Spoiler Alert! Read no further unless you're fully caught up on OUAT up to Season 3 Episode 1. Or if, y'know, you happen to like spoilers.
First off... Has anyone else noticed how much darker this series has gotten? It may have been gradual, but now that the characters are in Neverland, everything seems to be darker, more grave, and more serious. In fact, Neverland itself seems to be a somewhat evil place in general, rather than the happy place it was in the animated Disney film of Peter Pan (and most other modern versions of his story). We haven't yet met any inhabitants of Neverland that aren't portrayed as evil villains.
Emma and Her Adventuring Party
It's not just the natives of Neverland that make the show seem dark. The team of six that went to Neverland to save Henry was split down the middle - three "villains" (Rumpelstiltskin, Regina, and Hook) and three "heroes" (Emma, Snow, and David). It's a strange team-up, made stranger by the increasingly blurry lines between good and evil on this show. Take Snow White, for example. First season, she was portrayed as the ultimate good, pure-hearted, innocent heroine. By this point in the series, she has been involved in a number of questionable activities, culminating in her (indirectly) killing Cora. I feel like this is sort of a commentary on the real world - showing that moral decisions aren't always as black-and-white here as are in the fairy tales.
I also want to comment on the dichotomy of worldviews between Snow White and her daughter Emma. Having grown up in the Enchanted Forest, Snow clings to her belief that "good always wins." Sometimes I think if she stopped believing that, she'd just fall apart. Emma, on the other hand, seems to feel like it's all up to her - that if she wants things to turn out right, she has to take an active role and make sure it happens the way she wants. And for her, that's the only thing that keeps her going sometimes. Even when she feels like she can't win, it seems to only make her more determined to do everything she can. Their views conflict, but both Snow and Emma need to cling to their own views instead of each others', in order to stay strong and save Henry. (Some may feel that Snow needs to let go of her idealistic worldview, but I feel like if that's what keeps her going, it's not necessarily a bad thing.)
One thing about this group's journey which I thought could have been done better was the arguing scenes. I like the idea of a storm fueled by a group's conflict (and what better group to use it on?), but I felt like too much screen time was spent showing us basically the same argument. This group has plenty to fight about - why spend the majority of the time showing us the argument about the mermaid when there are much juicier subjects available? I totally buy that they would spend that much time arguing about what to do with the mermaid, but did we really have to spend that much time watching them?
Speaking of mermaids... I want to see Ariel! We've known for a while that she's going to show up this season. In fact, we even know which episode... since it is named after her. But I'm impatient! Seeing the mermaids of Neverland in this episode just made me more eager to see one of my favorite Disney princesses from my childhood. :)
One more (kinda random) thought about this group: When Emma was giving her pep talk about everyone being who they are and using their strengths, the group soooo reminded me of a D&D adventuring party. It made me happy. ^_^
Greg and Tamara
I wasn't a bit surprised that the "home office" turned out to be Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, but I was a little surprised at how quickly they killed off Greg and Tamara. Though there is some room for speculation about whether Greg could still come back; after all, Pan is still living and breathing even with a detached shadow. But to be honest, I found his character a little boring and off-putting. Tamara was actually a lot more interesting to me, although I can't say I was too horribly upset when Rumpelstiltskin finished her off. She was horribly evil, after all. (Although I wouldn't have minded them exploring her motivation for that a little more thoroughly...)
While I'm on the subject of Tamara, has anyone else noticed how few non-white characters there are on this show, and how most of them have been either minor characters or evil villains? I can only think of three major characters so far who aren't white: Mulan, Tamara, and Sidney Glass (the Genie/Magic Mirror), and now two of them have turned out evil and then died. Does this bother anyone else? I mean, being white myself, I guess I usually don't notice stuff like that (maybe not as often as I should), but now that I've noticed it, it does kinda bother me. I would like to see more diverse portrayals of people of color on this show. I know Disney has come under fire for this in their princess movies already, which they attempted to remedy with The Princess and the Frog. But I don't see Tiana showing up in OUAT, since the era her movie was set in doesn't really fit with anything we've seen on the show so far. But really, they could just change the race of a previously white character from the fairy tales. I mean, so far they've made Rumpelstiltskin play the part of the Crocodile and the Beast, changed Jack's gender, and made Peter Pan evil. How hard would it be to come up with one fairy tale hero or heroine who could be black instead of white?
Without Belle at his side, Rumpelstiltskin is back to killing mercilessly again. It’s enough to make me wonder whether he’s truly changed at all… and what he’s really planning to do when he finds Henry. Despite possibly feeling he owes it to Bae to save his son, despite everything he said to Emma and the others, he still could be planning to try and prevent the prophecy, “the boy will be your downfall.” Although if he does, I expect a self-fulfilling prophecy – for example, Rumple tries to kill Henry, fails, is found out by the others and they decide he is a true villain after all and not worthy of another chance. That’s just one way it could play out.
I’m also dying to know (as I’m sure everyone else is) – What’s with the doll?! Anything that can instantly make Rumpelstiltskin break down and cry right in front of an enemy… well, that’s got to be some good backstory. And speaking of backstory, I also can’t wait to find out when and how Rumple and Pan have crossed paths in the past. They’re setting it up for some potentially fantastic flashback scenes. And I love a good backstory, which is one of the many reasons I love this show.
On the subject of Pan… I still can’t believe they made him evil! Well, according to what I’ve been reading lately on Tumblr, he was fairly evil in the original story, before the animation made him all kid-friendly. But still. Anyway, I was fairly surprised when the Lost Boy who helped Henry turned out to be Pan, although looking back it should’ve been obvious. What does he need “the heart of the truest believer” for? And is he planning on ripping it out, a la Rumpelstiltskin? Maybe using it to control Henry? (Because we all know the show’s writers wouldn’t kill Henry.) Or is there some other way he can use it?
Baelfire, Mulan, & Co.
While all this was going on in Neverland, Baelfire/Neal was in the Enchanted Forest, teaming up with Mulan, Aurora, and Phillip. But what actually happened with their group in this episode wasn't as interesting to me as the missing pieces. For example, the last we heard, the Wraith had sucked out Phillip's soul, and Aurora and Mulan were looking for a way to restore him. Now he's suddenly with them again. What did we miss? How did they do it?
I also feel the intense need for some Mulan backstory. We know how she got teamed up with Phillip, through the whole Yaoguai incident, but it seems like she might have stronger feelings for him than she wants anyone to know. What's that all about? And are we ever going to see Li Shang, her love interest from the animated movie? (BTW... "What's a movie?" Hilarious!) In this episode, when Baelfire was telling her about Emma, Mulan said "Your belief in love wasn't strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection." She seemed like she was speaking from experience, so I'm hoping that's foreshadowing some flashbacks that will fill in the blanks of Mulan's past.
Once Upon a Time... in Wonderland?!
One last interesting tidbit to add… Once Upon a Time in Wonderland's premiere episode is coming out this Thursday! I was thinking it was a far-off-in-the-future sort of thing, or I would’ve written about it in my previous post. And according to this video, the Wonderland story starts out in Storybrooke! Check it out for that and more info, plus an awesome preview:
Let me know what you thought of the first episode of season three, and the Wonderland preview, as well as any guesses about what's up next for either series. Thanks for reading! Okay, I’ve gotta go… The second episode already aired, and I promised myself I wouldn’t watch it until I finished this post! Off to ABC.com!