There is no time for any slow pacing this week as Once Upon a Time quickly straps us in and shoots out of the gate. Right from the start, “Save Henry” shows potential to be the best episode of season three.
Aside from a quick visit into the past Enchanted Forest, the episode mostly deals with the group saving Henry and Pan’s doings on Neverland. The backstory is a nice little treat; it shows us how Regina came to adopt Henry and the early years of their life together. This is exciting for two reasons. One, we get to see Storybrooke once again. After visiting it briefly a few episodes ago, it’s great to be back with everyone there. The second reason is that Lana Parrilla gets to be front and center once again. Parrilla has always been a main staple on the show and to see her stuck on the backburner for most of season three has been a disappointment. This week we finally get to see her shine. She plays Regina with absolute ease, showing occasional vulnerability as well as her more wicked side.
On the subject of Parrilla, another shining moment of the episode is seeing Regina, Emma, and Snow all going together to confront Pan. Getting to witness Parrilla, Jennifer Morrison, and Ginnifer Goodwin by themselves again is exciting. The show has always focused on these three women and watching them interact with one another, especially on the same side, is delightful.
The other exciting moment of the episode is the freeing of Rumplestiltskin from Pandora’s Box. It’s nice to know that Robert Carlyle will not be cooped up in there. The real excitement comes when Rumple and Neal are reunited. All the scenes that we have seen of Carlyle and Michael Raymond-James have been intense and sad. This time we get to see Raymond-James turn the tables and instead forgive Rumple. It’s nice that the writers finally give these two a different scene for them to interact with.
“Save Henry” undoubtedly continues the upward trend that Once Upon a Time has been trekking over the past few weeks. The writers are pulling out all the steps with the last few episodes of the first half of season three. It is a shame that they couldn’t keep this momentum up all the way through the season. It would have been more intense, suspenseful, and magical, rather than bordering on the boring side for a handful of episodes. The big reveal the writers made in the previous episode of Pan being Rumple’s father is topped this week when the writers prove to us that they undoubtedly have more magic up their sleeves. Pan switching places with Henry is a very nice twist, something that will wrap us in until the winter finale. It will also give Jared Gilmore something else to do besides play the same old Henry. He can actually branch out and hopefully will prove to us that he can keep pace with the adult actors on the show.
Questions are up in the air right and left. Will Tinkerbell actually be able to become a fairy again? How is Wendy going to react when she finds John and Michael? What is going to happen to Storybrooke now that Pan (as Henry) is there? And just how are they going to save Henry?
There are only two episodes left in the first half of season three. Judging by the writers’ decision to not hold back on “Save Henry”, we can only imagine what they are planning for what guarantees to be a shocking winter finale.