Once Upon A Time, Season 3, Episode 10, “The New Neverland”
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Directed by Ron Underwood
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on ABC
If Once Upon a Time was a roller coaster, then “The New Neverland” would be the very top of the hill, right before we are let off the drop. The writers craft the episode as a slow set up for the winter finale. Unfortunately, while the acting is spot on and the writing is exceptional in part of the episode, certain elements leave a disappointed taste in the audience’s mouth.
After a very drawn out time in Neverland, we are finally brought back to Storybrooke, a much-needed and welcome return. Familiar faces are all around, including a brief appearance from Joanna Garcia Swisher as Ariel. It would have been more of a treat if we got to see Ariel actually doing something more than just meeting up with Eric, but the writers have more important things to focus on.
The highlight of the episode is seeing Jared Gilmore get to show off his acting chops. We have seen him play the peacekeeping Henry for the past three seasons and he has been good at this. However, it is interesting and exciting to see him play completely against his usual character. On that same note, Robbie Kay does an exceptional job playing Henry in his few minutes, sharing Gilmore’s usual mannerisms and even vocal tones.
While the present day storyline is somewhat compelling, the episode does stray in the past Enchanted Forest storyline. It focuses on Snow and Charming’s honeymoon attempting to kill the legendary Medusa. While Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas shine in their respected roles, the writers were scrapping the bottom of the barrel for the storyline; it is the closest the episode comes to a filler plot. Normally the past arc tends to wrap together with the present day arc and while it does somewhat tie together at the end, on the whole it feels rather pointless.
All in all, this episode is good, but it isn’t great until the last fifteen minutes. The past few episodes of Once Upon a Time have been directing us towards an epic conclusion to the first half of season three. There’s little doubt that the winter finale will leave us speechless throughout the three month hiatus; that being said, however, the set up to the finale is rather a letdown. Hopefully the writers will bring their A game to the winter finale and give the actors some fantastic material to work with. Season three started out prompting high expectations, but after some pacing issues and several filler episodes, that hopefulness was deflated. It would be nice to see the magic recaptured not only in the show, but by it.