Are you brave enough to hope?
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Michael Raymond-James, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.
Once continues to acquaint our heroes (and villains) with the world of Neverland in this episode. In the first instalment of this series, we saw the team struggle with their ability to pull together for a common goal, which was deftly handled by now-leader Emma. The second episode, however, saw Emma plagued with self-doubt, as she was forced to admit the reason for the gulf between her and her parents was that she still felt like an orphan. This week, it’s the turn of Regina to be put under the microscope, to moderate success.
The introduction of new characters within Neverland is proving successful with Tinkerbell, as her backstory is nicely woven into Regina’s past. We encounter Regina in this episode at a point in history we hadn’t before seen: during her training with Rumple, when she was still teetering between her younger, innocent self and the more corrupt villain, hellbent on achieving revenge above all else. Tink’s story is, in fact, eerily similar to Nova’s in Season One, where Judgy McJudgerson Blue Fairy decides that she doesn’t “believe” in her anymore when she steals pixie dust to help Regina achieve her happy ending, and turns her human, complete with a literal fall from grace.
The Tinkerbell we encounter in the present day Neverland is therefore thoroughly changed from the Tink that Regina knew in the past, as well as the one that we are familiar with in Peter Pan. This Tink is jaded, bitter and keen to exact her revenge upon Regina, though Regina reminds Tink that a true victory would be achieved by not giving up hope in the same way that Regina did.
Regina’s element of her backstory perhaps boasts the most potential for future storylines, as it is revealed that she had another chance at true love in the Enchanted Forest, which she didn’t take. It’s an interesting concept, of Regina being afraid of happiness, and almost the vulnerability of hoping that she could feel that happiness. Vulnerable is not often a word used to describe Regina, but it’s small surprise that, after losing her first true love, she would be more guarded, and it’s a nice idea that her happy ending could extend beyond just Henry. The fact that it is, in fact, Robin Hood who is her true love is even more delightful, as he seems a highly interesting, and genuine, character who may prove to be a great foil to Regina.
Another delightful touch this week was Mulan, also facing up to vulnerability, as she prepares to tell Aurora that she loves her. The heartbreaking scene, in which she discovers that Aurora and Phillip are expecting, and she realises that she cannot confess her feelings. Her tears as she walks away are truly heartbreaking, and it’s a level of emotion that we simply haven’t seen before from the stoic character.
One thing that certainly seems to be lacking at the moment in Season Three is a sense of urgency. We have come to Neverland to save Henry from Peter Pan, who we, the audience, and indeed the heroes, know to be dangerous. However, the episodes that we have had so far merely feature our heroes wading through dense woodland and apparently having minor existential crises. Furthermore, Charming has even been poisoned, but there’s little development of that either, as he refuses to tell Snow or actively search for an antidote for it. It’s also sapped of much dramatic potential because of the fact that it is slow acting, so all sense of pace and momentum are lost. Fingers crossed that this plot starts gaining some traction soon, because otherwise by the time the heroes actually reach Henry, he’ll be long dead.
- In the Enchanted Forest, Tinker Bell decides to help Regina by giving her pixie dust to find her happy ending.
- In Neverland, Regina is captured by Tinker Bell, who threatens to use Dreamshade on her but Regina persuades Tink to be an ally.
- Peter explains to Henry that he is the “Saviour”, who is destined to bring back magic to the realms where it is being lost.
- Neal uses Robin’s son Roland to lure Pan’s shadow to help him travel to Neverland.
- I’m pleased that Neal has made his way to Neverland. Hopefully this might be a bit of impetus to get the plot moving forwards, as presumably Neal understands the danger that Pan poses, as well as what his true plan may be.
- I’m not convinced that this is actually Pan’s plan at all. It sounds awfully noble for somebody who resorts to kidnap to get a child there. Furthermore, he did say that he needed Henry’s heart, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the plot entailed Henry’s death in some way.
- It also appears to me that Pan is unable to travel off Neverland. His shadow certainly can, as it brings back new Lost Boys, but perhaps his plan with Henry has something to do with the idea of him escaping.
- A lovely spot of exposition when Hook explained that Regina couldn’t just magic herself into Pan’s camp to get Henry back.
- Tinker Bell telling Regina that she was selfish for not facing her true love was certainly intriguing, and apropos. However, if she had encountered Robin at that point, then he likely wouldn’t have had his major love with Marion and had Roland, so I suppose these things happen for a reason. It’s not as if Robin was unhappy in that interim, however.
- I’m pleased that Disney took Mulan in that direction with Aurora. Originally it seems like it was her and Phillip that the show was leaning towards, but well done them for taking it in a different direction, especially for a family show.
A nice episode. Not amazing, not brilliant. Just nice. Can we go back to Storybrooke now?
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.