Wow wow wow. How many balled-up sheets of white typing paper would be littering the floor of the OUAT writer’s room if people still used paper? A million? A bajillion? Looks like we’re headed toward ANOTHER series reset! ANOTHER cloud of purple smoke coming from who knows where to do who knows what! Do you think they reached that decision at 3am?
Writer A, extremely tired: “I don’t know, man... we're coming up on the mid-season finale, and we can’t do Neverland anymore because we returned the rental plants. We just need something big, some big old cliffhanger and we’ll figure it out later.”
Writer B, crashing from eating a ton of Oreos and writers' room snacks and not moving for four hours: “The curse resets?”
Writer C, who has a head cold: “Buh bwe did the curse we-set aweady in seavon bwone.”
[Five more hours go by of watching loosely Disney-related YouTube videos, fretting.]
Writer A, getting text from her husband that he hasn't seen her in three weeks and frankly he doesn't remember her eye color: “Okay, curse reset, whatever, the cleaning people are here and they want to vacuum.”
I mean I’m sorry but I saw that purple cloud in the promo and I pulled a-one of a-these.
Can we not?! Can we just have one episode centered on relationship-driven drama? A smattering of comedy of manners, a touch of character development via meaningful conversations? God knows there’s enough twisted family interactions in this world to craft a seriously juicy soap opera. Can't we see just one big family dinner? Do we really have to do all this running around/screaming/finding macguffins/he’s got the woozle but we’ve got the wazzle/somebody kiss/HENRY OMG HENRY WHICH HENRY interspersed with people quoting each other verbatim as a stand-in for relationship growth? "Live in teh moment." "Someone once told me to live in the moment." "Let's live in this moment." Charming quoted Snow to Emma who quoted the same line again to Henry or something. Three scenes, one line! Great economy of effort there, writers.
So yeah, there was definitely a sense of “This again?” in "The New Neverland." Maybe it was just Ginnifer Goodwin’s wig that was giving me deja vu. She seemed pretty thrilled to be wearing it again.
Anyway, in my fury about ANOTHER mysterious purple cloud swooping through town, I totally forgot the beginning of this very nutty episode: Belle dressing Ariel up in f*ck-me heels and leading her over to Eric, who didn’t even wipe his fish-choppin’ paws off before giving her a big juicy slice of welcome tongue.
Anyway. Ariel better enjoy those sweet, scaly kisses while she can, because disaster is moving through Storybrooke like a chainsaw through a box of kittens. "The New Neverland" started with a huge victory: The Darlings were reunited! They will return “home,” which I assume is the Darling crypt, because they are 126 years old. Snow made a big point of publicly giving Regina a little credit, and our Neverland crew got to finally change clothes, except for Captain Hook, who has not gotten out of his leather frock coat since he first appeared on the show and clearly has no intention to, ever. He’s no doubt enjoying a juicy slew of man musk and rum sweat sloshing around in that getup like the sheen of water within a wetsuit. It was a spicy beverage he was only too eager to offer Tink.
I mean first of all, let’s hear it for new characters doing something sort of interesting and different, like propositioning sex for non-procreative purposes (did you notice that Snow and Charming were trying to conceive on their honeymoon?!?! Those two!) I would actually be in full support of Tink and Hook sharing more scenes, though I equally loved how Tink told him she may be a fairy who lived for a long time as a scavenger picking things off of corpses to survive but dammit she’s got her dignity.
It was especially good to see her put her chin up, considering the Blue Fairy got in one last catty, shitty little dig at her before shuffling off this mortal coil.
Obviously Keegan Connor Tracy is doing big things over at Bates Motel, but as far as her character goes, this is nothing but good news for Storybrooke. Blue Fairy got in one last epic shade-throw at Tinker Bell and then her tiny, coal-shaped soul was hoovered up by the shadow and off she set out for the rest of her career.
MEANWHILE. (There were so many threads this episode, guys.) Rumple no longer needs his walking stick for some reason, and he tearfully sealed his Pandora’s box into the floor of his pawn shop with the promise that as long as he's alive the box will remain sealed, meaning it was going to be out and in play within the next 20 minutes. Emma’s Spidey Sense was already tingling that something was up with Henry. He wasn’t jumping up and down with glee over his story book, which some parents would see as adolescence, but then when he volunteered to go home with Regina, Emma was like “No, he is seriously acting weird, maybe I should follow Regina and Henry back to the house and stand in the front lawn holding a boombox playing 'In Your Eyes' or something.” But Snow was like “No believe me Henry’s just excited about being in his old room. I know I fantasize about when I used to have my studio apartment to myself before you moved in and started getting drunk and taking apart my appliances. I realize now those were the ‘glory days’. Dear Lord, right now it's you, me, your father, Henry—I mean for shit’s sake, the bed is in the dining nook, the bathroom is constantly in HEAVY use, and the towels all smell like Chia Pet. What I wouldn’t give to be able to shut a damn door and lie down to sleep. I’ll never know that luxury again.” Or at least, that’s what her eyes said.
Speaking of Neal, he did that cool no-pressure thing where you give someone a very specific ultimatum: MEET ME TOMORROW AT THE BOOTH FOR LUNCH OR I’LL NEVER ASK YOU OUT AGAIN. He knows what buttons to push when someone has abandonment issues, that’s for sure. Snow and Charming were IMMEDIATELY way, way, way on board for this date with a relative stranger with a genuine rapsheet. Like, have they heard about the meet-cute where Emma found him sleeping in her car? Yeesh. Parents of the year over here. And then when Emma didn’t show up, Charming hunted her down and gave her a serious talking-to about enjoying the moments in between the constant agony that is both of their lives.
And then Charming made an extremely hilarious joke about how he wasn’t interested in dating Hook because he was a married man. Haha, just a classic closeted dad-and-daughter duo walking arm-in-arm to meet their beards for cocoa. Enjoy that strangled, confused sense of unfulfillment! Ha. Anyway, realizing that Mr. & Mrs. Fulltime Babymakers were not going to let her out of her last proven heterosexual relationship that easy, Emma agreed to walk back to the diner and eat a burger while sitting across a table from Neal if it would just make everybody shut up shut up shut up. Then the most magical moment of the episode happened and the Blue Fairy got her soul ripped out and Emma realized that what she actually really wanted to do was bicker with Regina about emotionally loaded topics, and bicker they did. These two! I love it.
Pan in Henry’s body was very much enjoying his newfound American accent, not to mention Henry’s spacious bedroom. He was casing the joint for magic and then he was able to sucker Regina down to the family crypt where she keeps all her potions and gowns, and then he got her to hug him and then he stole a potion and knocked her out.
Emma had erstwhile freed Henry in Pan’s body from the Pandora’s cube and made him tell everybody about that time when she told him the reason she gave him up was to give him his best chance. That was the pilot, everybody, and it’s still the best-written episode OUAT's ever presented us with. At the mention of that truly heart-melting moment of great writing, everybody grew appropriately teary-eyed and was convinced that Henry really WAS stuck in Pan’s body. Everybody gave him big hugs and didn’t even question why Henry now spoke with an English accent.
Then it was time to save Regina! Somehow (???) everybody knew—and I do mean everybody, because like 14 people turned up in that grave yard AND a coconut shell...
...but all of them knew that Regina was down in the crypt, and as they waited for Rumple to mind-weld it open, Emma started getting very grouchy about never getting a day off. I hear you girl, except last time I checked, you run around full-time with your crazy-ass family and don’t tell me that’s as bad as a 9-to-5 because I used to work a 4-to-12 at a grocery store, and I am talking AM. Besides pulling a gun on a teenage boy who's infested with your son’s soul, when is the last time any of Your Majesties put in an eight-hour shift? Excuse me. Anyway. Just about the time Emma was really warming up to how hard it is being the Savior, and how her parents were great parents but as dumb as a pair of Corgis, the tomb was open and Regina was okay and the bad news was, the mid-season finale is going to end with a very familiar cliffhanger unless Regina does something really dramatic.
Because Pan had stolen The Curse! The First Curse! Which will reset everyone to where they are from and rob them of their memories again! Which requires the heart of the one you love most to cast, so we should be safe unless, against all odds, the writers gloss over that or find some kind of macguffin-y workaround. Look, despite feeling a little exhausted by the purple cloud season-reset device, I will be GLUED to the screen for the mid-season finale next week. Will this town finally manage to gain full control of their brains at long last, or will they once again be plunged into the tragedy of not aging? I want to know what happens to these characters that I am so weirdly, deeply, impossibly interested in, so I will be glued even though I know the episode will just leave me dangling from another unearned cliffhanger. Come on guys can you tell me what's going to happen?! Let’s figure this out.
Oh yeah and there was a gorgon.
... Are they going to make the Jared/Robbie Kay switch permanent? No. Right? No. But what if they did? How insane would that be?
... Living for the little moments: This is true for many, but in the Charmings’ case, maybe they should cool it with the babies until they have a place to live where each generation of the family can have their own room?
... Isn’t it kind of weird that Snow and Charming are so pro-Neal? Like have they even talked to him?
... What is that big bad cloud going to do? Will it prevent the curse from happening, or will we have to wait until after the mid-season finale to find out?
AIRED ON 12/4/2016
Season 6 : Episode 10
AIRS ON 3/5/2017
Season 6 : Episode 11