“Let it go. Let yourself go. Slow and Low that is the tempo.”-The Beastie Boys
Visions of people who aren’t there giving advice to characters wandering through the jungle of an island which starts to become something akin to a character itself, and in which the physical properties of the universe (even the Enchanted world of fairy tales) don’t apply? “Savior” archetypes struggling to get past their own hang ups and accept their fate as anointed ones? Skepticism and Destiny tugging at this Savior who ends up having painful realizations? Special children kidnapped because of their specialness? This is all starting to sound familiar.
Previously, I touched upon the thematic threads woven to make Once Upon A Time were the same ones that made LOST maddeningly exciting and yet ultimately frustrating to watch. On this week’s episode it couldn’t be more obvious, and part of me wonders how much fun the writers and creators who also contributed to that show are having in what I think is homage to Islands past.
Beside from the flashback (LOST) that shows us viewers the events that happened right after Prince David Charming woke Snow up with his kiss and what led her to resume her quest of overcoming the Evil Queen’s usurping of her throne, the entire episode takes place as we trek into the heart of Peter Pan’s rogue island nation in search of everyone’s son in some way (step, grand or birth), Henry.
Henry has been taken by Pan because he is “special,” his heart being that of the truest believer, and it’s up to Snow, Charming, Emma, Regina and Captain Hook to rescue him from the demon boy (?). Goldiestiltskin is also on a quest to find Henry and settle his scores with Peter and the Lost Boys, but he has gone lone wolf since he got all donned in his dark-one-duds and left the group abruptly back when the Jolly Roger was transported from Storybrooke to the high seas of Neverland.
Everyone is scared, everyone is having trouble of letting go both psychologically and physically, as well as accepting who they really are. It is preventing any one from making any head way in locating and rescuing Henry before he is seduced by Pan’s land without parents, and it seems like it is Neverland itself that is affecting the way everyone is thinking (like the mermaid curse?)
For Emma, the group’s progress legitimately relies on her ability to accept herself because Pan has given her a map that appears blank until she does just that. She judges by his words to her in their forest meeting and his voiced desire to meet “The Savior,” that it’s her destiny as the Anointed one which she must accept. But no matter how convinced she is of her lofty role, the map still won’t appear on the parchment which only leads to her actually doubting whether or not she is in fact anything special.
Regina can’t seem let go of her use of magic (what’s up Willow from Buffy circa season 6), and her attempts to use it to coerce the map into leading them to where Henry is being held only leads the gang of five into an ambush from the Lost Boys-which happened because they broke Pan’s rules. Even in the beginning of the episode, she complained about not being allowed to “poof” everyone up the mountain overlook they were walking to. This is a continuation of the season premiere when she turned the captive mermaid to wood which only amplified the sea creature’s curse that was fed by group’s discord.
In both the flashback to the time before The Curse and in Neverland, Snow is being forced to accept her birthright to the kingdom that Regina has taken control of, and in present day she has to accept that it might take more time for Emma to fully embrace her as “Mom.” The conversation surrounding Emma’s use of the word at the end of season 2 is amusing, like a couple trying to navigate around an accidental “I Love You.” She also is still unable to let go of what Regina has done to her, Charming, Emma, her father and all the people of her kingdom/Storybrooke.
Gold, however, is struggling with his fear of taking Pan up on his offer and ultimately selling Henry out to save himself. The fear is compounded by the doll that Felix (the only Lost Boy who can speak?) gave him last week, which we learn was given to Gold from his father before he abandoned him. We are shown all this in his conversation with a conjured image of Belle on the island which I’m not sure is supposed to be an image of her that was conjured there, or actually all in his head. Either way it seemed a lot like LOST. He also is still struggling with his abandonment of his own child, his time in Neverland a reminder of Baelfire’s time there.
Oddly enough, Hook is one of the only people not suffering from some anguish due to his inability to come to terms with his identity OR his need to let go. He obviously still hates Rumplestiltiskin (his crocodile) as well as Pan, but unlike his usually depicted self, he isn’t dominated by his obsession. He also doesn’t have a perm or waxed mustache.
Flashback Snow accepted her place in the grand story and the calling to rule her people and defend them from Regina. Ironically it came after she had let go of her obsession to seek justice for what Regina had done to her, resigning to accept her offer of peace if she takes her clan of dwarves and Charming into exile, never to return. Charming tries to make her believe in her destiny, even attempting to enlist Rumplestilstkin’s magic to get her to see. While he can’t make someone believe who doesn’t, he does provide an illusion that gives Snow the confidence she needs to stand up to Regina and fight back (Another great irony: had she gone into exile the curse which affected the people she was trying to save would have never happened)
In the end, Emma was able to finally get it, just like Snow insisted she would. She did need to accept her identity as the Savior, and despite her reluctance of the first season, Emma honestly sees that now. It is another aspect of her character that truly matters in this strange land, as much her being the Savior : the part of her that was orphaned, abandoned by her parents and left to fend for herself at an early age. During the fight that takes place after the ambush, Emma sees herself in one of the wayward youth that make up the Pan’s cabal. She is a Lost Girl, kindred with the youth she is fighting. It’s that which brings the map to life and leads us further into the Dark Jungle… and further into Pan’s world. Well maybe not Charming. We’ll see.
- Snow telling Emma “You have to win” into Snow saying “We can’t win”. Regina slashed in flashback followed by David Charming being nicked in the present? Some fun writing in this episode. Even some of the banter.
- “That election was a sham.” Seriously funny. I hope this continues to hit week in and week out.
- I’m not entirely sure that she believed in herself as The Savior, or at least she wasn’y completely sure. I think wavering belief is going to play a role this season.If they are going this slow we probably have a few eisodes about losing faith in oneself and each other.
- At one point there was a “LOST” sound when they were heading to commercial, after Emma had her big realization. I swear they really intend this episode (and perhaps this entire time on Neverland) to be one big throwback to that show.
- The Dwarves are like that the group of friends you have to win over in order to date a girl. Somehow in that tale, this seems accurate.
- The teaser for the local news was about a kid getting excused from school with “a case of Red Sox fever.” Because a kid staying out of school for a Red Sox Playoff game is somehow news?
- If Henry is Walt, then is Hook Once’s Benjamin Linus?
- Did anybody else see Charming’s injury and think “Does this look infected to you?”
- That doll reappearing despite Gold throwing it away…….LOST