Once Upon A Time: I’m A Believer

Season Two of Once Upon A Time began with an air of uncertainty. The curse that Regina had placed on all the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest (except for those left behind) who populated Storybrooke had been broken by true love’s kiss, that of a mother for her child. Simultaneously, magic had been brought to our world, which we had previously been known as land without magic. As the season wound on, the consequences of both the curse’s end and the introduction of magic would play out, with evil and good shown to be something even the most pure or corrupted was capable of, while magic was shown to ALREADY be in this world.

At season’s end, the town was saved from the destruction due to Regina’s fail safe by Emma and Regina herself. In the meantime, Henry was abducted by Greg Mendell and Tamara (who are answering to some organization outside of Storybrooke that is interested in destroying magic in this world) and they escape to Neverland using a magic bean to open a portal. Baelfire was also thrown across worlds into the Enchanted Forest after being shot by Tamara but is recovered by Aurora, Prince Phillip and Mulan. The unlikely group of Emma, Charming/David, Snow/Mary Margaret, Regina, and Gold board Captain Hook’s ship and embark on a voyage to Neverland in order to save Henry.

Of course, Season Three picks up where we left off.

Captain Hook’s ship

Emma and the gang ride their magic bean portal to Neverland, or more specifically the seas near Neverland. Emma is despondent, blaming herself for all that has happened and then Snow and Charming for making her believe that good always wins. They try to talk about “sharing their wisdom” with her, but she rightfully points out that they are the same age as her really. Gold appears in his Rumplestiltskin garb and tells Emma that she won’t succeed because she doesn’t believe and that her imagination is grounded; and that belief is what defines Neverland. Because she always needs to be told “what it takes” to save the day, she’ll never be able to save Henry. He then flies off to find Henry and Peter Pan, whom he has a history with.

Meanwhile, Regina and Hook continue to bond over their villainy; Regina asking Hook if he thinks that they are unable to have happy endings, to which he replies “I hope not. Or we’ve wasted our lives.” Hook also notes the irony of trying to go back to Neverland with Rumplestiltskin as his guest, when he has spent so much time trying to leave Neverland to try to kill him (Gold is the Crocodile figure of the Peter Pan story in case your forgot).

As Hook bonds with Emma over Neal/Baeilfire being thrown through a portal (Hook is sharing with everyone! Good for him!), the ship comes under attack from Mermaids. They ward it off and capture one, who taunts them saying they will end up killing themselves. The group begins to argue about what to do with their prisoner (who apparently is liar like all mermaids are known to be. Never trust a mermaid!), when Regina does a very Regina-like thing and acts unilaterally, turning the mermaid into wood. The storm that had started when the mermaid blew her conch shell gets worse and we see what may be the most ridiculous camera shot in the show so far, as the ship rides what is supposed to be a tidal wave as if it is no big deal. I know. I know. The show itself is ridiculous and is about magic and fairytale characters come to life, what does it matter if the graphics look really, really bad? Short answer: It doesn’t, but it still made me groan.

The storm starts to get worse and worse and while struggling to keep the ship afloat, the crew’s in- fighting gets worse and worse, eventually leading to a very Dallas-esque bitch slap from Snow to Regina. Emma realizes that it is the fighting that is feeding the storm and tries to stop the bickering, eventually just diving into the tumultuous seas.  A pulley breaks off the ships rigging at the same exact time (groan) and hits her in the head underwater, knocking her unconscious. David Charming dives in to save her, and when she comes to she explains why she did it. The storm (that much of the time involved NO rain whatsoever) ends.

The next time we see the group, they have reached the shore, though Emma tells them that they will have a change in plans. She then assumes the leadership role and proclaims that despite their differences and that some of them may be villians, it is only through their collaboration and acceptance of their roles that they will be successful in saving Henry. She herself has fully embraced her role as a mother, something she wasn’t willing or able to do in the show’s open which showed her giving birth to Henry. By the way: Why did ALL the hospital lights flickering at that exact moment not even warrant one observational comment from anyone in the room?

The group begins their trek into the forests of Neverland.

The Forest of Neverland

Tamara, Gregg, and Henry reach the shores of Neverland and try to get in touch with the “home office” to see what to do next. Henry questions whether or not they have thought things through, specifically how they plan to get home from Neverland if they destroy magic. Gregg says they don’t ask questions, a point that is illustrated by the fact that their radio’s batteries are nothing but sand. Henry snarkily relishes being right.

The Lost Boys enter the clearing (not the vampires) and they spell it out for Gregg and Tamara that they aren’t going to be able to get home. Gregg tries to pull a power move, but Peter Pan’s shadow rips Gregg’s right from his body, which knocks him unconscious.

Actually he may be dead, I don’t know. At this point I am wondering if our shadows are our souls, or simply a part of us that we can’t live without, which makes me wonder how Pan is able to separate from his. I’m sure all will be revealed.

In all the madness, Tamara tells Henry to run, which he does. While traipsing through the forest he meets another boy who says he also escaped from the Lost Boys and they stick together as they try to elude capture.  The boy says he stole pixie dust in an attempt to fly away, but it didn’t work. Henry assures him that his family is looking for him, something the boy scoffs at as typical. “Do you think you’re the first boy who thought his family was trying to save him?” Henry replies that his family is “different,” before saying that they can’t lose hope.

(Henry is right: his family is very “different” and it got me thinking about how wacky his family tree is. His grandparents are Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumplestiltskin, while his adopted mom is The Evil Queen and his step grandfather, so to speak, is Captain Hook.  Also: the kid gives up a LOT of information without much prompting.)

Eventually the two boys reach a chasm that they cannot cross, but Henry takes the pixie dust and because of the sheer fact that he truly believes it, he and his fugitive companion take to flight. When they land the boy marvels at the feat, but then reveals his true identity: Peter Pan. He has been after the “Heart of the truest believer” who it turns out is Henry. The Lost Boys close in and we are left wondering what is in store for him as Pan says “Let’s Play.”

Enchanted Forest

Baelfire wakes up on the bed that a sleeping Aurora had been awoken on as well, and is immediately concerned for Emma’s safety. He identifies himself as Henry’s father, and Aurora says she may be able to contact Henry in the dream world like she had done for Emma and Snow prior. It doesn’t work and he and Mulan set out for Rumplestilstkin’s castle to try to find something that will lead him to Emma and Henry.

One of the stranger parts of this episode happens here when he mentions that in our world, Mulan, Aurora, and Prince Phillip are famous characters that have even had movies made about him, which then leads to the joke “What’s a movie?” Up to this point, the existence of fairy tales in our world have been acknowledged, but this is the first time the fact that Disney itself exists has been mentioned. I suppose that I should have assumed, but I guess I just thought of the show taking place in its own fictional “real world” that wouldn’t mention the giant corporation that is making the show. Hopefully Mulan eventually learns about royalties.

Neal/Baelfire and Mulan eventually reach the castle which is in disarray, and they confronted by Robin Hood, who mentions he is squatting in the castle (like the hippie that he is). Once Baelfire identifies himself as The Dark One’s son (because why would anyone do that if it wasn’t true?), Robin Hood stands down and inexplicably joins them on their adventure. Personally I think he just likes having something fun to do. Neal picks up a magic staff and through some neat looking ninja-like moves, reveals a cloaked door. In that door they find a crystal ball and he sees that Emma is in Neverland, a place is very familiar with. He also notes the irony of spending his life running from magic and then coming to rely on it.

Thoughts and Observations

The theme here is obviously “believing” and having true faith, something Locke from LOST came to symbolize. Emma seems to embrace it by the episode’s end, but that means that the skepticism must come from another character now if we are to keep the two paradigms represented which me surely must maintain this early on, right?

  • Apparently there were looters in the wake of the curse? Are curses in The Enchanted Forest like hurricanes or tornados here?
  • Also…what is going on in the town? Those people were bracing for imminent death. Any chance they are just going about their daily lives now?
  • At this point I am starting to think that Regina’s only role is to say overly bitchy lines and repeatedly say “My Son” when referencing Henry. I wonder what will happen now that Emma has made it clear that she is fully embracing her “Mom” status. I smell trouble ahead.
  • These LOST guys are still really obsessed with the innate “goodness” and “evil” that lies within us all, huh?
  • I wonder if Henry’s loss of innocence that is bound to happen eventually is what is going to lead to the “I do believe” mantra, repeated over and over in the Peter Pan mythology.
  • If King Triton is called the “Son of Poseidon” in Disney’s The Little Mermaid mythos, then are we to believe that other elements of Greek Mythology are also real in Neverland? Will we see Medusa and Minotaurs?
  • Of course mermaids are liars: they are half women right? Just kidding.
  • Robin Hood’s fade seemed a little too tight for a world without electricity.
  • I swear that this is real: When Hook says his line about not getting the “quite the happy ending he was hoping for,” the name of the producer on the screen is “Brian Wankum.” Someone made a masturbation joke?

Until next time…

Author: Josh Richer

Josh lives in NYC (OK OK! Staten Island) and would love it if you employed him. Send Josh an email