have walked away from those lessons at any time.  You were the one who chose to let your misplaced hatred for Snow fester to the point where you could no longer tell what was what.  You were the one who chose to ignore Maleficent’s warning that casting the Dark Curse wasn’t worth it.  In fact, when you first started training under Rumple, when you asked him if learning magic would turn you into your mother, he said that it was entirely up to you.  How many times does this woman have to learn the same old ‘only you can decide the course of your life’ lesson before it finally permanently sinks in?

Moving on, there’s the interesting fact that, even though Henry and Killian have both asked her what happened in Camelot, Emma didn’t say.  Instead, she evaded the question every time it was asked.  She even told Killian that she wished she could tell him.  Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but what if she LITERALLY couldn’t say?  Like if someone had dagger-commanded her not to reveal that information or something.  If that’s the case, it could suggest there’s another Big Bad lurking in the shadows who has yet to reveal him/herself.

There was a really great moment between Belle and Leroy/Grumpy that I enjoyed, in which they discuss Belle’s enchanted rose that she’s using to keep tabs on the comatose Rumple’s condition.  You sometimes forget that these two were sorta friends in Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest.  But then, we get scenes like this, and we’re all ‘oh yeah!’

Henry also gets a possible love interest in this episode when he meets a girl his age at the Camelot Ball.  It’s about time he started hanging out with someone his own age.  While it is cute and all that he has a crush, I’m reserving judgement on this Violet.  Mostly because we know nothing about her yet.  She seems sweet enough, and we certainly share the same general view about big dances like the Camelot ball.  (I would have been bored out of my skull, too.)  But we’ve yet to establish anything about her overall character, so the jury is still out on this new addition to the cast.  Although, I don’t get Regina’s reaction to seeing Henry and Violet talking at the Camelot ball.  Lady, what’s wrong with your son talking to someone his own age?

And in the final moments, we get to see what was behind the mystery door Killian took notice of.  Excalibur has also been brought over, and it’s back in the stone.  Apparently, Dark One Emma’s goal is now going to be pulling it out of the stone to merge Excalibur with the Dark One’s Dagger.  If she accomplishes this, she can eliminate what’s left of her humanity, and no longer feel the draw she feels to her loved ones.  Although, that begs the question of why Arthur also wants the sword and the dagger to be merged.  Could it be that King Arthur also has a shady motive?  Only time will tell, I suppose.