Once Upon A Time season 3 episode 4 review: Nasty Habits
Robert Carlyle's Rumple is centre-stage in this week's Once Upon A Time. Here's Kylie's review...
This review contains spoilers.
3.4 Nasty Habits
It’s a Rumple-centric episode this week, and that means quality. How could anyone complain with Robert Carlyle’s creepy giggles and weird hand spasms gracing our TVs? Nasty Habits is an overall solid offering, too, with plenty of the staple family drama that provides Once’s best emotional moments.
Searching for Henry on his own, Rumpelstiltskin (who put war paint on his face, for some reason) encounters his son Neal/Baelfire, and their reunion is at once joyful and wary, as Neal still hasn’t gotten over being abandoned by his dad as a teen. Though Neal comes off as a bit angsty this week, I think his attitude is justified. It’s a lot to ask Neal to simply get over a betrayal of the father-son bond, especially one that occurred when he was a vulnerable teenager. Rumple, meanwhile, struggles to regain Neal’s trust and to deal with his own conflicting emotions, which he addresses in conversations with an hallucination of Belle.
It’s a relief that they are finally addressing the issue of whether or not Rumple plans to kill Henry. For a while there, it looked like they were going to let him fall into Protective Grandpa mode with no questions asked. Rumple insists that he no longer intends to kill Henry and will sacrifice his life to save him, but it isn’t clear what spurred this change of heart. That could be an indication that he will change his mind again as quickly as he did the first time. Or, it could be that the writers just didn’t do a good job justifying the change. I thought it was the latter, but after this episode, I think it’s the former; they seem to have this one under control.
Real-life Belle doesn’t bother me much, but imaginary Belle is a Mary Sue. All she does is pop up randomly to philosophize and give trite advice. It strikes me as primarily a way to get her character into the show so her fans don’t freak out.
Pan reveals to Neal the prophecy that Henry will be Rumple’s undoing, and Neal decides to freeze Rumple with magic squid ink and carry on the rescue mission himself. This, obviously, does not go so well. Pan gets Henry back and Henry joins in the Lost Boys’ drugged orgy, which is accessible only to boys who do not feel loved. Geez, you have TWO moms and a bunch of crazy grandparents all getting in fights because of how much they love you. Dumb kid.
In flashbacks, Rumple and Neal (then called Bae) have a different set of trust issues. In a clever move, the episode weaves the story of the Pied Piper into the plot. Pan is the Piper, and he goes all Hocus Pocus on the local children, luring boys who feel unloved to join him. Rumple finds Bae and takes him home, but Bae, who longs for more freedom, is upset that Rumple didn’t ask him what he wanted to do.
The flashbacks mostly rehash old ground with the father-son issues, but Rumple and the cute mini Neal/Bae make them entertaining enough. The big news of the flashbacks is that Rumple was very close with Peter Pan when they were children, up until Pan betrayed him and went to Neverland. I am a fan of the theory that Pan is Rumple’s brother. Stephen Lord has been cast as Rumple’s father in an episode airing on the 17th of November, so we should be getting some mini Rumple soon!
Emma and co. are still making no progress on their search for Henry. They discover Neal’s childhood hideout and map, but can’t read it. Meanwhile, Charming stupidly decides not to tell anybody that he’s dying, or to make any attempts to cure himself. This makes absolutely no sense except from the viewpoint of writers trying to build drama.
As in episode two of this season, Jennifer Morrison again shows her acting chops with a brief, tearful scene about Emma’s abandonment and the loss of Neal. I hope this means we’ll see more of Emma’s vulnerable side. She’s a tough female character, which is nice, but as so often happens on TV, the writers sometimes act like “tough female character” is all the character development she needs. She’s been improving lately, but in small doses.
The biggest splash of this week actually came from the promo for next week, which features Hook and Emma kissing. Watch out, fandom. There will be blood over this one.
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