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TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ – ‘The New Neverland’

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The key question on this week’s Once Upon a Time episode, “The New Neverland,” concerns the problem that is Peter Pan (Robbie Kay). With only one more week until the mid-season finale of the series (which does not return until March), there is much yet unresolved. As our heroes learn as they return to Storybrooke, all is not quite right with Henry (Jared S. Gilmore). EMILIE DE RAVIN, ROBERT CARLYLE, MICHAEL RAYMOND-JAMES

Yes, there are reunions, moments of pause to look forward to a better future. Charming (Josh Dallas) is now cured of his Dreamshade infection, courtesy of Mr. Gold’s (Robert Carlyle) elixir in the name of family — and without the promise of something in return. The Charmings look forward to starting a new family; Gold is just happy to be reunited with Belle (Emilie de Ravin), and, now reunited with Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James), sees only a future together with Belle. Is this his “happily ever after?” I wouldn’t count on it.

As much as I would like to see Rumple happy, happy characters without conflict can grow flat pretty quickly. I’ve always loved Rumple for the richness and internal conflict — and introspectiveness of both Mr. Gold and Rumplestiltskin, and I would be unhappy to learn that Belle and Rumple are happy for the long term.

Then there is the triangle of Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Neal. Hook will nobly step out of the way for Neal, or is it for his old friend? I think he has eyes for Tink (Rose McIver), which I think would be very saucy and fun relationship, by the way! I hope the show goes there.

But in the midst of all the good vibes, there is something decidedly strange about Henry. The first clue, of course for the Storybrooke residents is Henry’s desire to go with Regina (Lana Parrilla) and not Emma. Emma’s a bit skeptical, but is it jealousy or does her spidey-sense pick up something not quite right? Of course Regina is so hungry for Henry’s love, she is easily duped into his scheme, with the result that Pan now has Rumple’s original curse, which had been locked up in Regina’s vault.

Now reunited with his shadow gets to work to do his mischief before he’s outed. Interestingly, his first order of business is to rip away Blue’s (Keegan Conner Tracy) shadow, seeming to kill her. Why her? Revenge, perhaps?  Or does she hold some sort of power over Pan, even now?  But is she really dead? Really, really dead? I wonder if there’s yet some life left in the Mother Superior.

So now with Rumple’s original curse in hand, what will Pan do? His plan is to invoke the curse and make everyone forget who they are (again). Time will stand still and he will reign supreme. But will he succeed? It’s certainly possible (and would make a hell of a cliffhanger for the second half of the season). Or will the forces of good prevail and vanquish Peter Pan? 

The preview for the mid-season finale does not look promising for Rumple as he and Pan face off against each other, perhaps for a final time. I cannot imagine that the cast will lose the amazing Robert Carlyle. Rumple has his hand in just about everything, and Carlyle’s performance energizes the entire series, whether he’s Gold or Rumple, so something else must be afoot.

You probably have noticed (or maybe not) that I’ve said little about the Fairytale Land story. Yes, Snow and Charming to on their honeymoon and talk about revenge. But it’s all fairly standard, and does not at all inform or move forward their narrative. Fill in a few gaps? Yes, but not much else to say.

I am looking forward to next week’s show and the opportunity to speculate on what season three, part two will bring. The mid-season finale airs next Sunday night, December 16 (Beethoven’s birthday!) on ABC. Tune in to Let’s Talk TV Live tonight on Blogtalk Radio to let the speculation begin!

 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • WML

    I would like to see Neal with Tink, Emma with Hook. Not really, but the dynamics would be really interesting on those relationships. Can they make Henry stay in Pan’s body permanently? Robbie Kay is such a compelling actor.
    Although I really would love to see Rumbelle together for a while, life without a little conflict is just a little bit staid and boring. And when you have an actor of Carlyle’s caliber, you just want to milk that talent for all it is worth.
    Charming and Snow are the most boring characters in the show. Either in Storybrooke, FT land, or in Neverland. It’s not that the actors can’t act, but they are just too darn noble for their own good.