Once Upon A Time: “The Heart of the Truest Believer” (S3Ep1)


Grade: A

Airdate: 9/29/13

The season three premiere of Once Upon A Time certainly had a different feel to it but was just as good as how season two ended. The episode had a lot of chaos and darkness. Darkness both in the lighting sense — is it always night time in Neverland? — and literary sense — it is not all “rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers.” Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) words not mine and that wins best line of the episode.

We rejoin OUAT on the Ship O’ Heroes as they land in Neverland. Hook (Colin O’Doughue) has a grumbling about being back  in Neverland with Rumple (Robert Carlyle). Regina says Greg (Ethan Embry) told her that villains don’t get happy endings. Regina calls herself a villain and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) calls her one, which seemed to slightly go against how season two ended. Hopefully that is just being set up so Regina can over it. Rumple isn’t feeling the teamwork and peaces out after about five minutes.

In some other part of Neverland, Henry (Jared Gilmore) appears with Greg and Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green). They pretty sound like bumbling idiot villains and spill all the plans to Henry. He is quickly able to call that Evil Peter Pan is playing them. That turns out to be true, but what Peter Pan really wants is Henry. Greg gets his shadow ripped away, which kills him apparently, and Tamara gets shot with an arrow after telling Henry to run for it. He runs into the jungle and meets a Jojen Reed looking boy (Robbie Kay) and they spend a long time running through jungle in shaky cam.

In the Enchanted Forest, Neal (Michael Raymond-James) wakes up in the care of Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger). I’m so glad they are back. Oh and Phillip (Julian Morris) is there too. Neal tells them who he is and they figure out that he knows Emma and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) too. Aurora can now walk through the dream world and tries to make contact with them, but can’t. Mulan and Neal then set out to Rumple’s castle because Neal thinks there might be something magical there.

The Ship O’ Heroes is just getting in a lot of fights and gets attacked by mermaids, which are evil like they are in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. They caught one of them and she calls a storm but says they will kill themselves. Emma already got pissed to her parents and called them frustratingly optimistic. The audience feels you, Emma. Regina pretty much says the same and gets in a fight with Snow. Charming (Josh Dallas) and Hook get into it after he calls Snow a slut. Lolz. The desperate Emma takes what Rumple said earlier to heart and takes a leap of faith and jumps off the ship. That ends up getting everyone to bond together to save her. I thought it was just going to be her parents.

Rumple shows us that this season is going be a little darker than your average Disney movie, because he kills Tamara in cold blood but is also the closest to finding Henry. Emma seems to echo that at the end by saying the two heroes, a pirate and a villain with her as the leader are going to have to work together and tolerate what the other does to succeed.  

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Mulan asks Neal why Emma never mentioned him as they walk across what I think is Lake Notos, good continuity. He says he let her go so she could break the curse but took the easy way out after that. Mulan then says, “You’re belief in love was not strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection.” Neal agrees and says he would not wish that fate on anyone. Then Mulan looks really sad. So that scene was mostly to tell us that Neal loves Emma, but aww the Sleeping Warrior subtext. I love it.

Anyway, they get to Rumple’s castle, run into a recast Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and Neal finds all the magic stuff he needs to tell him Emma is in Neverland.

Henry and the second-rate Jojen come to a cliff. Jojen has pixie dust but he says it doesn’t work. Henry tells him you just have to believe and he jumps off the cliff with it. It works, of course, and they fly away from the lost boys. The Jojen looking kid ends up being Peter Pan and tells Henry he wanted him because he was the heart of the truest believer. What is so special about that? We aren’t told.

Overall, it was a pretty good episode. OUAT seems to be setting itself up with a too many characters and locations problem again. Emma, Regina, Charming, Snow and Hook are in one part of Neverland, Henry is in other, Rumple is in yet another. Neal, Mulan and Robin Hood are in one part of the Enchanted Forest and Aurora and Phillip are in another. And we haven’t even been to Storybrooke yet. I hope you can pull this off, OUAT because this was a very good episode.


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