“Tougher Than the Rest”
Original Airdate: March 5, 2017
Welcome back, Oncers! It has been a long three months, but I think this episode was worth the wait. Hopefully, everyone finds the midseason premiere of Once Upon A Time as funny and charming as I did. Even though it seemed like the whole “wish world” twist didn’t last long enough (or maybe it did for some) there are lots of changes coming to Storybrooke. And no, I’m not just talking about the return of two particular someones.
WISH YOU WERE HERE?
Most of the episode takes place in the alternate realm known as the “wish world,” where Emma and Regina were sent to via wishes granted by Aladdin in the midseason finale. In this reality, life has gone on as if the Evil Queen disappeared long ago. The Enchanted Forest is a safe place with its original characters having aged normally with time. The fun part of the “wish world” is the versions of the characters that live there, including familiar old faces.
This world allows the return of both Robin Hood and Pinocchio, both of whom I really miss. Emma and Regina were found by Robin at the end of the previous episode, so Regina decides to spend some time with her lost love while she can. A disgruntled Robin has no idea why the Evil Queen wants to talk with him, so it is a little awkward at first. Thanks to the all-knowing Rumple coming around, Regina is able to convince Robin that she is from a different world and that they were once together. I really don’t think the character would be so gullible and just take a stranger’s word like that, so it seemed a little far-fetched.
The episode definitely has some other mistakes, including one in the Emma/Pinocchio story. Emma goes to Pinocchio’s shop/home to see if he might be able to help both her and Regina get back to Storybrooke. Emma thought that he might still have the magic wardrobe, but it apparently had been destroyed long ago. The two set out to find the magic tree and make a new wardrobe, but get interrupted by none other than Hook. I loved “wish world” Hook, as his aged look and beer belly were hysterical. The confrontation with Hook leaves Pinocchio’s magic carpentry tool broken, yet the next scene shows it whole again.
Back in the real world, Gideon reveals himself to his parents: Rumple and Belle. Everyone in town is shocked to hear that Gideon is 28 years old (due to some magic realm that speeds up time) and is Emma’s fated killer. His reasoning is one of the dumbest things I have heard on this show: he feels that, by killing Emma and absorbing her savior powers, he can go and save a realm that is being tarnished by the Black Fairy. Apparently, murdering an innocent person to save another world will make him a hero. Is anyone else questioning this motive and terrible reasoning?
Oddly enough, everyone seems to have gotten back someone important to them in this episode. Robin and Regina reunite, Belle and Rumple find their lost son, Emma rekindles her friendship with Pinocchio, and everyone else gets Emma back by the end of the episode. The midseason premiere felt more like a midseason finale because it summed everything up into a 40-minute bundle. The plot has barely thickened, and all the questions from the finale are answered. I really think that one and a half episodes were not enough to run the “wish world” plot. It would have been better for this to play out for a few weeks because there was so much that could have been created in the alternate reality.
Instead, Pinocchio and Emma complete their magic wardrobe extremely fast. Regina makes it back to Pinocchio’s place just as the wardrobe is finished. Apparently everyone has impeccable timing in this episode (cue dramatic eye roll). Upon Emma’s suggestion, Regina decides to try and bring the alternate Robin back to Storybrooke with her. Robin decides it’s worth a try, and somehow the wardrobe brings all three of them back home. I will be the first to admit that I really didn’t think this was going to work, nor did I see the creators bringing Robin back to the real world. It was revealed months ago that Sean Maguire would be back for a few episodes, so it is hard to say how long he will last.
Will Robin be back for good? I wouldn’t count on it. I don’t see how they could explain Regina and Robin figuring out a way around fate. Also, I have a good feeling that Robin will wind up taking the sword for Emma in the impending season-ending showdown. It would be the perfect hero’s goodbye for Robin and a way for fans — and the characters — to have a few last moments with him. The end of the episode gives a glimpse into what the final Gideon/Emma showdown will look like through a mini-fight. Emma comes out victorious, which really upsets Gideon. At this point, I have no idea how this will be dragged out for an extended period of time. There’s no way to know for sure when the fated fight will occur, but it just seems like one of those events that should occur in a season finale.
The other surprising bit at the end was Emma walking into the Pinocchio’s house in Storybrooke. Just to be clear, we haven’t seen the character since the season four finale in May 2015. Are we really supposed to believe that Pinocchio/August has really been there all along? August was a great character over the first few years of the show, so it would be great to see him return for some time again. However, where did he come from? Did the writers really think that the audience would forget that it has been nearly two years since the character appeared on the show? I was also wondering if the alternate version of Pinocchio knew that they were in a fake world by the way he was acting. Has Pinocchio really been there all along creepily spying on everyone and lying through his teeth as usual? I hope this confusion is fixed quickly.