Sushi for Twelve, $482 plus delivery f Once Upon a Time- Episodes 3.17/3.18 "The Jolly Roger/Bleeding Through" Review- The show is keeping it fun, and that's great!

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Once Upon a Time- Episodes 3.17/3.18 "The Jolly Roger/Bleeding Through" Review- The show is keeping it fun, and that's great!

Once Upon a Time has been having fun lately; the best OUAT is the one that just lays back, loosen itself up and delivers plot progression along with some fun action/magic scenes and great acting from the cast. I’ve said before that OUAT is a silly show, that’s not to say it’s stupid because it’s not, but it is a show that relies on concepts such as “magic” and “true love” and all that kind of stuff without so much of a build up, so the best it can do is to deliver some heartfelt moments (for instance, the goodbye scene in “Going Home”) along with some pretty entertaining goofy ones (like almost every single fight in the show). I’d say so far the second part of the season has been able to find a good balance between those heartfelt moments and the goofy actions scenes, and both “The Jolly Roger” and “Bleeding Through” are proof of that.

“The Jolly Roger” is probably the first episode of OUAT that leans mostly on Hook; so far in the show he has played key and important roles, but he never really took stage center until now. Dealing with his own episode for the first time I’d say that it is quite an accomplishment that he proved himself as able to carry a whole episode and it is a proof of how strongly constructed his character is. However, this episode is not flawless, in fact there are several issues, such as slow pacing and some awkward moments that keep one from fully enjoying the episode.

I’ll be brief; the episode is about Hook helping Ariel finding Prince Eric in Storybrooke, while exploring their journey together in the Enchanted Forest that was a year ago. This storyline has never an appropriate pace, most of the time we see just Hook and Ariel walking around for several minutes and as such it can become a little bit of a chore to get through their scenes, but they are saved by their interactions.

Hook is a very interesting character and the episode takes chances with him, putting him in all kind of places. He chooses to kill Black Beard instead of saving him, even when that means that Ariel will have a harder time finding Prince Eric, and that choice is fueled by his desire to go back to be the guy he was before he met Emma, a guy who didn’t have to hurt from his love, but soon he would learn that’s not possible and as such the consequences of his actions hunts them.

For the entire season Hook has been more a hero than he has been a villain so it is interesting that the show decided to throw him back to a morally ambitious territory, and it pays off as the result is him being conflicted. As he wanders around Storybrooke with Ariel it is obvious that the past is hunting him, he is constantly regretting his decision and the acting is strong enough to carry on even the mostly slow paced parts. Ariel is there mostly to try to convince Hook that he can be a better version of himself and there’s no need to be embarrassed about it, but it’s not a matter of shame but of love, Ariel just didn’t see it.

Aside from the slow pacing I would like to point out that Hook’s fight with Black Beard was way less impressive than it should have; I think Once Upon a Time should take notes on how Revolution deals with action sequences (the stunt coordination in that show is so awesome that it won an emmy) so they can keep it, because there are many fighting scenes that are quite clunky in the show, but sometimes that just goes along with the silliness of the show that I mentioned at the beginning.

The big plot twist of the episode is that Ariel was never really on Storybrooke, it was actually Zelena posing as her in order to curse Hook’s lips so that the next time he kisses Emma he can drain away her magic as she is such a threat; should Hook not do it, Zelena will hurt those close to Emma. That was an interesting development that, once again, put Hook in an interesting position for the upcoming episodes.

Talking about Emma’s magic, the subplot of Regina teaching her magic was absolutely superb; the lines were spot on and funny and it’s nice to see how these two are getting along better and better each episode, especially when Regina shows how worried she was that she may have got Emma killed and then how she praised her- on her own way- about her potential.

The episode end revealing that Ariel did find Eric and they are living happily ever after, while Emma and company go for dinner at Granny’s, but as recently cursed Hook is struggling with what he should do next he stays out of it, and check out on Emma from the distance. While some people said it was a very stalker move- and let’s be honest, it does seem that way-, I couldn’t help but feeling that he is actually ready to make the right choice this time: in order to let Emma beat Zelena, he will find the way to work around Zelena’s threat.

This episode could have been great if it was dealt better, the execution is really poor at times, minutes sometimes feel longer, but as a whole the episode works because it explores rather nicely the conflicts that Hook has been dealing with and sets his character up for very interesting moments.

Grade: B

“Bleeding Through” is a very special episode, it’s the very first time we can feel Regina and Snow are actually allies; they have a really complicated history to say the least, their feud has been long and they both has taken a lot of stuff and people from each other, and this episode deals with that while also making a step forward so these two can develop a real bond.

For longtime enemies like Snow White and The Evil Queen coming to work together was not an easy road, Neverland surely helped since they both aimed for the same thing- saving Henry- but they never were on the same page, they often disagreed and they never had a heart to heart, the conflicts they had were buried under the ground and while they got used to each other’s presences they never dealt with them until now.

The episode marvelously starts with Zelena showing up in Regina’s house. I said before that Lana Parilla and Rebecca Madder have an amazing on screen chemistry and I stand by it; they get to play around each other for a little while and Zelena reveals that her visit was a mere distraction so that Rumple could get her heart. And he does- on a super lame scene I rather not discuss in depth- as he threatens Robin Hood’s child; Regina pops up a second later and she is super understanding as she says “nothing is worth a child’s life”, which is a simple but an effective proof of how far her character has come.

Now I would like to take this chance to talk a little bit about magic: it always comes with a price, right? But that’s all we actually know about magic. Regina tells Belle she put a spell around her heart so she could not be controlled, how convenient! And later Rumple says that time travelling defies the rules of magic. Sorry, but what rules? So far magic has been proof to be able to do absolutely everything you set up to do, and the rules are only pop up time to time to plot convenience. I would pretty much like that OUAT would develop a consistent mythology instead of just changing the game’s rule at their convenience.

Moving on, Regina decides to do a ritual so that they can talk with Cora about her past so that they can know what they are up against. To do so, she needs the murder weapon and the killer- which is way the ritual is not used all the time. The ritual seems to work for like a second, but the portal with the world of the dead closes in matters of seconds, and as Regina declares it a failure, Emma, Hook and Charming leaves leaving Snow and Regina alone- and trapped- in the house.
Let’s start this part of the plot with a great exchange:

Regina: “I’m not in the mood for a heart-to-heart.”
Snow: “I’m not sure that’s physically possible right now.”

That simple line, right there, is among those that are the greatest in the show not just because they are funny, but because they wear the characters down, as Regina restrains a laugh and decides to let Snow help her out cleaning things up. It’s a really simple moment, but it lets them have a chance to finally get to talk and bury the hatchet.

Snow finally gets the properly apologize to Regina for killing Cora and she tells that doing that hunts her every day; Snow killing Cora was one of my favorite moments of season 2, it brought so much darkness in a pure character and put her in such a complicated position that I was just delighted that the show had the guts to go there, which is way I was a little bit disappointed by the lack of depth Snow had been getting this season.

Regina is now able to see things with perspectives, and while she doesn’t openly forgive Snow for what she did she does recognize that Cora killed her mother and that things are complicated, and that’s probably the best terms they can come to in a situation like that, and it’s a really nice step forward for these two characters who have been mostly forced to work together, now it won’t be so forced and it will come more naturally than ever before.

As they realize that there is something in the house, Cora’s ghost, we finally get to see Regina protecting Snow. She wants answers from her mother badly, she wants to know what happened and she demands it as she also protects Snow from her. The surprise is that Cora wasn’t actually trying to harm Snow, she wanted to show her the past.

Cora’s backstory is not the most interesting, but it makes a lot of sense considering what we’ve seen of the character. She is tricked into sleeping with a man who pretended to be a prince and she gets pregnant with Zelena; soon she meets with King Leopold (Snow’s father) and they seemingly fall in love (Cora’s desire to become royalty overcomes any romantic love that’s for sure). The most interesting twist is that Eva (Snow’s mother, whom was engaged to Leopold) overhears Cora and the man she slept with and realizes that she is with child.

With no regards over Leopold feelings or even getting the whole story straight, Eva tells him about Cora’s pregnancy and the arrangement she had with her one night stand to settle things and soon she finds herself expelled from the castle. After giving birth to Zelena Cora knows having her baby around will prevent her from ever stop being a miller’s daughter, and her obsession for status causes her to abandon her daughter. “I’m giving you up to give myself my best chance” that is cold! And consistent with the character of Cora, which is a good thing.

The episode ends on a very sweet note, as Snow reassures Regina that they will win and that she will find her way to happiness; Regina tears up, which is truly moving, and for the first time ever she decides to listen to someone when they tell them that she can be happy. And so she goes to find Robin Hood and outright kisses him in which is one of the sweetest development the show has done so far.

Now, on the subplot notes, Emma gets to play a little bit with magic, Hook is distant, Belle finds out what Zelena is up to and Zelena and Rumple share a very awkward scene. Maybe it is because Rumple hooked up with Cora, but I found it extremely weird when they were kissing; I knew Rumple was after the dagger, and he was close to get it, but still it felt a little bit off place for me, and more than just a little predictable for my taste.

But all in all, this episode was mostly great. The flaws are there and there are moments that somewhat restrains the episode from achieving full greatness, but it left a pretty big impression by moving Snow and Regina’s relationship forward while also adding more layers of depth to their characters, which is always welcome.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:
-I think Hook looks quite like a boss in armor. Also his idea to set up light some idle arrows to make it seem like there were archers on his side was pretty clever.

-Belle is getting some screen time, but she doesn’t do much. In “The Jolly Roger” she helps casting a tracking spell and in “Bleeding Through” she reminds Regina that she locked her up- god! It’s been centuries since that was even mentioned- and finds out what Zelena is up to. I think the writers need to figure out what to do with her.

-I wonder, couldn’t Regina just sway her hand and get that crib done like in a second?

-Subplot I was not really fond of: Snow and Charming trying to prove they were fun. Seriously, driving lessons for a 13 year old? But at least we got to see Regina’s hilarious reaction by the end (“As a mayor I can’t let an unlicensed minor driver on the road”).

-Emma scared for her life: “A little reading doesn’t sound so bad now.”

-Zelena: “Red apples are so icky sweet, don’t you think? People tend to like something a little shaper.”
Regina: “And green apples are just… bitter.”
Honestly, I like the taste of green apples better, but for Regina’s sake: red apples FTW!

-Zelena: “Envy is just another word for ambition.”
Regina: “Well, that’s just not true.”

-Emma jiggles while playing around with magic, it was nice to see Emma relaxing and having fun for once.

-It’s interesting to have Snow being disappointed at her mother; I think she will be able to see things with more perspective now that her mother is not so idolized.

-That’s it for now, hopefully I’ll bring the review for “A Curious Thing” either tomorrow or soon on Thursdays. Once again, sorry for the delay!

About the Author - Pablo
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 reviews for Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother and Community