Saturday, August 8, 2015

Once Upon a Time- Episode Analysis (The Heart of the Truest Believer)

This episode reveals that Henry was born at 8:15.  That time just keeps popping up in this show, doesn’t it?  I realize that 8-15 is considered an Easter Egg referencing the show Lost, which the creators for OUAT helped write.  But the way they keep using this Easter Egg just makes you think if it will become significant in some other way.  (If the series finale occurs on season 8 episode 15, I might flip).  However, I can’t help but comment about how the overhead lights flicker pretty heavily at the exact moment Henry’s born.  Was this done to indicate how Henry’s apparently some sort of prophesied chosen one, considering the season 2 finale showed Pan’s been searching for Henry for a LONG time?  At the same time, I also wonder if Emma’s currently dormant magical abilities played a factor.  After all, we did see that electrical wire spark up when she first arrived in Storybrooke.  And this moment is undoubtedly a heightened emotional moment for Emma.  As will be revealed later, Emma’s magic is tied to her emotions.  And while this is happening in the Land Without Magic, we do see hints in a future episode’s flashback that seem to indicate how Emma was displaying small, subtle bursts of magical ability during her adolescence.

I’m guessing the underlying theme in this episode was being able to have faith and simply believe. 
It starts with Emma clashing with her parents over their conflicting world views and how Emma’s past makes it understandably difficult to expect the best outcome, even when it’s Henry’s life on the line.  The exchange is interrupted when Gold steps in to criticize Emma for her lack of belief, and how she doesn’t even believe in her own parents.  My first thought was ‘why should she?  It’s not as if they believe in her. Maybe they could have stopped Greg and Tamara before all the bad stuff went down in the last two episodes if Snow and Charming had taken Emma’s doubts about Tamara seriously.  I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time letting that go.  Anyway, the tensions explode when a mermaid Emma and Mary Margret/Snow capture during a mermaid attack conjures up a storm.  As the storm heightens, a full-out brawl erupts between Snow and Regina & Charming and Hook.  While it was strangely refreshing to see Snow and Regina go at it (given their shared history, it made a lot of sense to see those two finally snap), the fight between Charming and Hook seemed a bit contrived and forced.  While I get that Charming isn’t exactly Hook’s biggest fan at this point in time, them breaking out into a fistfight just seemed to come out of nowhere.  (Seriously, I honesty have a hard time buying that Hook would ever use the word ‘slag.’  I don’t know why, it just doesn’t seem in-character for him to do so, particularly since he doesn't usually use words lightly.)  It’s not until Emma, realizing that the storm is actually being fueled by everyone’s anger, decides to dive overboard to force everyone to stop fighting.  While her plan did have its obvious flaws, it certainty achieved the necessary results, as everyone instantly dropped everything and worked together in order to save her.  This moment seems to inspire the motivational speech about working together that Emma delivers when the group reaches the shores of Neverland.  (Although, why is Charming seemingly reluctant to listen to her?  Especially after Emma would have drowned if it hadn’t been for them doing just that.)

So, Greg and Tamra.  Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls.  If you’re ever given an assignment from someone you’ve never even met, regardless of how good it sounds on paper, don’t just jump in blindly.  Ask questions.  And lots of them.  I wonder how many people would have opted to refrain from actually joining up with the Third Reich if they’d stepped back and asked Adolf what he was actually planning to do.  Now that I’m thinking about it, the conclusion to their story seems to illustrate the negative aspect of taking a blind leap of faith.  Greg and Tamara had clearly taken a leap of faith when they signed up for their mission and didn’t stop to ask questions.  And that ended kind of bad for them.   Man, this show is DEEP.

Which reminds me- well played, show, for how they revealed Pan in this episode.  You actually believe that the disbanded Lost Boy Henry encountered was totally legit.  But then, bottom of the ninth, he instantly goes ‘PSYCH!  I’m Pan!’

It’s such a nice way to let the audience know what kind of slippery mastermind the little devil spawn, Pan, is.

And, yeah, Neal’s alive.  They did show that in the last episode, but I didn’t get around to mentioning it then.  When he fell through the portal, he wound up back in the Enchanted Forest, where he was found by Mulan, Aurora and Phillip.  (Waitaminute!  You mean they’re not going to show us how they got Prince Phillip back from the wraith?  I object!  I wanted to see how that played out!  It certainly would have been more interesting than watching Neal bumbling around trying to find a way back to Storybrooke.)  When Aurora can’t make contact with Snow through the Sleeping Curse Netherworld to inform them that he’s alive, Neal decides to use some of his father’s old magical instruments to figure out that Emma and company are in Neverland.

Okay, I’m sorry, but…. WHAT?!  Are you for real?  Neal decided to utilize magic?  Neal did this?  This is supposed to be adult Baelfire!  BAELFIRE!  Mr. I Hate Magic, Magic is Evil!  That was one of the very foundations of his identity!  It’s what defined him as a character.  Now they’re just throwing that out the window.  Ugh, my head!  Where’s the Tylenol?

We also get the return of Robin Hood, who had been living in Dark One Rumpelstiltskin’s abandoned castle ever since Regina’s curse hit.  As I mentioned earlier, he’s now played by a completely different actor than the one we saw in the ‘Lacey’ flashback.  If anyone knows the exact reason why they changed actors, I would appreciate it if you let me know in the comment section below.  (Did I just make a rhyme?  Eh, who cares?)

It’s in this episode that they stop beating around the bush in terms of hinting at the possibility of a romance between Emma and Hook.  And not just because of Hook declaring straight out that he fancies Emma.  Notice that right after Hook and Regina’s conversation about them achieving their own happy endings, the camera pans down to where Emma is standing.  And when Emma goes below deck to blow off some steam after Gold practically berated her for her lack of imagination, one would think Snow and Charming would be the ones who’d try and go and talk to her, given the nature of their first conversation in this episode.  But it’s Hook who goes to see her instead.  And while Snow and Charming’s attempts to cheer Emma up ended up in a near-shouting match, he seems to be a better judge of what Emma needs to hear at the moment by simply sharing a drink with her in honor of Neal/Baelfire’s memory.  Finally, if you pay attention, when Emma nearly drowns, the camera angles allow the viewer to observe Hook’s facial reactions quite a few times.  From what I know about filmmaking, if the camera focuses on someone’s face to show their reaction to something, there’s usually a reason for it.  (While I can’t be sure, I can’t help but wonder- was the place where Emma was lying after nearly drowning the same spot where Milah died?  If it was, I imagine the déjà vu would have been really horrible for Hook to deal with.)

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