Subtext Recap: Once Upon a Time 3.3 – Quite a Common Fairy

– OR –

How Emma and Regina Learned to Stop Bickering and Love the Banter

– OR –

Anyone But Mulan

It was kind of an unfortunate Sunday evening of TV. It all started with the opening minutes of The Walking Dead, which Daryl summed up quite nicely with his ‘It’s like a freaking romance novel’ quip.


That new showrunner was looking like a bad idea for a minute. It did get better, and I was so grateful when people finally started dying.

But let’s get on with it. There will be SPOILERS. Immediately.

First off, let’s skip to the end and get the unpleasant business out of the way.

I have been anti-SleepingWarrior from the beginning. And it sucks.

I love the name. I dig the chemistry. I would gladly watch the Jamie Chung and the Sarah Bolger smooch it up all day long. However, if asked ‘Which one famous Disney character would you least want to be portrayed as a lesbian?’ my answer would be Mulan. Because there is no famous female Disney character who is more fitting of straight society’s stereotypes for gay girls than the character who masqueraded as a man in order to fulfill a man’s position in the world.

I like Mulan. I like this Mulan. I wish it could be so simple as to have a beautiful girl-girl couple together without thinking about it, but I have been told I don’t look, act or seem like a lesbian enough to want to nix every damn stereotype.

Of course, I needn’t worry too much about it, because while I know that Mulan had her heart broken by Aurora, who was quite enthusiastic about the perfect hetero family she’s in the process of forming, I have also noted that 90 percent of straight commenters on the sites I could stand to look at are convinced Mulan admitted to being in love with Phillip last season (she didn’t), and (despite her saying expressly that she was going to talk to someone she hoped was a loved one and wanted to talk to Aurora) she was going to tell Aurora she was in love with Phillip.

And I thought my subtext goggles were thick. Fuck.

So, another gay girl in love with a seemingly straight girl goes off into TV land to suffer. And to join Robin Hoods Merry Men. Double Fuck.

But enough about that.

So, on the Neverland front, our troop is back to walking through the forest (because apparently the nature-loving focus group can’t get enough of these scenes) and Emma gets smacked in the face by a giant leaf. Which is kind of awesome.

They engage in some more *wink-wink* there was a movie about this mockery, Regina is all “No Tinkerbell!” and, FLASHBACK, Regina is dining on Swan.

But I’m sure it was unintentional subtext.

So, Regina declares to almost-Daddy Rumpel that her life is intolerable. She has nothing to do and nowhere to go.

“I need freedom. I need options,” she declares. <– This is important. We’ll come back to it later.

“You can no more fly from your fate than can that swan,” Rumpelstiltskin tells her. And a choir of subtext angels sing.

Next up, Tinkerbell saves Regina and declares that Regina needs love. Well, sure, there is some freedom in the right kind of love, but it’s not so much like that.

First, Tinkerbell goes to collect her scolding from the Blue Fairy, who is kind of, well, intolerable herself, in a rainbow display of flowers, after which she dives back into a giant red flower that looks like it’s directly out of the Georgia O’Keefe school of production design and returns to Regina.

She’s got pixie dust, you see, and a spell. So, Regina and Tinkerbell fly off to find “the guy with the lion tattoo”, whom Regina is supposed to “go get”.

Okay, let’s backtrack.

“I need freedom. I need options,” Regina declares.

“Go into this pub at my command!” Tinkerbell replies. “Here’s the one man for you!”

Is this contradictory, or am I just –

Surprise! It’s Robin Hood!

*GASP* No way!

Ah, forget it. Let’s just think about Lana Parrilla as Young Regina in that white dress.

And back to the future –

For a Neal-searching-for-Emma, Regina-being-assigned-a-male-love-interest episode, there was an incredible amount of subtext fighting to the surface.

It all begins when Regina rushes up to Emma and calls her to a stop by name. At which point, I come to the disturbing realization that I would watch an entire forty-three-minute episode of Regina and Emma sitting across from each other, gazing into each other’s eyes, calling each other by name, Madam Mayor, Sheriff, Your Majesty, Savior. Forty-three minutes. I would watch it for forty-three minutes. I am that gay for theirlady-love.

Wanting to reinforce her anti-Tinkerbell stance, Regina once again suggests magic.

“Didn’t we just go through this?” Emma asks.

Yes, Emma, yes we did. I think we can all agree at this point there has been a rather trying amount of repetition in these Neverland arguments.

Oh, but wait… this part is new.

“I’m not talking about my magic,” Regina argues. ” I’m talking about our magic.”

And the subtext angels take a break in their song to commence their drinking game with a shot of apple-flavored something or other of highest-potency.

“I’m not interested,” Emma says. Bitch, please. “One thing I’ve learned is it always comes with a price.”

“Well, sometimes not using it comes with a price too,” Regina counters. “I bet you and I combined are strong enough to overpower Pan.”

Andddddd… another shot.

A-bicker, a-banter, Emma wants to see the plan through and find Tinkerbell. And the writers miss the opportunity to have Emma say how much she wanted to meet Tink when she saw Peter Pan for the first time in a foster home, how much comfort it gave her, and how happy she was when Disney released the Diamond Edition of Peter Pan in August of this year. Come on, Writers, we have movies to free from the vault!

“And you think it’s the best plan because your boyfriend came up with it?” Regina snaps back, and the subtext angels quit fuckin’ around, down their drinks, and go for refills.

“My boyfriend?” Emma’s all like ‘say huh’. “Hook?”

“What’s your problem?” Snow asks.

Well, Snow, sometimes when one little girl likes another little girl and she doesn’t know how to express it…

“She just lost Neal,” Snow adds.

Oh, yeah. Him.

“Sorry,” Regina apologizes to Emma for the half-dozenth time, while still telling everyone else to generally suck it.

So, Regina loses again and on with the plan.

Before we move along, though, let’s relish for a moment the fact that Regina has snarked about every single man who has stumbled into Emma’s life.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled sequence of walking through the forest.

Realizing that she doesn’t, in fact, have to follow Emma’s “boyfriend” anywhere she doesn’t want to, Regina falls back, and, upon noticing Regina has ceased to follow (due to Regina’s “notice me” grunt), Emma can’t resist the possibility of alone time.

“Hey,” she says.

“Hey,” Regina returns in what is conceivably one of the greatest deliveries of a three-letter word in the history of television.

Two lines of dialogue later, Emma knows what’s up. After dragging her eyes half the length of Regina’s body – because if Regina’s going to stretch like that, why the hell wouldn’t she? – Emma asks the inevitable, “What did you do to her?”

“What?” Regina acts aghast. “Why would you assume I did something?”

So, Regina spills just enough, and admits “my staying out of her sight is probably best for Operation Henry.”

“Operation Henry?” Emma questions.

“That’s what I’ve been calling it in my head,” Regina returns, “because…”

“He’d call it that,” Emma says.


Because, seriously. Seriously.

So, once Regina is left alone, Tinkerbell does her naughty and Regina wakes from a poppy-induced haze with amazing hair. So, there’s the threat of poisoning and some flashing back and we see what Regina did to Tinkerbell that has turned Tink into a potential cold-blooded killer. Which was basically not doing what she told her to do and then telling her she was a terrible fairy. Because, just like Regina did with Snow White, apparently everyone who once lived within the Enchanted Forest over-fuckin’-reacts.

Back to present, Tinkerbell has Regina’s heart and gives it a squeeze, and I go momentarily pervy as I wish it was Emma holding Regina’s heart and making Regina moan like that.

Next comes the emotional breakdown in which Regina admits to being afraid of happiness, and pleads with Tinkerbell to help her get her son back.

* Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Neal hitches a ride aboard the Shadow back to Neverland, and the CGI looks like the Quidditch scenes in the first two Harry Potter films. *

So, Emma and crew rush to Regina’s rescue, and it’s all very chivalrous.

“Where’s Regina?” Emma demands.

“Who the hell are you?” Tinkerbell asks, and, though she’s been following them, she seems positively shocked by their existence.

“A pissed off mother,” Emma responds. “Where is she?”

This, of course, makes absolutely no sense, which means one of two things. Either Emma and Regina do some whack role-playing in the bedroom, or I was correct in my first-episode assessment that “mother” actually means “mother fill-in-the-blank“.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” Regina says, rushing out of Tinkerbell’s Cave of Doom.

And the music soars as Emma drops her sword, wraps Regina in her strong savior arms, and their “magic” combines in a bright flash of luminescent ecstasy.

In my mind.

While we’re on the subject of how canon SwanQueen should be, I’d like to give props to Jennifer Morrison, who recovered from her Comic-Con gaffe with grace. Her thoughtful, inclusive response to the ‘ships she gets asked about at the NY Con seemed sincere to me. She looked less like a woman who was sat down by a PR person to save face and more like a woman who had someone explain to her exactly why it was hurtful to people for her to discount their feelings and opinions on who should be paired with her character.

My money is on Jane Espenson as the sage.

That said, if she is asked about three pairings the most – SwanQueen, CaptainSwan, and SwanFire – and the writers have intentionally paired her character with two of the three, I guess it’s easy for us all to see where the real chemistry lies.

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