Monday, November 17, 2014

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

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

Frozen 3: The Horror Never Ends

Short version: a plan to trap Ingrid in the urn goes horribly awry because of course it does.

Long version: Ingrid isn't happy that her family is falling to pieces--oh, mirror pun! This is the biggest reason why this episode did not need to be two hours. This entire flashback could have easily been done in one, but they felt the need to drag it out as long as possible by making everyone speak in really clunky dialogue. Most of the two hours was just explanation and exposition: "this is a plan that we have come up with after we learned this information about this other member of our family! We will now explain it to the audience who are too stupid to comprehend sense and logic!" I don't need five minutes of Elsa and Anna discussing their plan for Ingrid; it's pretty obvious that they are going to trick her into the urn. And it doesn't help that most of this conversation is also just an excuse for Anna to say "funny" (notice the quotes) things. The writers knew they needed to flesh out two hours worth of TV so they put in as much filler as possible. Of course this plan is going to go horribly wrong. Of course Elsa is going to end up in the urn by the end of all this. Of course Ingrid will having something to do with it. Of course Hans is frozen in a wardrobe. Wait, what? Why? Why is Hans in a wardrobe? Oh! I know why! It's so Anna could say, "he's...FROZEN." Get it? FROZEN. He's FROZEN, guys. Like the movie. You know, the movie that made billions of dollars and is now singlehandedly responsible for saving ONCE's ass? Yeah that one. Whatever.

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

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

Orgasmic Rainbow of Self-Love

Short version: Emma's plan to get rid of her magic goes horrible wrong because of course it does! And Rumple is a  monster.

Long version: Emma's magic is still fritzy and everyone in town is super worried--except for Regina who wants to have more sex with Robin the crypt where her father is buried. Fuck this show. I'm sorry. I normally don't openly curse like that on this blog, but I needed to. I will, henceforth, be ignoring all OutlawQueen nonsense until someone smacks some sense (and morals) into Adam and Eddy. Emma accidentally hurt Henry which causes her to want to get rid of her powers for good; thus, she goes to the only person who can probably help her: Rumple. Well, isn't that jolly and super convenient? Luckily, Rumple has just the thing that will make Miss Swan's magic go poof like so many hopes and dreams I once had about this little show. He's gonna suck her into that hat! But, because this episode is 2 hours long, we have to drag it out with a lot of silliness. The Charmings need a pep talk from Regina (are you kidding me) because they've decided to give up on Emma and not to do the right thing by going after her and stopping her plan to get rid of her magic or at least TALK to her. Robin and Will Scarlett need to spend time in the public library making wisecracks about Cats in Hats (dear lord if the season 5 villain is the Cat in the Hat...) and we all have to act like the tiny little scratch on Henry's neck from Emma's power backfire is a life or death situation that could result in Henry bleeding to death at any moment! Lord. Give me strength. Oh, and there is some nonsense about Hook and Rumple and Hook's (too perfectly red) heart.

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

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

Miscellaneous Notes on Smash the Mirror

--Seriously, why was this episode two hours long?

--"I have his hat." Such good dialogue.

--Emma suddenly hates Happy the Dwarf! If you're familiar with ONCE fandom then you know that this might be a reference to the hell that went down between actors Jennifer Morrison and Michael Coleman (Happy) when the latter said something about SwanQueen. ONCE writers: always professional.

--Is Will an alcoholic?

--And Anna didn't just close her eyes when the shards of glass were flying towards her slowly because...?

--"I undid all the good. Neal is still gone; the town is still in danger; and Belle knows who I am, and that's a man who always chooses power." Sigh. I miss the Rumple I would have defended unto death.

--You have no idea how badly I was hoping that Rumple would crush the Pirate's heart.

--Sex in a crypt. Ladies and gentlemen: Once Upon A Time


  1. "I don't even recognize the man who stood in a dark wood and pleaded for forgiveness from the man he thought was his son, or begged to hold the hand of Neal as he thought he lay dying."

    He was also the man who murdered his ex-wife in cold blood, who manipulated a woman into killing one of his ex-lovers in order to survive and then threw said woman under the bus for it, and who was seconds away from murdering his own grandson regardless of the anguish it would cause his own beloved son. The good things he's done and sympathetic moments he's had does not and should not negate all the monstrous stuff or somehow make it impossible for him to commit any more such crimes.

    It was said way back in 1x19 that Baelfire was the ONLY thing keeping his humanity alive when he's the Dark One, it makes perfect sense that his death would push Rumple into full-on villainy. He wanted to change and thought a happy married life with Belle could do it, but it can't. Not so long as he has power and the opportunity to gain more. Until/unless Rumple is completely depowered and returned to the regular peasant he used to be, nobody in-show and out of it should trust him to do the right thing. That's what Robert Carlyle has always said, even recently, is the appeal of the character: he is capable make the right choices and often wants to, but will inevitably make what he knows full well are the wrong choices because he's been just THAT damaged and addicted to power over the centuries, and the results will complicate things for everyone.

    I honestly can't see anything wrong or illogical with how Rumple is being written here, it's Regina's presentation (for both the book fuckery and the -literal- fuckery with Robin Hood) that's grating on my nerves.

    1. Yes, Rumple has done really terrible things. But the difference is that those terrible decisions were well reasoned within the writing. I've never justified his killing of Milah, but you could understand WHY he was doing all this. And when he manipulated Regina and half of the EF to get to our world, there was a (for me) sympathetic reasoning behind it--Nealfire. And even if it wasn't sympathetic, it was clear and logical.

      But now, I don't know why he simply wants ALL the power. There is no reason behind it besides "I am a villain." He needs to do some explaining. If he were to suddenly say that getting all this power served some purpose--nefarious or otherwise--then I would go from there. But as it stands, he's just running through SB grabbing power from people for no clear reason outside of self interest and addiction. Yet, at the start of the season, he decided to give up all that to honor Neal, decided to give the dagger back to Belle. And then a sudden plot device (hat!) appears and he's just pure evil. It doesn't compute, and all the character development of the past 3 seasons (like sacrificing himself) is just POOF up in smoke.

      I understand if can't see it as wrong or illogical--that's what analyzing TV is about, right? I know others agree with me, not that this makes me "right." Subjectivity means none of us are right.

      The less I say about Regina the better. Between Robin and the whole "this book made me a villain" nonsense I want to claw my eyes out.

      Thanks for reading!