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Last week was utter chaos for me: I had three final reports to deliver at college, two tests, my dad got married and prom was the next say (ok, the last one I made that). So it was impossible for me to write and upload my review in time, which is sad, considering how much these two episodes differ on quality. “Save Henry” is probably the best episode the season has given us and it finally leaves Neverland, a place with so much promise, but that somehow didn’t live to its fullest potential, and then we got “The New Neverland” which was kind of underwhelming.

Let’s start with “Save Henry”: The episode focus entirely on Regina, both in the action taken in present time and in the flashback, which is awesome. The season has used her mostly as a side character that comes in handy with some magic tricks, but now is in full mode badass, while the flashback let us warm up to her, even more than before, as we see her most humanizing side; the motherhood.

We start off with Regina talking with Rumple as she is about to cast the curse; we already know what’s going to happen, and I was worried that we got yet another unnecessary flashback, but it actually set ups the conflict she and Rumple have in Storybrooke before the curse got broken.

Then, back in Storybrooke Regina is feeling empty as we already seen in “Welcome to Storybrooke”; time goes on circles and the only time she really felt alive was when Owen was around her, and while talking to Archie it becomes evident to Regina what she wants: she wants a child. It’s been a while since I’ve wondering how Regina got to adopt Henry, and it’s nice to finally see it. So she goes to Rumple so he can cut the line and get him what she wants, and he decides to help her, finding an adoption agency for a baby boy born in Boston (we all know where this is going).

She gets there and her application is so good that she has no troubles getting Henry (even though she is a single mother, and that usually works against adoption issues… oh, well). The moment she gets Henry shows us how good Lana Parilla is at acting, as she can switch from cold and menacing in one scene to warm and almost jolly in the next one; it’s a sweet moment, even more so when she says she calls him Henry over his dead father. But sadly for the queen, things are not going to be that marry for long.
Regina goes through the hardships every parent has to go through: the crying. There’s nothing more unsettling and despairing that hearing a baby cry, and Henry won’t stop as Regina just doesn’t know what she is missing. People offer her advice, but as she has her ill temper (not to mention not so fond memories of those around her) she just turn them down. She even goes to the hospital to see if something is wrong with Henry, because she can’t believe she is doing something wrong, she is so desperate that she even tries to get Henry’s records from the close eyes adoption (and we get Giancarlo Esposito’s voice, who says hello from Revolution’s set), but then everything changes the very moment Snow holds Henry and she just soothe him. At that moment Regina falls apart when she sees that she is the problem, not Henry.

Then, we have my favorite scene of the episode (and probably the whole season), which I also picked for the Scene of the Week section last Sunday. Regina and Henry are on the kitchen, Henry is still crying and Regina just doesn’t know what to do anymore; she is in despair, she tells him that if he tells her what to do she’ll do anything, she just wants a chance. And Henry gives it to her; as Regina grabs him and kiss him on the cheek, Henry finally warms up to her in what’s probably one of the most emotionally affecting scenes the show has done in a while. Why is such a little scene so affecting? Because it’s a turning point for Regina, it’s the moment in which she realizes that there’s still hope, that she can be a mother, that there’s even a tiny chance things will end well for her this time; it just takes to look at her face to know that she is now ready to be a mother, that she can take on all the hard work that being a mother is, even more a single mother; we know she’ll take on every fever, nightmares, tantrums and whatever comes next, but she is now ready as she knows that she can take it. And that makes Regina way more human, it what makes her complex and loveable all the same.

Sadly, Sydney gets the information about Henry’s mother and Regina finds out that Henry is the son of the savior. So she confronts Rumple who just plays dumb as he pretends not to know a thing about the curse. Regina leaves frustrated and she tries to give Henry back in order to prevent him from breaking the curse. This will be my only complain about the episode: why was the adoption agency so willing to take Henry back as if he was a broken grocery being brought back to a super market? I mean, it’s a baby! They can’t be given back! But hopefully Regina changes her mind soon enough, and we get to know that the other couple interested in getting Henry were the Darling brothers, which was a smart twist (even though 11 years ago gay couple had 0 chance of getting a baby, even nowadays is near impossible). These issues are bothersome, but… nah, I’ll let it slide due to so much good will, I mean, it’s just a scene, right?

So Regina takes back Henry to Storybrooke, but she is scared that she might do something in the fear of the savior coming to break the curse, so there’s only one way out: she must take her memories away. This could be seen as the ultimate sacrifice Regina makes in order to keep Henry by her side, and it has just the right amount of creepy as she stand next to Henry while making the potion that will make her forget everything and also the right amount of touching as we watch how everything came to be as it was in season one.

Now, back to Neverland (and I’ll be brief so we can move on to the next episode), we get Regina action! First she casts a preservation spell on Henry so they have some time to save him. Emma tries to be sympathetic, but Regina says outright that while Emma has parents, and two guys holding a torch for her, Regina has nothing but Henry, so Emma acknowledges that and gives her a free pass to lead the way, which is exactly what Regina needed to calm down.
So, first step, convince the lost boys to spill the beans on where is Henry. Regina is the kind of person who shoot first and asks later, so Emma asks for a chance to convince the boys that they can leave the island and go home. She succeeds (though one is not so excited) and they tell her where Pan is: his thinking tree.

So they lose no time, and while Hook, Charming and Neal set up preparations to leave Neverland, Emma, Snow and Regina go onwards to find him, and as soon as they get there, they are trapped by vines that tightly wrap them the mightier their regrets are; however, Regina has no regrets because everything she has done has led her to Henry, and so she breaks free and takes out Henry’s heart from Pan! And the pandora’s box in the process!I love this turn of events, because I was really sure in the end it would be Emma who saved the day, so I couldn’t be more surprised and pleased to see it was Regina who save the day.

And so, the ship is ready to go, Regina puts Henry’s heart back, he wakes up, and also Rumple is released from the pandora’s box and has a nice reunion moment with Neal. Henry is then put to bed as Regina casts a spell preventing anyone from taking his heart once again. And as soon as Regina leaves her side, Pan tries to steal his heart once again, but surprise, surprise! Regina was a step ahead of you with that spell. However, things take a turn for the worst, as Rumple traps Pan in the pandora’s box, but not before Pan can pull a Freaky Friday on him and Henry.

The episode ends with everyone ready to go back to Storybrooke, happy and with a sense of victory, unaware that their opponent is still kicking in Henry’s body.
Jared Gilmore does a better job portraying Pan than he does at Henry, but he still lacks a bit. However, there is hope that he can improve, and even while unimpressed with him overall, he can’t affect what it’s my favorite episode of the season.

Grade: A

Now, this week’s episode is kind of underwhelming coming from the excellence that was “Save Henry”. It’s all about the moments, and the message is to enjoy the good ones among the bad ones, and that might be the precise advise for this episode, as I feel there are more bad ones than good ones.

We start off with Ariel reuniting with Eric, so she can have her happy ending (which is ok for me, as long as we keep seeing her sharing scenes with Belle) and the ship arrives from Neverland to Storybrooke. Everyone is excited at their comeback, and everyone have someone waiting for them, except for Regina, who stands idle for a second until Snow recognizes how she saves them all and you can see that she is overwhelmed; this is probably the first time she is been seen as a hero and not a villain and she doesn’t know what to make of it, which is the right move there and yet another great moment for Lana Parilla; she, Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin have all been really strong so far this season acting wise, which is something that talks really well about the show’s leading ladies.

Now, last week’s flashback was great, but this week? Ugh… where did this go wrong? I’m really tired of the whole callbacks of the time when Regina was threat to the kingdom and Snow and Charming had to deal with her; repetition as a theme works (see episode 3x08 “Think Lovely Thoughts”), but when things just happen again for no other reason than exposition… it’s just boring, the same old explored ground. Not to mention there could have been better use of Medusa.

The flashback starts with Regina threating to destroy Snow and Charming’s happiness at their wedding (I have to comment, the evil queen is so cartoony in these flashback that she doesn’t feel like Regina at all… but that might just be me). So Snow freaks out and she wants to make it out of this situation as soon as possible. Charming’s way to deal with it is going on their honeymoon so they can send a message saying “hey, we don’t care”, which work wonders if you are in 7th grade, but while facing a powerful witch ready to strike, I just have to side with Snow on this one as they should have prepared a plan of some sort.

So Snow convinces Charming to go to the summer castle and she tries to ditch him and get Medusa’s head so she can use it to turn Regina into stone. But Charming knows her to well, and decides to join her in her quest to take Medusa’s head, so they can restart their honeymoon (in my head all I could think was “this guy just wants to consummate the marriage so much that he’s willing to take on a monster!”), and as they go for Medusa, soon Snow learns that swords are not really effective and Charming gets turned to stone; then on the reflection of a shield Regina mocks Snow as she destroyed her own happiness by obsessing on defeating her; but she quickly realizes the most obvious way to defeat Medusa; use the shield’s reflection to turn her into stone. Oh, so unpredictable, I was at the edge of my seat (sarcasm).

Snow realizes that even if they were to defeat Regina new threats would come along (like Cora or Peter Pan) and so they can’t just be focused on the bad moments, but they have to make the best of the good ones as well. It’s a good message and valuable life lesson that could have been delivered in a much better and engaging flashback than this was. We mostly saw Snow obsessing over Regina (which is water under the bridge), Charming anxious to get laid, Medusa getting killed by the most obvious way and Snow deciding to get pregnant. The end.

Now, flashback aside, what’s going on in Storybrooke is at times awesome at times awful.
There’s all kind of kinks to work out with the dynamics of the whole new Henry/Pan body swap; first of all, both Jared Gilmore and Robbie Kay seem to have fun playing new characters; Gilmore improves sharply while playing Pan, possible because he isn’t as plain as Henry, and while he can’t compare to Kay’s acting skill, it’s nice to see that he can play kinda well the bad guy role. Kay, on the other hand, does an amazing job as Henry and finally I can connect with the character, as Kay’s acting skill are so much better than Gilmore’s.

Now, back to the plot: Rumple seals “forever” pandora’s box so that Pan/Henry can never get out of it and so everyone can go to Granny’s to celebrate (who seems to have liquor license) and as Emma gives Henry his old “Once Upon a Time” book, she notices that there is something off with him. He doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings, he is more serious and, oh! He wants to spend the night at Regina’s. I liked how Regina let slide the signals that there was something wrong with Henry because he was telling her exactly what she wanted to hear and even more so that she accepted her blame later on.

Emma can’t shake off the feeling that something is wrong with Henry and she uses that as a excuse to stand Neal up on a date; so Charming goes meet her to offer some advice (as he and Snow have to meddle in all her issues, because you know they want to be parents so badly) and tells her that she has to make the best out of the worst and enjoy the good moments; but Emma doesn’t feel ready to face a date with Neal (even when in episode 3x06 “Ariel” she admitted to still love Neal and as such a date shouldn’t be that complicated, but this Emma we’re talking about).

Pan takes advantage of being in Henry’s body to investigate about Regina’s curse and he puts in action a plan to get to the place where she hides it: he sends the shadow trapped in the boat to kill the Blue Fairy in order to force Regina to take him to some place safe (the vault, where the curse is), while Emma suggest to take out Pan of the box to see how he is controlling the shadow.

So they go to Rumple, they convince him to take Pan out just outside Storybrooke so he won’t have any magic, and then in takes about 2 or 3 minutes for Henry to convince everyone that he and Pan have swapped bodies. This 2 or 3 minutes shows us that Henry can have some emotional resonances if the actor does a good job; the fact that Henry is one of the broken pieces on OUAT is both fault of the writers and Jared S. Gilmore, but in this scene we see that there is actual hope for the character to make an impression (just as long as the writers do their job right and Henry is being portrayed by another actor); when he describes the moment he connects with Emma or when he tells Regina that he still needs her, shows us just how useful this character can be in making some emotional tenderness when the actor does the job right.

By the end of the episode, Pan tricks Regina, knocks her out with some… dust? And he takes the curse in order to create a New Neverland. It’s an interesting development thrown into an episode that doesn’t offer much. The pieces for a great episode are there, but there are also too many pieces of a sloppy episode which makes me feel a little frustrated as the good will of last week could have been continued if the writers had handled it better.

Grade: C+

Stray observations:

-I imagine that, because Regina casted the curse, she can go in and out Storybrooke any time she likes. We just never seen her leave besides last’s week episode mostly because she didn’t need (nor wanted) to, so… that could be the reason why she was able to freely go to Boston and back to Storybrooke.

-Regina to Archie: “I don’t tolerate that sort of bluntness, I’m the qu… the mayor.”

-Regina: “I need a child Gold, and I need your help”
Rumple: “I’m flattered, but uninterested”
I chuckled at that line!

-Rumple: “I’m sure you’ll make… a mother of some sort”
Rumple was on fire on that scene!

-Nice touch having Jared Gilmore examining Henry’s room as Pan, he looked really menacing, cold and a bit angry, which is probably one of the best acted bits he had in the whole show.

-Emma: “Don’t you want me to stay away from Hook?”
Charming: “Do you think I’m interested on Hook? Emma, I’m a married man”.
While Charming is all kind of a bland character, at least he can make me laugh.

-The Blue fairy was kind of a bitch to Tinkerbell. Also, I liked how she and Regina seems to be BFF now, they’ll make for an interesting character pairing.

-Hook tells Neal he is going to back off so that Henry can have a father. But this triangle is far from over. Also, his attempt to flirt with Tinkerbell was sad, the character doesn't deserve that.

-Is it too much to ask that Robbie Kay gets to play Henry for the rest of the show? Couldn't Henry get used to his new Pan body? No? Ok...

-And here, Charming just lost me.
Charming: “If he is Henry… where’s Pan?”
Do you even need to ask? Obviously Pan’s in Henry’s body! With Regina!

-Next week, on the winter finale: the curse is cast! Make your bets! Will Regina and Emma join magic forces again to save Storybrooke? Or will the curse will be indeed cast and we will have a reversed version of season 1 (our characters turned back into their fairy tale personas forgetting their human lives in Storybrooke)?
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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