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References and Shipping in Once Upon a Time “The Price”

It’s Friday! We take a stand on naming two new ships. Trust us, we’re misfits; our names are better.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.” (now with a sound file)

I intended to talk a little more about Merlin and Percival. But time and toddlers truncated the list a little. So I’ll just note that in the legends, Merlin is variously trapped in a cave or in a tree, so this is entirely legit. The tree theme fits Once much better, no matter how obscure it is. Percival seems to be dead, but the next episode title, “Siege Perilous,” refers to the seat at the Round Table left vacant for the person who eventually succeeds on the Grail quest. Percival.


Henry calls his mom on the dock. Three times. While it functions as a narrative device to remind old viewers and inform new ones that calling the Dark One by name draws his or her attention to you, it’s also a direct shout out to Michael Keaton’s second best role. Here he spells it out for you.

The Empire Strikes Back

Not I love youso much Star Wars in this episode, especially compared to last week. There are hints of it in Emma’s dress in Camelot. But the real moment recalls the eighties’ best shipper moment in Cloud City’s carbon-freezing chamber.

Kilian: “You look…”

Emma: “I know.”


The Erinyes were Greek spirits of vengeance who targeted oathbreakers. Neal Gaiman’s beloved Sandman popularized The Kindly Ones as irresistable collectors of blood debts. Invoking them with the crass “fury,” tends to draw their attention to you, so they’re a good choice for an episode where we’re being reminded about some of the Dark One rules.

OUaT Fury

Bonus – Reboot: It kind of looks like Hexadecimal. Crazy.


In order to have a fury and retain some dramatic tension – they usually just annihilate their targets – the writers have it deliver Robin to a body of water where we get some more Greek mythology. A hooded figure approaches on a narrow boat. This is Charon, the ferryman of Hades.

Once Upon a Time 5x02 Charon

Does this mean we’ll be seeing Hercules or the Olympians? Probably not. If anything it’s a visual segue into some Gargoyles references. Anyway, is that an ugly duckling in the lower right?

Guardians of the Galaxy

The magic of friendship defeats the baddie, refies Regina’s position as the new Savior, and 100% references the third highest-grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nerds will tell you that other movies used the trope. Cynical hipsters will point out that Buffy and Captain Planet did this all the time. And yet…

OUaT GotG Friendship is Magic

For what it’s worth, Arthur is the last person to to offer his help. That’s not an accident.

Beauty and the Beast

Yes, everyone knows the rose in the bell(e) jar is a reference. But here they’re showing the falling petals. They’re keeping the awkward thing around because they’ll be referencing every important scene with it.

5x02 Rose Petals

Black Swan

While Once is never going to match Aronofsky’s body horror, the narratological similarity is undeniable. Power and transformation represented by an uncontrollabale dermatological condition. Terrifying and yet desired.

5x02 Dermatological Power

“Only You”

Henry’s boon from the Savior is playing Yazoo’s 1999 remix of their 1982 hit. So’s the jukebox at Granny’s. Technically the town was trapped in the eighties for decades, so I guess this is legit. The lyrics seem to have more to do with Emma and Killian, though.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

I originally thought the whole shared headphones thing with Violet and Henry was an Eleanor & Park reference. You know, because it looks so much like the cover. But it turns out that “Only You” is actually on Norah’s playlist according to Rachel Cohn, so.

5x02 headphones

Fisher King

We talk about the Fisher King here on The Dinglehopper, and we’ll have plenty of opportunities this season. But this episode made it absolutely clear that this version of Excalibur and the Dark One Dagger (cf Wavy Knife) were connected, indeed pieces of the same thing. So we have the Fisher King’s wound imagery covered.

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

The peril! The irony! Evil Charming and Captain Beauty come to the fore! And a brand new ship which we dub Purple Prose!

Captain Beauty (Captain Book? Belle Hooks!)

Belle opens up to Hook about how hard it is to love the Dark One. They share drinks and emotions. Perhaps soon they’ll realize the folly of loving one who cannot love them back and turn to each other for romantic solace.


Captain Swan

In Camelot, Emma and Hook get their second ball together. This one is no less dramatic than the first, but at least they’re not the ones at the center of the attempted killing action. Instead, we get a nice little exchange between them regarding Emma’s beauty. “Swan, you look…” “I know.”

In Storybrooke, Dark One Emma finally has a house all to herself, but ironically Hook doesn’t want to use that new chance for intimacy if she’s going to be all evil and stuff. Despite previously being fairly evil himself, he’s no longer into that kind of romance. If it ain’t savior-lovin’, he wants none of it. Is there any surprise that true love’s kiss fails if he’s going to be so judgy?

In general, Killian remains deeply focused and concerned about Emma’s darkness. She still wants a relationship with him, but the implications of her attempted seduction are that her interest is mostly shallow and lusty. (I’m kinda okay with that.) But I’m not sure that’s all of it. Her longing look into Granny’s shows her loneliness. Hook may be losing good opportunities to pull her back to him.

Killian, meanwhile, turns to the rum. Belle asks him if he tried to kiss her. “Aye. She didn’t even flinch. It’s not over. I spent over a century trying to kill the Crocodile. I can spend at least that trying to save the woman I love.”

Evil Charming

When Regina doesn’t know how to dance, David steps forward to teach her. It’s an adorable moment between a couple that rarely gets screen time without that harpy of a woman, Mary Margaret. Did you catch her Snowsplaining David’s response to Regina’s first choice of ball gown? That woman needs to get out of his way.

Outlaw Queen

Regina doubts she’ll convince the town she can be the savior. Robin attempts to reassure her. He believes in her. But then a Fury grabs him, and Regina’s doubts must fall away as she is called to act the savior, not just claim the title.

When she discovers she must sacrifice a life to save Robin from the Fury, she hesitates only a moment before putting her own life up in trade. Seems those two just can’t stop trying to sacrifice themselves to save the other from harm. That’s one definition of love for you–though a short lived one.

In the backstory from Camelot, Robin throws himself in front of Percival’s blade when he attacks Regina. Regina asks Emma to save his life when she herself cannot, even though Emma will have to use dark magic to do it. And, of course, all magic has a price.

Purple Prose

Henry gets prodded by Gramps to go talk to the pretty teen princess in Camelot and woos her with his strange magical music box that was a gift from the savior for saving everyone from an alternate reality. Yeah, that’ll impress the chicks. And because she doesn’t know anything about popular music, she doesn’t think it strange that he’s got obscure 20-year-old tunes on said music box.

Also not registering as strange: Granny has the same song on her jukebox. What, did Henry write the playlist? I’m beginning to suspect he doesn’t really need a pen.


Rumple is still comatose. Belle shares how hard it is to love the Dark One with Hook. Clearly her feelings for Rumple are strong, not nearly as “over” as she might want to believe.

In Camelot, Leroy buoys Belle’s spirit by pointing out that the rose is half full, not half empty. “Each of those petals is a chance to save him.”


David attempts to soothe Mary Margaret’s clear distress over Emma. He assures her they’ll win and get Emma back. But Snow remains pessimistic–“If we win, Emma loses.”

Swan Queen

Regina negotiates her literal control of Emma’s actions in Camelot to awkward, humorous, and touching effects. But, oh, the fanfic possibilities.

More importantly, Emma is willing to use dark magic to save Regina’s happiness in the form of Robin. She’s willing to pay the price for the magic, even as Ghost Rumple explains that’s not how it works.

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Star Wars Saturday–Comic Review of ‘Star Wars’ (2015) #5

starwars5coverTHE GREATEST SPACE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME CONTINUES! As Luke goes home in search of the truth about his late mentor… …Leia takes Han on a secret mission of vital importance to the Rebellion. Unfortunately, they both run into some unfriendly encounters.

Jason Aaron and John Cassaday continue their run filling in the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The writing and art stay true to the characters, and the pacing remains similar to that of the original trilogy films. We see more of everyone’s favorite bounty hunter as he attempts to track down the young Jedi now on Vader’s radar. Luke nearly repeats a mistake his father once made. And Han and Leia explore the hate part of their love-hate relationship. There are a few call-backs to deep fan knowledge–Luke gets referred to as “Wormie” by a Tatooine local.

As far as single issues go, this one is a bit of a let down. It’s clearly a transition installment, bridging the end of the first act and kicking off the start of the second. Reading it alone, it feels less substantial than the other issues. I imagine, however, that collected in trade paper back, this wouldn’t be a concern. It would just be one of those middle ones you blaze through on your way to the more climactic issues. Still, even in this regard, Aaron is true to the nature of this particular beast. It feels very much like the few scenes following the Battle of Hoth where our heroes split up to follow their various paths and the new narrative arcs get established–Luke going to Dagobah and Han and Leia attempting to lose their Imperial tail.

It leaves me thirsty for more.


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Star Wars Saturday: Earthling Cinema on Eps. IV and V

hanged manI’ve posted about Earthling Cinema’s funny and insightful short videos mock-analyzing films before, but recently they took on Star Wars: A New Hope and followed it up with their own sequel looking at The Empire Strikes Back. The results are pretty fantastic.

As one would expect from this series, they mix together some good-natured mockery of the films with some true insights about the philosophies, motifs, and themes of the films. For instance, Earthling Cinema taught me something new about Empire–that Luke hangs upside down three times in the film, each time using the Force, equating him with the tarot card The Hanged Man.

Also connections to Joseph Campbell, Akira Kurosawa, Taoism, fascism, and Carl Jung.

Entertain and edify yourself simultaneously!

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Star Wars Sunday: Comic Review of Star Wars #1

Star Wars 1 coverAs I reflected upon a couple weeks ago, Marvel has rebooted the Star Wars comic as part of the new Disney-owned Star Wars push for more material. This glut of new Star Wars could be disastrous, maybe, milking the franchise until its dry and ready to be sent out to pasture, but, really, if the prequels didn’t already destroy the brand, could be nothing will. And, to Disney’s credit, the material they’ve been putting out has been high quality and true to the nature of the original trilogy. Case in point: the rebooted comic series written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by John Cassaday.

I finally got to read Issue #1 the other day, and I was pleased with it on more than one level. Let me count the ways I adored it:

  1. I already knew from preview pages and previous experience with Cassaday’s work that I would love the art, but I was not prepared for the many details within that love. Art so evocative of the actors that particular glances pulled me back to a single original trilogy moment: “Who’s scruffy-looking?” Art so detailed that it’s clear this is Luke pre-Mark Hamill’s motorcycle accident. But this isn’t some hyper-realistic art style (like Alex Ross). Cassaday has a realism within his comic-booky line art. Star Wars 1
  2. The plot is caper-based, meaning that each one of this ragtag bunch of misfits has his or her moment. The roles are clear, the characteristics of each are prominent. It even begins to show how they develop between the films of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
  3. Luke deals with the growing pains of force powers in believable and endearing ways. He takes risks he probably ought not to. He hears echoes of Ben in his head, sometimes just flashbacks, sometimes new communications.
  4. Han and Leia have a romantically charged hallway moment!
  5. The more C-3PO states he has a “good feeling about this,” the more the dramatic tension rises to see just what all will go wrong. And plenty does. These rebel heroes have quite the pit to dig themselves out of after this opening issue. I’m excited to see how they pull it off.
  6. The issue could only be improved with a well-curated John Williams playlist to match its action. I challenge one of you to make it. Link in the comments.

Issue #2 arrives next week. Here’s a preview: linked for your spoiler preferences.

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Star Wars Saturday: ‘The Empire Strikes Back Uncut’

Imagine Star Wars remade by 480 DIY filmmakers, each taking 15 seconds each. We got that a few years back with Star Wars Uncut.yoda_uncut_still

Now the second installment has been completed, and The Empire Strikes Back Uncut is a charming, post-modern blast.  This fan-built shot-by-shot remake is officially sanctioned by Lucasfilm, now Disney, so there’s some use of soundtrack and movie dialogue, but m69500_54_news_hub_62792_588x448any of the clips are wholly original picture and sound. There are animations of every type mixed with live action done at various levels of of costume and sincerity. There are clips that are pure parody, and even more sincere ones often have easter eggs. The constantly shifting tone and style makes the film fascinating to watch. The quick switch-up keeps me glued. One clip is wonky? Don’t worry, the next will be different.

As a fan, I loved seeing amateur actors absolutely NAIL the pacing, intonation, and gestures of the original actors. It illustrates their love and care for these characters. These are my people.

And if you’d like to catch up with the original Star Wars Uncut