Once Upon A Time, Season 3, Episode 6: “Ariel”
Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
From the title, it is evident that this week’s Once Upon a Time episode focuses on a certain mermaid. Unsurprisingly, the past Enchanted Forest storyline focuses on Ariel, a mermaid whose story has become quite well known over the years. The casting directors hit the casting of Ariel right on the head; JoAnna Garcia Swisher is phenomenal as the beloved mermaid. Ever since Once Upon a Time began, fans and critics alike have pegged Swisher for the part of Ariel and we are now, finally, getting to see it play through. She has the grace, innocence, and excitement that Ariel is known for. Her delivery and facial expressions are like the cartoon version come to life.
The writers cleverly integrate Ariel with Snow White, intertwining their stories. The only downside to the storyline is the writers’ take on Ursula. While they probably did not want to introduce three different characters in one episode, the twist of Regina posing as Ursula leaves us feeling betrayed and hurt. It would have been interesting to see the group up against a new foe. Pan’s time seems to be coming to an end as the winter finale draws upon us, presumably then gracing us once again with the doings of Regina and Rumplestiltskin. Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle are absolutely brilliant in their respected roles but a longer-lasting new villain might prove interesting. Perhaps the writers could find a creative way to bring Naveen Andrews’ Jafar over from the floundering Once Upon a Time in Wonderland– now that would be a nice plot twist.
The present storyline deals with our characters in Neverland. After a brief disagreement between parties, Regina breaks away from the group, while everyone else set off to find Neal. All of the actors get to play emotional, dramatic notes for us when they get Neal back. It’s nice to see all of them share the spotlight for a change.
The other present day storyline winds up being the most interesting. Regina ends up finding Rumple and they team up together to take down Pan, once and for all. Parrilla and Carlyle have always been two of the strongest links on the show. They know how to make us feel sorry for Regina and Rumple, but hate them at the same time. They also have a certain chemistry with one another that makes them compelling to watch. We never know if they are going to be bickering, friends, or sometimes even bickering friends. The two have grown over the past few years and know how to feed off one another, so it is entertaining to see the two of them together again. It looks like we’ll be able to expect more of this in the coming weeks- it’s great having this to look forward to.
“Ariel” surpasses “Good Form” on several different levels. The writing this week is up to par with some of the earlier episodes and the pacing throughout is better than it has been recently. The writers even throw a curve ball at us with the ending of the episode. We’ve grown accustomed to being introduced to characters and then having them drift back into the shadows, only to come out a few more times. It was exciting to not only hear that the group was going to pick up Tinkerbell, but that Ariel was in Neverland and has been recruited to go back to Storybrooke. Aside from the whole Ursula twist, “Ariel” outperforms some of its sister episodes from season three and we can tell that the writers are setting up an epic winter finale. Hopefully they will keep the momentum up and not let it flounder in next week’s installment.