Do you know who you are?
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, and Robert Carlyle.
This week is a bit of a reflective instalment, as several key characters battle with their own self doubt. All of them were executed nicely – though there’s only so many times we can revisit Snow and The Evil Queen’s feud in the Enchanted Forest of old – and it’s instructive to continue to develop and explore these beloved characters as the series progresses. Once has definitely learned its lessons to focus upon what the audience are interested and invested in, which are these people, primarily. However, the momentum that was created from the premiere episode was dissipated somewhat, and it no longer feels like an urgent battle to rescue Henry as it does a bunch of adults wandering around what appears to be a fairly small forest set.
Emma’s story makes complete sense. Her journey has been set off by Pan appearing and giving Emma a map, saying that it will reveal the way to Henry when she realises her true identity. Obviously, this sends Emma down the path of believing that the identity that she is running from is being the Saviour – a mantle that she has actively run away from and rejected ever since, and even before, she saved Storybrooke. Ultimately, the truth that Emma reveals is devastating to Snow and Charming, as, during a key battle with The Lost Ones, Emma realises a deep sense of understanding for their plight. At her heart, she still feels like an orphan. Regardless of how her parents are now within her life, or the fact that she now knows why she was left, it doesn’t erase the years of hurt caused by believing that she was abandoned and unwanted by her parents. Now, though they are reunited, it has hardly the same. No time has passed for them. They took the “easy road”, while Emma actually had to grow up and live her life without them.
The journey of self acceptance is also mirrored in the past, as Snow struggles to fight for her kingdom against the Evil Queen. With some light trickery from Charming, Snow comes to believe in herself as a Queen and faces Regina head on, until she learns that Charming had, in fact, tricked her by planting a fake sword in the stone for her to pull it out. Since she managed to take on Regina without any assistance, however, she realises that she needs to fight for her kingdom, setting her on the path to becoming the ruler that we have seen present before in the Enchanted Forest.
Elsewhere, Rumple battles demons of his own. First making sure that his shadow takes the dagger far away so that it cannot be used against him, Rumple is continually plagued by a doll, as well as a vision of Belle. As she acknowledges, she isn’t really there, but rather conjured by Rumple to help him as he struggles to determine a path forwards. Ultimately, he is concerned that he is unable to rescue Henry without becoming the Dark One again, and is worried that he will follow in his father’s footsteps (and indeed, technically, his own) by once again putting his own needs before that of Henry’s and letting him down. Rumple realises that he needs to let go of the past by disposing of the doll, which, as it transpires, was made by Rumple’s father presumably for Rumple. Despite this realisation, however, the doll continues to reappear and Rumple ends up pocketing it as he continues on his journey.
While Rumple realises that he must let go of the past in order to move forwards, it appears that Emma is in danger of doing the opposite. As warned by Pan, she continues to harbour resentment towards her parents, much in the same way that Henry has resentment towards Emma for giving him up, and reveals that, when it becomes time to take Henry home, Henry will have become a Lost One, and that Emma will actually be an orphan, instead of just feeling like one. Meanwhile, Charming notices that he has been poisoned with Dreamshade, but decides not to tell the others. Because that always works.
Quite a nice and cosy episode, and it’s nice to see our characters – even Rumple – being conflicted and battling with their own self doubt. My only worry is that the rest of the series leading up to Henry’s liberation will be similar explorations of the psyches of the other members of the group, which will dramatically affect the pacing and the excitement levels. Having said that, Pan appears to be an intriguing villain who definitely has an ulterior motive and a master plan and perhaps unravelling the heroes’ repressed issues plays some role in that.
- Pan gives Emma a map, telling her it will tell her where Henry is once she accepts her true identity.
- Emma ultimately realises that she still considers herself to be an orphan.
- In the past, Charming tricks Snow into believing in herself so that she will take the kingdom back from The Evil Queen.
- Gold conjures up an image of Belle to help reassure him that he can rescue Henry without becoming “The Dark One” again.
- I was quite surprised not to see Henry in this episode, considering the entire season so far is revolving around getting him back, but perhaps part of the plan is for us to wonder what is actually happening to him during this time. It’s actually the first episode that Jared S Gilmore hasn’t been in, if memory serves!
- Regina continues to be delightfully snippy in the background of most of these scenes, which I absolutely adore. I honestly think that this adventure will be the making of her relationship with all of the heroes, though. I have confidence.
- There was such a frisson between Hook and Emma when he told her that he wants to get to know who she really is. I’ve noticed that Hook is incredibly direct when he is being honest, so I’m intrigued to see where this relationship goes, especially when we know that Neal will likely be appearing in Neverland before too long.
- Charming was being a little churlish in this episode, literally ignoring everything that Hook said for no reason whatsoever. He was warned about the poison in the bush, yet still wanted to go in that direction and now, ironically, has been poisoned. Not through the bush – that would be very anticlimactic – but still. Just because you don’t like the guy, doesn’t mean that you can just ignore everything he says. He has a point! He’s been here before!
- The whole Charming/Hook “For once I agree” thing is already old, and they’ve only been doing it for one episode. Make it stop, please.
- As if Emma even had to ask Pan whether or not it was some sort of trick giving her the map. Of course it is a trap. Firstly, why would they even trust what the map says when it has come from Pan himself. Secondly, he clearly was trying to achieve something by giving Emma the map and making her realise her so-called “true identity”. Likely to sew the seeds of self doubt and further divide the group so that they cannot actually get to Henry. I’m not quite sure what Pan plans to do to break Henry’s spirit, because that’s been pretty unflappable up until now.
- Why do Charming and Snow call each other Mary Margaret and David? I refuse! Not least because Mary Margaret takes too long to type and it makes her sound like a virginal librarian. Which she was. There. I said it.
- Snow was on peak irritating factor this week, at least in the Enchanted Forest. Her deciding to randomly try to make Emma call her mom was definitely the wrong time to try and have that sort of conversation. This isn’t a normal family situation, Snow, stop trying to make it be one. As well, her sitting around saying “give her time” and “she’ll get there” and “go on” is just endlessly frustrating. Emma hit the nail on the head last week. They are the same age. They simply cannot act like her parents now. Sure, they are biologically, but she doesn’t need a mother. How would Snow and Charming like it if their parents were around doing such irritating things. Emma and Snow were, ironically, much closer to each other when they were just friends before the curse was broken, and in the Enchanted Forest when they were, again, behaving more like friends, so I think that Snow needs to cool it on the mother talk.
- Why was Snow’s wig so terrible this week? I don’t know what it was, but that thing crawled out of a nightmare somewhere.
- How come four grown adults, plus a woman with magic couldn’t fight off a bunch of kids? Come on guys, get real.
- Emilie de Ravin’s sections were delightful. Any scene she shares with Rumple is a joy to behold, so it’s nice that she got to be included in this episode, considering her character has been left behind in Storybrooke. I mean, she’s regular cast and still credited, so I doubt she minds too much, but sensible of the writers to think of her nonetheless.
A valuable step in the exploration of our key characters, though perhaps not the most exciting second episode to a season.
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.