It’s common that entertainment is extremely divisive and conversing with other Once Upon a Time viewers it strikes me that my thoughts on “It’s A Pirates Life” weren’t shared by the majority of the fandom. In fact, those that disliked last week’s instalment also seem to have lapped up this week’s episode ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’, whereas I did not.
This week saw us further explore the dynamic between Henry (Andrew J. West), Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) in both Hyperion Heights and in the new Enchanted Forest. We also finally learned about Lady Tremaine’s (Gabrielle Anwar) end game and how she expects to achieve her goals.
One major drawback in episode two was the lack of Regina and luckily this was an issue rectified this week. Not only did Lana Parrilla look fabulous in a leather outfit in the Enchanted Forest, she shared a nurturing side that we don’t see too often from Regina. Her conversation with Cinderella (Dania Ramirez) towards the end of the episode was one of the best moments of the season so far and shows the audience the kind of role she’ll be playing going forward.
One question though is how her magic seems to work sporadically and seemingly only when it’s convenient to the plot; last week she was unable to use what she referred to a basic locator spell but this week she can apparently undo the magic of Lady Tremaine with a simple wave of the hand.
In Hyperion Heights, we continued to learn more about the new relationship between Hook/Rogers and Rumple/Weaver (Robert Carlyle) as the former goes out on his own to stake out a corrupt councillor who he later arrests and brings in for questioning. However, he’s undermined by Weaver who releases the prisoner and tells Rogers not pursue unofficial investigations, warning him that Victoria Belfray aka Lady Tremaine needs to be handled with some “finesse”.
In the Enchanted Forest, we were introduced to Cinderella/Jacinda’s roommates alter ego Princess Tiana (Mekia Cox) who came to Cinderella’s rescue after she escaped the kingdom’s guard. Tiana revealed the truth about the death of Cinderella’s father and recruits her to the Resistance, a band of people who oppose the tyrannical Lady Tremaine and the royal family. How her own royal status ties into the plot remains to be seen but if early suggestions are to be believed, her storyline will differ greatly from the source material (Princess and the Frog) the character was lifted from.
It’s the relationship between Cinderella and Tiana and their Seattle counterparts that somewhat saved what would have otherwise been a lacklustre episode. They’re both strong, independent women forced together through their shared circumstances and I suspect their friendship may play a vital part in bringing own Lady Tremaine/Victoria Belfrey.
My biggest bugbear lies in the introduction of a mysterious witch introduced played by Emma Booth at the end of the episode. The dialogue suggests this is someone we are supposed to be afraid of but like the uncharismatic Gideon (Giles Matthey) last season, we seemingly have no reason to fear her. Her threats did seem to startle Tremaine/Victoria but I felt there was too much secrecy around her for the remarks to have any real weight.
Admittedly this week’s episode had callbacks to the past particularly through Lucy’s (Alison Fernandez) scenes with Henry that harks back to similar conversations Henry had with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) all the way back in Season 1. It does feel as though we are starting to come full circle. Even Lady Tremaine’s motive sound a lot like Regina’s.
Many will the like the similarities to the early seasons and perhaps it will help those who are still adjusting to the shows overhaul, fall back in love with the series once more. For me, I think the series has progressed so much since Season 1 that trying to recapture the old essence of the show is just unnecessarily nostalgic.
Once Upon a Time airs on Netflix every Tuesday in the UK. Let us know what you think of the season.