Monday, December 15, 2014
Look! A plot device! And we're only 10 minutes into the show. I doubt that is a record for ONCE, but it is certainly rather early. Normally the magical deus ex machina nonsense comes toward the end just when all hope is just about lost. It's a magical thing! From a magical land! That does magical...something? I don't know. It leads you to the person's greatest weakness which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. First off, how does it know which person to seek out? Does you have to tell it, "okay magical gauntlet. Find me the weakness of Mr. Bob!" And then it (magically) finds the weakness of Mr. Bob? Does it pull you along? Does it float toward the person at rapid fire pace? How does the person doing the seeking then keep up? Does it POOF you? Does it require blood, hair, nails, semen? God, I hope it's not that last one, though did anyone else think there were quite a few suspicious fanfiction like lines coming from Rumple and Belle this week? I mean, I swear I've read some of Rumple's dialogue in Rumbelle fanfiction over at A03. Anyway, this is the first non-FROZEN ALL THE THINGS flahaback in a good long while (okay, except for one tiny part that was done only to appease the masses of FROZEN fanatics but we are so totally skipping over that mishegas.) Instead, we are treated to a rather timeline wonky Rumbelle centric (featuring DISNEY ALL THE THINGS--that's going to be my new thing guys; get used to it). When was this supposed to take place? I assume it was early on in Belle's stay because of the unreliable curtains being closed, but at the same time, Rumple lets Belle out in the woods...by herself...where she can run away? When it was pretty firmly established that Belle never left the castle until Skin Deep when Rumple let Belle go for good? So, what...he trusts that the girl he is holding captive in a dark cell isn't going to up and run away when she's out doing his laundry? Yeah, that sounds logical. And later, in the present day, Belle says that this particular flashback was the first time Rumple saved damsel-in-distress-can't-do-anything-because-she-is-not-really-Belle and that this moment was when Belle first began to see the good in Rumple, the man beneath the Beast. But in "Lacey" she begins that episode by crying over her forever-vacation in the Dark Castle and by episodes end, she sees goodness in Rumple when he gives her a library after sparing Robin and Marian. So...what? It goes back to something that I've touched on before and will likely do so again: the writers don't care about the past episodes. They care about the here and now, the current story arc, the current magical villain and their problems without trying overly hard to stick to canon or established fact. They are hoping that their audience has amnesia (I do not) and won't care that their flashbacks are feeling increasingly disjointed and bizarre (I do).
My review was less than happy but at least ONCE had established Mal in her own right on their show. They actually decided to step away from her Disney incarnation in the first season and I found that to be delightfully refreshing and entertaining. It was something ONCE was founded on: these are only the stories you think you know. They could cater to Disney but not take him absolute. Now, we've got Mal decked out as the Mistress of All Evil, with a dragon staff, the demon horns, wearing all black and looking incredibly Jolie. I know the DISNEY ALL THE THINGS is a controversial topic in this fandom. It does seem like Adam and Eddy can't win. On the one hand, if you don't make the Disney incarnations close to their Disney counterparts then people are going to complain. But going too close to Disney--as this show is now doing at an increasingly alarming rate--also causes people to complain. It's clear that Adam and Eddy "changed" Mal's wardrobe not for story reasons but for money and marketing reasons. Now she "looks" like Mal--Disney's Mal, at least. And that's what matters to the Great Mouse. The second you see Snow wearing that appalling red, yellow, and blue getup, run for the hills, though. That's a sign that the Mouse is really running this shindig. So what is up with these three (drag) queens of darkness? What do they want? Who the frack knows or cares. I'm not kidding. If ONCE is constant in one thing, it's that these three--Mal, Cruella, and a really horribly dressed Ursula--will have tragic backstories in which they became villains because they had their hearts broken or lost loved ones or had bad fathers and mothers. That is how ONCE operates: by formula. Take villain X. Give them roughly the same backstory that is full of sad, connect them to either Regina or Rumple, and present it with a new shiny bow, trying to fool your audience that you're reinventing the wheel. There is no invention anymore. Everything is so literal: the Rock Trolls were actual Rock Trolls! The Wishing Star was an actual Star necklace! The fact is, right now, I know next to nothing about what these three (drag) queens of darkness want. They apparently faced Rumple once before and were his students (oh god help me...that means one of them is in love with him!) but that's about it. They mostly just whine that the "game" is rigged and they can't win because they are villains. Well then maybe you shouldn't do villainous things! It's not a hard concept! I fear that ONCE is actually going down this rather bizarre path that destiny (or The Author) made these people villains instead of the villains doing really terrible things. It's horrible morality (pipe down OutlawQueen, I'll get to you) and it flies in the face of "evil isn't born, it's made." In the end when Cruella says, "the game is rigged" I almost threw my imaginary popcorn at the screen. Which takes us to....present day.
The plot device broom found the plot device door! I...weep. Now that the FROZEN ALL THE THINGS storyline is done, the writers finally turn to the Rumple-is-Evil storyline. And we got a full explanation for why Rumple has been acting the way he has all season! And boy was it good. You see Rumple...nope, wait. Sorry. I lied to you just then when I said we got a logical, well thought out, well written reason. We got jack squat about his motivation except power is good, I can have it all, and power power power. Here's what really irritating me, this idea that Rumple has never given up power before. Does anyone else remember when he threw the dagger at the Wicked Witch, finally choosing Neal over his power? How he allowed himself to be taken by Zelena in order to save his child? Does no one on the writing staff remember the only good (using that word hella loosely) thing about the worst episode of ONCE ever? So, now, at the end of all this, why in the name of sanity is Rumple even doing all this? What was his plan after he cleaved (twitch) himself from the wavy knife, to quote Anna? Go forth into the world aaaaaand? And would the dagger even have any power over him in the real world anyway? There is no magic out there, right? That's the whole point of sending Marian over the town line, to cure her FROZEN heart? So then doesn't it follow that the dagger shouldn't be able to control the Dark One out in the real world; he shouldn't be beholden to it because its magic is rendered null and void? So he needn't have gone through with this cleave (twitch) storyline in the first place? In other words WHAT THE HELL WAS THE DAMN POINT OF THIS ENTIRE RUMPLE STORYLINE EXCEPT TO ONCE AGAIN SEPARATE RUMPLE AND BELLE AND MAKE RUMPLE INTO THE MOST EVIL PERSON IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE?! Answer: because Adam and Eddy have no idea how to write "good" characters because they are too fascinated by the dark. Look around, folks. How much Snow and Charming did you see in this weeks episode? The episode was called Heroes and Villains...but where were the original heroes of our show?
--There was a lot of stuff that I left out because it doesn't really deserve my full attention, so we'll do this bullet point style. Up first, OutlawQueen. Goodbye Robin! Actually, I thought Regina letting Robin go was quite touching. She was chosen, finally, but in the end it doesn't matter. If Marian doesn't get across the town line, she'll die and Regina won't have more blood on her hands. Character development. Atta girl. Will we see Robin again? I sorta hope not. In the end, I can't support this ship, not after sex in the crypt and the fact that Regina makes Robin want to be a man without honor and principles.
--Next up, CaptainSwan, albeit briefly. How is it that Emma doesn't question Hook, at all, about his goings on with Rumple. I mean, she still doesn't know about the hat sucking and the nun sucking. Is she ever going to find out? Is no one concerned that the nuns are missing? Why haven't they realized that ALL THE NUNS ARE GONE?! No, seriously. Rationalize this for me.
--One more FROZEN ALL THE THINGS reference. This time "chocolate!!!" complete with the giggle. Gah. I won't miss this arc.
--Henry and Belle scene! How adorable! But Henry didn't mention Neal when discussing New York City. That's just wrong.
--"You have a hole in your heart." Yes, and its name is Neal but you'll never hear Rumple talk about it ever again.
--A bird that poops sand dollars that talk.
--Normally I'd do some sort of season/mini season wrap up, but like season 3B, I'm too exhausted from ONCE to even try. At least, not a full one. I do want to talk about one thing and that is: why we don't let mega corporations run art. They have different agendas. No one will deny (and certainly not me) that TV is also a business that requires cold hard cash. But mega coprs, a la the Great Mouse, don't care about art for the sake of art. They care about their bottom line. If anyone really thinks Disney isn't calling the shots now on ONCE, let me tell you this: guess what comes out of the Disney vault in February, a month before ONCE returns for 4B? Yes, 101 Dalmatians. Is it any wonder why Cruella is showing up now? It's marketing. It's all clever marketing where the two--ONCE and Disney--play off each other. It's very "you scratch our back, and we'll scratch yours." There is no heart to this show anymore, well not substantial heart anyway. It's all about the big shiny object to play with until the writers get bored and move on. While I like the 11 episode arc structure because it does give me a long break, it's killing the emotional center of this show. Why bother getting invested? Why bother theorizing when the writers use not-so-clever magical handwaving to wrap up the story in ways that the audience never saw coming? What's the point of getting involved in Anna and Elsa when a magical wishing star unites them and a magical door takes them home (where apparently they defeat the invaders of Hans and his brothers in like a day...?) Adam and Eddy don't care about storytelling anymore; they care about product. They aren't mutually exclusive, but once upon a time (more word puns!) they cared about one more than the other.
--Final Grade for Season 4A: C- (though, for the record, I liked Ingrid way more than I liked Zelena)
--Final Episode Ranking for 4A
Heroes and Villains
Smash the Mirror
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Snow Queen
Monday, December 8, 2014
First, I gotta sing some praises about Elizabeth Mitchell. As someone who was devoted to LOST for six years, I really grew to love Miss Mitchell and even followed her to "V" and "Revolution" and she manages to deliver a solid performance every week; you know, in spite of the rather torturous dialogue and bizarre plot lines. What worked really well this week for the flashbacks was that it wasn't heavy plot. There was little in the way of super magical devices (except one and we'll get to that) but rather it was emotionally driven. Ingrid might be somewhat creepy and slightly off kilter, but you could tell that she really did love Emma and that Emma really did love her. It was heartbreaking knowing that little Emma almost had a family and then lost Ingrid because of what essentially amounted to as "lack of patience." Ingrid is a bone chillingly cold villain because she doesn't much care about the people she hurts while getting what she wants; she's a bit like Cora in that regard with her, "I only just arrived in town" after killing someone she didn't know. She is also a lot like Rumple and there were some obvious parallels to Rumple in "Going Home." It works in a lot of nice ways--the villain who does get her happy ending because of love and self realization. Now, I do have a lot of issues about how it worked out in present day (and we'll get to those) but overall Ingrid as a villain was great. I believed the emotional storyline even if the plot storyline was weak and cliche and rather silly. But back to Emma and Ingrid....
The present day conflict of this episode is really two (and a half) thrusts. There is the main plot of Emma, Elsa, Anna, and Ingrid and then there is the overly campy but oh-so-good silliness that is Regina, Snow White, and Prince Charming having a verbal and sword play fight. Let's take the latter first. Regina decided that Emma was to blame for all her woes (which doesn't make sense since the spell didn't take her memories..but whatever). When Emma releases Regina from her vault (in order to get what I can only describe as a laughably stupid plot device), Regina makes for the sheriff's station and finds Snow and Charming locked up and decides this is much a better plan--kill the Charmings! It's old school ONCE and it's very episode 301 where Regina and Snow have a fist fight. Only this time Charming is more or less on no one's side. It's all rather glorious. It was exactly like fandom fighting: the Evil Regals yelling about how Snowflake promised to keep a secret and the Snow fans yelling about how she was only 10! I swear, it's like Adam and Eddy and the writers went to Tumblr and paid attention for a hot minute what was going on inside their fandom. There were a lot of really great one liners that will probably make their way into my notes section, but outside of that, there is something I want to talk about: the ending. Regina and Snow and Charming are taken out of the spell and they laugh. There are no hard feelings, no shouting, no hurt feelings. It was a curse that they all had to suffer through and they've come so far in the 4 seasons that they can actually just joke about it now. I know I give the show a lot of grief that it rightly deserves about character, plot, and story but this was a nice reminder of where we started--Regina declaring that breaking up Snow and Charming and cursing everyone was her happy ending--to where we've got to. The situation and the fight are so preposterous that everyone just laughs. Two years ago, Regina and Snow would have been hurt over what the other one said and let it stew. Now...not so much. Well done, all around.
--Madame Faustina was both hilarious and slightly unnecessary.
--Should I talk about Not-Rumple? Probably. I am at my wits end. So he really does want world domination? And he's planning on releasing darkness on the world? I really and truly am lost with him--and it's not just a character development standpoint; it's confusion about the actual plot. What is his plan for after he has cleaved (twitch) himself from that dagger? On another note, if he says cleave one more time, I might throw my TV out the window.
--Speaking of Not-Rumple again, does anyone understand the logistics viz a viz Not-Rumple, Belle and the shop? Because this is how it played out: Not-Rumple puts Belle in the shop and puts up a protection spell; then the Shattered Sight spell hits; then Not-Rumple goes...back to the shop and Belle isn't there? So what he put her under a spelling spell? He knocked her out? I don't understand.....
--Hook and Henry were funny and huzzah! Henry never liked him anyway! Atta boy.
--Ready for some funnies?
"He's a baby not a breakfast burrito!"
"Hey Swiss Miss. I pick flowers, I talk to birds. I do all sorts of warm fuzzy things. You know what else I do? I kill. I killed the evil queen's mommy. I said I was sorry, but I didn't mean it."
"I don’t know who you are, but why don’t you go back to where you came from.” POOF
"You said you could keep a secret!" "I WAS 10!!!!!!" (that one takes the cake if only for meta fandom reasons.)
--Snow and Charming's kiss....totally a callback to 122 "A Land Without Magic" which will always be one of the finest hours ONCE has ever done. I actually got teary eyed.
--If you saw next week's promo...don't ask me to explain. I've known for awhile who is coming for the second arc and yeah, I'm not entirely thrilled. One more episode to go...
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
--Ichabod on a motorcycle and loving it. Bless.
--"All magic has a cost." Sleepy Hollow, we are good friends but if you reference ONCE ever again I might have to reconsider you.
--Ichabod and Katrina are in some serious hot water with regards to their marriage. They view each other now as comrades. I honestly do believe too much has happened for them to truly find their way back at this point.
--Frank slaying the avatar of war with a sword is a bit ironic, yes?
--"You brought roots to a sword fight?"
--What happens now? Is Henry gone? Redeemed? Is the Apocalypse over?
Monday, December 1, 2014
When You Wish Upon A Star (Hopefully This Arc Ends)
A curse is coming to Storybrooke. That's never happened before (there is so much sarcasm laced in that sentence). I will say this: this curse intrigues me. It does open up the door to a few interesting plot developments and points and potentially good drama. I am hoping that this spell, that will cause everyone to see the worst in each other, will actually do some long lasting damage to a few people that really need their (excuse the pun) eyes opened (looking at you Regina and Robin). But, do you know what annoys me? If you answered ONCE, then, yes, technically you are right, but that's not what I was going for. Emma is immune to the curse meaning she won't be looking at Mr. Sad Face Pirate Boy and seeing him for who he truly is. The one time she might see that she's dating someone who has abused her, left her in jail to die, denied her right to get home to her son, shot an innocent woman, got women liquored up to take back to his boat, and sold Baelfire to Peter Pan...and it's not going to happen. Emma really will never know that the kind of shit that precious Killian has done. It's so infuriating. Actually, it's beyond that but I'm struggling to put into words how ill I feel over this. I'm breaking one of my cardinal rules about blogging ONCE by even mentioning the ship that shall not be named, but it's honestly so unfair that Emma is never going to learn the kid of man she is dating. Even when Emma learns about Hook's adventures with the hat and the sucking of the humans, Hook has a good ol' excuse involving blackmail and his heart being kept in a stylish lawyer bag by the guy who is pretending to be Rumple (that's not Rumple. This is what I'm telling myself to just get by at this point. This isn't even Pod! Rumple; this is just straight up NOT Rumple).
--"Enjoy your trip." Elizabeth Mitchell is the saving grace of this arc.
--Let's try to climb over the ice wall!! But why not use a dwarf axe? Aren't they stronger than anything? Shouldn't they be able to knock it down with the device that it is so strong it breaks up DIAMONDS?
--"We're relying on mirror dust and fairies but we have a plan!" Sometimes the writers do realize how stupid their show is.
--"And I sang with you!" FROZEN
--I am consciously ignoring anything and everything that is Robin and Regina.
--If I took a shot for every time someone said FROZEN this episode, I'd be dead.
--If Rumple says cleave one more time.....
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
--Very little Jenny and Frank this week, but I suspect we'll see them next week for part two of the finale.
--Katrina and Jeremy had a very intense conversation in which Jeremy rejected his humanity with every breath in his body. Time to give up this ghost, Katrina.
--"Our quest is not without peril" "We can't have lunch without peril."
--"Good morning, Sunshine."
--"I was supposed to be the hero of this story, not the villain."
--"What do we have that they did not have?"
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
--Katrina and Henry and the super growth spurt baby! It's like a 1990s situational sitcom. But, seriously, that baby was freaky. But I am happy they didn't spend too much time on Katrina this week.
--Ichabod with a cold and soup was adorable. Loved him struggling with the bottle of pills.
--Detective Frank burst out of the psych ward! The team is back together!
--Next week is the fall finale and it looks amazing.
--"When I am well, there shall be hell to pay."
Monday, November 17, 2014
Short version: a plan to trap Ingrid in the urn goes horribly awry because of course it does.
Long version: Ingrid isn't happy that her family is falling to pieces--oh, mirror pun! This is the biggest reason why this episode did not need to be two hours. This entire flashback could have easily been done in one, but they felt the need to drag it out as long as possible by making everyone speak in really clunky dialogue. Most of the two hours was just explanation and exposition: "this is a plan that we have come up with after we learned this information about this other member of our family! We will now explain it to the audience who are too stupid to comprehend sense and logic!" I don't need five minutes of Elsa and Anna discussing their plan for Ingrid; it's pretty obvious that they are going to trick her into the urn. And it doesn't help that most of this conversation is also just an excuse for Anna to say "funny" (notice the quotes) things. The writers knew they needed to flesh out two hours worth of TV so they put in as much filler as possible. Of course this plan is going to go horribly wrong. Of course Elsa is going to end up in the urn by the end of all this. Of course Ingrid will having something to do with it. Of course Hans is frozen in a wardrobe. Wait, what? Why? Why is Hans in a wardrobe? Oh! I know why! It's so Anna could say, "he's...FROZEN." Get it? FROZEN. He's FROZEN, guys. Like the movie. You know, the movie that made billions of dollars and is now singlehandedly responsible for saving ONCE's ass? Yeah that one. Whatever.
Short version: Emma's plan to get rid of her magic goes horrible wrong because of course it does! And Rumple is a monster.
Long version: Emma's magic is still fritzy and everyone in town is super worried--except for Regina who wants to have more sex with Robin the crypt where her father is buried. Fuck this show. I'm sorry. I normally don't openly curse like that on this blog, but I needed to. I will, henceforth, be ignoring all OutlawQueen nonsense until someone smacks some sense (and morals) into Adam and Eddy. Emma accidentally hurt Henry which causes her to want to get rid of her powers for good; thus, she goes to the only person who can probably help her: Rumple. Well, isn't that jolly and super convenient? Luckily, Rumple has just the thing that will make Miss Swan's magic go poof like so many hopes and dreams I once had about this little show. He's gonna suck her into that hat! But, because this episode is 2 hours long, we have to drag it out with a lot of silliness. The Charmings need a pep talk from Regina (are you kidding me) because they've decided to give up on Emma and not to do the right thing by going after her and stopping her plan to get rid of her magic or at least TALK to her. Robin and Will Scarlett need to spend time in the public library making wisecracks about Cats in Hats (dear lord if the season 5 villain is the Cat in the Hat...) and we all have to act like the tiny little scratch on Henry's neck from Emma's power backfire is a life or death situation that could result in Henry bleeding to death at any moment! Lord. Give me strength. Oh, and there is some nonsense about Hook and Rumple and Hook's (too perfectly red) heart.
--Seriously, why was this episode two hours long?
--"I have his hat." Such good dialogue.
--Emma suddenly hates Happy the Dwarf! If you're familiar with ONCE fandom then you know that this might be a reference to the hell that went down between actors Jennifer Morrison and Michael Coleman (Happy) when the latter said something about SwanQueen. ONCE writers: always professional.
--Is Will an alcoholic?
--And Anna didn't just close her eyes when the shards of glass were flying towards her slowly because...?
--"I undid all the good. Neal is still gone; the town is still in danger; and Belle knows who I am, and that's a man who always chooses power." Sigh. I miss the Rumple I would have defended unto death.
--You have no idea how badly I was hoping that Rumple would crush the Pirate's heart.
--Sex in a crypt. Ladies and gentlemen: Once Upon A Time