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Once Upon a Time- Episode 3.01 "The Heart of The Truest Believer" Review- Off to a great start

Hello dearies, have you missed Once Upon a Time all summer like I did? Have you maybe been as frustrated as I was with so many promos with so little (or inexistent) new footage? Well, that’s over. Our show is back and it comes back with an episode that’s quite action packaged, and that makes one hell of an entertaining hour of television (or 43 minus if you don’t count commercials).

This is a show that I’ve watched from day 1, since its premiere, and that’s not something I can say about most of the shows I watch, so it’s always been kind of special, at times pretty darn epic, some other times a drag, but it’s always quite unique. Even if I don’t consider it to be the best crafted tv series (a long shot from it, actually), it’s still one of my personal favorites because, unlike many other shows, it has its own essence; it’s not a Lost wanna be, it’s not your typical fantasy show, it’s just Once Upon a Time. It has forged a really strong and recognizable identity, which is why I like it so much, even if sometimes I feel frustrated about it. But that’s enough about my thoughts on the show; let’s talk about the premiere itself.

We start very interestingly with a flashback to show us Henry’s birth and how Emma decided to give him away; we can tell it wasn’t easy, and Jenniffer Morrow is able to show is just with great acting skills (look out, this might be my pick for scene of the week). Then, we immediately jump back to present day and we pick up things where we left off; in the ship, we have Emma, Snow White, Charming, Regina, Hook and Rumplestinskin (Rumple from now on, just to save some letters) arriving to Never Land. They all arrive there sound and safe, but things won’t remain peaceful for long as Rumple decides to go on his own and leaves everyone behind. I could tell from the word go that he wasn’t just ditching them all just so he could get his way, but rather because he already had some experience with Never Land in the first place and he was doing what had to be done, and just as I imagined by the final minutes we see that Rumple in fact had some connections to Never Land, but we’ll get to that.

The episode shifts in three different stories, Henry’s arrival and escape, Emma’s group and their trip to Never Land and Neal in the Enchanted Forest; all of them came out as organic, natural and well plotted to me. The storytelling is showing significant improvement from what we saw on the second half of season two: it’s more evident that the writers have a clear picture of the kind of story that they want to tell and they tell it without sacrificing the character’s traits we know and love. In season 2, more than one time I felt that Regina’s actions were out of character, but now it seems that writers have refocused and she acts like one would expect; in fact, not just her, but every single character.

Let’s start with Henry’s storyline first as it felt to me as weakest; he arrives to Never Land with Greg and Tamara who soon find out they were lied to and there was never a plan to destroy magic in the first play; the lost boy tricked them into bringing Henry to them for Peter Pan’s sake and as they refuse to deliver Henry they are immediately killed off. This is probably a decision the writers came across after finding out that many fans disliked both Greg and Tamara, and while their storyline was getting stale in season 2, it felt kind of rushed the way they killed them. Also quite sad for Greg as his storyline was quite good in “Welcome to StoryBrooke”, but if he and Tamara outstayed their welcome then… yeah, ok. It was a nice shock and to be honest I won’t be missing them much, more than anything one feels bad for the wasted potential.

Anyway, Henry runs off, Tamara survives, but is killed by Rumple shortly after as the dark one is anything but merciful, and after getting some information out of her she is now out of the way.
On his way to escape Henry is apparently saved by a rogue lost boy and both cooperate to try to lose those who are following them. However said lost boy turned out to be Peter Pan and he was setting Henry up. While I was expecting said lost boy to be actually bad I didn’t see coming that he was Peter Pan; some of you who checked the cast for Peter Pan might have already known, but I luckily didn’t know and as a result it was an effective twist to something I already kind of predicted. The episode ends with Henry being surrounded by Peter Pan’s army of lost boys.

Meanwhile, Neal wakes up in the Enchanted Forest, saved by Aurora, Mulan and Phillip. He tells them that he has to find his way back to find Emma, and that name of course rings bells to the whole group. Aurora offers to deliver Henry a message, and it was nice to see that the writers remembered the whole sleeping curse communication device from last season, even if ultimately it didn’t work; it’s always nice to have these kind of callbacks. As for Mulan, she decides that she can help Neal by escorting him to his father’s house in order to find some magic that can send him back to Storybrooke. As they get there, they meet with Robin Hood, who has been crashing in the dark one’s castle as it seems. Neal reveals that he is Rumple’s son and Robin Hood let him do as he please as he remembers that Rumple once spared him. Neal finds a door hidden by magic and a snow globe that let him know that Emma is not actually in Storybrooke, but Never Land.

While this story is the shortest in screen time and doesn’t sound nearly as good when I write it as when you see it, I have to say that’s really well executed, and I like Neal’s attitude towards his return to Enchanted Forest; it feels real, if I were on his shoes I imagine I would make some of the same choices and remarks he did, and also there’s the thing that this open an interesting path for his story to take place.

Now, back with our main group for what has surely been my favorite part of the episode, we got a lot of fighting, some family drama, old feuds, and all the good stuff.
Emma is unsure how to approach this rescue mission; she is scared as hell to fail and one can tell. His parents are not able to convince her that things will be ok, and she decides that she will do anything to take back Henry, even if it isn’t the right way.

There is a good scene where Hook gives Emma Neal’s sword and they talk about him; Hook tells Emma that he was close to Neal as well and for a moment there we can see some sparks between them; the chemistry between Jennifer and Colin O'Donoghue is undeniable and even if the scene last just about 1 or 2 minutes it’s worth noticing that interaction between these two usually goes well and I look forward for more around the season.

Things don’t go smoothly on their trip, as mermaids attack them, Regina scares most of them off, but as they capture one of them, that mermaid calls on a storm and all hell breaks loose, leaving our heroes in midst of a storm to deal with.
Tension grow, Regina and Snow start fighting and it ends up in fists, and soon after Hook and Charming are fighting as well! Though at first it seems crazy these kind of things happen in stressful situations and it surely its entertaining to see them fighting each other. For one it’s good that they let it out of their system, but the timing is not quite right as the storm is not getting any better and Emma tries to stop them from fighting, and as yelling is not very effective she… goes for a swim? Seriously, I don’t understand the logic there, but it’s a minor flaw to what had been mostly great action packaged scenes so I won’t complain much.

Everybody stops fighting in order to bring Emma back to the ship. Once they get Emma back and they finally set foot on Never Land Emma sets things straight; she is the leader, she needs everybody’s skills and she will make sure they bring Henry back. And that’s quite good set up.

Now, what I have been saving for last is Rumple’s meeting with the lost boy. Way back into the summer, we were shown a clip with a sneak peek of OUAT with this very scene. Rumple had already met Peter Pan and apparently he is overpowered by him, though is hard to picture someone who could be more powerful than the dark one himself. But that’s not what’s a shocker, but the doll the boy gives to Rumple, which makes him to cry. Why? What’s with it? That’s the kind of mystery that raises an eyebrow, and leaves you intrigue.

There are some questions answered, some other asked, and it seems that this season is going to be way better structured than the last one. I foresee a bright future ahead of us, just let’s hope said future comes to pass.

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

-Emma gives birth at 8:15. LOST wink?

-Mulan: “I’m in a story?”
Neal: “Yeah. They made a movie about you, it’s quite good”
Mulan: “What’s a movie?”

-Mermaids in OUAT are quite furious, like in real mythology unlike the Disney version, which is something that I liked… although they made sure they would be as pretty as the Disney version.

-Regina: “Now may I resume killing her?!” Gotta love how she says that so nonchalantly.

-Next week: Snow pulls some sort of sword like Excalibur out of a stone, so I’m assuming she becomes a queen of some sort…?

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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