Monday, December 15, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x11)

I have a Mudslide. That's not necessarily relevant to Once Upon A Time or this week's episode, "Heroes and Villains," but I thought you should know that I am drinking while writing this. Granted, it's a little drink. A small celebratory "I made it!" toast to myself for making it through the first half of this season. Look, let's be frank with each other. I haven't been happy. I think that's readily apparent in, oh, almost every review I've written for this show since the season began. I've been snarky; I've been mean; I've yelled and screamed and cursed and caterwauled (how does one wall a cat?). And I have, in vain, tried to rationalize my own continual watching of what is now an inferior product. So maybe my drinking is also in memoriam to what ONCE once was (ha, word play!) Here's the frankness part of this years mid-season finale: it was a mostly dull, treading water, heavy handed, plot device filled, too soap opera-y written, hour-long melodrama that isn't worthy of the show that once gave me Skin Deep and Manhattan. BUT--oh sweet heaven above, there is a but--there was one scene that really stood out that made me feel something besides a sort of disgust and hatred for this show. A scene that actually made me whimper in sadness and remember what I once loved in ONCE (oh hey, more word play. Must drink more often). But there's also a chance that a little dalmatian puppy is secretly Cruella De Vil and that makes me want to burn things because of the utter stupidity of that idea. Let's do this, shall we?

The (Drag) Queens of Darkness 

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).

So, let's do the most basic rundown of this flashback. Belle, new to the Dark Castle, but not so new that she doesn't fear or resent Rumple's attitude and way of life (the timeline is an illusion, like cake) that when he returns from Camelot, she questions why he needs this weeks's current plot device--I mean the magical gauntlet of feelings but also shows an interest in learning about Rumple's life out in the world since she is a shut in (except when doing laundry...yeah, this bugs). When Belle continues to pester him, Rumple banishes her to the woods to do laundry where she does not try to run away like any sensible human being would do...until she spots a puppy dog. I swear to every deity in this universe, if that dalmatian is actually Cruella and she can turn herself into a dog, I will burn this world to the ground. Talk about a Ruby-esque plot twist that wouldn't be fresh or inventive and woild be, frankly, silly. Let's take the defining characteristic of Cruella, the thing that makes her a villain and make it her secret identity! Riiiight. Also, if true, it means that Cruella is probably Perdita and is looking for Pongo, her long lost true love who was stolen by Roger and Anita. Or something like that. Let's face it, that is something akin to where this is going. Why do the villains want to win? Because they are sad sacks of sad who probably only need love to make them whole!

Oh look. Maleficent got herself a new hat and wardrobe. Raise your hand if you are surprised. If you read my blog, then you know that I did not find the Disney live adaption of "Maleficent" to be...uh....good. 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.

Cleave 

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?

 And so we come to the moment of the show that almost broke me. Before walking through the convenient door (that is open cause LOVE), Anna spills the beans about Rumple being a lying liar from Liar Town (population: Rumple and Clara Oswald). It's an overly silly moment that is highlight by the fact that ONCE had the perfect, ready made reason for Anna spilling the beans that would have made more sense than the magical gauntlet of feelings and Anna's sudden need to talk to Emma one last time: Belle. Have Anna and Belle interact--actual character interaction from people who met in the past that furthers the plot! Shocking I know! Once Anna tells it like it is, Emma and Snow (because Ginny Goodwin is contractually obligated to be in so many scenes, cause other than that Snow added zip to this moment) run over to the clock tower where Rumple is in the process of cleaving (twitch) and crushing the pirates heart (must. resist. making. comments). Rumple is having a rather hard time crushing Hook's sad pathetic (can't resist too much) heart and it turns out because Belle POOFed (or something?) out of thin air with the real dagger. You see, she found the magical gauntlet of feelings and it led her to the real dagger. That's when she knew; the dagger and the power it represents are Rumple's true love, not her. Oh hey. Did the show just kill my (former?) OTP? Did they just un-canonize TL Rumbelle? Huh. Has anyone checked Tumblr? Is it on fire?

At the town line, Belle finally admits the hard truths: Rumple hasn't changed at all. He is hurting people (though she still doesn't know about Zelena) and only cares about his power. Instead of seeing the man beneath the beast, now she only sees the beast. It's time for Rumple to go and thus Belle, using the real dagger, commands him over the own line. It's pretty heartbreaking and Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin deserve a huge round of applause. This was the moment to why I loved Rumbelle and ONCE so much before. Rumple, here, is sacred and lonely and ugly and selfish and cowardly and afraid, and it's breathtaking to watch Bobby act all these things. When he crosses over, Rumple's leg is instantly hurt again and he falls to the ground. Belle can't even look to see if he's gone, she just turns away and that's that. He's already lost her. I don't need my Rumbelle to be all fluffy and gooey. I'm okay with angst. I'm okay with a good story. Belle shoving Rumple away because of his addiction is a good story, and not one that was necessitated by this whole mini seasonal arc of Rumple being super duper evil. They could have found another way to let Belle in on what was going on with Rumple without the sucking hat. What will Rumple do now? Go to NYC of course! Where he finds...Ursula...and they make plans...and wait what? How is she in our world? Oh my god, if there is another plot device door, I will cut someone. Their plan? Find the other two (drag) queens of darkness and find "The Author" and have him write their fate. Or...something. Guys, I'm calling it right now. The Author is some sort of amalgam of Merlin and YenSid and he lives in our world under the name Walter, but you can call him Walt. The Great Mouse will be pleased.

Miscellaneous Notes on Heroes and Villains

--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
Shattered Sight
Heroes and Villains
Breaking Glass
Family Business
Rocky Road
Smash the Mirror
A Tale of Two Sisters
White Out
The Apprentice
Fall
The Snow Queen

Monday, December 8, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x10)

Are you ready for something shocking? I genuinely liked this weeks ONCE episode. There is no caveat to follow that--I won't be qualifying it with "inasmuch as I can like any episode anymore." I mean that I actually, really, and truly liked this weeks episode, "Shattered Sight." I have issues, of course, but even before my utter vitriol ramblings about ONCE, I had issues, so it's not fair to call it a hate-filled criticism. Here's the thing: this episode was silly, stupid and nonsensical. It really was. It was campy and over the top and full of cliche tropes that aren't mold breaking at all. But ONCE knew all that and decided to play with it. If you read my Sleepy Hollow or Doctor Who reviews then you know that I do like camp. I don't find camp to be a bad thing except when camp is being forced on me in an inorganic way. Bo Peep? She was stupid camp because I don't care about her at all. But Evil Queen Regina and Dark Snow White having a sword fight and yelling like half this fandom does...good lord, that is delicious campy goodness. That is camp that I don't mind watching and devouring. This week, the spell of Shattered Sight hit the town--hard--and everyone turned on each other. Meanwhile we get the final loose ends of Emma and Ingrid's backstory tied up (with some overly convenient bows--I'm still me, guys) and everyone prepares to move on to the second half of the season. Sit back and enjoy. I got issues, but mostly I'm smiling. 

What? Your Parents Never Threw You In Front Of A Car? 

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....

Emma finally found a home. Ingrid is kind and warm and treats Emma like she is special and worthy of love. Ingrid is also clearly waiting for Emma to "spark" (erm, literally). Ingrid doesn't even encourage Emma to think of her as a mother, but as a sister. It makes a lot of sense from Ingrid's storyline that this is how she wants Emma to view her, but it's also nice from a foster/adopted kid standpoint. Ingrid isn't forcing Emma to think of her as a parental figure, something Emma had difficulty doing with her own biological parents later in life. Trying to force mother/daughter feelings on a child when they've been rejected their whole life can go terribly wrong (just ask Snow White in Season 2A). But this all ends when Ingrid decides to throw Emma in front of a car. Ok, let me contextualize that. Ingrid has been waiting for Emma for a long time and she rather jumps the gun a wee bit. After a small demonstration that Emma does in fact have some sort of power--light flickering--Ingrid decides that an emotional upheaval is necessary to really jump start Emma's powers. It's not uncommon. Lots of superheroes in comics, ect get their start that way. Something traumatizing happens to them and suddenly their powers manifest; Adam an Eddy are such nerds (and the rest of the writing staff) that I'm not surprised they went this route. In fact, they reference Harry Potter in this episode and Harry's powers really began to manifest on his 11th birthday after a very trying day--side note, but what is with all the Harry Potter references of late? However, Emma doesn't have a Dumbledore to help her; she has a foster--soon to be adoptive--mother who literally drags her out into the middle of the street and tells her to stop an oncoming car! Call to adventure: rejected (go check your Campbell, my friends). Of course when Ingrid tries to explain, Emma run away cause that's how Emma rolls. Suddenly it becomes clear; Ingrid doesn't love Emma, she loves what she apparently sees in Emma--and least that is how is appears to Emma. Like I said above, I truly believe that Ingrid does love Emma as a reminder of her sisters and a quasi-happy life. Emma runs off into the night and never seen Ingrid again. Oh wait...

That was two paragraphs of praise, so let's do some critique. This was just plain silly. I know the show is playing fast and loose with the rules of magic in Storybrooke but there was a lot of convenient plot device items going on here. First Ingrid just magically appears in town after holding the scroll. She didn't even have to cross the town line. It's bothersome that she didn't have to physically transport herself over the line but it's more bothersome that Regina didn't realize that a new lady was in her frozen (oh dear...no that's not a pun or reference) town and setting up shop as an ice cream maker. That's a bit too implausible for the woman who lived in a town that never changed for 28 years and controlled the fates and destines of everyone around her. And then there are the rocks...erm, crystals. They needed to answer why Emma had no memories of Ingrid even though Ingrid was in Storybrooke in season one (apparently) so they pulled out a plot device item. It's from the movie FROZEN but I'm more bothered by the fact that magic is rather "eh" in this town. Regina sacrificed her ring but even then it was barely powerful enough to power the hat (oh lord, that sentence is just strange if you don't remember season one.) It's a bit too magical handwaving. And why is Ingrid just now making an appearance? Why didn't she pop out to see Emma after Emma...you know...broke the curse? Proved she was the Savior? Why not do all this then? And how did Ingrid even know that Elsa would come through to Storybrooke someday? See, this is the part where I'm supposed to ignore all this flimflam and move on, which is ultimately what I'm going to do since I want to enjoy this episode and not bog myself down...but you guys get that this is an issue? It's lazy and sloppy and does try to make sure the audience isn't paying close enough attention. But as I continuously say: I don't have amnesia.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

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.


I have a lot of mixed emotions on how this all ended. On the one hand, it was beautifully acted and, yes, that always counts for something in my book. However, there are a lot of overly cliche moments and in one case, something incredibly troubling--at least for me. The trope of "saved in the nick of time" is an old one and certainly one ONCE has done many times before. It's not new. But they added to it this mea cupla from Anna and Elsa's mother--Gerda--that equated to a giant and very sudden change of heart. The parents regretted trying to change Elsa; Gerda regretted taking away Arendelle's memories of Ingrid and not celebrating her sister's powers, letting her hide away. It's all super (word of the season) convenient. I expected Storybrooke to be saved in the nick of time, but I didn't expect that it would involve an overly trite letter. I guess I should have--there was no way the Big Mouse was going to let Adam and Eddy leave Elsa with the worst parents of the year. They had to go and fix that. But the way it happened: finding the bottle, reading the letter, Anna getting to Ingrid just before Emma tries to kill Ingrid, it's just...convenient. There's that word again. It's almost like god reaching down and giving the villain a redemptive motivation just before the heroes are forced to do something nasty. And, let's be honest, it's lazy.

Which brings us to the real issue I have. It's the big one. Ingrid, having been moved by Gerda's words, knows that she must end the spell of Shattered Sight by (and yes, this is a direct quote) "I have to destroy myself." I have issues. Many of them. First, I know how this reads. It's sacrifice for the sake of others. I get that; but it does have some seriously heavy suicide as a happy ending overtones. Ingrid says that this is her happy ending--bear in mind that when Rumple essentially did the same thing in "Going Home," his proclamation was that "villains don't get happy endings" so he knew this wasn't his happily ever after. But for Ingrid, it is. This is how she will find happiness with her sisters. It's a troubling message for many who find suicide a triggering subject. It's saying that killing yourself is a way to find happiness and that's...not an okay message. Now, to be fair, I don't think it's what Adam and Eddy and the writers were going for, not at all. But I don't think they are aware of how it comes across. They aren't thinking about how viewers will react to this disturbing message of Ingrid bathed in white redemptive light having killed herself awhile proudly proclaiming that this is a good thing. I know there are many that are going to shrug this off and relegate it to "villain who did a good thing in the end" which is fine. I know that what I'm saying is not how it reads for everyone, but I do hope that people can see what I'm trying to say. I don't want to end this mostly positive review on a bummer so here's something fun: snow falling wakes everyone up and the spell has ended. Also: FROZEN ALL THE THINGS is almost at a close!!

Miscellaneous Notes on Shattered Sight

--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

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x11)

You know, I am 100% okay with being wrong. I mean that. I am invested in my shows and my pet theories, but when the show in question does something different and something better than what I predicted, then they get a nice pat on the back. Last week, I predicted that the winter finale of Sleepy Hollow would find Ichabod and Abbie using the hero's sword against Moloch, walking down the monomyth road the show set up in the previous week. Of course, when I made this prediction I had neglected to look at the title for this weeks episode, "The Akeda." Ah, sure. So, the akeda is the story of Abraham and Isaac in the book of Genesis in which God commands Abraham to take Isaac, the only child Abraham has with his wife (and for whom they waited a ridiculously long time) and sacrifice him. Abraham takes his son up to the mountain and prepares to offer up his child to his god. It's a haunting tale and one that always causes a good amount of debate in religion classes. At the last second, God stops Abraham and provides a ram for the father in place of the son. A literal scapegoat, if you will. With that in mind, it seems that the main drive of this episode was the question of would the father sacrifice the son? Could Ichabod take down Henry is it meant getting to Moloch and stopping the Apocalypse? And then the tables turned, though I should have seen it all along because again, it's in reference to the title. In short: very good episode, climatic ending, and now we wait for January. 

Don't get too bogged down in the magic of it all. I'm not quite sure what the four trees had to do with anything except that there are four main characters in the show and it's a nice little parallel (oh, there are five you say. Well. Keep reading.) The four trees do serve as a lei line of sorts, a place of strong magic and a barrier between worlds. It's where Henry rose from the ground and where Jenny and Abbie first encountered their demons. The four white trees are now aflame and with each one comes a new horror to be unleashed on the sleepy town (oh, first pun of the blog!) including such delights as lightening, blood, demon armies (with guns!) and finally hell on earth in which Moloch will be free to really reign down...well, hell. The main part of this episode is about getting people into place and who gets to play hero. There is a lot of changing hands when it comes to the sword. The sword of heroes has a twist: anyone who wields it gets his souls taken and consumed by the sword. So...the sword is Stormbringer and the wielder is Elric of Melnibone? If you don't get that reference, please read more. But whatever the reference point for the sword in the show, it's a big problem for our plucky gang. They all have souls that can now be taken by the sword if they kill. Oh, wait. What's that? Frank Irving is soulless? That'll end well for him, right?

The nature of heroism is often sacrifice and Frank Irving payed the ultimate price. I can't decide how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm worried that this was done to usher in Hawley, whom I like but I was more invested in Frank. And, not for nothing, Sleepy Hollow is praised for its diverse cast and if they replace the black guy with a white guy, it's not going to look good. But on the other hand, Frank's sacrifice meant something. It really did. This wasn't some ridiculous death that served no purpose; it did push the other heroes into being heroes. The moment Abbie picks up the sword and states her intent to wield it, whatever the cost, I thought, "yes that's a hero." If Abbie falls, then she falls, but fear of falling doesn't mean that you don't fight. And when and if Abbie falls, Ichabod will be right behind her to pick up the sword and carry on, and then Katrina and then Jenny. Ending Moloch's terror and preventing hell on earth is more important than the individual lives of the four characters. It's sad but it's also how people view themselves in these type of war-like situations. Soldiers don't want to die, but if they have to...then they die. Which brings me back to Frank Irving (RIP). He went out and took War's avatar with him. It was quite a battle: the soulless man and the suit of armor, sword and axe. I'm sorry to see Frank go, but at least his death did give Abbie and Ichabod a nice "hero speech" moment.

Which brings us to: daddy issues and back to our title reference. Henry is a messed up kid, no? He actively thinks of Moloch as his real father. Ichabod gave him life, but Moloch pulled him from the ground and raised him, making him the Horseman of War. In that regard Moloch is daddy. But Moloch...is a heartless demon who doesn't give one lick about Henry. At one point, Moloch tells him, "there was a horseman before you and there will be a horseman after." Cold, man. Cold. A son like Henry longs for acceptance and approval from his father figure and all season he has been a disappointment to Moloch, and the black horned demon has let him know it. So imagine Henry's surprise when Ichabod isn't willing to kill Henry. Ichabod has the sword of heroes at Henry's throat and he'll use it if need be, but he doesn't want to. If Henry will let him pass and go kill Moloch, all will be forgiven and Henry can live in a world of free will and love and a real family. Abbie, Ichabod, Katrina, Frank, and Jenny? They are family. Henry is but a servant and an expendable one at that. You can tell that Henry is somewhat moved; for a brief second I did think that he would listen to Ichabod and let them pass, but that's too easy. But keep in mind that the words do affect Henry. So when Henry is ordered to kill his mother, Katrina, and then turns on Ichabod I thought just maybe the worst was coming for our beloved Mr. Crane. But then Henry gave this wonderful speech, as only John Noble can, about how a father who would willingly sacrifice his son is no true father. No one should have to obey a paternal god like figure who denies their children love and freedom. It's unnatural. That time is over. And then, taking the sword of heroes, Henry thrusts the blade into Moloch, the sky goes red and....see you all in January.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Akeda

--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

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x9)

The hell? Will someone explain this plot to me? At least the flashbacks...cause what? This weeks episode, "Fall," was some sort of convoluted nightmare where plots became increasingly hard to follow, everyone ran around like chickens with their heads cut off, and I spent most of my time yelling, "just close your eyes for fucks sake!" No, seriously, has anyone thought about just closing their eyes? I know the spell of shattered sight doesn't care about roofs or walls, but it apparently needs to get into your eye, so why doesn't everyone just close their eyes? In other news, Anna and Elsa reunited; Blackbeard is alive (and I have uncontrollable rage), but hey at least Emma and He Who Shall Not Be Named making out didn't break a curse. On the other hand, I had to watch them make out and that's just vomit inducing. Frankly, I'm exhausted. The holidays, work, this show...I just can't bring myself to fully review this one. It's going to be short, it's going to be snarky, and it will probably just be me whining like a bitter fan who doesn't know why her once former favorite show has turned into a cesspool of stupid. Honest to God, and with every bit of respect I can muster, if you liked this episode or this show...just don't read. Don't bother. 

When You Wish Upon A Star (Hopefully This Arc Ends)

This weeks episode features...wait for it...the FROZEN cast! Are you shocked? Are you stunned? Do you need smelling salts? Yes, for the umpteenth time in a row, the flashbacks feature no regular cast members, but only the FROZEN people! I think the writers tried to make up for it by bringing Blackbeard back and making it so that it wasn't all FROZEN people, but it didn't work because mostly I was angry over Blackbeard being alive--you know, the guy Hook intentionally tried to murder. Yeah, they retconned that. Or, if you like, it's illogical. I know I know: Oh, but no body you say! Middle finger, says I! He was cut, there were sharks, and bubbles. The man was dead! And intent doesn't matter one damn bit, right? So now Saint Hook is not a murderer. Cry me a river. Where was I? Oh, right...FROZEN ALL THE THINGS. If anyone out there tries to keep serious track of the timeline, just give up. Just let it go (FROZEN!), obviously the writers don't care and they never will. When the HELL was this supposed to take place? Is this concurrent with Storybrooke's timeline? So, Anna and Kristoff were finding Blackbeard at the same time that Elsa and Emma were trying to find Anna? But...it has been a decent chunk of change since Snow and Charming cast the curse, right? At least a few weeks. Look, I'm pretty knowledgeable about ONCE; I can talk about the timeline with startling accuracy and I have no idea what the heck this was supposed to be. It was messy but the writers don't care. They are hoping that you are looking at all the FROZEN things and ignoring all the terrible. But I'm on to you, writers. Oh yes, my eye scrutinizes everything you do.

Do you see how much trouble I'm even having talking about this flashback?  It's pretty basic, except for the overly contrived, out of nowhere, plot devices (but that's so par for the course with ONCE that I actually laughed at the sudden "magical wishing star!") Basically, Anna and Kristoff wake up; Anna rambles unintelligibly for awhile; Hans comes in because FROZEN ALL THE THINGS; Anna and Kristoff escape; Anna dumps information about a wishing star on the audience and makes some sort of philosophical statement about wizards and pirates and how pirates are better than wizards (subtle ONCE...subtle); Anna and Kristoff meet Blackbeard, a character that made little to no impression on the audience back in episode 17 of season 3; there is some more babbling; there is more Hans; then there is a chest, a joke, and the FROZEN character having a near death experience in a watery grave. And then before you can say "Disney Fan Fiction," there is a magical thing. I can't even pick a point to discuss in this review. Blackbeard being alive because Ariel rescued him is just beyond stupid. Hans showing up unexpectedly at every turn, somehow knowing exactly what Anna and Kristoff were planning, is annoying. The only intriguing thing is that apparently Anna and Elsa's parents DID get the Wishing Star but didn't use it to take away Elsa's magic but only because they did not have pure intentions. Intriguing because I really thought ONCE would ensure that the FROZEN parents weren't the worst parents EVER and have them realize that they shouldn't try to change their daughter. Hands up if you think that's what the message in a bottle is! It's hard for me to keep talking about this flashback; there was so much I just plain don't enjoy or like. I try to find a good thing--like Kristoff being adorable, and he is--but it's still not ONCE. I am tired of FROZEN; or rather, I'm tired of it usurping the screen time and story lines of the other characters. I may hate and loathe Hook with every fiber of my being, but I know he's a regular and he should get flashbacks. Having an entire 11 episodes in which almost every single one is some sort of FROZEN story is such a deliberate marketing ploy. It's insulting that the writers think they can get away with it and not be heavily criticized for making this the season that saved their asses. That's what this is, this entire story: SAVE ONCE! Let's just move on, shall we?

Slowest. Moving. Curse. Ever.

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).


So much of this episode is just plot dump and people running from place to place and comes down to: save Anna or save the town? Belle is Google and informs everyone that they can create a vaccine to the Spell of Shattered Sight but they must have a strand of hair (oh kill me now) from someone affected by the curse at some point. That's Anna, of course. So now the mission to find Anna is really a mission to save the town. There are roadblocks and hard choices that must be made and Elsa kinda betrays everyone (with Emma's help? That was unclear) and goes after Anna, town be damned. I don't blame you, Elsa. At this point, I'd love to see everyone just kill each other and that be the end of the series. Lights fade to black on a smouldering ruin of Storybrooke, corpses lying all over a bloody road. Limbs hanging from treetops, maybe Emma's left finger twitching just a wee bit as we zoom in on her left eye and she closes it, finally dying. Once Upon a Walking Game Of Thrones! That's what it would be. I'd watch it if only to then watch the fandom tear itself apart. Dance on the flames and be queen of the ashes! Where was I? Seriously, this is what this show is doing to me. I can't even review properly. Or maybe it's leftover Thanksgiving coma? Anyway, long story short: Elsa wishes, unintentionally, on her sister's necklace which just so happens to be the Wishing Star (kill me) and POOF! Her sister appears in a trunk on the beach, having been zapped from a watery death. Sure. Let's go with that. It's overly contrived and so super convenient that it makes the Pegasus Sail look like a work of genius.


If you look to your right, you'll see the Odd Couple. Aren't they cute? Not-Rumple has a plan: he is getting out of dodge with his wife and grandson (my mouth hit the floor when they let Rumple acknowledge that Henry is related to him). But in order to do that, first he needs Hook to do him a little favor involving pests and a hat. It's nice that Not-Rumple still hates the fairies and I guess it's nice that he is forgoing his plan to Suck Emma (man, that sounds wrong) into his hat. But at the same time when Not-Rumple drops a line like, "I don't have time for everyone" I have such a desire to knock heads together. Almost one year ago, the man died in order to save the town. "He saved us" my Nealfire said and now, "I don't have time for everyone." And if it comes down to him versus everyone else, he wins every time. Not-Rumple is dialed up to 11 on the evil chart and I guess that's really why they killed Neal. The writers have no idea how to write Rumple as good or struggling to become human again because the creators find goodness to be boring (evidence A: Snow and Charming after season 1), so they keep him evil. In order to do that, you have to take away the thing that drove the goodness more than anyone ever has. So my Neal died because they writers are bad at their job of creativity. (Also CaptainSwan but let's leave that sleeping dog lie). So yes, Hook is all sad face and sucks Blue (that was a fun thing to write) into his magical hat along with all the other nuns. Hook kills nuns! Too bad he's heartless, so it makes no difference at all, right? Intent doesn't count on this show.

And finally the damn spell hits. 42 minutes in, Anna found, and now pretty spell. It actually is quite pretty, I'll give the CGI team a round of applause for that. Everyone is stashed away, hoping that locking themselves up means they won't hurt each other. Snow and Charming are in jail, Regina is in her vault, Kristoff has chained himself to a desk, Hook is...oh, right. I don't care. Belle is in the shop and Not-Rumple is being a fashionista and letting the wind whip through his hair as he takes it all in. Sure. Again I ask why they didn't just cover their eyes (though Elsa did this, despite her being immune so I don't know why it doesn't occur to anyone else...). I will admit that the Emma and her parents moment was genuinely quite sweet, as was the final Snow and Charming moment. It's like the show remembered that they were the start of this whole show! Taking each others hand and promising that nothing could ever come between them--they do share a heart after all--was sweet but also made me laugh because this is ONCE and whenever someone declares something like, "nothing can hurt us!" something comes along and hurts them. Good luck with that Charming family.

 Miscellaneous Notes on Fall

--"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

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x10)

Myths galore! Not that I mind; we all know I like mythology. Welcome to the first part of the fall finale, "Magnum Opus." Unlike last year, Sleepy Hollow is giving me two weeks to digest their finale, for which I am grateful. Two hours is a bit much for any show and when it's full of constant drama and myth, it can get a bit weary. However, I liked this episode quite a bit. There were a lot of fist pumping moments and it was all in the vein of classic heroes going on a classic heroic quest. There's even a magical sword! The hero and his magical sword is probably as old as time. Fantasy, epic romance, historical fiction, historical fantasy, mythology, whatever genre, it's there. The sword might transform into a wand or a light saber or a sonic screwdriver, but the hero needs his weapon to fight the darkness. Know what I loved most here? Yes, there is a literal sword that will serve as a weapon, but there are other weapons at play in this weeks episode: friendship, loyalty, and choice. This episode sent Ichabod and Abbie on a heroic quest against their most famous foe. It felt old-timey Sleepy Hollow with little Jeremy and Katrina and almost no Jenny and Frank. Just Ichabod, Abbie, and a Headless Horseman with a shot gun. This episode had some fantastic dialogue and moments in which both the hero and the villain were tested and could likely perish if not for one thing: know thyself. You got that, and you're golden, kid. 

Which myth should we start with? Well, I've touched on the sword, so let's go there. There is a lot in between point A and point B, so let's summarize. A sword, called Enoch's Sword, was once used to slay many demons and Ichabod and Abbie believe it to be hidden in Sleepy Hollow (naturally). They also believe that if they find the sword, they can kill Moloch who is living as a teenage boy (naturally). This entire quest takes them to a run down building where they must descend underground into a veritable labyrinth and face demons and monsters and self doubt. Oh, hello heroic quest. Aren't you all classic! Heroic quests often follow a specific pattern, though I want to emphasize here that they need not always do so. There is the call to adventure (which is really what season one was, leaning how to be a witness) and, since Sleepy Hollow is only 42 minutes long I'll skip a few, the threshold and descent into the belly of the whale which is where we ended tonight. Let's take them one at a time. The threshold is signified by the seal that leads to an underground cavern deep below the surface of Sleepy Hollow. The pictogram on the seal is that of the Oroboros, or self eating snake, symbolizing eternity and forever. Of course the familiar refrain that goes with the Oroboros is "as above, so below" so Ichabod and Abbie know that they have to cross into the netherworld. I'm using that word loosely here because of course they haven't left Sleepy Hollow (they are only underground) but it's a different world down there. If Sleepy Hollow is some sort of dual state of real and the fantastic, then the underground is pure myth, complete with demonic creatures, tricks, and magical swords that are pulled from stone. The descent into the underworld is fairly common--and you can look at Odysseus and Aeneas for the true classics. There's even a Medusa! Sidenote, but the Medusa is a nice call back to the importance of mirrors in the show either as means of communication or what Purgatory looks like when you cross over.

And when you've crossed over the threshold, you find yourself in what Joseph Campbell calls the belly of the whale. The hero has cut himself (in this case themselves) off from the world and are ready to undergo a metamorphosis. It's important that while inside the underground netherworld, Ichabod and Abbie must keep reminding themselves of who they are. Know thyself or perish. If they do not have utter faith in each other and in themselves, they will fail this quest. Abbie and Ichabod are in a sort of temple between their previous lives--Witnesses who were holding on by the seat of their pants and playing games to open their minds--and their new lives--magical and mythic heroes who have actual weapons to fight the demons of hell. Standing in their way, of course, is the Headless Horseman. I really must commend Abraham's actor for this episode. He was seething with evil; I truly believed he was the Horseman of Death as Sleepy Hollow has conceived of him--evil, a servant of the dark forces. His fight with Ichabod was powerful, two old friends fighting for the world instead of a woman. It was very reminiscent of last season's flashback in which the two dueled over Katrina. In the end, life is a series of choices and both Abraham and Ichabod make theirs. The former proudly declares that he is the Horseman of Death and he chooses Moloch; the latter chooses to be the hero and fight his former friend no matter what. I want to say a few words about Abbie and then Team Witnesses. Abbie is probably the only person who truly knew herself this episode. Last weeks foray into her past with her mother was the final piece of the puzzle and now Abbie is a whole person. She doesn't need to question her role in all this; she doesn't doubt what she must do. She's stronger than Ichabod in that regard. It's incredibly refreshing. Now, as far as Team Witnesses go, it's important to note that they had to do all this together. While Abbie figured out the swords, Ichabod fought Abraham. The oil that housed the magical sword could only be lit by both of them, not just Ichabod. And while Ichabod might wield the sword, he cannot walk this battle alone. He needs Abbie. The message of teamwork and partnership is rather endearing on this show, is it not? He's got torches and she's got flares. Together they bring the light.

Miscellaneous Notes on Magnum Opus

--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?"
"Each other."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x9)

This show really is hitting all the right notes, isn't it? I feel like I say that often, but when I see good TV, I enjoying pointing it out! Last week, I made mention of the fact that there is a very strict formula for Sleepy Hollow this season and that while it's entertaining, and thus doesn't bother me, there is a certain mold that the writers could try to strive and break. And this week they did just that. This week's monster had nothing to do with Henry; the Moloch and apocalyptic plot were relegated as minor and only got a few minutes of on air time. This weeks episode, "Mama" was a character study in the Mills sisters. We've known, for awhile, that Abbie and Jenny's mother committed suicide while in the psych ward after being plagued by demons. The twist was learning that they were literal demons and not metaphorical. That story mostly got shelved, or rather there was nothing much further to develop, but this week, the writers took that story off the shelf, gave it a quick polish, and gave us an entertaining hour that was a nice leitmotif break from the major thrust of the season. The memories of the past come back to haunt us as daughters try to heal from what their mother went through while she lost her mind to the crazy world that our residents live in. And, while our main character Ichabod, took a big back seat this week, the episode was truly good. Also, terrifying! 

 There is a malevolent force haunting Terry Town Psych Hospital. It's causing people to commit suicide in the middle of the night. While investigating, Abbie and Jenny see the ghost of their mother standing in the corner of the victims's rooms, apparently telling these people to end their lives. There is a lot to recommended here; the first and foremost of which is the performance of the Mills sisters. Jenny is obviously still traumatized from being in Terry Town herself, locked up for the same reason her mother was. Being back is hard for her as it brings up bad memories not only of life in the institution but life with her mother, which was no picnic. But Jenny is a warrior; she has seen worse things since leaving Terry Town and it's only made her harder. Even when she is faced with seeing her mother on a final psych video where her mother is clearly out of her mind with fear, Jenny simply takes her sisters hand and braves the nightmares. They do it together. The Mills sisters are the stuff of dreams when it comes to portrayals of strong women. Being a strong women doesn't mean not asking for help and doing everything on your own; it means knowing when you need help. Jenny knows herself well enough to tell Abbie that she is scared to learn more about their mother, and absolutely petrified at the idea of seeing their mother's ghost again. Not that I blame her; Mama Ghost is scary though in a misunderstood sort of way. The real terror is Nurse Lambert, an angel of mercy figure who is killing patients whom she thinks want a way out of this world. Of course, I think it was pretty predictable that Mama Mills wasn't going to be the real villain here; the story was obviously about redemption for Mama and peace and forgiveness for Abbie and Jenny. However, Nurse Lambert was Nurse Ratchard level creepy; very nice villain of the week.

Let's talk about Abbie. I mentioned Jenny and how strong she is, standing next to her sister, but the real highlight of this episode is our Leftenant. Abbie is one of the strongest women characters I see on TV right now. Notice that she didn't need a man to save her; in fact, she insisted that Ichabod stay behind; she asked for Hawlie's help in small manners--bringing soup or supplies, but outside that, this episode was all about Abbie standing on her own and surviving. She too is haunted by demons but she's got this covered: she will stand at the mouth of Hell and fight them off one by one if need be. It's incredibly refreshing. If Jenny is outwardly scared about ghost Mama and what is going on in the psych ward, Abbie is keeping it all internalized and trying to be strong for everyone else. This isn't to say that this is what makes a strong woman, but at no point did Abbie shut down and say that it was all too much or put all her problems on the shoulders of another--man or woman. She was determined to handle it all, and she did. If this episode was about mothers, and it was, then Abbie is mother in her own right and all the different layers that means; though her children were her sister (whom she's always taken care of) and Ichabod, who is held up with a cold and who needs soup and blankets and love. It was rather adorable. But it was also quite nice to show how Abbie the full package: kickass law enforcement and detective, spiritual warrior, and compassionate caring mother. And in the end, capable of crying over her mother and everything they went through, but still standing upright. Bravo to the writers of Sleepy Hollow for making Abbie so complex and intricate.

Miscellaneous Notes on Mama

--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

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x8)

Sex in a crypt. If that doesn't say it all...I am having a very difficult time writing this review. Not because it was the worst episode of the season or even because I hated it. I didn't like it, but at this point I am so totally and completely numb to the stupidity that I spent most of this episode laughing with my friends (shout out to my Ranchettes) over how incredibly dumb it all is. On the one hand, this season's villain wants a family and understanding and love and in short, what every villain wants: everything. Gosh. Not like we haven't seen that before. And on the other hand, we have our apparent new seasonal villain, my former favorite character, Rumple becoming so completely evil that I don't even recognize the man who stood in a dark wood and pleaded for forgiveness from the man he thought was his son, or begged to hold the hand of Neal as he thought he lay dying. I don't recognize this show. It's all about flash and pizzazz and money and making it as Disney fan-fiction-tastic as possible while removing every single bit of heart. And yes, I'm angry that Hook is now the hero extraordinaire and that all of his deeds (because he has done bad deeds) are just being washed away, but like I said above...I'm just numb. This weeks episode, "Smash the Mirror," was two hours long for no good reason other than it's sweeps. Let's just cover the important bits and move on. At least I have next week off and this Frozen fiction is almost at an end. 

Frozen 3: The Horror Never Ends

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.

And this is the story of how Elsa got into the urn. Ready? I can summarize a two hour plot in like a few sentences. It'll be amazing. Elsa will send Ingrid down to the dungeon where Anna is keeping the urn. She will SURPRISE Ingrid by sucking her into the urn and crisis averted. Two sentences! Nifty! Of course, it goes wrong and we get still more talking talking talking. I want talking on ONCE--but not this kind of talking. This is obvious "drag out the screen time as much as possible" taking. Again, short version: Ingrid uses a shard of a mirror to cast the spell of shattered sight on Anna making her see the worst in Elsa and remember all the pain and hurt from FROZEN: The Movie (you may have heard of it.) Anna, under this spell, finds Elsa and--still carrying the urn--traps Elsa. The Frozen Queen proclaims her undying love of her sister, of course, as she goes into the urn because we can't have the FROZEN sisters mad at each other now can we? Two paragraphs to sum up a two hour plot. Do I sound irritated? I'm irritated. I can't really think of any part of this flashback that I actually enjoyed. Once again, it's the ultimate example of shoehorning. This is now the third episode (401, 403, and now 408) to feature almost exclusively the FROZEN cast with none of our core characters. Rumple appears briefly--and I pity Bobby Carlyle having to put on all that makeup for a three second scene. Ready for the final moment of flashback, maybe the only one that was important--and still somehow rage inducing?

 The door can see into your soul! No, that's Charlie the Unicorn. Anyway, look a door! Now this isn't a big revelation; we've seen doors like this before, ones that go to lands with magic. So this door takes Ingrid to a land with magic, right? That would be keeping with canon. Oh, it takes her to New York City. How the hell does that work?? Is this like a super magical door since it's from Walt Disney The Sorcerer? The Sorcerer alone can conjure doors that go to lands without magic? Was it made from an enchanted tree like Emma's magical wardrobe? God, how many more plot devices and "magical transports" can they come up with? Wanna bet we'll never get answers about this door? Just go with it; let it go; the past is in the freaking past. Whatever. Mickey got his hat back or the Sorcerer's hat back, I suppose; Ingrid got herself a magical prophecy and a magical door and was told to wait a long time until she found her new sister who will also be her foster daughter. She came to our world in 1982 where she became a foster parent--because somehow she had all the proper identification and credentials to run an orphanage/group home/whatever the hell.

Orgasmic Rainbow of Self-Love

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.

I guess I have to talk about Rumple, don't I? I really don't want to, mostly because he's not Rumple anymore. I don't know what he is. Rumple is being written as the big bad only for the sake of being the big bad. He wants to be free from the power of the dagger so that he can do as he wants--I guess? I don't know; he won't explain anything properly. In this episode Rumple says, "I never do anything without a good reason." Well, then tell me what the reason behind all this is! Are you suffering from PTSD after Zelena? Are you depressed over Nealfire? Are you bored? Hungry? Why are you suddenly the most evil creature on the fact of the planet? To paraphrase, “Neal is dead, Belle loves me, but it doesn’t matter. I’m a villain.” He makes wrong choices but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t sense to those wrong choices–he wanted to find his son, he wanted to save Bae and Belle from Pan; there were logical and well written decisions. I don’t even recognize my favorite character anymore. Rumple tells Emma that she has a choice--she could not give up her magic but what he hints at, of course, is that this is not the "right" thing to do; Emma is a hero, and heroes always do the right thing. Behind all this talk of heroes and rightness, lurks a man who wants the power of the savior to be sucked into his jaunty little hat so that he can cleave himself from the dagger. He doesn't care that Emma is the mother of his grandson or was Neal's true love. Apparently Rumple doesn't even remember that he's the one who MADE Emma the savior in order to find Neal. She's a means to an end, and he intends to have her. There has always been conflict with Rumple: power vs being a good man, but there was none of that this week. Rumple is just power hungry for no good reason. Whatever. In the end Elsa saves Emma which was sorta nice. It was done though the power of friendship (2 day old friendship, but friendship) and more importantly, through self love which is a big theme carried over from FROZEN. I don't mind themes being carried over, but I mind that they carried over all the FROZEN things. You have to embrace the good and the bad parts of yourself. You have to know that you are both a hero and a villain. It's nice. It's cliche. It's ONCE. And it means nothing because those yellow ribbons find their way on to Elsa and Emma and Ingrid casts the spell of shattered sight by blowing up her mirror.

Let's take a pause to talk about what Will and Robin did this week: spend time in a library. Robin finally comes up for air from banging Regina in her crypt (seriously, I can't stop with this) to find Will and ask him to help do some research. Robin wants to assist Regina in finding the author of the storybook. Will's big idea: library...where they proceeded to stand around and make jokes until finally something actually happens. A piece of paper found itself into Robin's satchel. But not just any piece of paper--a piece of paper showing Robin and Regina kissing in the tavern all those years ago. Like alternative history? Are we going to another universe where heroes are villains and villains are heroes? Or where Regina and Rumple make different decisions and alter the course of history? Or is this showing that Regina finally accepted some #hope in her life and suddenly BOOM new page? Do I care? I don't like this book plot because it leads to Regina saying and thinking that the book made her villain, not her actions--you know, actions like cursing an entire land, murdering people, and raping a man for 28 years. THOSE actions. But no...not a villain at all.

Miscellaneous Notes on Smash the Mirror

--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