After a whole season of teasing out their special Little Mermaid episode, Once Upon A Time premieres an episode that wasn't really about the Little Mermaid. Sigh.
I am incredibly disappointed in Once Upon A Time this week. Epically disappointed. Ariel is an important character. She is a beloved icon of the princess world. She is the go-to princess for karaoke, and arguably the most popular Disney Princess of all time. Her backstory was... forgettable at best. The red-headed fish girl was presented as a daft, Ursula-worshipping stalker to Prince Eric. She meets Eric, they fall in love, Regina pretends to be Ursula so she can trick the mermaid into giving Snow White fish legs so she can choke Show White to death??? Yes, she wanted Snow White to become a beached mermaid, so she could choke her to death with her magic. So she "couldn't run away," but seriously how many people CAN run away when they are being magically choked to death—with or without fish legs?
Here's an idea: why not just choke Snow White to death right now? And why didn't Snow White roll into the sea (or something like that) while Regina was approaching her? It's all just so very disappointing. There was zero charm; no guys, thats not a "salad trident"—that's a DINGLEHOPPER. Did no one watch the Disney cartoon before making this? You OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS STUFF, PEOPLE?!
And the entire evil plan was just so uninspired. Especially when you really think about the bloody origin story behind Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. There is good stuff there! If you're not going to go for the Disney bone, why not try for some sea foaming blood? This was a massively wasted opportunity.
That being said, I'm excited about going back to Storybrooke with Ariel and checking in on the townsfolk. It's a nice consolation prize. But again, totally hilarious and completely indicative as to how Once Upon A Time runs their ship. "Uh, we need people to reveal their secrets because this is getting tedious. I know, let's build a magic cave! Uh, now I need to go back to Storybrooke? I know, let's just make up the rule that mermaids can travel through realms." It's like watching that classic Thank You For Smoking scene over and over again:
Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they're looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It's the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device.'
And every now and again that's well and fine. Hell, we swallowed the boat sail made entirely out of pegasus feathers because it's fantasy. But sometimes it feels good when this shit is earned.
Moving on, blah blah, Ariel and Snow beat Regina in about 3 seconds, and then Regina steals Ariel's voice. I'm beginning to think Regina is not good at being an evil magician.
Oh, and one last thing about the mishandling of the whole mermaid episode: I can handle this weird non-canon "Let's all worship Ursula the SEA WITCH as a golden cow," and I can even handle this very non-Prince-Eric-looking fella but WHAT ARE THESE DRESSES?
Did the under-the-sea party suddenly become junior prom? WHAT IS GOING ON? When Joanna García Swisher and Ginnifer Goodwin look bad in something, you know something is very, very wrong. Goodwin has been rocking a wet wig for most of this episode and Swisher has been wearing a sparkly bar stop with matching purse, and they still look fabulous. But all the dresses at the dance, yikes. It was Ted Danson appears in Saving Private Ryan take you out of the moment bad. Why are they all wearing high-low junior prom dresses?
That's not to say this entire episode was a bust. A lot of great things happened that made me happy specifically with the core characters. Regina and Rumps are now paired up and that's good. Also, we no longer have to spend our time with various characters on various parts of this really similar-looking island because the group has consolidated.
Am I happy with how we went about getting these revelations? Nope. Nothing felt earned. Neal and Emma were reunited to the sound of nothingness. Why? Because Emma decided she doesn't love Neal as much as she proclaimed she did two episodes back and now she's scared again. That hit me like a wet fart. What was the point of her epic breakdown then? Emma can have all the feels, but please do not act like she wouldn't be squeezing the life out of Neal's torso, because guess what? HE'S NOT DEAD! BE HAPPY. You can be scared and selfish and unsure—people have those feelings—but you can also be happy that your kid's father and the man you said you loved two days ago is alive. This was the most anticlimactic character reunion ever. And they've been building up to this for the whole season. Woof.
The only person who truly had a REAL reveal was Snow White, and that was fantastic. Of course, Snow wants to try for a family again. Of course, she feels cheated and robbed; she was. The rub being that her husband, Charming, cannot go back with her to do this. Now THAT is interesting. Very interesting. I mean, they could just stay there, have a new kid, and ask Regina to make a bunch of mermaid bracelets (so people could visit them whenever) and whammo problem solved, but I'm sure there's another made-up rule that doesn't allow them to do that.
So on the plus side, Regina and Rumps are teaming up (very great), we no longer have to listen to Charming lie all the time and Snow gets to THROW DOWN, and finally maybe Yvette Nicole Brown will appear as the REAL Ursula somewhere down the road.