Part one of Once Upon A Time‘s two part season finale is upon us and not a moment too soon. After a problem plagued second season, will the finale rescue the show as its first season finale did?
Let’s bitch it out…In terms of promise, ‘Second Star To The Right’ certainly sets up next week’s finale well. There’s a good amount of interest from the various cliffhangers, although I imagine some people are experiencing deja vu over the suggestion that Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Greg’s (Ethan Embry) infiltration of Storybrooke is part of larger (seemingly religious) attack (is this True Blood? Or Lost? Or Revenge?). The suggestion is mild enough without going into full-blown conspiracy theorist mode, though this could still go terribly off-track. Whether or not we’ll get any kind of answers in the finale about who – or what – is declaring war on MAGIQUE remains to be seen, but the suggestion that there are other people who know about its existence in tantalizing.
Mingled in between this are several other long percolating storylines. I’m not sure what else to say about Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Neal/Bae (Michael Raymond-Jones) declaring their love for each other except “duh.” Although I remain far from convinced that there’s anything remotely approaching chemistry between the two actors, the show has clearly laid the groundwork for this since 2×06 ‘Talahassee’ when they were revealed to have a romantic backstory. Whether or not you buy the love, the scene in which they dance around the issue on the beach and then ultimately make their confessions before Neal gets sucked into the wormhole are still emotionally well-done. I imagine many viewers who buy into the series for its fairytale romance felt a tug on their heartstrings because they came so close.
I’m more than interested to hear how those romantics – or individuals who watch the show with young kids – reacted to Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) torture. A lot of its impact is courtesy of Parrilla’s effusive interpretation of the effects of electroshock therapy (Greg’s electrodes look particularly flimsy and unbelievable). It’s actually kind of shocking that ABC sneaked this through in an 8 o’clock timeslot. (Sidenote: These scenes make me wonder why it is that Once Upon A Time can’t be more adult in its storytelling? It’s clearly unafraid of going to dark places, so why does it so often end up feeling like they’re merely appeasing the masters at Disney?)
While I haven’t always loved what the show has done with either Regina or Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) this season, I do like the idea of once again thrusting them together. If anything I would have liked more of their psychic relationship rather than a one-off experiential update used to figure out that Regina is being held at the Storybrooke cannery (P.S. What fairytale employs cannery workers?). In particular I like the visual callback to last week’s episode in which Snow nurses an injured Regina back to health with a wet cloth. These little moments reinforce the narrative value of the FairyTale flashbacks.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said to be true about ‘Second Star To The Right’s flashback, which finds a young Bae hooked up with the Darling family for a reinterpretation of Peter Pan. The only difference here is that Wendy is a big ole idiot who learns too late that MAGIQUE “always comes with a price” (ugh) when she up and leaves to go to Neverland with what looks like a horror-movie version of Peter’s shadow (seriously that thing is nightmare inducing). The story unfolds in completely predictable fashion as Bae winds up sacrificing himself to keep his surrogate family together (double ugh) and ends up in the clutches of Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) on the Jolly Rodger. Call this one perfunctory and boring…
- I like that Snow’s nose is what ultimately saves the day. Thank goodness for an uncanny ability to sniff out sardines or Regina would be a few synapses short of comatose
- Now we know why Charming (Josh Dallas) isn’t the sheriff: because he can’t shoot for sh*t! While I applaud the decision to “out” Tamara and Greg as villains to everyone, letting them get away so easily is frustrating. Charming could have easily shot Greg and Emma should have shot Tamara. I did chuckle at the sight of Tamara ensnaring Emma and Neal using a magic bean, though. She’s a supervillain, that one!
- I can’t even talk about “Lacey” (Emilie DeRavin) or her atrocious red weave. Just…no…
- Does anyone actually think that Greg’s father is really dead? If yes: that’s pretty anti-climatic. If no (and he’s really alive): predictable. Either way, it’s quite the narrative quandary Annnnd I’m bored
- Bad CGI of the week: The London skyline and Peter are both okay, but they lose points for looking expensive and contributing little to the story. Let’s hope the finale can salvage this turd of a flashback, hmmm?
What are your thoughts heading into the finale? Are you worried that this is the last we’ve seen of Neal (ha!)? What role will Hook play into all of this? Is there any way that Regina doesn’t just rip off Tamara and Greg’s heads now that she’s got her powers back? And does anyone actually believe that Storybrooke will be destroyed by the ridiculous “trigger” gemstone? Hit the comments with your thoughts
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC