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Once Upon A Time: “The New Neverland”

Illustration for article titled iOnce Upon A Time/i: “The New Neverland”
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I know the plot this week on  Once Upon A Time was basically just to set up for this new thing next week called a “winter finale,” but there were a  lot of SMH moments in this episode. Which is ironic, since the underlying/overarching theme of the episode seemed to involve needing to enjoy the good moments in between the bad ones, even when faced with great danger (or idiocy). In yet another needless Snow/Charming/Regina fairyback, Snow realizes that her fight against Regina is causing her to miss out on the little moments that go along with her wedded bliss with Charming, since she’d rather go after Regina than consummate her own marriage. Emma realizes the opposite thing in Storybrooke: because she’s the savior, there are no good moments for her: she can’t even meet Neal for lunch, because everyone is always in danger.  

So was it Emma’s secret honesty-telling superpower and savior status that led her to the discovery that Pan and Henry have switched bodies? Apparently, she was most likely led by her own jealousy, since the new! fake! Henry would rather hang out with Regina than with her. But that’s really just to get his hands on a curse that will hit the reset button on Storybrooke again, this time without a savior. Both Robbie Kay and Jared S. Gilmore seemed to have fun with the switched bodies storyline: Gilmore was especially effective as he skulked around Henry’s room, convincingly portraying Pan in Henry’s body. His knowing smiles when something happened according to Pan’s plan were appropriately creepy. And Robbie Kay was nicely vulnerable as Henry in Pan’s body, hoping that Rumple wouldn’t have to throw a fireball at him.


But all the plots and machinations this episode seemed to be so needlessly convoluted. Snow takes off on her honeymoon to hunt Medusa (sure, just throw some Greek mythology in there) to cut off her head and use it to turn Regina into stone. Not sure why this plan would work so much better than going after Regina with a sword, say, but of course Charming is game to come along on the hunt, wherein they both almost meet their demise. Regina inexplicably appears via a shield, but at least gets a good line in: “What’s the matter Snow? Cranky because your prince is now a statue? I can barely tell the difference.”

Also, the way Pan gets to the Storybrooke spell is ridiculous. Not sure how he would even know about the spell in the first place (unless it’s written in the Storybrooke book Emma hands over to him). But everyone is so desperate to protect Henry they cheerfully go back on their feeble protests only hours before: “I could never let you into my vault, it’s too dangerous. Oh, until tomorrow, when I need to take you in there.” “I will keep Pan in Pandora’s Box and safe here in my store forever until the end of time. Or until Emma wants me to drag the box up again.” And some of these plans still seem a bit half-baked: “The shadow’s on the loose again, but it’s sure not going to get past this coconut thingee.”

Hook offers some of this weak episode’s best moments. He is stepping out of the Neal-Emma triangle so that Henry’s parents will have a shot without a “devilishly handsome pirate” in the way. He even makes a half-hearted play for Tinkerbell to take his mind off Emma, then plays it up in front of Emma to try to show that he’s over her. But we know he isn’t, and the sparky Emma-Hook chemistry is always welcome. Emma and her dad have a nice, rare chat, but these few moments don’t make up for the rest (the pointless Medusa hunt, especially). 

So next week’s showdown will involve the Storybrookers trying to prevent Pan from casting another version of Regina’s spell, in which none of them will remember who they are, and Pan and Felix will rule over all of them. Basically taking us back to where the show was at the start of Season One. Why wouldn’t Pan and the boys just go back to Neverland? Remember when you watched Lost and started feeling a bit jerked around? As glad as we were to get off of Neverland last week, the very last thing we needed was an episode called “The New Neverland.”


Stray observations:

  • Kind of sad that Regina has no one to greet her on her Storybrooke return.
  • The Ariel/Eric reunion seemed ridiculously brief, but the fisherman moments were funny.
  • I just find it so annoying that the second anything happens to Emma, her parents are right there behind her some meddling commentary.
  • Hipster Darling family reunion! Now they’re all going home apparently.
  • Charming strategy: When Snow wants to know how they’re going to fight Regina, he counters with, “By going on our honeymoon.”
  • Charming is still confused even after the body switch is revealed: “So if he’s all the way out here, where’s Pan?”
  • Didn’t know Granny’s had a liquor license.
  • What happened to all the other Lost Boys on their arrival in Storybrooke?
  • “Green!” “Her name is Tinker Bell.” So long, Blue. Would have been nice to get your backstory at some point.
  • “My magic has a price. And the price of being the savior is . . . I don’t get a day off.”

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