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Once Upon A Time Takes Us Back To The Early Days Of Storybrooke

Let's hope it doesn't put you into a coma!

Taken on its own, there was a lot to like about this episode, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record (kids, ask your parents), this season should not be twenty-three episodes long! Hook's little detour finally pays off in the form of a special wand that can be used to fight the Black Fairy, but it still feels weird to have separated him for so long, especially since the thing that brings him back feels so random and contrived. (It's a kind of magical flower that grows in the presence of evil but which we've never heard of in six seasons even though Storybrooke is evil's Airbnb.) Ditto the Charmings' sleeping curse, which is much ado about nothing, and all of Gideon's contrivances to get the Black Fairy to town. Now that she's here she's...not doing anything. You'd thing she'd be raring to go, but she has to wait in the woods for five more episodes because that's how network television works.

Instead, all of a sudden we have this Final Battle, end-of-the-book stuff, which is fine, but for a show so concerned with fate and prophecy -- in a season so concerned with fate and prophecy -- introducing it so late in the game makes all the other stuff feel like a pointless waste of time.

"Pointless waste of time," you say? How Once Upon A Time-ish is it?

Once Upon A Time-ish Element Present?
F-ed Up Fairy Tales Since we meet a classic character who hasn't appeared on the show before, I'm going to go with yes, especially since in OUAT-world Tiger Lily is not a problematic "Indian" but a former fairy who gave up her wings to hang out in Neverland out of remorse for having been an ally of the Black Fairy. (That she still dresses like she's in a high school production of Peter Pan is a thing that maybe shouldn't happen in 2017, but let's move on.)
This Show Has A Deep, Rich History This week's flashbacks are, oddly enough, to pre-Season 1 Storybrooke, when Mary Margaret happened to find a flower that happened to be magic, and happened to wake a comatose Charming. He, in turn, woke her from the effects of the curse, and then Rumple, and they set off to find Emma. Along the way, they encountered Regina, Hopper, Leroy, Granny, Marco, and several dwarves. No one crazily out of the woodwork (we know you're too big to come back, Jamie Dornan; we know), but it's all nicely done.
...As Long As It's Convenient This is a bit of a weird retcon into how this curse works at all. There was a flower that could fix it and it just happened to grow in the sidewalk and Regina didn't know? And then a potion that could restore it? But since this incident does end with victims re-cursed, and Snow more or less manages to hide her woke-ness from Regina, it's plausible enough that it happened, and that it wasn't at the top of anyone's mind when they woke up again eighteen years later.
Good vs. Evil, But Which Is Which? It's actually Rumple/Gold who dissuades the Charmings from going to get their daughter, noting that they've only been cursed for ten years and she's not the Savior yet. If they leave Storybrooke, they'll get to be with Emma, but they'll be damning the rest of the town to stay there forever. Since Rumple's been awakened too, you'd think that wouldn't matter to him, especially at this point in the timeline.

Most of the evil is pretty much just evil, though, as the Black Fairy makes her presence in town known. Mostly by vamping, but that fertilizes the pixie flowers, so we know she means business.

Oh: and Gold knows the Black Fairy is controlling Gideon because she had him destroy all the pixie flowers, but he managed to defy her just enough to leave one.

You Can't Escape Your Fate Unless Maybe You Can Who's To Say? What's actually not at all clear is why Emma still wouldn't become the Savior at age twenty-eight and save the town even if Snow and Charming raised her. Prophecies, am I right?
Family Feud "We really should've seen this coming," David says of the final battle and arriving at the end of the book. "There's no way you could have," replies Emma. No, literally, you are at the end of the actual book. You should have seen it coming. Also, Rumple told them back in the Enchanted Forest that Emma would have to fight the final battle. They thought he was being figurative. Snow also feels bad about not going to get Emma when she was ten, saving her from having to do any of this. Because I'm sure that two strangers appearing in her closet claiming to be Snow White and Prince Charming would have absolutely been the best thing for her.
Shut up, Henry Henry is present and has lines, but they're mostly along the lines of "You'll be fine, Mom."
True Love's Blah Blah Blah In a bizarre twist for Passover/Easter, this week brings us True Love's Kiddush/Communion Cup. In the present, Regina's attempt to break the sleeping curse makes it worse, and soon Snow and David will both be out for good. The one pixie flower can only make one dose of potion, which Snow gives up so that Emma can use it to bring Killian back from Neverland (it reunites you with whatever you love, so it can break a dark curse or a sleeping curse or open a portal to anywhere just go with it). But before she drifts off, Snow tells the story of the flashback, which gives Regina an idea: guilt the town into taking a risk for the Charmings like the Charmings once did for them. So she calls together all the townspeople (that we've seen in this episode) and shows them a cup with the Evil Queen's sleeping curse in it (huh?), and explains that since it was only meant for one person, if they all drink some of it, it should dilute it enough to make it weak (huh??). They do it, and it works, and I feel dumber just watching. But, you know, the power of family or some shit.

And then there's Emma opening a portal to Neverland with the pixie flower, and Hook finally proposing on one knee, sober...right after apologizing for killing his fiancé's grandfather.

Green Screen Fakeness Before Emma's portal arrives, Tiger Lily tries to get Hook (and the extra-special wand she has) out of Neverland by way of his shadow, which is both terribly animated and sort of terrifying, especially in the light of Storybrooke.
All Magic Comes With A Price Shockingly, considering all the curse reversals in this one, this never comes up.
Wig Cop On Patrol Remember when I said nice things about Belle's wig?

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Sigh.

Drag Queen Realness

It's a little understated...

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...but it'll do.

Phrasing! Hook has to draw magic sap out of a tree in the Lost Boys' camp. ...What?

Also, when he sees David for the first time, this is the look he gives him:

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I know it's meant to be "I'm about to tell you I killed your dad but I had no way of knowing it was your dad," but it could be something else.

It's A Small World After All Tiger Lily, a pretty decent Grumpy joke, and Pongo!
12 / 14
Final Score
86%
Once Upon A Time
14%
Allison Williams in Peter Pan Live!
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