Once Upon a Time has just broke for its winter hiatus. The first part of the season, which featured a wild trip through Neverland, left me breathless, spellbound and surprised. With the introduction of Pan and the fast-paced reveals, the first part of the season has offered us much to discuss while we wait for the March return. It’s also given us new information on our favorite characters and their family trees. So where do we stand as we await March. Here’s the good and the bad from first part of Once Upon a Time season 3.

The Good

Pan as Rumple’s Father: Rumple’s history has always been shrouded in mystery until this season. We knew Rumple considered his father a coward. I don’t think any of us expected that Rumple’s dad was so self-centered that he would give up his son for eternal youth. And when we learned that Pan would have to die when the hourglass ran out, it was clear Rumple would somehow be involved in finding the solution. Rumple’s father, still scheming even as he faced death, was a brilliant move because the boy who would kill Rumple turned out to be his father’s alternate personality, Pan. And even better–Rumple had to destroy his father to save his son, his grandson and Belle.

Regina’s Trip to Realization: Regina has always held a grudge against Snow due to her unknowing causing the death of Regina’s love, the stable boy. When she learned that her adopted son, Henry, was Snow’s grandson, her feelings grew confused. How could she destroy the Charmings without hurting the son she loved? Henry didn’t help matters by making Regina promise not to use magic. As the curses descended, Regina was faced with a hard decision and forced to do something she swore she never would do–she gave Henry into Emma and took away their memories of Storybrooke. Her act of giving made Regina a more sympathetic character in our eyes but I know it won’t last long. She will always find a way to be the evil queen.

TV’s 100 Sexiest Women of 2013>>>

A Growing (Complicated) Family: Extended family came more into play this season. In season two we saw Emma and the Charmings move into a family unit. This season, we added Neil, Regina and Rumple. The family circle has become complex but adds new dimensions. How can a family who promotes “goodness” as the Charmings do also contain the Dark One and the Evil Queen. Easily for season three’s goal to save Henry.

The Bad

Neil’s Lack of Emotion: Neil during season two hated his father, Rumple/Gold and sought to reunite with Emma. During the first few episodes, he made me feel his sincerity when talking with Aurora and Mulan. Yet, as the season continued and he arrived in Neverland, it was almost like he lost his personality. His emphasis moved more to “save Henry” than reuniting his family. Of course, this could have been due to the situation but a little more emotion toward Emma, especially during the farewell, would have tugged at heart strings.

Ranking the 21 Best TV Kisses of 2013>>>

Belle as a Projection of Pan: We know that Rumple is better with Belle. Why else would we have invented the shipper name, Rumbelle? At first, I don’t think the projections were from Pan. Rumple always turns to Belle in his hour of need. Yet Pan was smart enough to pick up on his son’s desire and use it against him. Granted, it made me hate Pan even more but why mess with our perfect couple?

Rumple’s Apparent Death: Rumple has been moving in the anti-hero direction all year. In literature, giving your life for good and saving the innocent almost always means that the character doesn’t die. So why is this a bad thing? W didn’t get the reassurance that he lives (although the previews do give us a glimpse of him). And what would Once Upon a Time be without the character that gave us our catchphrase “dearie?”

A Glimpse of the New Big Bad: Rumors were flying and Cruella was coming on strong as the next bad one. With the preview, we were given the actual character, the wicked witch. What do we have to anticipate since we know now? We can anticipate what she plans for Regina and company but we have so many questions. None of my friends know in which direction to look.

Neverland Overall: A Big Thumbs Up

This goes to the executives of Once Upon a Time. Not only have they given us a memorable story but they’ve left us with questions that will keep us guessing from now to March. Having watched British television, I know that they use this technique quite frequently to leave the audience wanting more. I’m so glad they utilized the same technique. By the time March comes, I’ll be ready for a new chapter of the show and do I see Oz in our future? I can’t wait!

(Image courtesy of ABC) 

Linda Martindale

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV