And here we are, September 2013 – season three of Once Upon A Time. Dark nit looks out there, so to speak, we head into a world that isn’t as bright and shiny and colorful as the Enchanted Forest used to be, or SB was at least to some extent: Neverland awaits.

As announced at the end of last season, I’ll try and shorten my reviews, for I lack the time to write 10+ pages for every episode. So from now on, this will be a collection of notes of everything I noticed.

* The premiere of OUAT’s third season throws us right into a pretty intense and gruesome scene. Not because it’s about Emma giving birth to Henry (though I always find such scenes oddly disturbing), but because of the fact that she doesn’t want to look at Henry. She knows full well that the moment she looks at her son she won’t be able to give him up, but something makes her believe she has to. I assume it comes from her fear that Henry will have as bad a childhood as she had; that she rather wants him to have a family from the very start, than be forced to live in a foster home because Emma herself won’t be able to take care of him. And I don’t know, but I guess she’d have to be in prison at that time, and stay for some while longer, so she’d have to raise him in prison (though I’m not sure that is possible) or leave him to wait for her in foster care. It’s arguable if it is better what she does, but anyways, it is heartbreaking.

The other thing might be that she rather cuts all ties to her earlier life that included Neal and the big disappointment, the heartbreak it brought for her when he left her; betrayed her for reasons she doesn’t know about. Henry is living reminder of that relationship, and Emma has been hurt by life itself so often, that another proof of where fate hates her she probably doesn’t need.

Needless to mention if you ask me, but let me nevertheless have a word on it: the lights going out as Henry is born is of course a symbolic as cliched picture. Question is now – what causes it? It is entirely possible that physical exertion results in Emma’s magic lashing out – it is it connected to Henry? Could it mean that both Henry and Emma together could use magic so strong that they could do far more than Regina? Or even Rumple? Maybe that’s where the key to Rumple’s salvation lies…

* I was wondering about the portal thing. The ship goes through and arrives where they want it to arrive – in Neverland. But when Emma and Snow travelled back from FTL, they needed a compass to be able to come to SB. Now, is Neverland some sort of center, a default arrival location? But that can’t be since it was said that when they didn’t have the compass, they’d end up in some void or something. Here, however, they seem to travel without the compass (Or is the Globe one? I thought it was more a passive GPS than an active guide), and don’t end up in some nothingness (well, arguably, Neverland seems to be worse than any void could possibly be…), but right where they want to be. So either I missed something or there’s some serious plot error.

The other thing in that regard is Neal, who claims to have thought of this place he was born and grew up in – FTL – when he fell through the portal and thought he was dying. The power of thoughts, then? Or is it in the end the power of emotions, of feelings, that lead one? That still would make no sense when we consider the whole compass affair. Ah well. Maybe there’ll be an explanation later on.

* Greg and Tamara. Big oops. To be honest, I didn’t expect that… and I can almost hear the one or other complain about the violence here. Not that this isn’t what we all wanted – finally get rid of the two of them, who made such a mess in SB and were probably so far the cruelest characters on the show.

What I thought was interesting how different they appeared to be here, all of a sudden. And I mean different from each other. While Greg remained cold and calculating, Tamara started to backpedal, even told Henry to run because she doubted what they were doing. Or was it just that she lost faith in their mission and their “Home Office”?

Now, Tamara is definitely dead – yay, heart crushing, didn’t have that one in a long time – but what about Greg? Just because his shadow is gone it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is really dead. Maybe the shadow can be brought back to the body and be reunited with it. And anyways do I wonder what that shadow is. Is it like a soul? Or maybe the dark part of the soul? Explanation for death by taking away just the latter could be that there’s no balance in the person/person’s soul anymore, and thus he or she is incomplete and can’t survive. This is a fairytale show after all, so I see this as one possibility/explanation.

As for the walkie that didn’t work – it was most likely really just a fake, but for a moment there I thought: What if Neverland has the same effect on technology that SB and the Curse had on magic? It might not apply in this case, since the whole thing was obviously just a big ruse by Pan, but everything else… okay, so then we don’t have any tech to worry about, but who knows what is yet to come. It would be a nice way to put another obstacle in the way of whatever idea the team may come up with.

* Speaking of Pan, though. So far we were led to believe that Peter Pan would be one of those strange shadows as well. Now we see that he is only a boy; alas one who is as manipulative as he looks innocent. I have to admit that I watched the promo for 3×02 before I saw the episode, so I knew what was up; but even without that beforehand knowledge, I still would have been very suspicious of the boy. Helping Henry, just like this? The way he dismissed Henry’s faith in his family already told that this boy is too far gone to be such a Good Samaritan and help some stranger who will possibly only slow him down on his own escape from the Lost Boys.

Pan says he needs the “Heart of the Truest Believer”, someone who believes with all his heart and thus can make magic work. Question is: Why? Does Pan need a successor? Has he lost his ability to use the pixie dust and fly? Or is magic – good magic – so rare in Neverland that he needs someone like Henry to make it work, and especially work for him? Maybe Henry true and believing heart is the only thing that will open him certain door – figuratively speaking. On the other hand I’m not sure the pixie dust really is something good, because the magic it brought had green hue, and as we all know, green magic is rarely the good one.

* The argument that occurred on the Jolly Rodger, between the Charmings and Emma, was great. And really about time to be had. Her parents’ “all is good” attitude really is tiresome. Maybe it’s also admirable that someone can be so positive despite all the bad happening to them, but it’s hardly realistic.

That she blames the Charmings for what happened to Neal and Henry is harsh, but not that far from the truth, I guess. Their naivety sure had some part in everything that has happened, and does their black and white thinking – just remember what happened when Regina was accused of having murdered Archie, or when Emma thought Tamara was bad news, but Snow only told her to stop being jealous – because people are either good or bad, and there is no room for second opinions. So yes, I believe they can be blamed, at least to some extent, for what has happened.

I love how she tells them that they’re the same age, and that they possess the same amount of wisdom. It definitely needed to be said, because it’s the truth. Whatever Snow and Charming had to experience, what with the Curse, letting go of their daughter, losing their home and their memories at least for a period of time, Emma had the considerably worse life so far, and thus probably also has much more life experience.

* And there is bad blood boiling up. Or maybe just blood, who knows. In any way we suddenly see sides on everyone of them we hadn’t seen before… or had we?

For one there is Charming who seems to seriously consider at least for a moment to actually hurt the mermaid. The look of pure horror on Snow’s face speaks an own language. Even Emma is shocked, though I’m not sure it comes from actual dismay about Charming being capable of such actions, or the sheer disgust that Charming is unable to see the bigger picture and willing to lower himself to such means, especially when the mermaid can still be of value to them.

A little later then we have Snow and Regina as well as Charming and Hook fight – physically – and that in a situation where it really is anything but helpful. I’m still saying that this is unexpected for all four of them because: the Charmings, obviously, are not ones for brawls, or shouldn’t be (and this is nothing else, really). Snow starts it by hitting Regina (and beforehand yelling at her/blaming her for the storm because Hooks says it’s magic, not a natural storm – go figure…), and Charming starts it with Hook when the captain tells him to leave the women (okay, sluts, but seriously…) and rather see to the ship so that they all survive. Now, given that, it’s already surprising, but then comes in the fact that Regina and Hook participate. Of course, given their history they are not exactly the ones to turn away and go after having been attacked, but both should be and to my mind are a conscious of what is at stake – for Regina it’s Henry, and for Hook, at the very least, his own life.

Everyone’s reaction – safe for Emma’s, who tries in vain to control the Jolly Roger – is adolescent and outright stupid; they endanger their mission and more importantly themselves with their silly feuds and fights. Now, as said is sensible person here Emma – at least for the time being. Because for reasons I have not yet gotten a grip off, she suddenly jumps into the ocean. Well, at least it breaks of the fighting ^^ Then Charming jumps after her – not before having been secured by Hook, with whom he’d been at each other’s throat only seconds earlier (it’s getting weirder) – rescues Emma, and as soon as she is back on board and wakes from her unconsciousness (I’m not gonna talk about how no one thought of CPR in that moment), the storm stops. Huh? I mean, was that some kind of sacrifice the weather gods/king od the sea/sirens/mermaids/what-the-hell-ever recognized in her actions? Why does flinging herself into the water help? Or was the bad blood on board fueling the magical storm, and Emma’s distracting and consequently reuniting them (fascinating how they suddenly all worked together again, and were scared – including Regina!) downed the heat, so to speak?

I sincerely hope that there’ll be some explanation for that. Because the whole scene was unnecessary and lame, and more like, we still had a few minutes to fill and couldn’t come up with something good.

* CaptainSwan. I have to mention it because there were some sweet scenes. More friendship than anything else, but I think I could even live with that. To my mind though there is something between them, some understanding because as we know from last season they do share some experiences and anxieties when it comes to socializing and relationships. Now, I’d love to see them as a couple, because I think it could work, at the end of the day and several feuds. I definitely want to see them resolve a bit of their tension that most certainly is there, at least let them have a good, thorough snog. I still ship Swanfire, and I sort of want them together as well, so if they go with the latter couple, I at least hope to see a true friendship between Hook and Emma. I guess they both and especially Hook deserve it. Plus, From what we’ve seen here, there seem sot be some bond between Hook and Neal, and I believe it can be resurrected, so maybe there is indeed hope for all that.

What I noticed was Hook’s attitude towards Emma. He definitely has a soft spot for her. Whatever reasons are behind that – I hope it’s just genuine affection of any kind (love or friendship) – the moments are there. Of course under deck when they talk, light/gentle teasing and honest conversation included, then when Emma i thought to be dead for a moment he looks seriously distraught, when she wakes up he is visibly relieved, and at the end, after Emma’s speech, his grin is an almost proud one.

* Another thing I expect an explanation for is Aurora‘s hair. Why is it suddenly strawberry blond? Not that it doesn’t look good – actually I think she looks much better now, somehow more adult – but it irritated me nevertheless for a moment. Also, of course, Phil‘s return has to be explained, though his reappearance was never a surprise to start with (and he was in the last season finale). And yes, I write Phil because I’m not sure how to spell his full name, lol.

* But for the more important issues in FTL and in Aurora’s, Phil’s and Mulan’s company: Neal. He seems to have recovered quite well from his bullet wound (still wondering how, but never mind) and I love how well he gets along with the trio. And how they accept him, even when they learn that he is Rumple’s son. Though I’m not sure how closely associated the three of them are with Rumple, so maybe they have no reason to project any anger on Neal.

The fondness especially in Aurora when she remember Emma and Snow, and realizes who Neal is to them, and to Henry, is heartwarming. It was probably some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but it was there. Apart from the fact that Aurora is the born empath and thus would have gotten weak anyways.

Still wondering whom Aurora tried to reach – Snow? Well, guess that line will be dead (okay, busy) for another while. The whole thing was a bit quickly wrapped up – she lies down, no there’s nothing, she gets up, they have to find another way. Like a badly written fanfic that just tries to cover things known from canon before moving on to what is way more fun and interesting.

Neal then wants to go to his father’s castle and I wondered – how does he even know of that castle? He was long gone when Rumple assumed his new home, and I doubt he learned about that some other way, as he was first in Neverland and then in our world. As far as we know, the only connection left was Hook, but he was never seen even close to Rumple’s castle, so he probably doesn’t even know about it. It doesn’t really make sense to me.

Anyways, Mulan and Neal are off alone, and I like how open he told her about his failure regarding Emma. Actually I would have expected much more antagonism as soon as it is clear who he is – or whose son anyways – and Neal seems to make very sure that they know he is by no means the same as Rumple, by being honest and humble.

Another amazing thing was the fact that Neal knew how to use the walking stick – how to swing it. Or wouldn’t it have mattered how it is twisted and turned, and Neal just put up some show (without knowing it, lol)? He had to have seen Rumple doing something similar, but when he became the Dark One, we never once again saw him with the stick, so… another open question.

Now, again the idea was nice, what with the glass globe telling Neal where Emma is – under Mulan’s advice, very interesting – but also a bit quickly done. Seems like they have more important things in mind. Definitely a mention deserves this globe though – or more, how it works. Because it only does when Neal concentrates on his feelings for Emma, on his love. Meaning that Rumple has yet another item requiring True Love. It’s fascinating how he, the Dark One, relies on Love so much – probably a lot more than Regina, or any other person for that matter. We know where it comes from, of course; it is evidence of his human side still active.

* Blood Magic. That needs an own point here, because: Blood Magic. It’s not the first time we see it being used – best example is the other globe, the big one with the world map that told the Team where Henry is (and told Rumple where to find Bae/Neal). Something tells me we’ll see more of that in the future; at least I very much hope so. There’s much potential in that kind of magic, especially when it is used as some kind of opponent to True Love. And then we have the Black Magic of the Dark One and also Regina, and you wonder where Blood Magic fits in – is it good, is it bad? So far it’s done mostly good.

* One thing that got me thinking was the conversation between Hook and Regina about villains. It is said that villains don’t get happy endings – that’s what Regina tells Hook. And his reply to it is that he hopes it’s not true because he wants a HE. This shows two things – one, he sees himself as a villain. Whose and why is here something that needs deeper exploration because to my mind, and at least in OUAT, Hook isn’t your typical villainy figure. And having one enemy doesn’t necessarily make you a villain, nor does being a pirate, especially since he’d not the worst or cruelest pirate that ever was.

Hook has a lot of good in him, although he might have forgotten about it, or lost faith in good helping him on his way. But he seeks happiness, he seeks a HE, and this is what is most important – because villains don’t need a HE, they usually don’t even know what that is. Well, not following my definition of a HE anyways; but then I don’t assume Hook wants wealth and power.

But what does that mean if Regina believes it? That’s the other thing here. As long as Regina believes this to be true, that as a villain she’ll never find a HE, she may just see no use in becoming good. She needs to be shown that good deeds do go unpunished; that they’ll, in the end and even if not right away, will have their use and make her life better. I hope someone will show that to her. It has been already, but never to an extent that was enough I guess; not with all the darkness that is still reigning her heart.

* Last but not least there of course have to be a few words on Rumple. His speech he gave Emma on the ship was pretty interesting. The whole time I was wondering where he was going with it. If I didn’t know better – and really, I don’t – I’d say he wanted to encourage her. Actually it would also make the most sense, because Emma has to believe, has to take one or the other leap of faith, especially in this magical world where they are now. And he needs her to also because she’s the one with strong magic, but this magic can only work when she believes. We see that same theme with Henry. I like to think that he believes in Emma, that he trusts she can lead this mission, but needs her to be strong for that, a leader, so to speak. And obviously his words had some effect. If he had in mind that she becomes suicidal, well…

As for his own mission – he is obviously determined to save Henry himself, what might just be a clever plan, as long as the rest of the bunch is pulling each other’s pigtails. Plus, he’s been in Neverland before it seems, so he has an advantage here. At least until you consider that he and Pan, as it is said, are enemies.

There is an interesting story behind that, I’m sure. The straw puppet Rumple gets from the Lost Boy makes him break down, and that certainly isn’t something that happens very often. Whatever history connects Rumple to this world, it is probably very emotional – and it gives Pan some leverage when it comes to Rumple, if he has the means to make the Dark One break down like this. Pan must never know that Rumple is ready to face whatever fate confronts him with – including death because he thinks the boy will be his undoing. What once again makes me wonder if the boy really is Henry, or someone else all together… someone from the Lost Boys or even Peter Pan himself, maybe, who is also just a boy…

The other thing here – I’ll never get tired of mentioning it – is that Rumple breaking down is evidence that the human side is still there and strong. I constantly wonder about the Dark One, to be honest, and how much influence this energy has. There is so much still unexplained.

* I’ve foregone Robin Hood on purpose; the only thing I want to mention for now is that I was a) surprised he as well was friendly towards Neal until I realized that of course Rumple had spared Robin’s life (thanks to Belle, but who cares ;)), and b) that Maid Marian (sp?) was missing.

 

Fun moments:

Not necessarily funny, but more involuntarily comical was of course the wave. I’ve said it before – the whole thing when the water crushed/rained down and the characters where shown in slow motion had something of a bad commercial for… dunno, waterproof make up or some hair stuff or something. Quite embarrassing.

Really funny were several lines, like from Henry: “My Mum’s coming to get me. Both of them.” – that was total gold. And of course Regina’s verbal sparring match with Snow she clearly won by a unicorn and a rainbow.

Rumple had a few moments – he had to have them, really. There was him appearing in his leather outfit, Hook’s snark at that (classic!), and the other’s faces – Emma’s in particular. Of course she only knows him in well-tailored suits, the not-so-nice elder man. I assume it has to be a bit disturbing, at least to her mind and in her world, to see him in his tight leather outfit. Poor Emma, lol. And then there was his typical hand movement when the Lost Boy appeared in the jungle. But with a total “gosh, this is so dull” face.

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