Saturday, January 5, 2013

Once Upon A Time Midseason Report

Since Once Upon A Time is returning this weekend, I thought I'd get around to doing something I've wanted to do for the past month:  Discuss my thoughts on the first portion of the season.

If you recall, I was a little skeptical with their decision to break the curse at the end of the first season, only because I felt like there was a lot of fuel left in that fire.  While I still think that's true, I have absolutely loved what they've done so far.  The writers seem to have the very wise mentality of ending things before they become drawn out (like, for example, breaking the curse).  This is where, some might argue, shows like Lost and 24 and Prison Break -- to name a few -- might have struggled or come up short.  Now, to specifics (I'm passing on doing a page break, since everyone has had a few weeks to catch up, but the below portion does include spoilers from the episodes before the break).

First off, the decision to send Emma and Snow back to the Enchanted Forest was brilliant.  It was a fantastic way to allow the characters to come to terms with their new and past lives without Emma's interference, and it was a great way to keep her separated from the people she needed to bond with.  All except for her mother, of course, which is good because THAT relationship deserved its own time and space so that they could get to know each other under these new circumstances.  And that scene in what was to be Emma's nursery was absolutely beautiful.  So far, it's been all about Emma.  How she was abandoned.  How she needed to break the curse.  But the closing scene with Snow looking at the destroyed nursery -- and also seeing it the way it was originally intended -- was incredibly powerful.  We came to understand that Snow wanted nothing more than to have a baby, and she was completely deprived of the opportunity to watch her grow.  That's absolutely heartbreaking.  The scene in which Emma destroyed the wardrobe also gave the writers a nice excuse to take a shortcut to their reconciliation.  Emma now understood that Snow gave her up to protect her, much like how Emma risked never leaving the Enchanted Forest to keep Henry from harm.

Oh, and I've got a mini crush on Jamie Chung.  So seeing her as Mulan was fun.

Hook has also been a VERY welcome addition to the show.  The actor does a fantastic job with the role, and I love his whole "gentlemen's villain" persona.  And while I appreciate their desire to treat him as a serious character and to avoid the bumbling nature of his Disney cartoon counterpart, I do wish they would incorporate a little of his classic red into his wardrobe.  Or even his hat.  I mean, Jack Sparrow wore a hat.

His partnership with Cora has also created a very fun and interesting "enemy of my enemy" relationship between Mr. Gold and Regina.  This has made for an enjoyable last couple of episodes.  It should come as no surprise to any of you long-time readers, but I've loved everything about Gold's character this season.  I've long equated him to Ben from Lost, and that never seemed truer than when he gave Henry a "freebie" in order to control his nightmares.  On Lost, Ben had a weakness for mother characters.  He resisted harming women who were mothers, particularly when it was in front of their children.  On Once, Mr. Gold seems to have that same sympathy towards children.  So it made sense to me that the one person he would give something to, with no strings attached, is Henry.

If I had one little tiny "complaint" about the season, it's that they seem to be making everybody sympathetic all at once.  Your primary villains have always been Regina and Mr. Gold, with each of them usually looking a little worse than the other.  However, there was a balance.  When Mr. Gold had a "nice" moment, Regina was pretty wicked.  And when Regina had a tender moment, Mr. Gold was doing something sinister.  I understand that the introduction of Cora and Hook will change that, except Hook doesn't even seem entirely bad either.  I love idea of sympathizing some of these characters and making them more complex....I just wish it was done in moderation.  I mean, I legitimately felt bad for Regina when she wasn't invited to dinner.

Also, while I appreciated the explanation as to why everybody isn't just reverting to their fairy tale names and personas (both identities are part of them equally), I do wish people would refer to each other the way they know each other.  For example, David/Charming openly said he had no idea who Dr. Whale/Frankenstein it makes sense for them to refer to each other as "David" and "Whale."  However, David and Ruby didn't seem to have any special friendship, whereas Charming and Red were quite close.  So why don't they refer to each other as "James" and "Red"?  Snow White and Prince Charming (and quite possibly Mr. Gold and Belle) seem to be the only exceptions to this.

And I also think they missed out on an opportunity to discuss how certain characters might not want to return back to the Enchanted Forest.  For example, the guy who was a mouse in the other world.  Why would he want to leave Storybrook, where he's a human?  How does Dr. Hopper feel, for example?  Does he want to go back to a world where he's a cricket?

Anyway, maybe we will see more of that discussion.  But I'm definitely looking forward to the show's return. Be sure to watch on Sunday!

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