Sunday, October 6, 2013

REVIEW: 'Once Upon a Time' Forces Emma, Snow & Gold to Confront Their True Feelings in 'Lost Girl'

ABC's Once Upon a Time - Episode 3.02 Lost Girl

Peter Pan appears before Emma and offers her a map that will reveal her son's whereabouts - but only if she stops denying who she really is; Mr. Gold receives some unexpected advice from a friend that could lead him to understand his life's journey; and, in flashbacks, the Evil Queen presents Snow with an offer to live her life with Charming in peace.

I had some reservations about the Neverland story from the season premiere. "Lost Girl" presented a much better case of how this story works. The more that I think about it, it actually is a lot similar to the first half of Revolution's first season - a band of heroes on a rescue mission for a kid the audience really doesn't have a lot of emotional attachment to. I liked "Lost Girl" better the premiere because it focused more on the journey of the six characters searching for Henry and actually confronting some issues.

This story basically boils down to the group searching for Henry but each week confronting a different kind of issue that will be resolved by episode's end. They're always working towards Henry but each week there will be a mini-quest. "Lost Girl" showed us the first depiction of devious Peter Pan. He wants Henry for his heart but he also wants to play games with the people trying to save Henry. That's possibly the best explanation for how this arc can be expanded to 11 episodes of story.

Pan wants Emma to confront the fact that she feels like an orphan - even though she's found her parents, she still feels all alone in this world. That's a strong realization for that character and one that plays satisfyingly well. But it also felt like Pan's manipulation of her into accepting what he wanted her to be and not who she actually is. It does open up the conversation of connecting with her parents though. She has kept her distance from them. And those two equally and frequently approach her with their always-positive outlook on life and it is really annoying. She doesn't want to accept those two as he parents and yet this journey will ultimately - and probably - be the thing that brings them to a better understanding.

I liked Mr. Gold's little side story this week as well. It was probably the only way to get Belle into Neverland as well - even though it offered no rational explanation whatsoever. The sooner you just accepted what was happen the better you could enjoy this little plot. This story offered up the strongest thematic material in the shortest amount of screen time. Gold wants to break the circle of becoming into his father - a coward. The doll is a physical representation of that idea. And it's not something that one can get away from so easily. Gold tosses it off the cliff and sets it on fire but in the end he still picks it back up. This circle is far from being broken.

I'm basically at the point in this series where I need the flashback stuff to be relevant or to bring up some new detail we were previously unaware of that also comes into play in the present story. The journey to the Enchanted Forest in "Lost Girl" is purely thematically connected to the rest of the journey. It tries to set up a story of Emma realizes who she really is alongside Snow reaffirming who she is meant to be. It's an interesting parallel but it doesn't quite work here. I've always wanted an explanation of how Charming woke Snow up from the sleeping curse and then became rulers of the kingdom. That's a gaping hole in the show's chronology. The show finally gets around to explaining it in this episode. And yet, it also feels so repetitive. It has the same basic plot understandings of every Snow/Charming vs. the Evil Queen story in the flashbacks this show has done for three seasons now. There's nothing new here. Thusly, these sequences are boring compared to the rest of the hour - which is extremely odd since the Enchanted Forest flashbacks used to be the most entertaining and exciting aspect of this show. 

Some more thoughts:
  • From the very beginning, I've always felt that it was clunky whenever the series tried to explain the presence of these fairytale characters as actual creatures as well as vast popular culture icons in the real world. 2 weeks in a row this issue has been brought - neither of which very successfully.
  • I really hope we won't be subjected to multiple scenes of Pan brainwashing or torturing Henry against Emma and the gang. That sounds terrible but Pan's last speech to Emma has me very worried about this.
  • I was so excited to see Giancarlo Esposito's name in the opening credits but then I remembered just how misused he was on this show. 
  • Charming hiding his injury from the others is pretty stupid and uncharacteristic. But hey, it has at least piqued my interest enough to watch the next episode.