Once Upon a Time Season 3.14 Review: The Tower
March 23, 2014 – ABC
Another week, another solid episode of Once that has largely escaped the problems that plagued it for the first half of the season. Still, after watching a shocking, gut-wrenching, game-changing episode of The Good Wife, I am left wanting more that just good. I want to be on the edge of my seat at the end of an episode. I want the preview to have me gasping with anticipation for next week. Sure, I realize I am comparing apples and oranges, but when you get down to it, they are both fruit, and I am talking about dramas on Sunday nights. Is it really too much to ask? At the very least, can we get some better wigs? Once, I still love you, but you’re on notice. It’s not like you don’t have the unbelievable acting talent available. Make better use of it! With all that said, there were still quite a few wonderful moments in “The Tower,” so let’s focus on the good, shall we?
FTL: Fear Factor
We begin in Emma’s childhood room, a room I would have loved to have as a child. I mean, she had the fairytale crib and pretty mobile, toys galore, and an indoor treehouse! But baby Emma is not there. Instead, Charming is met by grown-up Emma in the perfect fairytale ballgown. Maybe it’s because I don’t see Emma as the gown type, but Jennifer Morrison did not look like she belonged in that dress, despite how beautiful it was. The father-daughter dancing that followed was a bit strange given that it didn’t feel like the two were related, but that strangeness did not compare to the horror story that unfolded. Darkness fell and a portal opened that started to suck Emma in. Ominously she begged, “Don’t fail the next one,” before she disappeared. Charming awoke from his fear-induced nightmare to find the dream was prophetic. Snow has some happy news.
The new father-to-be quickly goes to the stables to unearth some hidden booze. Because apparently even princes resort to alcohol to solve their problems. Robin Hood catches him in the act but essentially says he understands. Robin tells Charming of nightroot, a magical root that grows in the Sherwood forest that will erase Charming’s fears. Of course, nothing is at is seems, so this advice will most likely not turn out well, but I fully endorse a Robin and Charming friendship. The poor guy doesn’t really have any drinking buddies in Storybrooke (except for maybe Hook? That would be hilarious) and could really use a good friend. Also, if Robin is going to steal Regina’s heart and become a staple in that household, it would also behoove him to form strong relationships with Henry’s family.
So as could be easily predicted, Charming enters Sherwood forest and finds the nightroot. Before he can put it to use, however, Charming hears a distress call come from a nearby tower. Luckily, he can scale the wall with the help of some vines and a long rope of hair… Hello Rapunzel! She had left her kingdom to find the nightroot as well. Her older brother had died, leaving her the first in line for the throne, but nightmares and doubts plagued her. Before she could return home fear-free, a cloaked witch stopped her and imprisoned her.
Now that Charming has come to save Rapunzel, that cloaked witch reappears and scales the tower with surprising ease. What is more surprising is what she hides under the cloak. The cloaked witch is Rapunzel. Apparently the nightroot makes you face your fears, literally. Rapunzel doesn’t want to leave the tower so the witch stops her from leaving. Charming plays the prince and fights the cloaked villain and urges Rapunzel to fight them herself. Rapunzel cuts her hair, and her fears fall to their death. Cute, I think! Charming returns Rapunzel to her kingdom and her parents, and in that act banishes his own fears about being a good father. Nightroot no longer needed!
The introduction of Rapunzel was as cute as any other character intro, but I hope that she does not show up in Storybrooke. We have enough characters that do not get their fair share of screentime already who are far more interesting (I’m looking at you, Ariel!). And besides, Rapunzel did not really steal my attention. That honor went to Snow’s wig. It looked like it was about to leap from her head in the final scene!
Storybrooke: Putting on Appearances
Surprisingly, our flashback of the night had absolutely nothing to do with the WW, but the action in Storybrooke is all about the mysterious Zelena and her current plans. To start, she visits her slightly crazy captive, the marvelous Rumplestiltskin, who is in his cage happily spinning straw into gold. She gives him a disturbingly sexy close shave as she talks about her father and how much of a drunk he was. Does that put to bed any of those theories that Rumple is her father, or is she talking adoptive father here? Either way, she mentions that she and Rumple are alike because they couldn’t hide their true selves in FTL like they can now: “In our land, you and I never had that choice, did we? No matter what we did, our outside showed exactly what was rotting on the inside.” No longer green, Zelena can now hide in the open and work in secret.
Her first act is to visit Rumple’s shop, where she finds Belle behind the counter. What does Zelena seek? A baby gift for Mary Margaret, she claims. Obviously not. Zelena freezes Belle as soon as her back is turned adn goes straight to the safe to steal something in a glass jar. It looks incredibly similar to the nightroot that Charming dug up in FTL. Then she goes to meet the Charmings for her first day on the job as midwife. Charming has doubts, so into his tea goes the nightroot. At this point, all we know is that the nightroot supposedly alleviates fear, which makes it seem like Zelena only wants his to be more trusting of her, but in reality, she is setting Charming up for an epic battle with himself.
After drinking the tea, Charming drives out to the forest and unsheathes his sword, but a cloaked “witch” follows him. He battles himself and only wins when he sees Emma’s car approaching and is reminded what he is fighting for. In the process, his sword breaks and the handle he uses to dispatch his fears disappears in a cloud of green smoke. When Regina arrives on scene, she understands what happened. In destroying his fears, Charming used an amazing amount of courage, some of which was transmitted into the sword handle. The symbolic power of that is incredible, and now the WW has it in her possession. To what end? It remains unseen for now, but we do see if show up in Zelena’s purse before she leaves the Charmings’.
“There’s no reason to be scared. That’s what I’m here for,” Zelena tells Snow with veiled meaning. I expect that this is just the beginning and Snow and Charming will have much to fear in the future, though it is still completely unclear what the WW’s motives are thus far. So many twisted webs she weaves!
Storybrooke: The Search
Prior to his meeting with Snow and Zelena and his battle in the woods, Charming joined Hook and Emma in researching Regina’s office for clues. His sharp eye discovered half a footprint and some holly berries that only grow in one area of Storybrooke. Off Hook and Emma go to discover Zelena’s farmhouse.
As Hook and Emma search, Emma remakrs that Hook is holding something back. What is Hook not telling Emma? Being that Hook is the only one who remembers the past year and was not under a memory-altering spell at the time, the time he spent may not be uber important, but should be interesting nonetheless. I expect a Hook flashback shortly. Might it involve my new favorite mermaid? Seriously though, we haven’t seen Ariel at all since the new curse. What has she been up to?
Either way, Hook and Emma discover nothing of note at the farmhouse except for the locked storm cellar. Emma is her usual self and wants to barge right in, but Hook pauses, saying they might need magical backup. Emma goes to call Regina but finds David’s message instead. They leave Zelena’s home to back Charming up and only return later once everyone has gathered.
When they return to the storm cellar, the lock is busted. Hook and Emma, now with Regina and Charming in tow, enter the cellar and feel the dark magic. They discover the cage empty, but the spindle and gold thread makes it clear who used to be in there. When Hook stopped Emma from entering the first time, I cursed him for keeping the discovery of Rumple until later. Of course, it’s too soon. But how did my favorite redeemed villain escape? This has major potential given Rumple’s altered mind, but I am not at all sure where this is leading. Sure, I’m glad he’s alive, since that allows the incomparable Robert Carlyle more time to appear on my television screen, but I also wish some more major deaths would stick on Once. Not his, for sure, but maybe it’s time for someone else major to bite the dust?
Quotes of the Night
“Other than an austere sense of design, nothing.” Hook, finding nothing at Regina’s office.
“If it can be broken, it means it still works.” Hook expressing some joy in Emma’s broken heart. Ah, Hook! You romantic scoundrel, you!
“I think one day you’ll have more family than you know what to do with.” Regina to Henry when he mentions being tired of setting only two dinner plates during the holidays.
Next week we get Rumple on the run, more monkeys, and the first Neal sighting! Oh my!