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Once Upon a Time - Page 23 - Review

2 Apr 2017

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"Page 23" missed the mark for me. I enjoyed the story and that it wrapped up the Wish Realm Robin issue and the Evil Queen issue in a neat little bow, but how their endings were wrapped up that I find fault. "Page 23" felt a little clunky, as if things had to be rushed along to make room for other up coming plots. It comes as a disappointment since the episodes in this half of the season have been incredibly strong so far. There has been a tone of finality surrounding Once Upon a Time, both on screen and off, so it's my belief that every episode has to hit its mark from now on. I did enjoy elements of the episode, but the overarcing feel of "Page 23" was rushed.

The flashbacks in this episode were back to being superfluous. I felt as if we had seen this all before, with the Evil Queen stalking Snow White, determined for her heart, only to be thwarted. Tinker Bell's return was great to see, but I would of liked her involvement to have also included the present day Storybrooke, or more scenes in the past. The fairy appeared to provide an info dump to refresh viewers on the lore surrounding Regina and Robin and that was all. It also felt a bit awkward that she would air the Regina's personal romantic business in front of a gaggle of terrified villagers. However, Cupid's Arrow pointing to a mirror as the "person" Regina hates the most was a nice touch, my favorite part of the flashbacks. I would have liked to see "Page 23" explore this subconscious self-loathing Regina had for herself more in this episode.

Hook's plot in the episode was hit or miss with me. I want to see this engagement from Emma's point of view, not just Hook's. I really liked the scene with him and Snow White on the rooftop, the actual snow falling was beautiful and lent itself to the quiet reflection of the scene. Thank you Vancouver weather! But Emma finding out what Hook did, by accident instead of by confession, gave a hurried feel to the conflict. It felt as if they had to rush to breaking up for whatever was to come in the next episode. Also, bringing Captain Nemo back as a confidant for Hook felt odd to me. I understand Hook didn't have anyone that wasn't Emma's immediate family that he could trust with this burden, but Nemo didn't work in his introductory episode, so bringing him back wasn't like welcoming back Archie. In fact, aside from getting Hook on to the Nautilus, why couldn't he have worked out his problem further with the town therapist? Again, I find myself enjoying the more tragic portions of each storyline the most in "Page 23", probably because they brought forth the most emotion in me as a viewer. When Emma stayed up waiting for Hook to return, believing he had made the choice to leave her instead of the truth that he had fallen into one of Gideon's plots, and all we hear is the lock clicking home at the end of the episode, that spoke volumes more than any dialog could. It was a memorable moment.

Now on to Regina's plot, her showdown with her own negative qualities. The physical fight in the mayor's office was excellent, both in terms of CGI and as an action scene in "Page 23". The technical aspects of creating the illusion that an actress is interacting with and fighting herself were executed very well; I forgot that there was only one Lana Parrilla for a time. And the fight itself was exciting. However, the resolution for the Evil Queen didn't feel right to me. It didn't feel earned, that the Evil Queen achieved the happiness Regina has sought for six seasons far too quickly. Zelena's dialog towards the end mirrored my own feelings, that giving the Evil Queen this second chance didn't ring quite true. In my reviews I always harp on about how far Regina has come and this is why; he redemption was earned slowly, with many setbacks, making it incredibly satisfying when she's able to support Emma or have a heart to heart with Snow White that doesn't involve the removal of hearts. It took years for Regina to get this close to her happy ending, to have the love of a family and acceptance, so the Evil Queen being magically "fixed" left me as a viewer wanting. I also have a personal annoyance with the Evil Queen, so that could have been a factor, but to me, having Regina reabsorb he negative traits, accepting them as a part of her that she has changed and grown from, would have been a preferable ending. Also, sending Robin away without a final scene between him and Regina gave no resolution to her struggle understanding that she couldn't go back to the way things were. It didn't give her the closure she needed, but perhaps her letting him go was that closure. I can say I though Henry returning the Evil Queen to that moment outside the tavern where she could honor the chance the pixie dust gave her years ago was a sweet moment, I did enjoy that even with the plot holes it presented.

"Page 23" provided a couple of plot points that I'm sure will factor into the remaining episodes of this season. We once again see Henry use his powers as The Author, which I've been hoping would come back into play. And there was a good amount of time spent on Zelena, showing her reactions and thoughts on things. "Page 23" was a dip in an otherwise solid and enjoyable latter half of season six and I believe up coming episodes will be of a higher quality. I'm not sure what Gideon has in store now but I'm dying to find out, and now that more extraneous plots have been resolved, I look forward to Once Upon a Time unfolding Gideon's master plan and how the Black Fairy factors in to the lives of those in Storybrooke.

Tune in Sunday for "A Wondrous Place"!