Once Upon a Time RETROSPECTIVE – SEASON 3: Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

ouat season 3 promo

Peter Pan…

ouat season 3 peter pan

And the Wicked Witch of the West…

ouat season 3 original wicked witch

Apart for a shared belief that Green is the New Black, one would think these two fictional characters have little in common.

One is a perpetual man child…

ouat season 3 pp grown up

One is a grown woman who despises children, and little people in general…

ouat season 3 lollypop guild

One lacks any apparent family connection…

“They said, ‘Don’t play with yourself.’ I refuse to listen.”

“They said, ‘Don’t play with yourself.’ I refuse to listen.”

The other was close enough to her dearly departed sister that her death led to the most extraordinary example of “going postal” one has ever seen in the history of children’s stories.

ouat season 3 ww restitution

One is a hero… One is a villain…

Or are they?

In a highly controversial writing twist, the writers of Season 3 of Once decided to feed my fond childhood memories to a very hungry alligator and then drop a house on them by (1) turning my beloved Peter Pan into a loathsome monster of epic proportions and (2) having him share a Season of Villainy with, of all people, the Wicked Witch of the West, arguably one of the most terrifyingly dirty villains of all time…

(I mean, talk about bad hygiene! The woman NEVER showered. Water literally killed her!)

ouat season 3 ww ice bucket

My own personal grievances aside, when you start to view Peter Pan as a villain instead of a hero, he and the Wicked Witch of the West actually have a lot in common…

They both can fly…

ouat season 3 ww pp flying

They both kidnap children, rip them away from their families, and hold them captive far away from home…

They both have a loyal army of furry critters to do most of their dirty work for them…

ouat season 3 original lost boys

“Who does a guy have to screw to get a banana around here?”

“Who does a guy have to screw to get a banana around here?”

So, now that I’ve successfully crushed your childhood as well… on with Season 3…

PART 1: OH HENRY!

Where we are going… where we have been…

When we last left our fairytale characters, Snow, Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, Captain Hook, the Evil Queen and… some chick named Emma… were sailing aboard the Jolly Roger bound for Neverland… and all to save the Boy Wonder Himself…

ouat season 3 henry

Ah Henry… sweet, innocent, SUPER ANNOYING Henry…

He’s not a talented wizard with the ability to save humanity like Harry Potter…

ouat season 3 harry potter

He can’t see dead people like the kid from The Sixth Sense…

Yes, he looks like this now.

Yes, he looks like this now.

He can’t climb walls and shoot webs from his fingers like Spider-man.

photo (1)

And yet, he is arguably the most essential character on this show. He’s Emma’s daughter, Regina’s adopted son, grandson to Prince Charming, Snow White AND Rumpelstiltskin…

Sure, he’s a bit long in the tooth to be so very invested in a book that revolves mainly around fairy princesses…

ouat season 3 henry doesnt lie

And yeah, his seemingly obsession with his grandparents’ sex lives is a bit disturbing…

ouat season 3 family thing

And obviously, given his socially awkward nature, his complete lack of friends his own age is much less surprising than the fact that none of his classmates has ever tried to beat the crap out of him…

But without Henry, there’d be no Once. And without Once, there’d be none of this…

ouat season 3 sexy men

So, whether you like Henry or not, you better get used to him…

And what better time to get used to Henry than during the Season where everyone wants to murder his ass?

Remember Greg and Tamara? Those magic-hating cultists who sucked most of the life out of the second half of Season 2? Remember how happy we were when they whisked Henry away to some mystical magical place called “The Home Office” hopefully never to be seen again?

ouat season 3 greg tamara

Well, it turns out those morons were unwittingly working for Mr. Magic Himself, Peter Pan…

And The Home Office? You guessed it. Right smack in the center of Neverland, which is precisely where Greg and Tamara both drew their last breaths.

It was almost worth putting up with those two losers most of last season just to see them both bite it in such an extraordinarily mundane way… and in service to the one thing they both hated most… Magic.

“Think maybe you could wrap that up in a doggie bag for me? I’ll eat it later...”

“Think maybe you could wrap that up in a doggie bag for me? I’ll eat it later…”

Those two were the Nikki and Paulo of Once, basically…

Meanwhile, on the Good Ship Save Henry, everyone’s busy kicking each other’s asses. Snow White punches Regina in the face. Hook and Charming are sword fighting. It’s pretty awesome. Nobody dies though…

ouat season 3 youll feel it

Speaking of not dead. Nice to see you again, Neal/Baelfire.

ouat season 3 emma neal

The opening episode of Season 3 reveals that Neal survived the gunshot wound, fell through the portal and wound up… right back in Fairytale Land with those other straight-to-video, second-string fairytale characters…

And this guy… who is looking a wee bit more “soulful” than the last time we saw him, eh?

Within not much time at all, our ragtag troop of heroes and villains are all in Neverland, searching for Darling Henry, his captor Peter Pan, and his army of Lost Boys.

But the big question is what does Pan want with Henry? After all, Pan could have any kid he wants. And as I said, Henry is not the smartest kid, or the most powerful, or the strongest, and he’s certainly not the coolest… or the second coolest… or the 256th coolest…

ouat season 3 cinnabon

I mean, this is clearly a Last Picked for the Kickball Team kind of kid. And yet, Peter Pan went through a lot of trouble to track him down and bring him to his humble home because…

Henry has…

Wait for it…

The Heart of the Truest Believer.

surprised monkey

That’s right, boys and girls… that storybook thing, the obsession with his grandparents’ sex lives, the inability to form social connections to kids his own age? All of the things that make Henry super annoying are also what make him extremely valuable.

But Henry’s also got some super powerful adult allies, which is what makes this part of the Season a fight to the finish…

Welcome to the Dark Side… We have ugly straw dolls…

“Any kid too lazy to put eyeballs on his own doll, doesn’t deserve nice things...”

“Any kid too lazy to put eyeballs on his own doll, doesn’t deserve nice things…”

If the theme of last season involved rising above one’s dark circumstances to become a “better you,” the theme of this season involving doing exactly the opposite… embracing one’s dark side, accepting it as a part of yourself, and using it to your advantage, when necessary.

ouat captain hook 3

At the beginning of the season, Emma offers a rousing speech to her oddball crew, telling them all that their unique natures, be they heroic or villainous, will be needed in the fight to win back Henry. That statement shows itself to be true for Emma, in particular, when she is forced by Pan to come to terms with her own orphaned status as a “Lost Girl” in order to read the map that leads her to Henry, a boy that she herself orphaned, having given him up shortly after he was born to her in prison.

“Hooked on Phonics worked for me!”

“Hooked on Phonics worked for me!”

It also proves to be true for Rumplestiltskin, a father who abandoned his son out of a desire for power, courage, and a literal turning to the Dark Side… a father who, as it turned out, was also no stranger to being cast aside by a selfish parent and left alone to play with his dolls…

A selfish parent named… Peter Pan…

Prepare to be mindf*&ked beyond belief, boys and girls. Because not only is your childhood hero a truly awful human being, he’s also an old fart masquerading as a child, just so that he can avoid the petty annoyances of adult responsibility. And, what’s worse, he’s willing to murder an actual kid who is basically his great grandson, just so he can stay prepubescent for all eternity… and never, ever, ever get laid again.

Horrible, isn’t it?

In other Season 3, Part 1 news, Regina re-encounters the man intended to be her True Love…

ouat season 3 queen robin hood

Robin Hood?

Tinkerbell is quite a bit larger than her Disney counterpart, flies less, and talks a lot more… (though, between you and me, I think I kind of preferred the tinkle noise.)

ouat season 3 tinkerbell

ouat season 3 pp girls talk

Mulan LOVES AURORA! (Though, to be honest, I can’t quite understand why?)

ouat season 3 judging

Also, Aurora is carrying Sexy Prince Phillip’s baby, so… you do the math.

The warrior eventually goes on to become one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, which, I guess, is kind of fitting, in more ways than one…

Don’t ask, don’t tell...

Don’t ask, don’t tell…

Ariel really does believe a fork is a dinglehopper…

ouat season 3 both ariels

But there is no Flounder or Sebastian in sight…

ouat season 3 sabastian

Prince Charming was dying… and then wasn’t… again.

Captain Hook finally got his hooks into Emma…

… well, at least his tongue (the hooks would have to wait until Part 2).

Tastes like savior...

Tastes like savior…

New/Old Beginnings

So, did the Once crew find Henry? Was Secret Old Fart Evil Peter Pan finally vanquished by his antihero son? Did Regina ever get a peek underneath Robin’s Hood?

ouat season 3 rumpel

These burning questions, and some others I didn’t care enough to include in this recap due to time and space constraints, were all answered in the stunning finale of Season 3, Part 1…

Henry—idealistic, oddball, dopey Henry—willingly gave his heart to Peter Pan, because he thought he was saving magic and Neverland… when all he was really doing was providing wrinkle cream for the deluded douchebag of a man boy whose sperm once made Rumpelstiltskin.

As for the Dark One himself, he’s been feeling a bit “boxed in” of late, literally…

“Do you at least have DVR in there?”

“Do you at least have DVR in there?”

Having been tipped off by some sympathetic Lost Boys as to Pan’s true location, Regina, Emma and Mary Margaret find themselves trapped by a Tree of Regret and unable to retrieve Henry’s heart, which is lying in Peter Pan himself, just beyond their reach.

But then Regina decides she has no regrets… NONE.  She’s a Bad Mama Jama and she’s proud of it. YOLO, EVIL QUEEN!

ouat season 3 queen heart

With Henry’s heart literally in the palm of her hand, she and her frenemies rush back to save Henry from certain death and get him back to Storybrooke where he belongs…

But on the way back to Storybrooke, Pan reappears, and this Freaky Friday-type thing happens between Henry and Pan, causing the whole happy plan to go to sh*t…

Pan: “As long as I don’t have to wear your nerdy ass clothes I’ll be fine.” Henry: “Says the boy in tights and a green blouse...”

Pan: “As long as I don’t have to wear your nerdy ass clothes I’ll be fine.”
Henry: “Says the boy in tights and a green blouse…”

As it turns out, Henry/Pan (who is weirdly more charismatic than Henry/Henry?) has this dastardly plan to enact another curse on Storybrooke that will somehow turn it into the New Neverland. Henry/Pan kills his boyfriend Felix to set the curse in motion, because he loves him way more than his own son, which is oddly kind of romantic, in a creepy, disturbing way…

This blond isn’t having more fun.

This blond isn’t having more fun.

Then, all the so-called villains (and Tinkerbell) make major sacrifices to save Henry and the town. Hook puts his life in danger by going after Pan’s shadow. Tinkerbell kills the Shadow, and the Blue Fairy gives her back her wings in gratitude. Rumpelstiltskin uses his magic to switch Henry and Pan back into their original bodies… and then kills himself when he realizes that this is the only way to kill his father…

“Try to botox THIS, b*tch!”

“Try to botox THIS, b*tch!”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Regina undoes Pan’s Dark Curse, along with her own, which will have the effect of sending the entire cast of Once back to Fairytale Land, except for Emma and Henry (which means she may get a chance to find one of Robin Hood’s arrows in her quiver after all!).

Recognizing she has to sacrifice the thing she loves most for the curse to be effective, Regina lets Emma and Henry leave together and forget all about Storybrooke, giving them new false memories of the 10 years they never actually shared together…

ouat season 3 parking lot

And because Henry is completely incapable of making friends anyway (apart from evil geriatrics posing as boys to steal his heart), we can be confident that he will not think it at all amiss that no one in his school remembers him at all… In fact, this complete lack of memory of Henry could actually make the would-be nerdboy more popular with his classmates than he would be otherwise…

“You... without a wedgie or black eye from regular face pummeling by classmates. Me… with a massively large apartment and a Central Park view on a bounty hunter budget. Talk about a fairytale.”

“You… without a wedgie or black eye from regular face pummeling by classmates. Me… with a massively large apartment and a Central Park view on a bounty hunter budget. Talk about a fairytale.”

Flash forward to a year later, Emma and Henry are living in a surprisingly swanky apartment in New York City (who knew being the female version of Dog the Bounty Hunter [Bitch the Bounty Hunter?] was such a well paying job?), when Captain Hook arrives on Emma’s doorstep and immediately shoves his tongue down her throat…

“Stalker” src=

“Stalker” = That new show on ABC that would be way less likely to get canceled if this guy was on it…

Unfortunately, unlike their first fateful lip lock, this kiss doesn’t quite have the impact he intended… But Hook remains unfazed. After all, he isn’t on Emma’s doorstep for sex (though, to be honest, that would have been a spectacular end to this episode). He needs The Savior’s help to save the residents of Fairytale Land/Storybrooke… again…

Part 2 – Something (Else) Wicked This Way Comes…

Poor fairytale characters! It seems like every season, someone is putting a different curse on their asses. And this season the poor bastards got cursed, not once, but TWICE! Less than a year after Secret Old Fart Pan tortured our favorite fairytale characters because doing so was a slightly less painful way for him to maintain the appearance of youth than Botox… now Wicked Witch Selena is out to steal their babies and ruin their lives.

ouat season 3 wicked witch

For folks purportedly guaranteed a Happily Ever After, these guys just can’t catch a break…

Let’s backtrack a bit. It’s a year earlier. Regina has just enacted the curse that lands Snow and Co. back in Fairytale Land in all their old timey finery. A pregnant Sleeping Beauty and Phillip are there but seem a bit less than happy to see the old gang. They act like everything’s all perfect in Fairytale Land now, but we fans can immediately tell that’s a crock of flying monkey poo…

Because Fairytale Land really isn’t Fairytale Land without a villain. And because Regina isn’t one at the moment, and Rumpel is presumed dead… well…

Will You Be My Flying Monkey?

A year later in NYC, everything seems to be going pretty well for Emma. She’s got a nice apartment, a good job, and a boyfriend, who, apart from a hideous hairdo…

“I think I’m subconsciously attracted to you because you have the same hairdo as my mother...”

“I think I’m subconsciously attracted to you because you have the same hairdo as my mother…”

… seems innocuous enough…

But then comes Hook with his outdated clothing, and his lips, and his Magic Mystical Memory Potion…

Alcoholism... making ugly flying monkeys look like Captain Hook since the beginning of time...

Alcoholism… making ugly flying monkeys look like Captain Hook since the beginning of time…

And that, of course, changes everything…

Imagine finding out that everything you knew about the last ten years of your life was a total lie…

And that your would-be fiancé actually looked like this…

“If I can’t have her... I’ll throw my poop in her face.”

“If I can’t have her… I’ll throw my poop in her face.”

Some men really just don’t deal well with rejection…

It would be a bit much for anyone to take…

Having discarded her creepy beau (the monkey thing at least explained the bad hair), Emma drags a still blissfully ignorant Henry back with her and Hook to Storybrooke, where the entire crew has been restored in all their modern day finery, having no memory whatsoever of the past year of their lives, since the day they parted ways with Emma…

“Rosemary-Margaret’s Baby... coming soon to a theater near you.”

“Rosemary-Margaret’s Baby… coming soon to a theater near you.”

…which is convenient, since that’s the last thing WE remember too…

Also, Snow is pregnant, so at least everyone’s favorite fairy couple has been enjoying themselves… even if the sex hasn’t been exactly “memorable.”

Charming in the streets. Snoozy in the sheets...

Charming in the streets. Snoozy in the sheets…

What’s worse, it seems people all over Storybrooke have been disappearing and returning as flying monkeys, which, for some of Storybrooke’s homelier residents, might actually be an improvement in the looks department.

“I’m sexy and I know it.”

“I’m sexy and I know it.”

But still, all that flying around, and nowhere to go. I bet their arms get tired…

Flying monkeys, evil curses… this has the Wicked Witch of the West written all over it. And get this, the Wicked Witch just so happens to be Regina’s half sister!

ouat season 3 queen witch

And the family tree just keeps getting more and more f*&ked up…

I’ll get you, my pretty. And Snow’s baby too…

Discarded by her family for having creepy magical powers, Selena was left to rot in poverty while Regina’s dark powers were cultivated by none other than Rumpelstiltskin himself until she grew up to be… well… the Evil Queen.

Now, the Wicked Witch is back to seek vengeance on both Regina and Rumpel (who is not actually dead, and who she’s keeping in a cage in her basement BTW, because Dark Ones make way better pets than flying monkeys).

Bondage is way overrated!

Bondage is way overrated!

Her goal? To turn back time and take Regina’s life for her own… It’s all very Single White Female.

Also, she seems to have a thing for Snow’s unborn child. You know, because every evil wench wants nothing more than a crying, pooping, spitting up baby to make their lives complete. And what better baby than a royal one, whose mother still has a terrible haircut?

(It’s been a year, for crying out loud! You would think that mess would have gone and grown itself out by now.)

The Face Off

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror, seen a few lines on your face that weren’t there a few months ago, and known, without a doubt, that you are destined to become your parents?

ouat season 3 creepy guy

Well, take that feeling and multiply it by about 20,000, and you can sort of understand the tragedy of Neal and Rumpel, an estranged father/son duo that literally had to share a body for a good portion of the second half of Season 3.

“If you wanted to bond so badly, you could have just taken me to a Knicks game...”

“If you wanted to bond so badly, you could have just taken me to a Knicks game…”

A body morph like this makes the Freaky Friday shenanigans between Peter Pan and Henry look like child’s play… no pun intended.

So, apparently, Neal brought Rumpel back from the dead in that lost year prior to the Wicked Witch setting the New Curse, and, in doing so, sacrificed his own life…

Then Rumpel had one up him and sacrifice HIS life, giving the Wicked Witch control of his Dark One sword and taking Neal’s soul into his own body.

The result? Schizo Crazy Rumpel Neal! Who has officially become my favorite Once character, based on the facial costume changes alone. And the CRAZY… SOOOO much glorious crazy!

But Neal, not to be outdone in the War of Goodness by his dear old Dark One Dad, of all people, forces Emma to use her Savior Magic to separate the bodies and kill Neal, because doing so will enable Rumpel to come back to himself and save the town…

“Be honest. Is it because I don’t look as good in leather pants as your other boyfriend?”

“Be honest. Is it because I don’t look as good in leather pants as your other boyfriend?”

Martyrs… can’t live with them, can’t share their faces without scaring little children away…

In other words, Neal/Baelfire is dead… and we are pretty sure that this time it’s going to stick because the actor said so in multiple interviews.

So, goodbye Neal/Baelfire. May flying monkeys bring you to a peaceful rest.

As for Emma, don’t you worry too much about her. She is in very good hands. Or should I say… Hooks.

ouat season 3 romance

Speaking of Hook, the Wicked Witch cursed his lips so the minute he kissed Emma she’d lose her Savior Magic, magic that Selena needs to complete her time travel curse.

Talk about the ultimate cock block…

Through a series of flashbacks we learn that the curse that brought Snow and Co. back to Storybrooke was not cast by Selena at all, but by Snow herself, as this would be the only way to get Emma back to save their asses yet again. In order to enact the curse, she had to crush the heart of the thing she loved most, which was duh, her good hair Prince Charming… but in a savvy twist, she allowed them both to live by letting him have half of her heart. (If only real life heart surgery was so easy…)

“Sometimes this show takes its metaphors a bit too literally.”

“Sometimes this show takes its metaphors a bit too literally.”

But then the Wicked Witch had to add a special ingredient to the curse to cause them to forget it all: really good weed…

“I was going to save the world... but I got high...”

“I was going to save the world… but I got high…”

So, did Snow White send the message to Hook to give Emma the memory potion and come back to Storybrooke to save it?

Nope, but This Guy did…

“See? Even in death, I’m a total mensch!”

“See? Even in death, I’m a total mensch!”

All’s well that ends/begins and ends again…

If you’ve read up on your fairytales, you could probably guess how this all turns out…

Snow gives birth to her baby…

Snow: “You know what would be hilarious, if we fashioned his crib in the shape of a tree, and occasionally forgot to feed him, and let him fend for himself.” Charming:... Snow: “Too soon?”

Snow: “You know what would be hilarious, if we fashioned his crib in the shape of a tree, and occasionally forgot to feed him, and let him fend for himself.”
Charming:…
Snow: “Too soon?”

The Wicked Witch tries to take it to enact her curse…

Regina defeats the Wicked Witch before she can succeed in doing so… by depriving her of her overly gawdy jewelry. But not, unfortunately, by dropping a house on her head, which, in my opinion, would be way cooler…

ouat season 3 house on witch

The town is saved…

Then, a very vengeful Rumpel kills the Wicked Witch with his Big Ole Dark Sword (because that’s not phallic at all), but pretends he didn’t, forging a fake Dark Sword for Belle and placing it in her care so that she will believe he’s the honorable man he isn’t… at least not quite…

“On a positive note, my skin has never looked so youthful and dewy, and no one dumped water on my head all season.”

“On a positive note, my skin has never looked so youthful and dewy, and no one dumped water on my head all season.”

With the town safely restored and once-again curse-free, Emma prepares to leave Storybrooke and return to New York to give Henry some kind of semblance at a normal life…

But before she can do that, she and Hook get inexplicably portaled back into the Fairytale Past, Back to the Future style…

Emma: “This reminds me of that really bad Ashton Kutcher movie.” Hook: “Who is Ashton Kutcher?” Emma: “You don’t want to know...”

Now, Emma is forced to pose as Hook’s betrothed, make out with him and dance with him a bunch, and make sure that her parents continue on their path toward true love… or risk herself disappearing from existence.

Emma: “This reminds me of that really bad Ashton Kutcher movie.” Hook: “Who is Ashton Kutcher?” Emma: “You don’t want to know...”

Emma: “This reminds me of that really bad Ashton Kutcher movie.”
Hook: “Who is Ashton Kutcher?”
Emma: “You don’t want to know…”

By the time Emma returns to Storybrooke, she has her very own storybook character (Princess Leia, naturally), a hankering for some Hook action… big time… and a renewed appreciation for the bonds of family and the comforts of home.

She announces that she and Henry are staying in Storybrooke, right around the time Prince and Snow announce the name of their new baby boy…

You guessed it… Neal.

And so it would seem everybody in Storybrooke has finally earned their happily ever after.

Emma has Hook and Henry…

Snow and Charming have their new baby…

ouat season 3 snow charming

Rumpel and Belle have finally gone and gotten hitched (with Belle inexplicably dressed for her sparsely attended outdoor wedding as an extra from Downton Abbey)…

ouat season 3 wedding

Unfortunately, the candles and chipped cups could not make it.

And Regina… well, she’s finally gone and found true love… right underneath Robin’s Hood…

ouat season 3 queen robin hood 2

Except… there’s a catch… there’s always a catch, isn’t there?

Because traveling back to the future like Emma and Hook did is never a journey that is without consequences.

And this particular consequence screwed over Regina big time…

Hello, Maid Marian… Robin Hood’s former lover and the mother of his child… Welcome to Storybrooke!

“The fandom is totally going to hate my guts, aren’t they?

“The fandom is totally going to hate my guts, aren’t they?

Also new in town? The ice chick from a popular recent multi-million dollar Disney franchise whose name I just can’t remember for the life of me…

Anybody... anybody? Bueller?

Anybody… anybody? Bueller?

See you in Season 4, Onceies… It’s less than a week away!

In other news, Game of Thrones just called. It wants its tagline back...

In other news, Game of Thrones just called. It wants its tagline back…

Check out the Once Upon a Time Season 1 Retrospective: How Snow White Got Her Groove Back

Then try the Once Upon a Time Season 2 Retrospective: Mommy Issues & Lesser Villains 

For more Julie Kushner, check out TV Recappers Anonymous or buy one of her five novels!

TV Show: Once Upon a Time

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  • Andre

    Was the name “Ariel” a joke or is she really called that?