Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 9: Save Henry

We begin with an epic flashback – to the Enchanted Forest with the curse cloud forming, people panicking and Regina gloating to an imprisoned Rumplestiltskin about her success before he loses his memory (which he won’t, of course, which is part of why he looks so gleeful since all of this has been his doing all along). He pokes her feelings about having to kill her dad to enact the curse and warns her that curses can be broken. She dismisses it, she can easily kill baby Emma – but Rumple says she has a bigger problem. She now has a hole in her heart and she will need Rumple to fill it. She tries to dismiss that as well, but Rumple is very very very very good at taunting. She accuses him of wanting to make a new deal to escape his cage and the curse but he points out he’s exactly where he wants to be.

I think he would be a very bad person to play chess against.

In the present, in Neverland, Regina, Emma and Neal all gather around the fallen Henry. Emma and Neal indulge in some taunting of Pan which achieves little while Regina stays by Henry’s side. Regina swears it will be alright:

And we have another flashback to 11 years ago with Regina, Mayor Regina, and Jiminy Cricket as Archie Hopper the psychiatrist. He is blunt and familiar as a therapist (and rude – psychoanalysing her without being asked, you don’t have to think you’re the queen to find that inappropriate) and points to her having a “hole” in her (just as Rumple said), that she, as a professional, successful career woman has no-one to share it with so feels empty. He asks if she’s ever not felt that way – and she has, when the boy Owen visited.

She goes to Gold to help her adopt – the waiting lists are so long and he has a talent for dealing with red tape. He’s sure he can help and he’s sure she will make a… well, a mother of some sort (Gold can lay some powerful put downs). He’s not sure she’s ready to have a child – that you have to put your child first (with some wistful Baelfire/Neal regret there) and doesn’t think it will fulfil Regina, but he does agree.

To the present and Neverland again where Regina casts a preservation spell on Henry to buy them some time. Neal makes a silly suggestion and Regina snaps at him. Emma tries to keep the peace but Regina snaps again, her son is dying. Emma counters with “our son” so she knows how Regina feels, but Regina strikes back – Emma has a mother, a father, Neal (whatever he is) and a pining pirate (*snerk*), Regina has nothing. All Regina has is Henry – who is everything to her. Emma acknowledges that and asks Regina how to save Henry – though Regina has no ideas. Neal worries that Pan’s power boost means they can’t stop him – but Regina points to the blood on Emma’s sword. She nicked him – if he can bleed they can hurt him. And if they can hurt him, they can kill him.

Go Regina.

The whole gang gathers and recaps and they’ve only got an hour before the preservation spell on Henry wears off. Regina wants to torture some Lost Boys so they can find Pan but Emma stops them – the Lost Boys have been through hell, torture won’t reach them. But motherhood might.

Flashback again to Gold telling Regina he has found a baby for her – a baby due to be adopted in Boston when the adoption “fell through” (I suspect naughty Gold involvement). She goes to the adoption agency and impresses them with her impeccable references (and being a mayor of a “fairy tale” town) and, after being warned that it is a closed adoption and she will never get any information about the baby’s parentage or origin, she meets baby Henry – named after her father.

Back to Neverland and Emma talks to the Lost Boys about how cruel Pan is, what Pan did to Henry out of selfishness and how she was a Lost Girl herself and she found so many people who love her. While Pan’s second is all threats, her offer to take them home gets to one of the boys who tells her about Pan’s thinking tree.

Flashback again, and Regina has a crying baby at Grannies. She snaps at Granny when she tries to help, but eventually the older woman gets through to Regina to tell henry a bed time story, getting him used to her voice. He keeps crying and Regina takes him to Dr. Whale (Frankenstein) who tells her that he’s a crying baby and probably nothing to worry about. There’s a slight chance of an underlying problem but they’d need the birth mother to be sure; to check if there is anything genetically wrong with the child.

Regina sets Sidney (the Magic Mirror) on the task of finding Henry’s biological mother, while handing Henry on to Mary Margaret to hold. And he stops crying – just being held by Mary Margaret soothes him and he cries when being held by Regina.

The crying continues until Regina tearfully begs Henry to give her a chance. He stops crying – and in that moment of happiness, Sidney sends over the info about Henry’s birth mother, Emma. Regina storms off to see Gold, sure he arranged it – but Gold plays ignorant, pretending his memory is erased. He has no idea why Emma is important, why her being found outside the woods in Storybrooke 18 years ago is important or why that date matters. She accuses Gold of trying to destroy everything and is determined to send Henry back

In Neverland everyone gets their jobs and Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina set off after Pan – on the way they find Pandora’s box left tantalisingly out in the open – in which is Rumple who knows the cure for David – his only way of coming home. Mary Margaret sees this very obvious trap, Regina warns her of this very obvious trap, but Mary Margaret walks right in it anyway, getting all three of them trapped by vines. Why? Because she’s Mary Margaret, that’s why! Intelligence has never been her thing. I think the Enchanted Forest should be grateful to Regina that the Charmings never actually had a chance to rule their kingdom. Pan arrives for some taunting.

Flashback and Regina takes Henry back to the adoption agency but has a tearful regret in the office and takes Henry home again – much to the annoyance of John and Michael who tried to adopt him to hand to Pan.

Back to Neverland and it turns out the thinking tree they’re tied to is where Pan abandoned his son and Pan drops the bombshell of him being Rumple’s father (careful – this is Emma and Mary Margaret – the minute they learn you’re a blood relative they’re going to expect you to be assimilated in to the Charming Collective). Regina guesses that Pan’s magic is down as well, after the ritual, and will take time to come back – hence the reason he’s using a tree to imprison them. The tree attacks regret (seems like a very specific and useless attack) and Pan mocks Emma then Mary Margaret for their regrets then turns to Regina.

She acknowledges all the bad things she’s done – she should be overflowing with regret. But she isn’t – because all of that, all of that evil, ended up with her getting Henry, getting her son and she can’t regret that. She steps forward, tearing the vines on the tree like paper and rips out Peter Pan’s heart. Then picks up Pandora’s box for a nice encore.

They hurry to the pirate ship and restore Henry’s heart – he lives again.

Flashback and Regina talks to Dr. Hopper over Henry – she’s afraid that Henry’s birth mother will take him from her, that fate or destiny will take him from her. Dr. Hopper tells her she’ll miss the present if she keeps on focusing on the future – and that she should revel in being a mother.

She goes to her father’s grave, having a moment before entering the underground secret lair she has – and tells her own story to baby Henry, about a Queen who cast a glorious curse and learned revenge wasn’t enough, but was lonely – until she found a little boy to be her prince. They lived happily, but not ever after because there was a threat out there. She knew she could face the threat – but she would ruin their lives in worry so makes a potion of forgetting. Which Regina then does – forgetting her worries and fears so she can focus on putting her child first.

Back in the present, Regina is alone with Henry and showing how much she knows him – and she casts a spell on him so no-one can ever take his heart again (what, this is a thing?! Why is it not being mass produced? Every bad guy loves their heart stealing!) Regina leaves him to sleep – and Peter Pan appears

On deck, Neal lets Rumplestiltskin out of Pandora’s Box. Everyone has lots of happy moments and bonding and everything looks so wonderful – but Rumple feels something is wrong.

Belowdecks, Pan tries to take Henry’s heart and gets burned for it. He starts to rip away Henry’s shadow when Rumple appears behind him – apparently blood magic works both ways, he says as he opens Pandora’s Box, trapping Pan inside. But as he does both his and Henry’s eyes glow white briefly. Regina hurries down afraid but Henry’s fine – Rumple assures her “he’s a strong boy, you raised him well.”

On the deck, they release Pan’s captured shadow and Regina binds it to the sails of the ship. With it, the ship flies heading home.

Lots of feel good stuff: David taking a moment to praise Emma for being a leader who managed to bring them all together despite them being at odds. Wendy gives Tinker Bell the last pixie dust from Neverland, though she can’t use it Wendy is sure she’ll figure it out because she “believes in her”. Neal has a moment with Henry pledging to be a present father. Tink speaks to Regina about apparently being able to love and having good in her – and the pixie dust in her hands glows, briefly. Tink asked what happened and Regina said “you believed”.

Henry goes to see Felix who is still very much on Peter Pan’s side – and Henry says “Peter Pan is never defeated.” Even when they think he is. Yes it looks like we have possession or a body swap or something

Regina adopts Henry because her life as a successful professional woman is empty without a child? No, no no no no. The whole idea that a woman needs a child to feel complete is one of the many bludgeons thrown at women who pursue careers to imply that they’re making the wrong choice or outright shaming them for their success. Because they can’t be TRULY happy, oh no. (And while we do get the meme of successful career men as lonely, it’s never as common and usually what they lack is a beautiful woman to come home to – not to have produced a child).

And I hate how, in turn, that weakens her relationship with Henry. It makes Henry seem like a tool or toy she sought out for her own fulfilment.  Further badness with baby Henry crying in Regina’s arms – but not Mary Margaret’s. I could understand if it were Granny – experienced, less stressed previous mother – but instead it’s Henry’s biological grandmother whose magic bio-familyness soothes the baby. Yes, new mothers have problems with their children – that’s only to be expected; but we have seen nothing but problems in Henry and Regina’s relationship and very little of them as a happy mother and son; which contrasts sharply with Mary Margaret and Emma.

We continue to have Emma upheld as this ultimate mother figure as well – her mothering instincts knows exactly how to get through to the Lost Boys, this despite the fact that of the three women there, Regina is the only one with any experience of raising a child.

Those are the bad points. Now for the absolutely amazing good points

And then there’s Regina who is constantly made to wallow in her sins stepping away from that tree and announcing “I have no regrets!” because she won’t regret anything that brought her son to her. Everything that lead her to the curse, every loss, every moment of pain every bad thing she did ultimately resulted in Henry and she cannot regret that.

In the end, it was Regina and Regina’s dedicated motherhood that saved Henry. Not even her planning or her magic (all of which have been instrumental) but her sheer dedication to Henry is what saved his life. And that is an amazingly powerful counter to so many of the attacks on Regina’s motherhood so far on this series.

This was Regina’s episode – and it was so very deserved after so long!