Sunday, May 13, 2012
Once Upon a Time: "A Land Without Magic"
I've been remiss in posting the last couple of weeks because I promised my 7-year-old daughter that she could watch the last three episodes with me, and that I wouldn't watch them without her first. Tonight we made sure my husband could put my son to bed so I could watch the show live with her, and she is SO funny. (Next year when I go back to posting on OUAT regularly, I'm adding a "what my daughter said" category for all the moments she made me laugh out loud.)
In "The Stranger," August was finally revealed as Pinocchio, but as he tried to demonstrate his wooden leg to Emma, she stared at it and saw nothing but a man's leg, because her refusal to believe in magic made her unable to see it when it was right in front of her. In that episode, we finally see his backstory, and that the blue fairy had turned him into a real boy and said he would remain one as long as he was "brave, truthful, and unselfish" (because as we all know, all boys possess these characteristics all the time, right?) ;) What I loved about the reveal is that just the week before, fans were finally turning onto the Pinocchio theory in droves, and it's like they knew EXACTLY when the audiences would glom on. I also loved the idea that Pinocchio talked to Emma the way Locke talked to Jack: "Why is it so hard for you to believe?" (I wanted Emma to say, "Why is it so easy for you?" And Pinocchio to shout back, "It's never BEEN easy!!") ;) Emma, like Obi Wan Kenobi, is told in this episode that she's their only hope, but she's not buying it.
Fave lines from the 7-year-old in this ep: When David drops by Regina's house and Regina invites him in, my daughter said, "Oh no! She'll probably make him drink apple juice. Or eat apple pie." Ha! And later when David tries Regina's lasagna and says, "You really know how to work some magic," my daughter said, "BOOM!" (I've honestly never heard her say that, and it was perfect timing.)
Her lack of belief continues into the next episode, "An Apple Red as Blood," an excellent adventure tale where a swashbuckling
Xena Snow White: Warrior Princess and her equally awesome "Kick-Ax" dwarfs enter the castle of the king to save Charming, only to discover he's trapped inside a mirror. At the end of "The Stranger," Emma had abducted Henry and told him she was leaving, and in this episode when he realizes she's going to try to leave Storybrooke he stops her from doing so. She takes him back home and then faces the admonition of Mary, who is very angry with Emma's choices. In the other world, the queen (in another one of her FABULOUS Fairy-Tale World power suits), uses Charming to trap Snow White, leading to the aforementioned scene where Snow storms the castle, and she takes her back to "where it all began," the hillside where she saved Snow's life on the horse. She finally reveals the true price she paid when Snow shot her mouth off, and tells her to eat the poisoned apple or Charming will die. The twist here is that Snow willingly eats the apple, rather than being tricked, which in this version of the tale is the only way it'll work. (Again with the Lost references, it's like Ben Linus telling Jack that he didn't simply tell him he needed a spinal surgeon; he needed Jack to WANT to do the surgery on Ben.) In Storybrooke, Regina gets the Mad Hatter (oh YES he was back and my heart leapt) to allow her to snatch the apple from the FTW, and use it against Emma. She makes her an apple turnover, and Emma takes it home and lays it out on a plate, rather than doing the INTELLIGENT thing and just throwing the damn thing in the garbage (it came from Regina... do you need glasses, Emma??) Emma "trusts" Regina now that they've made a deal (which is a moment that highlights just how many fairytales are about deal-making... and, as Emma says in a BRILLIANT line, "In any deal both parties are a little unhappy." I never thought of it that way, but it's true.) Henry realizes he's willing to sacrifice his own life to save everyone in Storybrooke, and in one final act, makes Emma believe: he eats the turnover, and falls into a deep sleep.
Fave line from the 7-year-old: After the Queen explains why she changed the image in the mirror before Snow and Charming could get closer, and then talks to her about her evil plan to meet her, my daughter said, "So... what did she mean about not wanting tongue marks on the mirror?" HeeHEE!!
And that brings us to the season finale. Henry is rushed into the hospital with Emma at his side, and Dr. Whale can't seem to figure out what's wrong with him. "It's like it's..." "Magic," Emma completes for him. She rushes into another room and dumps Henry's belongings onto a bed... including The Book. As soon as she holds it in her hands, that tiny glimmer of belief in magic resonates and causes her to see everything, and in that one moment she figures it all out, and knows in her heart that Henry was telling her the truth. She FINALLY believes.
And that's when Regina walks in. Nice timing, Ms. Mayor.
Emma goes nuts, pushing her into another room and slamming her against a cabinet, and Regina 'fesses up to everything. Despite everything, she really does love Henry, and knows she doesn't have the strength or time to fight Emma now; she must reveal everything to her if they're going to break this curse. And, as Regina says, magic in our world is unpredictable, and Henry could die.
In the FTW, David has just swordfought his way out of the castle with the help of the Huntsman (Graham!!! Oh, dear writers, PLEASE bring him back in flashback many times in season 2... it was wonderful to see him again), and the queen uses magic to flick him into the Infinite Forest. But when he's there, he runs into the old, beginning-of-the-season, insane Rumpelstiltskin, all high-pitched giggles and jazz hands. He has Charming's mother's ring, the one that Snow White had originally taken from him at the beginning of the season, and he's enchanted it so when he's close to Snow, it will glow. But "all magic comes with a price," and in this one, he has to place the true love potion into Maleficent, who is in the form of a dragon. In our world, David tells Mary that nothing in his life makes sense except for her (an echo of what he originally told Mary at the toll bridge before he decided to make a go of it with Kathryn) and he's in love with her, but will be leaving for Boston unless she can give him a reason to stay. "David... I can't," she tells him, and our hearts break as we see the tears run down his face, and she, equally miserable, gets into her car.
There's an oft-repeated trope in this episode that foreshadows the end, and that's that "Love is the only magic that is strong enough to break every curse." Despite the fact that Storybrooke is supposed to be the world without magic, I loved the idea that love IS a magic, that we have magic in our everyday lives. There's nothing reasonable or practical about love -- we feel it without provocation, we love unconditionally, we love our parents and children and friends and significant others and pets. Love is all around us, and it's like magic; it can do things to a person that they don't understand and that doesn't have any reason attached to it. People have died of broken hearts (witness how many long-married couples die within days of each other). Love can lift you up and it can force you to come crashing back to earth. All because of this magical feeling inside us that no one can explain.
And it's stronger than anything conjured by the most powerful sorcerers in the fairy-tale world.
Now that Emma believes, Regina takes her to Gold, who tells her about the love potion that he saved for a rainy day (to which Emma responds, "Well it's stormin' like a bitch, so where is it?"). You can see Regina's eyes glaze over for a moment, and I thought at first she'd try to wrestle the potion away and use it for bad, Henry be damned. But she stays true to herself and her son throughout this episode. He tells her he's hidden it inside someone, and she'll need her father's sword.
Regina stops by Henry's bedside to tell him how much she loves him, and she's interrupted by the Mad Hatter, who tells her that he needs to cash in their deal of the previous episode: he helps her get the apple, he gets his daughter back. She says no, deal is void, the apple didn't work. (Yep, even by her kid's possible death bed, she doesn't have a heart for another parent.) So, the Hatter looks at her like he's about to hurt her more than she could imagine. I immediately thought he'd do something to Henry, but oh no, he came up with something better.
Before going to the "beast," Emma stops by August's room, and now she can see that he's turning into wood. She tells him she can't break the curse yet, because she's focused on Henry, her priority, and begs him to help her. He says he can't do anything, but she can. "You can save all of..." he says, interrupted when his throat closes up and his entire head turns to wood. (My daughter looked at me confused and said, "She can save an olive?" HAHAHAHA!!!! I seriously had to pause the episode, I was laughing so hard.)
But, as my daughter and I were marvelling at Emma's Terrible, Awful, No-Good Day, this poor woman woke up that morning thinking Operation Cobra was the fantasy created by an unhappy boy, and now she's fighting a FREAKIN' DRAGON. For that is what she has to fight, and the form that the Queen had left Maleficent in in our world. Interestingly, the dragon is standing near Snow's coffin, which is also there, and I wonder if, back in the mine-shaft episode, would Henry and Archie have eventually stumbled upon the dragon if they'd followed those tunnels long enough?
Meanwhile, the Hatter breaks Belle (BELLE!!!) out of her "prison," which, interestingly, is right next to Sidney's room (and who is the guy with the long hair who's always washing the floors? One of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters?? He looks like a Chief Bromden reject from a stage production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). He tells her to go straight to Gold and tell him that Regina had locked her up all this time. BEAUTIFUL.
Emma defeats the dragon by piercing it in its heart and reducing it to ashes (I guess if they ever do find their way back to the FTW, Maleficent won't be joining them), just as, in the FTW, Charming defeats the dragon, gets the ring from Rumpelstiltskin, and finds Snow in the fancy new duds he was wearing in the opening moments of the series (nice moment of continuity to switch him from the clothes he's been wearing for several episodes to the one he had to be wearing to keep things consistent).
Meanwhile, in our world, Emma brings up the egg, but Gold takes it from her and rushes off, just as Emma and Regina get the call from the hospital. They rush there, but it's too late: Henry is dead. My daughter and I were both upset; imagine that all this little boy ever wanted was for Emma to believe, and now that she does, he's not here to see it. I actually thought it was real, because I believed the season would end with them all returning to the FTW, and Henry wasn't part of that world so maybe he couldn't go there.
But no, it's better than that. Belle returns to Gold, and Gold's eyes nearly pop out of his head. He's so elated he doesn't seem angry with Regina at first, until he takes Belle into the woods, up to the well that is his connection to the other world.
Emma rushes to Henry's side (notice that Regina hangs back) and she leans down and kisses him, breaking not only the curse of the apple, but The Curse. My daughter and I were cheering on the couch, SO happy and completely involved in what was happening, and it was marvellous to watch all of the other characters remember who they once were. The best, of course, being "Snow!" "Charming." SMOOCH.
Mother Superior/Blue Fairy turns to Regina at the hospital and repeats what Gold had said to her in the previous episode, that she'd better find a good place to hide, because many people will want her dead. Regina rushes back to her house (not a good hiding spot, but anyway) and hugs Henry's pillow close. I believe her when she says she truly loved him. But just as everyone's getting their happy on, they see the purple smoke billowing from the forest. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin has dropped the potion into the well and causes it to spread throughout Storybrooke, bringing magic back. Henry says something bad is coming, and Regina stands at the window and smiles that evil smile of hers.
And the clock returns to 8:15.
So, what happened there? Did he take them all back to the fairytale world? Or did he just bring magic into this one? I'd love to see more of the characters dressed the way they are in the fairytale world, and it would be fun to see Emma having to adjust to gingerbread houses and knights and magical places, and watch these characters have to adjust to a return to their old lives again. But if we went there full-time, perhaps we'd lose that flipping back and forth that is key to the show. So maybe he just brought magic into Storybrooke, and now the characters still live in our world, looking like they do, but they remember who they were, and that would keep the flashbacks continuing. But would the fun of these people not remembering who they really were be gone now? What about all the other creatures that we haven't yet seen? (Ariel? Peter Pan? Jasmine?)
Or is it possible he's erased some of the memories again? What's clear is that with magic, comes power, as he tells Belle, and the two people who have used magic are Rumpel and the Queen. Will she regain everything she's lost? And what will happen to the rest of them?
All I know is, we're in for a very long three months.