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ONCE UPON A TIME: Aladdin and The Temple of Dude

(Cross posted at AgonyBooth.com!)

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“I hope you have good homeowner’s insurance. Otherwise, this place is a real money pit.”

This week on Once, Aladdin lets Jasmine check out his Man Cave. Hook gets crafty with a pair of Emma’s scissors. The Evil Queen and the Wicked Witch get mani/pedi’s from Goldilocks. And a popular fan theory is swiftly debunked.

Shall we review?

What, no Genie?

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This week’s installment of Once finally brought us the bastardized version of Aladdin and Jasmine’s love story, with one notable absence. No Genie . . . which is a real waste, if you ask me. Everybody else got a role, from Jasmine’s doddering zombified father, to Evil Jafar and his pet bird! Even adorable monkey Abu got a small cameo, as a golden trinket that played an important, if silent, role in Aladdin’s first stab at heroism.

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However, Good Ole Big Blue must have called in sick from the lamp on the day they filmed this episode. Because it seemed as though Aladdin “Ain’t never had a friend like him.” (See what I did there?)

But I digress. We start our tale in a street market in Agrabah many years ago. There, Jafar turns three thieves into rats, which is a method of crime prevention that would likely be met with approval by one of our presidential candidates. (I’ll let you guess which one.)

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“It was cheaper than building a wall.”

Aladdin, not freaked out by this Rat-tastrophe in the least, continues to freely and haphazardly pickpocket while its occurring. He’s stopped by a poorly disguised Princess Jasmine, who thinks that wearing a scarf over her head will prevent the rest of the townspeople from figuring out she’s rich. (This is basically the Agrabah equivalent of Superman thinking no one should recognize him at the Daily Planet, just because he occasionally wears classes and a geeky bowtie.)

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“Peekaboo!”

Jasmine wants to “hire” Aladdin to steal something from the Cave of Awesome Stuff called a Diamond in the Rough, which she claims will save Agrabah from Jafar’s tyrannical reign and rat-ification of the entire city’s immigrant population. Aladdin, to his credit, is rightfully skeptical of this poorly-hidden rich person’s invitation to him, a common thief, to enter a Cave of Awesome stuff ripe for stealing. But he goes along with it anyway, because he thinks Jasmine is super hot. (Typical dude, always thinking with the magical genie in his pants, instead of the stuff between his earlobes.)

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It should be noted that Aladdin, though admittedly extremely easy on the eyes, sports this bizarre shifting accent throughout the hour, which served, for me at least, as the episode’s true mystery: What the heck nationality is the guy trying to convey? His intonations continuously morphed from British, to Irish to Cockney to American to Something Just Plain Weird (Pig-Latin, maybe?)

Anyway, Hot-Bad-at-Faking-Poverty Jasmine and Also-Hot-But-Talks-Weird Aladdin quickly head to the Cave of Awesome Stuff, which Aladdin easily opens by saying . . . wait for it “Open Sesame.” (Talk about bad security. Making the password to open your Cave of Awesome Stuff “Open Sesame” is basically the olden-day equivalent of making the password to your online bank account “Password.”)

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I bet I know the location of another “cave” Aladdin wants to explore.

In the center of the Cave of Awesome Stuff, Aladdin conveniently finds an abnormally large diamond perched precariously on a sword. Quickly recognizing the in-plain-sight placement of the Diamond in the Rough for the trap that it is, Aladdin uses an Abu lookalike monkey statue to counterbalance the weight of the diamond, so he can pilfer it. But then, before the pair could make a clean getaway, the “diamond” crumbles to dust, as does seemingly, the roof of the Cave of Awesome Stuff.

Like a true gentleman who really, really, wants to get laid, Aladdin uses his own body to shield Jasmine from falling debris. And when that doesn’t work, he shoots lightning bulbs out of his fingers to stop the building from collapsing. Spoiler Alert: This common thief has magical powers . . . ones that go beyond just being able to alternate between ten unrecognizable accents in five syllables, and that thing he did with the apple earlier in the episode.

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Jasmine, apparently, knew this all along, despite the fact that Aladdin himself was seemingly unaware of it until this very moment. It’s why she took him on this fake diamond extraction errand in the first place. So, he could realize what a special snowflake he was, and agree to help her save the city from Jafar! How exactly Jasmine knew of Aladdin’s Savior qualities is never made clear during the episode. Perhaps, she just assumed all hot guys with weird accents have magical fingers (hint, hint, wink, wink).

Aladdin though, is not too sure he wants to be a Savior, because being poor and homeless is so much more fun! After Jasmine leaves Aladdin to his decision, Jafar further compounds his would be nemesis’ indecisiveness by offering him a gift: a pair of scissors he could use to literally “chop off” his Savior-ness.

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But also, like, lots of riches and stuff.

This actually seems to make Aladdin’s decision for him, but not in the way Jafar probably intended. See now, by giving up Jafar’s offer of riches, Aladdin no longer has to choose. He can be poor and homeless AND be the Savior! It’s like pulling a half-eaten dirty piece of cake from a rat-infested garbage can and eating it too.

So, a Happy Aladdin promptly rescues Jasmine from the giant hour glass Jafar has trapped her inside, and frees Jasmine’s dad of the zombie curse Jafar put him under, thereby saving the day! (And he does it while riding a magic carpet, because walking the three steps from Jasmine’s castle door to the center of the room is just too damn hard!)

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When that’s over. Aladdin heads off to fully embrace his poor and homeless Savior identity, while Jasmine stays behind to rule Agrabah, because her dad certainly isn’t going to do it. Even un-zombified, the guy is clearly a mental midget . . . sorry mental “little person.”

As Aladdin heads off on his travels, he receives a parting gift from his old pal Jafar. It’s those darn scissors. Jafar probably figures that, hey, even if Aladdin never decides to cut his Savior-ness off, at least he could use them to make some really gnarly arts and crafts!

Hope Springs Aladdin

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Back in Storybrooke, Emma is following Jafar’s bird again to get more information from the Oracle about that vision of her own death she keeps having. Archie is there too, because how to entertain the delusions of the possibly insane was the first lesson he learned in “I didn’t actually go to graduate school because I got my medical degree from a curse” university.

The good news is that the red bird actually help Emma find the Oracle again. The bad news? This time, she’s dead, thereby seemingly debunking a popular fan theory that the Oracle was actually Jafar in disguise, spreading misinformation to Emma about her possible untimely demise.

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“Well aren’t you just Little Miss Mary Sunshine?”

Near the crime scene, Emma comes upon a poorly hidden Jasmine, and brings her in for questioning regarding the murder of The Crusher of Emma’s Hopes and Dreams. (Again, with the head scarf as a disguise! Does this woman never learn?)

Jasmine claims herself to be innocent of the Oracle’s murder. It’s a claim that Emma instantly believes, because of her supposed super power to tell when people are lying. You know, the one that’s proven wrong at least once an episode!

She then reveals her true identity and purpose for being in Storybrooke, to find Aladdin . . . the Other Savior. Though Emma hasn’t yet revealed her impending death to the rest of the cast, she’s secretly thrilled by this news. After all, the Oracle told her that Savior’s MUST die. But if Savior Aladdin somehow managed to survive, maybe that’s not entirely true . . .

Archie Bunkered

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“Is this because I wouldn’t stop singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star?”

In slightly less hopeful circumstances at the moment is Archie, whose just been kidnapped by the Evil Queen, so the latter can impersonate him, and trick Emma into revealing all her secrets. The Queen stows Archie at her sister, the Wicked Witch’s house, so he can babysit, while she’s off doing her dastardly deeds.

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The Evil Queen, posing as Archie, does succeed in getting Emma to reveal the specifics of her vision . . . and in front of her entire family, no less.

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The crew is less than pleased with Emma for keeping this from them. Taking the news particularly hard are her beau Hook, her son Henry, who blames himself for forcing Emma to become the Savior in the first place, and Regina, who learns that she’s not in Emma’s vision, which either means she’s already dead by this point in the future, or is the one responsible for killing Emma.

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Looks like someone could use a hug!

While all the Good Guys are suffering from the doom and gloom of bad news, the Evil Queen and Wicked Witch are celebrating their victory with a ladies spa day, and gossip session about the boys in Storybrooke they are currently crushing on! Oh, and they also turn Archie back into a cricket, because, why not?

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The Crypt Keeper

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Now, that Emma’s life is at stake, everyone is freshly motivated to find Aladdin for Jasmine. (Whereas, before they couldn’t give two craps if some one-episode guest star’s boyfriend bit it, because it didn’t impact them personally.)

Since, both Emma and Aladdin have magic fingers, Regina cooks up a spell to link their magic together, so Emma could find the erstwhile thief. The spell leads Emma to an underground crypt that looks kind of like the Cave of Awesome Stuff . . . only without the awesome stuff.

Jasmine gets super teary when she finds a pin she gave Aladdin back in the day, on top of a pile of bones, assuming her would-be lover’s demise. This finding majorly bums out the rest of the crew too, because it seems to confirm the Oracle’s theory that all Savior’s die. (Ignoring the fact that . . . well . . . everybody dies eventually, savior or not, so maybe it’s just a crappy coincidence!)

Emma comforts a distraught Henry, telling him that she doesn’t regret reuniting with her family and becoming the Savior, even if it means she only gets to live a few more episodes. It’s a kind of sweet moment actually.

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“The pilot episode of the series revolving around me as a bail bondsperson didn’t get picked up, so I really had no choice in the matter anyway.”

Aladdin must have thought it was pretty sweet too, because he decides to COME BACK FROM THE DEAD!!!!

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Just kidding! Aladdin was never dead! He was just a really big wimpy baby, who was afraid his girlfriend wouldn’t want to bone him anymore, after he cut off his Savior-ness with Jafar’s scissors. So, he hid out in a cave for twenty-eight years, like the homeless person he always aspired to be!

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Aladdin offers the Anti-Savior scissors to Emma, so she too can cut off her Savior-ness and avoid certain death. He then heads to the park to reunite with Jasmine, who is probably going to dump his ass, as soon as she learns he no longer has those magical fingers . . .and has officially become just like every other smelly homeless guy with a weird accent.

Running with Scissors

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Since she’s been lying to him about dying for nearly five episodes, Emma decides to make things right between her and Killian by letting him hold her Anti-Savior scissors. “I trust you to hide them in a safe place, and not use them on me, while I’m napping on the couch after drinking way too much rum with you and watching those Pirates of the Caribbean movies you like so much.”

So, of course, Hook lies to Emma, and tells them he dropped the scissors 20,000 leagues under the sea, when, really, he dropped them 1/10 of a league into his pants. Because THAT decision isn’t going to come back and bite someone in the ass later this season, now will it?

Until next time, Oncers!

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Once Upon a Time Season Premiere Recap: A Little Bit Un-Savior-y

[The following has been cross posted at my new home, Agony Booth.com!  There’s lots of other cool stuff there too!  Check it out!]

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It’s that time again, Oncers! Time to reunite with our favorite red-leather jacket wearing heroine and her band of fairytale character pals. Time to head off on new adventures, battle evil villains, make questionable fashion and hair choices, and egregiously bastardize even more increasingly obscure bedtime stories from your youth.

On deck for fresh bastardization this season are: Aladdin, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Also this Season on Once, EMMA SWAN MIGHT DIE! (And if you believe that, I have a totally flyable magic carpet in my storage closet that I could sell you for twenty bucks. Contact me in the comment section if interested.)

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I’m On a Horse!

Riding through an Anonymous Barren Wasteland there is a man on a horse. So, you are forgiven for temporarily thinking you’ve stumbled into one of those Old Spice Commercials. Not the ones where Terry Crews screams at you nonsensically for 2.5 minutes. The ones with this guy:

But wait! There’s a man on a magic carpet shooting at the Man on a Horse! I don’t remember that happening in the Old Spice Commercial. Maybe the man on the magic carpet is Terry Crews. Maybe I’ve just unwittingly come up with the theme for Old Spice’s next ad campaign. You’re welcome, Old Spice.

old-spice

The Man on the Horse runs into a hut of some sort, and asks for help from The Savior. Obviously, this is a bit confusing because fans of Once know of only One Savior, and she always wears a red leather jacket, which would be very uncomfortable to don in a desert, not to mention a bit smelly.

A young girl tells the Man on the Horse that the Savior is very busy and can’t see him now, which anyone who has ever worked as an executive assistant will tell you is code for “He’s shopping online for golf clubs, and can’t be bothered to talk to your unimportant ass.”

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Then, the man on a Magic Carpet appears. It’s Jafar from Aladdin. We know this because he’s wearing that funny hat Jafar always wears, and is carrying his trademark cane with the snake handle. Jafar uses his snake cane to turn Man on the Horse into a brown puff of smoke that may or may not be a fart. Then, he turns the cane on Savior’s Executive Assistant and makes her pass out. (Then again, maybe she just passed out because the fart that used to be Man on the Horse was so smelly.)

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There’s a man huddled in the corner of the hut. Jafar refers to him as Aladdin, but also as the Savior. However, “Aladdin” doesn’t look very Savior-y. For one thing, he has no red leather jacket, though that might be for the climate and hygiene related reasons I mentioned earlier. For another, his hands are shaking uncontrollably, and he seems like kind of a wuss.

aladdin-and-jafar

Jafar tells Aladdin it is the Savior’s curse to help people until he or she is all used up, and then die a thankless and horrible death.

Well, that’s cheerful! Remind me to give Jafar a job at the greeting card company I was planning to start next year . . .

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Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke . . .

Coitus Inter-Blimp-tus

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“Is that a Hook in my pants or are you just happy to see me?”

Hook and Emma are getting a wee-bit PG-13 on the couch in Emma’s house. Emma wonders whether maybe the pair should take off their jackets before things between them escalate to NC-17, but Hook demurs. Apparently sex in leather jackets is a common fetish amongst pirates. Who knew? I hope Storybrooke has a really good dry cleaner.

Unfortunately, because this an 8 p.m. show on ABC, this week’s installment of Fifty Shades of Leather Up My Crotch is interrupted by some strange vibrations being felt around the house, which isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds despite current circumstances. Apparently, there’s a new blimp riding above Storybrooke, and its about to crash land into a tree, but miraculously kill nobody in the process, Lost the TV series style.

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The whole town comes out to witness the crash, because blimp crashes are the Storybrooke equivalent of the rented bouncy castle at a neighborhood block party. Our Big Bad of this Portion of the Season, Hyde is on hand, to laugh maniacally, and tell the residents of Storybrooke that Rumpel has given him the keys to the town. Hyde’s first order of business as new Town Ruler, apparently, is to overpopulate it with homeless people.

Great plan! Move over Trump and Hillary! Hyde for President in 2016!

Emma and Regina don’t really like homeless people. So, they decide to shoot Hyde with the red dust that they can occasionally make come out of their fingers when they do jazz hands together. This red dust oddly seems to have no effect on Hyde. Then, again, he does seem to have a really bad case of pink eye the next time we see him up close. So, perhaps, Emma and Regina and can take some credit for that.

"Try to Visine this, asshole!"

“Try to Visine this, asshole!”

While giving Hyde pink eye, Emma gets a weird “memory” flash of herself fighting a hooded being. When it’s over, her hand is shaking like Aladdin’s did in the earlier scene. Coincidence? I think not. Emma’s boyfriend and leather sex buddy, Hook, asks Emma if she is OK. And she lies and says that she is just fine for Plot Reasons.

Dream a Little Dream of Beast

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Former Town Ruler Rumpel, apparently, gave his job away to Hyde in exchange for intel on how to wake Belle from the sleeping curse she put on herself, so she wouldn’t have to bone him anymore. (If you think pirates and saviors are kinky, you could imagine what kind of dirty things sparkly faced beasts are into.) Hyde instructs Rumpel to meet this Morpheus guy, who will give Rump some dirt to throw on Belle so he can intrude on her dreams, Freddy Krueger style. (As if sleeping in a dusty box for an entire season without showering didn’t make her dirty enough.)

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Upon learning that Belle’s dream is basically the Disney version of the Beauty and the Beast movie, Rumpel decides to use the dream to make Belle fall in love with him again, so he can use True Love’s Kiss to wake her up from the dream. This shouldn’t be so hard, because Dream Belle conveniently doesn’t remember what a turd Rumpel has been to Belle for the latter half of five seasons. What follows is more or less a fast-forwarded highlight reel from the Disney movie, complete with that admittedly epic Ballroom Dance Scene, but minus the singing ceramic and brasswares.

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“Darn it, I was really looking forward to a rousing rendition of Be Our Guest!”

About a minute and a half later, Belle genuinely seem to have re-fallen in love with Rumpel. Unfortunately for Rump, just as she’s about to suck face with him, Belle suddenly recalls the whole “he’s been a turd to you for the latter half of five seasons” thing. And that’s when things get Really Weird. (You know, because up to this point, everything I’ve mentioned in this recap has been totally normal . . .)

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So, that Morpheus guy, who looks about 25, suddenly pops into the dream to applaud Belle for not sucking face with Rumpel . . . the Turd. Instead, he explains, HE’D like to suck face with Belle to wake her up from her sleeping curse.

“Don’t get me wrong, dude. You are cute and possibly more age appropriate for me than Rumpel. But I’m not in love with you yet. Give me a few margaritas though, and maybe I’ll change my mind . . . Except, I can’t have margaritas, because I’m pregnant. So we may just be shit out of luck.”

“No silly! You love me because I’m your unborn child!” Morpheus explains, which disturbs me greatly, because, for about half a second there I was seriously considering shipping Morpheus and Belle as a romantic couple.

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Then, Morpheus kisses Belle as promised, and wakes her up.

Rumpel is overjoyed. “So, we can go back to boning now?” The Beast inquires hopefully.

“Go Rump yourself!” Belle retorts, before exiting stage left, so she can try to convince herself that she wasn’t temporarily attracted to her kid.

The Sister Act

A new, completely exorcised of evil, and, therefore, slightly less fun to hang out with, Regina has graciously allowed her still evil, and, therefore, still a blast, Zelena, to live with her in her mansion, while the latter is raising the spawn of Regina’s dead lover Robin. Now, THIS is a sitcom I would watch! Are you listening, TV Networks?

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Things get a bit tense between the two sisters, when a scatterbrained Zelena admits to losing a feather from Robin’s bow that is basically the last memento Regina will ever have of her lost love. Regina tells Zelena she is not at all upset about this, which, anyone who has ever been a woman will tell you, is passive aggressive she-speak for, “I HATE YOU SO MUCH! DIE BITCH DIE!”

Outer appearance

Outer appearance

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Inner Monologue

However, after head-shrinking sessions with both Snow White (which makes sense) and her thirteen-year old son (which doesn’t make sense at all), Regina learns that she is using anger over The Feather Incident to sublimate her resentment of Zelena over the part she played in Robin’s demise. (Apparently, someone in the writers’ room at Once has been re-reading his Psychology 101 textbook from college . . .)

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sic

So, Regina maturely returns home to have it out with Zelena, for realsies, over their many issues with one another. Interestingly enough, Zelena has some beef with Regina too . . . the latter of whom’s literal disavowal of her evil self, having been viewed by her still Wicked sister as a direct betrayal of their shared genetic code for sociopathy.

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Ultimately, this results in Zelena and her baby angrily moving out of Regina’s house, and back into her own, where she instantly encounters . . . wait for it . . . The Evil Queen herself! The latter immediately welcomes her fellow twisted sister with a pair of matching alcoholic beverages and plans for world domination.

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Now, that’s what I call a party!

Follow That Bird!

In Plot Convenient fashion, Jekyll instantaneously comes up with the idea to fashion a giant vibrator type thing, and use it to disarm Hyde. The problem is that when the time comes to use the darn thing, Emma’s hands are shaking so badly she can barely get her target off. (See what I did there?) Hyde eventually is disarmed though.

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“The woman on the box made this look so easy. False advertising, Adam and Eve.com!”

However, before Mr. Pink Eye is carted away to Storybrooke’s one-cell prison, he manages to make some choice comments to Emma about her recently acquired Savior-Syndrome, that make our heroine believe this mutton-chopped villain might be just the cure she is seeking.

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When Emma visits Hyde in prison, he instructs her to follow a red bird into the forest, and that bird will lead her to the answers that may or may not cure her gnarly case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Emma does as instructed, and comes upon the Savior’s Executive Assistant from the beginning of the episode. The young girl calls herself an oracle, and shows Emma a longer version of the vision she’s been having throughout out the episode, the one of her engaged in a Matrix-like battle with a dark hooded villain. However, at the end of the vision this time, Emma is disarmed and mortally wounded by her enemy.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The young girl tells Emma that this is her fate, and she cannot change it. But is that true? Are we really destined to lose our series’ main protagonist by series end?

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Probably not. Some have speculated that the young girl to which Emma spoke was not the Oracle from the beginning of the episode at all, but rather Jafar in disguise.

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This theory is bolstered by the fact that (1) Jafar has been known to pal around with a certain red bird named Iago; (2) to display the vision to Emma the girl used a cane with eyes that looked suspiciously like Jafar’s snake staff; and (3) earlier in the episode, Henry just so happened to mention how villains often twist the truth in a way that will inflict the most harm against heroes.

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That said, Emma is probably destined to have a Matrix-like battle with a dark-hooded figure at the end of this season, so Jennifer Morrison should really start working on her karate moves and swordplay . . .

Elsewhere in town, Snow White welcomes all the obscure fairytale characters / homeless people from the exploded blimp to Granny’s for food and shelter, figuring that maybe she can somehow wrangle this into a tax write off. After learning she has less than half a season to live, Emma meets the rest of the cast at Granny’s to perform her mandatory share of soup kitchen duties. Hook once again asks his girlfriend if she is OK, to which she responds, “Absofrigginlutely,” which, anyone who has ever been a woman knows is passive-aggressive she-speak for, “DO I LOOK LIKE I’M OK? MY HAND HAS BEEN SHAKING NONSTOP ALL EPISODE, AND I JUST SPENT THE LAST TWENTY MINUTES TALKING TO A HALLUCINATION IN THE WOODS. WHAT KIND OF IDIOT BOYFRIEND ARE YOU?”

"And I totally would, except my hand isn't capable of forming a fist anymore."

“Lucky for you, my hand isn’t capable of forming a fist anymore.”

And so, the premiere episode of Once ends with Storybrooke’s populating having instantly doubled with increasingly obscure storybook characters just waiting to be bastardized. That means lots more people needing to be “saved.” But what will happen if there is no longer a Savior to save them? Tune in next week, to find out . . . maybe.

 

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