Once Upon A Time: #SAVEHENRY

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After nine weeks of traipsing around Neverland trying to #SAVEHENRY we finally get to set sail again for Storybooke, the Jolly Roger now a rescue ship for everyone Lost on the Island including Peter Pan’s band of Lost Boys…who really wanted to be found all along. In the process we also saw Rumplestiltskin released from his tiny magic prison, and got treated to Regina humanized even more in the flashback to the time she adopted Henry…and also kicking quite a bit of ass in the present mission to make sure Henry didn’t die for the Pan’s self-serving cause. If last week’s episode was huge, then this one was right up there even if the plot did move along at turbo speed at times. As we saw though, we aren’t out of the woods yet and #SAVEHENRY is a mission that isn’t over: it has just changed. Because even when we think he is down, Peter Pan NEVER fails.

In case you are crazy and watch plot driven television out-of-order, as if this is CSI or Law & Order, last week’s eventful installment ended with Henry giving his heart to Peter Pan in an effort to save magic and in turn, Wendy who Henry thought was dying. In reality it is Pan who was dying, his immortal youth tied to sands falling through an hour-glass. After pulling the old switcheroo on his son, Rumplestiltskin, and trapping him in the mystical Pandora’s Box that Rumple had intended for Pan, The Eternal Boy took Henry’s heart and flew off, leaving Storybooke’s Finest and Once Upon A Time fans wondering how exactly they would revive the gullible boy from the coma he appeared to be in.

This week picked off exactly where that ended: amidst lots of confusion and with our search party having to again figure out how to adjust their plan (even a simple one like “Get Henry and leave”) now that things have taken a turn for the worse (I feel like they should have had a contingency in case they were late getting to Henry and Pan, but that’s me being sensible and forgetting that its been like a week for them). Luckily, Regina realized that in the minor scuffle between Emma and Pan before he flew off Pan bled his own blood which meant that he could still be killed. And that is when the Bitch was back, but this time she was one driven solely by her love for the child that she has reared and cared for eleven years. Even her trying to get Pandora’s Box back to save Gold seemed far more altruistic than we had seen up to that point, a stark contrast to the Evil Mayor/Queen from the flashbacks.

It’s those flashbacks that remind us of all she has done to try to be happy by essentially blacking out everyone else’s happiness. Stealing their sunshine so to speak. She just had so much anger and resentment, which would lead to jealousy and her own quest for vengeance. So determined to “Win” her almost purely imagined war with Snow White that she created a world in realm far, far away from the enchanted land where she finally got to rule and actually was aware of her victory – unlike the rest of the town (save for Mr. Gold) who had no clue how much they had already lost. How he maintained his identity and memory though is something that the writers are saving for a sweeps week to come it seems.

Something was missing in Regina’s life, however, a “hole in her heart” that she THOUGHT would go away by finally getting revenge. It didn’t and she did what many irresponsible people do to try to fill it: have a son – the ultimate answer to not being able to find a man. It didn’t quite work out though, as her child seemed unhappy. Naturally, Regina projected Henry’s almost incessant crying as a problem with her…as if he could sense that she was evil and had screwed over his entire family tree. Maybe he could. And maybe he could sense his blood connection to Snow. Or perhaps it was the pureness of her soul that soothed him. What matters, however, is that Regina’s cold, black and hardened heart couldn’t do the trick. A hilarious exchange with Doctor Whale leads to genuine concern with Henry’s health (the fragile, abandoned lad that he was) and Mr. Glass circumventing the adoption agency to crack open the closed adoption and reveal Henry’s birth parents.

The news is enough for Regina to convince her that it was more than a coincidence, and the scene where she confronted a clueless (sort of) Gold was one of the best of the season and dripped with the irony that makes for the best flashbacks.

It also led to a some simply unrealistic events. First she tries to return him like she adopted a cat that wasn’t getting along with her other cats. Then the worst adoption agent in the world says “sure,” and tells her that it takes strength to bring the baby back.

Now I’m not too sure how often this happens, or if the early Aughts were a more lax time in adoption services, but this just seems unreal. I don’t mean “fairy tales are legit and people can do magic and fly and control others by ripping out their hearts” unreal. I mean “WTF are they really making it look this simplistic in order to make the plot work” unreal.

Even more preposterous is that when Regina learns that someone is in queue to take Henry in (rather quickly), Regina is allowed to change her mind. She was just ready to give him up! The guy left to get paperwork! They would seriously not see that as some sort of red flag…especially after being praised for how great she was for realizing that it wasn’t working? Even though her reflection on the bond that she actually developed with infant Henry showed her that she did care, a part of it still seemed like she was just didn’t want someone ELSE to have him….which is very much like Regina. (Good thing too…The Darlings were ready to snatch him up for Pan).

Whatever misgivings Regina may have had were wiped away in that moment when she decided that she loved him and wanted to care for him regardless of what his presence in Storybooke would meant in regards to the Curse and how much constant anxiety that would follow.

Which is why she chose to drink to forget, something that worked until Emma found her way back to the people she was destined to save.  That’s when the cozy life she carved out after giving up her life of crime crumbled.  In spite of that though, and her essential dis-empowering “defeat” in a post-Curse world, she proved that her love for Henry would lead her to do anything to #SAVE him. Fitting for her character though, regretting nothing in her sordid past as a vengeful and sadistic narcissist was precisely what the situation called for, and she majestically rose to the occasion in a manner befitting a Queen.

As for the rest of the plot…you didn’t think it would be that easy did you?

Frankly the present storyline just seemed like the bridge between the realms: We had to get there somehow and some stuff had to be taken care of. So we get to know where the Lost Boys, Wendy and Tink end up and see more of them, and probably won’t be returning to Neverland anytime soon. The twist with Henry and Pan just prolongs operation #SAVEHENRY and provides us with conflict back in Storybooke, especially after the love fest that came out of Henry’s rescue. A new Big Bad is coming, but until then for these next few episodes,  Storybooke’s Finest need to be battling something if not each other. And getting “home” is pretty darn boring television.

My only concern is that Jared Gilmore can’t pull off playing Peter Pan-playing Henry. Robbie Kay seems talented enough to give the good old body switch motif a go, but watching Gilmore try to turn it up a notch could prove to be brutal.

One thing is certain: at some point Peter Pan will fail. Maybe. Because honestly they can keep this going forever, and bring it back at any time. Which is probably what will end up happening.

Passing Thoughts

  • I wonder if Glass and Gold and Henry could have a pretty specific conversation about being trapped in boxes. Could R. Kelly relate too?
  • The Regina storyline culminating in her drinking to “relax” essentially as an allusion to single moms and their sacred glass(es) of wine is some heavy shit, no?
  • The initial conversation with the adoption agent was funny with its dual meanings until became a sledge-hammer driving the points home.
  • I seriously question whether or not there should be an investigation into every adoption agency in the Boston area.
  • Henry’s reasons for giving up his heart made me want to PUNCH HIM IN HIS STUPID FACE.

Author: Josh Richer

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