Once Upon a Time "Nasty Habits" Review: Nasty Messages
Life is so short and yet paradoxically, a week can feel so long. Sundays particularly, waiting for another work cycle to begin, holding onto those last hours before you’re plunged into the grind of the work week, trying to treasure those last fleeting moments of leisure.
How dare they do this to our Sunday evening.
We knew eventually that OUAT's opening run of action-packed episodes would trickle off and we’d get some filler. It’s Season 3, we know how a 22-episode season operates, there’s a couple skippers mixed in. But this nugget of bland potato in our zesty OUAT burrito had a rotten spot in it that makes me want to throw the whole tortilla-wrapped meal into the street and under a car. I’m talking of course about the disgusting scene where Emma Swan, our strong, independent heroine, BROKE DOWN IN TEARS over Neal. She ran off, her face crumpling like a deflating balloon, because she realized she NEVER STOPPED LOVING Neal/Baelfire?!
Bitch please. BITCH PLEASE!!! Bitch… please… don’t do this to me. Please don’t do this to the little girls. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS TO OUR LITTLE GIRLS! Deepbreathsdeepbreathsdeepbreaths. Let me get a hold of myself. Deep. Breaths. Okay.
Please raise your hand if you still love, or even LIKE, the guy you dated at 17. Maybe, if you’re around 28, you have nothing in common with that guy because you’ve grown into a completely different person with new priorities and interests and confidence. Make no mistake: Emma is 28, Henry is 11, and Bae knocked Emma up, dropped a dime on her, and never talked to her again when she was at the age where most people graduate high school. Then, when Neal found out the curse was broken after years of knowing he’d betrayed her in this unthinkable way, he still didn’t meet up to make amends. He got engaged to Tamara instead. But what, am I supposed to be impressed he made a nightlight?
For all the talk OUAT does about how it doesn’t do damsels in distress, how it doesn’t have weak heroines, Emma showed a real debilitating weakness in "Nasty Habits": a gaping hole in her self-esteem. That’s the kind of weakness that destroys most women, not a lack of sword-fighting prowess. Tying yourself emotionally to a guy who doesn’t respect you and who takes advantage of you, that’s the weakness most young girls are in danger of, not an inability to fight ogres. It’s disgusting and off-character to portray Emma as a woman who would secretly love the guy who betrayed her and abandoned her. Neal certainly has more self-respect, he clearly doesn’t trust his dad Rumple anymore. But Emma isn’t written with that mental fortitude. The writers took the Emma Swan that Jen Morrison spent Season 1 and Season 2 building, and changed her into someone pathetic and needy and weak, and that makes me furious.
Okay, now that I’m done ranting, other than that soul-crushing 30-second interlude with Emma, this episode was boring. We learned Pan is also the Pied Piper and we spent too damn long watching him breathily play a pan pipe while teen extras cavorted to music that obviously wasn’t playing on set during filming. Pan (in a flashy patchwork cloak?! Haha this show) lured Baelfire and every other preteen boy in town to the woods for a super corny dance session.
Excuse me, a MASKED super corny dance session. And
Pan is still up to his vaguely teen-orgiastic tricks on Neverland, with his
Lost Boys awkwardly high-stepping around a fire while shaking rain sticks to shrill
piping. Like, kill me now.
The episode wasn’t helped by Rumple’s crazy, Commando-type camouflage streaks over one eye, or his increasing meanness to imaginary
girlfriend Belle. Not only did he tell her he had nothing to live for
(prompting her to giggle and be like, “Heehehehe except me, right?”) he asked
her to straight-up go away. The thing about these two is that we are constantly
told that Rumple loves Belle, and yet he is continually asking her to get lost, go
home, stop looking at him, stop talking to him, hand him her phone so he can
erase his number, call AOL and make his email stop etc. Belle stop being such a
masochist, you’re almost as bad as Emma.
Rumple, coming across Neal in the woods, remembered that he'd been shot through the chest and dropped several million miles into another dimension—and so he reasonably assumed Neal was a vision and decided to start choking him out.
Because that’s what you do with an incorporeal phantasm, you
cut off its windpipe? Whatever. Doesn't matter, because Neal whispered “Please, papa,” and that
and the odor of stale Axe body spray convinced Rumple this was real-deal Neal.
Moments later, father and son were pulling a Kraken out of a lake, and then
presumably they spent several hours milking it for ink. (You have to pressure
the glands just right.)
We learned about this new magical item as we often do—within five minutes of that item becoming essential to the plot moving forward—but either way, the writers decided that squid ink makes magic people hold still for a
while, EVEN PAN. So Rumple and Neal confronted Pan, got ink on him, and
then ran off with Henry. Michael Raymond James impressively threw Henry over
his shoulder; well done, hope MRJ wasn’t herniated as Neal and Henry are
roughly the same size.
Things went quickly sour when Rumple spilled the beans about
the prophecy/how he had briefly considered killing his own grandson. This
related to the FTL flashback because there was this one time where Rumple came upon a corny bonfire party in the woods, and magicked Bae home without asking him
first, and Bae totally would have gone home but didn’t think it was fair his
dad would take him home without asking him first? Look, Bae, if you were going
to go home with your dad anyway, there’s no argument, is there? Whatever. Neal immobilized
Rumple again and then endangered every disc in his spine by dead-lifting Henry
from the ground to his shoulder and marching off into the woods. He was grabbed
up by the Lost Boys before he could run into Emma, though, so there’s still hope
he might get swallowed by an angry mama Kraken.
The most interesting thing that happened during this episode
was Hook confronting Charming about his wound, and his obligation to tell his
family that he is, uh, dying? Charming: Regina is hella magic. It’s “never too
late,” right? I’d be more concerned about Charming except we all know for a fact
he won’t die. His noble self-sacrifice does create a perfect foil for Rumple: While Rumple is torn over whether or
not to kill Henry to sidestep a vague prophecy, Charming would rather legit
waste away than pull focus from getting Regina and Emma their son back.
It’s crazy adorable that Hook is looking out for Charming,
hopefully he tells Emma or Snow soon that Charming is doing the dad thing and
refusing to let anyone check out his hidden ailment. A lot of dads do that, don’t
they? They get so weird about going to see a doctor. DADS: Stop being like
that. Go get your prostate looked at. We want you to be around for as long as
I really loved that Tinker Bell was the only one with enough
of a brain to suggest they not do a suicide mission into Pan’s compound, that instead they should actually consider how to escape with Henry. She also made
the troubling admission that she spent the better part of a night cleaning the blood off a watch she stole off
a dead body. HAHAHAHA Tinker Bell you are a creepy corpse scavenger?! Do
you have a necklace made out of ears? I blame the Blue Fairy for this grim turn
Also we learned that Bae apparently really loved Battlestar
Galactica and totally stole the idea of using star maps. What a precocious
So to sum:
1.) In this show’s ham-fisted attempt to wrangle a
love triangle, the strength many of us loved about Emma is being written out
with lazy, broad strokes.
2.) Rumplestiltskin and Neal are still at odds, and
Rumple still seems on-the-fence about whether or not to kill Henry. AREN’T WE
3.) Tinker Bell is a grave robber.
What a bust. I’m starting to wonder if this show is aware of its own nasty habits. What did you think?
... At your current age, could you be with the person you dated/liked at 17?
... After three seasons, with all the FTL flashbacks OUAT has done, how has the show not built a general fairy village backlot to integrate with the CGI? They can’t lay half a block of cobblestones?
... Did you lose respect for Emma, or are you giving her a pass because she feels like a “Lost Girl” on this island?
... What is Belle getting out of her relationship with Rumple?
... How will Prince Charming be cured?
... Will we ever see Aurora and Mulan in the same shot again?
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