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Zuleikha

S03.E07: Dark Hollow

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I never would have listed this episodes among my favorites, mostly because I barely remember it exists. I remember events in it, like the lighter fight, but I don't really think about it as an episode. But I found that I rather enjoyed it on this viewing. In fact, I needed to go get something in another room and figured I'd wait for a scene I didn't like, and I ended up having to wait for one of the bickering Charmings scenes. I enjoyed the Belle and Ariel stuff and the Hook/Emma/Neal stuff. As I recall, Rumple and Regina were limited to the beginning and end, and even Henry was tolerable, mostly because his scenes were all about Pan playing him like a cheap fiddle, and that's amusing.

The Storybrooke scenes were the kind of thing I wish we'd had more of, with Belle getting to interact with people other than Rumple (really, she should have interacted a lot more with Archie because goodness knows she needs some help with that weird hero complex of hers). Ariel is so much fun with her wide-eyed wonder about everything and not understanding why they did everything John and Michael told them to because she didn't know what a gun was. But it's not the Charmings that bring in all the attacks and such. That's mostly Regina and Rumple and their relatives.

Hook's humblebrag "apology" to Neal about kissing Emma as a way of making sure Neal knew about it was amusing. Although the lighter fight is annoying, I like the dynamic among that trio.

Spoiler

It's a pity that it isn't really developed beyond this episode. They talk about Neal and Hook being friends, but we don't get to see it. They make a big deal out of setting up that Emma's going to have to choose between them, but she doesn't end up having a choice. I still want to know what went on behind the scenes about Neal. They really seem to be setting up a triangle, one that might actually be interesting as something more than a way of dragging out a will they/won't they and encouraging 'shipper factions, since the two men have their own history and relationship and they represent very different possibilities for Emma's life. Neal may be the son of Rumpelstiltskin, but he represents the "normal." He could have been the "go back to New York and have a normal life" guy because that seemed to be what he wanted. He wanted nothing to do with magic and was afraid of that part of Emma. With him, they could have gone to New York and lived normally, making the occasional trip to Storybrooke to see the family, but otherwise pretending that magic didn't exist. Hook represents magic and adventure. He's a fairytale character who doesn't even have the Storybrooke memory download. A life with him means embracing her true heritage and giving up on "normal." So, after all this setup, did they get distracted by something shiny and change their minds, did they come up with the "clever" twist about Neal's fate and think it was too good to resist, or was there some kind of intervention from on high making them write Neal out? Inquiring minds want to know.

This episode does make me realize part of why I don't like this depiction of Belle much. She's not perky and eccentric enough to be the Manic Nerdy Dream Girl, but they're doing the typical Hollywood thing of infantilizing the supposedly intelligent woman. There's a pretty big age gap between Belle and Rumple (even without that extra hundred or so years), but the actress is in her early 30s around this time, and I figure once both parties are over 30, they're both mature adults and age doesn't really matter. But they dress her like a schoolgirl, and she's written as very childish -- like with her love for cheeseburgers, her pouting about not getting to go on the adventure and be a hero, her obsession with being a hero that sounds a lot like 11-year-old Henry. Even the way she talks about love or her relationship with Rumple sounds like a teenager. It leaves me with the uncomfortable impression that she's meant to be a teenager, or maybe in her early 20s. Her wardrobe is rather ridiculous, like the porn version of a schoolgirl with those girlish blouses with stripper heels and super-short skirts. This episode would have been a good opportunity to deal with the Lacey stuff, since it goes back to the end of season 2 and she has a couple of conversations with Archie. It's maddening that she went through that experience and it didn't alter her perception of herself or of Rumple. I guess the writers forgot about it over the hiatus.

When Ariel turned back into a mermaid to escape being tied up, I was curious how her clothing worked. Her tail turns into a skirt when she turns human, so since she was fully dressed in other clothes, how did she get her tail back? Was she wearing her short black skirt over her tail when she turned back into a mermaid? What happened to her shoes and tights?

With this version of Ariel, they've fixed one of the creepier things about the cartoon version (and the original story, which is really a tragedy), since she doesn't willingly trade her voice to get a man, and she doesn't end up giving up her identity for a man. She ends up getting to move between worlds, which I guess is a copout, but it's nice that she can still be a mermaid, but she can also be on land with Eric.

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Honestly, I forgot most of what happened in this episode before I saw it again, but I thought it was mostly a good outing from the show. I mean, it had more scenes I liked than scenes I hated, so thats kind of my metric of this show, especially as it goes on. 

The Neal/Hook/Emma triangle is really kind of funny knowing their convoluted backstories with each other, and I loved Emma calling them out on their ridiculous dick measuring as they risk their lives, and the life of Emma and Neal's son. As far the the shipping goes, I dont hate Neal at this point so much, but there isnt much to like, beside the interesting backstory stuff they hint at between Neal and the people of Neverland. My favorite ship moments are probably the speech Hook gives Emma, and, what is retroactively one of my favorite early Captain Swan moments, even more so than their first kiss, was when she told him how much she appreciated him telling them the truth about Neal. Really, that is what sold her on Hook for the first time, not the kiss, in my opinion. She saw that he did something that didnt benefit him, and would actually be more convenient for him if he kept it to himself, but he didnt, because it would help other other. It was a selfless act that showed real growth on his part, way more than a kiss and him making nice with her father. 

The Belle/Ariel team up was fun, mainly because I love Ariel. She really is one of my favorite Disney characters they add to the show, she just nails the characters sweet excitement about everything, and her desire to help people and explore the world. "I am not afraid of you! And its not just because I dont know what a gun is!" We also had some fun banter between the Storeyrbooke folks, even if they dont really do much beside be a magical greek chorus, which is always welcome. I am rather annoyed at the non Grumpy dwarfs acting like Snow and Charming not being around is the reason things are more quiet. Ummmm, guys, maybe its more quiet because Regina and Rumple, the actual supervillains responsible for almost everything bad in your lives ever arent around? Just a thought? But of course we cant blame them, they're just poor harmless mass murderers! 

The Hipster Darlings arrive! And even they throw around the stupid "home office" crap, even though they totally know who Pan really is! But, I guess when you run around doing the bidding of the evil demon spawn who kidnapped your sister and you can STILL take the time to dress like a member of Mumford and Sons, you are probably a bit Extra. 

Another episode of Belle wanting to be a hero, and going about it with about the same attitude as Henry, who is a freaking ten year old. 

Spoiler

Of course, Henry will basically have the same attitude as an adult, including having his AU step dad making up elaborate cosplays for him so he feels cool, so maybe this is just how they think people act? Also, its kind of sad seeing how much Belle wanted to explore the world and be a hero, when her only real contribution to the world will be to keep her husband from killing people, pop out a kid, and die on a hill. 

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