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Once Upon a Time: Tallahassee

“Have you ever even been in love?”

Emma's been one of the show's biggest enigmas since the start. Now we finally get a glimpse into her past, a past littered with all the betrayals and harshness that you'd expect. It's an insight that's arrived at exactly the right time and neglected arcs aside, the show is continuing to strive this season, even if its CGI is the sloppiest I've ever seen.

I mean, following that Giant chase was pretty funny, but somehow the show seems to work beyond that, and I still got sucked into the whole spectacle of it. I especially loved the references to the humans in this land being less than honest about what went down in the past; maybe there's a shadier side to the Enchanted Forest that isn't all down to the main culprits (Regina, I'm looking at you). Jorge Garcia was a hoot as well, pulling off yet another cute and cuddly character, not a stretch for him, but it's what he does best.

Prickly and strong is what Emma does best, and those are traits we've come to understand as remnants of her shady history. Hook asks Emma if she's ever loved, and we find out through some pretty great flashbacks that she's only ever loved someone once before; Neal, who we met briefly in 'Broken.' And hey, we saw another familiar face too; August, in a different but similarly ill fitted jacket, who prevents Emma and Neal from running off into the sunset together by convincing her lover that he's preventing her from achieving what she was born to do. I shouldn't be surprised that the person who hurt Emma most of all was only doing it for her own good, but I still wish there was a small chance of the show going super dark with a storyline like this. I'm still happy with how this episode turned out, though.

I even enjoyed the bonding between Snow and Aurora over their shared experiences with sleeping curses. I'm still not completely sold on Aurora as a character yet, she's only been a floating figure since the premiere, but this is the first time we've seen something different from her. It's not just experiences of the sleeping curses that these guys seem to share either, as our other cursee in Storybrooke let us know; they seem to share similar ominous dreams, too, the significance of which I can only continue to speculate about.

It's great seeing the show drive forward with such confidence this season, a confidence that's brought out some of the greatest moments it's had in it's 28 episode run. It's also great to see the fog being lifted on some of our heroes' back-stories. Can we have less of these ominous objects, though? One more mysterious package and I think my brain might explode.

4 out of 5 stolen watches.


Henry and Auroras' dreams take place in a red room, with flaming curtains and a mysterious figure watching them; a man watching Aurora and a woman watching Henry. Any guesses what this might mean?

This episode seems to hint at Neal being Henry's birth father; how long until he surfaces in Storybrooke?

He Said, She Said

Hook: “Have you ever even been in love?”

Giant: “...You're all killers.”
Emma: “You're wrong.”

Snow: “We go back together. That is the only way.”

Previously posted at PandaTV.


  1. I thought Aurora was seeing a male figure and Henry a female one? It seemed to me that maybe they were seeing each other? Or maybe I made that up in my head?

  2. I agree Bea, I definitely think they were seeing each other. I predict they'll somehow find a way of communicating later this season. Henry and Charming are working to find and bring back Emma and Snow, and Aurora is with Emma and Snow. Makes sense.

    I wanted "Neal" to be Baelfire! I still think he is. He has an evilish atmosphere. Or maybe that's just the Rene-ness of him.

    Did Neal kissing a "17" year old Emma weird anyone else out? I know their ages aren't that far apart in reality, but watching her at "17" kiss a guy with crow's feet was a little gross.

  3. Hurley!!!!!

    Despite an appearance from my favourite member of the Oceanic Six, this was just an okay episode. Nothing special really, which is sort of disappointing since the was billed as a big Emma flashback episode. I can't help but see a similarity between her backstory and Regina's (tonight the role of Cora will be played by August S Booth). They were both in love, happy and planning for her future (which involved an escape of some kind). But then someone who had decided that they knew what was best for them, ruin their chance for a happy ever after to suit their own ends. Yes, it could be argued that August had noble intentions, but that is undermined by the fact he abandoned Emma in the foster home, showed up again years later just to screw up her relationship with Neal and then disappears again (with Emma's money) so he can live it large.

    Bea, I thought the same, that Aurora and Henry were somehow seeing each other. And a red room, with flaming curtains, and no windows or doors. Was I the only one thinking Twin Peaks when they heard this? Watch out, kids, you don't want to run into Bob.

    Great review as always, Panda.

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  5. Good to know I wasn't alone there (also, yes Mark, I totally got Twin Peaks vibes... except there's no way this show can go David Lynch dark).

    I still think there's a possibility that Neal's somehow related to the fairy/fantasy world. After all, August just showed him something (what's in the booox!?) and he immediately believed him... that's fishy, right?

  6. You're all absolutely right about Aurora seeing a male figure. I've edited that part of my review.

  7. Mark, you were not the only one who thought of Twin Peaks.

    (But I might have been the only one who then thought of Jane Eyre.)

  8. Do you think that mean that the first Mrs Rochester is going to be the big bad of season three, Josie?

  9. Mrs. Rochester will turn out to be Dr. Whale's lover, naturally. I've never seen Twin Peaks, but I definitely went to the Jane Eyre place.

  10. I don't like Neal.

    There, I said it!

    He didn't do anything for me and I hope we don't get any more of him. Especially not reunited with Emma! Unfortunately as Henry's father he'll probably be back.

    I thought those shared dreams must have some significance, a common theme to people who suffered the sleeping curse, but I thought ALL of them! It wasn't until just now reading the theory of Aurora seeing Henry and vice-versa that I realised that Snow didn't react to Aurora's description of her dream, which probably means she didn't dream the same thing in her day. Am curious to see where they're going with this.

    But am specially curious to know what August showed Neal to convince him his story was real!!!

    And no way is Neal Balefire! He wouldn't have needed convincing... Plus knowing his father was in Storybrook without magic, I wonder, wouldn't he have gone to find him? It's what he always wanted!

  11. Neal HAS to be Bae! I've been operating under the impression that Bae is Henry's father for almost an entire season! I will continue stubbornly believing the two are one and the same until the real Baelfire turns up. IF that happens, I give you all express permission to say I told you so. :)

  12. I enjoyed the episode a lot. It's a pity Jorge didn't appear a little more. Is it me or he's lost some weight?

    Anyway, the actor who plays Neal has a face I don't trust. But it's pure prejudice, so it has nothing to do with his role. I just hope he's Bae as well.

    sunbunny, I think Neal was supposed to be much younger too. And if you're worried about the legal status of the union, I think Emma was already 18, for two reasons: first, she was 28 when the series began, but that was last year. We don't know how the timeline for the show works; and second, she went to jail, not juvie.

    The Apollo bar was not the only reference to LOST: Tallahassee is an important place for that show, too.

  13. Yeah, I'm not liking Neal. I didn't realize why until someone mentioned he was Rene from True Blood. Plus he seems far too old and slight smarmy. Compared to the dashing fairy-tale guys Emma has connected with (Graham, August, Jefferson, and Hook), Neal comes up very lacking.

    And the show HAD to be going for Pirates of the Caribbean references with Hook (as if looks weren't enough). A: randomly picking up a gold coin. B: a cool important compass. C: handcuffed at an opportune moment by a woman he was flirting with (and using similarly old-fashioned cuffs). I don't think they're implying that Hook is also Jack Sparrow (since the show's creators have said they'd only do that if they got Johnny Depp), but it's a fun reference like the Lost stuff.

  14. I was also under the impression Aurora and Henry were seeing each other in the red room. Creepy!

    I think Neal is definitely someone from a fairy tale, based on his immediate reaction to whatever was in the box. I wonder if he is Peter Pan? That would be an interesting love triangle...Emma, Peter Pan, and Hook! I really hope that isn't the case, because I don't like stories where Peter Pan grows up and that actor is not likable enough to be Peter. Peter Pan was not always GOOD, but he was always charismatic.

    Maybe he is the White Rabbit, what with the watches and all?

  15. Katie--great point about Neal being played by the actor who played Rene. That could be part of the problem.

    Also, very interesting about Hook being so Jack Sparrow-ish! Explains the guy-liner, too.

  16. Katie, great catch on the PotC references! I totally missed those. Even if they don't go the Jack Sparrow route, I think it would be awesome if it was the same compass.

  17. I missed the POTC references as well! Would be cool if it were Jack's compass... but I really wouldn't want to see Jack Sparrow in this, one pirate is enough!

  18. It is funny that everyone seems to be having issues with Neal because of a character Michael Raymond James played on True Blood. To me, he's Britt from Terriers (far too short-lived), and this OUAT character is right in that vein. A scruffy criminal who still seems to have his heart in the right place. He clearly loved Emma and wanted to do right by her. It's just too bad his chemistry with Jennifer Morrison couldn't hold a candle to his amazing chemistry with Laura Allen!

    I liked elements of this episode, but on the whole felt like it wasn't one of their stronger offerings. I definitely enjoyed the reveal about August's role in Emma's past, and I'm intrigued to know what was in the box. And if Neal turns out to be Bae (the eyes are right, but I'm not sure about the timing), I think it makes Emma's current connection to Hook (the man who loved Bae's mother) even more interesting. But we'll see.

    I think Jorge Garcia was utterly wasted here. He has so much more to offer and I feel terrible that he mostly just got subjected to horrible CGI. Erg.

  19. Emma and Hook have some serious romantic vibes and then she chains him up and leaves him..very Elizabeth Swann of her. But I wouldn't trust him either.
    Why is August's jacket always too small? He's a slender guy so that makes it even stranger.
    Less of Jorge Garcia than I had hoped for..maybe he'll be back.
    Great review as ever.

  20. I liked Emma's backstory and I liked her relationship with Neal; although, I agree that the chemistry was not sizzling. I thought it made some of the choices she made around Hook make perfect sense.

    I love, love, love Jorge Garcia (like Mark, he was most favorite of the Six). I really hope they bring him back some more and explain a bit better what they think Aurora is going to bring to the show. I've said before that her story and Snow's are just so similar and I haven't seen even a hint yet about what the writers are doing with her.

    I, too, went to Jane Eyre as soon as I heard about the red room. Every time I read that book, I get creeped out by that scene, so am looking forward to what they are going to do with the same concept here.


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