Any of those that have yet to watch Sunday night’s winter finale of Once Upon A Time, entitled ‘Going Home’, now would be the point in which I suggest you turn away from this blog and go do that, before proceeding ahead. For this is not a spoiler free blog. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! You’ve been warned.
Keep in mind as you read this review that I watched most of this episode four days ago (I rewatched the last ten minutes two days ago), and while I do have nearly an entire page of notes, I may be a little blurry on parts of the episode. As I have said numerous times, I do not have the clearest of memories, but I really did love this episode, and it has stuck with me, so it should be okay.
Anyways, I have to begin this by saying that this was a good episode, but it was by no means a great one. It did have a great final ten minutes, but the previous points in the episode (at least to me) felt a bit too much like filler, and not enough like there was a heightened sense of malice to it. I’m guessing I’m one of the few that feels this way, but that’s just how I see it.
There were a lot of great performances this week, though. I found that Jared Gilmore was surprisingly good with his rendition of Pan this week, certainly no where near as well played as Pan’s original portrayer, but good nonetheless, and much better than his portrayal of Henry in most episodes before this. Also, I did find that once he became Henry again, he seemed to step up his game. I actually found myself liking Henry, for the most part, and that, while his disposition in the flashback scene neither resembled his character’s personality at that time nor did he look the age, I did like him a great deal better. Gilmore’s acting this week was most assuredly his most well done since, likely, the pilot episode. I also have to note that, once again, Robbie Kay’s rendition of Henry was actually better than Gilmore’s portrayal of the character before this episode. Although, I did find that once he reverted back to Pan he was a bit over the top. Finally, I have to take note of Hook, and Colin O’Donoghue’s masterful depiction of him in this, and every other week before it. He is such an amazing actor that I actually believed that scene could’ve been filmed in the past, before he’d gotten over his revenge plan against Rumple. Also, all of his moments, before the final one, between himself and Emma were filled with such passion and undeniable chemistry that it’s relentlessly exciting. Anyone that saw that seemingly final exchange between them before Emma and Henry left cannot possibly deny their feelings for each other.
A few contentions with this episode that need to be mentioned. One is definitely the more obvious issue that Belle seems to better suit Neal than she does his father. I get that there is a large fan base behind “Rumbelle”, and that my main issue could be the blending of one of my favourite Disney princess movies with another fairytale (i.e. Rumplestiltskin being the Beast), but I have major qualms with this couple because I just don’t see any major chemistry between the characters. But then, I find that that can be the fault of this series a few times over. Also, it could have something to do with the twenty-year age difference, but I digress. Another problem I had with this episode is the fact that I really don’t trust that Mr. Gold is dead. In this day and age of television in the fantasy world, so often beloved characters can come back from the dead (see also: the Blue Fairy). When there’s no build up and feeling of finality to a characters death, it doesn’t quite feel like they’re done with them, and I didn’t feel much of that here, so I don’t trust that they’d actually kill his character off. Another thing, I didn’t feel like Michael Raymond-James really gave it his all this week when playing Neal. He felt very superficial, and like he wasn’t completely grounded in the scene. After his father died, it didn’t seem like he felt any grief at all, and despite their qualms he really should have, and at the end it didn’t appear like he despised the fact he would be away from Emma and his son for an unknown period of time. It’s like his character wasn’t fully there, and it really bothered me because he seemed to be the only one that did not have any issues with anything going on, despite the near 100% likelihood that he should. And, a side note, the one thing I’m not looking forward to with this whole going back to where they came from, is the fact that this likely leads to a larger quantity of CGI use, but I’ll just have to wait to see how that goes. And one final issue I had this week was with the costumed look of Snow during the flashback scenes. It felt like they were taking a page from Once Upon A Time In Wonderland’s playbook, and I wasn’t a fan of it.
There are, most assuredly, several other things that need to be noted regarding this episode. First off, I feel like there was a great deal of hate between Tinkerbell and Hook in that flashback scene, so I don’t really think there’s any possibility of romantic history between them, particularly because he was desperately gung ho with regards to avenging his beloved Mila’s death. Also, I’m curious to know who Emma would think Henry’s father is, if Neal’s gone back to Fairytale Land. Maybe she still thinks it’s him, seeing as he was never affected by the curse in the first place. Another thing, I absolutely adored the rearview mirror shots of Emma, as well as the fantastic cinematographic skill of flipping between those and the behind shots of Henry. That is a piece of television cinematography that makes me adore and want to work in television so badly. It was that beautiful. Also the use of Lou Reed’s ‘Charley’s Girl’ was the perfect music choice for that New York scene and reminded me to download the song, I only wish they’d played more of the song, and the tune they played while Storybrooke was destroyed was spectacular. I definitely think fabricating Emma and Henry’s memories so it feels like they’ve always been together will be interesting grounds for storytelling that I greatly look forward to immersing myself in. Finally, I honestly believe that it was incredibly smart of the writers to have a year pass by before Hook comes to Emma’s door because it’s both a great way to explain Henry’s aging, and also create grounds for a lucrative amount of stories. Plus, classic Lost writing.
All in all, I’m rather impressed with where this series appears to be going. I’m definitely looking more forward to the second half of the season, more so than I am happy with the first half. While I should not be surprised by such tactics being used by the likes of Lost writing alum, I am by no means unhappy with the way this series appears to be going. I am beyond excited to see where they go with this series from this point, a feeling I don’t believe I’ve felt since the first season. This series may have lost it’s way a bit since season one, but I think it may be on the way to bringing that creative vibe back that I’ve only felt sparingly since it’s first season. Also, Hook being the one to go to New York to get Emma was brilliant in my books, and I greatly anticipate how he will convince her of the time she spent in Storybrooke. Basically, this series may grow to become one of my favourite current series once again. The way this finale ended was pure genius, despite its television cliché.
My rating: 8.5 out of 10.
“Life is unpredictable.” – Mary-Margaret explains to Henry.
“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing.” – Mary-Margaret says.
“This pink, naked, squirming little larva.” – Pan conveys his distaste for the first sights of his son.
“But I’m a villain, and villains don’t get happy endings.” – Rumplestiltskin expresses.
“And all I’ve wanted is for you to get the hell out of my life so I can be with my son.” – Regina states of her past contrivances with Emma being apart of Henry’s life and her’s.
I know this is late, like my last few reviews, but I think the weird serotonin levels in my brain are acting up again, so the low energy levels are really getting to me lately. So, don’t expect my review of Revenge, How I Met Your Mother, and Almost Human until at least tomorrow. Otherwise, once I’m done posting this, I’m off to try and get my creative juices flowing with my own television series pilot. Goodnight.