‘Neverland’ review

Nick Willing’s “Neverland” miniseries of 2011  ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1720619) is on Netflix…and it is awesome!  (Note: this impression comes to you from someone who’s familiar with the lore but has not read the classic book.)   This comes to you without spoilers.

Neverland

First off, the casting is perfect.  Rhys Ifans is the man who becomes Hook.  It’s shivery-good.  Anna Friel has a ball as the Caribbean pirate captain.  Q’orianka Kilcher as Tiger Lily elevated the character to a respected heroine.  Charlie Rowe is the first Peter Pan I’ve seen whose mistakes instantly and automatically made me think, “It’s because he’s a child!” instead of having to be reminded of that.  All of the Lost Boys had a believable dynamic and a few refreshingly differentiated themselves from the group.  It was especially wonderful to see Peter interacting with his gang in London.  This show did an excellent job showing why these boys would follow him, not just any boy who could fly.  Particularly when they question Peter’s leadership.  Secondly, the added elements explaining how everyone reached Neverland start off with enough kick and mystery to match Neverland’s wonder, but the writers were smart enough to keep these additions on the fringe instead of overwhelming the original story with them.  Thirdly, once in Neverland the dynamics between the characters and that world felt organic.  You could really tell who had formed a balance with the world and who hadn’t.  It brought everything to life.  Fourthly, each element of the world included in “Neverland”  is adequately explored.  You feel you really know how it feels to live with the “Injuns” or with the fairies (known here as “tree spirits”).  Additionally, their backstory deepens, but doesn’t really depart from what I knew of these people before.  I could look at the screen and draw a clear link between what was happening there and the actions seen in “Peter Pan” with no trouble whatsoever.  It was glorious.  Without having specific expectations or predictions, I found myself sitting there going “Of course!”  That’s always the best kind of prequel.  The only nitpick I have is that they did not include mermaids.  However, everything else was so well done that I felt satisfied without them and imagine that another element might have easily just thrown the whole thing off.  Fifth and lastly, this version finally answers Barrie’s contention that children are heartless to my satisfaction.  That is, they agree with his premise that childhood itself can be heartless, but then go on to say individual people create connections and surround themselves in memories so much that even children cannot remain heartless without very special circumstances.  This might drive purists nuts, but I love it.  And I loved watching this.

I highly recommend this show.

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Once Upon a Time 2×24 finale “And Straight On Til Morning”

There’s no leaving the need for spoilers:

 

-Does anyone else find it highly suspect that the holy Tamara and the sacredness of her quest allow her to leave escape plans with the most selfish males she meets, aka August and then Hook?  ANYONE ELSE feel that’s pretty much a red flag around here?

-So, Snow White is now clearing the darkness in her heart AND proving her and her hubby’s leadership skills by…declaring that she wants to risk the lives of herself, her family, and all of her subjects for Regina’s because it’s the “hard path” and because she still feels guilty over killing her mom.  This is the most selfish, horrible leader thing ever.  Luckily, I love Regina and really need her to live, I just thought we were going to get there through Henry or even Emma’s that-is-wrong-FAMILY feelings rather than hearing one woman using her guilt to imperil her people being portrayed as Great-yay!  And then to top it all off, it is Therapist Approved!  Come on, Archie!

-It is amazing to me that, in spite of being all moonish and anguished over Milah’s image, Hook never seems to think of Bae as Milah’s son, just Rumple’s.  In his private references to him it’s always the Dark One’s son or the kid the shadow’s looking for, only after Bae brings up Milah does Hook use her as a tool to persuade Bae into staying aboard.  This bugs me-just one more way in which Hook’s lovesick story is inconsistent.

-Technically, Cinderella’s baby was also born here, so Henry would have had it for company.

-I am gratified Granny was finally called in as babysitter, though.  Greg and Tamara wouldn’t get past her shotgun at Henry.

-There was a pathetic lack of Ruby.

-Emma’s magic powers are extremely convenient at all times, I must say.

-Was anyone else expecting Belle to wake up, remember all the bad things Gold let himself do at Lacey’s urging, and be all upset at him?  At least a little bit?  Make SOME comment about her Laciness?  After the town was saved, at any rate.

-I loooooove everything Regina in this episode!  On point, focused, and without even any really long speeches or claims.  That is the best media dying ever and no one ever, ever does it!

-Does everyone just assume if the diamond got sent to another land it would just not do anything, as opposed to simply exploding somewhere else?  Cause the random missile plan is truly not heroic.

-We’ve been over this-it took him forever, but Gold has magical security on his shop now!  Did Lacey let the dwarves in?  Also, we’ve been digging up memory-reviving fairy dust for weeks now and Sneezy STILL NEVER GOT HIS IDENTITY BACK???  THE HELL, SHOW?

-You’d think Ruby could survive as a wolf, right?  I mean, her wolf self did get born again in Storybrooke, so it was technically born there, sortof.

-I do finally buy a storyarc of Hook’s in this episode, though.  The reaching of his wearing-down point and willingness to try new tactics was believable and touching.

-These Lost Boys…first, do you suppose the confiscated shadows are then sold to the coachman in Pinnochio to be his creepy shadow workers on Pleasure Island?  Second, why are they dressed like Robin Hood?  Three, if they’ve just been looking for Henry all this time, as opposed to even a small short-list of desirable boys to kidnap, life in Neverland just got reeeeally boring.  I do not find this as Neverland version as intriguing or dangerous as others seem to, because….how frustrating and tedious is that?  Fourth, we saw a lot of scenes there at night.  Shouldn’t we have heard this creepy crying for parents Wendy spoke of?  Five, if there’s a picture of the boy the shadow wants, can’t he see whether he’s got the right one or not?  Geez.

-Please let Tamara and Greg be quickly dispatched and replaced by more interesting higher ups in the next episode.

-Someone could explain how Phillip got revived, perhaps?

-Perhaps we can finally get some Pirates of the Caribbean references?

-Also, Tiger Lily!  Get on it!

And that’s Season 2!

Once Upon a Time 2×15 “The Queen is Dead”

SPOILERS AHEAD

1. As “Bae was a Lost Boy” was always my go-to acceptable reason for his age, I suppose it can be permissible, although really-they cannot take much longer before giving us details.

2. I really love the fact that good queen Eva got the sparkly red gown while Regina appears in the white dress (in the genie episode).

3. Little Snow’s sparkly pink party dress is the ultimate Disney marketing ploy.

4. Mrs. Patmore/Johanna is ALWAYS appreciated by her beneficent masters!

5. How could Snow not know people made it to Storybrooke?  There is seriously not enough reunions and searchings going on since the curse broke.  This is Gus being murdered and no one else from Cinderella showing up all over again!  Shame on everyone.

6. FINALLY, finally Gold has placed magical protection on his shop.  I am SO relieved.

7. When Snow said she had a plan to make Cora distrust her mother I thought she was going to, you know, start talking to her about her mother.  No one likes being told you’re wrong-and-I’m-right OR do-what-I-say-or-else and Snow did BOTH before even introducing anything about Cora to the conversation.  She could have used Henry, she could have used facts she remembered about Cora, she could have done So. Much. Better. in her mission.  But no, she got preachy and I wouldn’t blame Regina if for that reason alone she stopped considering crossing Cora.  The real issue here isn’t weather good wins, it’s weather you can figure out how to be good while still being considerate enough to get over yourself and talk to people, rather than preaching at them or beating them over the head with platitudes.

8. I love the dagger’s hiding place.

9. Seriously, Cora made Regina do the digging when they were searching for the buried dagger, rather than magicing it up?

10. The Blue Fairy continues to be utterly useless at anything other than saying “this is the last of its kind” and often being wrong.

11. So…how exactly did Hook find Gold?  Is he also an excellent tracker now?

12. Seriously, no one thinks to text Gold or Emma again about this your dagger’s been taken issue?

13. Is anyone seriously surprised about Cora’s engineering of queen Eva’s death?  Or anything else?  I could have done with other flashbacks this episode, although I did love the costuming.

14. On Cora-honestly, her death is the best possible shot at happiness for….everyone, up to and including her.  Killing her should be everyone’s logical priority for the side of good winning, not Snow’s crisis of faith about good being workable.

15. I am very much looking forward to the tale of the Miller’s Daughter, though.

 

 

Once Upon a Time 2×14 “Manhattan”

I may be the only one, but…I am disappoint.  SPOILERS:

 

1. As soon as you reveal Neil as Baelfire, than all the other relationships and interactions become Extremely Predictable.  I am not in this for extremely predictable things.

2. They have yet to even TRY to explain how the hell he’s still just that age.  No one is allowed to talk about time differences at this point: time froze for 28 years in Storybrooke and FairyTale Land, when Emma and Snow went through the portal time was parallel, there were even exact hour arrangements for people meeting in dreamland proving that time moves the same in both worlds.  Aside from all that, Baelfire would have been out growing older with Emma for those 28 years everyone else was froze, so by now he should technically be almost as old as Rumpelstiltskin at the very least.  They’re not even trying.  This bothers me enormously.

3. I honestly thought that after all those years Rumpelstiltskin would have had a better pitch.  I find it rather ridiculous and out of character that he did not.

4. Hook is now officially reduced the the 10-year-old brat living inside him.  He sounds exactly like a kid in a long car trip about finding Rumpel to “get his revenge”.  Besides, he already DID get the ultimate revenge with Belle already, so just *sigh*.  I kindof hope he’s dead, just because he got that level of irritating and I don’t care to see him trying to redeem himself in any way.  Or find out what other bad lines the writers have in store for him.

5. The Seer said Rumpelstiltskin’s actions “on the battlefield” would leave his son fatherless.  From what I saw, Rumplestiltskin never made it to the battlefield.  I suppose you could generally call “the front” where they’re camping a field, but…unless there’s actually been a battle there sometime that’s not the battlefield.  The Seer lied.

6. If the Seer had just given Rumple all her foresight than how could she give him that one last insight out of gratitude?  Perhaps she remembered…but then why the drama with the hand still?  Just habit or what?  Didn’t quite add up.

7. Saying that the young boy will be Rumplestiltskin’s “undoing” just tells me that Henry will be the instrument of making him not the Dark One.  Furthermore, Cora’s storyline is bringing Henry fully into Gold’s fate, no matter what he does.  So…really there’s two ways to look at that-either it’s not new information because we already know how Cora’s using him, or it’s too much information that will make other things as Extremely Predictable as this episode.  Neither is something I’m happy with.

8. Yes, the acting was good.  I am criticizing the storyline and the plot, not the actors.

Once Upon a Time 2×13 “Tiny”

Right, this episode sent us right back down into crumbling plots with crumbs that deserve picking territory.  This was for the SPOILER-FULL crumb -picking!

 

1. See, NEWCOMERS SHOULD BE THROWN OFF BY CARS.  How did Hook bypass this?  Cars should be even more dangerous to him since they are more threatening to human-sized folk!

2. Emma is really not doing her job-she knew that was coming.  She could have helped Gold roll up yon scarf and stick it in his pants pocket, or tie it round like a bad belt, or at least warned him about this.  That being said, Gold’s reaction to his scarf/magic problems are perfect and the very best things about this episode.

3. Seriously, people are just letting Hook wander around, leading them places?  You know if Cora really WAS on that ship she’d be waiting with the mother of all booby traps, and Hook would probably know it-you keep him in cuffs or something.  Also, you guys didn’t even pat him down to find out if he had anything useful like, ya know, giant-cage keys on him? You two really do need Emma and her half-ass sheriffing skills.  And you DEFINITELY don’t let him just waltz off to be unmonitored, allowing him to rendezvous with Cora messengers and whatever the hell else.

4.I know I complain about this every time, but…You don’t get to hit on people when you’re justifying your rampages on revenging losing your true love!  Somebody choke him or punch him in the face or something-rib aches are really unsatisfactory-you never actually see it and it just gives him an excuse to make annoying grunting noises while nonsensically smarming around.  For the love of God, just stop it.

5. On this Jacquelyn, there are several points: 1. Hook said “he” when speaking of Jack the Giant Killer and obviously there wasn’t enough time for the story to get warped and misremembered by the time he would have heard it. 2. Did Hook hear it from Cora, or what?  He was in Neverland before that happened!  And Cora would know, but she doesn’t seem like much of a storyteller.  Also, she definitely would have kept in the part about the villain being a woman.  It makes no sense. 3. So now we’re supposed to believe Jacqueline has the stupidity to have her sword engraved with the word “Jack”?  Just no.  4. Tiny told Emma the story of the slaughter-and he pointed to Jacqueline as the big bad, not James.  You’d think he would have mentioned it-he had nothing to do but sit there and babble at her, after all.  Mention all the bad guys you can, guy.  That’s just purposeful obscurity for the show that the character would never actually do, and that is my pet peeve.  Bah!  5. And how did she travel to and from Wonderland?  This is important.  Also, it provides more evidence that Cora would have known about her as a woman and would have no reason to mislead Hook.

6. So, how did Hook escape from Tiny after Emma left, now?  He mentioned something about getting past the stupid giant-we think he let him live?  That’s out of character and not the implication I got from that.

7. On the plus side, the poison on the swords thing does explain why Tiny can’t really clean up the skeleton on his floor or move the sharp sword out of the way.

8. No one tried to call Emma on their cell phone so she could talk Tiny down?  You guys aren’t the ones new to modern technology, at least try these things.

9. If James stole all that treasure to pay back King Midas, how come he was still supposed to kill the beast?  Does he have a gambling problem?  Or King George?

10. Man, Charming’s hands must have killer rope-burns.

11.  It’s now just official that Belle must just remember nothing other than stereotypes about Maine life, not even her time in the asylum.  This makes me very upset, but I’ll be more upset if I keep trying to make it match up and make sense, since that does not appear to be happening, ever.  I shall endeavor to let that go.  For her scene in this episode, however, the lack of continuity made me so ticked off that I can’t even think about anything that’s happening with her and stranger dude.  You know it’s bad when Ruby can’t save a scene.  *le sigh*

Here’s to a Gold-focused episode next week!

Once Upon a Time 2×11 and 2×12

SPOILERS AHEAD

2×11 “The Outsider”

1. If Hook had any intelligence at all, he would have realized Belle was important to Rumpelstiltskin after Regina stopped him killing her in Fairy Tale Land.  This could well be the case, but I’m trying to give this character the best chance I can, so let’s say he can put two and two together.  Ergo, he found out about the shawl from Archie, not Belle.  In that case: how does Archie know?  We never see Mr. Gold going to counseling.  Once Hook has it, why doesn’t he burn it or tear it or something?  Much more sure than just luring him after it.  Is his whole plan just to lure Gold there so he can alienate his girl by killing him?  That seems more calculated than Hook is capable of, and also not particularly satisfying to Hook as he wouldn’t get to see Rumpelstiltskin being in pain.  This whole thing with the shawl is just strange when he stashed it somewhere but didn’t do anything to harm it.

2. Why is there not something somewhere to indicate that Hook had to learn what cars are?  My first thought at the end was, “Of course Hook gets it-he doesn’t know about cars.”  Yet clearly he followed Gold and Belle in their car.  It still makes sense he’d be less aware of the car sounds that mean danger and thus get hit, but the point is: Hook should be in a totally foreign land and we’ve seen him being nothing but totally self-assured.  I have a problem with this.

3. Belle escapes from Hook by going into….the elevator.  Granted, the mechanisms in that building look whackadoo, but are we really supposed to believe a pirate can’t turn the knobs and figure it out?  He did just see her do it, after all.  The most obvious answer is that we find out Hook just wanted a diversion, not to get to Belle, but still-how did Belle and Gold fall for that?

4. Speaking of Hook’s strange behavior at the library, why in the hell would he need a random rope knot there?  Did he just drop it as a clue?  I mean, really.

5. Most importantly, as I’ve been saying since season one: RUMPLESTILTSKIN, OF ALL PEOPLE, SHOULD HAVE ALL KINDS OF SECURITY ON HIS SHOP.  I do not understand this lack of security-he knows he’s got a lot of people’s valuable things, he knows the people have now remembered the things they want, he knows he has enemies, he has magic, HOW DOES HE NOT PUT MAGICAL SECURITY ON HIS GODDAMN SHOP?  This will never stop vexing me.

6. Why didn’t Philip write in other languages, too?  He’s a prince, he probably learned more than one.  The language of the realm you’re in is an excellent place to start, but if that doesn’t work, why not try others?

7. The ending was wonderful and did manage to save this overall sloppy and vexing episode.  Let’s face it-that ending was awesome.

2×12, “In the Name of the Brother”

1. The dilemma of whether or not to let stranger die makes no sense.  In their very first look at the cell phone, they say that if people don’t hear from him they’ll come looking.  If they let the guy die then not only will people come to Storybrooke, they’ll come already armed with lawyers, coroners, and police.  This is far from the solution to everyone’s problems.  Make sense, please.

2. You’d think with Emma’s experience with the law she’d be better at playing sheriff.

3. Rumplestiltskin is doing everything I expect him to do.  Trying to cure her with true love’s kiss, check.  Trying to convince her even when he shouldn’t, check.  Managing to make the cup a talisman raises questions as last episode he claimed he didn’t have enough potion to enchant anything after the shawl and therefore she couldn’t come.  The shawl’s been enchanted and hey, presto-he’s made some more.  Clearly, he just didn’t really want Belle to come along or else didn’t care enough about it before to wait, or else he could’ve just stayed the extra, what-day?  And made Belle her talisman before.  This is a fly in the ambrosia of their love story. (In my head the real answer is that he feels it’d be unfair to her and that it will go better if he shows up alone instead of with a for all intents and purposes stepmother, but still.  Don’t lie about it, just say that.)

4. Belle’s behavior does not sit well with me.  If she doesn’t remember Gold at all, than she must only remember the asylum.  If she only remembers the asylum, how the hell would she know if castles and magic are crazy or not?  She shouldn’t.  Someone telling her she was someplace she couldn’t remember would still be freaky, particularly with a gunshot wound and no memory of how she came to be in that circumstance, but she shouldn’t be sitting there telling him magical things are crazy.  Get away from her-yes, magic isn’t real-no.  Moreover, we saw her being rescued by a genuinely crazy and creepy-talking man: Jefferson.  She was far from freaked out at him.  Thus, even Belle’s awareness of creepy guys should not be this high.  Again, some yes, with the gunshot wound and outside of the place she remembers.  But they had her talking like someone with memories of a normal Maine life, and she. is. not.  (By the way, this is not to be construed as me being angry at her for putting Gold off or breaking the cup, because even without specifically knowing magic is bad and having lowered creep awareness, that could well have happened.  I am upset at the writers for making Belle’s behavior inconsistent with their own story.)

5. Again, Ruby rocks, saves the day, and should always be in charge.

6. Why is no one concerned with Dr. Whale operating when he’s drunk?  This just doesn’t seem to be a thing?

7.  I do admire Cora.  Wish there’d been more explanation of the globe, however.  Also, it does not vex me that she managed to get into Rumple’s, hopefully at least by now, MAGICALLY SECURED shop.  She’s the Queen of Hearts.

8. It makes total sense to me that Gold wants Emma with him.  This is no longer going to be the long-as-it-takes, reunion with his son that he planned.  Gold wants to get back to Belle as soon as possible, making this a fetching trip.  Gold no longer has time to accustom himself to the outside world, it’ll go faster with someone who knows it.  Moreover, he doesn’t know if Bae will want to see him, let alone want to come back to Storybrooke with him, and having someone along with him will help Gold control his urges and get his son to come back without alienating him too much.  Or at least, the chances would be better in Gold’s head.  Moreover, Emma reunited with her son after years apart and therefore should have more sympathy for him and his quest than the others.

All in all, a much better episode.  I am excited to see what comes next!

Once Upon a Time 2×9 “Queen of Hearts”

Well, that was a veritable cheesecake of cheesiness, family-home toppings, and crumbling plot points.  I’ll allow it because the holidays are almost here.

 

Spoilers and Thoughts:

1. For an episode called “Queen of Hearts” there was disappointingly little Wonderland.

2. They are doing it again, with trying to make Hook everything all at once: he’s the anguished, heartbroken lover who can’t rest without revenge.  He’s the callous pirate about to murder Belle for no reason other than frustration.  He’s the chivalrous pirate who freely returns Aurora’s heart.  He’s the badboy player who makes lots of references to sex and women losing their hearts to him.  He’s trying to have chemistry with Emma.  Just STOP IT.  Also, saying right out you would’ve betrayed Cora if Emma hadn’t tied you up right in front of the witch-mother herself was an absurdly stupid thing to do.  Why she just smiled I can’t say.  Perhaps she assumed it was a lie.  Simply couldn’t waste time on the fool when she’s close to reaching Regina.  Whatever-it was idiotic.

3. I am Extremely Gratified to see that with David out of the picture people did indeed begin to call in Ruby when there was an emergency.  Very good.  Perhaps we can keep that up as he will be busy with his family.

4. I am unclear on why no one but Ruby and Henry ran after Rumplestiltskin and Regina.  If no one steals from a dwarf, shouldn’t the dwarves have gone?  The only reason is that the show needed it to be only Henry who convinced Regina to switch sides in order to bake in more cheesy goodness.  I’m not adverse to that result, but there should be a reason why others couldn’t come.  Perhaps holding vigil over sleeping cursed people is addictive and they just couldn’t look away?  Could be the start of the fascination with zombies in Storybrooke.

5.  So, did Hook kill the giant in order to get the dead bean and we just totally glossed over that bit?

6. If they try to make the whole convoluted ‘we all get back because there’s really two ways that Hook knew all the time’ thing something he kindof did on purpose because he likes Emma and just wanted her to be in the new land with him, I will cut things.

7. Goddamn, Belle’s history gets more glum every time we see it.  Someone get the girl a tasting position on Iron Chef for the foreseeable future.

8. I dearly hope Cora’s keeping her heart the same way the villains do in Russian tales-in an egg, in a duck, in a fox, in a chest, at the top of the tallest tree (or similar things), and guarded by a fierce beast-in Cora’s case, the Jabberwocky.  I need this to happen.

9. I think everyone’s forgotten that Rumplestiltskin would also have ruptured feelings upon seeing a son abandon the parent who just magically tried to do everything they could to protect them.  After all, that’s EXACTLY what happened to Rumplestiltskin.  Granted, the details would give Rumplestiltskin a lot more guilt than Regina’s, but that will only make his emotional trauma worse.  His taunts to Regina could well be the automatic mechanism he’s built up in order to deflect his own tumultuous feelings.  Not that I promote taunting, but if we’re going to feel sympathy for Regina in this situation, Rumplestiltskin deserves a little, too.

10. Do we think the show will remember that magic is supposed to be different in Storybrooke and make her have trouble, or will they conveniently bypass that aspect on the argument that she came from a magical world to one which currently also had magic?

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