This review contains spoilers
Poor Emma just can’t get any love. Her parents ditched her in a magic wardrobe. Her Clyde ran off to Canada. And a good chunk of the Once Upon a Time viewership can’t stand her. All that might be about to change after Tallahassee.
Emma was never the most fascinating character, but she had a nice girl-power thing going on. I didn’t feel that she did anything to merit real loathing. She was a plot function, and treated as such – without much emotion or personal investment, either positive or negative. This episode’s backstory for Emma was long overdue, and summoned a little healthy human sympathy for the hero of Storybrooke. Will it be enough to convert the haters? Who knows, but she’s managed to hook a hottie so she’s not doing too bad for herself.
Actually, the Emma/Hook thing was a little awful. Any time two characters end up conveniently-accidentally falling into each other’s arms, you know you’re in for a real plastic relationship. Hook is after her with guns blazing, so either he legitimately likes her all of the sudden or he’s a philandering douchebag, in which case he should have gone to it sooner, preferably back when he had four lovely women at his disposal instead of just the hardened relationship-issues one. Maybe he likes a challenge?
The saving grace of that whole flirt fest is that it’s a fabulous parallel to Emma’s backstory, in which she sports glasses and a ponytail and cavorts around stealing stuff with a guy named Neal. There’s the identity of our mystery man from episode one there.
Emma and Neal actually have some chemistry, so unlike her and Hook, their interactions are fun to watch. Jennifer Morrison shows off a little acting prowess playing a younger, fresher, and less jaded Emma. She is a hundred times better at acting beneath her age than Lana Parrilla and her doe-eyed young Regina.
Eventually August/Pinocchio shows up and tells Neal he has to leave Emma, which seems a little too convenient a device used by the evil gods (I mean, writers) intent on destroying every good relationship Emma ever had. And if Neal really does have to leave Emma, can’t he at least break up with her like a normal person instead of taking off into the night? Why did he have to call the cops on her? How does August know that staying with Neal means keeping Henry means Emma not going to Storybrooke and saving them all? Why do I have so many questions?
But hey, August is back! Good to see you again, bro.
Having revealed the identity of the mystery man with the postcard, we have a new puzzle to ponder: what is in August’s box that so easily convinced Neal of Emma’s destiny? If it’s so convincing, couldn’t August have just shown it to Emma last season and cut out like half the denial episodes? It looks like the same box Emma insisted on seeing inside of in season one, and at that point it contained a seemingly unmagical typewriter.
Oh, and since these are Lost creators we’re dealing with here, they can’t solve one mystery without introducing at least two new ones to replace it. So we also learn about Aurora and Henry’s dreams of a red room, which are identical except that the two of them are presumably seeing each other inside the dream. I don’t have a theory on this one. On a side note, maybe it means Aurora will get more interesting now.
Speaking of Lost, Jorge Garcia is in this episode. He doesn’t get to do much except run around and say “Grrrr,” but still, there’s something intrinsically fun about him and he brings that to any role. His conversation with Emma about the war between humans and giants had a lot of potential, but it didn’t go deep enough to become truly interesting. Maybe that will come up again in the future.
Neal will likely head to Storybrooke now that he knows the curse is broken. Emma shackled Hook and ditched him in the giant’s castle, but that probably won’t deter him too much. Which means – spare us, evil gods – we’re headed for a love triangle.
Next week features the likable Red Riding Hood as its leading lady. Look forward to some death, drama, and wolfishness.
Read Kylie’s review of the previous episode, The Doctor, here.
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