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ONCE UPON A TIME Review: “Dreamcatcher” Captures & Crushes Our Hearts

By on October 26, 2015

(ABC/Jack Rowand) JENNIFER MORRISON

By Meredith Loftus

Once Upon A Time continued with another plot-heavy episode that pushed the story along, in addition to playing on some of the themes of the early episodes. Merida is motivating Rumple to be the hero Belle believes him to be, and all the Storybrooke heroes still believe that Arthur is a man to be trusted in present day Storybrooke. Merlin is free from his arbor prison but at what cost? Early this season, Emma was told that there will be a price to be paid; now she is beginning to pay it as a result of decisions she made in Camelot.

While Once Upon A Time excels in moving its intricate story forward, it also does a great job of looking back to where its characters have come from. There were a couple great examples in “Dreamcatcher.” The first came in the form of first love. In this particular episode we take a look back at the first loves of Emma and Regina and see their significance to the overall story. Love changes a person when it’s found, but also when it’s lost. When Daniel’s heart was crushed, Regina began her downward spiral to avenge his death and embraced evil in the process. When Neal left Emma to take the fall for his crimes, it was the final straw for Emma in being able fully trust others. In some regards, bringing up old heartaches is painful, but in this instance, it comes across as beautiful. Here, there is acknowledgement of these men and their importance in shaping the women they are today, but there is also acknowledgment of how they’ve grown. Both Daniel and Neal’s final wishes for their first loves were to find new love. Regina’s tear didn’t work in the potion because she has healed from the heartache and has found true love with Robin. Emma lost her first love but now has opened her heart to true love with Hook. Losing your first love is not the end. In fact, it’s only the beginning. These powerful women can look back and not be crippled by the loss; they honor their memories by moving forward with the true loves in their lives now.

Heartfelt Moments & Heartbreak

Another excellent example of looking back to the past was in the interactions between Emma and Henry. This show begins with the heart of the truest believer, Henry. He is the hero that reunites Emma with her family and helps her believe in her role as the savior. Season 1 is centered on this developing mother-son relationship, and it is Emma’s love for Henry that breaks the first curse. We were reminded of this dynamic when Henry came to Emma to help him find Nicodemus, Violet’s horse. Climbing into the yellow bug with light conversation was reminiscent of the Operation Cobra days, where the two would embark on adventures to slowly bring the happy endings back to Storybrooke. It’s also in this mini adventure that we again see the real Emma shine through. Emma’s expressions and tone changes when talking with Henry, like when they discussed the Alison Moyet song and finding pumpkins to lure out the lost horse. He is the person she loves most, which makes discovering her betrayal all the more heartbreaking.

As soon as the first loves of Emma and Regina were brought up, there was some foreshadowing of a later heartbreak. Not many were prepared for the recipient of that heartbreak to be young Henry and at the hands of his biological mother. After Emma saw Regina’s memory of Cora crushing Daniel’s heart, she could not understand how a mother could do that to her child; Regina responded that Cora was under the impression she was doing what was best for her. Emma faced a similar crossroads, but it was more selfless than selfish as far as motivation behind breaking the heart of their child. Emma needed the tear of lost first love in order to free Merlin and get his help to save her from her darkness. She did it for the right reasons but executed it with dark magic. She not only broke the chance of a budding relationship in Camelot but caused damage to her deep relationship with her son in Storybrooke. Trust has been broken once again. This happened before when Henry found out the truth about his father, and it took time to heal. Now, it might not be as easy. The final look between Henry, from his room, and Emma made that clear. In the words of Rumple, Dark Ones always lose the ones they love most.

In the beginning of this episode we see Emma cry over one dreamcatcher, and we find out why. Jennifer Morrison does a phenomenal job displaying the hurt Emma felt in hurting Henry when she ripped out Violet’s heart and commanded her to break her son’s heart. It pained her to cause that pain. When she goes to Regina’s house demanding to see Henry, in the heat of the argument her real self comes out, revealing a missing memory of their time in Camelot, that they were successful in freeing Merlin. Emma as the Dark One has done an excellent job so far in not making her plans public, but she was quick to give up a detail if it meant preserving her relationship with her son. When it comes to her loved ones, the darkness can’t keep her mouth shut for defending that hard decision. Dark Swan has set her plans in motion, and it is still ambiguous as to what her end goal really is. This plan, whether it is for the right reasons or not, comes with a price. Unfortunately part of that price is a strained relationship with one of the people she loves most. Let’s hope the end justifies the means.

Worth Mentioning

  • It’s been entertaining to see the people in Henry’s life respond to his first crush. Charming is quick to call out Henry texting Violet; Regina goes into protective mother mode; Hook is offering dating advice. Henry’s family is complicated, but it’s still a family, and they all want the best for him.
  • So none of the Storybrooke heroes thought to check the surveillance cameras in the sheriff’s station to find out what happened to Griff, Arthur’s servant? They’ve done it before. Why couldn’t they do that now?! Also, I think Arthur’s noble facade in Storybrooke is beginning to crack, and the first one to notice it is Hook. It’s only a matter of time before the heroes will see him for who he truly is.
  • I’m still holding out for an animal in Camelot to be named Archimedes, a nod to Merlin’s sarcastic pet owl in The Sword in the Stone.
  • Can we please see the face of the first Dark One BEFORE this arc ends?
  • I have a feeling “Only You” will be stuck in everyone’s head for the remainder of 5A.
  • How is Harold and Maude a good first date movie? Plus, how does this thirteen year old know about this early 70s film?
  • After five episodes, Merlin is finally out of the tree! He doesn’t hold back from calling out Excalibur’s true nature to Arthur, and he’s not too bad on the eyes. He may appear young but he holds wisdom for the ages, and I can’t wait to see him work with Emma in the coming episodes.
  • The power of the dreamcatchers reminds me of the pensieve in the world of Harry Potter. With a pensieve, a person can look into the memories of different people. Dreamcatchers are a more efficient and portable way of doing the exact same thing.
  • Merida certainly had her work cut out for her by working with Rumple in his cowardly state. However, something snapped into place for him when she threatened to break the chipped cup, a key object representing his relationship with Belle. Next week promises to prompt Rumple into hero mode in order to save Belle from Merida’s murderous orders. Will he rise to the occasion? We shall find out next week!

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