I’m sorry, but your son cannot be saved. He’s evil.Emma
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, and Robert Carlyle.
Episode 16: Mother’s Little Helper
The final battle appears to be upon us at long last after “Mother’s Little Helper”. This episode gave us a lot more information about the Big Bad, the Black Fairy, as well as the true motivations behind Gideon, who has thus far been as changeable as the weather. Elsewhere, Hook took an interesting detour that serves merely to keep him away from Emma, though hopefully that plot point will soon be reversed, with only a handful of episodes left of Captain Swan.
The glimpses that we had of the Black Fairy this week were interesting. She certainly seems a different kind of villain, though I wouldn’t necessarily determine her to be the most captivating or engaging as yet. She definitely exudes a sinister quality, but there’s far less nuance than we have had with other foes. My mind immediately springs to Ingrid and Zelena. Both of their villainy were built on an expansive hurt, but from what we learn of the Black Fairy, she is evil pretty much just by design. I’ll eat my words if the show offers a different state of affairs, but I’m surprised that this is the final villain on whom the show rests when we’ve definitely had larger threats.
It was a choice, to put it somewhat politely, for the backstory this week to revolve around a tale that we do, in fact, already know. The tale that Gideon told us a few weeks back about the Black Fairy’s villainy are replayed for us here, which does eliminate certain elements of surprise. Indeed, the Black Fairy’s evil actually seemed lessened in the showing of it. The element of mystery surrounding her and her persona were far more intriguing than the actual being herself, which is more than a little disappointing. Also disappointing was the fact that the one question I actually had – namely how she managed to kidnap Gideon seeing as she cannot leave the realm – was not answered and casually glossed over entirely.
This episode is more instructive for allowing us insight into Gideon’s viewpoint predominantly. It demonstrates that he managed to hang onto his elements of heroism, though he is also crippled by his own cowardice, much as Rumple used to be. It also explains that his current acts in Storybrooke have all been masterminded by the Black Fairy, who has had his heart this entire time. If Gideon had actually been a purposeful and understandable menace the entire time that he were in Storybrooke then maybe this would make the Black Fairy seem scary by extension. Since, however, Gideon has spent most of the time floundering and just seeming to do random acts and not knowing how to do things like recreate a sword so that he can bring back the Black Fairy makes her seem more than a little incompetent. Hopefully that impression is remedied through increased exposure to her in Storybrooke now that she has been freed.
The CGI spider was brilliantly done, which is more than a little surprising, considering Once’s track record with slightly suspect graphic effects. It was genuinely threatening, and Emma’s fight with it seemed fraught, even though very few members of the audience would have thought she were in genuine danger. The more disappointing aspect were the Halloween decoration cobwebs that seemed to go up everywhere. I always wonder when I see those in programmes whether creatives have ever seen actual cobwebs, because bits of frayed cotton they most certainly are not.
The subplot with Henry and Regina this week was interesting, and fits nicely into the overall arc here. Bringing back Isaac was appropriate and fit in well, as well as addressing his whereabouts over the past few seasons – who needs a prison when you have a perfectly functioning mental asylum underneath your hospital? Not Storybrooke, that’s for sure. Quite why he wants Hamilton tickets when Once’s internal clock is still firmly in about 2014 is anybody’s business, but knock yourself out I guess. It certainly served as a nice way to ram the whole “final battle of the Saviour” down the audience’s throats just in case they’d been napping for the other 39 minutes of the episode.
Seeing Hook in action in the Enchanted Forest was great, and he’s certainly doing what he does best, which is being charming and a bit of a cad, but being stuck with Black Beard in Neverland definitely doesn’t sound like compelling viewing. While it’s nice to be seeing glimpses of other realms, it’s not really adding much apart from keeping Emma away from Hook which, with only 6 episodes left, isn’t exactly what the audience wants. It’s bad enough that we still have Snow and Charming sleeping on shifts.
“Mother’s Little Helper” also interestingly sews the seeds of a divide between the Gold and Charming clan. There’s no dramatic confrontation, but there seems to be a tacit and firm distancing that occurs at the end of the episode, as Gold and Belle vow to stand by their child, while Snow and Emma wash their hands clean of him. One thing is for certain, not having Rumple on side is definitely not something you want to happen in your fight against evil. It’s also an interesting dilemma for Rumple, as he’s not necessarily acting in the name of evil at this point, but merely trying to protect his son, which unfortunately puts him on the wrong side again. It’s a compelling scene, and hopefully it gives Belle a decent dilemma to grapple with moving forwards as well, seeing as she’s barely been seen since she gave birth.
“Mother’s Little Helper”, while giving us a glimpse at our big enemy, is still setting up the pieces for the big confrontation which can hopefully begin in earnest next week. It’s becoming a little frustrating how poorly the show is balancing all of its characters, as Zelena hasn’t been seen for weeks and Belle hasn’t had anything meaningful to do for a while either. Neither have Snow and, to some degree, Charming, which is pretty much abhorrent for a show that was born from their true love in the first place. Much as I love and am invested in Emma as the Saviour, the beginning of the season managed to give all of the cast equal opportunity to sink their teeth into a storyline, and it made for a much more nuanced and mature drama compared to this more simple “good vs evil” tale.
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.