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It’s not the first time I apologize for being late; last Thursday I was going to post my review but I had some internet troubles and I couldn’t connect to the internet unless I was on my phone. So, when everything was solved, it was Saturday already, so instead of posting my review said Saturday, I decided to take on both episodes of OUAT at once. And luckily, these two episodes are really alike, so they could have actually aired back to back and it would have fit perfectly as a two hour episodes.

I got to say that I’m really, really happy with the route Once Upon a Time is taking; the premiere was really entertaining with some glory moments in it, but the following episodes weren’t as good. “Good form” finally picked up some momentum when we explored Hook’s past and Emma came to terms in letting Regina use her skills to their advantage. And now it seems the show has finally found some ground to keep up the storytelling. “Ariel” is about secrets and the show developed it nicely.

First we start with a flashback of Snow running away from Regina’s soldiers: in my review of the second episode I stressed out how much we know about this conflict and how it added no new information about the characters. Gladly, this isn’t the case for this episode, we get to know Ariel, which is key for both episodes. As it turns out, in order to escape the soldiers, Snow jumps a cliff and falls into the sea, rescued by everyone’s favorite mermaid Ariel.

Two weeks ago I briefly mentioned how I’ve been seeing The Little Mermaid with my niece lately and I was more than pleased to see that the spin on the story actually kept the essence of the movie itself; it’s in details such as Ariel collecting things from our world to Regina’s way to talk to Ariel (her “Heellooo, A-ri-el” was so spot on, it fitted right as Ursula) that I could only smile as I noticed these little references being used around the episode over and over again. They are nice details, really appreciated.

The thing is that, after being rescued by Ariel, Snow wants to help her meet the love of her life (a matter of Snow’s expertise) and as Ariel has one day in which she can have human legs, they go together to a ball threw by Eric the prince, Ariel’s true love. There Snow guides Ariel on how to act as a princess and basically makes up as wingwoman with proper advices. When the prince comes he and Ariel dance, and they talk about how Eric is sure to have seen Ariel before and how they both want to travel around the world.
But it isn’t a Once Upon a Time story if there isn’t a twist, and the things is that Regina decides to take advantage of Ariel being close to Snow to set up a trap. So she disguise as Ursula and promises Ariel to give her legs.

Poor Ariel falls for the trick at the double and she gives Snow a bracelet which allows them to switch their human and mermaid condition. Sadly Snow doesn’t know how to use her fish tail and Regina pops up soon to capture her. This last moment of the flashback wasn’t as glorious as the rest as it feels forced and we know from second 1 that Ariel is not going to abandon Snow. It’s weird and hilarious seeing Ariel stabbing Regina with a fork, but it’s not a deal breaker or anything. Sadly for Ariel, even after she rescued Snow and decided to tell Eric that she is a mermaid, Regina takes her voice as a punishment for helping Snow.
Interestingly enough, when Regina comes back to her castle, she meets with the supposedly mythical Ursula, who warns her to never again try to pass as her. That was a freaky and nice moment; it makes me wonder if we’ll see Ursula again. Maybe not soon, but I think we will. Who knows? Maybe after Neverland saga ends she will be our new big bad.

Now, flashback aside, the episode builds two interesting storylines: we start with Regina trying to teach magic to Emma; I’m glad that it has finally decided to tackle on Emma’s power, and it’s really interesting to see Regina teaching her. Emma doesn’t want to go dark, but she can deny that being angry at Regina did light a fire on the wood, and this will pay off in the following episode. While this happen, Hook decides to do the right thing, and instead of keeping the information that Neal is alive he outright tells Charming and Snow; I’m glad Hook took the high route, it would have made him stereotypical, and I think he is even more likeable when he decides to do the right thing despite being conflicted by the choice.

Emma learns soon about Neal being alive and as they find some evidence of struggle that could lead to Neal, Regina decides to takes matters on her own hands and leaves the party to their search for Neal while she goes to find Rumple to team in order to defeat Pan. As she finds Rumple and sees him being manipulated by the image of Belle she uncovers the truth about her. The image of Belle was one of Pan’s shadows all along. And so, with that aside, Regina convinces Rumple that they can defeat Pan together, and Rumple mentions that he has an item in Storybrooke that can get the task done. Surprisingly enough, Regina calls forth Ariel, who as a mermaid can crossover realms and offers her a deal: she gets the item and she gets legs and the chance to meet with Eric again. This was really smartly developed; I like when the show pairs Regina and Rumple together, and after the whole series of flashback with Ariel it was great pay off to see her being involve in the whole Neverland arc.

Meanwhile, our main party of heroes follows the track that leads to Neal. Emma doesn’t want to open up to the possibility of him being alive, so she tries not to think about it. But as they are led towards “Ego cave” where they have no choice but revealing their darkest secrets it becomes more evident that Neal is alive. It’s an interesting development, as everyone is forced to tell their secrets. I was surprised by how forth coming Hook was with his about how he feels about Emma; I love how honest he is being about it, and as I said in my last review, it echoes with who he was on the flashback while still maintaining his essence as the character we know and love. The writers are doing some great work with the character.

Snow also gets a good moment by being honest on how it affected her to lose her chance at motherhood; she loves Emma, but she lost every single part of her childhood and it hurts her, so she wants to have that chance. It makes sense, and it is something the show has subtly tackled last season, so it feels really organic. And it’s sad that as she says this, Charming reveals that he was poisoned and that he is forced to stay in Neverland in order to stay alive. That creates a drift with them.

Finally, Emma arrives to Neal and she confesses how it was easier for her to assume he was dead and how terrified she was; she never stopped loving him and she has never being good at handling the pain, so she was hoping that everything was a trick and that he was in fact dead, because it would have been easier. Neal loves Emma, so he let that slide; he gets it, he knows Emma. And even though it sounds like they are a good couple in paper, the truth is that Emma’s chemistry lies with Hook. The triangle takes the spotlight in the following episode and whoever ends up with Emma is not something to be resolved soon; personally, I think Emma will end up with Hook, but it might be just me on my shipper hat, but it just feels right.

Anyway, the episode continues the good will built in the previous episode and set up some potentially good storylines and character moments that keep the momentum going on the following episode, even though if the execution is not the best.

Grade: A-

The following episode “Dark Hollow” continues on what was set up on “Ariel”; our little mermaid goes to Storybrooke, but before bad we go back 5 days into the past to see how Belle is left behind to cast the cloaking spell; with the help of mother superior and the dwarfs she manages to cast the spell. However, it was a little late, as two men arrive just in time to make it to Storybrooke before it is covered by a dome (it reminded me of the pilot of “Under the dome” a little bit with the back part of the car being cut off).

This is the first episode we have on Storybrooke in a while, and it’s a very entertaining one. I’ve been missing the town and I believed that we wouldn’t see a Storybrooke episode until Neverland arc was finished, so I’m glad I was wrong.
Belle is really bumped that she stayed behind, as she feels that she is no needed. That changes soon when Ariel arrives to Storybrooke looking for her. I gotta say that Belle and Ariel make a great combo; I loved watching them together as both actresses have some good chemistry on screen, so I hope we get to see them together again.

Now, back to the story, Ariel delivered a shell that came from Rumle with a message that she has to find the item that will defeat Peter Pan. And Belle finds it soon enough and it is a Pandora’s box. Sadly for Belle and Ariel, they are both found out by the guys who made it to Storybrooke before the cloaking spell was activated, and they have guns! So they tie them up, and steal the box. Luckily, Belle managed to find their way out by taking of Ariel’s bracelet so she could slip through the rope with her mermaid leg.

So they follow they guys to the mines and Belle is smart enough to throw a wagon to them; she recovers the box and kicks the gun away. Then, the men reveal that they were brothers with Wendy Darling, who is held prisoner by Peter Pan (she is the one who was on the other cage) and they were forced to work for him to keep her safe. I felt a little bit sorry for Neal at that moment, as he tried to help them by letting the shadow taking him to Neverland when he was a boy, so seeing how it was all for nothing is kind of sad. However, Belle assures the Darling brothers that they are going to defeat Pan and rescue Wendy.

Talking about Wendy, I have to get this out of my system right now: how does Once Upon a Time get so many great kid guest actors and failed so much with Jared S. Gilmore who stars on the show? Seriously, the Henry bits are annoying me more and more; I saw some hope for him in the premiere, but his acting is so forced that it hurts. And it hurts even more that his character is so easily manipulated by Pan; from the moment he followed the lost boy I knew Pan was playing him, and I didn’t blame Henry for falling into the trick, but after he meets Wendy, why doesn’t he get suspicious that she knows who his father is? I mean, Wendy shouldn’t have known who Henry is, and even less who his father is, unless Pan told her, and why would Pan tell her that? Those questions came up in my head right away, but Henry didn’t even suspect anything; and he falls right into Pan’s hands, convinced that the only way to be a hero and save Wendy is doing exactly what Pan wants… oh, great.

But aside from that, the episode was great. The only thing is left to talk about is what happens with Emma/Neal/Hook and Charming and Snow.

Charming and Snow go to tell Tinker Bell that they figured their way out of Neverland. Snow is stone cold to Charming; she is mad that Charming didn’t tell her anything about his condition, and after a good while of the silent treatment, she finally snaps and calls out Charming for keeping his condition to him, as she would have given everything up for him, she would stay on Neverland with him dodging poison arrows for him, but that’s exactly why Charming didn’t tell her, because she wants something better for her. Even though this is not compelling, it does make sense and it is way more tolerable that all the cheesiness we have been given in the past couple of episodes.

Meanwhile Emma, Neal and Hook go to look for one of Pan’s shadow so they have a mean to go home. At first, the whole Neal and Hook passive-aggressive dance was really organic, but the fight over the lighter was so childish that it made me laugh (I was right there with Emma when she said “Really? You are doing this now?!”), but the fight with the shadows was executed nicely and I liked how Emma is starting to grasp her magic powers and lit the candle on the coconut in fire to trap the shadow. Not so fan of Emma telling them that she chooses Henry when they push her to decide. It’s a lame way out, but it’s consistent with her character, so I won’t complain much.

The two episodes were much stronger than episode 2, 3 and 4, indicating that Once Upon a Time has finally learnt how stories in Neverland must be told; using flashback to add information we didn’t already know, adding some character conflict, moving the plot along and shifting with characters we know and love giving them good/funny lines and good use. Should the show keep this up, I see nothing but good episodes upon us.

Grade: B+

Stray Observations:

-Regina to Rumple: “What is this?! Amateur hour?! Did you really think that was Belle?!” Not that memorable, but I love seeing Regina calling out Rumple for being so naïve. What’s in fact memorable is her reply to Rumple after he asks her what she is doing there: “For starters, saving your ass!”

-Regina to Ariel: “You went to a long dead octopus for advice, and you are going to blame me for your problems” That was hilarious!

-Snow: “Ariel get out of here!”
Regina: “For once we are in agreement! Get out of here mermaid”
Regina, you are on fire!

-Mother superior to Belle: “Just believe”
*Nothing happens*
Grumpy: “You may wanna believe a little harder”
*Spells get cast*
Great line Grumpy, just like old times.

-Grumpy: “Now you have a dress code? I seem to recall some Ruby’s outfits that were imprinted on my brain!”
Now, how is OUAT going to deal with the fact that Ruby’s actress got out of the show?

-Ariel: "I'm not afraid of your guns! Even if I don't know what they are"
Gotta love Ariel, staying strong and naïve at the same time.

Pablozky
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing articles and some reviews as well

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