Monday, March 30, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x16)

About two and a half years ago, sometime in the heyday of S2, I had a conversation with a friend about parenting on OUAT and one of the differences I saw between someone like Rumple and the power-saint couple that is Snow White and Prince Charming. It went a little something like this (for dramatic reasons, please imagine that my friend and I are in a cafe drinking espresso. Also, I'm wearing a beret. I don't know why except I think they make you look smarter). 
ME: But the thing I love about Rumple is that at the end of the day, his whole plan is to get his son back. He's a father looking for his little boy. What wouldn't a parent do to get their child back?
FRIEND: Not rip holes in the fabric of the universe.
ME: Really? What about Snow and Charming? They put Emma in a magic tree; but what if she was taken from them, or they lost her through their own selfish act, like Rumple and Bae?
FRIEND: Snow and Charming would never tear a world apart to find their daughter. 
ME: Well...then what does that say about them as parents?
 This conversation never seemed more appropriate than after this weeks episode, "Best Laid Plans." I must admit that this episode shocked me. Good shock or bad shock? Don't know yet. But what does stick out is that the flashbacks, in particular, really fit with one of the most repeated themes on this show, parents doing whatever they must to give their child their best chance and damn the consequences. It's not something we've heard uttered in awhile, but that motif has always lurked around ONCE since the pilot. Snow and Charming giving up Emma; Emma giving up Henry; and even in his own twisted, selfish way, Rumple becoming the Dark One for Bae (and of course, even more twisted than this are Cora/Regina and Malcolm/Rumple). The question I'm supposed to be asking now, at the end of this episode, is are Snow White and Prince Charming really heroes? And did they do the right thing? Grab your magical unicorn horn (Plot Device #235621) and let's go!

Congrats, It's A Dragon-Human-Egg?

"She turned into a heinous dragon and laid an egg." Ladies and gentleman, Once Upon A Time. This episode was designed to get me to question, honestly and sincerely, how I feel about the Charmings. I have a serious issue with the idea that in order to redeem a villain or make them sympathetic, you first have to lower the heroes to the level of the villains and make them the impetus for the villains actions. Snow White and Prince Charming stole a baby dragon egg (that had a human inside....that was confusing and creepy) and emptied their daughter's darkness into it because they couldn't possibly have a daughter with darkness and who has the potential to be evil. Does this feel in line with the characters of season one? I honestly don't know. Snow (and yes, I am going to talk mostly of her because Charming has always been her sidekick and never anything more substantial) was the one who pushed David to put Emma in the wardrobe because they had to give Emma her best chance. But Snow's also the one who felt guilty over what she "did" to Regina (she was 10!) and also knew the burden of leadership passed on from her mother and knew that she had to be brave and kind and not selfish--like saving her mother, Queen Eva, would have been because it would have cost another life in return. This is the same Snow who only banished Regina once they retook the kingdom; when offered the chance to execute the former Queen, Snow decided that it wasn't the right way and preferred "peace." So how do I reconcile these very different Snow White's? I guess I don't, but neither do Adam and Eddy. On the one hand, Snow going to extraordinary lengths to protect her daughter seems to fit; but I also don't see Snow truly believing that her daughter was doomed to darkness--that there was no choice on the daughter's part in the matter. Snow doesn't once stop to think about how her daughter has a choice in her darkness and that it's Snow's job to help guide her child down the right and light path, something that does feel out of character. The hardest part here is knowing that some poor innocent baby suffered because of the Charmings. Who knows what sort of future--happy, sad, normal--that baby could have had if the Charming's hadn't interfered.  The heroes are now responsible for multiple villains suffering; in Regina's case it's a perceived slight (no one will ever convince me that Snow did something *super horrible* to Young! Regina) but in Mal's case, it's an honest to heaven evil act. Maleficent pain was palpable and I did feel very bad for her. Who are the heroes and who are the villains? Isn't that the overarching theme of this season and arc--that the lines between those two seemingly black and white dichotomies are anything but?

I am talking myself in circles, I know, but it's honestly because I don't know how I feel about this. I can't straight up hate the Charmings for what they did to baby-dragon Lily (of course it was Lily; let's all move beyond the element of shock and awe here since there was none). How could I? Like my initial paragraph stated, what wouldn't a parent do to save their child? The issues comes in thinking that the child--Emma--needed to be saved in the first place. Bae was going off to war; he was going to die, there was really no question of that. Without Rumple taking up the mantel and becoming the Dark One--for selfish, desperate, and noble reasons--his child would have die and he would be dust, as he so famously says in "Desperate Souls." But there is no nobility in Snow and Charming's act. It's malevolent and down right dirty. Where's the nobility? Where's the heart? It all felt very bumbling and foolish. I wanted someone--anyone!--to stand up and say, "Snow...we all have darkness and light inside us! It's the choices we make. You know this. You know this maybe better than anyone as you have had to make choices and you've seen your own step mother make choices that led her down a dark path!" You know what it was? It was Cora and Malcolm-like. Cora cared nothing about Regina in the end; it was all about Cora herself and "this is my happy ending." Snow wasn't so much concerned with having a daughter that could potentially go dark as she was concerned with what it might mean for her. How could she, Snow White, have an evil daughter? So find an old man, an egg and solve your problems that way! And let's not forget Snow's stance that this egg isn't a proper child; it's a monster. What kind of messed up philosophy is that? I suppose at this point, I've said all I can say about the Charmings and their (mis)deeds against Maleficent. There is a bitter taste in my mouth and a lot less love for the Charmings--but by the same token, they haven't really been the Charmings in a few seasons now, I guess, so is it really that great of a loss?

I'll save all the Author talk for the present day so let's move on to Storybrooke where everyone ran in circles like little chickens and there was a whole lot of "WTF" going on.

I Was Right?

The events of the present day were really leading up to two different moments: Snow telling Emma and the Author reveal. I am going to tackle these only, everything else is in the notes (yes, that includes the Rumple stuff). So Emma decides to wash her hands of her parents because they told her the truth about how they took her darkness and implanted it into a baby and then accidentally lost the baby. Here's the thing; Emma is a pod and her reactions are never what you'd expect because instead of being in line with her own character arc or growth, they fluctuate based on the person who's giving her the low down. Confused? I'll break it down. Emma told Hook two-ish weeks ago that it doesn't matter what he did to Ursula because he wasn't that guy anymore. He has ticked up enough points in the hero tab that anything he did in the past can be swept under the rug. I had issues with that to begin with, but now let's look at how Emma reacts to her parents news: she decides that she is angry, tearful, and doesn't want to listen to her parents because they did a big bad thing. I guess it doesn't matter how many hero points Snow and Charming have gotten since that moment with the Dragon Egg? This was the biggest bad to end all big bad things and therefore Emma can't hear them out, talk to them, or tell them it doesn't matter. They done gone and did a bad thing y'all and that is that. Consistency. It is not a thing on this show. I'm not even asking that the writers go back and make Emma be angry at Hook--I'm asking that Emma be consistent in her reactions to shocking news that people she loves and cares about are lying to her but have done things since the big bad deed to prove that they have changed! She can't give the same courtesy to her parents? Snow White and Prince Charming? Really? It's very hard for me to not see the sort of blatant preference to keep 'shippers happy and not cry foul. Emma was a daughter long before she was ever part of the gruesome twosome; her home and happy ending were always--first and foremost--her parents and her son. That's all I am going to say about that because honestly, Emma is exhausting. She used to be my favorite female on this show but now she's just someone that I used to know (somebody! that I used to know! Somebody! (I may be listening to music while I type this...))

So here we are at last---we meet the Author. And he's a drunk? Once Upon A Time! Promoting alcoholism, one shady man in leather at a time. Hello massive info dump, am I right? Where did August even learn all this? And why in the world didn't he tell Emma--or Henry--all this way back in season one? Oh right, the writers didn't know that the author would be trapped in the book. I know that TV writing is a process and clearly shows with a huge mythos like ONCE do not flesh everything out in the very beginning, but at least try to come up with answers that make sense and don't feel disrespectful of the previous seasons. There is no reason why August couldn't have told Henry all this back in season one. Henry was the believer; that was his role. August could have told him that the book was made of magical lollipops and gumdrops and the kid would have believed. He ate a freaking poison apple turnover because he believed so much! August being a duex ex machina and suddenly revealing ALL THE THINGS to Emma in the 11th hour was just bad writing. Why couldn't Henry have pieced that together or figured it out? (Because Henry is a thing that doesn't not exist on this show. Like consistency). So what did we learn? Well...a lot. We learned that "Author" is a job, not a person. There have been many authors, including Walt Disney. Wait. Hold up. Lemme backtrack this. Remember when I said this: "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." Yeah, that's right. I basically nailed it. You can pay me in cookies, money, or booze. I am not picky. Anyway. The Author is a guy who is chosen by the Sorcerer to write the stories that need to be remembered---Plato, playwrights, ect. All "Authors." Except for one little greedy guy who got too big for his britches and started manipulating the stories--though we don't yet know how. This guy is the current Author. And he's not nice, he's not happy to see you, and he runs really funny (no, seriously, go back and watch him running away. It's hilarious). The Apprentice--Mickey Mouse and Dumbledore hybrid--trapped him in the book (is the Apprentice really the Sorcerer? He knows an awful lot about magic and spells and seems to be pretty gosh darn powerful). But now he's free and out on the lamb and probably going to make our lives (sorry, the characters lives) a living nightmare. Goody.

Miscellaneous Notes On Best Laid Plans

--I never really answered the question about if I liked this episode or not, did I? I don't know. I think it's going to rank fairly high for this arc, but for the season and series? I'm not so sure. There was a lot of character disappointment but at the same time, we did met the Author! That's kind of big--even if also a let down. Oh, ONCE. You make me so conflicted.

--Alright, let's do it. Rumple. So the speech Rumple gave to the sleeping Belle (poor Emilie de Ravin. You poor soul) was interesting. Well, interesting in that I think it solidifies that Rumple is going to die. Let's look at part of the speech, "And I have racked up so much debt I can never be clear of it…unless I find a way to change the rules. But now… [his hand on his heart] here’s the hard truth. Something else is changing. So, if I’m gonna change the rules, I’m gonna have to do so quickly." Guys, he's going to die. The clutching of the heart gives it away. There is something wrong with Rumple and he knows it. He knows that if he doesn't change the rules soon, his life is over. How when he's immortal? Dunno. The writers will do a thing; they always do a thing. Be free, Bobby. Be free.

--Snow whispers to Charming about keeping secrets from Emma while she is right there and Emma doesn't hear? Really?

--Bad dragon CGI strikes again!

--Does Lily have a father? Probably not. The writers want all the secret baby drama (and Adult! Lily drama) without any of the mess of adding another character. 

--An entire conversation about missing children and Rumple doesn't bring up Bae at all. Keep trying, writers. I am not going to forget him no matter how much effort you put into it.

--You can cast a sleeping spell over an entire town? Or was it a sleeping curse? How did everyone wake up? And Henry WAS put under a sleeping curse/spell back in Season 2!

--I do like Snow's forest outfit and Emma's new red coat.

--Hook...back the heck off. Emma is allowed to have a male friend. (twitch)

--August was the rare exception to Emma not being able to make friends. Who is Neal again?


Monday, March 23, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x15)

Hook's tiny ship is totally a metaphor for his penis. Okay, now that I've said that and potentially 90% of my readers are plotting my death, I will admit something that will shock many: I did not hate this episode. In fact, there were parts of it that I found quite endearing and funny. The writers putting Ursula, the Sea Witch, into the shoes--fins?--of Disney's Ariel and making her the tragic little mermaid was a fun twist, especially since they went the extra step and really played with the iconic music and lines from 'The Little Mermaid.' In spite of the fact that this weeks episode, 'Poor Unfortunate Soul,' was equally a Hook-centric episode, I found myself laughing (both in genuine humor and in derision because there was still some horribly contrived nonsense this week) and smiling a little bit more than is my norm when it comes to this show. I think, to be honest, something I enjoyed was the idea the writers presented that happy endings do not need to be kisses and romance and true love with another individual. It was something they actually used to treat with respect back when Red was still around and her obvious happily ever after was inner peace by loving both the human and the wolf side of herself. The fact that Ursula's happy ending is her voice--a voice that she can use to make other people happy to honor her dead mother--is a good message, one I can applaud, and one that felt more like OUAT of Season One. But, because I'm still me, I do admit to a certain amount of eye rolling with the presentation of Hook the Hero in the past (because no) and how once again Hook gets everything he ever wanted without having to make any kind of concessions. Grab your fins and your best penis metaphors and let's dive in!

Sing For Your Mouse

Raise a tentacle if you're surprised that Ursula only has one parent. I know, I know. We're talking about fairy tales and that means that you are either short one parent, have a wicked step- parent, or are an orphan. Them's the breaks, kid. Ursula has an enchanting singing voice (and side note, applause to the actress who gave Young Ursula her voice. It was lovely) but her father King Poseidon uses her voice to lure pirates to their deaths on the shoals because he's an ass. Or because pirates killed his wife; we can go with either one here. Ursula is quite tired of this and ends up running (swimming?) away to live on land and make her way to another place where she can use her voice to make people happy. She does this by singing in bars to a lot of scummy, haven't-had-sex-in-weeks pirates who do not take this opportunity to molest or harass her at all. Because that is actually how the world would work if this weren't a "family show" (now with penis metaphors!). Yes, I know that OUAT wouldn't dare show actual sexual harassment (they prefer to keep it in the shadows and make it out to be sexy and part of their wish fulfillment) but it is a bit laughable that Ursula really thought she could earn enough gold by singing 'Fathoms Below' over and over. Anyway, moving on from the fantastical and into the even more fantastical: Ursula meets Hook in the bar (because the red vested one handed wonder is an alcoholic who needs Enchanted Forest Anonymous) and we get a real look at who Hook was for those long centuries while he transported cakes to Peter Pan in Neverland. Wait. The hell? Where do I begin with this particular silliness?

First off, Peter Pan wants cakes? Okay. So we are ignoring that in Neverland you can dream up anything you want, including food (or we're making up our own headcanons that allows us to ignore the nagging feeling in the back of our minds that once again the writers think I have amnesia. Hint: I do not!) Two, Hook was nothing more than an errand boy delivering food? That was the "dirty work?" This is what really bothers me. Hook was a villain. I mean a straight up, cold blooded, sly, sneering, I-Beat-Women villain. He was a villain in the present day when present day meant season two when he left Emma and Team Princess to DIE in jail; he was a villain when he beat an innocent woman simply because she--Belle--wouldn't help him kill the love of her life; he was a villain when he got woman drunk and took them back to his boat. And before then, Hook was some rogue pirate who pillaged and plundered and drank his way across realms. But, oh no. That won't work for where the show now stands with Hook. The writers are determined to cast him as Hook the Hero at all times, even if that means making him a heroic type 200+ years ago. Instead of using Ursula for his own agenda like Pirate! Hook or Villain! Hook would have done, he gets all Woobie and Puppy Dog-eyed and starts prattling on about the woman he loved who was snatched from him and how Ursula's voice stops his pain (so does the rum, but alcoholics tend not to admit that out loud). Once I managed to pick myself up off the floor that Hook had mentioned Milah (well, not mention her so much as give a vague statement about a woman he done loved and lost--banjos, this scene needs banjos!) I tuned out the sappy sad eyes and instead focused on what I hoped would be a soul-crushing reveal. Had Hook turned Ursula into a monster? Had Hook killed her father? Had Hook stolen her literal soul? Had Hook done anything that would show us his true black-hearted colors?!

No. No of course not. Instead, Hook and Ursula are both presented as victims of Poseidon and that Hook had "no choice" because poor sad Hook. Look how sad! Ok, I know I sound overly harsh but the fact is that in spite of the Hook mess, and it feeling like the writers were still trying to force Hook into a hero mold instead of acknowledging that he was once a straight up villain, the flashbacks were good. The CGI was better than most episodes, the acting was good and less hammy than last week. There is still a lot of plot that happens rapid fire fast and always revolves around some magical plot device--a conch shell, a jar of squid ink (nice call back to season two, by the way-- but at least I wasn't gritting my teeth and bearing through. Ursula's devastation at losing her voice was palpable and my insides hurt for a little girl who wanted nothing more than to bring joy to the world (way to go, Hook!) but like I said above, a lot of that was underscored by Hook's own man pain, something about which I give exactly zero...well, fill in the best curse word here. But let's not end on a negative: this episode did try to bridge some divides about continuity, like why our present (drag) Queen of Darkness Ursula was not the sea fearing goddess we saw in season 3A.


HAHAHA! Tiny ship! It's totally a metaphor for Hook's penis! HAHAHA. Oh, you think I'm kidding? The show actually inserted their own penis joke while Will and Hook bantered about how you should never insult the size of a pirate's ship (read: penis). Oh, OUAT...Dr. Freud called. He thinks you need to talk about your penis envy and mommy issues. So why is Hook's ship tiny and inside a bottle? Because the writers need to kill time. Oh did you mean the in-show reason? I don't know. Something about Elsa and Blackbeard and Ariel. Because OUAT needs to remind everyone that they've almost run the whole board of Disney films and have had more characters on their show that a show should naturally have. Let's be honest: the writers knew they'd catch hell if they had an episode about Ursula but didn't have any mention of their version of Ariel. So, they put her inside a bottle, made her a plot device who now doubles as a carrier pigeon. Points deducted for not having Ursula and Ariel interact, though. What was going on in present day Storybrooke? A lot of nothing, says I! Torture, mayhem, back door deals, pirate oaths being broken the day after they are made (seriously, Belle?), gun waving, and smoke inhalation. I'm getting rather negative again and I did say at the outset that I liked this episode, but that's because of tiny moments. That's what is left for me now, after four years. I enjoy moments, almost never total episodes. So let's focus on the tiny moments that made me smile.

First and foremost, I could watch Ursula tentacle bitch slap and throw Hook into the sea forever and never be bored. Second, Snow White clocking Cruella with a frying pan is now my favorite moment in all of season four. That felt like Bandit! Snow made a return. You remember her, right? The tough, live by the seat of your pants, awesome and rogue bandit named Snow who flouted the Queen's guards and stole from her? Snow White hasn't felt like Snow White in a long time, but that moment was actually quite in character and I loved it. Third, let's keep Cruella. Let's just keep her so she can make sexual innuendos and be deliciously snarky. And, finally, a moment that actually had me smiling and wanting to express an emotion more than anger: August and Emma reunited. This had been a long time coming; they haven't seen each other since August lay in his bed, turning to wood as Emma's walls fell and she realized she was the Savior and it really was her job to bring back the happy endings. Since then, a lot of us have been waiting for them to see each other again and this all too brief moment reminded me of how much I used to like them together as brother and sister (no, I never shipped WoodenSwan. I was a SwanFire from the moment I put the pieces together in S1). August and Emma were a team, a good one at that. I really hope the writers don't cheat us out of a long, meaty conversation between these two (and if they don't mention Neal I will literally flip tables).

And finally, we arrive back to this weeks centric character. Was Ursula getting her happy ending too soon in this arc? It feels quite sudden. I'm glad that she's not going to be a (drag) Queen of Darkness anymore but it was a bit shocking that it happened that fast. And, to be frank, it reads like the writers dismissed her (just when I started to care about her) in order to squeeze Regina into her spot in the (drag) Queens of Darkness trio of leather and bad lines. What happens to Ursula now? Is she gone for good? Is she moving over to #TeamHero? Ursula never got the treatment she so rightfully deserved, especially when it turns out that her happy ending and her story are intriguing and somewhat riveting. She was chopped liver to Regina's Filet Mignon, in other words. The writers enjoy when they get to make Regina the Evil Queen so they made sure they put her with the (drag) Queens of Darkness as soon as they could, but having four female villain AND Rumple really is too much. So out goes Ursula! At least the writers didn't kill her?

Oh. And the author is trapped inside the book. Because of course. 

Miscellaneous Notes on Poor Unfortunate Soul

--Regina inside Snow was one of the freakiest and most bizarre things I have ever seen on this show. And not in a good way.

--August's nose grew and grew. #PenisMetaphor

--Ok, one final Hook-rant. The pirate tells Ursula that if he had something left of Milah's (he'd hold on to it) just like she wants to hold on to her voice. Oh, really Hook? You BAELFIRE. The son of Milah whom you SOLD to Peter Pan!! This line almost made me turn off my TV.

--The OQ dream sequence was utterly unnecessary.

--How does August know that the Author is in the book? Did the book speak to him?

--How do you free the Author from the book? Do you burn it? Is there magic non-squid Ink? And how did he get trapped? The Sorcerer? Also, calling it now: they've set up the idea of people being trapped inside the book; I think the season will end on a cliffhanger in which the characters are literally trapped inside the book and we are shown who the Sorcerer is (it's Jafar).

--Why is Will on this show as a regular at this point? And COME ON. WHERE IS ANA?!

--Belle learned that Rumple manipulated and deceived her once again. If she goes back to him now, I am writing her off as a ninny.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x14)

What's buzzin' cousin? You hip to what these khaki wacky dames got shaking? If you have no idea what I just said, don't worry. Neither do I. But seeing as Maleficent is inexplicably wearing 1940s-1950s mafia wear, I figured now was the time to pull out some classic jargon and play with all the gobbledygook. I'll stop now, don't worry. This weeks episode, "Enter The Dragon," was a mess. A complete and utter mess. The timeline is completely screwed up, the hair and costuming is borderline insane, and the actors are acting like they've all been drugged in order to get the level of scene chewing campy performance they deliver. Now, if you read all my reviews, you know I like camp. I like camp quite a bit--Doctor Who, Sleepy Hollow, and even here on OUAT. But there is camp and then there is scene chewing that grates on the nerves because it never lets up. When all you have is dramatic over-the-top delivery of lines that are mostly mundane and not worthy of the villain cackle and angst, then the audience quickly becomes worn out from having ALL THE DRAMAZ thrown in their face. This episode explored the past between Regina and Mal and in the present, Regina stepped into several wind tunnels (no really, what was up with all that wind?) and decided she'd become one of Alex DeLarge's group of droogs (Clockwork Orange, people!) and terrorize little boys--boys that she apologized to just last week. Grab your favorite fedora, your shot of alcohol, and prepare to awaken your inner dragon (which is not a euphemism for sex, I promise). 

Drugged Out Dragon

Sweet heaven, Maleficent. Honey, what did you do to your hair? And what are you wearing? And why...are you taking drugs? This is not really the 1980s, you know, no matter what decade planet Earth might be in. Here's the problem, beyond the incredibly stupid hair and outfit and drugged out eyes. There is zero set up for this. We are simply told by (a not so green and gold) Rumple to a Regina (at some indeterminate point in time cause seriously, when the HELL did this flashback take place?) that Mal was a powerful witch who could turn herself into a dragon and then Rumple POOFS Regina to Mal for...reasons. Mostly those reasons are plot. Anyway, when we meet Mal, she is drugged out and tripping balls except there is no logical reason why. We are just told that she lost her battle against Stefan and Briar Rose. Well, fine. But that doesn't really give me any perspective of why you are in your current state. See, this is the problem with ONCE as of late. They throw really complex emotions at you--like loss and heartbreak and depression--but with nothing to underpin it. I have no idea why Mal is the way she is and ONCE isn't about to explain it to me. They just expect me to care that this villain, whom we are just now getting to know this season, is depressed but without showing me the why. Show, don't tell. It's the staple of good TV. Thus I am emotionally disconnected from this entire opening meeting except for laughing at how utterly silly Mal looks (and wondering why the self proclaimed Disney family show is showing a character basically shooting up to "take the edge off").

I honestly feel like there isn't much to say about this flashback. It was supposed to be about women empowering women, I guess, but it felt like heavy LGBT baiting. Honestly, raise your hand if you thought Mal and Regina were going to make out at some point during this weeks episode. The flashbacks were essentially useless to the entire present day. They had to answer the question of how Mal and Regina met but they wanted to incorporate Mal's mythos as much as possible so random inserts were done. King Stefan appears out of nowhere, without warning, just at the exact moment that Mal is sucking fire from a tree (I'm not even kidding). He said a few lines and sat on a horse, but did you get any sense of who he is at all? I surely didn't. Then they randomly insert Aurora and the famous sleeping curse (but no spindle) and I am seriously confused on the timeline because this is at least 3 years before the Dark Curse hit but Aurora wasn't asleep that long and Regina shouldn't have still been struggling with magic by this point. This really makes no sense. You can spin it and fanwank it all you want but the fact is that this is sloppy. Everything about this episode was incredibly sloppy. How did this flashback help you understand Mal more, which is the whole point of flashbacks? It didn't. Unless your understanding is that she is a drugged out, crimped hair version of Cyndi Lauper. I know this is incredibly brief and doesn't give you much in the way of understanding the flashback, but that's because that was the nature of the actual flashback. Everything was disconnected--nothing about this endears Mal, Stefan, Regina, or Aurora to me. I need to move on.

Sisterhood of the Drunken Arsonists

Oh, my brothers. Let's all take a walk on the wild side where bad girls reign. To be a bad girl you must take shots of vodka, you must crush glasses, and you must sit in and...stare at a train...wait. Why is there is train in Storybrooke? Remember, this is a town in Maine that no one can get to. No one is supposed to be able to get in or get out of this town, so why is there a train? Aren't trains normally operated by the federal government? I shouldn't be questioning this, right? I'm supposed to just not think this one through. Fine. So be it. This episode, in the present day operates, under the idea of duplicity. Regina is leading two lives, the one where she is Regina and on the side of the heroes, and the other in which she is still the Evil Queen and running around town with the other (drag) Queen of Darkness, blowing up cars and drinking to excess. Apparently being a bad girl means acting like a teenager? Okay, snark aside this isn't a bad idea--in fact, I think it's quite in keeping with one of the bigger themes in ONCE which is that we are all heroes and villains in our own story and can move between those two roles whenever the situation dictates. Regina has struggled in years to keep her Evil Queen persona in check and it's always nice to see her bring it back and out wonder if she can safely put that persona away once whatever deed is done. What ruins the enjoyment of all this is the sheer cringe inducing and over the top acting coming from Regina and Mal at all times. I don't mind putting on a show, but when they are alone the side eyes, the smirks, the lines that read like something out of a 1940s film noir should really take a backseat. Let us see that these two have an understanding of each other beyond "we are both villains." In the past, Regina helped Mal reignite her inner dragon (not a sex reference!) so when they are alone, sans the other two (drag) Queen of Darkness, they should have a connection beyond the surface level one. But because the two women are acting like villains out of a black and white film, but without the white cat on the lap, there is nothing deeper. But really, isn't that the ultimate message of ONCE right now: surface readings suffice, nothing deeper is needed. What do the (drag) Queen of Darkness want? Pinocchio.

Or rather, August. He of the typewriter and the no-shaving. I liked August quite a bit in season one; he was a central figure that I loved trying to figure him out and watch him turn back into wood. Then he went and was an ass to Neal and Emma and well...people who are mean to Neal make me angry. So no, not 100% thrilled that he's back, but if he can shed some light on the Author plot then, fine. I'll deal. I'll also ignore the fact that for the past two years everyone thought that it was impossible to turn Pinocchio back into a man. Surprise! I wonder if he remembers all the hookers and blow now. Does August actually know anything about the Author, though? We know he once took apart and put Henry's book back together, so he must have some book learning. My guess is that he was trained in this book stuff without knowing that he was being trained by the Author. However, there is one part of this (okay, one part I'll focus on) : Henry was supposed to be involved in all this. He's just chilling at Belle's shop with a magnifying glass and a donut and becoming rather useless which is irritating. Operation Cobra and Operation Mongoose only exist because of Henry and the writers have distanced him from the whole thing in order to play with their shiny shiny toys. Also, stop looking at just that one page Henry. How about looking at the other side, or looking at the spot in the book from whence the page came?

Alright. One more subplot. And I don't really want to talk about it because it angers me greatly.
Raise your hand if you’re incredibly disappointed in Rumple? Honestly, this is so low. He’s manipulating Belle to get his ultimate weapon of power back. It’s horrible. I’m sorry to say it, but Rumbelle is basically done at this point. How does Belle ever forgive that Rumple has manipulated her twice now–first to get into town (and putting everyone in danger) and then to get his dagger. Rumple morphing into Hook and deceiving the woman he loves just to get his dagger back only proves one thing: he will never change. This is all about power and and nothing more. Does he even care about Belle now? Yes, I know he does because Bobby can make faces that prove it, but his actions are so reprehensible at this point. If Belle forgives him she is a moron. There I said it. If she takes him back after all the lies, all the manipulations, all the mad grabs for power....she is a moron, a walking cliche of bad female tropes who forgive their man no matter what because "it's true love." And while I loathe that they have parted Will from Ana in Wonderland, if he can make Belle smile and feel at ease and at peace, then whatever. Be free Belle. Find happiness in the arms of someone who isn't this creature from the black lagoon who is clearly Not!Rumple.

Miscellaneous Notes on Enter The Dragon 

--Do Cora and Mal know each other? How??


--"The entire Charming softball team and their pirate mascot." Bless you, Regina. That was the line of the night. Thank you for realizing that Hook adds nothing to this scene except to just stand there and be "pretty." He adds nothing to the Charming family dynamic or the plot of the heroes.

--Every time Belle calls him Killian, I die on the inside.

--That cake did look delicious.

--Regina can cast sleeping curses by waving her hands? Since....when? Why didn't she do that to Snow White all those years ago instead of seeking out the apple?

--"I saw you cast a sleeping curse!" HOW EMMA, HOW?! There is no magic smoke for what Regina did.

--Poor sad Pony.

Monday, March 9, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x13)

Now this was an interesting episode! No, not interesting-good, but rather this weeks episode, "Unforgiven," made me feel two contradictory emotions that you would think couldn't exist at the same moment but somehow do: boredom and anger. I was so bored during this episode. The character stood around and discussed the same thing over and over, rehashing the same plot points ad nauseum. It was repetitive to the point of insanity. Author plot, Snowing secret plot, (drag) Queen of Darkness reunion plot. It was all a build up to the last five minutes during which we learn that Maleficent had a baby (because of course she did) and that the Mistress of All Evil somehow lost her baby because of Snowing's actions. Honestly, this wasn't shocking or mind blowing in the slightest. Did you all see the summer Maleficent movie? The one that paid homage to ONCE? Well now it's payback time. The rage issues, however, center on the writers constant retcons that only serve to degrade their heroes and uplift their villains. Snow apparently did something so terrible that it could ruin her relationship with her daughter, but it wasn't worthy of a dark spot on her heart nor something she had to confess in the Plot Device Confession Cave in Neverland? Sure, that makes sense. This secret smells highly of "story of the arc" instead of "story of the show" and every time they put the former before the latter, they end up making a mess of the whole shebang. Last weeks episode was serviceable; this weeks was just down right eye-roll worthy. Grab a dragon rattle and let's do it. 

Three Witches And A Baby

Snow and Charming are returning from their honeymoon and, as Snow is wont to do, she means to get down to business right away and find a way to defeat Regina and stop the Dark Curse. Charming just wants to have sex. I mean, you can tell that's what he is hinting at. I'm betting Snow let him make the beasts with the two backs once on their honeymoon; the rest of the time she fretted over her step mommy.  Now they've arrived home and Charming is looking forward to putting all those rooms in the palace to good use and all Snow wants to fret over her step mommy. Very single minded our Snow White. We're ignoring the fact that during their honeymoon episode, Charming and Snow decided that they needed to live in the moment and not fret so much over Regina. Remember, the writers believe we have amnesia. As usual, I do not; but honestly this retcon is minor and more of a continuity error that stems from the writers never re-watching their own series and pales in comparison to some other ones, so I'll let it go. But, poor Charming. Always something standing in the way of showing off your prowess with a blade. Well, that was dirty and unnecessary of me, wasn't it? Anyway, the three (drag) Queens of Darkness show up with a proposition: we want to stop Regina from enacting the Curse because it will punish us to. That's not a wholly bad idea; Regina's thought behind the curse was incredibly selfish and self-serving. It wasn't about the villains getting their happy ending--as Rumple's is now, or so he claims--but rather it was about her own happy ending and hers alone. Mal was made into a permanent dragon under the town library for her crimes against Regina. Mal wasn't gallivanting around town with the Mayor like frenimes do. So the idea that the three (drag) Queens of Darkness want to stop the Curse back in the EF of the past is a good storyline. Naturally, there is more to it, because of course there is. They can't just have something simple and straight forward like three villains not wanting to be punished in a prison of time--which is motivation enough! Oh no. We gotta have ourselves a secret baby.

Congratulations, Snow White! You're going to have a baby! The dragon lady said so. You can almost hear the sound of Charming weeping softly in a corner, knowing he'll never have sex ever again. The issue I have with this whole portion--at least one issue--is the insane amount of time it took to get to this point in the story. If ONCE does one thing well (and this is not a compliment) it's treading water and using an unholy amount of plot devices to get their characters to a point where the big bomb can be dropped. So here we have a Tree of Wisdom (because Tree of Knowledge is copyrighted by the big man upstairs? No, I don't mean Walt Disney. I mean THE BIG MAN. God. He of the long flowy beard and sandals. At any rate, keep on driving home that Christ Imagery for Emma, ONCE writers! It only stiffens my belief that she's gonna die). But before Mal could inform Snow that she was pregnant--Snow, being a delicate flower probably closed her eyes and thought of England while Charming was horizontal hustling her, could not tell this for herself even though there is a plethora of evidence that the mothers somehow always know first--we had to go on a very long walk to a tree, and see Mal turn into a dragon and kill random people, and have a long speech about how a baby of true love has the potential to be both a hero and a villain and we already know all this! Seriously, this is exactly what Rumple told us last week. Okay, I know that Snow and Charming need to learn this in order to do "the big bad thing" that they do to Mal but all it does is bore your audience to have the same thing constantly enforced, especially when it doesn't come until the end of the episode like it is some big reveal but in actuality we learned this last week. I get it! Emma Go Dark! Dark Emma Smash! Dark Emma Is Plot Point For Season 4B! RAWR! BLOGGER SMASH.

Guess who else is pregnant? Mal of course. Because REASONS. Those reasons are, by the way, $758 million dollars at the box office despite the lackluster reviews. Alright, Mal, fess up. Just between us Ovarian Sisters--who is the baby daddy? Do you even know? Ready for my really stupid crack pot theory: there is no father! Dun Dun Duuuuuuun. The writers obviously want to link Emma and Dragon Baby (more on that in a second) and thus they'll have Dragon Baby be born of true love. But not the true love of Mal and the "father" but rather the true love egg that Charming stuck inside Mal at the end of season one. The imagery is all there: woman, man, egg, true love. Doesn't that sound exactly like something this show would do--especially since they are driving home the "Christ" imagery with Emma. Her antithesis must also be some sort of Christ like figure (an anti-Christ you might say) so thus, the writers need to incorporate some of that Christology. And who is this lucky little she-devil, you might ask? It's Lily of course. Random chick that Emma met at the age of 15, who had a star shaped tattoo, and was named after the mother of demons? Yeah, no, I'm sure she's just a regular street urchin. Emma vs Lily at the end of season four? Sure why not. They can both die battling with magic they shoot from their finger tips and we'll learn a valuable lesson about saviors and happy endings and love eternal. Or something.

Tentacle Bitch Slap

 Meanwhile in the present day Storybrooke, Snow and Charming bore me to tears by standing around and having the same conversation over and over again. It goes like this: "Cruella and Ursula are in town! They know our secret! We can't let Emma know! What we did was wrong! Ignore the fact that we've never brought it up and it seems to fly in the face of what the show has established previously about our hearts and secrets!" Okay, they may not have said that last part, but I'm adding it for truth. Snow and Charming were taken out by Ursula's tentacles which is a really inappropriate thing to type and say out loud. Actually, side note here, where is Ursula keeping those things? She is dressed in skin tight clothing so where does she store her phallic imagery when they aren't in use? And how big are they? They reached around a desk, went to a back room, and grabbed an object without being they are super big, super secret, tentacles. For reasons. Anyway, Snow and Charming go to destroy Mal's ashes so that the other two (drag) Queens of Darkness can't bring her back from almost-death. In the end, Cruella cuts their hands and because Snowing's blood is the blood of those who wronged Mal the most (super specific curse there....) the Dragon Lady is brought back and is extra pissy. I mean, first Snow and Charming somehow rob Mal of her daughter and then their own daughter sticks her with the pointy end? Man, the Charmings really are less than charming aren't they? But that's it. That's the big super secret that has kept Snow awake for a week now (but not before!) She and Charming went to great lengths to remove Mal's baby from Mal.

Speaking of a less literal tentacle bitch slap, time to check in on the author plot, which seems useless since we all know it won't be solved until the end of the season. Hey look, it's Baby! Pinocchio. How you doing kid? You remember all the hookers and blow yet? No? Probably for the best. In other news, Regina...calm yourself! Good lord. Did you need to yell at him like that? He's a kid; I get it. You want your happy ending and your sex in a crypt with Mr. Poopy Face but the last thing you should do is traumatize a child. Thank God for Geppetto stepping in and reminding Regina and the audience that she was once a horrible villain who did terrible things and maybe, just maybe, she doesn't get to have the happy ending she wants because of all the terror she inflicted. That message gets my approval. In fact, that whole Geppetto speech felt like season one. Other than that, the author plot line moved no further, no more information was gleaned, and we all return to our state of indifference until next week when I'm sure Regina will discover some hidden clue. Unless, of course, she's too busy infiltrating the (drag) Queens of Darkness to look for the author anymore. That'd be a shame.

Miscellaneous Notes on Unforgiven

--How does Hook pay for all these coffees and grilled cheeses? He doesn't have a job. Also, where is he living? Is he still living on the docks? Is he crashing with Smee? Is anyone else bothered by this?

--I am passing over every single thing that is Captain Swan for the sake of sanity.

--But, lo, there is a new ship on the horizon. Hello Scarlett Beauty. I am less upset about Rumbelle being broken up than I am about them potentially killing off Ana and ending Will/Ana. I will be so upset if they do that, but I guess not surprised. Ana was the Neal of Wonderland. But, let's face it. This whole sequence was for shock value and thus why it was shot from Rumple's POV and not inside the shop itself.

--The eye makeup on Belle, Emma, and Snow is really starting to bug me. Take off those ridiculous false eyelashes already.

--"If that old bag still wolfed out, I'd turn her into a coat for my collection." I am genuinely liking Cruella more than I thought I would.

--"My tentacles are bored." That's not creepy at all.

--How is it that we've never heard nor seen this blood magic ritual before? How is it that no one has ever attempted it before to bring back Graham, Cora, or even Neal? Do the writers get how stupid "dead is dead" now looks on this show?

--This title doesn't make sense, right? There is a better one out there, I'm sure. 

--In spite of my firm stance that this thing on my screen is Not! Rumple, the scene of him watching Belle and Will did break my heart. Bless you Bobby Carlyle. You continue to be a light in this dark time.

Monday, March 2, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x12)

Hello. My name is Jacquelyn and I anger-watch Once Upon A Time (I won't say hate-watch because against all odds, there was one episode last half of season 4 that stood out as quite good). I thought maybe I should put that out there into the universe. This past season more people have been reading my blog and, more to the point, commenting and I want to make sure that we're all on the same page here. If you're expecting a praise worthy review, you will likely get no enjoyment from my blog. If you still think the sun rises and sets with ONCE, you'll find my reviews frustrating and angry. But, hey, I am frustrated and angry with ONCE, so it fits. This is not to say that you all are not welcome here in my mirror fun house, but be prepared: I stopped loving this show awhile ago. Now I'm only here for the snark. Three months off was not enough; I don't know if any amount of time would be enough. But here we are again--once more unto the breach with the spring premiere, 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.' So where do I stand with this episode? It was...serviceable. Yes, that's the word I am going to use for it. The hard part is that we are so far into the life of this show--four seasons now--that I can not NOT look at any kind of premiere and compare it to ones that came before. Compared to season 4A's premiere 'A Tale of Two Sisters,' this one was better. It was tighter, funnier, more focused on characters I care about, and less bubblegum pink (if TV can have a color, which it can and does). However there were also some straight up stupid and silly things happening and when you compare this weeks episode to ones like, 'Heart of the Truest Believer,' or 'New York City Serenade,' or even the 'Pilot,' we are worlds from where we once were. With that in mind, that in order to watch this show, I have to lower my standards--something I feel disinclined to do since I don't think you should ever have to negotiate your expectations when it comes to media--let's jump head first into this new 11 episode arc. 

Rumplestiltskin's Council of Ladies 

Green magic breath. Because magic handwaving is too mainstream. Sweet mother of God, what is that? Why does Cruella have green magic breath? Who invented that and what were they smoking when they did? Walk me through how this came about in the writers room. They want Cruella to be magical, okay that's understandable. But how do you get from that perfectly fine notion to green magic breath? Can you tell I am bothered by the green magic breath? Other than Cruella's halitosis, the relatively short flashback was essentially answering the question of how the (Drag) Queens of Darkness all met and became bosom buddies. If you guessed Rumple, you're right! Remember, he's the cool kid--he knows everybody. It's something we basically already knew from the end of the last arc so it's not something we need to dwell on for very long. I will say this; I am glad that the writers tied the Dark Curse into this little tet-a-tet-a-tet...a tet. I was worried from the start that Rumple's sudden desire to get a happy ending because he was a villain and needed other villain's help was a pretty big fumble. Rumple has always wanted his power, but the manipulation he played out behind the scenes in the EF of the past was always in service of getting his son back (though you'll never hear him mention his son Baelfire on screen ever again...). Tying back into the Dark Curse (which he gave to Regina who gives it to Mal at some point but Mal told Regina in S1 that she didn't know where it came from....?) was a nice way to remind the audience that Rumple was the puppet master and ultimately feels less "story of the arc" and more "story of the show."

So why these three villains? To be perfectly frank, Rumple doesn't need all three. He really just needs Mal and Cruella but Adam and Eddy have never known when to stop with their shiny toys. There is quite a bit of extemporizing from Rumple about Bald Mountain and how each of the villains posses some ability that will help him get the Dark Curse and long story short, Cruella has bad breath, Mal is a pyromaniac and Ursula has tentacles. Seriously, that's Ursula's power? Rumple needed her because she has long tentacles that can reach far and grab a shiny orb on a pedestal. Oof. Basically Ursula is Moon Moon (internet meme, look it up people). Taking the shiny precious object awakens Gollum. Wait, no. That's the wrong mythos. It awakens the Chernabog. Cause we have demons now; a hellbeast who is probably best known for frightening children of all ages in the movie Fantasia (shock, given the broom and the hat from last arc). Basic rundown that Rumple gives before he leaves the (Drag) Queens of Darkness to their fate (because of course he betrayed them): the Chernabog seeks out the heart with the greatest potential for darkness and eats it. Sure, whatever. What's more important is that this is a bonding exercise for the (Drag) Queens of Darkness. They have to work together to escape being made a tasty snack. I'm sure I'm supposed to have warm fuzzies or something but frankly I find almost nothing about these three to be endearing or powerful or worthy of my time. I can't get over how Jolie-esque they've made Mal; she's a far cry from how ONCE depicted her in season one. Ursula is freaking Moon Moon and she looks like the ultimate fashion victim. She's got the peplum, she's got gauntlets, she's got the crazy hair, she's got the tentacles, she's got the headdress, and she's spilling out of her dress. It's straight up crazy. She looks like a Project Runway reject from the unconventional challenge. Now, Cruella I find I like more than I expected. Victoria Smurfit is playing her as unhinged and it's rather fun because it's mixed in with a faux 1920s flapper "oh daaaaarling" demeanor. But the ultimate problem still remains that we do not need all three of these villains, plus Rumple. Why should I be emotionally invested in these three when they are either farcically bizarre (Ursula); a cheap knockoff of a recent movie (Mal) and delightfully unhinged but obviously going to be under utilized (Cruella) because I think it's pretty clear that Mal will take center stage here. At any rate, they all became best friends and lived happily ever after. Or, you know, not. To sum up: the flashbacks are necessary but becoming increasingly underwhelming and dull.

Not Our First Monster Bash

Yes the title of my section is a Hook quote. I can occasionally be okay with some of the drivel that passes from his cursed anti-True Love lips. And yes, I will be passing over the Hook and Belle stuff until the end to save myself from a full on rant. Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke: something has been released and is tearing apart the town! Omgosh! This NEVER happens, guys. Except, you know, every season. This portion of the episode was better than the flashback, but there was also a lot of treading water and people rehashing things that we already knew: Regina and Emma are looking for the author; Belle is sad; Hook is angry; Fairies are in a hat; Snow and Charming don't exist until the writers need to remind the audience that they do. Six weeks have passed and life continues as normal. Everything is at a standstill in the town and I think that works with the idea that things are just very human and non-magical right now. Henry goes to school; Mary Margaret teaches (wut); Regina is mayor again and setting stuff on fire (wut). The slow start to the present day action, I think, is supposed to drive home the point that there is nothing happening in town. So thank god Belle found someone to translate a magical language from another realm! No, seriously. She thinks a professor in Oxford translated a magical spell for her. How does this NOT send up red flags in her mind? It's another language from another world that involves magic! And someone magically translated it for her, no questions asked? And she doesn't stop to think that maybe this is Rumple (because of course it's the puppet master). I guess it plays into how the writers think of Belle as being smart only after she's done tons and tons of research but until then she can't see her nose in front of her face or the forest for the trees. I mean, it's not like Belle's ever been perceptive or intuitive, right? What show am I watching again?

So the fairies come forth from the hat to everyone's happiness cause we all love ourselves some fairies. Helpful little plot devices that they are. And guess what else comes forth: Chernabog, naturally. I have no idea how he got into that hat, nor do I really care. I don't think it will ever be explained. Like so much of this show. The interesting thing is that Chernabog doesn't seek out Regina, as one might expect but rather seeks out Emma. She has the heart with the greatest potential for darkness. The writers have never said that love was *always* good (and, in fact, the overwhelming message of love and romance on ONCE is straight up negative from my admittedly biased and bitter perspective). They did once have Rumple say that love is a disease and has killed many and that's true philosophically speaking. As True Love Incarnate, I guess Emma would not only be the ultimate good but the ultimate weapon as well. People kill in the name of their savior all time and religion is a driving force behind so much of the world's conflicts. Sounds like I'm praising the show, doesn't it? Here's the rub: none of it matters. If you actually think Adam and Eddy would allow their original character, the one whose non-traditional fairy tale they are supposed to be telling, to go evil and more to the point, stay evil, then I've got a large bridge to sell you. Emma will be tempted, I'm sure, but full on darkness from their savior who's job it is to bring back the happy endings? Please. Not even remotely possible. What do I think is possible then? Death. No, that's not Emma bashing despite her Pod status. It's her archetype. Savior's die; they are reborn, yes, but first they die. And if you think Emma will be in danger for long, look at how Chernabog was dealt with this episode: quickly and swiftly. He was launched from the roof of a car and evaporated--a hell beast demon gone because of geography. He was nothing more than a way to set up the idea of Evil! Emma. Do I think there is a possibility that Chernabog will return? Sure, of course. There always is on this show (unless you are Neal). But, Chernabog went the way of the Wraith and Marshmallow--dealt with and never seen again.

Meanwhile, on the edge of town...darkness comes. Yes, I know; it was low hanging fruit. Cruella and Ursula and Rumple need to find a way into town so enter the worst plot device I have ever seen on this show--that includes beans, brooms, wishing stars, Pegasus sails, and gauntlets. Do you know what they used? A phone. Ursula called up Regina and asked to be let into the town. Storybrooke is impossible to find and enter unless you make a phone call. Now, I'll be fair, it's not just the phone but it's also the scroll from the Snow Queen which the heroes just happen to have lying around...for...reasons? Of course, I had issues with the magical scroll that transported the Snow Queen into Storybrooke in the first place, so it's not like I was a fan of using it and a silly phone call to get into the town once more (please let us in Regina! We promise to be good! Sweet mercy). However, passing over the silly and stupid phone call, Rumple starts to lay out his plans and I must admit that Bobby did a great job (as he always does) of making Rumple so watchable. Now, I hate what the writers have done to him this past season, turning him into Not! Rumple but Bobby does show that vulnerable side at the edge of town while Cruella points a gun at his head (cause bitch be crazy, yo). Rumple tells Ursula that he wants what they want--a happy ending and what that means is his own business, not theirs. So here it is, my one and only prediction and theory for this show. I think Rumple is going to die, for real, at the end of this season. I think he (and Bobby, to be perfectly honest) want released from this life (or contract for Bobby) and his own dependence on magic. Adam and Eddy have already set up this idea with Ingrid last season who off'd herself as a way to get a happy ending. I think Rumple will die and the final scene for him will be him entering some sort of after life where a 14 year old Baelfire waits for him, just like Ingrid's sisters were waiting for her. As for the (drag) Queens of Darkness, what are their happy endings? I don't care. Their happy endings could be a pizza and I'd find it as emotionally resonating as wanting love and a family at this point.

Miscellaneous Notes on Darkness On the Edge of Town

--So, Hook and Belle. I hated this whole scene. Or, rather, I have a lot of issues with the fact that Belle's heartfelt teary speech was given to Hook of all people. Why? I’m glad Belle was having that conversation but I cannot abide her having it with a man who once beat her, shot her and tried to murder the man she loves. Especially when he’s never given even her any sort of genuine, non snarky apology for actually hurting her. Putting the abused and the abuser in the same room and expecting them to bond when there has been no mea culpa leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. Just because Hook was a victim of Rumple as well does not, under any circumstance, lessen the fact that Belle was once his victim. If anything being Rumple's plaything should make him realize that what he did to Belle was wretched and he owes her 100000 apologies.

--"Many years ago" is Adam and Eddy speak for "we have no idea when this is because we don't actually keep track of the timeline"

--"Because your life is crap." Rumple in his robe with his Ramen. Bless. (I wish I could quit you Rumple, but I don't know if I ever can)

--Mr. Cluck's is a LOST reference, a far superior show in every way, shape, and form.

--So the Author and the Sorcerer are different people who are also on opposite sides of the fence, as it were. My guess? The author is the good guy (and Walt Disney) and the Sorcerer is a bad guy (who created the Dark Curse and is the First Dark One).

--Snow and Charming have a history with Ursula and Cruella. What happened between the foursome? At this moment in time, I kid you not, I think there is a secret baby or something. Why? Because Adam and Eddy love themselves some Star Wars. Also, holy clunky dialogue Batman!
 "no one must know what happened between us in the EF = everyone is going to find out what happened between you in the EF"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x18)

The title of the season two finale, "Tempus Fugit," is apt for several reasons. From an outside viewing perspective, time really has flown since we all sat down many months ago to watch Ichabod claw his way out of a grave (again) and go after Abbie in Purgatory. There have been hits (namely the first half of this season) and misses (namely the second half which was truly just treading water until this finale) but overall I feel like Sleepy Hollow has become comfortable enough in its wheelhouse to continually produce quality TV for another season or two. As for the finale itself? Well, there we are back to the title. Time flies once more as we watch modern Abbie and ye olde Ichabod navigate the American Revolution as strangers instead of as friends, trying to get back to where they belong: with each other, staring into the abyss. Overall impression of the finale, you might ask yourself? It was a fast paced and witty episode that was solely driven by Ichabod and Abbie but could have used some focusing and perhaps a different ending. But, then again, Benjamin Franklin got his head chopped off. One more time this season, with feeling! 

This episode operates under the broad heading of trust. Ichabod is just another soldier in the American Revolution; he has a secret mission but he is not the loveable, out of time man we've come to know and adore over the past two years. He is rigid and formal and errs on the side of distrust as opposed to trust, especially when it comes to one Abigail Mills. It's a unique, and let's face it, totally fun change in fortune for our Captain and his Leftenant. Instead of Abbie suppressing her giggles watching Ichabod try to learn the ways of the 21st century, Ichabod continuously gives Abbie the side eye as she fusses with the 18th century, seemingly out of her element and faced with a level of prejudice that we haven't seen her tackle in her own present day. But here she is, in her trousers and leather, telling Ichabod that she is from the future, that they are friends and partners, and that his wife is a witch who is trying to kill him. Is it any wonder that Ichabod does not jump and down with joy and trust her instantly? Trust between these two is built as slowly as a show can in which the two leads, who have excelled over two seasons at demonstrating a tight knit bond, have only an hour to build trust between themselves once more. It's done the old fashioned way--conversation--and the new fashioned way--a selfie--though the new fashioned way was the more jovial approach. But when it does work, when Ichabod realizes that Abbie is telling him the truth, hair brained and mad cap though it may be, they fall back in line as we've seen them before. Abbie trusts that Ichabod can hold of the Headless Horseman (welcome back Headless. I've missed you) and Ichabod trusts that Abbie (and some supernatural help) can reverse the spell and put the world back in order.

Compounding this exercise in trust building (free falls not included) is that trusting Abbie means, ipso facto, not trusting Katrina. Remember, Ichabod doesn't know that his wife is a witch and certainly not that she's from the future and evil and desiring to kill him. The moment when Ichabod realizes that this Katrina is not the woman he married is quite heart breaking and I love that Abbie is there to comfort him with kind words about how the woman he married really was a good woman that loved him. I do ship Ichabbie, but I ship it in all the ways you can ship this pair--friends, romance, Team Witnesses. Katrina is less a hindrance to Ichabbie and more of a foil to what Ichabbie stands for, which is trust and shared interests, passions and goals. I would have been perfectly fine for Ichabod and Katrina to renew their love for one another (even if I think Ichabod becomes quite dull around Katrina). The problem very quickly became that Katrina was never written as being able to adapt the same way as Ichabod, and I've touched on this quite a bit in previous reviews. Katrina is simply unable to move into the world of modern day Sleepy Hollow as Ichabod did. Now, that could be because unlike Ichabod, Katrina did not have a helpmate but it's also because she quite simply did not want to. Instead, she cut herself off, focused on remaining insular and opposed to entering the world. The one time she did try, the murder mystery dinner party (still the worst episode of the season), all she did was lament that she was forced into modern day surroundings. Yet contrast this to Abbie who is also out of her time in this finale, yet finds a way to make it her own. She uses knowledge of the future but she also uses her own impressive personal skills--like kicking the crap out of a soldier who is threatening her, thus eschewing Ichabod's own attempt at heroism. Abbie doesn't need to be rescued; she's not a wilting flower like Katrina and when the going got tough, Abbie got tougher. She really is very admirable. Which brings us back to Karina and the inevitable end which I suspected was coming, though I don't think it will stick. Self defense is the best way to put it, I suppose, or an accident. I don't think Ichabod intended to kill Katrina. The knife was there, it was a tussle, Katrina was trying to kill Abbie. I will say this, though, the emotional upheaval it should have wrought was not played out to its fullest extent, which is a shame. I have no doubt that Sleepy Hollow will milk the murder of Katrina and Ichabod's own guilt for all they are worth next season, but until then I am left hanging and likely to be detached from this emotional moment by the time it returns next season (if, indeed, it does at all). I will say, though, that I doubt Katrina is done. Is she dead? Yes. But do I think we've seen the last of her? Heavens no. I sincerely hope that Sleepy Hollow gets renewed and that the writers have learned from this second half of this season. When Sleepy Hollow gets it right, in all its campy goodness, it shines.

Miscellaneous Notes on Tempus Fugit

--Ok, the hard question. Was Katrina killed for Ichabbie? While watching with my friends, one of them pointed out that this felt very "Neal" to them. I disagree. First, Katrina never had the narrative pull that she should have had. She was uninteresting until she went evil; she was exasperatingly useless at times, a damsel in distress whose sole contribution (magic) was shaky at best and down right unreliable most of the time. Is there an unbelievable chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie? Yes. And it does not exist between Katrina and Ichabod. Every conversation between Katrina and Ichabod felt soapy and melodramatic. It was never light. You'd never have a moment of them snapping a selfie, for instance. Everything with those two is doom and gloom and magic. Yes, there is doom and gloom and magic with Abbie and Ichabod, but the writers also take care to show Ichabbie as playful and friendly. You'd never know that Katrina and Ichabod were agreeably married by the way they acted half the time. It reeked of a forced, unromantic marriage but the narrative was written that this was a love story of the ages. The disconnect between what is playing out on screen and the way it was written and conceived only fueled the need to do something "other" with Katrina, which resulted in her evil turn here the past few episodes, and then ultimately her death. So, no, Katrina was not killed for Ichabbie in the same manner that Neal was killed for Captain Swan on ONCE, but rather because Katrina doesn't fit in the world and her inclusion weighed down the entire show.

--I love how many call backs there were to the Pilot in this episode. The reference to the many Starbucks, the look on Abbie's face when she had to ride in a carriage for the first time. Adorable.

--"That's what we do."
"Yes. We. We seek out the impossible."

--They decapitated Benjamin Franklin. I actually yelled "OMG."

--Ichabod with the cell phone was pure Sleepy Hollow joy. Utterly classic and adorable.

--"What would you prefer?"

--I will never not love an Ichabbie hug. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x17)

Remember that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the kind of good, but sometimes evil, witch Willow did a spell in Latin and it turned a lot of girls in Slayers so that Buffy could take down the First? I have no idea why I'm bringing that up (hint: sarcasm). In the penultimate episode of this season, 'Awakening,' everything feel derivative and rather underwhelming, except for the last 10 minutes which made the rest of the episode pale in comparison. On the one hand, I am frustrated with the show's treatment of Henry this half of the season when they sold him as deliciously evil last half. I am cringing at the resolution of the Frank drama and how easily it was handled. Irving's emotional death at the end of last half basically meant nothing and the narrative impact his resurrection and tainted soul should have had never amounted to much. But, on the other hand, Abbie traveled to ye old Sleepy Hollow, so I'm sort of okay with all this because that idea is quite meaty. A black, tough as nails, independent woman in the middle of colonial America? Yeah, that will be fun. 

There is a lot to talk about this episode, but I really want to focus on a few things, specifically the lines that have been drawn in the concrete as opposed to the sand and the trope of people out of time. First, how can Katrina and Ichabod ever go back to being loving husband and wife after this? Katrina was very easily persuaded to ring the bell (lord, this show) and create a coven of witches with Henry. I guess I can't blame her but I don't think her desire stems only from wanting to be with her son. I think she's selfish. Katrina has been set up as someone who demands much and is guided by her emotional feelings instead of any rational action. The two are not mutually linked, but in Katrina's case, most of her demands are met with " you must do this for me, for us." It's never about other people so much as it is about Katrina herself. So when Henry shows up telling Katrina that they can start a new family together, son and mother, she leaps not because a mother would do anything for their child, but because she wants it. Katrina is a woman out of time and she's made minimal effort to adapt to her current situation where she is the odd woman out--barely a witch, not a witness, a sham of a mother and wife. Katrina wants it all and Henry offers it, hands open and full. For Katrina there is a liberation in finally taking what she has always wanted, something I find deeply ironic since in the 21st century she is allowed to be open and declarative about her choices whereas in the past to which she so eagerly wants to return, she was silenced either by virtue of gender or Wiccan practices. The insults Katrina hurls at Ichabod are hurtful and nasty. Katrina considers herself above Ichabod, his better not his equal. He has no place in her new family and therefore whatever happens to him, happens. Katrina is a bitch, but we all knew that. No, I think there is more here than just her selfish nature. I think Katrina is jealous. Ichabod has adapted quite well. Yes, he says and does odd things, but he, for the most part, he has learned how to navigate this brave new world in a way Katrina can not. But the main reason for this was Abbie, always Abbie. And Katrina knows just how to strike at Ichabod where it will really hurt: take away Abbie.

This episode operates under a lot of near misses. Ichabod almost manages to kill Henry with a pistol but is stopped. Katrina almost manages to incinerate Abbie but the Leftenant escapes. Abbie almost manages to set the bomb off but is stopped by Henry. It's a good writing technique that leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat because once it doesn't happen you don't expect it to happen again. When Katrina blew up Abbie's car, the line in the concrete was sealed up tight. Words Ichabod and Katrina might be able to get past with time, but hurting the other half of Team Witness? I think not. Of course, Abbie is much smarter than your average bear and got away before the boom, but that should only have told me that something seriously big was going to happen in the following act. And, indeed, it did. First, can we talk about Ichabbie working together to take down Henry just as Satanic Son and Mama are about to ring the bell (seriously, this show...)? It was wonderful. They talked it out, clearly, logically, no magic, just teamwork. It was very sad that it was Abbie who killed Henry but I fear that Ichabod would have hesitated ever so slightly because that's what he does. Katrina is raw emotion, Abbie is pragmatic to a fault, and Ichabod straddles the two, each momentous moment being carefully weighed. Henry's death was wonderfully acted by Noble (naturally) but man, what a let down. The writers really underused him this season. They had John Noble and they butchered him this season; he was kept out of commission for half the arc, then killed two episodes after he reemerged. It's a shame because there was another option--a human Henry who wanted forgiveness. I would have liked to see that, but alas, 'twas not meant to be. Which brings us back to Katrina and her rage at the death of her son and how it causes her to invoke a new spell, the Traveler spell. Her goal? Go back in time and prevent herself from saving Ichabod in the hospital after his fight with the Horseman.

Guess who goes along for the ride? Welcome to the American Revolution, Abbie.

Miscellaneous Notes on Awakening  

--Doctor Who shout out right at the start. Should have guessed we'd have time travel based on that.

--So are all those people witches now? Semi-witches?

--Frank Irving is back! I guess? I found this portion of the plot to be very frustrating and poorly written. Do better by Frank and Jenny, writers.

--Ichabod with flamingos. Life is good.

--If Sleepy Hollow wants extra praise next week during the season finale, they will not only embark on a mythology heavy episode, they will explore gender and race in the American colonial period. Having Abbie--a black woman of the 21st century--in the land where slavery was commonplace? Very good jumping off point for discussing race relations in America.