Once Upon a Time "Save Henry" Review: I Regret Nothing

By Lily Sparks

Dec 02, 2013

Once Upon a Time S03E09: "Save Henry"

What an amazing episode. Seriously, after having the title grilled into our brains via hashtag, "Save Henry" was intended to be a season highlight, and by golly it sure as shit was.

I just have one complaint: why didn’t they show the wedding? Why did that happen offscreen? I am referring, of course, to the nuptials of Regina and Emma, because these two are so freaking married it’s not even funny. I mean, their whole first-act exchange where Henry was laying there not decomposing (thanks Regina) and Regina was like, “I’m freaking out, I lost my son! He’s all I had!” And Emma looked at her all hurt and was like, “Honey don’t you mean our son? Plus you still have me (blowing you tiny kisses)!” and Regina, her face a map of sorrow and rage, replied, “I know this is weird timing, but do you like Hook or Neal? Seriously your mom is spreading rumors. A pirate pines for you.” and Emma like kneeled down beside Regina and got nose-to-nose and was like, “You are in charge of everything (especially me), this whole thing is about us, just say what you need from me, I trust you with everything including the life of our son. Also that pirate is very emotional.” Neal actually walked 60 feet away to give the parents privacy during this crisis.

My second favorite exchange was when an adoption agent shamelessly plugged Sandals resorts. Regina said something about how he should vacation in Storybrooke and he was like “With all due respect, Sandals has an all-inclusive buffet.” Like, who is the secret alt-comedian who snuck in that line? Please have them write more dialogue. 

I mean, sure, #SaveHenry had tons of “WTF” moments and some audacious retconning (retroactive continuity if my Aunt Gladys is reading this- hi Aunt Gladys!) but there were tears in my eyes when Regina tucked Henry into bed and called him her little Prince. It was like someone at ABC actually read my angry letters and gave Regina some credit for the eleven years of single parenting she’d been doing. Guys, #SaveHenry was one of those more and more frequent episodes where they just gave Lana Parrilla the ball Acting Wise and she did a Harlem Globetrotters warm-up routine while the rest of the cast whistled and it was STUNNING.

The Henry backstory started with Rumple warning Regina that sacrificing her father to put the curse in action would leave a hole in her heart and she was like “Boo f-ckin’ hoo I win.” but sure enough, 17 years into the curse she was living a lie and desperate for love. Even Archie could see it. Within thirty seconds of their first consultation he suggested she start dating women and she was like “That's the ticket: I need a baby. I’ll call upon my black market contacts to procure one.”

Again, another surprisingly humorous moment: Regina told Rumple she needed a baby and he made a salty joke about her not being his type, which was hilarious because Lana Parilla is EVERYONE’s type including dolphins and hunky underwear models, and also weird and gross because he had had an intense sexual/spinning relationship with her mom. Anyhoo, he went about setting up an adoption with an incredibly lax adoption agency that featured same-day adoptions.Regina answered a few questions and a rando lady ran into the room and put a baby in her lap. 

Considering legit celebs have to wait about a year to own a child, this was nothing short of miraculous, but even more miraculous is the fact Regina allows her sasspot Storybrooke citizens to constantly sass her in her very own happy ending. I mean Dr. Whale violated every precept of bedside manner, telling her she could cure her baby with 10 cc’s of maternal love and then flippantly telling her because she’d agreed to a blind adoption her baby could be dying maybe, who knows, not him. I mean, we should praise Regina's restraint for not sending a bolt of green lightning through his head that very instant.

And of course, the SECOND Henry felt the loving arms of a biological relative he piped on down. Were you furious about this turn? I was kind of furious. I mean, this show has always had an ax to grind about adoptive parents being non-ideal, but luckily the rest of the show would make up for in spades. Henry eventually quieted down in Regina’s arms, moments before she learned his birth mom was almost certainly the Savior!

Meanwhile, in Neverland, Emma was writing a lot of emotional checks her ass couldn’t cash, promising homes to all the orphans of Neverland. Regina wanted to torture the little smudge-cheeked cherubs into telling her where Pan had gone with their son’s heart, Emma preferred to woo them with stories of how great Storybrooke was, over-selling those suckers like a blonde PT Barnum. 

They learned from the darling Neverland urchins (and an actual Darling) that Pan was up in his Thinking Tree, holding a giant purple umbrella and wishing on a star a la Michael Jackson. Regina and Emma were like “Day trip! Bye everybody don’t wait up.” but of course Mary Margaret had to wedge her fatuous storyline in there with a big self-pitying pat on her own back, making a little frowny face about how she was going to spend every second she could with Her Daughter before abandoning her AGAIN to spend all of eternity in Neverland with David and the New Babies. Ugh, your choice lady. Tangentially: I loved how David just casually dismissed spending an eternity on Neverland with the statement “I’ve made peace with that.” You’ve MADE PEACE with living in a jungle hell ruled by a teenage sociopath and lousy with poisoned thornbushes? For all eternity? You know Hook is not staying, right? Orphans: this should clue you in on what to expect from Storybrooke.

So what did Regina do when she found out the biological mother of her son was quite possibly the town’s Saviour? She went to Gold’s shop and cursed him up and down while he pretended to not know what she was talking about and gaslight her about being a crazy new mom. It was another kind of hilarious exchange (she called him an imp!!) and to cap it off Regina brought Henry back to the world’s most chill adoption agency, like he was a pair of slacks that didn’t fit right, and the adoption guy was like “Eh, I’m going to give you a minute.” Right! Give her a minute to think about keeping that baby. Who is running this place?!?! Hahahaha that’s real life. But before I could snark and cackle (snarkle) myself hoarse, Regina picked up Henry and he didn’t cry, he actually adorably gurgled and Regina was like screw it, he’s my little lumpkin I don't even care if that means I'm doomed. If your eyes didn’t tear at this I can’t blame you, it’s all crazy but I totally teared up. And Regina's choice to keep him saved him from being adopted by the Darlings, who were going to take him to Pan, in which case he never would have found Emma, who then would have never broken the curse. (Thanks Regina!)

So anyway, we then flashed back to Neverland where Mary Margs, Regina and Emma found the perfume bottle Rumple was in and Regina was like “Whatever you do don’t touch-“ but it was too late Mary Margaret was already ruining everything and all three women were suddenly bound to a giant tree, at which point Robbie Kay appeared and started commiserating with them about being a parent. I mean once again, to whatever ESL tourists from foreign lands were watching this in their hotel rooms: you were not high. There was no carbon dioxide leak. This actually happened. 

Are you relieved, or more perplexed? Pan told the Saviour and Mary Margs that the tree held onto people who had regrets, because obviously that’s a thing a plant would do in a Jungle Hell governed by dream logic, enjoy that David. And then Regina gave this amazing speech about how yes she’d done truly terrible things and cast a horrible curse but she didn’t regret ANY of it because it had brought her her son and her sexy Saviour wife. And then she burst free of the tree fronds and ripped Peter Pan’s motherf-cking heart out!!! (Thanks Regina!) It was perfect!!! Did you stand and cheer? It was perfect.

And then Regina put Henry’s heart back in his body (thanks Regina) and she and Henry and Emma all hugged and cartoon hearts actually started coming out of my tv screen like soap bubbles and floating around my living room, alarming my tiny terrier dog. It was the hug we didn't even realize we needed so badly. It was a hug that healed relationships and warmed souls. Between this and the backstory, Regina made this amazing transition from villain to like super hero, and all the characters were totally affirming it like “oh wait that’s right Regina has raised Henry for 11 years wow great job” and “whoa Regina is insanely powerful, almost all-powerful and her lipstick is perfect no matter WHAT” and I concur with all of that.

So P.S. Once she decided that Henry was her son, Regina started obsessing non-stop about this powerful 18-year-old blonde princess who she was linked to by fate, and Archie was like, “Sounds like you maybe want to date women?” but Regina’s solution was to lug Henry down to the family crypt to set up a pagan altar and make a potion so she would stop thinking about the 18-year-old Emma and forget about her until she magically turned up on her doorstep, aged to a more appropriate dating range of 28. Does this retcon make a ton of sense? No, no it does not, but it was done in a way that was so emotionally satisfying—telling a fairy tale from the villain’s perspective and all—and it was so enjoyable I really can’t complain. With OUAT there are bad plot holes and there are magically wonderful plot holes and this was a magically wonderful one and I fell into it as easily as you fall in love with a big dumb beautiful jock.

So back to the present day: Regina tucked Henry in and put a magical spell on his heart so it couldn’t be taken again (thanks Regina) and called him her little prince and I teared up like an unbalanced person. Lana Parrilla put so much undeniable, natural maternal affection into her scene with Jared Gilmore, just talking about video games and pizza, it was devastating. She was his mom. It was such a reversal from the weirdo Regina from Season 2 who kept creeping on Henry whenever the Charmings let him out of the house long enough to hang up a birdhouse, and the character of Regina made so much more sense as a smart, powerful, protective maternal figure and the other characters made so much more sense for embracing her and appreciating that about her (ESPECIALLY Henry). They are a damned family and that is a much stronger choice than making Regina some alienated, robo-mom weirdo (like she was for allll of Season 2). 

So all the Orphans and Deadbeat Dad and Hungry Eyes and Tinker Bell were loaded up on the boat and Snow went around doling out porridge and biscuits and they spritzed Rumple out of his perfume bottle and he and Neal embraced and reconciled and you know that was great, sure.

But wouldn’t you know it, Peter Pan was waiting in the wings and when he couldn’t rip out Henry’s heart he went for his soul but then Rumple sucked him into the Pandora’s box and then apparently at some point in that process Henry and Peter Pan TRADED BODIES Freaky Friday style which, LOL. First of all, congratulations Jared Gilmore, you finally have an interesting storyline and a chance to do some acting! Second of all, watch out Jared Gilmore they may just kill off Pan-in-Henry’s-body and recast Robbie Kay as the “new” Henry. Ha ha ha ha no, don’t worry, they wouldn’t do that...or would they? Welcome to Hollywood, m’boy!

So yes, Regina harnessed the power of the suddenly taciturn Marilyn-Manson voiced wraith, so powerful it could rule all of Neverland and create teen demon Peter Pan, and turned him into a giant sail because that’s just how she do, (thanks Regina) and got them all home. Yes that’s right, after Regina saved Storybrooke, the Charmings lost Henry, and Regina saved Henry AND got everyone home. David was all like “Well done Emma, you were the most important person- the one who delegated the work loads” but if we count up the (thanks Regina) in this recap alone it's pretty clear who the hero of the day was.

I did find myself wondering how David was even alive as they sailed into the sky.  I know Rumple had some cure for the Waters of Neverland  but I certainly didn’t see a cure or spell or whatever enacted. Unless the "cure" was watching Snow unsmilingly slop porridge into the bowls of her 27 new foster children? I have no idea. Please someone fill me in.

Regardless of this rather minor discrepancy and the fact they skipped over the whole wedding of two major characters, it was a genuinely touching episode. I actually teared up like a weirdo at many of Lana Parrilla’s scenes with Henry Fun Size and Henry Original Size and seriously, earnestly loved it. I’m so glad Robbie Kay is still with the show and is going to be  drawing on a whole other facet of his acting skills. I love the retcon on Regina even if it came the hell out of nowhere, and I adore how she and Emma are such partners in both a parent sense and every other sense you can think of. But more importantly what did you think of "#SaveHenry"? I’ve got questions...


... Are you sort of furious that Henry is still in peril, or excited about the acting switch? Also why didn’t Pan speak in an English accent when he revealed himself to his righthand man, old Cloaky? 

... Tinker Bell’s pixie dust: Is the Blue Fairy goin’ down hard ?

... Seriously did I blink and miss it? How did they cure David?

... Regina: totally and completely redeemed in your eyes, or not so much?

... Emma and Regina this episode: talking like a married couple?

... Do you feel like this show deepened or repaired OUAT’s hostile attitude toward adoptive parents?

... The Regina “Forgetting Potion” retcon: effective? brilliant? redonkulous?

... How’d you like them apples?

  • Comments (333)
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  • Dracomom Dec 08, 2013

    Sorry I'm late to the party, folks!
    I don't think Gold knew all the things Regina thought he did at the time of the confrontation over Henry. Still, too funny!
    My theory is that Gold had mob connections, on which he traded to get the adoption info. Quite possibly a large contribution to the Sandals fund? Most social workers aren't millionaires, after all.
    But it might just have been the "semi-sentient entity" of the Curse working out the threads required to free itself (so it could go to the Carribean?)
    I forgave Snow for the baby secret when I heard that Ginnifer Goodwin was pregnant- betting it will show up in the storyline later!

  • ark1317 Dec 07, 2013

    First thing I'm gonna say is that I'm grateful for this retcon. Reliving Gold's manipulation into procuring Henry, so that he could procure Emma was useful for those like me who didn't remember LOL. What I'm not remembering is how has Pan ever known about Henry and how the Darlings were already after him at the time.

    Nice twist for Henry, but I don't think Jared Gilmore is up for the job. Kay is just at an unreachable level for him.

    The part about Tink looks like it's setting a nice storyline of redemption for her. Blue is going down ahahahah

    OUAT is totally adressing the issue of three-parents-unconventional-families without making it homosexual, I find it clever. But I think the show is too obsessed with biological parents. God knows if it's the actual blood that binds people and not real life spent together...

    The Regina forgetting potion was the only logical thing that prevented the retcon to be totally destructive of the show's story. It was more than effective, it was DUE.

    In the end, good episode, I just want more of Robbie Kay!

  • Dracomom Dec 08, 2013

    Pan had the picture of Henry on the scroll when he captured Bae as a boy- so he knew then Henry would exist, if not his lineage. Maybe Rumple asked his dad for help finding "his downfall"?
    Jared Gilmore needs to stretch his acting skills- but Robbie Kay playing an innocent tween will be fun to watch.

  • Graphaks Dec 07, 2013

    I just hope now that Tink is back they don't foist a Regina/Hood romance on us. Predictable, lame, canned, etc. The SwanQueen relationship has depth and chemistry, not to mention it just makes sense in the overall story. Please, network TV, stop worrying about gay relationships vs straight relationships. It's all love, man! Those characters have what it takes to have fairy-tale-worthy true love by the buckets full. The writers should just let it roll. It's a GEM of a story arc and if they avoid it, they've really blundered what could have been an awesome love story worthy of 21st century TV.

  • maarvarq Apr 05, 2014

    Sorry for being really late to the party, but a 1 week hiatus in the US just got turned into 4 months in Australia. A Regina/Hood storyline would be the most horrible and forced thing the writers could do.

  • ark1317 Dec 07, 2013

    I'm sorry but I don't understand this. It would be horrible and forced if SwanQueen actually happened!

  • RARA91 Dec 06, 2013

    Although Pan disappointed a bit on the being scary front, i'm enjoying his character too much to care! Kind of glad he isnt dead!!

  • ILoveTVandDDsBB Dec 06, 2013

    Man! Pan has all sorts of tricks up his sleeve and Regina will always be a badass!!!!

  • Periquita1 Dec 05, 2013

    I love Regina/EQ and all. That I would go "cursing" with her.( yes, I know, not good joke).

    But Regina said, all she have is Henry. And I say is not her own fault, that that's all she have?. She cast the curse by killing the person that she loved the most. And she came to this new land to be by herself. Only after few year she realize she need someone to by her side. My point is they try to make us feel sorry for her (Emma did ), when in fact I think is her own fault, that's all she have

  • traylaparc Dec 05, 2013

    I regret still watching this show, Just Kill Henry off already so we can get back to Evil Queen. Good Guy Gold is weak, I hold onto the fact that this MUST be the last season because unless Goldilocks and the 3 bears have been mysteriously living in Storybrook there are no one else to crow bar in.

  • CandiMom3 Dec 05, 2013

    I read someone's review and it said that Regina is a scociopath and that she can never love. I call BS. Let us not forget that she did love before, the only thing that drove her to darkness was the loss of her great love. She was always capable of love, and when it comes to Henry she will go to great lengths for him. Any real parent would. Even if it is dark. I have 3 girls and I know for a fact that if someone threatened them I will cut them. It's just a mom thing not an evil thing. Now if you look at Cora, she was never in love and never did love anyone, all her actions were fueled by rage and anger. She wanted power and riches. That's a sociopath.

  • CindyPohle Dec 05, 2013

    Ok, first of all, it kinda bothered me that the Pan issue isn't resolved, but I think the twist it took is cool. Yes, now we can actually see what the actor playing Henry is actually capable of, but yes, I really wish the only way they can have Henry back is in Pan's body, so we can relish on Robbie Kay's acting skills.

    They didn't cure David yet, they said as long as he drinks the Neverland water he will be fine until they cure him, but I really don't get the logic of that, like, is he supossed to be slurping the water down non stop until that happens..?

    Lana Parilla: I have no words, hands down one of the best actresses I've ever seen. Completely love her, and yes, she redeemed Regina's character in my eyes.

    And finally, Emma and Regina: hot new couple, no doubt about it XD

  • mad-pac Dec 05, 2013

    Regina went from bad to badass. I like that. Of course she's totally forgiven!

    Henry and Pan switched bodies and switched accents as well: blood magic! Then Pan's (in Henry's body) new American accent was much better than Tinkerbell's (sort of) Aussie one. And old Pan and yooung Pan seemd to have quite different accents. Long story short: these actors need a dialect coach urgently.

    Like somebody mentioned in a community post, how come isn't Henry's family in the tv.com poll for best family of the year? Modern Family doesn't hold a candle to the Charmings/Mills. Which other family has the grandson inside the grandfather's body inside a magic box?

    Finally, I can't forget Giancarlo Esposito's participation, whom they borrowed from Revolution for this voice gig. That man has more acting in a few sentences over the phone than other actors with their entire bodies.

  • CindyPohle Dec 05, 2013

    " Which other family has the grandson inside the grandfather's body inside a magic box?" lol true that

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