Thursday, July 30, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Welcome to Storybrooke)

Okay, so I have a few bones to pick with this episode.  First of all, the fact that the little boy Owen and his father sought refuge in their tent during the storm that signaled the creation of Storybrooke.  The stupidity of this is highlighted when we see their campsite the following morning.   A tree trunk had fallen onto their car, people!  It was entirely possible another tree could have fallen on their tent and killed them instantly.  After all, they were in the middle of the woods, surrounded by trees.  Don’t these people know that being under a tree is a horrible place to be in a storm?  Also, Regina seemed to acclimate herself in the modern world pretty quickly.  No culture shock moment at all!  We didn’t even get to see her react to the differences in clothing styles or food.  Did the curse just fill her head with everything she needed to know about the modern world?  Finally, this episode brings up a question I had earlier.  What exactly kept outsiders from stumbling across Storybrooke?  While I get that Regina placed a cloaking spell over the town that kept outsiders from seeing the Welcome to Storybrooke sign , what exactly would have happened if Owen had tried to cross the invisible town line?  While I know Emma was able to cross the town line back in the pilot episode and August/Pinocchio was able to do the same in ‘True North.’ it’s entirely possible the fact that they were both born/brought to life in the Enchanted Forest gave them a free pass.  But Owen was just a normal little boy from our world.  Could he have found Storybrooke again if he’d just taken a few steps further?  Would he have been physically pushed back?  Would he instantly get vaporized?  Was the area surrounding Storybrooke some sort of land-based Bermuda Triangle?  How many people have wound up on the missing persons list because they happened to drive down that road during the 28 years the curse was in effect?  You’d think that sooner or later, people would start to think ‘hey!’ 

Wow, we actually get wisdom from Mr. Gold!  Whodathunk?  Too bad Regina refused to listen to him, because he was 100% right in this case.  Regina had enacted an entire curse for the sake of revenge, and it didn’t bring her any lasting satisfaction.  In fact, it clearly got extremely repetitive, as everyone was stuck in some sort of Groundhog Day loop.  You’d think that going through that would have gotten her to learn her lesson.  But nope, she wants to go down the whole vengeance route again.  What’s it going to take to get this woman acquainted with the reality stick?

Of course, we also get this episode’s ‘twist.’  Greg Mendel is the little boy, Owen!  Yeah, that’s not too big of a surprise, as there were a few hints.  For instance, we see Owen had a Return of the Jedi blanket, and Greg Mendel’s ringtone was obviously the Star Wars theme.  While that is a vague clue, as Star Wars has a big fanbase, why would they introduce this little boy without having him be important?  Seeing this backstory does make you sympathize with him, as he clearly wants to find out what happened to his dad, but the methods he utilizes in the next few episodes?  Yeeck.

So, was meeting Own what first put the idea of adopting a son into Regina’s head?  At the same time, it was pretty dumb of her  to invite Owen and his dad to stay in Storybrooke.  We’ve already established that the town is in some sort of Groundhog Day loop.  The curse is not going to keep them from noticing that, Regina.  After all, Henry clearly did, which is what ultimately led him to go looking for Emma in the first place.

There were plenty of other major head-smack moments in this episode as well.  First, we find out that bolt August installed on the door to the loft apartment is now useless, as Regina can unlock it with magic.  Granted they didn’t have to worry about magic when they installed the deadbolt, but now that magic is in Storybrooke, it defeats the purpose of it being here, particularly when you remember that they originally installed the deadbolt for the main purpose of making sure Regina couldn’t enter the loft apartment with her skeleton key.  Second of all, Neal, you’re such a dopey dad.  You actually needed Emma to point out how dense you were about Henry sneaking off.  Next, how could Regina use Graham’s heart like a walkie-talkie during the flashback?  I thought magic didn’t exist in Storybrooke at this point!  Magic rules are so arbitrary.  Finally, we have Henry’s attempt at getting rid of magic by blowing up the wishing well?  While I get where the kid was coming from and respect his reasons for attempting to do so (and it is a little nod to the fact that he’s the son of Neal/Baelfire, who is the original hater of all things magic), I REALLY don’t think it works that way.  It’s not like it’s a constant stream of magic that’s coming into Storybrooke.  Magic came in.  It’s already here.  If you brick up a doorway, it won’t automatically get rid of something that’s already came through it.  Besides, while I get why you’re blaming magic for everything that’s going down, it is a bit like blaming the actual gun for gun violence.  It’s targeting the symptom instead of the underlying cause of the problem.  But again, I know have to keep in mind that he’s still just a kid, so he’s going to react like a kid.  On a final note, the whole ‘he’s my son, not yours’ angle between Regina and Emma is getting REALLY old.  How much longer can they drag that out before they finally realize that they can BOTH be his mother and put an end to this pointless battle over Henry?  The kid’s not a rope, ladies.  Stop playing tug-of-war.  All things considered, I really think that, with the exception of Mr. Gold, practically everyone was taking stupid pills offscreen during this episode.  Thankfully, things improve a bit in the next episode.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Miller's Daughter)

CRIMINY!  Calm down, OUAT!  Why are you throwing this moral and ethical debate in our faces?

My personal opinion about what Mary Margret/Snow did in this episode is that she wasn’t wrong.  Yes, it was messed up that she deceived Regina into placing Cora’s cursed heart back into her mother’s chest.  I won’t deny that.  But I personally feel she was in the right in killing Cora.  That woman had already killed two people- Johanna and some other random person who she disguised to look like Archie’s dead body in her plot to frame Regina.   Maybe even three, if that nameless guy she turned into a fish counts as murder, because for all we know, someone might have unknowingly caught that fish and sent him off to that fish & chips restaurant we keep seeing in the background.   Not to mention what she did to the entire village of Enchanted Forest refugees, as well as Snow's mother.  It’s a safe bet that Cora wouldn’t hesitate to continue picking people off.   Simply put, Cora posed a real danger to Mary Margret/Snow’s entire family, and everyone else in Storybrooke, for that matter.  And the fact that she desired to become the Dark One herself only launched the level of bad into the stratosphere.  There’s a significant difference between coldblooded murder and justifiable homicide.  And while Cora did seem to show brief signs of redeeming herself in those last few seconds before the curse placed on her heart kicked in, we did see she chose power over love before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she made the same choice again later on down the line.  Besides, I really don’t buy the fact that she ever really loved her daughter, even after she got her heart back.  In future episodes, we’ll see two different characters who have had their hearts removed for an extended period of time- one who elected to have it done and another whose heart was taken by force.  Regardless of the method involved, those two people still were able to express their love to the people they cared for the most.  In fact, there didn’t seem to be any significant difference in how they acted or treated their loved ones when their hearts were absent.  As a result, I got the impression that a person doesn’t need their heart to love.  Their feelings may be dulled and muted, but they’re still present.  You never see that with Cora, who only seemed to be able to sincerely love Regina once she got her heart back.  That makes me think that, even if she’d had her heart the whole time, Regina still wouldn’t have been her first priority.  I honestly don’t know what it would have taken to get Regina to realize that her mother was never on her side to begin with.  While you did see some hints of her doubt, it never seemed to sink in.  Come on, lady.  Cora chose to take the dagger over trying to save you during the confrontation in Gold’s shop.  What more proof did you need?

As much as I talk about how conniving and manipulative Mr. Gold can be, it was touching to see him giving that goodbye speech to the amnesiac Belle.  And, I suppose it was nice to see him making amends with his son.  However, am I alone in thinking the whole sordid history between Cora and Rumpelstiltskin was a bit disturbing?  Because I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little when watching that.  Still, seeing how that turned out does give the early stages of Rumpelstiltskin/Belle a new light. It does explain why he genuinely believed no one could actually love him, which was what led him to pushing Belle away when she tried to tell him otherwise.  Guy has been burned before.  And more than once.

Snow’s mother.  Wow, was that a complete and total 180 from what we saw of her in the last episode.   Did she just have a James Potter complex?  You know, starting out as a bigheaded little snot but then getting hit with the humility stick as she got older?  Also, is it bad that it took me a while to figure out the young prince who felt sympathy for Cora in the beginning of the flashback subplot and Regina’s father were the same person?  That man didn’t age well, did he?  Though, considering how Cora turned out, it wouldn’t surprise me if he went prematurely grey.

I was pleasantly surprised by how OUAT’s version of the Miller’s Daughter story was so on par with the original story.  After all, they have given new twists on other fairy tales.  But isn’t it a bit far-fetched that Cora claimed to spin straw into gold, something that Rumpelstiltskin could do without breaking a sweat?  I can’t help but think that he somehow put the idea in her head to make sure she’d marry Henry Senior and eventually give birth to Regina.  And we all remember what he needed her for.  Rumple, you really are a twisted puppet master, aren’t you?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Queen is Dead)

I’m sorry, I can’t let this slide.  How did Hook find Rumple and company in New York?  Yeah, I know he had a map and sailed there on the Jolly Roger.  I got that.  But how did he track them down to Neal’s apartment complex?  I somehow doubt his map pinpointed the exact location where he would find Rumpelstiltskin, and given what we saw in the last episode, I highly doubt he got any help from Cora and Regina.  It all comes down to the fact that New York’s a big city full of modern world charm and Hook is a man with an Old World mindset.  Unlike the people of Storybrooke, he doesn’t have cursed memories to help him acclimate himself to the modern world.  Future episodes even highlight the fact that modern things like computers and whatnot are completely foreign and alien to him.  Imagine someone like that trying to locate one person in Manhattan.  Even someone who has grown up in the Land Without Magic can have a hard time navigating the streets of New York, especially if they’ve never been there before.   But in spite of all that, he seems to find them without any effort.  The way he just charged right in indicated he knew for a fact that they would be there.  Was he just wandering through the city aimlessly and just happened to be on the street corner at the exact moment they came back to get Henry’s camera?  If that’s how it happened, that was incredibly good luck.  Now that I think about it, this isn’t the first time something like this happened.  Back in ‘Skin Deep,’  Emma somehow was able to arrive at the cabin just in time to stop Gold/Rumpelstiltskin from beating Belle’s father to death, but we never see how she figured out where they were.  I have heard that there was going to be a scene that explained this moment, but they had to cut out a few scenes from that episode for time constraints.  But in the case of Hook in New York, I don’t even know if a scene explaining his sudden appearance existed.  Even so, this does seem to be another underrated moment that indicates how similar Hook and Emma are.  They’ve now both had moments when they suddenly are able to figure out the exact location of Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, with no scene indicating precisely how they figured it out.  In both situations, we’re pretty much expected to just go with it.

Speaking of Hook, as it was pointed out to me in a Tumblr post, when he goes to retrieve his trademark hook from the sheriff station, we see Emma has also kept the scarf he’d used to bandage her hand back in ‘Tallahassee.’  Hmm.  I wonder what THAT was about.

So, the main point of this episode is showing how Snow lost her mother as a child.  It was all part of an elaborate plan of Cora’s to get Regina on the throne.   A plot that involved poisoning Snow’s mother and then ensuring Regina was in the position to save Snow’s life when her horse bolted.  Oh, and this plan also involved Cora impersonating the Blue Fairy to try and convince Snow to utilize Black Magic in order to save her mother’s life by taking someone else’s.  Given all that, I cannot fault Mary Margret/Snow in the slightest for wanting to kill Cora in the end, particularly after she murdered Johanna, her childhood nanny and only remaining connection to her lat mother.  Not only had Cora done a bang up job of making Snow’s childhood utter crap, the woman is beyond crazy!  She NEEDS to be taken down.

Regina really is losing my support now.  When she was trying to change her ways, I was willing to give her the benefit of a doubt.  When people still cast her aside even after she did the right thing in ‘Queen of Hearts,’ I felt bad for her.  But now, even after finding out all the underhanded methods Cora used to get her way, it still isn’t sinking into her skull that Cora’s promises of getting her back with Henry is nothing more than the old carrot on a stick ploy.  As for her whole ‘what did trying hard get me’ speech?  Lady, have you forgotten the ONLY reason your attempts at trying hard failed  was because Cora made everyone believe you’d killed Archie?  The key word in all this is Cora!  CORA is the reason why people stopped trusting you again.  What’s it going to take for you to figure it out?!  Also, they DID have dinner with you.  They might have been leery of you, but can you really blame them after all the stuff you did? At the end of the day, you do have quite a lot to make up for.  Expecting people to completely believe in your good intentions after one good deed is a bit unreasonable.  You have to continue making them believe you’re good.  You can’t just give up if the results aren’t immediate.

Oh, and there’s also the detail of Neal having a fiancĂ©e in New York.  This episode treats it like a throwaway line, but it will become quite the point of discussion in later episodes.  Plus, we get vague foreshadowing to an upcoming story arc (Neal knowing how to sail the Jolly Roger, the poison Hook used on Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, and Neal briefly hinting at why he’s not in the triple digits age-wise.)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Manhattan)

After watching this episode, you might be tempted to make an ‘it’s a small world’ joke, but I urge you to refrain.  Turns out, Rumpelstiltskin’s son, Baelfire, is Neal, Emma’s baby daddy.  And Emma is reasonably ticked off when she sees him again.  And even more so when he explains his reasons for betraying her- it was all because August/Pinocchio got him to realize who Emma was and he knew staying with her could end up with him meeting Rumpelstiltskin again.  We’re also finally shown what August showed him to make him hear him out.  But… how did August KNOW Neal was Baelfire?  If they ever actually explain that later on, I can’t really remember at the moment.  I also wonder what prompted Neal/Baelfire to try and run when Emma rang his doorbell.  I mean, I suppose he might be suspicious of a package being delivered if he wasn’t expecting one.  Was he still involved in shady business practices?  Unless he recognized Emma’s voice?  That seems a bit of a stretch to me.  How long does vocal recognition memory last?  Does anyone know? 

At first, Emma does agree to pretend she never saw Neal because she didn’t want to deal with him again, but that plan crashed and burned when Neal comes back to make sure his father doesn’t hurt Emma for not keeping their deal.  What follows is a whole family drama scene of Neal/Baelfire making sure Gold/Rumpelstiltskin know he doesn’t want anything to do with him and Henry getting upset at Emma for not being honest about who his real father was.

When it comes to Neal’s reasons for not wanting his father back in his life, I was right on board with him.  He made an excellent point about how Gold still was trying to cling to his magic when it was that love of magic that led to their separation in the first place.  While Gold was claiming he’d changed, his actions were clearly saying the exact opposite.  But before you ask, I’m not going to discuss the issue of what Neal did to Emma right now.  Trust me, I’m holding off on that issue until a later episode analysis.

As for Henry, I was a bit bugged by his response to learning that Neal was his biological father.  Particularly the bit when he accuses Emma of being no better than Regina.  Yes, they both lied to him about something.  I won’t deny that.  But when Regina lied to Henry, it was either because she wanted to make sure her curse wouldn’t be broken or (in the case of when she tried to close the wishing well portal instead of helping Emma and Mary Margret/Snow get home) because she knew she was going back on her promise to redeem herself and she was trying to cover up her betrayal of Henry’s trust.  Either way, both times, she was lying to make sure she got her own way, and to cover up her own misdeeds.  Emma, on the other hand, lied about the identity of Henry’s birth father because she was a) trying to protect him and b) still hurt by what Neal did to her and didn’t want to relive it.  After all, Neal’s betrayal was what ultimately led Emma to give up Henry in the first place, and it’s why she has such a hard time letting people in.  For her, the truth was still a sensitive, painful topic.  Who’d want to relive something like that?  At the same time, I know deep down that I have to cut the kid a bit of slack.  After all, while Henry is a sharp, clever boy, he’s still only 11 years old.  You can’t expect a kid that age to see things from an adult perspective.

And then there’s Regina, who you just want to Gibbs-Slap.  She is practically seeing the proof that Cora is really just interested in helping herself, and is only out to obtain the Dark One’s dagger.  She has no true intention of helping her daughter out.  But of course, Regina’s got her blinders on and falls for Cora’s flowery speech.  I get it.  Cora is her mother, and like most people, Regina has unconditional love for her parents.  But even so, this is the woman who cast the curse and kept it going for 28 years. This is the woman who nearly got away with framing Mary Margret/Snow for murder.   Regina, aren’t you supposed to be smarter than this?

Oh, there’s also the Enchanted Forest subplot, which is quite groan-inducing in its own right.  Rumple, haven’t you ever read Oedipus?  Granted that play probably didn’t exist in the Enchanted Forest, but again, this is the Enchanted Forest.  The place where fairy tale characters and old legendary figures are real people.  It’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that Oedipus might have been an actual person in this world at some point.  While some might regard the story of Oedipus as a whole subconscious desire to sleep with your mother thing, there was also the less-spoken-of message.  In an effort to prevent a prophesy from being fulfilled, King Laius had his infant son tossed out into the woods to die.  But in doing that, the king triggered a series of events that just ensured that the prophesy would play out after all.  In a nutshell, if you try and cheat fate, you’ll only end up making sure it happens.  And that’s a lesson that Rumple should have learned the hard way in this episode.  By purposely injuring himself during the Ogre Wars so he wouldn’t die in battle and leave his unborn son without a father, he only triggered the series of events that ultimately led to his separation from Baelfire.  And the reason why I said ‘should have learned’ is because he clearly doesn’t learn his lesson.  After becoming the Dark One and losing Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin crosses paths with the seer again.  When the seer tells him of another prophesy that involves a young boy being his undoing, Dark One Rumpelstiltskin immediately vows to kill the boy.  Seriously, guy!  Have you learned NOTHING about tampering with prophesies?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Tiny)

So, Jack the Giant Killer was a woman?  Who knew?  It was great to see Anton, the giant Emma befriended again, but that whole backstory they gave him?  Someone give that guy a hug, cause he needs one!  To say it was bad luck that the humans he ‘befriended’ were Charming’s conniving twin brother and his equally deceptive girlfriend would be a severe understatement.  (Props to David/Charming for how quickly he realized Anton was mistaking him for his twin).   As tragic as it was that he put his trust in the wrong people, which resulted in the death of his brothers, it’s made even more tragic by the fact that Anton had the right idea prior to this encounter.  First with his questioning of why they still grew the beans when no one even used them, which was an obvious nod to tradition vs. change, and then his understanding that the actions of a few bad humans didn’t necessarily mean that all humans were bad.  It’s really a shame his encounter with Prince James and Jack made him change his mind.  Thankfully, he’s reminded of his earlier belief that not all humans are bad when David/Charming saves his life, and he receives a warm welcome to Storybrooke, with everyone offering him a fresh start.  He even becomes an honorary dwarf when they start creating a field to grow a new crop of magic beans from a preserved cutting Anton got from his dying brother.  I get a kick out the irony of that- the giant Anton, someone who is from a species known for their large stature, becomes ‘adopted’ by the dwarfs, who are traditionally depicted as little men.

I really liked seeing Ruby/Red doing what she could to comfort the amnesiac Belle.  Always nice to see the show writers remembering stuff like the fact that these two women had been developing a friendship.  Of course, that moment is brushed aside rather quickly to remind us that Greg Mendel is still around, as well as the little issue of him seeing Gold conjuring a fireball at the town line.

This episode also brings up a nature vs. nurture debate, when David/Charming is left wondering how he could have turned out if it had been him who was raised by King George and Prince James had stayed with their birth mother, Ruth.  Mary Margret/Snow is rather quick to reassure him it wouldn’t have made a difference because David and Prince James had different hearts.  On the other hand, we have seen hints of darkness in David sprouting up here and there.   First with him willing to simply allow the wrath to take Regina before Emma talked him out of it in ‘Broken,’ and then how he came close to shooting Albert/King George in ‘Child of the Moon.’  While you could argue that he was justified in his anger in those situations, it still showed him teetering on the edge.

Also, Snow, while it really was great of you to apologize to Regina for doubting her in this episode, it was rather cold of you to say that Emma didn’t have to tell her she was leaving Storybrooke with Henry to help Gold find his son.  Seriously, you should have just stopped at ‘we didn’t know where you were,’ which was the honest truth.  If you wanted to add something more to that, just tell her that Emma didn’t feel comfortable with leaving him behind when Cora was on the loose.   I’m sure Regina would have understood of that.  And maybe then, the whole issue of Regina running back to Mommy Cora (and her trying to use Anton’s justifiable anger at Prince James to get rid of David/Charming) could have been avoided entirely.

As for the Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, Emma and Henry subplot?  DANG!  Gold, can you spell ‘anger management?’  What was with that little fit you had in the airport bathroom?  Were you that upset over having to put the shawl in through the x-ray scanner?  While I understand you were scared of losing your memories, that obviously didn’t happen.   All you gained from that hissy fit were bloody knuckles, which you can’t heal because your magic is null and void outside of Storybrooke.  Unless… that’s what happened when you lost the shawl for that brief moment?  You lost your magic?  I don’t know.  It’s not really clear if something happened when he took of the shawl, if anything happened at all.  So his meltdown in the bathroom seems like an extreme overreaction.  But to be fair, we have seen him violently overreact like this a few times before, so I suppose it’s not that out of character for him.

The best part of this episode, however, was this bit of dialogue, which occurs when David/Charming, Mary Margret/Snow and Leroy/Grumpy are running from the enraged Anton.

Leroy: So let me get this straight – you got a twin brother?
David: Yeah.
Leroy: His name is James?
David: Right.
Leroy: Well, your name is James.
David: No, actually, it’s not.
Leroy: It’s Charming, then?
Mary Margret: No, that’s the nickname I gave him.
Leroy: Hey, hold on. What the hell is your name?
 David: David.
Leroy: Your curse name?
David: My real name!
Leroy: What, you’re David, James, and Charming? Is David like a middle name?
David: No! It’s my name-name.
Leroy: You know what? I’m going to call you whatever I damn well please! Is that okay?!
David: Sure, Leroy.

Not only is it great to FINALLY get confirmation on what Charming’s birth mother, Ruth, named him, but it’s one of the little moments where the show seems aware of its own ridiculousness.  It certainly got a chuckle out of me, especially since they were having this discussion while running from a rampaging giant.  It’s like, really?  Is this really the appropriate time for this conversation?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (In the Name of the Brother)

While ‘Child of the Moon’ focused of Ruby/Red, this episode is a character building moment for Dr. Whale/Frankenstein.  It also shines a new light on his reasons for trying to resurrect Daniel in ‘The Doctor.’  He was trying to see if his experiment in bringing people back to life could actually work, in the hopes that he might have better luck in bringing back his dead brother again.  Turns out that was who Frankenstein’s ‘monster’ was- his younger brother, who was fatally shot when Frankenstein tried to exhume a body for his famous experiment.  Unfortunately, even with the heart he obtained from Rumpelstiltskin during the events of ‘The Doctor,’ Dr. Frankenstein didn’t successfully bring his brother back.  At least, not completely.   While the resurrected Gerhardt did show a semblance of his true self, something vital was lost.  As horrible as it might be for me to say this, I really couldn’t bring myself to be upset over how Papa Frankenstein died.  In a way, he did kinda bring it upon himself, and not just because he was completely unsupportive of his oldest son’s work.  Maybe it’s just because I’m familiar with the story, but it was obvious that the resurrected Gerhardt was simply afraid of the burning candle.  Not once did I get the impression that he understood Victor was only trying to help restore their family.  I did however, feel bad for the two brothers, particularly at then end, when Victor is struggling with the decision of ending his brother's suffering, and, even when Gerhardt regains enough awareness to non verbally give his consent, Victor cannot go through with it.

We also see Whale/Frankenstein going through an existential crisis.  After his failure with resurrecting Daniel, he’s clearly left feeling inadequate, and doubts his ability as a medical doctor.  We see this when he’s drinking on the job, and how he’s hesitant to even try to save the outsider Greg Mendel’s life.  His first instinct is to ask Gold/Rumpelstiltskin to heal him through magic instead, and even when Gold refuses to help, it still takes him a while to regain his confidence.  It takes a pep talk from Ruby to help him get back on his feet.  And it’s in watching this scene that I finally understand why some fans of the show seem to support these two as a legit couple.  In the end, he manages to save Greg Mendel, and it looks like everything can go back to normal, particularly after Emma, fills her role as Sheriff, interrogates Greg and determines that he didn’t see anything unusual before crashing his car.  But in the final moments, we find out that Greg did indeed see Gold conjure up a fireball.  To be honest, I’m kinda surprised Emma’s superpower didn’t kick in.  While he probably wasn’t necessarily lying (he may very well have been texting), wouldn’t Emma have been able to tell that he wasn’t being completely truthful?  Unless it only applies to direct lies.  That's certainly what seems to trigger it other times.

There was a moment when I was right on board with Regina when she was reunited with Cora.  I was internally cheering for her when she showed her understanding of why everyone believed she’d killed Archie, and how she realized how manipulative her mother was.  For one brief, shining moment, I saw some promise in her.  It indicated that she might even be willing to forgive everyone for doubting her, now that she could prove her innocence.  And that fact alone showed real personal growth.  Of course, when Regina is taking Cora into town in order to expose her mother and clear her name, she allows Cora to get her claws into her again.  I understand this isn’t exactly the easiest situation for Regina to be in.  After all, Cora is her mother.  But at the same time, she seems to instantly forget that she was starting to get Henry back in her life, and the only reason she lost him again was because Cora interfered.  Seriously, Regina, I KNOW you love Henry and want him back, but the fact remains that you’ve done a great job of hurting Henry’s biological family.  If you really want him back, you have to earn everyone’s trust.   It might take some time, but, as Isabelle Rae once said, ‘If something’s worth having, it’s worth working for.’  Instant gratification is rarely a good thing in the long run.

It’s rather clear that Hook isn’t holding a grudge against Emma for the whole beanstalk debacle.  This is evident by his reaction to seeing how Emma has handcuffed him to the hospital bed.  Instead of getting angry, he decides to joke around with her, even spouting off obvious innuendos.  What’s more is his response when Emma comes across him after the car accident at the end of the last episode.  Let’s recap here for a moment: this is the first time they’re seeing each other since Emma clocked him in the jaw at Lake Nostros and left him stranded in the Enchanted Forest.  AND the man was just hit by a car.  Yet, the very first words out of his mouth were ‘hey, beautiful.’  I’m sorry, what was that you said before, Hook?  Something about being done with Emma?  I don’t think you even tried.   We also get that little moment when Hook first comes acquainted with jell-o.  A scene that wound up being placed among the show’s deleted scenes.   I’m really not sure why they didn’t’ leave that moment in the final cut, as it’s a really funny scene.  You gotta get a kick out of the fact that, of all the reasons Hook could have broken out of his handcuffs for, it was to come and ask Emma to identify the jiggly blue squares he found on the tray.  Was it because Hook seemed to be coming on to Ruby/Red at the end of the scene?  If that’s the case, that’s kinda dumb, since the next episode shows him making a few lewd comments to Mary Margret/Snow, and they had no problem leaving those in. 

I really did feel bad for Gold/Rumpelstiltskin in this episode, particularly after the amnesiac Belle smashed her chipped cup against the wall.  Of course, he loses some of that sympathy when he directly threatens the Charming family at the end of the episode.  I get that he’s protective over Belle, but if he’s really that worried about Hook going after her again when he’s off looking for his lost son, Baelfire, wouldn’t it simply be easier to place a protection spell over her?  That’s a thing, right?  That aside, we also see him deciding to cash in the favor Emma promised him way back in ‘The Price of Gold,’ and she now has to accompany him on his trip.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Outsider)

This episode was really Belle’s time to shine.  In the Enchanted Forest flashback, we see her volunteering to help stop a creature called a Yaguai, with some encouragement from Grumpy, back when he was still Dreamy and preparing to run away with Nova.  It was a nice little nod to the events in the ‘Dreamy’ flashback where we saw Belle encouraging him to follow his heart.  It was great to see him returning the favor by coming back and encouraging Belle.  It’s just a shame that we know Dreamy/Grumpy is about to get his dreams crushed after the two part again (stupid meddlesome Blue Fairy).  As for Belle, because this takes place in an old-world style dimension where people have this whole ‘what does a woman know’ and ‘books are for nerds’ mindset, the men who are hunting the Yaguai ditch Belle rather quickly.  Although, I did get a huge grin at the fact that Belle anticipated this and deliberately sent them on off in the wrong direction.  Belle’s quest to find the Yaguai ends up with her path crossing with Mulan, who clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  While I understand that she’s frustrated on missing her shot, she was unnecessarily dismissive of Belle.  I mean, Belle had just told Mulan that her book helped her find the Yaguai in less than a day, but Mulan brushes off her offer to help locate the beast again by stating she’d only be in the way.  Mulan, what part of ‘I found the beast without any effort’ did you not understand?  To her credit, she figures this out rather quickly and comes back to accept Belle’s help.  In the end, it is Belle’s gift of knowledge that helps her defeat the Yaguai, who it turns out was Prince Phillip under a curse the whole time.  So, now we know how Phillip and Mulan met in the first place.  And we finally find out how Belle was captured by Evil Queen Regina.

In the present time, Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin plans to use a potion on Baelfire’s old shawl to protect his memories when crossing the town line in order to finally locate his long-lost son.  But when Hook manages to steel the shawl from Gold’s shop, Belle’s knowledge of books comes in handy once again, and she manages to locate the cloaked Jolly Roger where it’s docked at Storybrooke’s pier.  This results in her not only finding out Archie is still alive but also to her confrontation with Hook.  This confrontation is definitely a must-watch.  It’s also one of the few moments I have to raise an eyebrow at Belle’s reaction to things.  On the one hand, I understand how she feels loyalty to Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin due to the whole True Love thing.  But when she witnesses the confrontation between Hook and Gold on the deck of the Jolly Roger, she practically gets the confirmation that what Hook told her about Milah’s death was true.  And yet, we never see her confronting Gold about that later.  So, no concern about the detail about how he killed his first wife, then?  That didn’t raise any alarm bells for you?  Okay, more power to you, girl.  In the end, Gold gets the shawl back and is all set to cross the town line.  But Hook, deciding to use a different tactic at avenging Milah, interferes and forces Belle across the town line.  As such, she loses her memories.  Before the two old enemies can have what would be their final face-off, a car appears out of nowhere, hitting Hook pretty hard before crashing into the ditch.  The episode closes with the camera focusing on the car’s license plates, revealing the driver is not a local.  As the old saying goes, there goes the neighborhood.

I’m rather impressed that Baelfire’s shawl survived all these years.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the preservation of historic articles of clothing, but I imagine after 300 years, fabric would start to disintegrate or something.  I don’t think it would be so intact.  Unless Dark One Rumpelstiltskin put some sort of spell on it in order to preserve it, which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.  Speaking of the shawl, how did Hook know about it?  Yeah, I get that his old buddy, Smee, most likely filled him in on how Mr. Gold/Rumplestilskin performed that experiment at the town line in order to test his memory-protecting potion, but Gold only told Belle about the shawl.   Unless Hook was spying on them when they were discussing the shawl?

It’s in this episode where we start to see what’s hidden under the surface of Hook’s harsh attitude.  First, when we see how quiet he gets when commenting on how Milah was the one who made Baelfire’s shawl.  After all this time, he clearly still loves the woman.  But what really makes it so heartbreaking is the moment when he starts taunting Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, challenging him to finish the job and kill him.  While this could be partially to force Belle to see the sinister side of Gold, it also shows that Hook has no attachment to his life.  He WANTS to die, just so he can be reunited with the woman he loved.  We did see a hint of it back in ‘Queen of Hearts,’ when he challenged Cora to try and kill him, but here, it’s really evident.  That knowledge alone is enough to make you want to hug the poor guy. 

It’s also rather interesting that Hook could tell Archie wasn’t lying when he stated he knew nothing about the Dark One’s dagger.  We’ve established that Emma’s ‘superpower’ grants her the ability to tell when someone is lying to her.  Does Hook have his own internal lie-detector as well?  It’s never something that’s confirmed in the show, but it is fun to speculate.  Also, Hook threatening Archie’s life in this episode does seem to mirror how Emma threatened to feed him to the ogres back in the Enchanted Forest.   Especially how in both situations, the one doing the threatening was trying to get someone to talk.  As I’ve said before, these two do seem to be cut from the same cloth.

This is also where we start getting an ongoing subplot that continues on for a few more episodes.  Now that everyone in town knows the Enchanted Forest still exists, many of the townspeople voice an interest in going back, including David/Charming, who has doubts that he wants to stay in Storybrooke for the rest of his life.  This leads to a brief conflict with Mary Margret/Snow, when she starts considering looking for a bigger house in Storybrooke.  There’s also the moment when Leroy/Grumpy brings up an interesting point- now that the curse is broken, it’s entirely possible that outsiders will stumble across the town.  If that happens, they could have a whole E.T./King Kong problem on their hands.   This prediction comes true in the episode’s last few seconds.  My question is what exactly was keeping people from not finding it earlier.  I know the curse was probably the reason, but how exactly was it doing that?   What would happen if someone was simply driving down the road that led to Storybrooke?  Would they instantly teleport to the other side of town?  Is there a protective spell over the town like there is in the Harry Potter universe?  Like, if anyone gets too close to the town line, they’ll suddenly remember a pressing appointment and turn around?  I don’t think it’s simply a case of Storybrooke not appearing on any map, because just being an uncharted town doesn’t always keep people out.  (If you haven’t seen the musical Brigadoon yet, I highly urge you to do so.  It can be a bit cheesy, but it’s still a sweet story).

On a final note, Henry seems to be a bit inconsistent in this episode.  At the end, when they find out Archie’s alive, he claimed he knew Regina hadn’t been responsible for his supposed death.  But mere seconds earlier, he was talking about how Regina had hurt Archie, and how they might need weapons to protect them from her.  Not once in this episode did we ever see Henry doubting that Regina had killed Archie, but the moment they find out she really didn’t, he’s suddenly saying that he knew it all along.  You’d think the people who proof-read the script would have caught this.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Cricket Game)

One phrase to describe this episode is ‘emotional rollercoaster.’  Last episode ended with us wanting to yell at our heroes for leaving Regina out of their celebratory dinner at Granny’s.  However, in this episode, we see Emma kinda make up for that by inviting her to the ‘Welcome Home’ party.  But things start to get off track when Emma lets slip that Archie/Jiminy told her about how Regina was meeting with him to discuss her rehabilitation.  While I can understand why Regina might have felt betrayed by this, Archie was simply trying to vouch for her, to help convince the others that she was trying to change.  Isn’t that what Regina wanted?  For people to believe that she was trying and give her a chance?  Anyway, Cora, who is now lurking around Stroybrooke in secret after she and Hook make it into this world via magic bean portal, takes advantage of Regina’s anger at Archie and successfully frames Regina for Archie’s murder.  I did appreciate how Emma seemed hesitant to automatically blame Regina, even pointing out the time when evidence suggested Mary Margret/Snow had murdered Kathryn/Abigail.  And while David/Charming and Mary Margret/Snow had a good reason for being hesitant to trust Regina, as they tried to give her a second chance in the past only to have Evil Queen Regina toss their pity back in their faces, Emma does have a point- this time, Regina was actually making an effort.   But in the end, Emma is also led to believe in Regina’s guilt, and she bans Regina from being with Henry. 

The episode ends with us feeling torn.  You can’t really fault the good guys for turning on Regina, because they’ve seen the proof in Pongo’s memories, which Emma manages to collect and read with a magic dreamcatcher from Gold’s shop, and at present, there’s no way they could know that Cora made it to Storybrooke after all.  And it’s not as if Pongo can tell them that it wasn’t actually Regina he saw entering Archie’s office.  Because it was clear from his reaction that he could sense that wasn’t the real Regina.  At the same time, we, the viewers, all see that Regina had been framed by Cora in order to isolate her daughter.  That leaves us with the knowledge that our heroes are undoubtedly going to feel horribly guilty when the truth comes out.  But the question is, will Regina accept their apologies for doubting her?  After all, as I just said, they really can’t be faulted for falling for Cora’s frame job, but Regina isn’t exactly the most forgiving person.  (How long did she hold a grudge against a ten-year-old?)   Plus, as the episode ends, we see that Archie is actually alive, but being held prisoner on Hook’s ship.

And yes, this is the episode when the phase 'taco time' originated.  For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a reference to that scene in the beginning when Emma and Henry come back from the town market to find David/Charming and Mary Margret/Snow still in bed, and it's glaringly obvious what they were up to.  The whole entire scene is simply hilarious, from Snow and Charming's pathetic attempts to explain the situation to the completely oblivious Henry to Emma's priceless expression. Speaking of Henry, should he really have been that in the dark about what his grandparents were up to?  Granted I don't know many 10/11 year olds, so I'm not the best judge, but the kid's in his pre-teen years at this point, or at least is about to be.  Isn't that about the time where they get 'the talk?'  Then again, I suppose no one's really had the opportunity to do so, given how there's rarely a dull moment in Storybrooke, especially since the curse broke, and for some reason, I have my doubts that Regina would have taken the time to sit him down to explain things.  Anyway, to get back on track, the visibly flustered Emma tries to defuse the situation by ushering Henry off to help her 'make some tacos.'  And thus, a fanmade-phrase was born.

Okay, now let’s talk about the subtle bit of foreshadowing in this episode.  When Hook and Cora first arrive in Storybrooke, there are some shots that show swans swimming around.  Let’s think about this here.  This scene is happening at night, and the Storybrooke docks are surrounded by saltwater.  The thing is, swans are diurnal birds that prefer freshwater, so the fact that these swans are there right now is highly unusual.  And if these swans were just a bunch of wild birds that came along while they were filming this episode, the film crew would either have chased them off or edited them out in post.   The only conclusion is that they wanted to put these swans in this scene on purpose.  The fact that they deliberately place actual swans in a scene where Hook first sets foot in Stroybrooke?  I admit, that makes me smile like a loon.

One last question.  What is THAT in the background?!  That thing just above Mary Margret/Snow's head?  That is a headless mannequin!  WHY?  What is that supposed to advertise, Storybrooke shop keepers?  More importantly, why am I so focused on such a pointless and random detail?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Queen of Hearts)

Well, wasn’t this an interesting episode?  We find out how Hook’s quest to kill Rumpelstiltskin got him involved with Cora in the first place.  It turns out that when Regina pushed Cora through the mirror portal, she wound up in Wonderland.  (Oh, I get it.  Through the Looking Glass.  That’s clever!)  But Regina knows that her curse will undoubtedly suck up Cora anyway, so she enlists Hook to travel into Wonderland himself in order to kill Cora once and for all.  Which brings me to my main grievance with Evil Queen Regina in this episode.  You claim you know all about who Hook is, and yet you give him the one-time opportunity to remove someone’s heart?  You even have the gall to remind him he’s seen it done before?!  Lady, what is your problem?  You of all people should appreciate how that’s undoubtedly a touchy subject with him.  ANYWAY, upon entering Wonderland, we see Cora has done a great job of intergrading herself in that world, even becoming the iconic Queen of Hearts (how fitting).  But because Cora had hidden away her own heart in an undisclosed location (you can do that?), Hook is unable to remove it from her.  Cora convinces Hook to join forces with her instead, and she creates a magical barrier that shields a portion of the Enchanted Forest from Regina’s curse.  Which explains how Phillip, Aurora, Mulan, and the people who once lived at the refugee camp remained behind.

That was a really clever move Mary Margret/Snow used to get out of Rumpelstiltskin’s cage.  But it did remind me of something.

Yeah, Rumpelstiltskin could have used the squid ink to get out of that cell whenever he wanted.  I suppose it’s not too surprising, considering who we’re talking about here.  And I understand he wanted to be taken up in the curse, which would explain why he stuck around.  But that means he left that scroll behind, knowing that Emma would one day be in that predicament and would need the squid ink to escape.  Well, if he’s that omnipotent, he must know that they would succeed in getting out and eventually stop Cora from taking the portal to Storybrooke.  Which just begs the question of why he’s trying to close the wishing well portal.  What does he have to gain from keeping Emma and her mother from returning?  Especially since he ends up needing Emma’s help in a few more episodes.

So, let’s talk about the best scene in this episode- the fight at Lake Nostros.  First of all, so much for your vow that you were done with Emma, Hook.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  On the one hand, we have Emma.  Someone who, prior to this moment, has only used a sword once when she was fighting Cora’s army of heartless zombies (I’m not counting the fight with Dragon Maleficent, since Emma pretty much rejected using the sword until she threw it at the dragon), and it’s certainly her first time in an actual duel.  On the other hand, we have Hook- a professional pirate with 300+ years of experience under his belt.  I think it’s safe to say he’s not just a sword master, but a grandmaster.  I’m fairly certain, unless a future flashback proves otherwise, the only time he hasn’t won a duel was when he went up against Dark One Rumpelstiltskin, and that probably shouldn’t even count because Rumple kept cheating by teleporting himself out of the way.  Criminy, this is the same man who we’ll see in a future episode taking on a dozen of Evil Queen Regina’s soldiers by himself and coming away without a scratch.  So yeah, Hook was either letting Emma win or at least going super-easy on her.  While I’m no expert, there were plenty of opportunities where he could have killed her had he wanted to.  Instead, he chose to not only take a quick time-out to prevent Aurora’s heart from falling into the whirlpool (while using Emma’s leg as an anchor to keep himself from falling into the whirlpool as well; even when those two are on opposing sides, they still manage to make a great team), but also be all smug and throw out a blatant double entendre at Emma.   Even the part when Emma appears to knock him out.  We find out in a later episode that he witnessed the moment when Cora tried to remove Emma’s heart.  How could he have seen that when he was supposed to be lying unconscious?  Try and explain that one, you big faker!

Speaking of the scene when it’s revealed Emma’s heart cannot be taken, that was the moment when they decided that they were done being subtle with Emma having powerful magical abilities and just hit us over the head.  Remember the electrical wires that sparked when Emma first arrived in Storybrooke?  Or how Jefferson’s magic hat didn’t activate until Emma touched Regina’s shoulder in ‘Broken?’  The fact that those little hints kept popping up keeps me from labeling it as a Deus ex Machina moment.   It was also nice to see that little conversation between Emma and Gold/Rumpelstiltskin at the end, when Emma was thinking that she was nothing more than a pawn in all of this, prompting Gold to inform her that he simply took who she was into consideration when he was planning everything out.   That scene just reminded me of a quote I came across once.  Something about how we’re only destined to do the things we would have done anyway.  I’m not quite sure who said that originally, but I rather like that quote.  And it’s so fitting for this scene.

This episode was a really good character development moment for Regina.  Throughout this season, she has been trying to prove to Henry that she can be a better person, and a much better mother to him.  Here, she faces her first real hurtle in her transformation.  With David/Charming still under the sleeping curse, they have no way of knowing if Mary Margret/Snow got their message about the squid ink in Rumpelstiltskin’s old cell.  As a result, Regina is left unsure if Emma and Mary Margret/Snow can defeat Cora and make it back to Storybrooke.  She knows it’s entirely possible that they could fail and Cora could come through the portal into town, which is something she doesn’t want to happen, and for good reason.  This leads to the episode’s moral dilemma- She could either do nothing in the hopes that Emma and Mary Margret/Snow will succeed in defeating Cora or she could take no chances and simply force the portal back to Storybrooke to close permanently.  The second option would undoubtedly kill whoever was traveling through it at the time, meaning it is entirely possible that Regina would kill Emma and Snow by closing the portal.  It doesn’t help matters when Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin starts going all Grima Wormtounge on her by pointing out that if Emma doesn’t make it back, then she will go back to being Henry’s sole mother.   Because of his manipulation, they very nearly force the wishing well portal to close.  (Was Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin using the same wand he’d taken from the Fairy Godmother in ‘The Price of Gold’ in this scene?)  Thankfully, Henry manages to convince Regina to do the right thing in the end, and it all pays off.  But seriously, there was no reason why they couldn’t have invited her to go with them to Granny’s.  I think I’ve made it clear how I felt about this character throughout season one, and how I nearly raged at the screen whenever she popped up to muck things up again whenever the protagonists were enjoying a small victory.  But here?  That was kind of insensitive of everyone to just go skipping off together while leaving Regina in the lurch.  For the first time since the show began, you actually feel bad for her.  And that’s something.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Into the Deep)

What?  No flashback in this episode?  Well, that’s unusual.  But then again, it’s not the first time this happened.  ‘Broken’ was the first episode that broke that mold.  Sadly, there wasn't too much to talk about in this episode, but I'll do my best.

Our heroes surmise that they can use the fact that both Henry and Aurora can enter into the Post-Sleeping Curse netherworld in order to swap messages with Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold, in the hopes that he knows of some way to get them back to Storybrooke.  Because while they have the compass, they have no plan on how to get the wardrobe ashes from Cora.  Gold suggests that they try using the squid ink that was used with the magic quill that got him imprisoned way back in ‘The Price of Gold,’ which should paralyze Cora.  But before Henry can instruct Aurora to visit Rumpelstiltskin’s old jail cell in order to find the squid ink, the Enchanted Forest posse are attacked by Cora’s army of heartless zombies.  In the chaos of the zombie attack, Aurora is captured and taken to Cora.  Not only that, but the discovery that Henry got a severe burn from his last visit to the netherworld leads to David/Charming and Regina deciding that it’s too risky to send Henry back.  What follows is a rather touching moment when David/Charming volunteers to be put under a sleeping curse so he can communicate with Mary Margret/Snow.  It’s just really a perfect demonstration of how connected these two are, because David/Charming simply KNOWS that Mary Margret/Snow will plan to enter into the netherworld in Aurora’s place.  You can’t help but adore these subtle ways they illustrate how these two are the very essence of True Love, and how they know each other so completely, they can simply anticipate what the other is planning to do, even when they’re in separate worlds.  And their interaction in the netherworld was just perfect.  Not to mention the timing of their reactions was just spot-on, particularly in regards to Mary Margret/Snow.  She was all ‘You’re here!  Oh, I’m so happy to see you.  Waitaminute… how are you here?  Oh, no!  Tell me you didn’t!’  That right there is one of the moments when you just feel that these aren’t just fairy tale characters but a real married couple, and I adore it.  Although, was anyone else reminded of Phantom of the Opera when David/Charming was in the Hall of Mirrors?  Because I was, and I don’t pretend to know why.

We also get a wedge forming between Mulan & Emma and Mary Margret/Snow, particularly after Aurora gets captured by Cora.  Mulan’s loyalty has always been first and foremost with Aurora and Phillip’s final instructions to protect her.  So when it comes down to saving Aurora or making sure Emma and Snow get home, she’s of course going to choose Aurora.  But my real question is, how’d she manage to get the compass off of Emma without her noticing?  I realize Emma was kinda focused on her mother and how she was trying to reenter the sleeping curse netherworld at the time, but even so.  I just always got the impression Emma was sharper than that.  There was also that nice little scene with the captured Aurora and Cora, when the latter tried to sever Aurora’s loyalty to Emma and Mary Margret/Snow with the promise of information on how to get Phillip back.  Aurora might not be fighter strong like Emma, Mary Margret/Snow and Mulan, but that scene did show she had her own brand of strength.

There’s also the issue of Hook realigning himself with Cora in this episode, which involves him taking Aurora’s heart (not sure how he accomplished that without waking her up in the process, but oh well) and giving it to Cora so she can use the princess as a mole.  To be honest, seeing this is not too surprising, as he said a few episodes back that his loyalty was with whoever got him to Storybrooke.  At this point, his only goal is to get Rumpelstiltskin, and it’s quite possibly the only thing that’s kept him going for the past few centuries.  I tend to think his preference would have certainly been to go to Storybrooke with Emma and company, but his effort to prove his trustworthiness to them didn’t exactly work.  What more could he have done to prove his loyalty to Emma and the others?  He'd already given it his best shot and all it got him was getting shackled up in Anton's treasure hold for 10 hours.  So, he didn’t really have any other option open to him at this point.

Great Sleeping Beauty reference with the spinning wheel they used to place David/Charming under the sleeping curse.  I mean, we already knew Aurora, Phillip and Maleficent are real, so obviously the spinning wheel was a thing, too.  Still was awesome to see.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Child of the Moon)

Well, we’ve got our first ‘filler’ episode of season 2.  But it was nice to see what happened after the events of the ‘Red Handed’ flashback.  A month after Red discovered what she was, she and Snow are still on the run together.  They encounter a pack of werewolves just like Red, which is led by Red’s long-lost mother, Anita.  From them, Red learns how to control her transformations, and how to keep her mind while in wolf form.  However, while Red initially plans to part ways with Snow in order to stay with her new pack, things get a bit hairy (no pun intended) when Snow unwittingly leads Evil Queen Regina’s soldiers straight into the werewolf den, resulting in the death of a pack-member, Quinn.  Anita plans to have Snow killed as punishment, but Red refuses to allow this and ultimately kills her mother to protect her friend.  This little flashback story ends with Red indicating she doesn’t regret her choice, as Snow was the first person who didn’t make her feel like she had to choose between being a wolf or human.  This is a really great underlying theme right here - you don’t have to be blood to be family.

In Storybrooke, Grumpy/Leroy manages to finally discover the fairy dust diamonds in the mines beneath the town, which means that they’ve finally got a way to get Jefferson’s magic hat to work again.  But King George/Albert Spencer, who still isn’t over his grudge against Charming/David, concocts a rather complicated plan to make the people of Storybrooke turn against Charming/David.  It involves framing Ruby, who is facing her first full moon transformation since the curse ended, for the death of Billy/Gus and getting the whole town out for her blood.   But when Charming/David manages to prove that King George/Albert was the guilty party, King George/Albert retaliates by burning Jefferson’s hat, thus destroying that method of getting Emma and Mary Margret/Snow back to Storybrooke.

I have to ask, was there anyone else who rolled their eyes when that one person in the mob stated that they weren’t sheep when Charming/David came to Wolf Ruby’s defense?  I hate to break it to you, Random Storybrooke Person, but…. yeah, you ARE sheep.  Just look at how easily swayed you are into joining an angry mob.  And by someone who had previously shown himself to be a nasty piece of work back in Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest.  And this isn’t the first time the people of Storybrooke just turned on someone on a dime.  Remember how quick everyone was to shun Mary Margret in season one during the whole affair debacle and following possible murder subplot, but then were instantly chummy again when Mary Margret’s name was cleared?  Yeah, ‘not sheep,’ my eye.

While I was at first thinking it was rather mean of Ruby/Red to turn down Billy/Gus the Mouse’s date offer, I instantly forgave her when I realized her reasons for this was because she was just nervous about the upcoming full moon.  It’s such a shame that Billy/Gus was killed off.  It would have been interesting to see where that would go.  Mind you, I’m someone who often wonders if there might have been something between Ruby and Graham, had he not been killed off, too.  Yes, we never really saw them interacting during the first half of season one, but Graham clearly had an affiliation to wolves during his life as the Huntsman, and Ruby/Red is a werewolf.  I don’t know, I sometimes think that could have been a good foundation for something, if Graham had survived to see the curse being broken.  But obviously, we’ll never know for sure.

I really love seeing the friendship forming between Belle and Ruby/Red, which we saw beginning in ‘The Crocodile’.  Like Snow did in the past, Belle doesn’t allow the fact that Ruby/Red is a werewolf to bother her in the slightest and refused to let fear keep her from helping her friend.  Besides, after spending 28 years locked up in the psychiatric ward beneath the hospital without any human contact, I think Belle more than deserves the chance to find a group of friends for her to interact with.  You know, other than Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin.

We also get confirmation that Henry and Aurora’s dreams are much more than dreams, particularly after Henry wakes up with a burn on his hand.  Gold/Rumpelstiltskin explains that those who fall prey to the sleeping curse have their souls slip into some sort of netherworld, and that sometimes, people who are woken up from this curse can sometimes astral project themselves back there.  Thanks to a magic pendant Rumpelstiltskin/Gold gives him to control his trips to the netherworld, we’re shown that Henry can now communicate with Aurora.  Meaning they can now swap messages between Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, setting things up for Ruby/Red’s words of encouragement to David/Charming to be fulfilled- they’ll find another way to get Emma and Mary Margret/Snow back

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (Tallahassee)

Oh, this episode.  Where do I even begin?  With the help of some magic wrist cuffs Hook obtained from Cora, he and Emma are able to climb up the beanstalk to get the magic compass.  It’s surprisingly easy for the viewer to warm up to Hook in this episode.  For someone who’s supposed to be a treacherous, fearsome pirate captain, he really comes across as someone you’d like to bring along on a road trip, just for the sake of keeping you entertained during the drive.  I mean, really, why does our intrepid team of heroes seem to hate him in this episode?  He’s a hoot!  (His response to Mulan’s ‘a hook?’ was just perfect line delivery.)  The dynamic that he and Emma display is really fun to watch as well.  And not just because Hook seems to be able to figure out what makes her tick without any real effort, even though they’d only just met a few hours earlier- an ability that Emma seems to mirror as well, as she manages to figure out Hook’s real motivation in going after Rumpelstiltskin by just seeing the tattoo on his arm and seeing how he shuts down when she asks about it.  (Close-ups of this tattoo dedicated to Milah really get you in the feels, as you can see the dagger going through the heart is actually the Dark One’s dagger.)  There were a few moments, during my initial viewing of this episode, when I had some real ‘wait, did he really just say that?  Lemmie hear that line again!’ moments.  Like this exchange, for example:

Emma: Don’t think I’m taking my eyes off you for a second.
Hook: I would despair if you did.

 There was also Hook’s earlier line of ‘I was hoping it’d be you’ when Emma volunteered to climb the beanstalk with him.  Oh really, Hook?  You were hoping it would be the woman who saw through your ‘poor little blacksmith’ ruse, held a knife to your throat, had you tied to a tree and threatened to hand you over to the ogres?  Dude, you’ve got it bad.  Don’t even try to deny it.  And oh, good gravy, the sexual tension between these two is just launched into the stratosphere.  Just look at the scene when Hook is bandaging Emma’s hand.  First of all, it really indicates how hyper-aware he already is of her, as he immediately spots her injury before even Emma can.  And don’t get me started with how he tightens the bandage with his teeth.  This moment is made even more awesome when you realize it wasn’t scripted.  I’ve recently heard that actor Colin O'Donoghue adlibbed that little moment and actress Jennifer Morrison had no idea he was going to do that ahead of time.  (Although, I have to wonder why Emma even had to ask what Hook was pouring onto the wound.  What else would a pirate captain keep in his flask?) 

Throughout this whole escapade atop the beanstalk, you can just see how these two are cut from the same cloth and how well they work together on multiple levels.  Unfortunately, Emma figuratively slams on the brakes as she’s reminded a bit too strongly of a moment in her past which occurred 11 years ago, when she encountered a man called Neal during her attempt to steal a yellow bug (the same one she still drives) and realizes that, thanks to Neal, it was already stolen.  What follows is the pair developing a whole Bonnie and Clyde relationship until the inevitable betrayal, when Neal sets Emma up and leaves her to take the fall for a crime he’d committed before they’d met, which resulted in her being thrown into jail, where she discovers she was pregnant with Henry.  The memory of this betrayal, which had left permanent emotional and mental scars on her psyche, leads to Emma turning against Hook and abandoning him at the top of the beanstalk.  This scene is just so upsetting, because you understand why Emma is acting the way she is.  At the same time, Hook has been nothing but completely open from the second he admitted who he really was, and hasn’t given any indication that he planned to double-cross them in favor of Cora.  He even tells Emma to use her superpower on him to prove his sincerity.  In fact, in the next episode, we learn that he’d taken Cora’s magic bands without her knowledge.  Which means he had been planning to betray Cora even before he officially met Emma and the others.  I tend to think that when he saw what Cora did to everyone in the Safe Haven village, that was the point when he was all ‘No way.  I don’t want anything to do with this woman, anymore.’  After all, you can hear a tone of anger in his voice in the last episode, when he stated that Cora was the one who killed all those people.  It really makes you wonder how things would have played out if Emma hadn’t allowed her fears and insecurities take over at that crucial moment.  But, as Aslan said in the Disney/Walden Media version of Prince Caspian, ‘we can never know what would have happened.’

While I’m on the subject?  Hi, August!  I nearly forgot about you!  Although, what are you doing following around Emma in secret?  Aren’t you supposed to be gallivanting around in Thailand at this point?  That’s what your spiel back in ‘The Stranger’ suggested.  So, what made you come back just in time to talk Neal into leaving Emma?  And why did you leave again after this incident?  We also get confirmation that Neal was the guy who got the postcard in the first episode of this season, and that it was August/Pinocchio that sent it.  That aside…. okay, I’m going to hold off my thoughts on the whole Neal issue for the time being.  Because that’s best left until a future episode analysis.

Snow and Aurora also have a little bonding moment, springing from the fact that they were both victims of the Sleeping Curse.  We learn that Snow suffered from bad nightmares for a period of time after she was woken up, and that Aurora is also having nightmares, too.  And, in the final moments, we see Henry is, too.  And all three people have the same exact dream, which suggests that this might be more than just a bad dream.  Nice buildup for what’s to come there.

I do find it pleasantly interesting that the giant they encounter in this episode, whose name is Anton, wasn’t the vicious monster everyone was expecting.  He’s just like a typical person, except for the obviously significant difference in size.  I found that particularly nice since, during my initial viewing of ‘The Shepherd,’ I was expecting them to use that kind of twist with the dragon that was supposed to be terrorizing King George’s kingdom, and that when Charming went out to face the dragon in his late twin brother’s place, he would find out that the dragon was simply trying to defend itself, or had a nest of eggs to protect.  Something along those lines.  Of course, my initial prediction with the dragon didn’t happen, so I am glad they utilized that plot point in this episode.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Doctor)

Dr. Whale’s identity is finally revealed to be Dr. Frankenstein, which I find an interesting move by the show writers.  Up until now, we’ve only seen characters from fairy tales and well-known bedtime stories like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.  But Dr. Frankenstein?  Did anyone ever pick Mary Shelley’s famous novel to put their kid to sleep?  Of course, maybe there are parents out there who get an enjoyment out of potentially giving their little tykes nightmares. 

Regina is trying to prove to Henry that she’s making an effort to redeem herself, and chooses to show it by giving up magic.  But when she is finding the process to be difficult, she goes to Archie/Jiminy for guidance.  During her session, she admits she has kept Daniel’s body preserved within her family mausoleum, which is both touching and a bit creepy.  However, we also learn through flashbacks that Regina’s original intent of learning magic from Rumpelstiltskin was because she was hoping to find a way to bring Daniel back.  But Rumple informs her that ‘dead is dead,’ and refuses to teach her anymore.  Thanks to Jefferson/the Mad Hatter, who makes surprise reappearance in this episode’s flashback, Regina learns of the existence of Dr. Frankenstein, who lives in a different world.  Using a heart taken from Cora’s collection, Dr. Frankenstein attempts to resurrect Daniel.  Now, I find this a bit risky in general.  Regina even states straight out that she has no idea who any of the hearts belong to, since Cora clearly didn’t believe in a filing system.  Which meant they were virtually playing a game of Russian Roulette with these hearts.  For all they knew, they might have ended up selecting Abby Normal’s heart.  (Yeah, I know; that joke was probably in poor taste.  My apologies.  But I’m not the only one who feels this way, as David/Charming also clearly is of the same frame of mind about it when he hears of such a thing in present-day Storybrooke.)  Anyway, Dr. Frankenstein informs Regina that his attempt to bring Daniel back failed, prompting Regina to return to Rumpelstiltskin to continue training in magic his way.  Which sadly ultimately leads to Regina practically becoming Cora 2.0. (Regina even admits to having a collection of hearts like her mother did.  So much for her desire to not become her mother.)  This conclusion is even sadder when we see Dr. Frankenstein failed on purpose, as Rumpelstiltskin instructed him to do so, in exchange for obtaining one of Cora’s hearts for use in his famous experiment.  It’s this that further proves how much of a twisted puppet master Rumpelstiltskin is.  He concocted this whole thing to force Regina to continue down the path of learning dark magic from him.  He knew that doing so would ultimately lead to Regina casting the curse that created Storybrooke; don’t try and tell me otherwise.

In the present, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein, who has learned from David/Charming that the Enchanted Forest still exists, manages to abduct Daniel’s body.  It’s here the episode goes absolutely bonkers.  Dr. Whale/Frankenstein manages to bring Daniel back to life, because this time a) nothing’s holding him back and b) he’s hoping that by giving Regina what she wants, she’ll return him to his own world.   But the resurrected Daniel goes berserk.  Even rips off Dr. Whale’s arm.  While he gets it back later by getting Rumpelstiltskin/Gold to magically reattach it, it doesn’t change the fact that we get an eyeful of his bloodstained dismembered arm lying on a table.  (As the Nostalgia Critic would say: 'you know, for kids!')
Regina surmises that, much like how David/Charming made his way to the T(r)oll Bridge after waking up from his coma, Daniel might be making his way to a place he remembers- the stables.  This is a problem, however, as David/Charming had left Henry there so Henry could bond with his new horse.  What follows is a rather heart-wrenching scene, in which Regina is forced to pull an Old Yeller on Daniel, whose resurrected body is, from what I can gather, incompatible with the heart used in Dr. Whale/Frankenstein’s procedure.

We also get some more grandfather/grandson bonding between David/Charming and Henry, which is always welcome.  For as much plot-related stuff that this show goes through, which I do enjoy, it’s still great to see our characters taking the time to actually be a family.  Plus we get a nice little Oz reference in the scene when Rumpelstiltskin is conversing with Jefferson/the Mad Hatter when the latter delivers a glass orb (which I can’t really remember if it’s served a purpose yet.)  This is the third time Oz has been referenced in this show.  (Well, four if you count Regina saying ‘I don’t care if they turn me green’ in ‘We are Both,’ which is ironic in itself considering….well, you’ll see when we get to the second half of season 3.)
First, we saw a brief glimpse of an illustration of flying monkeys in Henry’s book back in ‘Snow Falls’.  Then, in ‘The Hat Trick,’ we see a green curtain door in the Room of Doors that is accessed through Jefferson’s magic hat.  Just makes you wonder if the show writers knew we’d eventually actually go there.

While all this is going on, Emma, Mary Margret/Snow, Mulan and Aurora discover the village of  Enchanted Forest’s refuges has been attacked by Cora during their absence, and everyone living there is now dead.  The only survivor is a man Mulan recognizes as a blacksmith who had been living among them for some time, but because of Emma’s lie-detecting ‘superpower’(after Emma messed up last time with the whole ogre + gun incident, it’s was really nice to see her get back to her take-charge state that we saw spring up with Ryan the Embezzler in the pilot and Regina’s apple tree in ‘The Thing You Love Most.’  She was just in her element in this episode, and I do enjoy seeing that), the four women discover that this blacksmith is actually Killian Jones/Captain Hook, who had been instructed by Cora to infiltrate their group.  Once he sees that the jig is up, Hook announces that he’s willing to help them instead and informs them of Cora’s plan to journey to Storybrooke using the ashes of the magical wardrobe (which Emma had burned two episodes ago) and an enchanted compass that is located at the top of a beanstalk.  Hook offers to help them obtain the compass before Cora can in exchange for them bringing him back to Storybrooke so he can get his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin.  While seeing Hook interacting with our heroes in this episode is fun to watch, it’s not until the next one that things really get interesting.