Written by Michelle Salvatore
(*All OUAT recaps will be spoiler-heavy. I don’t know why you would read a recap of a show and not expect spoilers. Carry on)
It was roughly thirteen minutes into last night’s episode of Once Upon A Time that I asked my glass of Skinnygirl red: “Am I already that drunk, or is this show extra-gay tonight?”
The answer was both. And it was so satisfying.
Disney’s favorite primetime property finally returned to the fanfiction-level of ridiculous that we’ve been waiting for this season – and thank goodness, because I was fully prepared to bang out 1000 words on why another Kitsis/Horowitz show set on an island was getting old real fast. We may have let them get away with re-using the magic smoke monster in season one, but if Peter Pan’s camp is down a hatch next week I’m going to start flipping tables. Instead, this week’s episode was less about aimless island wandering and more Queen-y melodrama (the best kind!).
First let’s get the royal family out of the way: Snow White and Prince Charming are still very ugh, couples. The episode kicks off with them being all “do you need a break from walking?” and then “no, do you need a break?” and then “you’re prettier!/no, you’re prettier!” and I can’t handle it, you two! The whole thing doesn’t make me very sympathetic when Captain Guyliner (Hook) points out that Charming’s studly-chest wounds from last week are terminal.
“Only thing that’ll clear that up is kissing your fellow man. Trust me, I’m a pirate doctor.”
Some more creepy Neverland Ranch stuff happened over at Peter Pan’s camp, where the still-abducted Henry tries to shoot Pan with a crossbow – but Pan’s into playing rough apparently so nobody gets thrown down a hatch over it. I’m happy to see Henry finally toughening up a bit, and he’ll do a better (less-whiny) job carrying this “savior” storyline than Emma ever did.
Now the fun parts!
Tonight’s episode, “Quite A Common Fairy”, dealt with Queen Regina’s disastrous once-friendship with the fairy, Tinker Bell. Because of course.
Lana Parrilla continues to be the saving grace of this clusterfuck of a series – along with Robert Carlyle, who regrettably only pops in for a couple minutes of screen time without so much as a “dearie.” Regina should be more of an insufferable character considering how slowly she develops; she’s constantly making the same mistakes without any new excuses. Lana’s performance often crafts miracles with not much new material to run on, but this week finally gave her some new to play with.
Through the trusty ol’ flashback sequences, we watch as pre-evil Regina befriends the green fairy, Tinker Bell, who for some reason has the dialogue of a sassy drag queen: “Snow White? That’s her name? Even I think that’s a bit precious and my name’s Tinker Bell.”
Gina and the Tink get along pretty well for a while, until – like most highschool friendships – Tinker Bell steals some pixie dust to help Regina meet her True Love, but ends up getting fairy-told off by her boss and her wings taken away. Then Regina’s all “lol, sorry not sorry” and the hair-braidin’, nail-paintin’ good times are over. The moral is: trust nobody and don’t make friends.
So naturally when Regina runs into Tinker Bell in Neverland, now magic-less and rocking a tragic messy bun, they’ve got some weird angry sexual tension to argue through for a few scenes. Most of the third act is spent in a cave with Tinker Bell standing over her threatening to literally crush Regina’s heart. Regina reveals that she was too scared to meet her True Love – a character in a bar referred to only as Stieg Larsson’s The Man With The Lion Tattoo – because she’s dependent on anger to hide her pathological fear of rejection and weakness, which constantly hurts others and hinders her character’s core need to be loved. Or something like that.
I’m not making this shit up, you guys.
And finally, the end of the episode brings the best gifts of all. For one, Robin Hood and Neal are still looking extra fine (look, this show kills off attractive male characters so frequently, you have to learn to appreciate them while they’re still around), and Neal finally found a way to escape the Enchanted Forest and join the rest of the cast in Neverland. And thank god, because there’s more chemistry between Hook and Charming than Hook and Emma at this point, and my team really needs something more to work with here.
But the hands-down, absolute best part of this episode was when everything we suspected about Mulan for a season and a half was true; girl is in lesbians love with Sleeping Beauty. It was all very implied – almost annoyingly subtle considering how loud and often we’re used to hearing Snow and Charming gush over each other in comparison. But what this ending lacked in directness, it made up for in amazing lines that could be called double entendres if only this show was a little more self-aware.
Unfortunately, as Mulan learns like Neal before her, the consequence of hesitating to tell somebody that you’re in lesbians love with them is that you will miss your chance. So, upon learning that Aurora is pregnant with Phillip’s child, Mulan’s just like “Fuck this. I guess I’ll go hang out with Robin Hood.” Rough.
So now Mulan is a Merry Man, and Robin Hood turns out to be The Man With The Lion Tattoo – wait WHAT? Say it ain’t so! Regina’s True Love is alive and absolutely DILFy! Plus, his adorable son Roland will be a nice replacement for Henry when he runs off with Peter Pan and leaves her adopted-sonless. If we could just have Regina’s redemption arc actually move forward now instead of her repeatedly fucking things up, that’d be great. Or just let Lana Parrilla do what she wants to do, I trust her judgement.
In closing, this week’s episode was the sassiest I’ve ever witnessed and I hope this is an indicator of things to come. Once has a tragic tendency to take itself too seriously for a show that is ridiculous on every level. It’s a Disney property that plays out like high-quality fan fiction, and that’s okay! They need to take a cue from Peter Pan last week and “admit who you really are” – which is a loveable, hot mess.
And that, friends, is the most ridiculous recap for anything that I have ever written.