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'Once Upon A Time': 'Second Star To The Right'

Andrea Towers Andrea Towers
May 6th, 2013 8:34am EDT

Once Upon A Time

The penultimate episode of Once found us exploring a new world – Neverland – as well as mourning the death of a character that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Storybrooke. Though there’s no real proof that Neal is actually, 100% dead (I’ve learned to be skeptical when it comes to showrunners who previously were involved in a series that showed characters cheating deaths quite often), his sacrifice was enough to shake Emma, who now has to deal with something no parent should ever have to deal with  - telling their son his father is no longer alive.

Neal’s death, while possibly predicted (I personally stayed away from spoilers), was nonetheless a legitimate way to stir up some emotions for next week’s finale. We’ve wondered for awhile if Emma still has true feelings for the father of her child, and this episode seemed to prove that not only with their declarations of love but also with Emma’s resulting sadness. Though the moment seemed entirely LOST-like (season 5, anyone?) I did enjoy the parallel of Bae sacrificing himself for Emma, just as he “sacrificed” himself for Wendy by accepting to go to Neverland when he was a young boy, so that Wendy’s little brother could be spared. (The pick-up by Hook – showing how the two first met – was a nice link, and I look forward to seeing more of it next week.)

Once writers have a habit of turning fairytales as we know them on their heads, and this episode was no exception. Peter Pan became a shadow-like creature akin to something of a “dementor” and Neverland itself became a scary place where children were not allowed to leave once they set foot on the soil, as opposed to a fun, dream-like environment. As a child, I was never quite sold on the idea of children being “kidnapped” from their rooms to essentially run away, and thus was intrigued with the idea of Neverland being a bit of a scary place. It’s these small liberties that the writers take that allow me to enjoy the show, and that make me realize how well put together this program can truly be.

While I thoroughly enjoyed “Second Star To The Right,” I couldn’t help feeling like the hour moved along similar to how it’s been paced in the previous weeks – that is, a little too harried. At one point, I feel like I had a bit of a hard time figuring out what was going on, especially with the way the storylines kept toggling back and forth and the swift development of plot. Still, I enjoyed the episode and thought that it was a strong set-up to what is undoubtedly going to be an epic (if not game-changing) finale. It’s going to be hard to top the combination of last year’s finale/premiere in terms of Emma and Snow being transported back into fairytale world, but I’m not entirely worried - if anyone can come up with a jaw-dropping water cooler moment, it’s the creators of this fantastical series.

Last week, we got a nice backstory of Regina’s evil queen history, which included an anecdote where Snow helped her while she was undercover as a peasant woman. This episode had Snow once again coming to Regina’s aid, as the potion that Gold gave her helped her to see, through an intense connection, were Regina had been taken after her abduction and what exactly she was undergoing. Thanks to some quick detective work from David and Mary Margaret, Regina was rescued and even healed by the good nature of the Blue Fairy – though just as confused as anyone upon learning the identity of her rescuers. Might this be a sign that Regina is on her way to another bout of redemption?

We’ve had a feeling about what Tamara and Greg might have been up to for awhile, but it’s nice to have a clear-cut answer for their reasons in Storybrooke. Aside from some interesting questions (who are they really working for, and what is the “home office” they keep referencing?), the real question is, will they succeed in detonating the failsafe that they’ve managed to find? And if they do, how will that affect the Storybrooke residents? My gut feeling is that this is where next week’s game changer will come in, should Tamara succeed in her plan – either the group will be transported to another magical world (via magic from Rumple or Regina) or Neverland will become a new destination for season three. What do you think?

Final Thoughts:

If anyone caught it, there was a nice LOST reference with the clock being turned to 8:15 while Peter was dragging Bae through the sky.

What’s up with Tamara and Greg? According to Emma, they’ve escaped for now, but they’re not exactly out of the picture – and I have a feeling Emma will be more than a little hell-bent on revenge if she can track them down next week.

So Regina admits that she killed Greg’s father when he was a child – a nice way to add closure to that storyline (especially since I assume Greg’s storyline is going to end next week unless they find a way to extend him into next season) but should we truly believe that?

I love that Lacey seems to love the dark magic of Mr. Gold – a nice contrast to the fact that Belle hated Rumple’s dark magic and fought to change him. And I think this could work into an interesting relationship – and storyline – going forward.

Do you really think Neal is dead, or do you think we’ll see him pop up in another land (maybe even Neverland) next week or in season 3? Sound off!

Photo Credits: ABC/Jack Rowland