Once Upon a Time "New York City Serenade" Review: Pawed by a Flying Monkey

By Lily Sparks

Mar 10, 2014

Once Upon a Time S03E12: "New York City Serenade"

After all the debating amongst Once Upon a Time fans over who Emma’s love interest would be, after all the intense speculation over Captain Swan vs. Swan Queen vs. Thief Face and more, the show made a bold choice in having Emma Swan’s first canon love interest be an Evil Flying Monkey. Sure, the Evil Flying Monkey was disguised as a human being named Walsh (Covert AffairsChristopher Gorham), but make no mistake, at no point was it NOT, in actuality, an Evil Flying Monkey. Sure, it worked at a furniture shop and it shared dinner dates and big kisses with amnesiac Emma, but secretly it was dreaming of shooting through the horizon or enjoying a big pile of bananas and peanut butter crackers. “I was starting to like you,” the winged primate disguised as a person growled before barreling toward Emma, then spreading its wings and shooting into the sky. Emma didn’t even seem that surprised. Yow. Bold choice of bestiality, yo! 

And just so we’re all clear on the OUAT canon relationships count: gay couples, zero, Evil Flying Monkey + a human lady, one.

Once Upon a Time's highly anticipated mid-season premiere opened a year prior to the meat of the episode/moments after the show's last sojourn in the Enchanted Forests of Vancouver. Walking Corpse Phillip and pregnant Aurora were living in a stone gazebo in the middle of a soccer field, passively aggressively arguing about much food they'd been needing to forage because SOMEONE had been eating more than her share, when immédiatement the entire population of Storybrooke minus Rumple materialized in front of them! Ginnifer Goodwin was overjoyed to be reunited with her wig.

The costumes in which our heroes returned raised a lot of questions: Was Charming’s blouse stained with fresh blood because they’d been returned to the exact physical state they were in when the first curse was enacted (and Charming had been slashed by Regina’s guards)? Has Snow returned to being physically postpartum? And where did Neal get his rakish little Samwise Gamgee ensemble? 

Aurora and Phillip were quick to welcome the group back to the Enchanted Forest. Regina, returned to her “Cher as Styled by Bob Mackie for the Oscars 1986” attire, was suitably annoyed to roll right into another chirpy princess, but despite her 'tude there’s no arguing that the royal family had never been on better terms. In fact, Snow and David wanted Regina to come back to the castle and live with them, because what would cheer the People of the Enchanted Forest and give them more hope than seeing the Rebel Forces embrace their world’s Darth Vader? IDK guys, you've been gone for 28 years... maybe the peasants have grown accustomed to not paying taxes and self rule? But, imaginary politics aside, the idea of Regina, Snow, and Charming all living in the castle together was kind of darling. As they skipped off practically arm-in-arm, Aurora and Phillip decided not to warn them that a TERRIFYING NEW BIG BAD was lying in wait! (Shady, you two. Mulan would have told them!)

Meanwhile back in New York City (A YEAR LATER FROM THE LAST SCENE HENCE THE PRESENT DAY phew), an Evil Flying Monkey disguised as a human was treating Emma to an extremely tiny dinner. And then it surprised her with a proposal couched in an ice cream sundae! Emma really had to think this through. Sure, Walsh did romantic, impromptu things like skittering up a tree to get her a coconut, and he was the most enthusiastic “Peekaboo” player she’d ever met, but something still felt off. Maybe her “superpower” sense was vaguely tingling, since literally every moment with Walsh was technically a lie? LOL, JK, Emma’s “superpower” is about as effective as a coin toss minus a coin. 

Look I didn’t bring up this super weak and inconsistent plot device, it was unfortunately directly referenced in this very scene by Hook, who rushed to grab Walsh’s seat when Walsh went to powder his nose. 

Hook, dressed as appropriately as ever, offered Emma an address to visit if she wanted to know the truth, and appealed to her superpower to judge whether or not he was a Firefly cosplay enthusiast run amok or telling the truth. Moments later, a rattled Emma walked out on Walsh’s proposal, though he assured her that even if she didn’t want to marry him, he’d be happy as long as they spent the rest of their lives together—which, what? Oh, Evil Flying Monkeys can be so SMOTHERING in relationships!

Emma went home and played video games with Henry, who had a truly flattering new haircut. While talking about bringing a new dad into the family unit, Henry talked some SMACK on Neal, a moment that was on one hand very sad for Henry (that he’d lost all memory of his dad) on the other FINALLY SOMEONE TALKING ABOUT NEAL ON THIS SHOW WAS MAKING SENSE.

Meanwhile back in the medieval hellscape of the Enchanted Forest (a year previously) Charming got very worried about Hook packing up his horse and heading off to the Jolly Roger. Charming legitimately thought Hook was going to move into the castle with him and his wife, and was super disappointed that he wasn’t. “You’re not coming with us?” Charming asked, chin trembling. “Where are you going?” beat. “Take me.” he mouthed. Then Neal showed up in his Hobbit fanboy costume and said he was going to continue to look for Rumplestiltskin in the hopes that Rumple could return him to Emma. At which point Snow seriously lost her cool.

SNOW. YOU HAVE LEARNED NOTHING. Impossible things happen in your world, by my count, every two minutes and 45 seconds. Despite knowing that your daughter never recovered from your abandonment, and you swearing you would never leave her, you’re ready to do it all over again. “There’s no way to cross over. It’s impossible. Don’t even try. Let’s move on. We’re going to have more babies so NBD really.” And Charming was just as bad, all, “We have to move on, even if we could cross over they wouldn’t remember us... we gave them their best chance.” Shame on both of you, Snow and Charming! It’s pretty funny that your whole relationship’s tagline is “I will always find you!” but when it comes to your daughter you’re like “Eh she’s got her best chance whatever.” The next time I drop some food on the floor I’m just going to be like “Eh, I gave that spaghetti its best chance. Go on, spaghetti. Live your life. I won’t interfere.” 

Ahem! All this is imaginary, I know, I know. Anyway. Emma, back in Present-Day New York City, had put on the most unfortunate pants.

Just nasty tartan boxy felty things, but luckily she wasn't going anywhere fancy as the address Hook had given her was merely Neal’s apartment! (Sad trombone) But wait—Henry’s camera was in Neal’s apartment somehow! Hook met Emma on the building’s stoop and offered her some poppers, but Emma had arranged for cops to be there in waiting for Hook. Henry’s camera in hand, Emma contemplated this latest turn of events and hit up a one-hour photo stand.

BACK IN FAIRY FOREST A YEAR PREVIOUSLY: Belle and Neal were giving each other the nod about secretly looking for Rumple’s dagger, which, sure. And news had reached Snow that the Queen was missing! Snow and her hyper-shaped eyebrows tore off into the woods to find Regina on her knees, digging about in the forest floor! Yes, Regina was burying a heart... her heart.

Guuuyyyyyyys. Regina is just always, far and away, the most compelling character, isn’t she? This was such a simple, lovely little detail. Regina burying her heart so she wouldn’t miss Emma Henry anymore. It would've been a poetic enough device even without the knowledge that this is exactly the same mistake Regina's mom made, but the fact she went off and did it without telling anyone is so poignant it hurts. What a devastating way to remind us of how completely isolated Regina still is, and how much she sacrificed by leaving her family, and how much it bothers her. And there's also the fact that her actual heart was GLOWING RED under a web of lacy darkness. I don't use the term "feels" often because I am 87 years old, but this gave me more Feels than the Animal Collective album of the same name. Of course, Snow’s solution to Regina's tragic situation would be a whole lot of boy talk, OF COURSE, but luckily that was briefly forestalled by an Evil Flying Monkey.

Regina’s battle cry of “I don’t run from monsters, they run from me”—expect to see that as a tattoo someday, possibly on my lower back, as I get more into fire-dancing and round purple sunglasses. The monkey beast fetched her up in his monstrous monkey paws and Snow saved her and then Robin Hood showed up with his band of Merrie Men—including Little John, who got a plus-sized serving of sass from Regina herself when she told him to show “a little respect... or a little restraint at the buffet.” Like, WHAT. Guys I know Regina is our only hope of someone cracking a joke on this show, but who has the presence of mind to slide in a fat joke five minutes after nearly being lifted off into the heavens by a dragon/simian hybrid? Oh Regina. 

Regina is now on an extended hike with Robin Hood, her Assigned Soulmate via Fairy Dust, so consider yourself officially mandated to start caring for this pairing by decree of our corporate overlords. 

Emma, meanwhile had gotten Henry’s pictures developed and was losing it over the pictures. What be this Storybrooke place?! I never lived in Boston!! Who is this hot brunette?! Thanks to the overburdened state of the East Coast police system due to socially profitless drug laws, Hook had been released and was once again offering Emma a memory-restoring potion. This time, she was game, and EMMA WAS BACK! 

Yeah, happened quick, I know, but I could not be happier that Emma’s memory was restored so quickly. We all saw far too much of her walking around obliviously with a troubled squint on her face in Season 1 for that to ever be suspenseful again. This time Emma knows the truth about her Fairy-Tale past, but Henry (the one-time Truest Believer) does not. The small tragedy in the evaporation of Emma’s amnesia is that she’s lost “being a mom” again, which awwwww. Cue FEELS.

There was only one loose end to sew up: Henry had invited Walsh over and had also arranged for a sleepover with a friend so that his mama and her Evil Flying Monkey suitor would have the place to themselves, suggesting that yes Emma has been EFFING AN EVIL FLYING MONKEY FOR MONTHS, so now she had to break the news to Walsh that they would not be getting married, and he turned into a flying monkey, and I wrote in my notes, “LOL girl you been sleeping with a dragon?!” but that was my mistake because obviously he was an Evil Flying Monkey.

But importantly he’s a MALE flying monkey so it’s all good, right? My desk is getting a small dent in the place where I pound my forehead.

Emma and Hook packed up Henry and headed back to a re-materialized Storybrooke, where David and Snow had been hilariously chilling?! LOL YOU ARE NOW IN THE SAME DIMENSION, A COUPLE HOURS AWAY FROM NYC AND YOU STILL COULDN’T BE BOTHERED TO GO FIND EMMA?? Well they’re having a replacement baby anyway so probably they were like “Eh, she’s got her best chance or whatever let’s get caught up on Game of Thrones instead.”

Aside from not understanding how the Charmings could get back to Storybrooke and still not bother looking up Emma when Hook was out there fighting the fight to restore her memory, I did love the little bow on Snow’s maternity dress. 

After months of promising us a look at the Wicked Witch, we got a blink-and-you’d miss it shot of her. She has the Queen’s blood! That means something! Look I don’t know. She’s got Regina in her sights, and that’s good because the more time we spend with Regina, the better OUAT show tends to be. Good things happened: I’m super glad everyone is back in Storybrooke. It’s fantastic that Emma’s memory has been restored so quickly. It’s an interesting shift in dynamic that she will now be trying to convince Henry that all this stuff is real. The crazy train is pulling out of the station, and I'm getting on board. We'll know in a few more stops whether it's headed in the complete wrong direction.


... Is Walsh better, worse, or just as bad as Greg and Tamara?

... Are Aurora and Phillip super shady, or just trying to give themselves their best chance?

... Are Snow and Charming negligent parents?

... At what point do you think Henry will regain his memories, and will it involve a kiss on the forehead from Regina?

... How long 'til Rumple returns? Next episode, mebbe?

... How did you like “NYC Serenade”?

  • Comments (354)
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  • Lunairetic Jun 02, 2014

    WHY IS RUBY IN THAT SCENE WHERE THEY ALL POOFED BEFORE AURORA AND WE'RE NOT SEEING THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF HER ALL SEASON? I want Ruby back and I'm disgusted to see her in that shot but no actual appearance by her. And I've absolutely no idea the fuck they're doing with this show anymore... I can't keep track of what's happening at all, especially when it's all beyond retarded. What was the point of the mid-season finale if it's all right back to where it was prior?

    All in all Lily, I adore your captions and I look forward to reading them the very second after I watch an episode. Because goddammit, you're so right about so many of these things in a hilariously sarcastic way. Corpse Phillip, Baby-Machine Snow, Chirping Gimini (I lost my breath at this), Schoolgirl Boycrazed Snow, Emma abandonment-addicted Charmings, and not to mention MVP Regina love... Oh god I can't wait to get to read your upcoming reviews.

  • km91505n Mar 24, 2014

    OMG!!!! ROFL.

    Shame on both of you, Snow and Charming! It’s pretty funny that your whole relationship’s tagline is “I will always find you!” but when it comes to your daughter you’re like “Eh she’s got her best chance whatever.” The next time I drop some food on the floor I’m just going to be like “Eh, I gave that spaghetti its best chance. Go on, spaghetti. Live your life. I won’t interfere.”

    I was cracking up in my class when I read this.

  • pc8151519 Mar 16, 2014

    Okay, just two things.

    1) About Aurora and Phillip not telling everyone about the Wicked Witch; they were doing it because they were afraid for their child. If Emma had done the same thing because someone threatened Henry, her goodness wouldn't even be questioned. People would be defending her left and right, saying she was just being a good mother and doing what was best for her kid. Just saying.

    2) About Snow and Charming not going to New York to find Emma once Storybrooke is back and they're back in it - they said the curse was reset, right? In the original curse, no one could leave the town line without losing their memories, except for Regina, or people who hadn't been cursed (like Neal or Hook). So, even if they wanted to find Emma, them going to New York to find her wouldn't make any sense at all whatsoever, because the second they crossed the town line, they would forget who they were and Emma along with it.

    However, Snow's "we should just give up" speech to Neal back in the Enchanted Forest was pretty OOC, especially for someone who has been pretty consistently sickeningly optimistic.

  • RebeccaVeight Mar 13, 2014

    First of all you bring the scrumptious Chris Gorham on the show, and he's a freaking evil monkey? Yuck!
    "the People of the Enchanted Forest and give them more hope than seeing the Rebel Forces embrace their world’s Darth Vader?" First kudos on the Star Wars reference, still laughing with that one, but remember Darth was a good guy at end of Episode VI.

    - You think we will be seeing Walsh again. Worse, when he's a monkey
    - Pissed at Aurora & Philip for not speaking up
    - I just think they don't know how to be parents.
    - They will drag out the Henry not having his memory thing for sure. What it will entail for him to have them back, is anyone's guess.
    - We want Rumple, no WE NEED RUMPLE (let it be next episode)
    - It was a fun episode (putting evil monkeys in Emma's bed aside) but I think the walking to the castle in the Enchanted Forest was taking too long.

  • belwyn Mar 13, 2014

    Actually, in defense of Snow and Charming's parental skills-I do agree that shipping Emmar to Maine via portal as a newborn was risky, but the queen also would have killed the infant at that stage. She wanted that kid in opening episode and not to raise it. Plus spending 28 years in personalities not your own and then adjusting to your true again is tough. Emma is an adult and they have done what they could to build a relationship. They have spent most of their time getting hit with a crisis. Not much bonding time. The writers trying to put a shield up on no hope in enchanted forest land was silly. Any curse can be broken if you have right magic or true love. Neal is the bad one-as a kid he was great, but his adult self is not reliabe. He was not cursed. He could have crossed that line with Emma but he went back to the enchanted forest. Emma and Henry deserve better than Neal. He is too weak.

  • JackSaat Mar 13, 2014

    The last ep was a good series final, this kinda feels like here we go again all over!

  • MarleneAnna Mar 13, 2014

    Haha. I only read the captions and laughed so hard !!! I love this !

  • maggymaytay Mar 12, 2014

    you are one thirsty ho by proxy Snow OMGGGGG !!!
    The best...

  • maggymaytay Mar 12, 2014

    I loved this episode! I am a HUGE CaptainSwan shipper, but I loved how Emma just had tears in her eyes when she saw him and nothing physical happened during this episode, the writers just focused on how they have bonded as friends and how she trusts him (lol he was left to babysit Henry AWWWW) and he really does always put her first. "You came back to save my family?" "I came back to save you." I SHIP IT I SHIP IT THE SAVIOR OF THE SAVIORRRR
    That being said, I really wish they would give Neal somewhat of a storyline even if it's getting obvious who Emma is going to end up with. When Hook gets back, they give him all these meaningful metaphors (no one thought he was really going to go find the Jolly Roger, did they? "She's out there somewhere, all I have to do is FIND HER." I'm drawing parallels to the ever present theme of family and true love finding each other on this show. And when he sexily gallops off into the distance, Snow and Charming smile like, DUDE HE NOT GONNA FIND THAT SHIPPPPP (OMG SHIP HES GOING TO FIND HIS SHIP)
    However, when Nealfire gets back, they don't bother to make any effort. He does the obvious thing, "i have to get back to Henry and Emma" duh. But Snow and Charming are like, "NO SHE'S ALREADY TAKEN IN OUR WORLD WE DON'T APPROVE."

    I love Regina's character and the complexity of her and the way Lana plays her, so I can't wait to see her interact further with the Wicked Witch and Robin. Does anyone have a head canon where Regina meets Robin's son, Roland (like the family of triple Rs) and Roland reminds her of Henry and she grows closer to Robin because of that. That would totally be worth of some screeching.

    Snow and Charming. Eh. They've never been my favorite characters on the show, just because I felt they were so predictable. It's Snow White and Prince Charming. We know they're true love because the show reminds us every episode and we know they will always find each other because the show reminds us every OTHER episode. They are set in stone. So theres no risk and it's frankly sometimes a little boring. Sorry, Snowing.
    They're the most controversial and fickle parents EVER, even though I do sort of see what they were getting at this episode. I guess they feel like they've done the best they can for Emma, even though they've only had a relationship that lasted for about a year and a half (and Snow got way more time with her). They feel like they can't cross realms ever again, but I guess if they got the chance they might go see Emma for a weekend and introduce her to her little bro/sis.

    Belle...if only they had written more of an independent storyline for her, but everything she does comes back to Rumple...I know this is controversial, but I feel like she's a girlfriend character. *shudders* DON'T MURDER ME DON'T MURDER ME RUMBELLERS I LOVE THEM TOGETHER JUST WISH THEY WOULD GIVE BELLE SOME MORE STORYLINE. Since either she or Neal is going to die in 3x16, I think, maybe they won't bother.

    EWWWW Walsh is a flying monkey. First of all, Walsh isn't the best first name. Second of all, it was HELLA creepy when his eyes turned all red.

    Love the previews of the WW she looks awesome!!! Even though I can't help feeling "Wicked always wins" is the same as "Peter Pan never fails".

    I LOVE CAPTAINSWAN. So excited for their relationship, they definitely have the most in common out of Emma's previous suitors and I feel like they go so well together, almost like Rumbelle where Emma brings the good out of Hook &33

  • vcivi Mar 12, 2014

    Loved the episode! You had to keep up to know what was going on, but really liked it.

    Emma living the normal life...did anybody saw some weird outfits she was wearing...anyways...Henry had the same haircut as in season 1, but looked older and bigger...
    Emma dating a creepy monkey in a very cute guy...creepy if you think about it...if they had sex, then she actually screwed a monkey hihihihihihihih..
    Loved how everybody was back i the enchanted forest...
    Didn't get why Charming had blood on his shirt..did i mis something??
    Loved how Hook didn't gave up on Emma, couldn't believe when she got him arrested..that was fun to watch...
    Then she took the potion and remembered everything. Now she is back in Storybrooke and everybody is back too, but don't remember anything from the last year...of what happened in the enchanted Forest.....so that means for the rest of the series, we are going to get flasbacks but this time from a year period...ok cool...
    Of course the savor is now back and she will have to do something impossible to save everybody again...
    Wonder what happend to Regina in that year...Evil vs Wicked...so cool
    Loved how Snow talked into Regina and made her put her heart back and even saved her...nice job Snow..just hope that the Evil Queen didn't get to soft to kick the ass of the Wicked Witch...
    So excited for the next episode...really like it...hope Henry will not be very annoying...

  • 7-Devilz Mar 12, 2014

    Charming had blood on him because they were taken back in the garb they left in and remember one of the black knights stabbed Charming right before the curse hit when he had Baby Emma?

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