ONCE UPON A TIME: “Quite A Common Fairy”


In the season premiere of Once Upon A Time, we watched as our characters came to terms with their personality differences. Last week, we watched as Emma came to terms with being an orphan. And in this week’s episode, we watched as Regina came to terms with actions and choices that not only defined her past, but also the future of others. So far this season, we’ve seen Lana Parrilla in a mostly comedic manner – throwing out one line zingers, complaining about using magic, and adding general tension to the group with her known rivalry between the Charmings and Emma. But the beauty of “Quite A Common Fairy” was finally getting a chance to focus on the powerhouse acting that Parrilla brings to the table every single week through a painful story about friendship and destiny.

In Neverland, Emma discovers that Pan is constantly moving the camp, making it impossible to find and causing continued friction among the group. Having already been introduced to Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, it’s not surprising that this week we were introduced to another well-known icon of Disney lore: Tinkerbell (Rose McIver). It’s Hook that finally suggests seeking her out, and while the group is willing to do anything they can in order to get Henry back, Regina is vehemently opposed to the idea, for reasons that we soon come to understand.

We’ve had enough flashbacks to establish Regina as someone who didn’t necessarily always have the word “evil” attached to her name, and this hour played on that theme by showing us a depressed and saddened Regina on the verge of learning the magic from Rumple that would help make her “The Evil Queen.” After being reminded (rather nastily) by Rumple that darkness is her life and all she has is “simmering rage,” a fit of anger on the balcony leads to an accidental slip, which leads to a dramatic save from Tinkerbell who, upon rescuing her new friend, tells her she’s gifting her with a second chance.

This “second chance?” Apparently the opportunity for the happy ending that Regina thought she could never have. Breaking the rules by stealing pixie dust from the Blue Fairy, Tinkerbell uses a spell that shows Regina where her new soulmate is (apparently in a pub, with a lion tattoo.) She leaves Regina to her destiny, but Regina chickens out and runs away instead – then coldly lies to Tinkerbell later to cover up her own insecurity and sadness. While I called Robin Hood being “the man with the lion tattoo” before the end of the episode, it took until Tinkerbell’s final conversation with Regina for things to click. Usually I end up guessing a lot of twists early on, so the fact that I made it almost an entire hour without realizing that this is where we might be headed means I was really out of it or that the twist was really good. I’m just going to go ahead and give the show credit here.

In my notes, I had written something about how Regina’s actions with Tinkerbell paralleled those of a spoiled and immature child. It’s not that I think Regina acted stupidly, though I admit her retorts to Tink were a bit uncalled for. Still, she was angry, she was upset, and everyone who she thought had loved her had turned their back. Her mother killed the one man she loved and made her life miserable. Her husband took no interest in her and didn’t care to make her happy. Even the child she saved out of genuine good will ended up contributing to her life’s misery (though that wasn’t intentional.) So it’s not surprising that by the time Regina meets Tinkerbell, by the time she has a real chance at happiness, she gives a cold shoulder, quick to believe that happy endings aren’t a part of her deal. It’s also not surprising that Tinkerbell holds a grudge worthy of near murder as Regina’s actions caused the good fairy to lose her wings and her magic, something that she’s spent years being unforgiving about.

Watching Regina’s story play out over the hour reminded me of the patented tagline of another popular (albeit more recent) Disney film: if you had a chance to change your fate, would you?* On the surface, it’s something that seems easy to do, but there’s a certain sense of finality and fear that comes with giving up your past in pursuit of pure happiness – pushing open the door, letting go of the anger that Regina believes has come to define her, and allowing herself to have the one thing she has been consistently denied in her life. Yes, perhaps Regina’s actions were indeed selfish – something she comes to realize by the episode’s end – but is it wrong to suggest that Tinkerbell could also be considered selfish by assuming someone like Regina could rid herself of her demons so easily?

As we see throughout the hour, it’s not just Regina that struggles with not being able to be straightforward. Having been busted by Hook, Charming knows he should tell Mary Margaret about the dreamshade but chickens out when she starts waxing poetic on their relationship (though a preview for next week does show that he’ll be coming to terms with it sooner rather than later.) Similarly, with Robin Hood’s proposal for Mulan to join his band of Merry Men (as the only woman, no less), Mulan knows she should attempt to tell Aurora about her feelings but chickens out when Aurora excitedly tells her about her pregnancy. (I have to personally note that while I’ve read a lot of reactions to the Mulan/Aurora scene, I was happy the writers at least considered giving that particular storyline a nod. Perhaps it was, as some are saying, a lazy way out, and I am the first to say that I would have loved to see more – but it does make me optimistic about the possibility of another same-sex relationship happening somewhere down the line.)

While there were many things I loved about “Quite A Common Fairy,” the real stars of the hour were Parrilla and McIver, whose chemistry was off the wall good. Parrilla is acting gold on the program on a regular basis, and McIver was a delight to watch as Tinkerbell – believable as both a girl looking to help a friend and a woman who just wanted happiness, the two complemented each other with the ease of those who had known each other for years. The confrontation scene where Regina offers Tinkerbell the chance to kill her and then talks her down by forcing her to see how wrong her actions would be was particularly strong, with Parrilla and McIver selling every moment and reminding me that when this show is good, it’s really very good.

In the Enchanted Forest, Neal, Mulan and Robin Hood are trying to find a way to get Neal to Neverland. By chance, Robin Hood happens to meet up with his young son, Roland (Raphael Alejandro) and after a bit of back and forth, reluctantly agrees to use him to help Neal summon the shadow that can take him to the other world. (Another interesting tie-in – Marion dying recently after giving birth, but not before Rumple was apparently able to save her enough so that she could have her son.) Neal eventually does make it to Neverland – falling right into the hands of Felix, the Lost Boy – and the welcome doesn’t exactly seem warm, which makes me wonder what we’re in for. As for Henry, Pan seems to be quite the vile creature – villain seems almost a little too tame a label at this point. We do find out why Pan wanted Henry in the first place – apparently he was created to save magic. He shows Henry the drawing of “the truest believer” to prove it, suggesting that he may actually be the savior rather than Emma (which would explain why Emma so last week had no effect on the map) and all of this makes me truly excited for the origin story of Henry’s adoption, which I know we’ve been promised at some point this year.

Final Thoughts:

  • First place for “line of the night” goes to Mary Margaret and David: “David Nolan has let himself go. Does it look like he let himself go?” (I have friends that would stage a very strong opinion on this matter.) Second place goes to Henry’s response after Pan offers him an apple – “I don’t like apples. It’s a family thing.”
  • I’m a little over the Blue Fairy – talk about power trip! True, Tinkerbell was breaking rules, but it was no excuse for the Blue Fairy act as harshly as she did. I now see why Regina had such a vendetta against her in Storybrooke.
  • Yes, I’m still on board with Hook and Emma. And I think at this point, I’ll be on board until the season is over.

What did you think of the episode?


*Brave, Disney/Pixar 2012.

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