Once Upon A Time 311: Compulsive Heterosexuality and Queer Temporality

What just happened? No, I’m dead serious. I’m so serious that I just went out and bought life insurance because I don’t know what tomorrow is bringing anymore. I’m feeling overwhelmed and confused. I think everyone involved in the making of this show who was checked out for six months woke up and decided it was time for some drastic decisions, and they… delivered? No, I’m serious. For the very most part, this was a pretty succinct way to tie up all those pesky loose ends. Got a problem with continuity? Wipe their memories, destroy the location, and start all over again! What do you do when your hard drive’s overcome with cheap Disney porn? You reboot that shit! And in the meantime, let’s throw every emotion possible at our characters and audience. Every emotion, all of them! Emotions you didn’t know you still had in your little gay body!

Since I am fully confident that the team who brought you Seven Years in Neverland would be hard-pressed to give us this kind of sudden emotional depth, I think we all know who to thank for this brilliant idea, and that person is our unsung hero, Unpaid Intern!

Unpaid Intern: Can you guys unchain me from this wall?

Writer: You know the rules, Unpaid Intern.

Unpaid Intern: Maybe I could have something to eat, then?

Writer: I threw those pretzel rods at you on Monday. Surely you didn’t eat all two of them in one week.

Unpaid Intern: Am I still getting college credit for this?

Writer: Why don’t you focus on generating those creative ideas your faculty advisor kept talking about, huh? Your recommendation is not looking so hot, Unpaid Intern. I’m seeing a lot of complaining and not a lot of idea generating.

Unpaid Intern: I think there’s still a few pieces of salt in the corner of my mouth that I could maybe get at with my tongue.

Writer: Do you want to lose your urination privileges, Unpaid Intern?

Unpaid Intern: I don’t feel so good. My hair is starting to fall out.

Writer: Okay, no pee-pee today, Unpaid Intern.

Unpaid Intern: It’s all going dark.

Writer: You mean like a situation where everyone’s memory is wiped and we get rid of Storybrooke so we don’t need to keep dealing with all those Twitter inquiries about why so-and-so can do this or remembers this even though they did this or that? And some of the characters can get sent back to the Enchanted Forest and some of them can remain in the real world so we can stop paying for that goddamned outdoor town set. And everyone is having deep conversations they were never allowed to have the rest of the season! But how to make such a drastic change in a single episode?

Unpaid Intern: *unintelligible moans*

Writer: Did you say magic? Oh, wow. That could work. Mark, Lorenzo! Get in here! Unpaid Intern has got something!

Unpaid Intern: I think I need to go to the hospital.

And then Unpaid Intern keeled over, and Mark and Lorenzo took a break from doing copious amounts of drugs in the breakroom to step over Unpaid Intern’s lifeless body and use their last high to fuel the furiously typed first draft that was directly translated to the screen for this episode.

ripunpaidinternAlso, re: the Wicked Witch of the West showing up: I’m loving the fact that recent acquisitions by Disney have to have their fifteen minutes on this show. Can’t wait for it to be revealed that Henry’s uncle’s cousin’s son is Darth Vader. Just kidding, I will literally light myself on fire in the ABC offices if anyone from the Star Wars universe shows up in Storybrooke. The behavior of George Lucas on his worst day is still ten times better than the unforgivable things I have seen done to my childhood on this show.

Han Solo as Regina's lost-lost equally sassy brother, tho.

Han Solo as Regina’s long-lost equally sassy brother, tho.

Let’s talk about the shit that went down in only 40 minutes: Major character deaths. Complete narrative reversals. Regina making major life sacrifices because it’s not like her character has ever had a shot at happiness, lesbihonest. Projected “important” heterosexual kissing. Emotions happening everywhere. A lot of scenes occurring out of chronological order that were “important” to the current plot maybe? I blame QUEER TEMPORALITY, which I know the writers were not consciously employing but which clearly made its way into the plot anyway. And Emma and Henry starting their lives over again under circumstances that don’t 100% make sense, but who would I be as a Once Upon A Time recapper if I was sitting here debating things like continuity or rules? Psh, no one cares about that stuff! Let’s see if all the characters I hate suffer grisly deaths, or if Mulan comes back, rainbow flags a-blazin’!

The episode opens on Panry telling Felix that he is going to need the heart of the person he loves to finish his curse. Halfway through the speech about how love is more than romance or relatives, Felix realizes what is up and insists No Homo. Panry rips his heart out anyway.



The Gang (which is how I am now referring to the main characters from now on, since apparently all the other minor fairy tale characters don’t matter enough to be saved in the end, oops!) decides they’re going to switch Henry’s body with Pan’s body while Pan still has the scroll. But they need the black fairy’s wand, because if there’s one thing this show loves, it’s introducing previously unheard of magical objects as the most powerful thing ever that they need to acquire to make this episode’s plot devices come together. Just smile and nod, kids.

QUEER TEMPORALITY Flashback to CGI Kingdom, where Snow has shoved a pillow under her dress and is freaking out about the upcoming curse. Blue, helpful as ever, says all they need is hope, and faith. What about guns, guys? Bombs? Swords, you seem to have a lot of swords? What about anything that is not a fleeting human emotion? And then Snow says: “This unicorn charm we got at that shitty boardwalk gift store was meant to be hers! Now everything is devastating!”



You know what’s pretty gay? Unicorns are pretty gay. But I digress.

Do I digress, though? I feel like this image is 100% in sync with the show.

Do I digress, though? I feel like this image is 100% in sync with the show.

Back in the present, Snow and Emma have a moment where they talk about giving up children and how they wonder if things could have been different, about “best chances” and other familiar items that tie Snow, Emma, and Regina together in a way that is surprisingly tender and subtle, which is… not something I expected from this show? I love how they seem to save character-building conversations for the mid-season finale when we’ve already seen all of the characters haphazardly reconstructed with no regard to their formal narratives, destroyed by terrible plot choices, and then reconstructed as if by armless hobos.

QUEER TEMPORALITY Flashback to Neverland of the past and Tinkerbell and Hook having… a lot of sexual chemistry? I think? Man, modern media has made me think any two characters shoving daggers in each other’s faces have a lot of sexual chemistry. Also brace yourselves for the flashback episode to end all flashback episodes, because it looks like flashing back to random moments that aren’t actually all that interesting or important was a big deal for the writers this week. I guess they had ten minutes left with that jungle stage and somebody was like “Ten minutes? We can do that.” and thus this scene was written, staged, and shot. In ten minutes. QUEER TEMPORALITY!

The safe word is "Charmin Bear."

The safe word is “Charmin Bear.”

Oh boy, and then there’s the scene in the church with the shadow and the coconut. If you’ve ever knelt in a pew before — and I used to kneel in a pew every morning from the ages of 5 to 13, so I am a pew kneeling expert – shit is neither comfortable nor a good place to “hide” from a shadow who is menacingly flying twenty feet above you, which is a threat these days? But then there’s the… coconut. Lord have mercy, the coconut. And Tink lights it, and flies around, and defeats the shadow with the help of some horrific CGI and… the coconut. All of this which magically brings Blue back to life through a clause we did not know existed until now, so Blue can hand over the magical wand, which she conveniently had on her dead body the whole time?

Well, that was easy.

Well, that was easy.

Now that they have the wand, they can ship Henry’s soul back into Henry’s original body, meaning I don’t have to type the word Panry anymore. It also means that we can say goodbye to a more convincing acting job by Panry and return to Bobby Draper squishing his face up a lot while delivering fanfavorite lines like “My mom doesn’t love me!”

R.I.P. PANRY 2013-2013

Honey, your Mommy and I aren’t mad you found our bondage box. We just want to make sure you understand and don’t feel shame about the consensual things Mommy and Mommy do.

Flashback to October 2011 and already I cannot keep up with the timeline we are following up in here because QUEER TEMPORALITY. Henry hasn’t handed in his homework because his mother doesn’t love him and everything is terrible. Not quite, Henry! Not fucking quite. Anyway, Snow gives him the book to cheer him up, but like, did she not see all those pictures of herself in it? They are clearly her. Giving birth and stuff.

The Gang’s running across town to retrieve Henry, who is back in his normal body now? Okay, I guess that cut scene was $3.76 in CGI, and we all know that’s too much for this episode’s budget. Farewell Panry, fare thee well.

This commerical for lesbian families brought to you by the "Yep, They're Still 'Straight' or Something" Council.

This commercial for lesbian families brought to you by the “Yep, They’re Still ‘Straight’ or Something” Council.

Pan and Rumpleforeskin are having their final showdown. Pan talks about Rumple being a wee lil bae but it looks like bae caught him slippin because Pan needs to use BDSM language to get his father to obey. This will be extra creepy later when they embrace and suck face as they die together. Spoiler alert? Nah, you don’t care anymore.

Semi-aside, but I was watching this on Hulu and there was a commercial for Dunkin Donuts, and now they’re infusing the coffee with the taste of donuts? I don’t want my coffee to taste like a donut. I want my coffee to taste like fucking paint thinner because I don’t trust caffeine products unless they make my insides feel like I’ve been poisoned. While I’m talking about things that have nothing to do with this show, whatever happened to Petey Pablo? He was all over the place, and then he dropped off the face of the earth, right? Remember when he was on Goodies with Ciara? Ugh, that was the best album. “1,2 Step”? That track “Oh” with Luda? Man, that was my 2004 right there. That “Ride” music video where she’s in the kicks and the hat and the leggings, right? Oh man, Ciara. Guys, seriously, Ciara. And like, she is still going so strong, she can still produce a hell of a song. I have had sex to “Body Party” like four times this year.


Anyway. This show. Stuff is happening on this show.

By stuff I mean that The Gang’s All Here, and by here I mean the center of town, and by all I mean I guess all like 8 people who will be saved by the curse? I guess we don’t care about the thousands of other folks who were the unfortunate recipients of the last curse? Pan shows up, surprise, because Pan can do whatever he wants. For real, what is the point of doing anything to stop Pan when he can just magically snatch stuff up without anybody knowing? Pan’s got the curse now and he makes everyone stand completely still via magic, except that works about as well as a group of first graders playing freeze tag. There’s a lot of eye movement and facial twitching and at one point Regina straight up looks from character to character but, hey, they were saving money on CGI because acting! Rumpleforeskin shoves the shadow’s dagger in his dad, grabs him and… sucks on his neck like a ninth grader at a semi-formal? Whatever you’re into, man. This of course means that he disappears with his dead dad, because he says villains don’t get happy endings, which basically means he is “dead” until further notice. RIP Temporarily, Rumpleforeskin. RIP Belle’s happiness, business as usual. Someone please let Belle be happy. Please, someone. Anyone.

4 real, does anyone else remember this movie where Belle ends up with her captor? Which like, fine, I loved as a kid and still kind of love but now I recognize it as definitely super problematic and not okay, and you'd think maybe they'd give this really unhealthy relationship an update for the modern world since an opportunity to redeem a relationship and be an example that abusive shit isn't okay but NO. She has to be sad again. AGAIN. Where is Ruby? This caption is too long. I don't care. Look at all the fucks I give. I'm gonna keep typing just to type. This show doesn't deserve short captions. I'm going to type all the words I know. Panry. Panry Panry panry panry Panry.

4 real, does anyone else remember this movie where Belle ends up with her captor? Which like, fine, I loved as a kid and still kind of love but now I recognize it as definitely super problematic and not okay, and you’d think maybe they’d give this really unhealthy relationship an update for the modern world since an opportunity to redeem a relationship and be an example that abusive shit isn’t okay but NO. She has to be sad again. AGAIN. Where is Ruby? This caption is too long. I don’t care. Look at all the fucks I give. This show doesn’t deserve short captions. I’m going to type all the words I know. Panry. Panry Panry panry panry Panry.

Now that Pan’s dead, everyone needs to stop his curse. And by everyone, we mean Regina, which is the story of this show and also something that everyone else is finally aware of, since they can’t stop yelling at her to save their lives. She picks up the curse and then falls over! My booboo!

Let’s talk about when she wakes up, though. The first thing she whispers is “Emma” and I just wanted to roll my eyes at the creators of this show. You don’t want people to be into Swan Queen but you keep making these highly gif-able scenes like it’s nothin and I’m telling you, this is not how you discourage the situation, you know? Like here are some steps for discouraging your fans from shipping a lesbian pairing:

  1. Shove them both into highly appealing heterosexual relationships that make sense and seem to really engage and involve the lady characters.
  2. Don’t keep putting them in scenes where they are only inches apart having heated discussions about joint custody.
  3. Do not under any circumstance have them participate in threeway hugs with their shared child.
  4. No eye contact.
  5. Make them unquestionably closely related. This option has always been open to y’all and you still haven’t taken it so better get crackin!

Anyway everyone is whining at Regina to save them like they’re all in preschool and she’s got the snacks, but she’s not excited to share how she’ll have to break the curse, because it means she’ll have to pay the price. They’re like omg wtf our price?

“It’s not our price, it’s mine.” Oh booboo, why is it always your price? Why are you the one who always have to sacrifice everything? By the way, raise your hand if Regina saying she had to give up the thing she loved most made you trip for a hot second and think that this was gonna be an Emma love confession. And then you were like, wait, why am I even allowing myself to be set up for inevitable disappointments? Why do I do this time and time again when the powers that be have stated their commitment to no Swan Queen ever? Why was I made this way?


Anyway, Regina has to give up Henry, and she’s giving him up to Emma, with fake happy memories so they’ll have a shot at a real happy future. Tears up in my cold dead eyes, y’all. Actually, if you have some real tears, please shed them for the rest of the population in Storybrooke, who apparently were not worthy of Regina stopping the curse in time, but rather had to be sacrificed so Emma and Henry had time to say goodbye to everyone.

So, fast-forward to New York City, the present day. Emma and Henry are the happiest little family to ever family, fixing breakfast and being normal people in an apartment that is undoubtedly astronomically expensive. Apparently the Savior, a woman who showed up in NYC with no actual form of employment and FAKE MEMORIES was able to get a bajillion dollar paying job within a year so she could afford an apartment that has a giant nautical chain for art. And top rent views. And more art, a lot of art. Just a lot of art. And this is like a two bedroom affair, too, with no roommates, and a single mom with a dependent. Money is awful, New York is a level of expensive I cannot comprehend and all of y’all who do it, wow, okay, you’re crazy, moving on.

Knock, knock, it’s Hook. And he has a kiss for you! Even if he smells like unwashed sea criminal and stale rum, which prompts Emma to shove him away. Also she doesn’t know who he is, because her memory was successfully erased as Regina predicted. For those of you who were like, wow, this feels like a fanfiction, let me point you in the direction of ONE BILLION SWAN QUEEN FANFICTIONS where this exact same thing happens. No, really, Archive of our Own, friends. That’s all you need. See you next year.

for goddamned serious

No, really. See you next year. This show returns in March of 2014. I’ll probably be dead by then, since the Bomb Girls movie will have happened. As Regina would say, bye bitches.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. What about the part when Pan and Henry switch bodies again? The whole damn time I was wondering why Gold didn’t tie Pan’s body down before the spell. Obviously a poor choice. And “okay, kid, you come find us.” Here’s a better plan, adults: Position yourself all around town so you are more accessible to an eleven-year-old who has no idea where he’s getting dropped off.

    I’ve also accepted that no one actually dies in this show. Oh? The Blue Fairy’s dead? Rumplestiltskin is dead? Who wants to make a bet that Rumplestiltskin is dead forever? No one? Really? Dang. I think this show has destroyed my ability to feel suspense.

  2. Oh Kate honey, 5 times a week? My parents were Sunday and obligation day Catholics and even then I was so tired from all that pew (pew~pew~ sorry couldn’t resist :)) stuff.

    Oh, and Rumpleforeskin. Image ingrained in my head now of rumpled foreskin.

  3. there’s a reason why I (mostly) didn’t watch after the first season. I knew it would come to this shit show, esp. after the writers heard about Swan Queen. I preferred it at the start when it was subconsciously homo. (I know you think they intended all the inference from day one, but I don’t.) It’s still really amusing to watch for 20 or 30 minute intervals where I have no idea what the fuck is going on. That unicorn is still the perfect symbol for this glitter fart of a show.

    BTW, I think the coked up writers had Unpaid Intern (RIP) chained to his computer (no tablet, he was unpaid for 86 consecutive months) watching Otalia clips on youtube. Which means head for the hills, folks. Shit is going to get bad. They’re gonna hug Henry and have eye sex and bake cookies till somebody pulls the plug on this.

    • This worries me as I am just getting into season 2. I was picking up all types of moments for Sleeping Warrior but know how that turns out. But now this? I am holding out hope for Sleepy Hollow though, as I am convinced that Irving’s daughter has a crush on Jenny.

  4. Note to self: Don’t take even one sip of coffee while reading these recaps! That mommy & mommy bondage caption caused quite the mess.

    And THANK YOU for pointing out how utterly ludicrous (totally had to google that, b/c I couldn’t think of the spelling other than “Ludacris”) Emma having that apartment is. Like… you got fake memories not an actual fake past, right?! So where did they drive to in their cute little bug? To their fake remembered apartment? Oops what? That doesn’t exist? And to her fake remembered job that oops, she never had? But yes, she quickly got a high paying job. She’s probably a lawyer or something because, obviously.

  5. Also, I had “omg love confession?!” moment when they were standing at the line & Regina was like, “there’s something I haven’t told you…” Fuck these writers! I KNOW it’ll never happen. Damn hopes. So a big Fuck You to Snow & Blue Fairy too.

  6. By any chance is it the apartment Neal used to live in? I totally don’t remember and my brain can’t take another second of it right now because, seriously, what the actual fuck?

    If it was though, at least that would be one teeny tiny plot point that made a bit of sense. Though really at this point, it’d be like throwing deckchairs off the Titanic. It is so ridiculously far gone I don’t even know how they could fix it.

  7. So I know this didn’t start being recapped until there was a canon queer. But Kate, could you possibly go back and recap the whole show from the beginning? Please? Because you are awesome and March is very, very far away….

    Yeah, ditto the mad about the taking Henry away from his adoptive mom, because 1> that’s total bull crap and 2> hasn’t Regina paid/sacrificed/suffered enough???

    And I totally held my breath when Regina said she had something to tell Emma – even though I knew there was no way it would be the confession it should have been. But really, why the f*ck wasn’t it? Have they been to Disney World? It’s the gayest place on Earth! Seriously. My first gf’s best gay boy worked there and he walked around pointing out all the queers who worked there and it was like all the people who worked there. Boo.

    Oh well. There’s always Mulan to root for in March? Maybe?

  8. You know, my introduction to this show was basically the girl I started dating saying, “You’re watching this with me”, so I don’t have three years of shattered hopes and dreams that influence my experience.

    That being said – these writers are real jackasses, huh? They need ratings, so they can’t piss off their “there are no gays in my childhood fairy tales!” brigade, but they want to keep Swan Queen happy, so they threw in a random “Oh, hey maybe she’s gay!” moment with Mulan and keep teasing us with Swan Queen moments that “aren’t intentional”. It’s just makes me feel kind of used.

  9. Hahaha.. ahhh ..

    & what is UP with the fact that there are TWO “Once” shows happening at the same time, Neverland & Wonderland? This really rocked my world at first.

  10. Loved this! But seriously when Regina woke up from fainting ans said ‘Emma’ I swear she saw that she had to give up Henry and Emma because they are what she loved most.

  11. I only watched this show for part of the first season, but reading these recaps, and finding out about some of the queer storylines is making me want to get back into it.

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