Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Once Upon a Time 3.01: "The Heart of the Truest Believer"

“We need to believe. Not in magic, but in each other.”
- Emma

We are finally back for the third season opener of Once Upon a Time. For those who don’t know, ABC is splitting this season by airing eleven episodes in the fall and eleven in the spring. Therefore, we’ll have two semi-contained storylines and the first of those is Neverland.

We briefly visit Emma eleven years earlier as she gives birth to baby Henry ta 8:15 (yes that’s not lost on this viewer…see what I did there?) but she says she can’t be a mother, even though it seems she’s only got a couple months on her sentence to go. In the present, The Charmings, Regina, Rumple and Hook arrive in Neverland. Emma shares some serious words with her parents about the fact that they have equal experience and wisdom since they’re the same age and if she’d ignored their suggestion, they wouldn’t be hunting for Henry. And Rumple announces that he will go rescue Henry since he’s most familiar with their foe and our Savior lacks faith in her family and herself. Speaking of Henry, he, Greg and Tamara end up on Neverland itself and quickly learn something is amiss. Their communicator for the Home Office is a sand-filled toy. Just as they start to build a signal fire, Felix and a crew of Lost Boys show up and reveal they are the Home Office and they never wanted to destroy magic. It was just a ruse to get Greg and Tamara to cooperate. And in short order, Greg’s shadow is ripped from his body (I’m hoping this means his soul and that he’s dead but he could become a zombie later on possibly) and Tamara takes an arrow to the back as Henry runs off to evade the Lost Boys.

As Henry makes his way through the forest he stumbles upon another young fugitive. They take off together and we learn this boy apparently pissed off Pan by stealing pixie dust but he says it doesn’t work. Their plan to get to a safe place where the Lost Boys can’t find them takes a turn when they reach a cliff and the Lost Boys aren’t too far off. Henry grabs the dust and sprinkles it on them both, launching off the cliff to safety. I can’t decide if Jared’s acting has gotten better or not. I mean he’s a cute kid but he’s not great. Ultimately (and not surprisingly), the fugitive leads Henry into a trap. Our young friend is in fact the nefarious Peter Pan. Yes, Rumple is scared of a fifteen-year-old British boy with a smug attitude. I’ll be interested to see where the writers take this storyline. I want to know why Henry is so important (Pan says it’s because Henry has the heart of the truest believer) and how the rest of the family fits in. I think we’ll get some useful Pan backstory along the way, too.

Rumple’s off wandering the woods when he happens upon Tamara. She’s still alive (though barely) and he removes the arrow which allows her to speak. Her words are useless though. Sure she explains that she told Henry to run but the Lost Boys are after him and that she didn’t realize what was happening. But she asks Rumple to forgive her for what she did to Neal and he can’t. He rips her heart out and crushes it much the same way he did to Milah. I cheered. We finally have a Rumple-esque reaction to Neal’s supposed death. A little while later, he runs into Felix. It would seem that Pan and Rumple have a history that was at least partially amicable (or at least not completely hostile). But since Rumple is there for Henry, Pan is declaring the Dark One an enemy. Felix taunt Rumple with saying that he’ll die. Rumple doesn’t care. He knows he’s on a suicide mission, he just wants to see how many Lost Boys he takes with him in the blaze. Before Felix departs, he tosses Rumple a straw figurine which immediately dissolves Rumple into tears. I want to know more about that!

Back on the Jolly Roger, Hook and Emma share a drink in honor of Neal only to be interrupted by angry mermaids. They are trying to capsize the ship. Charming is having none of this nonsense so he starts shooting stuff out of the cannon. Emma and Snow catch a mermaid while Regina sends fireballs out into the water to scatter the rest. They bring the captive fish lady on board and Hook orders it off his ship. It’s not clear why at first until she blows into a conch shell and shit hits the fan in a huge way. A storm starts brewing and the mermaid says they’re all going to kill each other. And they very nearly do. It’s actually a rather hilarious bit of snark as Charming gets a little too angry and threatens to kill the mermaid while Regina eggs him on. Then Regina and Snow’s differences come out and Regina gets in another zinger about how it’s stupid that Snow thinks her “rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers” is going to do anything to the mermaid. And then the punches start flying. Regina and Snow are pounding on each other and Hook and Charming go at it. Emma realizes what’s happening as the storm worsens but she has to jump overboard to get everyone’s attention. She very nearly dies but Charming dives in and saves her.

When they finally make it to land, Emma gives an impassioned speech about how it doesn’t matter that they are enemies. She realizes that she is a mother (she gets kind of fierce about getting Henry back) and that she is going to be the leader. The important thing is they need to believe in each other to get through the craziness they’re walking into. I think that belief is going to be more difficult than they anticipate.

And finally, we find that Neal has in fact survived his gunshot wound to the chest (I missed the placement of the bullet last season) and is now in the company of Phillip, Aurora and Mulan. Mulan is skeptical of his Enchanted Forest-origins until he explains he’s Rumple’s son and he needs to get back to Emma and Henry. Aurora attempts to use the crazy sleeping curse nightmare to contact Snow but has no luck. So Mulan and Neal trek off to Rumple’s castle. I had a few quibbles with this part of the storyline. Mostly, how did Neal even know his father had a castle? On the way, Mulan asks why Emma never mentioned him and we get a rehash of the fact he broke her heart and he’s trying to make up for it and show her that he loves her. On a side note, I somehow predicted most of Neal’s storyline for this episode before it even aired. Anyway, they get to the castle but find it occupied by none other than Robin Hood. Neal hands over the keys provided, Hood help look for anything magical that could point Neal in Emma’s direction. He finds his father’s old walking stick which reveals a cabinet full of goodies, including a crystal ball. At first it’s not working but Mulan suggests he focus on Emma and how he feels about her. It works but he’s seriously dismayed to learn she’s in Neverland. So at least he knows where she is. Now he has to find a way to get there. And I’d imagine that reunion is going to be a tinsy bit awkward. And hopefully romantic. And I wouldn’t mind him slugging Hook for good measure. But overall, I enjoyed the season opener and I have a feeling the split season format is going to make for stronger storytelling and that is never a bad thing.

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