‘The Savior’ is a slightly odd season opener, being very slow paced and light on content. Considering that this week’s instalment chooses to forego the flashbacks, which long ago began to feel like filler, it doesn’t feel like much actually happens. A few of the ongoing plot threads are introduced but it is still hard to know what direction this season will take.
Emma’s story seems to be the most touched upon as she begins to experience visions of her future, seemingly portraying her untimely death. Beginning with an opening briefly showing Aladdin, a past saviour, receiving a warning from Jafar that Saviours don’t have happy endings, this season seems to be painting itself as Emma’s last. However, I’m about 90% sure the show will pull one of its standard tricks to get around Emma’s death, making it difficult for the storyline to really resonate so far.
Meanwhile Regina is struggling with life without Robin, causing tension with her sister Zelina who she blames for Robin’s death. The removal of the Evil Queen doesn’t seem to have changed Regina much so far, except now she gives Snow White style speeches about hope. I really would have expected the changes in Regina to be more profound, considering how much stock they put in removing her dark side at the end of last season.Following on from last season’s reveal of characters from The Land of Untold Stories entering Storybrooke, it is quite surprising that we still have yet to be introduced to any of them. The arrivals are shown at a distance but none have been named, let alone shown up close. So far Mr. Hyde isn’t proving a very menacing threat; after an initial brief battle, he is taken down in a matter of seconds thanks to a device from Doctor Jekyll. It seems like the writers are keeping this thread on the back-burner for now but it would be nice to have at least a hint of where they plan to go with this storyline, beyond forcing a bit of steampunk into the show.
Rumpelstiltskin finds a way to awaken Belle with the help of Mr. Hyde, discovering a way to travel into her dreams and wake her with true love’s kiss. These sequences mostly serve to remind the audience of their backstory, taking place in the time when Belle was Rumpel’s prisoner. The use of ‘Tale As Old As Time’ as the pair dance is quite sweet, even calling back to the cartoon with the dress Belle wears, but as a whole the only thing gained from it is the reveal that their unborn child is somehow manipulating this.
As a whole the episode is full of too much set-up, lacking in anything substantial to really draw viewers back. Furthermore, so many of the threads feel like they have been explored before, particularly the Belle/Rumpelstiltskin plot which is trapped in some endless cycle. The reveal that The Evil Queen is in Storybrooke and looking to team up with Zelina is a potentially interesting thread; she is sure to make for a more interesting villain than Mr. Hyde for one thing. Hopefully next week will show more of what she intends to do, as well as helping to differentiate this season from what has come before.