Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 3: Quite A Common Fairy

Emma & co are trying to track down Pan’s camp which keeps moving which is rather pesky even with the map, and Henry remains Peter’s guest (and he doesn’t like the apple Peter gives him – nice continuity giving Henry a thing about apples). The apple’s just to play an odd game of William Tell with, though – Henry tries to shoot Peter but, alas, Peter catches the quarrel in mid flight.

 Back in Neverland, Regina again suggests using her awesome, godlike magic and everyone has excuses why Regina needs to be kept powerless because otherwise Regina wouldn’t need these 4 hangers on. Instead they’re going to find Tinkerbell and use her nuclear Pixie dust (Regina’s magic bad, magic of a blonde, blue eyed fairy, good). Regina isn’t keen on the idea – this calls for a flashback

Young Regina having dinner back when she was still learning magic from Rumplestiltskin – who she just missed a lesson with. Regina is being pouty and Rumplestiltskin is making puns about swans that only make sense to his future-seeing self. Regina is feeling bitter about how being queen isn’t all that much fun, she just lurks around the castle pretty much neglected and ignored and how she doesn’t really want to end up like Rumplestiltskin. Rumple replies with a long winded “tough, deal with it.” Regina has a little tantrum on a balcony with railings that are definitely not up to code and plummets to her almost death. Only almost because she is caught by… Tinkerbell! Who wants to give her a second chance.

They go to dinner and Regina unloads to Tinkerbell about how everything sucks. So Tinkerbell has the solution – using her pixie dust to find Regina her soulmate – true, real love.

Back to Neverland and Tinkerbell is following the group, picking up a handkerchief Regina dropped. Regina makes another plea to use her magic – in tandem with Emma this time – but Emma shoots it down, there will be no power here! Regina makes a snarky comment about Emma and Hook being together because she’s not blinkered to blatant chemistry and Mary Margaret makes her apologise for being so insensitive with Neal being gone so recently. Damn it Regina, don’t you know saying insensitive things about loved ones is something only the precious Mother Emma can do?

Hook notices that David is injured and hiding his poisoned wound (David’s clever like that). Hook declares the injury fatal – David only has a few weeks. David hangs his hope on Tinkerbell’s pixie dust. That sounds like motivation for another flashback!

Tinkerbell says goodbye to Regina and flaps off to a meeting with the Blue Fairy (Tinkerbell is the Green Fairy). Blue Fairy hears that Tinkerbell is helping Regina and thinks this is a Bad Idea. Tinkerbell thinks a woman surrounded by dark magic is the one who needs help the most –especially if she can get some Pixie dust (which is Fairy Dust 2.0 and extra awesome) but Blue puts her foot down.

Back in Neverland and Emma notices Regina is lagging behind – she presses Regina and Regina tells her that she and Tinkerbell have Unfortunate History and seeing Regina will mean Tinkerbell won’t help. Reghina and Emma have a cute little bonding moment over “Operation Henry” (Regina has a codeword, albeit a poor one, for their mission like Henry would have) and it ends with Regina telling Emma to go without her – and keep going, save Henry. Emma again asks what Regina did to Tinkerbell. Another flashback!

Tinkerbell stole pixie dust to help Regina and the pair go flying and the dust leads to the key to Regina’s happiness, her true love, the man who will let her let go of all that anger and bitterness. She opens the door of the tavern – and chickens out and runs.

Back in Neverland, Regina calls out for Tinkerbell, knowing she has been following. She is very very not happy with Regina – who, in turn, doesn’t back down. Tinkerbell blows pink dust in Regina’s face that knocks her out.

The rest of the gang arrive in Tinkerbell’s stark treehouse and Emma remarks that it reminds her of where she used to live. It’s just a place to sleep, not a home – also interesting, it has a ladder. Why would a fairy need a ladder? They find Regina’s dropped handkerchief and hurry back, realising Tinkerbell has been following them.

Regina wakes up tied up and Tinkerbell refusing to help, not after Regina “burned her”. Regina protests that Tinkerbell was the one who meddled in Regina’s life though Tinkerbell adds “and ruined my life in the process.” Regina isn’t impressed – Tinkerbell’s use of drugs, not magic, shows she doesn’t have magic – Regina does and easily severs her bonds, but Tinkerbell has a spear covered in dreamshade poison. Regina is surprised and asked how Tinkerbell changed so much. FLASHBACK PROMPT!

Tinkerbell goes to Regina to hear the good news – and Regina lies, claiming that the Pixie dust failed and the man was awful. Regina calls Tinkerbell a terrible fairy. Tinkerbell sees through it and sees that Regina didn’t go to the man and find true love; Regina angrily says she found love. And he’s now dead and Tinkerbell is just distracting her form her real mission (the ruination of Snow, etc). Tinkerbell is now in a horrible position because she stole for Regina.

Back in the present, Regina rips out her own heart and offers it to Tinkerbell, demanding Tinkerbell kill her herself, not let the poison do it. Back to the past and we see the Blue Fairy rake Tinkerbell over the coals for stealing Pixie dust – and taking her wings.

Back to the present again and Regina realises Tinkerbell lost her wings for stealing for Regina. Tinkerbell demands to know why Regina didn’t go in and meet her soul mate. And Regina tearfully says she was afraid, Tinkerbell wanted Regina to let go of her anger but her anger was all she had; what would she be without it? Weak. She holds up her heart – her small, hard, dark heart and tells Tinkerbell she’s holding the result of Regina’s bad choice, revenge over hope. And Tinkerbell is on the cusp of making the same decision. She urges Tinkerbell to prove her wrong, to show she is a good fairy, leave her alive and save Regina’s son. Tinkerbell is moved by her love – and decides not to kill Regina, but not help her either. Besides, she thinks Regina is too late, Henry has been with the Lost Boys too long

Which is a segue to Henry getting the sales pitch from Peter about the wonders of Neverland, imagination and belief; that Henry can be the Saviour, can restore magic to every world with his imagination and belief. He has the theory that Emma is the Saviour not because she broke the curse but because she had Henry (powerful for her actions? Nay, ‘tis her almighty womb!), a child of supreme dark and light (Rumplestiltksin and… Snow White? Yeaaah the comparison is somewhat unbalanced).

Ok, let’s catch up with Neal – awww, do we have to? He’s almost as boring as David? Oh well, if I must, Neal expositions about Peter Pan, the Most Naïve Fool (as I am calling the Truest Believer) and Henry to Mulan and Robin Hood who, for some bizarre, unexplained reason, seem to actually care. He’[s looking for a portal and they’re joined by the rest of the Merry Men, including Robin’s son, Roland. Seeing the little boy, Neal becomes interested. His plan? Use Robin’s 4 year old son as bait to lure the evil child-snatching shadow of Peter Pan.

Robin is, unsurprisingly, not thrilled by this plan. Neal guilts him by reminding him that Rumplestiltskin once saved Robin’s now-dead wife (Marion, I assume) and Robin agrees to risk his son

Mulan directs everyone where to stand in preparation for the child snatching shadow and Neal hopes he will have a second chance with his family (revealing to Robin and Mulan that he screwed up badly with Emma the first time). He dishes out a clumsy Aesop of not waiting to tell someone you love them – just to say it.

They set the trap and Roland says “I believe” to the window. There’s a pause – and the shadow appears and grabs Roland. Mulan cuts off its arm – the shadow turns to fly away and Neal leaps out the window and grabs its foot, getting his lift back to Neverland.

Robin offers Mulan a position among the Merry Men, but Mulan has taken Neal’s clumsy aesops to heat and decides she simply must talk to someone, a loved one. And she goes and sees… Aurora. She gathers her courage – she wants to talk to Aurora, not Phillip. Could it be – Mulan is going to tell AURORA she loves her?

But before Mulan can tell her her news, Aurora tells Mulan that she’s pregnant with Phillip’s child. Oh. Mulan tragic face – and her news changes to “I’m joining Robin Hood’s band”. She’s leaving them. She turns and walks away with tears in her eyes.

Back in Neverland the band confronts Tinkerbell and Emma introduces herself as a “pissed off mother” (of course). Regina emerges and they stop from killing each other, but Tinkerbell wonders why she should help (in the limited capacity in which she can help) since it’s just going to get her on Pan’s shitlist. They offer her the chance to come with them, to have a home (after seeing her house) – and she agrees to give them a chance.

Neal arrives in Neverland and is quickly captured

At camp, Tinkerbell asks if Regina went to find the man (distinguished only by a lion tattoo) and Regina says no – Tinkerbell calls her selfish because Regina ruined the man’s life as well as her own.

Mulan joins Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men – and we see Robin has a lion tattoo.

Can we take a moment to address how Neal and Emma move into situations and take command even when they have little knowledge or right to? It’s been there ever since Emma first appeared in season 1 and started co-opting Henry. It only becomes more blatant when Emma and Neal respectively find their ways into the Enchanted forest – and Mulan, Aurora and Robin Hood suddenly drop everything for Emma/Neal’s respective quests. Neal even expects Robin to put his own son at risk so he can get his magicless self to Neverland (and what assets does he bring to Emma’s side that would even remotely justify hurrying him to her?).

This goes back to the “good guys” simplistic writing that I complained about before. Emma is the protagonist so her demands and commands are reasonable. Neal is her love interest and one of the good guys, so his actions are justified.

What COULD HAVE HAD was some more complexity with Regina. On the one hand, we have Regina yet again doing the mea culpa tour, putting on the sack-cloth and ashes and having to make amends and apologise again. But this particular “wrong” also exposes another issue with the core of Regina’s character. Regina didn’t wake up evil – her actions and moral compass were shaped by Cora, the death of her loved one and a bitter, unhappy life forced by Cora’s empty ambition and Rumplestiltskin’s manipulations driving her towards the curse. Tinkerbell is just a more unsubtle representation of what we have seen over and over again – people coming to Regina and demanding her to magically be good and happy without ever addressing why she is bad and unhappy

But this isn’t examined that way. Instead Regina is presented as cruel and selfish and ruining Tinkerbell’s life because she didn’t follow Tinkerbell’s unsolicited advice. Because she WASN’T ready to move onto a relationship with a complete stranger that Tinkerbell was pushing. It’s like we can clearly see all that is wrong with people’s treatment of Regina but it never follows that meme and goes back to “bad Regina! Evil Regina!” And she’s selfish because she didn’t enter a relationship with a complete and utter stranger? She has a duty to try for a relationship with this mystery man?

And Emma? Emma as the Saviour not because of her heroics or saving people but because of her SUPER SPECIAL WOMB?! Really?! And how much MORE skeevy does this make all her pronouncements of being “a mother” “the mother” “behold my special motherhood” all season? They were already bad because of the insult to Regina in its implied exclusion of her motherhood – but this looks like a redefining of her character. Not Emma the hero, Emma the Saviour – but now Emma the mother. Emma whose character is no longer defined by deeds or heroics – but by motherhood.

After 3 seasons we have our first GBLT character! Mulan is bisexual; who so far spent her whole time pining after a man and now has unrequited love for a woman in love with that man and pregnant with this baby. A man and woman she has largely been in service to throughout her portrayal. And now, with tragic, unrequited same-sex love, she takes herself into exile for some patented lonely tragic doomed GBL angst. And note, she ran off to join the Merry men who Robin just overtly made clear has no other women – just in case the shadow of Mulan maybe meeting another woman and being happy lurked over us.

And all of this is assuming I’m reading the situation right, since Mulan never got to announce her love, and could possibly, have just been saying “Aurora, I love Phillip, we have to work this out” and was put off by Aurora’s pregnancy. I think the bisexuality is more likely though).

Oh. Yay. Representation. Woo. (I trust my sarcasm is adequately expressed). Hey this brings the Autumn schedule’s total GBLT count to 2! The mincing, squealing GBF on Witches of East End and the tragic-fleeing-to-all-man-land Bisexual Mulan.