TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.14


Title The Tower

Two-Sentence Summary In the Enchanted Forest during the lost year, Charming goes on a quest for a plant to cure his anxiety after Snow tells him they’re going to have another baby, but instead he discovers Rapunzel, held captive in her tower by her own fears. In Storybrooke, Zelena causes Charming to face his fears about fatherhood—possibly stealing his courage (or at least a symbol of it)—in the process, while our heroes finally discover that Rumplestiltskin is alive and apparently on the loose in the town.

Favorite Line “That’s the best part of a small town; everybody knows everybody. It’s like a big family.” (Regina)

My Thoughts If last week’s “Witch Hunt” was a reminder that Once Upon a Time could recapture some of the humor that had been missing for long stretches of the show’s recent past, then “The Tower” was a reminder that it could also recapture the show’s sense of mystery. I love character beats as much as (if not more than) the next person, but I also love smart, interesting plotting. And the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night because my mind kept turning over new theories about where this season is going makes me a very happy (and very exhausted) fan.

While there were moments in Neverland that were dark (both literally and thematically), nothing Once Upon a Time has done before was as thoroughly creepy as “The Tower.” When an episode begins with a doll with a spinning head, you know you’re in for something unsettling—and that was putting it mildly. Credit should be given to director Ralph Hemecker for setting a strong, disturbing tone through his camerawork. What I was most impressed with was the way he made a variety of scenes equally suspenseful: the intimately sadistic showdown between Rumplestiltskin and Zelena in his cell; the choppy, panic attack-esque tone of the nightroot-induced confrontations; and the “demon among us” feeling invoked by the way he shot the meeting between Zelena and the Charmings.

Hemecker showed a deft directorial touch from the episode’s opening moments. I loved the use of color in Charming’s nightmare—everything felt just a little too bright, a little too surreal. I had seen the promo for this episode and knew we’d be seeing Emma in a princess gown, but even knowing that couldn’t take away the pain of watching Charming live out the life he never got to experience with his daughter. The hauntingly beautiful piano version of the show’s true love theme certainly didn’t improve my emotional state.


Can we please take a moment to acknowledge how beautiful Jennifer Morrison looked in Emma’s princess gown? This show has had its fair share of gowns, but this one (complete with swan-like feathers) was by far my favorite. Morrison was excellent in this scene; she still felt like Emma, but there was a joy, an innocence, and an openness to her that could only exist in Charming’s vision of how her life would have gone if he hadn’t failed her. When she twirled in her gown and held out her hands to her father, my heart ached for Charming because his dream vision of Emma wasn’t really about balls or gowns; it was about seeing his daughter truly happy and free of the pain he feels responsible for. Josh Dallas does such a remarkable job of showing Charming’s love for his daughter. He and Morrison felt like a father and daughter dancing, and that’s no small feat to accomplish with two actors who are basically the same age (with Morrison actually being older).

Charming’s dream became a nightmare when Emma was pulled back through the wardrobe with a warning for Charming not to fail his next child. For so long, I’ve wanted the show to address Snow and Charming’s guilt over what happened to Emma. Of course they didn’t want her to grow up alone, but good intentions don’t change the fact that Emma grew up without her parents and had a brutally lonely life because of that. This episode finally addressed Charming’s anxieties not just about fatherhood in general but about his role in sending Emma through the wardrobe alone. His fears about fatherhood weren’t limited to nerves about never having been a father to a baby before; they were fears about being a failure as a father because he feels like he failed Emma. I actually wish this episode would have included a scene where those two characters talked about their relationship considering it was such a driving force in this episode. But I understand that not everything I want can fit into a network drama’s allotted runtime.

Charming first pulled out his hidden flask to numb the fear brought on by Snow telling him they’re having another baby. (Anybody else see the flask as Charming’s little way of keeping a part of his BFF Hook with him after the pirate rode away to find his ship?) He soon found a sounding board in Robin Hood, and I really enjoyed seeing these two men bond over fatherhood. With Hook gone, Charming needs a friend to confide in, and Robin gives him something all great relationships on Once Upon a Time are built on: understanding. Apparently, Dallas must make one hell of a scene partner because I love every relationship Charming is a part of on this show, including this budding friendship with Robin.

Robin’s mention of a plant that can erase fears put Charming on a quest, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in this part of the story. I liked Rapunzel well enough, but I felt like her story didn’t quite live up to the hype (especially if we never see her again). I was confused about her age, and that took me out of the story a little bit. Given the length of her hair, I would have guessed that she was in that tower for much longer than the time it seems she was there (judging by her parents still being alive and relatively young). But I also had questions about the timeline of the flashbacks as a whole—because unless Snow knew that she was pregnant immediately after it happened or she’s way past her due date in Storybrooke, there’s no way nine months had passed. (It should have been more like seven or eight, but I’m just being nitpicky).

Ultimately, I did like the twist of Rapunzel being the one holding herself hostage in her tower because of her fears. And I loved that Charming couldn’t be the one to save her; she had to save herself. That was a huge theme in this episode: We often hold ourselves back from fully experiencing life because we’re afraid, but no one else can save us from our fears; we have to face them on our own.

The most obvious parallel to Rapunzel’s story in the past was Charming’s story in both the past and the present. In the past, seeing Rapunzel confront her fears about not being worthy of ruling a kingdom helped Charming face his own fears about not being a worthy father to his new baby. I loved seeing him talk to Snow about his guilt about Emma (and Snow’s too-quick rationalizing away their part in Emma’s abandonment issues makes me think she’s in for her own journey to coming to terms with her guilt). Watching them acknowledge their worries about new parenthood while vowing to face the future as a united front reminded me that this couple is the centerpiece of the show’s “true loves” for a reason: Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin make me believe in their love like no other actors could.

In the present, Charming’s fears about fatherhood stayed under the surface a little better than in the past, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t visible. Dallas did a great job of showing by the tension in his body and the clipped tone in his voice that all the progress Charming made towards facing his anxieties was lost along with everything else from that forgotten year. When you think about the missing year in terms of character development like this, it becomes even more tragic. Any growth these characters experienced in that lost year won’t be remembered.

Zelena wanted Charming’s courage, but thankfully he still had his brains. I was happy that at least one of the Snow/Charming duo was concerned about a stranger becoming so closely tied to their lives. (Seriously, Snow? You were a successful bandit for crying out loud; have some street smarts here!) Also, kudos to Charming for calling Emma before facing down the hooded figure, which gave us that awesome shot of him holding both a sword and a cellphone.

In the end, Charming had to face himself just as Rapunzel did. Dallas was deliciously creepy as the manifestation of Charming’s fears—his voice is going to haunt me for a long time. But Charming destroyed him with the courage he got from seeing Emma racing to the scene in her yellow bug. His courage has always come from his love for his family. But what does Zelena want with that courage, symbolized by his sword hilt?

I’m assuming, as a nod to The Wizard of Oz, Zelena needs courage, brains, and a heart (or at least symbols of those things) for whatever her nefarious plan is. She has Charming’s courage, and I think she has Rumplestiltskin’s brain. I was more disturbed by their scene in the storm cellar than any other moment in this episode. Rebecca Mader was so chilling as Zelena shaved Rumplestiltskin with the Dark One’s dagger, symbolizing her power over him. She was getting so much pleasure from threatening him in such an intimate setting, and I loved it even as I was unsettled by it. Every actor on this show thrives in the presence of Robert Carlyle, and Mader is no exception.

The scene between those two characters made me want to know so much more. Who is Zelena’s father? What made Rumplestiltskin go mad (or is it all an act)? How did she get the dagger? And how badly am I going to cry when he and Belle are reunited (because Emilie de Ravin already broke my heart when Belle told Zelena that Rumplestiltskin was dead in this episode).

Like Charming and Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin has always been a prisoner to his own fears. And now it appears that the dagger he once acquired as a means to gain power over those fears is holding him hostage. But somehow he escaped the cellar. Did he get out on his own, or did someone help him? Since the lock was broken from the outside, I’m guessing he had help. Was it Neal?

I’ve been really happy so far with the progress the team of Emma/Regina/Charming/Hook has made to uncover this mystery. These four characters are very much men and women of action. Also, focusing on these characters as the Wicked Witch mystery unfolds has led to some excellent character-driven moments within this group.

In the last episode, Regina was afraid to meet Henry because the pain might be too great. But “The Tower” gave us a beautiful moment between mother and unknowing son where she had to learn how to bond with him all over again. It was sweet watching Henry open up to Regina about liking Storybrooke and about his concerns for Emma. Part of me wonders if he feels drawn to Regina in the way Emma was drawn to Hook in New York. But that also could just be the genuinely warm chemistry Lana Parrilla and Jared Gilmore share in scenes where they can really display it. It made me happy to see that Henry just wants happiness for Emma and that he was open about this with Regina. There’s a maturity to Henry now that I really like, but every time he’s onscreen I get worried about the moment he finds out about the lies everyone is feeding him. This isn’t going to be able to last forever, and the seeds of that were planted in his talk with Regina.

Speaking of lies, what exactly did Hook do during his time without Emma in the Enchanted Forest, and why isn’t he telling her the whole story? I found it very interesting that Emma can tell that he’s withholding information, but she’s not forcing him to tell her. Something in her still trusts that he’s not keeping a secret that would hurt her, Henry, or their mission. My prediction is that he’s withholding information on how hard he fought to get back to her for the whole year (including possibly giving up his ship in the process) because he knows she’s still hurting from being woken from her “good dream.”

Like her father, Emma faced some of her most crippling fears in “The Tower.” Emma is afraid of vulnerability. But ever since Hook came to New York, Emma has been open with him about her feelings, and that continued in “The Tower.” She didn’t have to tell Hook about her broken heart; she could have just told him she considered the proposal (or shut Hook down completely as we’ve seen her do before). But Emma faced her fears of showing someone her true feelings and having them choose to walk away. Instead, Hook lets Emma walk away, something she doesn’t often have the power to do.

When Hook told Emma he was happy she got her heart broken, I could tell that he found no real joy in her pain. Colin O’Donoghue made that quite clear. He’s a talented enough actor to show a slight smile or a smirk if he was happy about it, but instead he looks like he’s gathering his courage before telling her sincerely, “If it can be broken, that means it still works.”

In one line, Hook summed up one of Once Upon a Time’s mission statements (and you knew it was an important moment because it got its own musical accompaniment—the same music playing when Hook and Emma kissed): It’s better to open your heart, even if there’s a chance of it breaking, than to close it off to ever feeling love. That’s why he was happy—not because Emma’s heart was broken but because she was brave enough to love again after closing herself off to it for so long. I saw that line as Hook wanting to give Emma hope because she gave him hope. He was reminding her that he understands what a broken heart feels like but also reassuring her that, though she feels pain now, she might one day feel love again. But the only way that can happen is for her to face her fears of getting hurt and allow herself to believe she can love again. It took me back to the scene in “New York City Serenade” where Snow told Regina that allowing yourself to feel, even if it’s painful, is the only way you will ever be able to experience happiness and love again.

Emma has always lived behind walls, but in this scene, Hook was trying to keep her from putting those walls back up. He was encouraging her to find the hope in a situation that might seem hopeless—because he was in her shoes for 300 years after Milah’s death. To allow your heart to still work after being hurt—to keep it open instead of shutting people out—takes a special kind of courage, and it’s a kind of courage Emma needs to find within herself. Hook doesn’t tell her he can fix her broken heart or even that it can be fixed at all. It’s Emma’s job to take her broken heart and do with it what she will; no one can face her fears of being hurt again except her. But Hook wants her to know that he’ll be there—even after she walks away from him—because there’s hope for Emma to be able to love again, and that means there’s hope for him. The chemistry between O’Donoghue and Morrison was at possibly its most electric ever in that scene. It made sense that Emma would walk away from such a charged moment for both parties after admitting that her heart was broken. But with chemistry like that, I have a feeling Emma won’t keep walking away much longer.

With all of this talk about Emma’s heart, broken hearts, and knowing you still can feel, I was left wondering who the Tin Man is going to be in this version of Oz. Yes, the promo for next week seems to hint that Neal might be the most likely candidate. But it could be another character. Could it be Snow and her (mostly) pure heart? Or Emma since her heart is the product of True Love? Or Hook since he’s been defined by his ability to love ever since we first met him? I love having questions like this to answer, but, even more, I love that these questions have ramifications for these characters and are closely tied to their arcs and relationships. That kind of melding of plot and characterization is what makes the best Once Upon a Time episodes.

31 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.14

  1. This was so good!!! Your reviews should be mandatory for all fans AND the cast of ouat. I kid you not. I’m always be on away by your insights and your ability to dig deep with so much heart.
    I loved how David faced his fears over being a parent who’s present in his child’s life; I loved how Regina faced hers as well and bonded with a no-memory Henry without letting her mom come out. I love how Emma doesn’t even realize how she faces her fears by opening up so naturally to Hook – I sometimes feel like she’s testing him, trying to prove to herself that she’s right not to give in, that he’ll leave her like everyone else has. If she just keeps walking away, he will – but he just doesn’t budge. And oh, how do I admire him for loving her as fearlessly and boundlessly as he does. Bless his courageous, unwavering heart!!
    And isn’t he facing his fears (of rejection) as well by laying his heart in front of her again and again, even if she keeps walking away?
    I love how that contrasts to Neal’s fear of rejection stopping him from fighting for Emma in the past. Hook keeps fighting on for the woman he loves so deeply and who saved him from a life of hollow pursuit. I truly hope Emma will come to see soon that all he wants is to save her, too.

    • Thank you so much for this kind and thoughtful comment!

      You asked if Hook was also facing his fears by showing Emma again that he cares about her and has hope for their relationship, and I think you’re right. As I’ve said before and will keep saying forever, being vulnerable with someone is scary. Allowing someone to see that you care is scary. But that’s what Hook does because he’s the kind of person who can only love in one way—completely. I also think that fear of Emma’s reaction is part of the reason he’s holding back about his actions during the lost year in the Enchanted Forest. Whatever he did, he’s scared of revealing himself completely, so he’s going to have to face that fear eventually as well.

  2. I was so stoked about this last episode, with the mysterious setup, the creepy atmosphere shown in the promos, the Rapunzel storyline, the spotlight on Charming… But I have to say that it didn’t live up to my expectations.
    I agree that the director did an excellent work, and I have no complaints on that front. The writing though, I found somewhat lacking.

    It seems to me that OUaT doesn’t deal well with diversity. So far, Mulan’s hinted-at homosexuality was certainly not headed to a happy ending; and we’ve seen a fairy godmother that gets killed seconds after appearing, a knight who was actually impersonated by Cora who had previously killed him, and a nutcase anti-magic extremist as representation of PoC in the show.
    I was really hoping for Rapunzel to be given a good chance but sadly, it didn’t happen. This girl spent YEARS alone in a tower, too scared to face her own fears (even though she knew the ‘witch’ was herself), and only after Charming helped her and told her what she needed to do, did she act and more or less saved the day. It took David MINUTES to get the same result in Storybrooke. Not much of the badass princess I was hoping for, I reckon. Guess I’ll stick to Tangled.

    I’m undecided about Hook in this episode. I was actually quite miffed about his broken heart line to Emma, I kind of though it was a tad insensitive (in a self-serving way) and a huge step back from the characterisation we were given in “NYC Serenade”. I liked your view on it but I am not convinced and this episode made me remember why I’m still not completely sold on the ‘Captain Swan’ theory.

    I’m loving the Wicked Witch more and more in each episode. She is absolutely creepy and Rebecca Mader plays her brilliantly. Both her embodiments as the actual witch and the sweet sweet midwife are marvelously unnerving and it amazes me that, with Regina and Rumpel, and after how much I loved to hate OUaT’s version of Peter Pan, this show keeps managing to introduce such terrific villains.

    Snow was… I don’t even know what to say. She’s just not Snow. She’s not Mary-Margaret either. She’s just this amalgam of the worst of both personalities and it’s quite sad that they’re writing her like this. She seems to me like an OOC version of Snow White, and an annoying one at that.
    I really want the writers to dig deeper into the giganormous elephant that is Charming’s and Snow’s responsibility and guilt over Emma’s difficult past, and I’m happy that they went there in this episode with Charming, but I think it needs a lot more development. Emma’s relationship with their parents is extremely complicated, adding the forgotten year and new memories thing, and the fact they’re expecting a baby… It could get really messy if they don’t try to solve their issues at some point. Or at least acknowledge them and preferably talk about them.

    I was very happy to see a little bit of the ‘real’ Henry back, with his theory about Emma’s motives. And I was very glad that he confided in Regina. As you said, I hope he’s feeling this ‘something’ that makes him relate to Regina. Her “oh” at learning that Emma almost got engaged made me smile, and I keep hoping for some sassy digs at the monkey thing.

    Maybe they were spoiling us too much with the first two episodes of this season but I was expecting more from this episode. It up short in itself, I found, but I’m counting on the OUaT team to make it work with the following parts as an amazing arc. There are a lot of possibilities and trying to come up with theories is proving to be both extremely entertaining and distracting! =)

    • I will defend Hook to the ends of the earth, but I just want to say that I can appreciate your skepticism about him because you present it in a very level headed and respectful way. The truth is I dont really know what he is hiding any more than anyone else, and until we see it, its just as possible he is hiding something he shouldn’t be. If I have learning anything from watching this show, its that 90% my predictions are completely wrong (although that 10% is usually related to Hook and Emma).

        • Hahahah, join the club! I wrote ‘it up short’ instead of ‘it came up short’… ;P

          I actually like Hook. I like the character and the direction the writers are taking with him. And even though I’m rooting for Swan Queen, I could like an Emma/Hook pairing if it was done in a realistic, non forced way. “NYC Serenade” showed me that, and I was ok with it because it was sensibly done. But last episode, IMO, took a few steps backwards in the pairing’s development.

          I am quite convinced that Hook’s character wasn’t planned to become such an important part of the story, it just worked out that way because Colin O’Donoghue does a brilliant job and the writers realised that they’d struck gold with him. They’ve given him a lot more depth and characterisation than other characters that in theory should have been important (ie. Neal). But again, I am ok with that; who doesn’t like a ‘dashing rapscallion’? 😉
          The problem I see is that, while the writers seem to be making an effort to develop Hook’s character, they’ve had to rush some parts of his characterisation in order to catch him up with the general outline of the show so he can take his place in the main cast and as Emma’s possible love interest.

          We’re talking about a man who fell in love with a married woman and condoned her leaving her husband and her son to be with him. A man whose True Love was murdered, and who decided that revenge was the only path left for him. A man who spent hundreds of years mourning his loss and bent on said revenge, regardless of what or who he had to step on in order to achieve it (including lying, stealing, killing, hitting women -so much for his ‘good form’-, and backstabbing current ’employers’ when it suited his needs). But he is a pirate so all of this is actually very much in character for him.
          Now, enter Emma. When they meet, Hook is working for Cora because she is his best chance at getting his revenge on Rumpelstiltskin. At that point he is more a chauvinistic pig than a dashing rapscallion, and he doesn’t seem to have a problem with leaving Emma and her companions to rot in a cell, even knowing why Emma wanted to go back to Storybrooke. I think that’s proof that he was not in love with her then; you don’t abandon the person you love to their most probable death.
          Back in Storybrooke, he only sides with the ‘good guys’ because he doesn’t want to die once the failsafe is activated. And then abandons them to their death (all of them, including Emma and Henry). Again, not something you do to your loved one. He did come back, sure, but way too late. If Emma’s and Regina’s magic hadn’t stopped the diamond, he would have come back to nothing.
          And then, bam! In the span of a week, he lets go of a hundreds-of-years long mourning and quest for revenge, falls hopelessly in love with Emma, and becomes one of the ‘heroes’. This is the part that I actually have a hard time believing and understanding; this is the part that seems rushed to me.
          Both Rumpel and Regina have been given a quite realistic path to redemption, relapses included. There’s no magic switch to turn from bad to good (or from good to bad, as we’ve also been shown in OUaT), but with Hook it seems they are trying to sell us exactly that. Remember that scene in Neverland when the Charmings toast Hook for saving David’s life? I thought that was completely biased and unfair, and again, it felt forced. It also shows why I used the term ‘sell’ just now; Hook even received the Charmings’s seal of approval.

          Episodes like “NYC Serenade” make me forget all of this because I do want Emma to be happy and the Hook in that ep showed a level of understanding and respect that I thought could work well and make sense. But then we’re back to the selfish pirate who’s ‘glad’ that she’s had her heart broken because it means she’s capable of love (of loving him) and it gets confusing. It makes more sense for him to behave like that, mind, but it’s the back and forth that bothers me.
          I don’t mind Hook having a secret, it’s actually quite in character IMO and we know there’s a whole plot line with him and Blackbeard that we’ve yet to see. I am also ok with Emma being the reason why he wants to be better just as Henry is Regina’s and Baelfire and Belle are Rumpel’s; they all need to get to a point where it is not the ONLY reason, but it’s still a very good and realistic starting point in their path to redeem themselves. I just wish they would give Emma’s and Hook’s relationship the same respect and depth they seem to be giving the characters separately, because otherwise it’s not going to work out for me.

          • you outline well most of the arguments people have against Hook. There is a lot to be said, but I will hit on a couple things that I feel the most passionately about. “a man who fell in love with a married woman and condoned her leaving her husband and her son to be with him.” I would actually hate Hook more if he told Mila “No, you arent allowed to run away with me, you are a married woman” because that would be him making that decision for her. He let Mila make her own decision in leaving her husband and kid. It was all her choice.

            And then there is the season 2 finale, which is pretty much seen as his turning point (I will ignore everything up till then because he was a bit all over the place but I still think its understandable since he was kinda ‘lost’ anyway). The reason that Hook’s transition does not feel wrong to me, is because they clearly establish that Hook was 100% willing to give up his revenge to be a family with Bae. People argue that his agenda to be close to Bae was just to get to Rumple, (and it was a first) but even Colin has had that he played Hook’s intention to have Bae be part of his family as sincere. So, you have a time, 100s of years ago, where Hook was willing to make that same change in hopes of “being a part of something” beyond himself. And then, when Hook learns that Bae was Henry’s father and is dead, I think this is what makes him reconsider his current path. He thinks about that missed chance to be a part of something, and he comes back. At this point I dont think he is coming back for Emma. He is coming back for himself. Yes, he respects and is drawn to Emma because they are so similar, but I dont think he is in love yet. After Hook makes the decision to let go of his revenge, I think his feelings progress really quickly in Neverland, but again, I dont think this is too fast. He let go of the past and his revenge, and basically the dam broke and there was nothing holding him back anymore, and he realized how much he truly wants to be with Emma. And now you have another year of Hook being away from her. Everyone else in town might not remember the past year, but He sure does, and that’s very important when it comes to his relationship progression with Emma. I also believe this is why Hook never changes clothes. Hook is Hook, he has no other identity, there is no part of his memories that are lost, and his clothes are a visual representation of that. The writers are telling us, there might be some resetting with all the other characters, but there is zero backwards progression when it comes to Hook and Emma’s relationship, and to me that seems completely deliberate and important.

            This is my reading of everything from the season 2 finale to now. I have loved the progression, and Emma and Hook’s journey are really what have reinvested me in the show after a very shaky Season 2. I could write about Hook all day 🙂

            • I’m going to make this short because it certainly wasn’t my intention to bait you into defending Hook’s honour, and I certainly don’t want to start an argument. Sorry if it seemed so. And at 6:30am… Really, really sorry!!

              I like Hook. I like the character, his story and development. And I could like Emma/Hook if done right; I’ve certainly enjoyed some of their interactions and think they have great potential. I just don’t believe they’re there just yet.
              We’ll have to disagree about the thing with Milah because, while I know it was her choice, I don’t think Hook is blameless in that situation: abiding (enabling even) someone else’s arguably bad decisions is still wrong. And he wasn’t particularly nice about it, either, when he humiliated Rumpelstiltskin.
              Regardless, my list of ‘arguments’ weren’t AGAINST Hook, per se; I was just trying to outline his character before his, IMO, rushed redemption. He was not a very good person, and he did some bad things to Emma. Just stating the facts, not judging. Heck, my favourite character is basically a mass-murderer; I’m not going to point fingers at anyone for having a dark side.

              My main issue is that I think that Hook’s storyline wasn’t planned this far ahead, and now that he’s become a part of the main cast the writers are rushing certain aspects of his characterisation. I think it’s a disservice to the character, and to Emma’s character, but again it’s just my opinion. While the writers have managed quite nicely to give him depth and a credible and interesting enough background, as well as many possibilities for further development, I think the same cannot be said for his romantic story with Emma. And again, let me stress that I really think it could work. It’s just not working out for me right now.

              I agree with the point you make about Baelfire. Although I find Hook gave up too quickly; considering how relentless he’s been about helping/saving Emma, and previously about his revenge, he could have tried harder with Bae. I like that they gave us those hints of him willing to let his guard down, though.

              And I love the clothes theory. But I do hope he has them enchanted or something because if not, ew… ;P

              Hmm yes, this is me making it ‘short’. Eh… ¬_¬

              • haha, I know you werent trying to bait anyone into an argument, I just saw and opening to talk about Hook and I took it of my own free will 🙂

                What I like about this show is there there is a large enough variety of characters for everything to find someone they identify with. For me its always been Emma and Hook. I like the rest of the characters, but I just dont identify with them on a deeper level like I do with those two, so I am sure on some level I am projecting when I think about their motives.

                We will have to agree to disagree with the redemption being rushed. I do think that the writers were a little unfocused with his character in season 2, and I believe that whole flashback with Bae was actually their way of trying to make it seem less rushed. It worked for me, it didnt work for everyone.

          • This is why I love your comments: They represent the fact that we may not agree on certain characters, arcs, or relationships, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss those differences with respect and open minds. Plus, discussion is always fun, and it would get boring around here if we all felt the same way about every aspect of this show!

            Unlike many people, I am actually of the belief that Hook was always written to be Emma’s love interest at some point in the show’s run—maybe not as quickly as it happened, but I have always seen the direct parallels in “Tallahassee” between Emma/Neal and Emma/Hook to mean that Hook was set up as a foil for Neal from the start. I will agree that his storyline/characterization was a bit of a mess in Season Two, but I think a lot of that had to do with Colin O’Donoghue’s broken leg and how that kept him from filming. For example, I know there were supposed to be scenes between Neal and Hook that never came to be all the way back in Season Two.

            I will admit that Hook’s relationship with Neal should have been far more developed in Season Three, and I think that would have helped make his redemption arc feel more believable. For me, I saw the start of his redemption as being more about Bae/Neal (and actually Henry) than Emma. First, he realized his quest for revenge gave him nothing to live for, and he openly admitted to being wrong to think it would be fulfilling. Then, in the Season Two finale, we saw Hook willing to forgo his revenge for young Bae, and he turned his ship around to honor Bae’s memory by helping Bae’s son—or at least that’s how I saw it.

            I don’t think he started to really acknowledge the extent of his feelings for Emma until she jumped off his ship and he almost lost her. And then once he did, he was all in. I can totally understand people thinking his relationship with Emma feels rushed, but I found it believable. I don’t relate to Hook often but I do on one point: I’m an all-or-nothing girl when it comes to everything in life but especially when it comes to matters of the heart. There’s no testing the waters; there’s just diving in headfirst. I understand why that might come off as rushed to some people, but I understand it and feel a connection to it. And that’s the great thing about these characters—they don’t have to mean the same things to everyone, but they do inspire excellent debates.

            • I will say this again: I am SO happy I found this website. =D

              I had no idea about Colin O’Donoghue’s broken leg. Ouch. Did that have something to do with that scene with Greg Mendel’s car?

              I like your take and I agree that Bae, and Henry as Bae’s son when they all believed Neal was dead, were the start of his redemption.
              I am also an all-or-nothing girl so I get it, but someone who has spent hundreds of years fixated on one thing/person doesn’t strike me as the kind to just change his mind overnight. It’s the development of the story that feels rushed to me more than the actual ‘falling in love’ part.
              I do like scenes like the one in “NYC Serenade” after Emma drank the potion, or every time (in Neverland, right before the second curse hit, in NYC) he’s made clear where he stands with his feelings and that he will be there when (not if, the guy knows what he wants) Emma decides she’s ready. I like that he’s not pushy but he’s firm, that he gives Emma space but is always there for her. I like that he’s been patient so far, and hope he remains patient because Emma is in no emotional state to start a relationship right now with everything that has happened and is happening.
              I think they need to talk. A lot. I’m also really curious about his little adventure with Henry because those two need to bond if Hook has any hope of really winning Emma’s heart (bickering over clothes is definitely not the way).

              As I said, I really do like Hook. I just wish the writers paid more attention to developing consistently his characterisation and his relationship with Emma because we’ve been shown bits that were really, really good, but also what I consider steps back. I’m sure we are in for a great adventure, whatever the outcome!

              • I’m so happy you found us, too! 😀

                Colin’s broken leg wasn’t something publicized all over the place, but I believe it happened while he was skiing. And if you watch him walk during later episodes in Season Two (and even at times this season I’ve noticed), he has a slight limp. That’s why he spent most of the second half of Season Two either stuck in a broom closet in New York, in a hospital, or falling on the floor while trying to be menacing in Storybrooke. 😉

                Like you, I am very interested in the Hook and Henry’s scenes that have been reportedly shot for later this season. There’s a lot of potential in those scenes, especially because I think Colin had great chemistry with the kid who plays young Bae.

    • I can definitely understand your disappointment with this episode. It had strong moments, but overall it wasn’t nearly as dynamic as the first two episodes of 3B have been. And I definitely agree that a big part of the problem was Rapunzel. Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies, so to say I was hoping for more is an understatement. It was pretty forgettable because everyone is going to remember David facing off against himself before they even think about Rapunzel doing the same thing in this episode. Like you said, I had higher hopes for this princess (especially with their take on her as a POC), but I was left unsatisfied. But I haven’t really been a fan of most of the one-shot fairytale flashbacks in this show’s history (Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel immediately spring to my mind).

      Shauna dutifully took the reins as Hook’s defender later on in this comment thread, so I’ll save my thoughts on him for another reply. 😉 Instead, let’s talk about Snow. I could not agree more that she’s not Snow and not even Mary Margaret at this point. I would blame it on Ginnifer Goodwin’s pregnancy limiting her role, but she’s been like this since she and Emma came back from the Enchanted Forest in Season Two—and it keeps getting worse. Snow used to be my favorite character and the character I related to most on this show, but now I see very little to identify with. To say it’s disappointing is an understatement.

      I also agree that more conversations are needed between Emma and her parents in order to flesh out all of the complicated emotions surrounding their relationship and this new baby. I would watch hours of those character just sitting around talking about their issues because that family dynamic is so fraught with internal drama, and all three of those actors work so well together.

      And I will co-sign your request for more digs by Regina at Walsh being a monkey. The way she said his name to Henry with such disdain was a highlight of the whole episode for me. No one brings the snark like Lana Parrilla.

  3. This episode was average for me. There were some great moments, it was shot beautifully, it was pretty creepy at times, but as a whole, it really didn’t draw me in, and a lot of that I think had to do with Rupunzle’s story. I have found that I really don’t care about a new fairytale character if they don’t also exist in Storybrooke and are relevant to the present day beyond just being a metaphor. I think as soon as the show broke the curse at the end of Season 1 they lost their successful vehicle for introducing “one and done” fairytale characters. The show has really struggled with this the past two seasons.

    Despite this, I liked the theme of this episode, but like you, I NEED a scene with Emma and Charming in present day talking about Emma’s almost marriage (he almost missed out on another major life moment) and his fears with her coming sibling. I have hope that it will happen in upcoming episodes, after all, there really was no moment where Charming and Emma were alone to have this conversion, I just feel like it would have been great in this episode. Also, I have found that I am pretty much greedy when it comes to the main characters telling each other important things. This show is always implying that conversations have happened off screen and I am always feeling cheated because these people are all such amazing actors and I love these characters and I want to see everything. I would watch 1 hour of this show every day of the week even it was just them drinking coffee and talking. So really, I am probably always going to be disappointed on some level because I didn’t get to see all the characters discuss what they had for breakfast that morning, because I am sure it still would be cute and fun and this is why I read fanfiction, lol.

    So, for me, this episode’s highlight was not any of the action or the wicked plot progression, it was the 5 minute block of Regina walking with Henry and Emma and Hook in the woods.

    I loved Regina and Henry’s scene because it gave us a bit more insight into who Emma was in the past year, and how much Regina has changed. I also just love the concern Henry is showing for Emma. He is worried about her and its cute. And I also like that Henry feels like Regina is someone he can open up to. It’s pretty much a reversal of season one, where Henry was constantly going to Emma claiming things are wrong with Regina (although in a much more negative context). And Regina’s comment about Henry having so much family he wont know what to do with was my favorite line of the night. Yes it was a fun in-joke, but Regina said it so warmly, and it was so hopeful and happy of a thought that I got kinda emotional about it. That thought isn’t just about one of them finding happiness, its about all of them finding it together as a family. And that’s really what I am loving about all the characters working together this season. In season 2 you had that great quote from Charming about being glad Thanksgiving didn’t exist in their world because “that dinner would suck”. Now, less than a season later, I can’t think of anything more joyous than all of them spending a Thanksgiving together. If a scene could make me cry, that would probably be it.

    The scene between Hook and Emma immediately after was also perfect. There of course was the main line about Emma’s heart still working with that ridiculously epic theme playing in the background (It was so loud it was kinda alarming), but my favorite part about this scene was the fact that Hook basically admits to Emma that he is hiding something from her, and she not only accepts his silence she still continues to open up to him. I cant get over the insane level of trust Emma is giving to Hook here. When Hook admits he is keeping something from her, I think she knows deep down that its something she’s not ready to hear. Not because its bad, but because its so dang selfless and heroic she is not ready to hear it yet. After all, this is the same man who only apologetically confessed his love for her when forced by the circumstances and because he hoped it would help her get what she wanted (Neal). I firmly believe, and I have to believe so does Emma, that if Hook knew something that he felt was important to their investigation he would tell them even if it involved him acting less than noble. Hook is usually quick to take responsibility for the bad things he has done, and very hesitant to take credit for the good. I am one of those fans that believes Hook hasn’t had a malicious thought since the season 2 finale, and you can argue with me all you want, but thats my tale and Im sticking to it.

    I am really intrigued by this plot device of the witch collecting this talisman. I honestly can say I have no idea who is going to represent the ‘heart’ of the tin man and the ‘brain’ of the scarecrow (ok, I guess we rule out Snow for this one, nobody should want her brain right now…or maybe her brain HAS been taken, that would explain a lot :P). As you proposed, Rumple could be the ‘brain’, I mean there has to be a certain higher level of wisdom that comes from being the dark one and also being able to see into the future. But the fact that Rumple is “mad” right now would imply that she “took” his brain, and I didn’t really get the feeling that Charming’s courage was actually “taken” per se, just that his courage infused the sword hilt with power? So maybe Rumple’s dagger is the talisman for knowledge? As far as the tinman goes, all of your predictions are possible. There is also Henry (heart of the truest believer) and Belle, although her storyline has taken a back seat this year so this is a long shot. With how this show likes to pull things from nowhere (black fairy’s wand?) it very well could be we are thinking way too logically about this whole thing.

    • “I think as soon as the show broke the curse at the end of Season 1 they lost their successful vehicle for introducing “one and done” fairytale characters. The show has really struggled with this the past two seasons.”

      So very true. I was hoping for something meaningful with Rapunzel and instead we were given another Cinderella. It seems clear that ‘one and done’ characters don’t work at this point of the story, and even if they remain minor, new fairytales need a bit more development (Tinker Bell, Ariel) for their introduction in the plot to make sense.

      “Also, I have found that I am pretty much greedy when it comes to the main characters telling each other important things. This show is always implying that conversations have happened off screen and I am always feeling cheated because these people are all such amazing actors and I love these characters and I want to see everything. I would watch 1 hour of this show every day of the week even it was just them drinking coffee and talking.”

      I couldn’t agree more. I want Emma, Snow and Charming to sit down and talk. I want Emma and Snow to sit down and talk. I want Emma and Charming to sit down and talk. We got a bit of Snow and Charming talking, and it was nice, but I want more! We also got Emma and Regina talking, and it was brilliant (I’m still not over last week’s episode, sorry ;P), and I will always want more of that.
      I know they can give us those scenes. I know they can get the characters to address their feelings, their guilt, their resentment, their fears, why Emma seems more at ease with David than with Snow even though Snow was her friend before the curse broke while David was practically a stranger (probably right because of that), why Snow is bent on ignoring her share of responsibility in abandoning Emma and wouldn’t hesitate in doing it again (see Neverland), why David’s approach to his status as a parent is way more understanding of Emma’s needs than Snow’s who supposedly knows her better… So many conversations to be had! OUaT writers, get to it, damnit!!

      As for the Oz theories, I love how they’re making us wonder and try to guess. I love how they’re using the symbolism of both Oz and what they’ve already established in OUaT. I think Charming is the lion (we’ll see how cowardly he’s become now that the WW has taken his courage –or his manhood, if we go with the sword reference). Rumpel could be the scarecrow (there’s a double hint there, with him having apparently lost his mind in reference of the WW having taken his brain, and the straw). As for the Tin Man, the promo points to Neal, and it would make sense but then again there are other characters who fit the bill as well (I’m kind of sad that August was transformed into a kid because he would have been an awesome Tin Man). I’m wary about Zelena’s interest in the Charmings’s new baby, so I’m going with the theory that it will turn out to be Dorothy. We need a Toto now; Ruby maybe?
      I’m really curious about Zelena’s past. I read an interview where Rebecca Mader said the WW’s past was complicated, including a love story. We’ve yet to learn who her father is, we know we’ll be meeting Glinda (I wonder if they will go ‘there’ with Zelena/Glinda), and hopefully the Wizard will make an appearance. I hope they explain why she’s green, since they hinted at it being a reason for discrimination.

      Can it be Sunday already, please?

    • “So really, I am probably always going to be disappointed on some level because I didn’t get to see all the characters discuss what they had for breakfast that morning, because I am sure it still would be cute and fun and this is why I read fanfiction, lol.” – This is a line straight out of my internal monologue at the end of every OUaT episode. I want to petition for a channel where we get to watch hours of these actors having every conversation imaginable while in-character because they’re all just so good together and there are still so many things that need discussing. I understand that there wasn’t enough time for Charming to talk to Emma given their different plot trajectories this week, but there was a sense of incompleteness to Charming’s story without seeing him talk about all of this with Emma.

      I’m so happy you brought up the warmth in Lana Parrilla’s delivery of the line about Henry having so much family he won’t know what to do. It shows how she’s become part of a team now, and it shows how united this crazy family has always been when it comes to the boy bringing them all together. Somewhere down the line, can we please get that Thanksgiving dinner (or at least one big family dinner)?

      I love you take on Emma trusting Hook, too. I also think she knows that whatever he’s hiding is something she’s not ready to hear on an emotional level, so she’s not going to push it if he won’t. I agree that Hook has been very willing to own up to his more nefarious deeds but tends to shy away from acknowledging the good he does. So it would make sense that whatever he’s hiding is something good rather than something evil. Whatever it is, I think we’re going to find out soon enough. Secrets don’t stay secrets for long on this show!

      • Emma has stolen Hook’s heart. This makes him the Tin Woodsman. If Emma confesses her love for Killian then she becomes Vulnerable to the witch. I believe that the showdown will be the Wicked Witch trying to take Killian’s heart and EMMA preventing that from happening because she loves him. So the Witch will then be able to capture Emma. Emma is the one the witch wants not anyone else. She is the greatest threat to her that is why the witch had a minder on her to keep tabs on her in New York. I would love it if the real motive is for the Witch to leave Storybrooke and take her act on the road in the REAL WORLD (NEW YORK)! Wouldn’t that be great!!!

  4. We need to have EMMA tell her story. We (the audience and her parents) need to listen as she talks about the various people she encountered in her life besides NEAL. We need to find out if there were any FATHER or MOTHER figures who helped her along the way. I was actually hoping Walsh would have been someone from that time in her life. It couldn’t have been all bad there must have been someone in one of those foster homes who actually cared about her. He turned out to be her MINDER and I do think the WICKED WITCH wants to come into the REAL WORLD.

    I agree OUAT is a LOUSY at diversity but, what do you expect when the basis for the story is based on EUROPEAN FAIRY TALES/MYTHS and DISNEY! They are both part of the racist, classist, sexist and homophobic society we have. You cannot use the MASTER’s TOOLS of OPPRESSION in order to break out of the MASTER’S HOUSE.

    • I actually think that is precisely how you do it. You beat them at their own game, so to speak.
      Once Upon a Time’s take on fairytales has not only been modern, but groundbreaking in many fronts. They’ve made Snow White’s and the Evil Queen’s antagonism not about who’s prettier, but about broken trusts with terrible consequences and misplaced and out of control hurt and anger; they’ve made Prince Charming a humble shepherd in origin; they’ve turned Little Red Riding Hood into the Big Bad Wolf; they’ve made Jack the Giant Slayer a woman. I don’t expect anything, but I really don’t think it’s too far-fetched to hope for further positive steps in terms of diversity and representation.

        • That was in reference to your comment about not being able to ‘use the master’s tools of oppression in order to break out of the master’s house’.

          What I meant to say is that OUaT has taken all these ‘tools’, these arguments ‘against’ that you’ve mentioned and, more or less adroitly, made them into arguments ‘for’. For instance, to address those you listed:

          _Racism. OUaT has given us PoC in the roles of a fairy godmother, a knight and a princess; a villain too. Granted, their stories weren’t particularly interesting or deep but at least it’s a start that they’re there at all. I for one am guilty of never having imagined Rapunzel as anything other than a blonde white girl, so I’m happy that OUaT at least makes the effort to break the mould, even though the end result was quite the waste of potential.

          _Classism. Prince Charming was a shepherd, and he’s turned to be the epitome of hero. Snow White was a princess, and she turned into a pretty badass bandit. Not to mention Little Red Riding Hood being the Big Bad Wolf. I think they’ve handled quite nicely this one.

          _Sexism. True that the stigma of the powerful magical villain being a woman is still prominent (Regina, Cora, Maleficent, the Wicked Witch) but there’s also evil male characters, and many good, strong female leads. Snow again, mainly in her time as a runaway. Jack (Jacqueline) the Giant Slayer. Emma Swan, the Saviour. I think this show is particularly good at showing that the ladies do not always need a knight in shinning armour to rescue them, that they manage on their own just fine. And oftentimes are the ones doing the saving, actually.

          _Homophobic. Well, they’ve barely grazed the issue, and it was mostly disappointing but at least they have made one of the iconic ‘Disney Princesses’ gay. That they chose the one who dresses like a man and is a warrior, and that she didn’t get a happy ending (so far) are arguable decisions but it’s nonetheless a (wee) step in the right direction.

          My issue with diversity and representation in OUaT is that, while they’ve had the pluck to tackle the ‘problem’, they don’t seem to be willing to delve into it in certain cases. I am happy that they’ve taken the first step, I just wish they’d go all the way because they have shown they can do it in a very interesting and respectful way.

    • Thanks for the comment, and I definitely agree that we need to have Emma tell her own story. There’s still so much to learn about her past, and I like that it tends to come out in bursts of emotion because that’s realistic for a guarded character like Emma. I tend to believe Emma didn’t really have help along the way from a father or mother figure because she has no idea how to respond to parental love even at the age of 28. Until we get more information about her time in the foster system, I feel like Emma believes no one during her time in the system really cared about her—and that’s why she became a teenage runaway. But there are still so many unanswered questions there.

      Your last point is one that can inspire a lot of discussion and debate. I’ll just say this: I think this show has certainly improved on some of the more problematic aspects of traditional fairytales (especially in terms of gender), but more can always be done to improve the show from the standpoint of making it more diverse.

  5. I’m hoping so badly for the secret Hook’s keeping to be about something selfless he did to get her back, but I feel so spoiled by all the positive CS development that I have this paranoia the other shoe is going to drop and he’ll be working for the Wicked Witch or something. I don’t really believe this, but his naysayers are theorizing and I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much…

    • I can totally understand the anxiety—because I have seen a lot of speculation about Hook being shady floating around the Internet lately. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think there is no way that Hook is working for the Witch—at least not knowingly (whether or not she led him and Emma into a trap is another matter entirely). This episode reinforced the idea that Emma has just been hurt again by a man pretending to be something he wasn’t and hurting her in the process. It would be unnecessarily cruel for the writers to turn around and have her get hurt again by Hook—someone is she trusting completely at this point. There’s creating emotional drama for your main character, and then there’s sadism towards your main character, and no one wants to watch Emma get hurt again by a man she trusts. The writing on this show isn’t perfect, but there’s no way they’re going to go there with Hook because I don’t think Emma could recover from him burning her that badly by working for Zelena.

    • I don’t think he is working for the witch but, who knows with the show. I am worried about NEAL I think he did something stupid in the Enchanted forest. It is possible he is the one who worked for the Wicked Witch probably with unintended consequences. I think he helped Zelena somehow – that would be an interesting plot twist wouldn’t it. He is so connected to his dad. He is a little boy who really needs his dad and wants to honestly make up with him and so does Belle. That fact and connection with Rumple leaves both of them vulnerable.

  6. Beyond late to the party this week, which is why I am going to take an analysis pass as most of my thoughts were echoed here. I enjoyed the breakdown analysis though and will merely co-sign onto three key points:

    1) the Oz parallels were fun and I am on board for the baby being the heart of the matter.

    2) the slow destruction of Snow/Mary Margaret is not only disheartening, it’s damaging to the overarching mythology the show has created, especially in season 1 flashbacks.

    3) After Cinderella and particularly after Ariel I have learned to have no expectations of the one-off princesses. Rapunzel was like Ophelia in Hamlet – more symbol/device than character. She like others before her was a means to an end. Something I have found a pothole the show falls into with regularity.

    Given than I am emotionally prepared to be distraught on Sunday, I will be back in the thick of the conversation next week.

  7. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/23 – 3/30) | Nerdy Girl Notes

  8. i can honestly say that the most satisfying part of this episode was regina’s smile when they realised rumple was still alive. robert carlyle and lana parilla’s scenes are pure gold.

  9. Pingback: TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.02 | Nerdy Girl Notes

  10. Pingback: TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.03 | Nerdy Girl Notes

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