Guys!!! I just watched "Quite a Common Fairy" straight off my midnight flight and jet lag can’t be completely responsible for what a complex, startling, and visually insane entry into the OUAT canon it truly was. We can definitely add this episode to the case file of evidence that Lana Parrilla is OUAT’s biggest hope for Season 4, as the show spent approximately 40 minutes developing Regina (NOT a complaint) and three minutes forwarding the plot (i.e., Tinker Bell joined the group, and Neal is on the island). "Quite a Common Fairy" was also undeniable evidence that OUAT feels like it needs to woo its audience back, as several fan-favorite elements got worked in, like:
A) The Blue Fairy is officially a bitch and everybody knows it.
B) Sleeping Warrior for REALSIES
C) Tinker Bell said everything the audience has been thinking.
Hearing Tinker Bell defend Regina to the Blue Fairy was completely refreshing and some of her dialogue seemed practically lifted from commenters on past reviews here in our own little OUAT bubble. "Everyone deserves a second chance." "Regina needs love more than anyone." "If she’s surrounded by darkness, then she needs the most help." It felt good to hear someone onscreen making these statements- ones that appeared in fan manifestos throughout Season 2.
Despite the lack of real-time action, the episode was absorbing, especially the flashbacks, which for once (unlike Regina’s extensions) didn’t feel completely tacked-on. Regina dished about her "sham marriage" with Leopold and skipped out on magic lessons because she didn’t want to be consumed with darkness—a heartening concession to Regina as a character, and maybe a hint that the series realized it went too far in "The Evil Queen" when it depicted Regina organizing a fairy-tale genocide. There was an actually insightful line from Rumpelstiltskin to Regina (as she dined on a roast swan) that darkness wasn’t a feast, she was the feast and darkness was consuming her. And then her ambiguous, maybe-it-was-intentional/it-wasn't-exactly-suicide-but-if-it-was-she-had-her-reasons fall from her tower bedroom (dark!), from which she was saved by Tinker Bell. And, you know, a fairy saving someone's life without resetting them to childhood? Uh, no, not allowed. The Blue Fairy was piiiisssssed. Did you get a look at her face as she stood waiting for Tinker Bell in her Tulip bedroom? She had to literally hold the pimp hand down.
I love that OUAT is now just explicitly painting the Blue Fairy as a meddling hater. Her character has been the worst for a long time and the fans have been on to her all along (what kind of psychopath turns a man into a anthropomorphic cricket?) and now it's officially on the books that she’s the kind of A-hole who would rip the wings off Tinker Bell just for being nice and send her splatting down to the ground, revealing her underpants to the whole world.
Seriously that fall made me laugh out loud. Because I’m an awful person, yes, but it was an awkward angle, sort of insanely sad, and the Foley sound effect that accompanied Tink hitting the ground did a bit too much for me. They made tiny little Tinker Bell sound like a bag of cold chili and gravel falling onto a sheet of steel. She didn't deserve that, especially after all her work as an audience surrogate/Regina's friend.
Although a real friend doesn’t try to hook you up with some stranger with a footballer hooligan tattoo in a back alley, if we’re being honest.
I know we’re supposed to now get excited about Regina eventually meeting Robin Hood and having a love interest. But for reals, with scenes like the one where Emma noticed that Regina was calling their mission "Operation Henry" (just like Henry would have done), and seeing how Henry takes after Regina, and then Regina begging Emma to try to combine magic with her... well, it’s basically The Parent Trap up on Neverland right now.
Maybe that is the dynamic the show is hoping to actually convey with having Neal appear on the island—a man who will use a four-year-old boy as demon bait and still "isn’t sure about all that" when asked if he’ll get together with Emma and Henry. Of course, considering Neal ended the show getting found by a Lost Boy, it’s more probable he’ll end up in Pan’s "compound" (hahaha you mean those trees? LOL), watching Henry fall prey to all the fun games the Lost Boys enjoy, like putting damp sticks in the mud and draping their cowl-hooded capes just so.
I was taken aback and yes, impressed when Henry tried to fire a poison arrow right at Pan’s heart. I do wonder if Pan’s point about him being descended from the "greatest dark and greatest light" is technically correct, because Rumple wasn’t dark until years after Neal was born. (A red light should go off and an alarm should sound whenever I ask this show to make chronological sense. It’s not what OUAT is for. However if it's going to make big, flourish-y statements like that, implying the writers worked all this out many seasons in advance, then they're forcing me to remind them that the OUAT timeline is one big wobbling tower of Jenga, so please don't tempt me to pull out a piece.)
The climax of the episode was yet another standoff involving a magical, disembodied heart. After Tink picked up Regina’s dropped lacy handkerchief, smelled it and recognized Regina’s scent, stalked her during a conversation with Emma, and upbraided her for not revealing their entire past, Tink knocked Regina out and dragged her to a cave, where she watched her wake up like a crazy ex-girlfriend, and then Regina countered by putting her heart in Tink’s hands.
Maybe it was the jet lag, but when I was watching this it felt once again like Tink was an audience surrogate threatening not to kill Regina, but to stop watching the show. The show had burned her in the past. She couldn’t trust it anymore. She was very angry at the show in many ways. And Regina was begging her not to stop, begging her not to end the possibility of a fourth season (in my jet-lagged brain) and asking the audience to choose hope that the show would get better instead of being angry at how bad Season 2 got. Yes, mistakes had been made. But let go of the anger and hope that Season 3 turns things around because it’s trying OH LAWD IT’S TRYING!!!
Maybe that’s the jet lag talking, but it fit beautifully to me. Re-watch it and pretend that instead of Tink threatening to kill Regina, they're discussing what happens if OUAT fandom stops watching OUAT. I'm telling you, it fits. Also I have been up for 23 hours.
Finally, let’s talk about OUAT’s first canon gay couple! Mulan, taking the advice of a man who flew out of the room holding onto a shadow’s toe...
... decided to tell a "loved one" what she felt, and we cut immediately to Aurora, merrily watering plants in a mysteriously restored palace. Aurora gushed about sleeping for two, and Mulan was understandably DEVASTATED.
As Mulan told Aurora specifically it was AURORA that Mulan needed to talk to, not Philip, I think we can safely say that Mulan (i.e., the least commercially viable of Disney’s heroines) is the gay character OUAT has been promising since the summer. If so: Way to immediately crush the possibility of a love triangle with a fetus! SO MUCH WASTED DRAMA. Mulan and the inexplicably resurrected Philip are like best friends. It could have been like Camelot with Philip as Arthur and Mulan as Lancelot.
Still: We have to congratulate the show for letting Mulan out of the closet. I was so pleasantly surprised by the development that I’m not even going to bring up that OUAT may be trying to satisfy a vocal fan base by including a minor character’s gay crush instead of pursuing a gay romance between two main characters... I’m just not even going to mention that! I simply want to take a moment to celebrate that there’s a gay Disney princess, period.
And I’m going to watch for that storyline developing in complexity—because I choose hope, not anger.
... Is this season going to turn into a Lost Boys vs. Merrie Men situation?
... Was Neal reckless with another man’s child?
... Regina and Robin Hood: yay or nay?
... Mulan and Aurora: Will the show follow this storyline? Will they keep it ambiguous or maybe even just leave it at that scene?
... How will they cure David?
... Tattoos: turn on or turn off?