TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Brings Flying Monkeys and a New Villain

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

The wait was finally over with the return of “Once Upon a Time” last night. Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and the others arrive back in Fairy Tale Land as Phillip (Julian Morris) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger) are about to have lunch.

Aurora insists to Phillip that “she” must be told as they watch the former Storybrooke residents depart for Regina’s castle. Along the way, Regina (Lana Parrilla) tries to bury her own heart in the Enchanted Forest to rid herself of her despair over leaving Henry. She puts her heart back into her chest after a pep talk from Snow. However, they are attacked by a flying monkey, a big clue about who “she” is. They are saved by Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), whom Tinker Bell revealed (to viewers) in a previous episode as Regina’s true love after Daniel.

Skip to a year later in our world, where Emma Swann (Jennifer Morrison) is happy with her son, Henry (Jared Gilmore). She also has a boyfriend named Walsh (Christopher Gorham), who pops the question on her. Emma is reluctant to accept, despite Henry’s reassurances. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) also disrupts her tranquil life, insisting that she come back to Storybrooke to save her family. Of course, she thinks he is a crazy stalker until she goes to Neal’s apartment develops the film from Henry’s camera. She drinks a memory potion and agrees to go back to Storybrooke, which came back through a new curse.

While the pacing was slightly uneven, “New York City Serenade” really delivered on a number of key points. It bodes well for upcoming episodes in this second half of season three. It’s a stark contrast to the first half of the season, while still strong in twists and excitement, took some time to develop as a story arc. Let’s take a look at a few tantalizing tidbits from last night:

Flying monkeys make terrible boyfriends. It was sheer genius for executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis to throw in this twist on flying monkeys. Firstly, it was much easier not to feel sorry for Walsh when he became upset with Emma for rejecting his proposal and for drinking the memory potion. Shape shifting itself is not new; Cora used it in season two. However, it is new for flying monkeys, who only flew around and grabbed people (and little dogs) in the old stories and films. What other weapons does the Wicked Witch have at her disposal?

Henry doesn’t believe in magic. It was amusing to see Henry as a “normal” kid: playing video games, sleeping over at a friend’s place, and asking Emma for his permission slip for a field trip. Unfortunately, there was only one dose of the memory potion, which flips the mother-son relationship from the first season. In the upcoming episode(s), Emma faces the challenge of convincing Henry that magic is real … while trying to save Storybrooke again.

Rumple may return. Belle (Emilie de Ravin) tells Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) that they never saw Rumple’s dagger which means there may be a way to bring him back. In an earlier post, I speculated that Rumple would be brought back because he is one of the most intriguing characters in the show. One never knows what to expect when he is the central focus of a plot line because of the brilliant writers as well as Robert Carlyle’s performance in the role. When Rumple comes back, it will be interesting to see how he interacts with the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader). Will he side with Regina, the Wicked Witch, or stay neutral?

In the preview for upcoming episodes, there is a hooded figure who could be another new villain. Could it be Rumple? If it’s not Rumple, what sorts of melees will we see among the villains?

“She may be the evil queen but I’m wicked and wicked always wins.” Apparently, “wicked” and “evil” are not synonyms. The Wicked Witch seems to think that “wicked” trumps “evil”. Why did she need some of Regina’s blood? In any case, Regina is ready for a fight.

“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday evenings at 8|9c on ABC.

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