Once Upon a TIme Season 3 Review “Ariel”

Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 6 Ariel (3)

Last night’s Once Upon a Time was a mixed bag. There were parts of it that I liked and parts that didn’t work for me. The backstory of Ariel dominated the episode, and it wasn’t clear until the end why that was the case. We learned that in the Enchanted Forest, way back when, Ariel had crossed paths with Snow White and Regina. Things didn’t end well for Ariel, as one would expect when dealing with Regina. In present time Neverland, the group had to clear the air on some of their emotional issues in order to rescue Neal.

I’m really struggling with the show, which used to be one that I looked forward to each week. I like the stories that discuss the relationships between the characters because it shows that they are more than caricatures from their fairy tale origins. I also like that we’ve had a stable villain this season, Peter Pan, because it lets us become more invested in the conflict between him and our group of do-gooders. What I don’t like is when the show is too gimmicky. That’s what rubbed me wrong about last night’s episode. The appearance of Ariel was so hyped, that her role in the story seemed less important than whether she could evoke the Disney animated Ariel who captured people’s hearts. Putting Regina in the ridiculous Ursula costume was just too much for me.

We are introduced to Ariel when she helps save Snow White from drowning. Ariel explains to Snow that she is able to walk on legs, leaving behind her mermaid tale, once a year. That day just so happens to coincide with a ball being hosted by the handsome prince with whom Ariel is in love. Snow accompanies Ariel to the ball and encourages Ariel to go talk to the prince. Before we continue, I was totally baffled by the outfit Snow wore to the ball. It was awful.

Prince Eric confesses his love for Ariel and invites her to join him on his travels around the world. She hesitates because she knows that whole mermaid thing will make that impossible. What I thought was hilarious was that in response to her hesitancy, the prince told her to think about it and basically said, “Peace out,” as he walked away. He has just been reunited with the love of his life, with whom he has spent zero time, and when he finally sees her, he leaves?

Regina sees all this and decides to get involved. As Ariel cries her heart out before the ocean waves, out of the water emerges probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on this show. Regina is dressed up as purple Ursula from the Disney animated film. This was one of those things that just rubs me wrong. Telling the story of Ariel was enough, why do they need to try and gratuitously shove in another character? And if nobody had seen Ursula, why did Regina need the wig and all that other stuff? Lana Parrilla did a good job mimicking the character from the movie, but the whole thing still felt cheap.

By contrast, when they were focused more on the characters and less on the gimmicks, the story was far more satisfying. Surprisingly, Hook told Charming and Snow that Neal is alive. They initially tried to keep the info from Emma, but Snow confessed. They set out to find Neal and rescue him from Pan. In keeping with the theme that Neverland forces you to confront your demons, the group soon discovered that the only way to rescue Neal is to bear their darkest secret. Snow confessed that she wants another baby because she never had a chance to raise Emma. Charming confessed that he can’t leave Neverland. Hook admitted that he is falling in love with Emma. And Emma…she had the hardest confession of all to make. She told Neal that she will always love him, but she can’t go back to the way things were. This was an exciting moment for us Hook/Emma fans. It also felt honest to Emma’s character and what she’s been through.

The best part, though, came from the interaction of Regina and Rumplestiltskin. It’s always fun when they get together. Rumple tells her that his plan was to sacrifice himself because his death will also cause Pan’s death. Regina’s response is fantastic: “You aren’t going to die by anyone’s hand but my own.” Rumple explains that the only thing he has that can fight pan is located back in Storybrooke. This is where the connection to Ariel comes into play. Regina strikes a deal with Ariel that if she will go to Storybrooke and retrieve Rumple’s magical item, Regina will give her legs.

This leads to the one bright spot I see on the horizon for next week. We’ll be heading back to Storybrooke to pick up with the characters we’ve left behind this season.

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