Once Upon a Time: The Heart of the Truest Believer (Review)

Once Upon a Time returned for its third season on Sunday with the episode The Heart of the Truest Believer and wasted no time getting to what had been promised since the end of season two and during all of the promotions leading up to the premiere episode. Once Upon a Time has finally arrived in Neverland.

Mild Spoilers Below

Colin O'Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison
Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison

The Heart of the Truest Believer picks up immediately after last year’s finale with Henry having been kidnapped and taken to Neverland with his family, with the aid of Captain Hook and a little magic, in pursuit.  The band of would-be rescuers soon realize that Neverland is a dangerous place filled with magic ruled over by Peter Pan, who is revealed to be the true mastermind behind Henry’s kidnapping, and that it is going to take all of them and their gifts to rescue Henry from Pan.

One of the problems that I had with last season’s premiere episode was that it lacked excitement. Coming off the end of season one with the curse that had plagued all the fairy tale characters being broken and the return of magic to Storybrooke, it had all of this excitement built up that ultimately the writers did nothing with except for sending Emma and Mary Margaret/Snow White through a portal back to the Enchanted Forest. I am glad to say that they did not make the same missteps with The Heart of the Truest Believer. The episode was filled with action, including a mermaid attack and a foot chase through the forest of Neverland. The writers also took time to introduce some new mysteries, including Rumplestiltskin’s past dealings in Neverland.

Robert Carlyle’s performance as Rumplestiltskin is still the best part of the show. His encounter with one of Pan’s Lost Boys shows how great he is in the role. He saunters into Neverland with all the confidence of being the Dark One but is felled by one of Pan’s Lost Boys, who simply tosses him an old doll which causes him to crumble to his knees in tears. Carlyle was truly allowed to shine in that moment. Along with Carlyle, Colin O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook continues to be the best addition to the cast. He long ago proved that he could be the charming pirate, but he was allowed to show his sincere side in a nice bonding scene with Jennifer Morrison’s Emma over the apparent death of Baelfire last season.

Colin O'Donoghue as Captain Hook
Colin O’Donoghue as Captain Hook

The writers played to the biggest strength of the show by taking a well known fairy tale character and using the audience’s expectations of the character against them. Making Peter Pan and his Lost Boys a threat in Neverland feels new and refreshing. While I did think that the reveal of Pan was done in a cliché manner, it was still effective. His motives for kidnapping Henry were left vague enough to build interest, and it will be interesting to find out what his true plans are for Henry.

The Heart of the Truest Believer was a fun and exciting start to the season. Now  that Once Upon a Time has arrived in Neverland, all that is left to ask is this: Where is Tinker Bell?


Did you catch the premiere? What’d you think? Let us know in the comments!

***The views expressed above are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Nerdy Minds (Magazine) as a whole. But they might.***

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