Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 16 – TV Review
I know this post is late this week. But I prioritised eating myself into a chocolate coma over OUaT.
Which I will argue was the better and healthier choice.
TL;DR OUaT continues to sag as we get a bland episode detailing Gideon’s tragic backstory that we had already inferred; except for the part where the Black Fairy is using his torn-out heart to manipulate him; he almost kills Emma; Hook treads water in the Enchanted Forest; Henry’s Author powers return as a plot point.
Stop bringing back things that didn’t work!
So the time has come for Emma to play nice with the guy who’s been trying to murder her (what else would a good protagonist do?), as he bargains her assistance with releasing Hook from being stuck in the Enchanted Forest. She agrees to help him defeat the Black Fairy, but when they’re attacked by a portal spider (it makes sense in context. Maybe?), Gideon double crosses her and leaves her for dead. She fades from life just long enough for him to use the gem-handled sword to cut a way for Black Fairy to enter Storybrooke, but Gold saves her from actual death. With the double cross, Emma vows she will kill Gideon if necessary, and Gold vows he will kill Emma if she tries to kill Gideon. Who cares? Meanwhile, we get flashbacks to Gideon’s mostly vanilla traumatic backstory, as the Black Fairy beats the courage and spunk out of him. As an adult, he attempts to defy her after he has a timely meeting with a boyhood ally, but the Black Fairy kills the dude, and then tears out Gideon’s heart to ensure his compliance. And she has plans for Emma, which she gloats over to Gideon once she arrives in Storybrooke. Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest, Hook purposely loses a card game with Blackbeard playing for the Jolly Roger. Blackbeard is forced to hand over a magic bean so they can portal Storybrooke to collect it, but Gideon’s spell on Hook re-routes them to Neverland, instead. Blackbeard hobbles Hook to be bait for the homicidal Lost Boys while he escapes in a rowboat. Who cares? And Henry starts experiencing weird trances where he writes symbols. Regina takes him to see Isaac, the previous Author, who proposes a deal to get himself out of both the underground insane asylum, and Storybrooke (Regina has lifted the protection spell around Storybrooke, apparently). Regina accepts, and as he’s leaving, Isaac says some calamitous final battle involving the Saviour is going to happen soon, and it’s gonna be bad.
With Season 7 renewal still unconfirmed, and rumours swirling of a major retooling of the series if it is, then maybe something might actually be at stake this time?
Also whatever happened to Maleficent and Lily? Just a thought.
So yeah, this episode is mostly a waste of time. All of the Black Fairy’s cruelty towards Gideon is simultaneously expected and underwhelming.
The only surprise is that she’s heart controlling him. But this detail only exists to allow for his redemption.
Because God forbid anyone on this show, even a character whose name is the Evil Queen, be legitimately evil.
Why I hate this episode:
Except for the Black Fairy, whom Gold proclaims is the source of all dark magic ever. OUaT’s gotta be careful of that Power Creep. Once you fight the devil herself, where do you go from there? Learn from Supernatural’s mistakes, ABC.
The original dark curse also gets a namedrop due to its apparent super evilness. But, like, all it did was basically portal a bunch of people to a misty town. Considering how blasè an interdimensional portal is treated on OUaT these days (another example of Power Creep), it’s not really that big of a deal.
The “Gideon is only being heart controlled” cop out brings the possible emotional power of his arc down. Gold continues to pledge his faith in Gideon, but Belle is starting to doubt his likelihood of redemption. A good mother abandoning her irredeemable son is a compelling, brave plotline. So OUaT couldn’t possibly do that, and pulls a soap opera excuse card. Fuck off.
I was kind of hoping that Gideon and his flashback friend, the cute and yearning Roderick, might have some kind of romantic connection. But no. They knew each other for, like, five seconds as little boys, and then when Gideon’s twenty-eight and randomly sees him again he’s ready to risk his life against the omnipotent Black Fairy. If there’d been some repressed sexuality involved, it might be more believable. But nope. Poor plot is poor plot.
Speaking of poor plots, and one that has been gratefully phased out until now, Henry’s Author powers are back in the spotlight. Jesus Christ, no. God, no. Please, please no. I suspect Isaac’s cameo is because of this season possibly being the last, but we didn’t need that Author bullshit to come back. And it means that Regina is stuck babysitting Henry all episode.
Neverland’s return also smacks of a final season cameo, but seems even more meaningless. Ditto for Blackbeard. Who cares?
Oh, and Roderick and Gideon and the Black Fairy and Isaac all talk about Emma as “the” Saviour. But wasn’t the point of introducing Aladdin supposed to be that there are multiple saviours? Or was Aladdin just a saviour, and not the Saviour? Goddamn these semantics.
Why I hate this episode:
My favourite burn of the episode is regarding the Saviour. After the Black Fairy murders Roderick, Gideon pouts and spits about the big, bad Saviour being her undoing. But the Black Fairy scoffs and reveals she already knows about the Saviour. And she has plans. As any respectable supervillain should.
Roderick’s death is the only genuinely shocking moment of the episode. The Black Fairy uses magic to turn him into a bug, and fucking squishes him under her shoe right in front of Gideon. That’s fucked up, honey. You might have a chance at being a great villain, after all.
In an interesting parallel, Emma does the same thing to the giant spider once she and Gold have subdued it. Hmm.
I will admit that I enjoyed the resolution to Hook and Blackbeard’s card game: Hook happily lost because it meant he’d be able to drag Blackbeard to Storybrooke for payment, anyway. And Blackbeard was cheating. Oh, you pirates.
Points to Belle for having the courage to suggest maybe Gideon can’t be saved. I wish the show had the guts to follow it up.
The Black Fairy has a delicious evil laugh.
Oh, and the Black Fairy needs to work on her grandstanding and hamminess, but she’s already working on mastering the art of the superfluous costume change.
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