Monday, April 21, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x18)

Sometimes I wish I could sit in the writers room and tell them why their ideas need to be reworked. Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if the creators and writers watch their own show; after this weeks episode, "Bleeding Through," it's painfully obvious that they need to Netflix binge watch the first season of their own show. Twisted family drama, lightening fast character development/ship development, and quasi-incest shenanigans highlighted an episode that may have answered questions but was shocking for the value of shock over actual coherent narrative. Thus, I present my own conversation with the writers had I been in the writers room. 
Adam and Eddy: We want to make the Wicked Witch of the West Regina's sistrer
Me: Oh. Okay? I mean, you pretty firmly established that she was an only child and that's why Cora did everything she did--Regina was her only chance at a happy ending. 
Adam and Eddy: Cora was cunning. 
Me: ....sure. Let's go with that. But who is the father? 
Adam and Eddy: A random guy. 
Me: That's actually not bad. I'm okay with that. If it means no Rumple nor Leo, then great! 
Adam and Eddy: And of course Cora and Leo almost got married. 
Me: Wait. What? 
Adam and Eddy: Yeah! Cora and Leo. They totally had a thing. 
Me: Leo? Snow's...father? 
Adam and Eddy: Yep!
Me: Leo? Regina's....husband?
Adam and Eddy: Yes, that guy. 
Me: But...
Adam and Eddy: It totally works. And it's shocking! And imagine all the family drama!
Me: But...

This episode wasn't even horrible in the grand scheme of horrible episodes. It answered questions, had some honest character development, and some pretty good special affects. But the story of ONCE is slowly becoming more and more twisted and convoluted. At some point last night, my mom turned to me and said, "I have no idea what's going on or who these people are." That's a problem, ONCE. Did it have to be Leo and Eva with whom Cora got tangled? Why not just some other random prince? You know, in order to reduce the incest icky feelings I get after tonight? But I suppose that's too much to ask from this show that seems to consider constant family angst an art form. 

Well This Is All Sorts Of Icky

Hello, Cora. Remember Cora? Of course you do. Of all the background family characters on the show, she's the one that matters because the writers actually develop her in a meaningful way. Our favorite Miller's Daughter turned Queen of Hearts is back once more, this time as a tavern barmaid who lives by the motto "I try to be a little better than I am." Well, that's Cora to a T. This is the girl who stole a dress, a mask, and walked boldly into a ball in order to seduce the Prince and ended up claiming she could spin straw into gold. But in this episode, Cora is still the Miller's Daughter; Rumple and Henry Sr are in the future and Cora only cares about what other people can give her. Enter a handsome stranger with bedroom eyes, a silky voice, and promises of a better life. Jonathan is a pig, isn't he? Sadly, he's a very realistic depiction of some men in the world. Bed 'em and leave 'em, that's his motto. Posing as a prince, Jonathan promises Cora the world--a crown, wealth, power, money, a good life. And Cora eats it up, which is surprising. I get that Cora is supposed to be younger and more naive here, but Cora has never been stupid and she is being portrayed as such. Clearly Cora knows who the monarchy is; she recognizes Prince Leo right away. But for this man in a seedy bar with a small embroidered kerchief, she is a simpleton. When Jonathan says he's a prince, she believes it. When Jonathan says he'll marry her in two weeks with a real ring, she believes it. And when Jonathan says he must leave early in the morning, Cora offers to give him a proper send off. How kind of her.

Do I feel sorry for Cora? Both yes and no. No one should have their heart broken, but she did jump into bed with a man she barely knew who claimed to be royalty. Why not just wait two weeks to sleep with him? You could have waited, Cora. And then none of this would have happened. Anyway, giant shocker, Jonathan isn't who he says he is. He's the gardener to the royal family. Get it? Green thumb. It's supposed to be cute. It would have been more appropriate if he had been a stable boy in order to really drive home the parallels and poetry that the writers are striving for. Cora's life is ruined by a stable boy she thought she loved and then tries to marry Leo; Cora later kills a stable boy who is in love with the daughter she kept and then forces Regina to marry Leo. But, instead, Jonathan is a gardener and not royalty. And Cora? Yeah, she's pregnant. And Jonathan is totally uninterested in Cora and the babe. Luckily, Cora runs into someone who can help her out!

Hello Snow's papa. Remember Leo? No, of course you don't. He appeared a grand total of two times back in season one and was depicted as a kind man, a good father, a devoted husband, and overall good egg. And now he's kind of sleazy and lecherous. Leo and Cora walk through the woods and Leo laments about how he is going to marry a woman he has never met before, his betrothed Eva. All the while Cora stokes a fire. It's a metaphor! (I'm cringing on the inside). Eva is not his choice; it's a political marriage as most are in royalty but Cora encourages him to make his own choice. I'm sure there is nothing in it for her, right? Not like Cora is openly seducing Leo, trying to get him to choose her or anything. Here's the thing. Leo is the Prince. His father is still in charge. Know what Princes are not allowed to do? Decide who to marry. They do as the King commands. And the King is not going to let his son randomly throw away political alliances for the sake of a peasant who can't offer anything as far as land, money, soldiers, ect. Maybe that's harsh, but that's how political matchmaking works.

And poof! Engagement. Let me parse this out. Leo is now engaged to Cora. Leo will later marry Regina, Cora's second born. Am I the only one bothered by this? According to show runner Adam Horowitz last night on Twitter, Leo *knew* he was marrying his former flame's daughter. This is icky. Just. Icky. At any rate, Cora likes the new life she is being given, but there are a few problems. Jonathan is still around and being a plague. He wants money and jewels to keep quiet about Cora's bun in the oven; if Cora's doesn't acquiesce to his request, he'll let everyone know that Cora is pregnant with his child, which would ruin her chances with Leo. And the second problem? Eva. Eva overhears this whole conversation. Eva has been brought to the castle to meet Leo, whom she is supposed to marry, and overhears that the new woman (with a ring on her finger already!) is pregnant by the gardener and planning on passing it off as Leo's. Is telling the truth bad? Is that the message ONCE is now sending? Because in present day, when our heroes learn the sordid details, they seem to think that Eva is in the wrong here. Because lying and deception is better than truth telling??

 And so the truth comes to light. Leo confronts Cora about the baby she is carrying and promises that he'll take care of her and raise the baby as his own after he marries Cora. But he has to know that he can trust Cora; if there is no trust, then he cannot marry her. Seriously. Where is the King in all this? The KING decides who Leo marries, not Leo. The King is the one who arranged Leo and Eva's marriage in the first place, meaning he has political ambitions. He's not going to let the heir of his kingdom marry a peasant girl that his son has known for two days. Eva appears during this confrontation and tells Leo that Cora is lying and check her pockets where Leo finds a stash of jewels to pay off Jonathan. Cora is escorted from the palace and Eva promises that Leo will have a heir. A pure heir. An heir as pure as snow. And with that cringe worthy line....

Baby Zelena is born in a little hovel to a ragged Cora. And Cora wants nothing to do with her. She wraps the newborn in a blanket, complete with green bow, and leaves her in the woods. Hoping someone would find the baby? Or that wolves would eat the child? What exactly did Cora expect to happen? The one highlight of this scene, though, was the nice twist on the famous ONCE line. Since the beginning, every time a baby is sent a way (Emma or Henry) it's to give the baby their best chance at a good life. However, Cora is a selfish brat. This isn't about baby Zelena's best chance, but Cora's herself. "I have to give me my best chance." Wow. Well, that's totally in character for Cora, if a really horrible sentiment. But here's the rub: a magical baby who can summon a green tornado seconds after abandonment is your meal ticket, Cora! How did she not notice that the baby was apparently Super Baby? Is Cora blind or just a really fast runner? Cora is the Roadrunner. That's season 4.

Ouija Board Not Required

And now we move into the present day portion of the never ending circus of bizarre where our characters somehow need to learn everything we're learning through flashbacks. If only they had the ability to talk to the dead! Oh, hello never before mentioned magical spell that is really super convenient. But I'm getting ahead of myself. While the flashbacks felt rushed and unbelievable (not to mention the ick factor), parts of the present day were enjoyable to watch, even if there was also an equal amount of lightening fast character development.

 Regina has never been my favorite character, but I do love the Evil Queen. Lana Parilla was born to play that role. She is perfect in her evil, sarcastic, snarky, sassy way. Watching her have a sass off with her half-sister the Wicked Witch of the West was a definite highlight of the episode. The bitter envy both ladies feel toward each other was fun to watch: a real Wicked vs Evil showdown. Zelena accuses Regina of never taking risks and that the original Curse was just a fancy way of running away. Interesting way to look at it, I suppose. Though, isn't that what Zelena is doing, in a way? Running away from her own reality, trying to create a new one? One that fits her tastes instead of living with what actually happened. The sisters are more alike than they want to admit. The whole sass off was really a distraction, though, because Zelena still needs Regina's heart. And luckily she has her trusty Dark One to get it for her, even if he does have to threaten a four year old to do it. Poor Robin and Roland. So now Zelena has Regina's heart, Charming's courage, and can pluck Rumple's brains. Time to celebrate!

I gotta give some props to my girl, Belle. When Regina comes tearing into the pawn shop looking for something with which to stop Zelena, Belle refuses to help Regina. Belle has a little something called self-respect and after being locked in a tower, imprisoned in a basement, and then cursed with a different set of memories, why the hell would she help Regina? Because Rumple, of course. Regina does offer up a mea culpa and about time too. While I did like that she's apologizing, it doesn't erase the past. It doesn't change what Regina did to Belle and while I liked this scene as a whole, it does come across as "fan check list." The writers know how passionate their fanbase is about Belle and Rumbelle. They've been demanding an apology from both Hook and Regina for a long time and now they got both (though, the Hook one is almost more offensive than his deeds--Regina's apology was at least mostly heartfelt, if motivated by the need for a favor). It's like the writers are reading what the audience wants and slowly giving it to them in piecemeal. Want Emma and Regina to practice magic together (for the SwanQueen fans)? Done. Want Neal to become a villain and die (for die hard anti-Neal fans)? Done. Want Snow and her family to be more at fault than Regina's (for the Evil Regals)? Done.

Regina's plan is to talk to her mother, to summon her ghost. In order to summon a ghost, you need the murder weapon (the magic candle from the previous season) and the murderer, who is apparently Snow White. I have so many issues wit this. Snow played a part, to be sure. But so did Rumple. So did Regina. And most importantly, so did Cora herself. Cora was out to murder Snow's entire family, but somehow Snow is getting all the blame here. Rumple manipulated Snow, who tricked Regina, and Cora died while trying to commit murder anyway! But sure. Snow's the one we're going to blame. The spell to summon the dead opens a giant portal but nothing appears to come through and the magic ends when Hook bumps the table (well that's not suspicious and shady at all). Having failed, Emma and Hook and Charming leave the house--Emma and Hook to go make flirty time with each other (skipping) and Charming to Snow stays behind with her stepmother to help clean up.

Omgosh, talking. They are talking. What show is this? These people don't talk. There is no sitting down and discussing feelings. There is only magic and myth and action. While I like (no, love) the talking, the conversation, in part, is still off kilter because Snow is not solely responsible for Cora's death! And let's not forget: Cora killed Eva, and Regina killed Leopold and cursed an entire land for 28 years! Why is Snow being made out as the worst out of all these people? Because Regina is loved more. It's as simple as that. It's not complicated. Regina and Rumple (and Hook) ARE this show. And so everyone else is now being made to look like they are the bad guys (or boring simpletons) while the actual bad guys are given pity parties. If we're applying real world logic to this show, like people insist I do with Neal's death, then Snow wouldn't go within five feet of Regina, a woman who continuously tried to MURDER her. So I applaud character development, but not so much how it's making the actual good guys look. But we're saved from analyzing too much by a loud bang.

Ghosts comes with their own ghosts spindle. I'll let you think about that for a second and the amount of sense it makes (hint: no). Young Ghost Cora came through the portal without anyone seeing her and is not happy. In fact, she sees Snow and goes on a tirade! Must kill Snow! Must make her pay! But Regina steps in to protect. Now, while I liked the talking of the previous scene, it was nice to see Regina act on that development and save Snow instead of letting her ghosty mother hurt her step daughter. Regina's, "if she wants to kill you, she has to go through me" line was quite touching. But then it got bizarre when Cora actually managed to get past Regina and infect Snow White, causing "memory" flashbacks to what happened with Cora, Leo and Eva. Convenient that a ghost only imparts the memories of that one particular moment in her life. So now Snow knows that her mother told a secret and that's why Zelena is doing all this. It all comes back to Eva, which, again, I find really bothersome. Eva told the truth, that's it. She did the right thing, whereas Cora was trying to lie and manipulate her way into Eva's rightful place. But somehow, Eva is getting the lion's share of the blame from Snow and Zelena.

Thankfully Belle, who has been hard at work researching, managed to figure out what is going on. Time travel. With courage, a resilient heart, and brains, it's a recipe to go back in time and change the past. And what exactly does Zelena want to change? She wants to kill Eva so that she can never reveal that Cora is pregnant and stealing from Leopold. If Eva is killed, Snow is never born; Emma is never born; Henry is never born; Regina is never born. And Rumple tutors Zelena to cast his curse; Zelena gets everything she wants. But there is one more thing Zelena wants: the baby of Snow and Charming. Why? No idea. But the baby is needed just as much as the other three things. Maybe the baby is a new savior? Maybe Zelena wants a little brother/sister? Maybe this plan is really contrived and silly?

One more scene to discuss and I don't really want to. Having stolen Regina's heart, Zelena is quite pleased and decides to celebrate with Rumple. Her little doll is dressed up in a new suit and forced to endure a meat pie supper. But during dinner, she gives Rumple a little carrot: help me cast this time travel spell and you can have Baelfire back (well, "your boy" because they refuse to name drop Neal. They won't say his name because that would remind you that he's dead and we can't have that now can we). He's alive in the past and waiting for you. Rumple goes along with it, going so far as to apologize to Zelena and then proceed to kiss her and I'd rather not go into details because it was quite horrible. Rumple was trying to get the dagger away from Zelena, but honestly...this was his plan?? He couldn't think of something else. Zelena is having none of it though and manages to stop Rumple from getting his dagger and then informs him that he has lost his chance with Baelfire. And Rumple says that it's okay because Neal gave his life to make sure Zelena could be stopped so he will honor that.

And I rage for days. I have nothing to say about this, but the very tiny spark of hope I had also died.

Miscellaneous Notes on Bleeding Through 

--I don't understand the title of this episode. Was it that the worlds were bleeding through? The past was bleeding through?

--Yes, Robin and Regina kissed. After knowing each other for 2 days in Cursed Storybrooke. Regina is taking advantage of her knowledge that Robin is her soulmate. Robin went along with it, though. However, it did not break the curse.

--Where is Henry? Is he being watched at all?

--Emma thinks it's amusing to make things vanish. Because that will help against the witch.

--Snow says they spent their last night focusing on the past. Well that's great, but you do realize that Regina hasn't apologized for her sins right? What about the mass murder of an entire village? What about murdering your father? What about poisoning you? What about making you spend 28 years in a cursed town? Without your true love? And without your child? Stop erasing the past!

--"I thought our family were the good guys." They are Emma. But the writers don't want you to remember that.


  1. -I accepted by the end of the first season how convoluted this shows family tree was...this week, it got weird. Your conversation with the writers was spot on.
    -First, they dumb down Emma. Now they are dumbing down young Cora? Or are we to believe that she becomes who she is because of this asshole with the alluring 5 o'clock shadow?
    -I 100% agree about Zelena's father needing to be the stable boy. Parallels. This episode in particular was pointing out how connected everyone is (more so than before) and yet something as simple as stable boy vs. gardener was just cast aside. Zelena is green because magic, envy, and plot reasons. Now this "cute" thank you Adam and Eddy.
    -Cora manipulating Leo in the way she did for X-days/months shows that she was already cunning which is just showing poor writing on behalf of Adam and Eddy. Why would Cora have fallen for Gardener's tricks if she was this intelligent? I get a moment of weakness...but really...same episode....only weeks have passed....
    -WHY IN TITS MCGEE WOULD LEO KNOWINGLY MARRY THE DAUGHTER OF THE PERSON WHO LIED TO HIM AND "BROKE" HIS HEART? What sense does that make? A) Gross factor. B) Stupidity factor. C) Seriously.....
    -How did Cora think she was going to hide a baby? I get for about 4-5 months, women can conceal it with appropriate clothes. But I get the feeling Leo would have noticed..."My Darling, are you feeling well? You get sick every morning and you are putting on some weight but only in the abdominal region. And your craving of pickles is depleting our land's winter food supply..."
    -How could Cora and Gardener not know Eva was right there. Especially after a servant yells her name. Seriously?
    -Eva telling the truth is a good thing, being a snubby royal brat...not so much. But I agree that truth-telling=bad person is an odd message to be sending.
    -Do we know why Cora didn't just tell the truth? Did she think Leo was lying about taking care of her and the child? He was being a really good guy and offering to care for a child that was not his. Why can't Zelena just go back in time and tell Cora, "Hey, tell the truth. We'll both be better off." This way she doesn't have to kill Eva. Sure half the cast will not be born, but at least no one is outright murdered.

    1. 1) The stable boy would give weight to Cora hating Daniel so much. But sadly, the writers are clearly not that creative anymore.

      2) It wasn't even a week!!! It was a day! Leo says that Eva is coming down *the next day* and the next scene is Eva overhearing a now engaged Cora and Jonathan in the garden. It was, at most, two days for Leo and Cora.

      3) Some speculate that Leo never got over Cora, so he decided to take her daughter in order to fulfill his desires.

      4) Pickles. Yes.


      6) The morals of this show are so questionable right now.

      7) Cora lied for PLOT.

  2. -That cringe worthy line about pure as snow means that Eva was a vengeful brat even when Snow was born years after that event. Why would you drudge up memories of this "scandal" and name your kid after it? That would be like me having a child and calling it Misconstrued Interpretation of Religion. Because I want to look at my child day after day and be reminded of my painful history while tending to its wounds from being beat up at school due to having such an odd name. Out of all of the characters from my childhood, I never knew why they decided on Snow White as a name...and ONCE's explanation is yet another cringe-worthy factor of this episode.
    -Are we 100% that Zelena summoned the tornado? I didn't think any one person could travel world's without aid from a device (i.e. slippers, hat, bean). I've never been okay of the idea with Zelena consciously doing magic at this early a stage. Babies are barely self-aware. It could have been established that she was a natural simply from the rag scene with her father and a bit of dialogue.
    -Though I can appreciate fan service, even in minuscule is getting out of hand. Who is writing for the show now, Adam and Eddy or the fans. It makes me think of Fahrenheit 451, soon Adam and Eddy will start writing in segments so that the fans can have dialogue with the characters on screen as it is airing on Sunday's.
    -I can appreciate your hesitation on calling Snow a murderer, but technically she did the actual act. Though coerced, she still pulled the proverbial trigger.
    -I like that Emma and Regina are practicing, though I would like to see it.
    -WHAT THE FUCK HOOK? Why is he throwing wrenches in all of the time? As far as we know, he's just wandering with cursed lips...but he is actively sabotaging everything. Are they trying to get rid of Hook's character too? Is there even a plan for next season? *slams head on table*
    -I assumed that Cora was trying to help her daughter. I thought she only glared because Snow was the only other person in the house. Maybe magical beings are immune to possession? Maybe Cora planned on a Q&A with Regina, so she had to possess someone else? I don't think she ever intended to hurt Snow. But maybe I'm wrong.
    -Why would Zelena cast the curse for Rumple. Would they have ever met if she successfully changes the past? She'll get everything she wanted before that point.
    -Are you telling me that the only reason time travel is illegal in magical terms is because no one figured out how to decipher ancient texts? So it is possible, but not presently because the aliens forgot to leave a Rosetta stone? *more head banging on table*
    -A) So how can Regina feel if her heart is not in her chest. Wasn't that the whole point of Cora being a bitch for umpteen years and never feeling? How can she have feelings and these touching moments with Snow and Robin if she has no heart?
    B) I thought Robin was a/the True Love...why did the curse not break?
    -Season 3 is making me angry.

    1. 1) Eva is a brat. I didn't connect that name thing.

      2) I hope baby Zelena didn't summon the tornado because people shouldn't be able to jump worlds like that.

      3) Don't give Adam and Eddy ideas!! They'll try your conversation idea soon enough, I'm sure.

      4) Plan for next season. LOL. Cute.

      5) I don't understand Zelena's plan so I have zero answers

      6) Regina can feel for shipping and fan service reasons
      6B) Something else must break the curse, not OutlawQueen.

      --Season 3 makes me angry too.