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RERUN REVIEW: Once Upon a Time Season 3

I was told that Season 3 of Once Upon a Time was when the show started to go downhill. Honestly, I don’t see it. This show has drawn me in more and more with each passing episode. Season 3, although hectic and full of lots of twists and turns, was still a fun ride. We’ve gone further away from just fairy tales and started to venture more into old fantasy stories that have fallen into the public domain (and some that haven’t!). So what does this mean for the future of Once Upon a Time? Well, first, let’s recap this past season. (spoilers ahead!)

Season 3 could be split up into two halves: the Neverland saga and the Oz saga. In the first half of the season, our heroes are venturing to Neverland to rescue Henry (and unintentionally saving Neal along the way). What makes this story so interesting is that the roles have been reversed regarding who is the villain and who is the hero in the Neverland arena. In past stories, we’ve always seen Captain Hook as the vile nemesis of the heroic and likable Peter Pan. In Once Upon a Time, the sides have been swapped. Hook is the hero while Pan is a demonic child who lures boys to his island for nefarious purposes.

Although I hated Hook in the beginning of the show, he has since grown on me. We see that he’s really not such a bad guy, even if he did steal Rumplestiltskin’s wife. He and Regina have both transformed from annoying, unlikable villains to respectable, committed heroes who actually care for others. Crazy, right?

Anyway, there are so many weird twists to this season that it was almost difficult to keep up. As it turns out, (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin’s father! It’s hard to properly put it into words, but the twist was jaw-dropping. It also FINALLY gave us a villain that we wouldn’t feel bad for hating. In the past, almost every villain on the show has had a backstory that turned him or her into a sympathetic character. Not with Peter Pan. He really is just a douchebag who abandoned his son.

The first half of the season concludes with Rumplestiltskin sacrificing himself to defeat Peter Pan and Regina preparing to take everyone back to the Enchanted Forest. However, in order to do that, she has to wipe Henry and Emma’s memories of their time in Storybrooke. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve assumed this was the ultimate finale of the series! We watch the tearful goodbye as everyone returns to the Enchanted Forest and Henry and Emma go start new lives in New York City.

But wait – there’s more! The last few seconds of the midseason finale feature Hook returning to Emma, telling her that they need her help.

The second half of the season pits the protagonists against the Wicked Witch from the Oz stories. Don’t worry, Emma and Henry get their memories back in due time, but Henry has to wait a little longer. It was actually very upsetting watching Henry interact with everyone in Storybrooke, including Regina, as if he didn’t know them. I thought it would be slow as hell, but the show made it work perfectly. We didn’t have all this tedious build-up regarding Henry’s memory coming back. It was properly structured and well-developed.


The Wicked Witch, also known as Zelena, is another villain that you have a hard time sympathizing with. She becomes evil purely out of jealousy. You feel a LITTLE bad for her because her foster father didn’t like her, but ultimately, she’s just an evil person. She makes Regina look like a saint. You learn to hate Zelena even more when she is responsible for the death of Neal. I’ll admit that I had a hard time really accepting Neal’s death. They’re always bringing people back left and right on this show. I kept expecting him to come back at any second. Nope. He’s a goner. But I guess that’s all right since Emma can now go bang Captain Hook, am I right?

The Oz half of the season was good, but not as enjoyable as the Neverland part. The writers cleverly included a bit of familiar Oz lore into the show, such as the magic shoes, Dorothy drenching the witch in water, and the concept of the heart, the courage, and the brain. What I wasn’t such a big fan of was the concept of time traveling. Yep, Once Upon a Time has officially brought in time travel. Thankfully, it’s not convoluted or hard to understand. They pulled it off well. Regardless, I’m hoping that we don’t see too much time travel in the future.

The very last second of the season is breath-taking. Emma comes back to the present time with a mysterious jar. Imprisoned in the jar is a woman wearing a blue dress who can conjure ice. Guess who? Elsa from Frozen! I’m assuming that Once Upon a Time has a special deal going on with Disney that allows them to use these characters and concepts. Can someone verify this as soon as possible? I’m really curious to see who else from Disney will be showing up to Storybrooke and/or the Enchanted Forest. Oh, God, will we be seeing Star Wars and Marvel characters sometime soon as well?!


Final Grade: A

+ Hook and Regina have successfully won me over; I hated them in the beginning but they’ve both grown on me.

+ The twist involving Peter Pan’s origin was mind-blowing.

+ I am so happy that Rumplestiltskin isn’t truly gone after his sacrifice at the midseason finale; he’s become one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to seeing him clash with Elsa in the next season.

– I was a little worried about the mid-season finale when Emma and Henry lost their memories; I’m just glad they got them back.

– It took a moment to process Neal’s death since this show likes to revive people over and over; I’m assuming that he’s REALLY dead now, though.

– It’s getting even more complicated to remember who is related to who; apparently the Wicked Witch is ALSO related to Regina. So is everyone in the Enchanted Forest and beyond related to one another somehow?

Extra Thoughts:

– Elsa is coming to Storybrooke!

How did you feel about Season 3 of Once Upon a Time? Was it as good as the previous seasons? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!

1 Comment

  • I admit the Oz arc was a little disappointing, mainly because I’m a diehard Oz fan and wanted a bit more focus on the core characters. Dorothy is only in one episode and has little impact on the story. Is she still alive? Where are the silver slippers? I know a lot of Oz characters would need heavy makeup or special effects, but Oz feels very empty.