Once Upon a Time went back to its fairy tale roots in more than one way with Season 3, Episode 6: “Ariel.” Not only did we meet the titular redhead and learn her twisted tale, but we also saw the return of an epic battle — the Evil Queen vs. Snow White — and a surprising team-up. Oh, and a lot of shippers were happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.
So, did all of that make for a good episode? Read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's review of the episode, and then rate it yourself below!
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Before getting to the crab meat of the episode, there’s one important thing to address: Swan Queen. At the beginning of the episode in Neverland, Emma and Regina’s fight during their “training” literally sparked a fire. So all you non-canon naysayers out there, just remember that moment — there will surely be GIFs of it momentarily.
Now, as for the rest of the action in Neverland? There were a lot of ships sailing around as Emma fought to figure out her future. Surprisingly, Captain Hook immediately spilled the magic beans about Neal being alive, and they all set off to find him. It was easier than they thought, and Neal and Emma finally came face-to-face… but it was bittersweet. Though the whole “I kissed Hook!” thing didn’t seem to phase them (she did notably tell her mother, Snow White, first), it ended in tears as Emma admitted she wished Neal wasn’t really there or he was dead because she loves him too much and it’s hard to face all of the pain from their past. Long story short? She still hasn’t chosen her happy ending. (However, Neal did say he’ll never stop fighting for her and Hook admitted he couldn’t move on from Milah until he met Emma…)
Honestly, no relationships were doing well in this episode. With Ariel’s introduction, she couldn’t be with her love, Prince Eric. Though she got close — in this version of the story, Ursula isn’t evil and instead, she grants mermaids legs to walk on land every year at the highest tide — and was able to fall in love with him and dance at a ball (dinglehoppers included), he was about to set sail and in order to go with him, she had to make a deal with Ursula. Unfortunately, Ursula was truly just a myth, and Ariel was tricked by the Evil Queen posing as her to transform Snow into a mermaid. (Ah, the battle begins again.) In a twist, Ariel was selfless and sweet and saved Snow, but she came to him to tell the truth. But then she lost her voice and couldn’t tell him, bringing the Little Mermaid story full circle in the most heartbreaking way. But that may change next week — more on that in a moment.
Snow White and Prince Charming’s story is also not doing too well. With their secrets admitted in Echo Cave to save Neal (it was the only way to free him), we now know that Mary Margaret was the one who wanted to get pregnant, but it will never happen — Charming can’t leave Neverland without dying, so they are counting down the time they have together. But that isn’t the coupling that was most exciting about tonight’s episode. That prize goes to Regina and Rumplestiltskin.
While it was far from romantic for the Evil Queen and the Dark One, it was a satisfying team-up. On the heels of Pan telling Rumple he should just go home to Belle so he can live, Regina comes to strangle Belle, revealing her to actually just be Pan’s evil shadow. With that, they decide to team up to defeat a teenager, and by the end of the episode, we see that they do that using Ariel, who Regina scorned long ago by taking her prince and her voice away so she had to live in loneliness.
But there’s a silver lining: Regina is sending Ariel, who can swim across realms, to Storybrooke so they can save Henry and get off of the island. But will it work? We’ll have to wait and see. All we know for sure about Regina’s plan is that it won’t involve Ursula again — we rarely see the Evil Queen startled, but in flashbacks, the real Ursula (head-to-toe in gold and terrifying) threatens her life if she ever tries to impersonate the sea goddess again, and boy did Regina look frightened.
We give this episode 4 stars. What about you? Rate it for yourself below!
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.