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Once Upon A Time Review: Off to Never Neverland

Once Upon A Time 1When we last left the residents of Storybrooke on Once Upon A Time, young Henry was en route to Neverland, and the others hopped onto Captain Hook’s boat in pursuit of the boy. The storyline was particularly fascinating in that we were hopeful that Hook would be an interesting evil addition to the show’s cast of storybook characters.

During this season’s opener, we first get a bittersweet reminder of Henry’s birth, when Emma made the decision to give him up for adoption, and then we’re swept into today’s reality, when she’s going to massive lengths to find him across the universe.

The show’s take on Captain Hook is rather refreshing. Although we’ve been raised to believe he was a long-haired weirdo, Once portrays him as an eyeliner-wearing 20-something hottie who is a dead ringer for a brunette Wesley from Princess Bride. And I love it. And speaking of superficiality, why are they suddenly dressing Snow White like she’s the star of Book of Mormon? Her white shirt, black jacket and black pants, when coupled with her short hair (which is normally extremely flattering on Ginnifer Goodwin) make her look like she’s trying to sell vacuums at Sears rather than traveling across the ocean to save her grandson. She and Prince Charming were even more sickeningly sweet this week than they were the last two seasons, which made me ask myself: Is it wrong that when Emma fell off the ship, I was wishing it had been Snow and Charming instead?

Along the journey to Neverland, Emma says what we’ve all been thinking these past few seasons—she asks Snow White and Prince Charming why they’re so insanely optimistic despite all of the terrible things that have happened since everyone in town regained their powers. Coupled with Regina’s interest in torturing the mermaid that they catch and reminding everyone that their “feel good nonsense” is a waste of time, it feels like the show is about to take a well-earned much darker turn as the journey to Neverland ensues.

Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin is absolutely genius and really steals the show when he nearly turns the tables on Emma by suggesting that she maintains a bit of the nativity that she previously accused her parents of having. Everyone appears to be at risk of wanting something so badly that they can’t clearly see how to get it. Except Rumple – or so he believes.

Although I typically enjoy the way the show turns our favorite fairy tales upside-down, I wasn’t overly amped about the one-dimensional nature of Neverland’s lost boys, who are essentially just a roving gang of thugs who fly around using possibly the worst special effects in existence.

But the episode absolutely redeems itself when Peter Pan is revealed as the ultimate double-crosser. Without revealing when or where he makes his appearance, suffice it to say that I was thrilled that the producers linked it to the original Peter Pan’s love of games, which was brilliant. I think the addition of Pan, as well as Robin Hood and Mulan, could give this season a very rich backdrop, as long as they are able to tie all of the ever-growing cast together.

Season 3 Episode 1: Heart of the Truest Believer (originally aired on September 29, 2013).

For more Once Upon A Time, check out our other reviews.

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Images courtesy of Jack Rowand/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

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