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'Once Upon a Time' Review: Quite A Common Fairy (3x03)

October 15th, 2013 8:14pm EDT

Once Upon A Time Yes. Good. Awesome. Problematic at some points. But still good. Let's take a look at each of these plots individually.

First of all, we've got the only total dud of the night: the plot with Henry and Peter. Basically, Peter tries to convince Henry that he belongs with the Lost Boys. Henry isn't buying it, because he's not an idiot. Peter tries to get him into the spirit by having him attempt to shoot an apple off of another boy's head, but Henry tries to shoot Peter instead. Peter, because he's super human, catches the arrow (laced with poison) before it can do anything. In the end, Henry is left slightly uncertain after he sees a picture of himself that Peter has apparently been holding onto for quite some time.

I just didn't like this thread. The only interesting thing to come out of it was what Peter says about Henry's parents. Emma is the product of True Love. Neal was the offspring of the Dark One. Their child has got to be something pretty special. Beyond this interesting observation, I just thought the stuff with the Lost Boys was kind of boring. Peter is a decently menacing character, but I'm not sure if the actor they have is really pulling it off.

Then we have the gang in Neverland, trying to find Henry. I'll admit that I'm a bit tired of watching them walking through the forest together. There were some great moments, such as Regina's attempt to bond with Emma by suggesting they use their magic together. There's the great building relationship between Hook and Emma, and I like how Hook knows about David's injury, and seems to be showing real concern. They decide the next step to finding Henry is to get Tinker Bell to infiltrate his camp, which leads to Regina remembering her uncomfortable past with the fairy. When Tinker Bell and Regina do have their confrontation, it was one of the higher points in the episode (not the highest point, but I'll get to that in a bit). Regina pulling her own heart out was pretty intense. I liked the way she admitted that choosing revenge over happiness was the wrong choice, and that she was now giving Tinker Bell a chance to choose differently.

I'm interested, given all we know so far about Tinker Bell, as to how she got to Neverland and why it is that Peter trusts her so much. I'll be excited to see more about that in the near future. But beyond the pretty extreme Regina and Tink scene, and a few good character moments, I wasn't blown away. I think one of the biggest problems is that Emma's character didn't have any growth or challenge. She's being a good diplomatic leader and keeping everyone together, but we're going to need a significant Emma story very soon unless we want her character to become stale.

Then there's the flashback story with Regina and Tinker Bell. Once again, not my favorite thing ever. But there was one thing that makes it worth it to me. Here's what happens: Regina is being miserable and whiny as always (these are the early days of her marriage). After an accident in which she nearly falls to her death, Tinker Bell saves her and decides to give her a second chance. How does she propose to do this? Through love! She wants to get her hands on pixie dust, which will help find Regina a new soul mate. (side note - when talking about pixie dust, it's described as a nuclear version of fairy dust - that much more powerful. But David says "nuc-u-ler!!!!" biggest pet peeve of my life). Anyway. The Blue Fairy won't give Green (aka Tinker Bell) any pixie dust to help Regina, but Tink steals some and helps Regina to find her true love.

The two of them find him in a tavern. He has a lion tattoo on his arm. However, Regina is too scared to go in and meet him. She tells Tinker Bell that the pixie dust didn't work and that she's a terrible fairy. The Blue Fairy finds out what happened, and stops believing in Tinker Bell, who then loses her wings.

All of this was... eh. It was fine. I don't really care that much about stuff this far in the past. We already know how the Snow and Regina fight comes out, so I don't really need to see more of it. But, as I mentioned, there was one tantalizing thing that made this plot line worth it: at the end of the episode, we see Robin Hood - and he has the lion tattoo on his arm! Apparently, Regina and Robin Hood are soul mates! Who would have guessed it? I'm really excited to see what they do with this moving forward. Regina has done some truly despicable things, but if Rumple gets to have a happy ending with Belle, I guess Regina should get some happiness too.

And now onto the surprisingly strongest plot of the night. Neal needs to find a way to get to Neverland, and when he sees Roland, Robin Hood's four-year-old son, he knows he's found a way. He convinces Robin Hood to help him. Neal, Hood, and Mulan take their positions while the young Roland stands next to the window and says "I believe." At first it doesn't appear to work, but then a shadow comes to grab Roland. With Mulan's help, Robin Hood gets the shadow away from Roland and Neal is able to grab on and let it carry him to Neverland.

So that's all fine. Nothing super special or surprising. The kid playing Roland was cute. Mulan was bad ass. I like Robin Hood. And I'm excited to see what will happen now that Neal's in Neverland. I might be a bit of a Captain Swan shipper myself, but I'm still excited for the reunion scene between Neal and Emma. Because... well... it should be sweet.

But here's the single moment that made this plot thread the best thing ever. (I may be exaggerating but I was just really excited about it, okay?) Over the past episodes, Neal keeps waxing poetic about his love for Emma and how he made a big mistake by not telling her how he felt sooner. He's hoping for a second chance to reveal his true feelings for her. Whenever Neal starts talking about this, we get this very telling shot of Mulan's face. She looks contemplative and worried. Remember, back in the day Mulan didn't care for Aurora all that much, because she had feelings for Phillip. But a lot of people were enticed by the idea of Mulan and Aurora together, and the ship got quite the following for such minor characters. And now? Mulan rejects Robin Hood's offer to join his Merry Men because she needs to talk to someone. Full of hope, she approaches Aurora. She asks where Phillip is. When Aurora offers to go find him, Mulan says no, that it's Aurora she wants to talk to.

That's right, people. Mulan is in love with Aurora. Unrequited, sure. But it's canon. Once Upon a Time canonically made one of the official princesses from the Disney Princess Franchise into a non-straight character! And hey, I know that nothing will be coming of this. Aurora doesn't feel the same way. Her and Phillip are about to have a baby. But still, I'm unbelievably happy that they did this. It was such a refreshing shock in the story. I wasn't expecting it at all, but when it happened, it made me feel so much love for Mulan's character.

Although we may be closing the door on Phillip and Aurora's involvement in the story, I have faith that Mulan will be sticking around. After all, she decided to join the Merry Men, and that means she's hanging out with Regina's soul mate...

7/10

Related: Once Upon A Time, Recaps, ABC

Photo Credits: © American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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