Monday, October 6, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x2)

Bo Peep is an evil warlord with a magic stick that can brand people and make them her flock so that she never loses them. 

I want you to read that sentence again. Then I want you to think back to season one when this show had style but substance, heart, drama, emotions, morals, and decent writing. Then, after you've contemplated all that, I want you to re-read the first sentence above and tell me how the HELL that fits into what ONCE was. Hint: it doesn't. I liked this episode less than last weeks; this week was slow, boring, overly contrived and didn't advance the plot at all. Oh, Charming and Anna knew each other? Okay. Oh, Charming's father was an alcoholic? Um, sure. Oh, Elsa and Emma are going to bond over inability to control their magic and being scared of what they are? Actually, I like that, but I was on a roll. Let's see: oh Captain Hook continues to pout that he's not getting the proper amount of attention? There. Three bad things. This weeks episode, "White Out," wanted to give some thematic understanding of not letting fear stop you from living your life. I guess that's relevant but you know what, like the Doctor said, "fear is a super power." Sometimes, fear is good. But any theme ONCE was trying to drive is pretty much covered up with frills, a shepherd's crook, and sheep. Seriously. Bo Peep is a warlord. 

Baaaaaaaaad Writing

On some level, this is a good idea. Charming--who is just David right now--has very few friends outside of Snow. It's the biggest problem I have with David and Snow as a couple; they are so wrapped up in each other that they never exist outside of each other. Now, I would have liked if this flashback actually took place when David was married to show that he could have substantial relationships outside of Snow, but I'll take what I can get. Fans have been clamoring to know more about Charming who, for being the original male hero of the story, is super under developed. Mixed in with this is the desire to know more about Charming's father--theories abound on this one: knight of the Round Table, King Arthur, ect. The writers decide to kill two birds with one stone and give us Charming's father's back story and I am just going to say it: not everyone has one bad parent, ONCE. Get over this trope and get over it right now. It's officially annoying. Well, it was annoying before but now it's just straight up laziness. Don't think that you can flesh out one of your core characters in five seconds by providing an overly cliche story of a woefully inept father. There is nothing wrong with Charming having two loving parents, but nope. You had to go and make his father a drunk who died in a cart accident. Yes, that is a thing that happens in the Enchanted Forest. However this is not the truly heinous writing in this weeks episode.

This is. This could have been playful and been the show trying to make fun of itself and its constant attempt to gender bend or twist the classic stories you knew as a kid. But the acting, the costuming, the actual plot of a warlord who calls herself Bo Peep and brandishes a magical stick that makes people part of her flock...ludercrious. And not in a ha-ha funny way. I mean just straight up sheer lunacy. It's embarrassing for the show that once gave us episodes like Skin Deep and Manhattan. And you know what the most egregious thing might be? If they had toned down the absurd acting and costuming and flash in the pan like quality, this had potential. A terrible warlord who can enslave people from the Enchanted Forest and make them work for her to pay off debt? Actually an interesting storyline but one we all know that they won't develop further. And that's one of ONCE"s biggest problems: they introduce new villains every episode while simultaneously having a separate villain arc but the two never line up. Blackbeard had nothing to do with Zelena. And Bo Peep will having nothing to do with--the villain of the season (we'll get to her). How many baddies are there in the Enchanted Forest? And how many of them can inexplicably use magic? What happened to just Regina and Rumple and the fairies as the power in the lands? So what does Bo Peep want?

Charming's farm, if he can't pay his debt. Otherwise, he will be her slave for he is part of her flock and she always knows how to find them. Good Lord. Are we sure this episode was written by Jane Espenson? I am a lover of all things Jane but this couldn't possibly be hers. Also, look at this photo. This is some Harlequin Romance fluff right here. "I can't fight! It is better to survive. Will you miss me, my sweet?" "You must fight! However shall I survive without you and your flowing locks?" "To the barn my love. I want to show you my new riding trick!" Honestly, at one point, I thought they were going to try and romanticize Anna and Charming. It doesn't help that she tackled him in a barn and then straddled him for a few moments. There is some hubbub about Bo Peep kidnapping Anna and making her part of the flock by branding but of course Charming miraculously wins against Bo in a sword fight after learning to fight just 24 hours before and gets Anna back and the day is saved and oh hip hip hooray! The main message here is that survival is not living, and that even if the battle cannot be won, it must be fought. This is something present day Charming believes in quite a bit so it's nice to see where he got it, especially since our first real introduction to him is as a farmer who fought a dragon. The flashbacks were just incredibly lackluster though. The writers are taking every opportunity to insert the Frozen characters into places to keep the new audience that only came because of Frozen entertained. If they think I don't notice then, I've got news for them. I do.


Emma got herself a friend. It's a bloody miracle. Every interaction Emma has is mostly male (and romantic) or her mother and father with whom she has an incredibly sketchy and complicated relationship. So, yes, I am applauding ONCE for giving Emma an honest to goodness friend. Now for a criticism. It won't last. Elsa will most likely be gone by the end of these eleven episode and never reappear meaning that Emma will lose the only sincere friend she's had since Neal died. Yeah, that's right. I went there. Neal was also a friend, not just a lover. Elsa, though, has endangered the lives of everyone in Storybrooke twice now. She created an ice monster that almost crushed Maid Marian and now she has put up a giant wall of ice that prevents anyone from leaving...a town that no one can leave anyway. I suppose Elsa doesn't know that. Still. Redundant prevention method is redundant. Also, does the Wall of Ice guard the realms of men? Is it the Sword in the Darkness? Are there Watchers on the Wall? Obvious A Song of Ice and Fire reference is obvious.

Emma is not equipped for the cold, but it never bothered Elsa, anyway. Yes, the show went there. Trapped inside the Ice Wall/Cave, Emma is slowly freezing to death while trying to figure out what Elsa wants in Storybrooke. It's a race against the clock but in the meantime, Elsa and Emma bond over their difficulties with magic. Emma is the world's most ineffectual savior (cold should not stop true love's powers!) and Elsa no longer has her safety blanket (Anna) so she's all out of whack. It's nice that Emma has someone who understands her since they killed the last person who understood her and made her walls come down (the pirate in black doesn't count. He doesn't exist apart from my need to openly criticize his demands for dates and special time even though Emma told him to be patient. Step off, Hook; Step. Off.) Like the flashbacks, the present day stuff was really just a bunch of running around, yelling, and exposition. There was nothing to latch on to. I never once felt that Emma was in real danger or that Charming and He Who Shall Not Be Named wouldn't get to her in time or that Elsa wouldn't find the power inside her to make the walls come tumbling down. So Emma and Elsa get out from the wall/cave (really, what was it exactly?) but the wall/cave doesn't fall. Why?

This I am legitimately excited for. I love Elizabeth Mitchell; loved her on LOST and V and Revolution and it's nice to see her in Storybrooke. My guess? She's the original Ice Queen. And knowing ONCE, she'll be related somehow to the Frozen sisters. We've had bad mothers, bad fathers, bad sisters. How about a bad Aunt? Elsa and Anna's mother's sister. Why not. I wonder what her name is in this reality. Something cold. Oh, also, she runs an ice cream shop. That's clever, actually. That's almost season one clever. She seems to have control over her powers but at the same time, anything she touches gets Frozen (copyright Disney). What does she want? More power? Does she want Elsa? Does she have Anna? I hope the answers to these questions are more satisfying than this episode was. Or maybe I should just give up and accept that she's probably Henry's sister once removed on his cousins side. Oh, and she's Bo Peep. And a warlord.

Miscellaneous Notes on White Out

--Anna was much better this episode. Not as ditzy, more lovably kooky.

--Snow is now the mayor? Why? Because she cast the curse--but Regina was mayor up until last night. Also, with no experience whatsoever and not being able to read a manual written in Japanese, Snow fixed a generator because breastfeeding.

--"Why put up a wall?" "To kill us all one by one. That's what I would do." OMG. I hate you Hook. I hate you so much.

--"A store filled with things!"

--Regina doesn't want to see Henry. Of all the OOC stupidity....

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