Subtext Recap: Once Upon a Time 3.1 – The Heart of the Truest Believer

My first recap since the Comic-Con… uh… let’s call it a debacle, and I felt as if I couldn’t just launch into a new season of unintentional/intentional subtext without some sort of acknowledgment of said debacle. It was here that I was going to touch on events as they unfolded. I spent a good deal of time writing and organizing my thoughts on the matter as per my knowledge of it, which stems largely from the available video clips of THE SWANQUEEN QUESTION.

Then, just now, I decided I simply don’t care. Perhaps I will at some point, but, at the moment, I don’t want to delve into the hidden meanings and the ignorance and the “controversy”. I just want to recap sexiness, so here goes –


First, I shall acknowledge the sad truth that there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of subtext in the first episode of season three. It was certainly no season two premiere.

“Let her go!”

“She’s not dying.”


Yeah, there was none of that.

Too bad too. Being stuck on a ship together really had the potential for forced intimacy, but they forced it with Hook as we’d been warned to expect. Not with Regina. Unless, of course, you donned your rosiest subtext goggles and looked really hard.

First up, Hook and Regina have a villainerific blackened-heart-to-blackened-heart, because Hook was really getting around that ship. Regina lets some human frailty slip, stating, “He said I’m a villain, and that villains don’t get happy endings. You believe that?” To which Hook replied he hoped not or they’d wasted their lives. And…

Pan down to Emma.

Now, this is what some fancy-pants filmmakers might call a visual clue. It’s even what some shoestring-budget, crappy filmmakers might call a visual clue. When I filmed my only feature-length movie, I had two actors kiss in front of a happy photograph of the couple who had broken up in the film, with the focus changing to the photograph. Even we pathetic indies understand the wondrous storytelling powers of cinematography.

Next up, fighting, fighting, fighting, our ragtag troop tows a mermaid aboard and brings on a storm. After hashing it out over witty retorts, Regina remembers she is badass and puts the freeze on the evil mermaid, whom she apparently turned to wood, though it looked like gold to me.

And Emma says “Regina” in this panicked voice, adding “What did you do? What have you done?” as a giant wave comes at them. Now, since the fighting caused the storm, I choose to think it was the direct clash between Emma and Regina that caused the giant wave, because passion apparently creates expansive walls of water.

Regardless of the cause of the wave, BAM, just like that, the wave hits the ship and we, my fellow watchers, are smack in the middle of a 90’s music video and, perhaps, the most ridiculous, intensively wonderful moment the show has ever created. Water pouring down upon them, our heroines flick their hair and work ropes like true music video girls. At which point, the terrorists lose and we all win.

So, everyone was totes excited for the “Filet the bitch” line uttered by Regina in regards to their uncooperative mermaid hostage. But it was this line that made me giggly –

“And what? You’ll win her over with your rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers?”

Rainbow kisses? Really? I don’t think it’s Snow who possesses rainbow kisses in this story.

Jumping slightly ahead, Emma jumps into the drink to get everyone’s attention, and, along with the ‘rents, Regina is pretty quick to the ship side and looks on in nothing less than absolute horror.

“Emma!” Snow screams.

“Idiot,” Regina curses.

Which is what I would likely say if someone I cared about, but couldn’t be seen caring about, suicide-missioned into a dark ocean to stop a fight she probably could have ended just by flashing everyone.

Though it was cut in a rather regrettable way, Regina was also there to help pull Emma over the side. After which she stands gazing down at her with such concern, you’d think, gasp, she wants Emma to open her eyes.

Then Emma does open her eyes and there are no further cuts to Regina, because it is at this point that Regina actually IS flashing Emma to make her feel better about almost dying a dark, stupid death. Because, let’s face it, jumping into the water to save everyone is only wise if you survive it. If you drown, you’re just a rash douche. Which is better than a douche rash, but not by much.

Also, I found it a little cocky that Emma was all “See, I told you” when the storm cleared, since she was the first to argue with her parents, so she kind of started it. Now, we see where Henry gets it.

Amazing. That little subtext. How did this get this long?

Anyway, finally landed upon the shores of Neverland, Regina is going to save the day, or at least the ship, with her awesome magical hands, and Emma actually says this –

“Save your magic. We’ll need it later.”

Declaring herself leader and segueing into the fact that Neverland is run on belief, she then goes full-on pep talk with “It’s time for all of us to believe. Not in magic, but in each other.”

“You want to be friends?” Regina says. “After everything that has happened between all of us?”

Emma isn’t saying that, of course, though when Regina poses the question, she sounds like it’s of interest to her, and when Emma responds she doesn’t expect that, she sounds disappointed. Or so I heard through my subtext headphones, which, coincidentally, sport rainbow kisses on the ear cups.

“We just need to succeed,” Emma declares. “And we do that by being exactly who we are. A hero, a villain, a pirate. It doesn’t matter which, because we’re gonna need all those skills, whether we can stomach them or not.”

Obviously, someone caught The Breakfast Club on cable before writing that particular speech.

“And what’s your skill, Savior?” Regina purrs seductively. (Did everyone else hear seductive purring?) I do believe that’s the question Regina has been wanting to ask for some time.

“I’m a mother,” Emma declares. A mother what? is left to our imagination. I imagine in the script, though, it was written Mad Libs style.

EMMA: I’m a mother _______(noun).

Taken at face value, I admit it’s pep talk and set-up for future conflict. Taken like this, though –

“Save your magic. We’ll need it later.”

“And what’s your skill savior?”

It sounds like the perfect opening scene for the lesbian softcore I hear Ginnifer Goodwin is directing for cable.

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