Once Upon a Time 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Well, I caught up on “Once Upon a Time” just before its new premiere and…I’m still not sure what I think about it. On the one hand…

The Good:
1. Elsa’s character remains intact. After her ominous arrival last season from Rumple’s “I’m-scared-of-this” vault and emergence over the last great evil-Zelena’s-dark magic symbol, I feared for the integrity of her flawed, but good heroine personality.
2. This is one of those episodes where everything looked just as it should. This is very important for a show dabbling in iconic images and moments, but from everything “Frozen” to dancing with Belle, this episode was charming to literally watch.
3. We don’t have to go back to the past again! Yay! Personally, I found that storyline in the last two episodes too much stalling for too little payoff, especially since it’s pushing at Regina in all-too-cliche ways.
4. The mention of Netflix was a funny meta touch.

However, the other hand is weighed down with…

The Bad:
1. Finding ‘The’ author of fairy tales??? That’s just not a good idea and my folklorist heart is already pained. I suppose the most acceptable solution would be to find Disney himself, but…then we’ve got a whole other kettle of meta fish happening that’s just too close to home for magic to keep off the fishy smell.
2. Can everyone just stop messing with Belle already? Just STOP IT. One of the things I liked about last season was how she got to call out her tormentors and remind everyone just how raw a deal this crazy optimist, of all people, got in previous seasons. STOP MESSING WITH HER, I DON’T CARE IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW.
3. Obviously Henry is the best option for Regina-company and deterrent right now and it’s plain stupidity and selfishness that keeps Emma hounding her personally to try and prove that she was right.
4. Look, I’ve been trying to reconcile myself to Hook/Emma for an entire season now and having a hard time of it, having Emma share my hesitation is not helping.
5. If an enchanter comes to claim that hat and dares to call himself Merlin without being the most awesome character ever I will hate this show.

Also, I’m not sure which category this goes in, but according to that timeline, the powers of True Love and pixie dust thought that Regina and Robin should get together before she became the full-fledged Evil Queen who messed with Marian, which has to mean that it thought they’d make a better match than Robin and Marian IN THE FIRST PLACE, EVEN! I’m not sure what to do with that. One voice is crying out-don’t mess with Robin and Marian, it has to at least be history!, while the other is saying hah-see, Marian never really should have gotten him to begin with, go Regina! It’s confusing. What do you think of that?

Of course, we still have those nitty-gritty questions to get into about predictions for this season…

The U(gly U)nknown:
1. Will Anna’s journey in the Enchanted Forest run her into more wolves in the form of Red? That is my greatest hope right now.
2. Will Belle get pregnant with a boy they’ll name Chip as a tribute to their love?
3. Perhaps instead of the author we can get Scheherazade who’s been telling these stories to her sultan? That would be cool. Correction, that could be cool. Could also be a big mess, but at least better than finding any kind of author.
4. Can we count Mickey Mouse as an author? o.O
5. It’s probably all going to have to do with Roland and him getting attached to a savior-Regina with her this time, isn’t it?
6. So are Hans and his brothers “waiting to pounce” ruling the roost back in Arendelle? Or did they follow Anna and trap her to try and get her to marry Hans/one of them a la Penelope in the Odyssey? I do like the image of Sven helping to break that up eventually. Or, could be both!
7. This also makes me think that Ariel and Eric and their island is reminiscent of Calypso, the sea’s daughter, and her lovers’ island, no?
8. Which brings me to Hercules and how on first hearing Regina had a second soulmate, I thought of him. He likes dark women, doesn’t he? (Plus, he could have wanted a tattoo of the lion he defeated.) It would be fun if they could have at least a fling.
9. Who wants to bet that “the truth” about Elsa and her powers is that she really has a different father than Anna does, or was adopted from her sister or something, which will make her actually related to Enchanted Forest folk? After all, this show is nothing if not incestuous! See: Hook, chasing after his stepson’s babymama, etc.

Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Any predictions-without spoilers!-or speculations to share?

Once Upon a Time 2×24 finale “And Straight On Til Morning”

There’s no leaving the need for spoilers:

 

-Does anyone else find it highly suspect that the holy Tamara and the sacredness of her quest allow her to leave escape plans with the most selfish males she meets, aka August and then Hook?  ANYONE ELSE feel that’s pretty much a red flag around here?

-So, Snow White is now clearing the darkness in her heart AND proving her and her hubby’s leadership skills by…declaring that she wants to risk the lives of herself, her family, and all of her subjects for Regina’s because it’s the “hard path” and because she still feels guilty over killing her mom.  This is the most selfish, horrible leader thing ever.  Luckily, I love Regina and really need her to live, I just thought we were going to get there through Henry or even Emma’s that-is-wrong-FAMILY feelings rather than hearing one woman using her guilt to imperil her people being portrayed as Great-yay!  And then to top it all off, it is Therapist Approved!  Come on, Archie!

-It is amazing to me that, in spite of being all moonish and anguished over Milah’s image, Hook never seems to think of Bae as Milah’s son, just Rumple’s.  In his private references to him it’s always the Dark One’s son or the kid the shadow’s looking for, only after Bae brings up Milah does Hook use her as a tool to persuade Bae into staying aboard.  This bugs me-just one more way in which Hook’s lovesick story is inconsistent.

-Technically, Cinderella’s baby was also born here, so Henry would have had it for company.

-I am gratified Granny was finally called in as babysitter, though.  Greg and Tamara wouldn’t get past her shotgun at Henry.

-There was a pathetic lack of Ruby.

-Emma’s magic powers are extremely convenient at all times, I must say.

-Was anyone else expecting Belle to wake up, remember all the bad things Gold let himself do at Lacey’s urging, and be all upset at him?  At least a little bit?  Make SOME comment about her Laciness?  After the town was saved, at any rate.

-I loooooove everything Regina in this episode!  On point, focused, and without even any really long speeches or claims.  That is the best media dying ever and no one ever, ever does it!

-Does everyone just assume if the diamond got sent to another land it would just not do anything, as opposed to simply exploding somewhere else?  Cause the random missile plan is truly not heroic.

-We’ve been over this-it took him forever, but Gold has magical security on his shop now!  Did Lacey let the dwarves in?  Also, we’ve been digging up memory-reviving fairy dust for weeks now and Sneezy STILL NEVER GOT HIS IDENTITY BACK???  THE HELL, SHOW?

-You’d think Ruby could survive as a wolf, right?  I mean, her wolf self did get born again in Storybrooke, so it was technically born there, sortof.

-I do finally buy a storyarc of Hook’s in this episode, though.  The reaching of his wearing-down point and willingness to try new tactics was believable and touching.

-These Lost Boys…first, do you suppose the confiscated shadows are then sold to the coachman in Pinnochio to be his creepy shadow workers on Pleasure Island?  Second, why are they dressed like Robin Hood?  Three, if they’ve just been looking for Henry all this time, as opposed to even a small short-list of desirable boys to kidnap, life in Neverland just got reeeeally boring.  I do not find this as Neverland version as intriguing or dangerous as others seem to, because….how frustrating and tedious is that?  Fourth, we saw a lot of scenes there at night.  Shouldn’t we have heard this creepy crying for parents Wendy spoke of?  Five, if there’s a picture of the boy the shadow wants, can’t he see whether he’s got the right one or not?  Geez.

-Please let Tamara and Greg be quickly dispatched and replaced by more interesting higher ups in the next episode.

-Someone could explain how Phillip got revived, perhaps?

-Perhaps we can finally get some Pirates of the Caribbean references?

-Also, Tiger Lily!  Get on it!

And that’s Season 2!

Once Upon a Time 2×21 “Second Star to the Right”

This is the episode where they stopped trying to wrap things up for the finale and just threw things into a box.  Fairly sturdy box, though.  SPOILERS:

 

1. Am I the only one who thought the “I love you”s between Emma and Neal were too abrupt and forced?  Perhaps if Neal, as someone who thinks they’re about to die, had started it as opposed to Emma, who was in denial, I could have bought it.  As it is, I just think that there goes another storyline that could have been interesting, super-condensed and disposed of.

2. I feel Disney really missed out on opportunities for fun references here.  I knew hoping for some kind of “Great Mouse Detective” thing in Big Ben was probably too much of a long shot, but shouldn’t there at least have been chimney sweeps?  A Mary Poppins hat?  A chimney sweep’s broom???  Come on, people!

3. This Neverland story doesn’t make sense to me.  If the Shadow just wants boys-Lost Boys-then why bother with Wendy in the first place?  If it was supposed to be a preview so her brothers would want to come, the shadow was pretty stupid to let her stay so long or tell her about the soil rule.  Why on earth would Bae think pots are a good defenses?  If the real plan was to get everyone in the crawl space, why not start there?  If the Shadow started showing up at the same time as Bae, wouldn’t he wanted Bae instead of the brothers in the first place?  How was Bae surprised about winding up in Neverland?  If he had a lighter up his sleeve to make Shadow go away, why didn’t he just try fighting with it before making the deal to leave the Darlings alone?  And on top of all that…taking in a hungry urchin is one thing, but letting him sleep in the same room as your preteen daughter seems screamingly out of place anywhere, but particularly in Victorian London.

4. Most important thing in this episode: Maleficent lives!!! Hurrah!  I’m going to go ahead and decide that she also survived Greg and Tamara due to that super-survival spell and just shape-shifted again.  Perhaps into a raven akin to her companion in Sleeping Beauty this time?  I felt incredibly cheated that we didn’t get to see the real fight with her.  Her shape and strength was amazing and even Hook managed a good line in her presence.

5. Okay, having Regina use her magic ‘obliviate’ just so she can tell the audience what she wants to do, since it’s obvious it makes no sense for her to be saying this to Henry, takes me right out of the story.

6. Also, what’s with the torture?  If they’d referred to things like no one withstanding the machine or this being Regina’s pit of despair I’d be okay with it, but…it just wasted time .

7. The minute Tamara said “unholy” I checked out.  Not that I was ever interested in that storyline to begin with.  However, if their headquarters can just inform Tamara that gem=a curse failsafe, then…First, that’s insane.  Second, I want this to go back to Jekyll and Hyde, the good doctor founded this to try and stop Hyde before its magic curse killed him.  Third, shouldn’t they be interested in using that technology whatever to make more anti-magic shields or whatever, prevention rather than eradication?

8. This complaint is late since haven’t reviewed the last couple episodes, but: You’ve got a field of magic portals that are your only hope for your desired future and you don’t leave anyone on guard???  I feel Granny or Ruby would have thought of that.

9. It’s a little difficult to take seriously the saying “No one steals from a dwarf!” seeing as most of them start life by doing grunt work for the fairies’ dust, which all goes to them, and so they don’t really have possessions to steal.  Even outside of that, they stick in packs, so it should at least be “No one steals from dwarves”?

 

Overall: Thank God that whole Tamara-Emma-Neal love triangle no one really committed to can stop bungling around.  Kudos for Regina for keeping everyone on point with what’s important.  Who wants to bet Antoine’s got some extra beans on his person since he’s learned it’s good to have failsafes too?  Anyhow, not totally great, but not a bad showing, either.  We’ll see how the finale goes.

“Once Upon a Time” The Stranger (Spoilers)

On Pinocchio:  Okay, I don’t think you can really blame a small child for taking advantage of an escape option if it’s presented instead of trying to take care of a baby, particularly since he was obviously in a situation where he couldn’t do much.  HOWEVER:

-He must somehow have become affluent for years before this-he couldn’t bother to try and look her up?  That wouldn’t exactly have been the huge burden a baby would have.

-Plus, completely ignoring Emma means he wasn’t just deciding not to care about her, but that he no longer cared about ANYONE from his homeland-including dear, old dad.

-Trying to convince Emma because he’s starting to took back into wood and realized he’s dying  is HARDLY just “realizing his mistake and trying to fix it” out of remorse or his own goodness, the way Pinocchio let Gepetto think it happened.  That’s coercion, not kindness or really rectifying.

-He seriously thought convincing Emma would be that simple?  I know he’s not the psychologist, but he’s the one who’s been around other people in this world most of his life, he knows how hard it is for most of them to believe.  He seriously thought that getting her to acknowledge “I’m the boy who found you” would automatically lead to “so the curse is real”?  Also, no one should understand better Emma’s qualms about accepting responsibility.  Pinocchio couldn’t make allowances for that in his plan???  Dumbass.

-So, now he’s just going to go do woodwork with Gepetto, having given up on Emma for the second time.  Quitter.

-I knew I hated the idea of him being Pinocchio, but did they have to make me hate August, too?

-Oh, and that scene with him and Mr. Gold?  “Trust me” and the answer’s about knowing his Pinoccho instead of “you lied about being my son”!?  Also, “that’s none of your business”?  Didn’t think of that when you were getting me to confess and apologize to you, now did you, Pinocchiboy?  I hated that Mr. Gold never called him out on that.  I’ll just assume that Gold’s wish not to remember his difficult moments is purposefully avoiding them.

 

On Gepetto:  It’s amazing to me how so many people here have similar resentments, and so few of them actually draw the lines and recognize the connections.  Gepetto tells Jiminy that the debt he owes can never be repaid-that debt being depriving Gepetto of his parents.  Therefore, he should just let Gepetto….send two small children into a world where they’re not only deprived of parents, but everything else familiar???  Great thinking, that!

 

On Disney: Also, the repeated idea of Snow going through the wardrobe is interesting.  Do the people not know that time will stand still?  Is everyone aware that wold mean that  Snow would be reunited with her prince when she’s decades older than him now?  You can almost hear the sigh of relief that Gepetto stopped that from happening-true love surviving in such disparate ages all of a sudden just wouldn’t be Disney!

 

On the Blue Fairy:  What is up with this lady?  First, she seems to have a lot of access to “the last one” of things.  Is this a coincidence?  Are her fairies somehow not taking care of the magical elements of this world properly and that’s why?  Has she used up her resources so indiscriminately over the years?  I feel like she needs to watch “The Lorax” on magical trees, seeds, and probably other enchanted items.  Second, she really seems to have a thing for Gepetto.  Other people are lucky if she, or any fairy, shows up once.  Gepetto had her magic him a permanent caretaker, help him get a son, turn his son real, agree to lie for him…Did she have a crush on his dad or something?  Third, just what kind of preparations could her fairies make before the curse took over, and how were they more important than making sure Emma, and possibly Snow, went through the wardrobe?

 

“Once Upon a Time” musings

So, I am now officially caught up on the TV show “Once Upon a Time” after a long absence following Rumplestiltskin’s transformation to the Dark One.  I have several (spoilery and speculatory) thoughts:

On Rumplestiltskin:-I know it’s sweet that Rumpletstiltskin created the Dark Curse to find his son, but….goddammit, anyway, I prefer my version!  From the instant I saw his backstory, I assumed Rumplestiltskin had spent years learning about magic’s price, deciding that all magic was evil.  After all, at that point the people we’d seen him destroy were who?  A fairy with a very powerful wand, Archie’s maliciously “magical” sleight-of-hand parents…I was sure he had created the curse as a way of eliminating all magic-which he considered the greatest curse of all.  This would explain why he needed the curse in place, but still wanted to break it.  He’d want it broken so everyone could go home and be happy, just without the dangers and evils of all that magic lying around.  Clearly, this theory is now gone, but I mourn it.  It’d would’ve been so interesting.

On The Stableboy:-This story was well done and incredibly acted by Lana, but…wow, is it a cliche.  This is precisely the stereotypical backstory I was expecting the writers to avoid.  It certainly works, but after all that buildup and suspense, I was expecting something we couldn’t have seen coming a million miles away.

On August:-I really wish that paperweight donkey hadn’t been pointed out as a clue.  That donkey does point pretty clearly to the Pinocchio story.  I hate the idea of him as Pinocchio, especially since a lot of the stated reasons for believing this are that he is somehow turning back into wood.  If Graham can walk around with no heart inside his chest for years, I fail to see why a wooden history should cause problems.  Besides which, we saw Gepetto’s parents sitting around still being puppets, so I expect that Pinocchio would be either fully human or fully wood in this world-not dying from limbo.

-On the other hand, the Pinocchio story has other characters directly connected to Pleasure Island-I wonder why no one is discussing them?  Honest John comes to mind, the character who lures Pinocchio down his dark paths in the first place, and the second one to donkeyhood.  Significantly, he calls himself “Honest John”, while still twisting the truth all the time…just like “August W. Booth.”  Also, his sidekick was mute in the Disney movie-and I cannot think the line “Well, even a mute can draw a picture!” is not a clue.

-Also, so long as I’m talking here, my original theory was that August was a version of the Fisher King/Grail hunger legends.  If FairyTaleLand has King Midas, why not Arthurian characters?  August’s profound veneration for water plays into this, as well as the fact that til this week the time when his legs acted up was when he got close to the water.  He needs it, but he needs it to be magical.  The scene where they cause him pain elsewhere scuttles part of that, but he still clearly pays attention to water and it’s properties.  Again, I don’t know why no one else is focusing on this.  Not to mention that the Fisher King is traditionally dying and in great need of magical intervention.

-My non-Pinocchio theory still in play has to do with the Wizard of Oz.  It’s been noted that his motorcycle has Kansas plates.  I submit that the white scar around his neck mirrors the drawstring holding the Scarecrow’s head on.  Given that the Mad Hatter’s neck-line was still red, in spite of spending a long time in Wonderland, leads me to believe that August’s neck marking has to do with something other than the Red Queen-like being the scarecrow.  Clearly, he prides himself on his brains-going into detail about how Emma’s mind will be tortured by not knowing what’s in his box, fooling Mr. Gold, etc.  This theory also uses his focus on water-he’s seen water melt down the Wicked Witch of the West.  Also, if he regained(?) human form after being stuffed, particularly since the flying monkeys “rearranged” that stuffing rather roughly, it makes sense that his legs might not have enough mass/muscle/form to work without being painful.  The Scarecrow also has the best shot of being someone out of Storybrooke, because he could have traveled with Dorothy via her red slippers.  The fairy who told him of the dagger could’ve been Glinda-I’m betting that when the Blue Fairy said she knew no other way to travel, she spoke the truth.  Also, this means the person on the phone could’ve been the wizard or, my favorite idea, Dorothy.  If only that donkey weren’t there….oh well, I still want him to turn out to be the Scarecrow.  After all, he never did actually answer Gold’s question about coming from the same land as him-he just pointed out Gold already thought he had the answer.  He could still totally be from elsewhere to begin with.

On themes: I find it really interesting how we’re beginning to branch out into the men now.  Originally, the tales focused on women’s evil, how various women become villains or nearly follow other women down the wrong path-which it still does.  But it’s only in these last few episodes that we’re getting to see what the same forces of love, loss, and self-recrimination can do to the men.  In this light, Archie and Gold become doppelgangers.  After Jiminy’s impulsive deed creating a gulf of guilt and loss, he had the boy Gepetto to focus on and make amends to.  After Rumplestiltskin loses Bae, he has no one to make amends to-only characters who scold him in his time of despair (right or not, that was not well played or kind) and who he can only see focusing on to vent his anger and power.  It could have gone the other way for them as easily as things could have been for Regina and Snow.  I like that.  The genie also shows how a twisted love can change the life of men as easily as women.  I can’t wait to see more of this-I hope Jafar still gets a spot sometime.