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.


  1. Yeah, this would have fit just fine in the timeline (at some point after "Quite a Common Fairy") had they not decided to include that Aurora scene, because that MAJORLY throws things off-kilter. Couldn't they have just had Maleficent threaten Aurora and leave instead of outright cursing her?

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I wish they had done as you suggested. The writers say that they have a carefully constructed timeline but then they go and do this sort of stuff and it makes it pretty clear that they don't.

  2. - I may be willing to overlook their timeline atrocities if they were in to provide us with their version of the timeline so that people like you could rip it apart and call them on their stupidity.
    - How did Rumple undo BF's magic? I thought nothing could undo her magic because she is the GD BF?!?!
    - This is easily one of the dumbest moments for Belle; why would she think this is okay? Why does she trust Hook? Why would she not summon the Dark One in his true form; because a smart Belle would have done just that?
    - PS: Why does Belle calling Hook Killian bother you so much; what have I forgotten?
    - How iN TITS DOES A GPS APP WORK IN A TOWN THAT DOES NOT EXIST TO ANYONE OUTSIDE OF IT?!?!?! HOW CAN A SATELLITE DETECT AND SEE AND TRACK A PLACE THAT DOES NOT EXIST?!?!?! GLOBAL. POSITIONING. SYSTEM. I just can't with the level of stupid with this...Furthermore, why would Emma need to use that if she is tailing Halitosis-Lady's car with a following distance of less than 40 feet?!?!?!?