Once Upon a Time Recap – The Heart of the Truest Believer
The time has come Once Upon A Time fans. Last night saw the return of the show that had us falling back in love with Fairy Tales as the series kicked off its third season. We last saw Team Storybrooke sailing off to go save Henry, who was taken by the dynamic duo to Neverland. Things escalated pretty quickly last night, but then again, they would when a rouge, a mage, a knight, an archer, and a mother who really wants her son back, are all on the same ship and really dislike one another.
***Warning, the following may contain major spoilers. Please proceed with caution.***
One of the major themes in tonight’s episode was overcoming differences and joining together for a common goal. The goal among Team Storybrooke? Saving Henry (which actually trended a few times on Twitter.). What better way of reintroducing what they’re fighting for than by allowing us watch as Emma made one of the biggest decisions in her life — giving Henry up at birth. Jennifer Morrison gives a fantastic perspective on Emma throughout the episode, from the very first moments of her heart break over little Henry and the realization that she’s not ready to be a mother, to a pivotal scene between Emma and the Charmings where she is finally able to hold a mirror up to their mistakes, and how neither is better than the other when it comes to making choices.
Towards the end of last season we got a taste of what it could be like if Emma finally learned to take control of her life. It would be nice if we could continue to dive into that more this season and build upon her character. Showing this side of Emma actually might make me like her more. For the past two seasons I’ve always seen her as someone who just runs away from her problems and doesn’t want to face up as to what is going on around her, along with her emotions.
As for everyone else on board, being trapped on a ship for so long could cause emotions to get high, and high they did rise. Rumplestiltskin jumped ship early believing he alone could go and save Henry, which left everyone else slowly making their way to Neverland. All the scenes aboard the Jolly Rodger really played out like one big Psych experiment. As if each person couldn’t deal with one another already let’s throw in a problem and see how they react with that, and so, mermaids attacked.
Now one wonders if their use of mermaids was only a cheep way of seeing how many fish puns they could get in before the hour was through, but thanks to Regina’s sass – and Lana Parrilla’s delivery – those fish puns have become a favorite among the fandom (I really do wonder how many Evil Regals are out there looking for “Filet the Bitch” as a soundbite to use for their ringtone). All fish puns aside, Regina’s sassy side was completely amplified while on the ship. Her act first think later attitude certainly got the group in trouble and lead to one of the best moments of the night: an all out brawl with Snow White, which included hair pulling. Maybe now that the two have finally been able to break some pressure between them they can work together and attempt to get along, even if it’s just till they rescue Henry.
Emma seems to be the key on board and possibly the only level headed one. As I mentioned earlier there is a scene where she points out the Charmings’ flaw of always thinking good will win. She believes this is a lie. I really hope this season allows the Charmings to step out of their “rainbow kisses and unicorn sticker” optimistic piece of mind . We saw the beginnings of it with Snow when she took a turn for the dark side and killed Cora, but that seemed to quickly reverse when she saved Regina. The problem with the Charmings is the fact that their character development always seems to go around in circles, and it has become really frustrating and boring. I would really like to see Snow go deep into the world of darkness, and maybe Charming would have to go to some extreme lengths to bring her back. We saw it happen in the Enchanted Forest, but seeing it play out in our world, or even Neverland (which seems to thrive on human emotions), could make for a very interesting story line.
Speaking of Neverland, I never thought in a million years that I would actually be afraid of Peter Pan. Well, at least his shadow anyway. When Tamara and Owen reach the island with Henry they are greeted by the Home Office, which, very sadly, is not run by another branch of Torchwood or the Darlings (which is what I was hoping for with Once Upon A Time in Wonderland premiering soon) but by the Lost Boys. Also, like most plot lines that take this route, it turns out that those hired on our side to do their work aren’t really given the whole picture, which leaves Owen and Tamara feeling a little hurt (poor, poor bad guys). Instead of giving in and giving up Henry, they allow him to run away. Too bad they couldn’t run themselves before Tamara is shot in the back by an arrow and – in the scene that ensures I will never look at Peter Pan the same ever again – Pan’s shadow rips through Owen and takes his. I’m going out on a cement ledge that has a safety bar and saying that our shadows represent our souls? Nice twist. I think I am liking it as much as when they made Red her own Big Bad Wolf.
With Owen out of the picture, at least for now, and Tamara struggling to hang on to life, in pops Rumple. Now remember back in season one when that cart driver accidentally bumped into Bae and Rumple ended up turning him into a bug and squishing him? Well if that’s what he did to someone who did it accidentally just think of how he would react coming face-to-face with the woman who presumably killed him? Poor Tamara never stood a chance, and with the hope that Rumple would preserve her life he rips out her heart without saying a word and crushes it. Bye Tamara, I’ll try to miss you, but I really don’t see that happening any time soon.
While trying to get away from the Lost Boys, Henry comes in contact with a mysterious “ex” Lost Boy, who just so happens to turn out to be Pan. Seriously, who didn’t call that the second he showed up? Honestly, what would have been interesting is if it wasn’t Pan. They attempted to make it be a big surprise but when it really comes down to it, any one who has a brain, watches a lot of TV, and can put two and two together could have easily seen that it was Peter Pan all along. Now that Henry is with the Lost Boys and Peter, one can only imagine what dark twisted games they will be playing with him and why they really want him. What we do know is that Pan has been searching for the one who possesses the “heart of the truest believer,” and naturally, that appears to be Henry.
The bulk of the episode may take place in Neverland but they still had one question to deal with last night: what the hell happened to Neal? When last we saw Neal, he was shot and sent through the portal only to be found by Mulan, Philip, and Aurora. In last night’s episode we pick up with that storyline as Neal begins his journey to find his way back to Emma. One of the highlights was Neal’s attempt to explain to Mulan how things are in his world, including dropping a reference to a certain Disney movie about a certain “girl worth fighting for”. It will appear that Neal’s journey will be taking him back to Neverland, but how he will manage to open a new portal when Cora and Hook used the last of the magic beans last year remains to be seen.
Over all last night’s episode was exactly what the show needed. It set up the darker tone for this season, wrapped up some questions we might have had from the second season finale, and set up a bunch of new ones. Sure, it wasn’t entirely a strong episode, but it was able to push both the characters and the series along and take it into the next stage. I hope that this episode is just a sign that Once Upon A Time is going to be moving past its second season slump and onto brighter days (well darker days seeing as Neverland is more like a total nightmare than the happy place we’ve seen it depicted as in other productions).
What did you think of the premiere? Was it well worth the summer hiatus or do you just wish that everyone would find their happy ending already? If the show wasn’t trying to pimp itself out even more, ABC had released a special sneak peak into next’s week’s episode here.
Once Upon A Time airs on Sunday nights at 8PM EST/PST on ABC.