You may have noticed that I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my Once Upon A Time recaps. This isn’t just because I’m a law student and I’m super busy and I’ve been going to a ton of doctors’ appointments lately. In fact, those other obligations play a fairly small part in all of it. The real problem is that I’m just not getting that into this season and it’s hard to write about it and get excited about it.

That’s not to say that the choice to set this season primarily in Neverland was a bad one. I think that the story arch they have going right now has it’s merits. But we’re almost five episodes in now and nothing has happened.

The story has not progressed at all. We’ve gotten plenty of back story thrown in, sure, but not a whole lot of it is the kind of back story we’d want in the first place. It just feels like filler for a story that doesn’t need filler. Will tomorrow night’s episode change my opinion? I don’t know. But I felt like I needed to get this all out because I feel like this season WILL get better. I’m just not sure when. And I’m getting tired of waiting. I know it’s super early in the season – we’re only a quarter of the way in – but it’s starting to feel like that one super slow season of the Walking Dead. I need something more than flashbacks, people, and random stuff that then reverts into more walking through the woods.

The show needs to give me something next episode or I’m just not going to be able to get through this season.

What’s Working For Me This Season

Peter Pan As the Big Bad

All right, so, using Peter Pan as the bad guy so far has been pretty perfect. Robbie Kay is playing this character beautifully. He’s the right kind of evil with the right amount of charm. It’s great. He knows how to push the right buttons of different characters and he knows when enough is enough. You get this idea that he knows exactly what Emma and the others are up to at all times and everything is just a game that he’s got complete control over. It’s a great dynamic to the story and to the show. The problem is that last episode we just got our first real glimpse at his past history and just how far he’ll go. They haven’t really done enough with him – though tying in Peter Pan and the Pied Piper as the same characters was a nice choice. They did that well. I was hoping for a bit more behind his relationship with Rumpelstiltskin, though. Ah, well. Robbie Kay has a lot to offer and I’m hoping they let the character really let go sooner than later. We need something to happen in this show because so far it’s been a lot of walking through the woods, bickering, and back story. It’s time to let Peter Pan actually do something besides awkwardly seduce Henry to join the Lost Boys.

Hook & Baelfire References

It’s a little thing but I really appreciate it. I loved that Hook and Baelfire had a history together and that they were all buddy-buddy once. Hook is a great character and of all the ‘bad guys’ he’s really the only one that doesn’t annoy me. Rumpelstiltskin’s character is great but the whole redemption thing they’ve got him on now is getting old. And Regina is just so inconsistently written at times that I’m just like, “C’mon.” Hook, though, is a great character who actually does have a heart and I think that people – including Emma – can sort of see that most of the time. The moments wandering around Neverland where he can be like, “Awww, Baelfire, you remembered how to navigate by the stars…” just help it be more obvious. And also potentially could lead to more serious Emma/Hook moments? I don’t know.

Our Brief Sojourn Back to the Enchanted Forest

Every moment in the Enchanted Forest these days tends to be great. I absolutely loved the moments where Neal was running around with Phillip, Aurora, and Mulan. I also loved when they met up with Robin Hood. We need more Robin Hood. We really do. He seems like a great character and he deserves more screen time than he’s gotten this season. Things are way more interesting back in the Enchanted Forest as far as I’m concerned at this point. Neverland is getting old. Let’s start doing some more back there. The flashbacks into the past in the Enchanted Forest are even better than being in Neverland most of the time because the bickering and the lack of anything actually happening is getting old.

Neal Continues to be Awesome

So this season the only person who seems to have any idea what’s going on is Neal. He basically figures out everything that’s going on up to the present while in an entirely different world. After being shot he winds up falling through a portal and being rescued by Phillip, Aurora, and Mulan. Mulan then helps him go find his father’s castle where she and Robin Hood help him find a magical orb that gives him an idea about where Emma is and everything. Straight away he’s like, “I got it. Neverland.” Then he’s like, “Oh, shit. Henry is the One True Believer.” Sure, one he gets to Neverland he sort of messes up by not trusting his father and trying to run away with Henry on his own. (C’mon, Neal. You know Peter Pan’s going to find you.) But pretty much every moment with Neal is good. There is no moment where he is on screen that’s not great. From talking to Mulan about how they made a movie about her and it’s actually pretty good to convincing Robin Hood to let him use his kid ┬áto get to Neverland to his freakin’ killing a giant squid just… randomly. Like c’mon. I watch this show for Neal at this point. Let’s be real. And his portion of the plot is the only one that’s actually progressed in any way so far. So there’s that going for Neal, too.

WhatCould Work For Me This Season

Robin Hood and Regina = OTP?

I’m not a Regina fan. At least I don’t like her character which sometimes is because she’s a villain great. Other times it’s just because the writers suck at writing her. She has a lot of potential but sometimes – this season in particular – they are just try to make her seem evil or confrontational just for the sake of it. There’s never been any consistency to her character. I mean, like, we keep being told to see her as redeemable but then we had that episode where she like killed a village of hundred and left their bodies festering. So why do I oddly feel like Robin Hood and Regina would have been a great pairing? It totally wouldn’t work now but back before she went totally evil? Back when maybe she could have been redeemed? Yeah. I totally would have shipped that. If they try and force it on us now, though, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it. She’s sort of more redeemable again so… it could work? Maybe? Not if she’s going to be evil. So the writers really need to decide if they are going to keep her as the main antagonist or finally let her redeem herself and find another big bad for season four. (Because so far Peter Pan – while awesome – is just another bad guy while she remains all sort

Mulan and the Merry Men

So ever since Mulan and Aurora were introduced as characters the Internet has been full of Mulan and Aurora shippers. Which, you know, I always figured I could get behind. THEN SHOCK. THEY WENT AND MADE IT CANON. Rather, they made it one-sidedly canon. Mulan loves Aurora and she’s now pregnant with Phillip’s heir. It’s so tragic. Then she runs off to join Robin Hood’s band of merry men. There’s so much story begging to be told there and I bet we’re not going to get to see any of it. I’d love to see it – but I guess we can’t justify it. Later in the season when we do return to the Enchanted Forest – because for some reason I feel like that’s our ultimate goal and that maybe David’s cure will be there or something – we’ll just meet up with Mulan and the Merry Men and she’ll be bad ass and Neal will be like, “Oh, hey. ┬áMulan. Sweet. How’s it been?” and maybe we’ll get a bit of a back story on all that or something. I just would rather see it than hear about it down the line.

What’s Not Working For Me This Season

Emma’s Issues Are Getting Annoying

Okay, so, Emma is entitled to have some issues. She had a rough life. She got left by Neal, went to prison, gave up Henry, and has been dealing with a lot of shit lately. I get that. I really do. But after three seasons she should be getting over that and moving on. She needs to be the actual savior we’re told she’s supposed to be. But instead the writers are basically starting to pedal her character backwards. Peter Pan ribbing on her about being a ‘Lost Girl’ with no parents? That’s perfect. That’s a great way to get to her because that really is a large part of her character. The thing is, though, that from the moment she showed up in Storybrook she hasn’t been alone. She’s had Henry. She’s had her parents – even before she knew they were her parents. After three seasons it shouldn’t hit her that hard and she shouldn’t be such a bitch to her parents for trying to be there. Her

Whatever Rumpelstiltskin is Doing Right Now

Basically, I’m not digging the introspective hallucinations. Watching him cut off his own shadow was awesome. Watching him face off against the Lost Boys was awesome. Watching him almost bludgeon Neal was awesome. Everything else? Not so awesome. Belle hallucinations? C’mon. Just let the character be awesome. This is getting super lame the longer it goes on.

Look, We Get it – David is Dying

Honestly, they did this too early on. David is “fatally injured” and keeping it from everyone right now except for Hook who figured it out. So. Okay. Cool. That’s a neat dynamic, I guess. Except we’re just dragging it out at this point. The whole “Don’t tell Mary Margaret!” thing was fine for an episode or two but now it’s just getting old. We know David isn’t going to die. They aren’t going to kill Prince Charming and even if he does die no one seems to stay dead for long. Also: if he was going to die? He’d have been able to make time for Thor 2, then. So, whatever, Once Upon A Time. We know you’re going to resolve this at some point so quite shoving it down our throats.

Tinkerbell is So Far Pointless?

I’m not at all attached to this character at all. The flashback with her and Regina was cute. The abduction and revenge? Not so much. Besides, so far we could just remove her from the story entirely and be exactly where we are now. Hopefully she becomes more important/useful/etc. in the future.

Constantly Saying Henry is Special Without Explaining Why

Henry is the One True Believer ore whatever. The Truest Believer. And Peter Pan has been searching for the Heart of the Truest Believer or something. But we’re almost five episodes in and we don’t know what that means or what he could do if he had it. It’s just Peter Pan telling Henry every episode that he’s special and then trying to get him to turn to his side. It’s annoying. Just tell me what’s going on with this stupid show, okay? Give me something because watching Regina, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, Tinkerbell, and Hook bicker int he woods is getting old. I need some substance here. Also, if there is anyone in the world who shouldn’t feel like a Lost Boy it’s Henry. He’s got more willing parents in this life than any kid would know how to deal with. But apparently if you think you heard your dad – who you believe is dead – in what you think is a dream that’s enough to make you turn into some crazy, wild child. Okay. Whatever, show. I would have expected more form you and from Henry but whatever.

Regina Needs Some Damn Consistency

Can someone please just figure out what they want to do with Regina and stick with it? In the Enchanted Forest flashbacks she’s fantastic. I don’t even mind the whole “Let’s hook her up with Robin Hood” thing because, you know what? That works for her. That works for the grieving, angry, evil woman who wants to find love again but is too afraid of failure and losing someone else. Like, I get that. But her constant back and forth flip flopping as to whether or not she’s going to be a good guy or a bad guy is so annoying. I’m over it. I’m seriously over it. Every season it’s like she’s going to clean up her act for Henry but then something comes along and she’s all evil again. Now this season she’s supposed to be “good” but she’s just a total bitch to everyone else and tries to be confrontational just to be confrontational. It’s like she’s causing strife amongst the group in Neverland just so we remember that oh hey! She’s the evil queen. There really isn’t much of a purpose to her or her character at this point. Seriously. Make her good or make her bad. Pick one and stick with it. Then resolve her story with which ever path you choose. Five bucks says that half way through this season, too, she’s going to flip flop again and some how do something super evil. (She has a history of murdering entirely villages so, you know, who knows what’s up next.)

Quick Recaps

Lost Girl (03×02)

In this episode Peter Pan starts taunting Emma on a more personal note by offering her a map with the location of his camp. The catch is that she can only read it if she embraces her true identity which – it turns out – is as an orphan. Great. Because we needed more angst from Emma and now we’re getting angst from Mary Margaret and David. The latter of which gets fatally wounded with a poison arrow by a Lost Boy after Regina tries to cheat and magic them into Pan’s camp. Rumpelstiltskin starts hallucinating Belle who tries to tell him he can rescue Henry without being the “Dark One” but yeah. Whatever. It’s boring. I don’t care about his self-doubt. I don’t care about anyone’s self-doubt and this episode is wrought with everyone being all angsty. No progress is made in the search for Henry either except Emma finally can read the map. That’s it. That’s the whole hour.

Quite A Common Fairy (03×03)

So this time around we’re still trekking through the woods looking for Henry. We get introduced to Tinkerbell who has a history back in the Enchanted Forest with Regina. Apparently at some point in trying to be a good fairy Tinkerbell tried to help Regina find true love during that whole period where she was trying to eliminate Snow White. Yeah, she was trying to help the bad guy but I guess she didn’t know it at the time. And it got Tinkerbell in trouble with the fairies because she stole some pixie dust and Regina didn’t even go into the tavern where her true love – who turned out to be Robin Hood – was in the first place. Sad times. Meanwhile in the present in Neverland David’s hope runs out when there is no pixie dust in Tinkerbell’s house and then she kidnaps Regina for a bit and threatens to kill her. Uhm…. Tinkerbell. C’mon. Anyway. That gets resolved and Neal uses Robin Hood’s toddler to get the shadow to come get him and take him back to Neverland. Go Neal!

Natsy Habits (03×04)

Neal gets back to Neverland and almost immediately manages to rescue Henry. It’s short lived, though, because Neal can’t trust his father who could have probably helped protect him and Henry. And then Neal gets taken off to some creepy island prison or something. I don’t know. I just know that Rumpelstiltskin’s whole redemption story arch gets a bit more convoluted and we find out about his history with Peter Pan which involves making deals and this period of time where Peter Pan was apparently the Pied Piper and tried to take Baelfire away with him to Neverland. This being before Baelfire ultimately wound up in Neverland later on. Luckily Emma and the others are at least starting to formulate a plan because Neal left behind a clue on how to escape Neverland from when he was a boy and escaped himself so. Maybe there will be progress next episode. I doubt it though.

The Future of Season Three

And do you know WHY I doubt it? Because episode six is called ‘Ariel’ which means that we’re going to have to have to stay in Neverland at least one more episode to get to that point. And then episode nine is called ‘Saving Henry’ which means we’re not going to save Henry for another FIVE EPISODES.

0 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time’s Neverland Arch Is Getting Old Already”

  1. This post is spot-on and I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I wish they would mix it up every season. So instead of focusing so much on The Charmings, they’d switch focus to other, more interesting characters (like Aurora and Mulan) for a season. I would be fine with Emma as the primary protagonist throughout if they didn’t shoehorn all these love interests for her.

    1. I agree. And the whole Emma shipping wars thing is getting old. Will she be with Neal? Is she going to have some fling with Hook? (Probably?) And what’s with this wearing one of the laces from Graham’s boots around her wrist thing? C’mon, OUAT writers. The constant angst, self-doubt, and the random possible love interests is getting old… It works for a season or two but now that we’re in season three we need substance – not more of the same!

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