Look down, OUAT, do you see what you're precariously balanced on? That's right, it's my last nerve.
1. You raised an army of the undead and did nothing with it.
2. The lynchpin of all of last night's action was two characters SLEEPING.
3. You've expanded the ability of a snatched-out heart to such epic proportions that it's officially plot spackle. What can't you do a bitch's heart on this show? Cora is now using Aurora's heart to puppet her around and spy on the princesses like a meaty little baby monitor. And I guess Cap'n Hook isn't just a captain, he's some kind of mage or something if he can pull off the heart trick... although it was a real rookie move to just lug it around in a leather satchel. Probably all kinds of lint and loose change stuck on that heart right now.
4. Why is everyone so awful to Mulan? She had her life threatened, was abandoned to ragamuffin zombies, and probably never hears a "please" or "thank you" for setting up that bohemian solider tent.
5. You are yanking us around about Ariel, who I was definitely exactly the targeted demographic for in the '90s.
My last nerve, OUAT, my last nerve.
"Into the Deep" started with a very whispered conversation between Cora and Cap'n Hook, because all villains insist on hissing their plans to each other even when they're standing in a deserted hellscape with only dead bodies for company. Then Cora raised an army of ragamuffins, after which point she must have kept busy doing her laundry because they were offscreen for almost the whole episode.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, as Henry, Regina, and David pieced together his nightmare netherworld and successfully masked Henry's growth spurt by keeping him lying down in every scene, Belle ate some hamburgers.
But not before Granny threw a lot of shade at Rumple, because Granny has that wonderful kind of personality that compels her to be absolutely awful to people and then feel morally righteous about it. Remember when she slut-shamed Snow and boycotted a charity because she had opinions about affairs? I haven't forgotten. Then because Rumple and Belle have literally nothing better to talk about, Rumple started explaining ketchup to Belle.
Soulmates. Before Rumple could move on to a super-condescending dissertation on mayonnaise, Regina barged in and let him know the shituation she had brewing in her son's nightmares: Cora's coming to this world!!! But, powerful though Cora may be, they are living light years ahead of her in terms of technology. If Belle is any indication, Cora is going to be shocked by concepts in our world as simple as diner food, let alone useful objects like say, RIFLES. Can't they just drive over her with a backhoe?
Regardless, Rumple was immediately on board with magicking Cora, and over in Fairy Tale Land, Snow and Emma were putting details together like two expert sleuths and figuring out how the sleeping curse had united Aurora and Henry (everyone's favorite characters on Opposite Day) in a literal chat room. Were you not impressed with how quickly everyone on both sides figured this out and started capitalizing on their communication? While every episode of OUAT previous to "Into the Deep" has based the conflict on our characters misjudging each other or making incorrect assumptions about each other, suddenly in this episode they could anticipate each other's actions so accurately it was as though they were reading each other's minds. The astounding leaps in logic basically every character made this week kept things ticking along, but, like, come on. We know these people are dumb as rocks. Last night they conveniently all got brain transplants. See, this is the problem with keeping your characters weirdly stupid for an entire first season: When you let them start acting smart and heroic, it's jarring to the audience. I was jarred! David Nolan, like, had an idea and stuff. That was the most magical part of the episode.
Then the show had the AUDACITY to have Rumple tell us the ink that would freeze Cora (ugh, ugh, ugh) would come from a squid only a mermaid could reach. My mind started racing. How would they handle underwater fx? CGI tail or latex fins? And then of course, Rumple revealed he had a pot of the stuff in a set that's already built, his old cell. Fantastic. This show should basically be called Scavenger Hunt: Forever.
Anyway, Henry and Aurora had one job: to have a conversation, and of course they both failed miserably and Aurora was swept out of the Netherworld violently because she was shaken awake.
And wow, was Mulan getting some aggression out, because sure enough when Aurora came to she was being rattled like a maraca. Aurora's bones were JOUNCED and then a herd of goofily dressed extras came through and basically tickled everyone. They weren't that threatening. Aurora allowed herself to be led off by them because she's hopeless. Surprise motivation: Mulan really cares about Aurora all of a sudden! Also, she can tell a withered, blistering lesion from a sunburn (kind of). That's basically the first thing you learn in "Being a Reluctant Yet Dedicated Protectoress" class. Then Aurora took off into the underbrush the first time Mulan got in trouble and was tripped by a zombie. Didn’t even look back!
Meanwhile, the backroom of Rumple's store suddenly smelled a lot like burnt hair.
Despite the fact that they could and did instantly heal Henry and Henry will have to return to the netherworld every time he sleeps anyway because that is how this curse works, Charming decided it would be a better idea to put himself under the Sleeping Curse (thereby leaving his town and grandson defenseless and rendering him physically incapable of helping his wife and daughter for an indeterminate amount of time) than risk Henry getting another burn. Which, as I've said, they could instantly heal, and also Henry will be right back in the netherworld the first time he goes to sleep, but that's not the point. The point is, Charming had an idea everyone! I didn't say it was a good one, but it happened and of that we can all be proud. Also it made me laugh out loud they had to actually set up a spindle to put him out. Because a pin dipped in Regina's magic sauce wouldn't have been classy.
Aurora woke up in another of Cora's oubliette's and gave her a nice hard kick in the feet. Cora got REALLY angry, I assume she was wearing her best shoes. Or maybe open-toe Birkenstocks? That would hurt.
After a tremendous show of what we were told was "pluck," Aurora got hoodwinked by a pirate's rouse (her words, not mine) and set free by Cap'n Hook. Meanwhile Cora sent off her TMobile Raven to inform the Princesses she would exchange Aurora for the compass, which compelled Snow to do heroin so she could meet up with David in the Burning Disco. (He had to go through a hall of mirrors first because mirrors are inexpensive and easily set up.) Luckily then he chippy-chipped his way through the floor to the disco room and who am I to say that's not how that works? No one knows how any of this madness works, there is no underpinning logic here, we ordered a big messy bowl of Plot Element Stew when we sat down for this show and I'm not going to waste my breath complaining about it.
So here was our reward for suspending our disbelief for yet another week: Snow and Charming shouted at each other on a burning disco floor as sparks wheeled around their heads in slow motion. It was actually quite romantic and effective (I am a sucker for how much Josh Dallas is crushed out on Ginnifer Goodwin, and they are frealz dating so basically put these two in front of me in slow motion and I'm happy), and it put a real clock on Snow for getting them back to the real world. When they were just worried about Henry, Snow was calm and cool as a cucumber; when David was in peril she was like, "WE GOTTA GET BACK MOTHER-DAUGHTER CAMPING TRIP IS OVER," hahahaha I wouldn't have raced back to the real world to hang out with Henry either, I feel you Snow.
However that does not excuse her threatening and then seriously considering murdering Mulan. With an arrow used like a shiv!!! Mulan, get out of there. Forget Phillip, forget Aurora, forget this whole mixed bag of nuts you fell in with. Go find a recruitment tent somewhere and get your life back on track. They are never going to let you in their pretty pink Princess clubhouse, I'm sorry. I know Aurora and Snow touched foreheads in the last episode and Emma gave Aurora her jacket but then the second she doesn't go along with their plans they turn on her like lowdown dirty dogs. You don't need it, Mulan.
Luckily Aurora returned in the nick of time with Cora's hand figuratively up her ass, puppeting her already foolish mouth. Clap clap clap, Cora. I'm one hundred percent positive Hook has a bigger plan here that involves actually helping Emma, but I don't expect any kind of trifling emotional arc to unfold in any kind of timely fashion because this show is about BEING BUSY LOOKING FOR STUFF. Let's grab the COMPASS and get some SQUID INK so we can get to a PORTAL. Yes, letzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
So, this week:
Product Placement: Actually pretty meh this episode. No new characters introduced except for zombies, which are always a crowd pleaser. Two out of five stars.
Character development:Ugh. Mulan getting super protective of Aurora felt a little rushed and forced and they bopped us over the head with that way too many times. Also Regina agreeing not to do magic anymore because her whiny, traitorous kid says so is just so boring and out of character. Two out of five stars.
Razzle Dazzle/Keeping Me Entertained: I cannot believe how much this episode was fueled by naps. So many naps! But I will give extra points for the slow-motion fiery Snow/Charming scene and hey, zombies. Four out of five stars.
Annoying References to Bigger Story: The amount of things a single heart can do in Cora's hands is officially insane. But to be fair the writers didn't wave any "all will be revealed" flags at us so I'm pretty pleased. Four out of five stars.
Twelve stars! Pretty good. But more importantly, what did you think?
1. How did Cap'n Hook snatch that heart? Does he know magic?
2. Did Charming put his whole family at risk so he could take a nap?
3. Are the Princesses way too mean to Mulan?
4. Have you ever gone on a mother-daughter camping trip?
5. What's Hook got up his sleeve (besides the actor's actual hand holding the end of his metal hook prosthetic)?
6. Did Cora fail to use her army of the undead effectively?