Once Upon A Time season 3 episode 2 review: Lost Girl
After the excitement of last week's season premiere, Once Upon A Time delivers a somewhat flat instalment...
This review contains spoilers.
3.2 Lost Girl
Lost Girl is season three’s caffeine crash. The writers must have spent all their ideas on the fast-paced season premiere, because this episode features only one notable scene. The rest is meaningless arguing and flashbacks that, in a week, will be indistinguishable in viewers’ minds from the flashback sequences of at least five other episodes. Lost Girl’s emotional payoff, Emma’s confession about feeling like an orphan, is a nice scene but falls a little flat after all the build-up.
The show is pushing the idea that talking about being an orphan, both as a kid and now, is an instance of Emma "accepting who she really is.” I’m calling bogus on that one, because first of all, the magic map came from Pan so of course he’s going to make it say Emma is something unpleasant, and secondly, defining an entire person by her lack of parents is just wrong. It also makes no sense - people are much more complex than that. That map should have made her take a Myers-Briggs test or something.
But Emma does address an important issue in her life, and things get interesting when characters reveal their weaknesses. From the start of the show when Emma lit candles on a birthday cake and blew them out all alone, viewers have been constantly reminded of her issues. We do sympathize with her, but it’s sort of a default reaction because she’s a nice person and she’s had it rough. Once has not built more than a tenuous emotional connection between Emma and the viewers. That’s not always a bad thing; in many stories the main character is fully occupied carrying the brunt of the plot, and with dynamic characters like Regina and Rumple to create that human link, it works out in Once. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt if Emma felt more real, and she took a big step in that direction this week. Jennifer Morrison really delivered, proving that she can handle more of this type of thing. There’s potential for Emma to get a lot more interesting, if the writers follow up on it.
Whether said writers know 'interesting' when they see it is up for debate. This week’s flashbacks, featuring another series of Snow and Charming’s Adventures in Love and Kingdomlessness, go something like this: Snow and Charming are riding horses in the woods and kissing. Regina comes, says the throne is hers, and threatens to kill people. Snow is discouraged. Snow and Charming talk about their problems and ride horses some more. Snow steels herself and confronts Regina. Regina is staved off, but she promises to be back. Old plot, different details. Why include flashbacks at all? They could be using that time for something more useful, like advertising Oxy Clean.
The most noteworthy part of the flashbacks is when Snow discovers Charming had her pull a fake sword out of a stone to trick her into increasing her self-esteem, and she decides that is so romantic. I don’t care that it worked, I would have punched that lying bastard in the schnoz. (The second most noteworthy part is Regina’s plunging skintight (leather?) dress.)
Rumple gets a shadow to take his dagger away for safekeeping, then wanders around the jungle with a hallucinated Belle. He is struggling with the decision of whether to give up Henry to Pan in exchange for safety - which is odd because last season he was thinking of killing Henry anyway. It turns out the doll Pan left him last episode was the final item Rumple’s father gave him before abandoning him. Rumple, just like everyone else in this show, has issues with his parents. But if Rumple’s relationship with his father becomes a major party of the story, this well-tread territory will surely seem new in the hands of Robert Carlyle and applied to Rumple’s already wonderfully nuanced character. Plus, we NEED flashbacks to baby Rumple. Right now.
Next week Tinker Bell makes her debut, and she has a complex history with Regina. More importantly, the spin-off series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premieres in the U.S. on Thursday night at 8/7 Central. The series is purported to be darker than Once, but the new promo pushes the romance angle. It will be interesting to see if they can find a working balance between darkness and Disneyfied fairytale conventions like true love. If romance isn’t your thing, there might also be some hookah and some heads lobbed off. I’ll be reviewing Once in Wonderland here on Den of Geek, so come share your opinions after you’ve watched!
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