Monday, April 13, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x17)

I have an alcoholic beverage. Please, let that be a warning to you for how I feel about this episode. What in the name of all that is holy was that? I mean, I know it was a giant cluster-frack of stupid, but what was the point of any of this weeks episode, "Heart of Gold"? Do we really need another villain on this show? Are we not drowning in villains already? Did we really need an entirely pointless trip to Oz for some really random reason like a magical potion that will cure magically thick blood (only..why did Rumple need it in the past..?) Did we really need an entire episode devoted to Robin Hood and his so called code of honor that is anything but a code of honor? Did we really need a magical switcheroo thanks to a magical plot device (six leaf clover; lord save me from these plot devices). In short did we actually need this episode at all? Would your lives be any poorer--would the story of ONCE be any poorer--without it? No. No it wouldn't. I spent so much of this episode honestly wondering what was going on and so confused that even on my second re-watch I wasn't sure if I got all the plot points. This whole episode--and this whole show now--are designed for one thing: the shock value. They don't care about heart and emotion and treating their characters like human beings; they care about buzzworthy moments that you can tweet about with clever hashtags. Worst episode of the arc by far, and maybe one of the worst episodes period. Grab your lucky six leaf clover and let's go. Also, drink every time I ask you "what is the point?" It'll be fun!

The Not So Triumphant And Totally Unneeded Return To Oz

How about a semi-nontraditional review? I haven't done one in a while.

PLOT: Rumple sends Robin to Oz to retrieve a plot device never heard of nor seen before in the history of this show and one that has no ties (that I can think of) to mythology or Disney Lore.

This is Stupid Because: Why does Rumple need Robin Hood to travel to Oz? Why does he need Robin to get this magical elixir? He says he can't do it himself since Zelena doesn't want to see Rumple, but why not put on a disguise? Change your appearance? We know magicians in this show do it all the time. In present day, yes, it makes sense for why Rumple needs this elixir with the really specific name but why in the past? Is it just a precaution? Because Rumple isn't experiencing any thick-blood symptoms in the past; he isn't weak, fatigued, and he has magic so he can cure himself--which is exactly what he tells Robin he used to do while he lies in a hospital bed. While in Storybrooke, Rumple used magic to prevent what is happening to him, so the logic should follow that in the Enchanted Forest, Rumple did the same. So again, I ask you why is Rumple showing up, fully cloaked and speaking in his over the top cockney accent, to ask Robin to go to Oz? What was the point?

To add insult to injury, what is the point of Will Scarlett in Oz? Or better yet, how did he get to Oz? And how did he get out? And how did Will then met up with Robin Hood once back in the Enchanted Forest? Why is Will even part of this show? What is the point of Will right now? Can Will Scarlett get character development outside of Robin at all? Does anyone else remember Wonderland and how wonderful Will was in that; how he went from a guy with no heart to someone who gave probably the best speech ONCE has ever given about the power of true love? And now Will is just the random comic relief and he added nothing to this plot or show. Robin did not need to met Will on the road; he knew he was going after the elixir (for whatever reason you want to fanwank away to) so adding Will is one hundred percent unnecessary. The only thing that I think might be relevant in the here and now (let's not worry about what may or may not be coming for season 5) is that they had Will mention his sister again. Is Penelope--the sister--in any way related to the current plot? Is she secretly Cruella? I mean, why not, right? Secret identities are all the rage right now. If Marian can be Zelena using a magical 6-leaf clover in a shiny jar to transform and glammer herself, then I guess Cruella can really be Will's long lost dead sister. And, finally, there really is no point in talking about Zelena in Oz in the past. It was maybe the briefest appearance by a character in their own mythology to date. She just thew some fire balls, got knocked down, and that was that. The writers just want you to be excited to see a former character; and yes, there are Zelena fans but really...did anyone actually miss her and say to themselves "golly, I wish I could see Zelena again for five seconds while she just saunters toward Robin and then awkwardly throws fireballs." This trip to Oz was a total waste and left me with way more questions about how portals work and how people move about realms, but the questions are just exhausting at this rate. So...move on? That's what I am supposed to do, right? I'm not supposed to worry my pretty little head about such silly things like logic, plot, and continuity.

Everybody Is A White Woman

PLOT: The longest lasting Person of Color on this show turns out to be a white woman who is now sexing her sister's true love and forcing her former mind-rape victim to write her a happy ending. And we are supposed to cheer that she has returned from beyond the grave.

This is Stupid Because: do I really even need to say? Really? Do I need to sit here and tell you how horrible this is? Once Upon A Serious Race Problem. I talked about this back in my review of 314, "The Tower" in which Rapunzel was the very definition of a filler character and was only there to prop up Charming but this is a new low. This is the lowest of the low and sadly major racial issues are happening every single season now. Every year, every arc, there is some Person of Color character who is treated appallingly by the writers. Either they die quickly, are really a white person in disguise, submissive, or an obstacle. And, in this case, it's all for the sake of promoting a very troubled relationship! This is the OUAT writers wanting to have their cake and eat it too, damn the consequences of what it means from a racial standpoint and how it makes their entire writing staff look either completely out of touch or incredibly racist! What do I mean by the cake metaphor? Last season, the writers on the show decided that they weren't done playing with their favorite Green-Skinned Toy so they decided that she survived Rumple's attempted killing. While I hate that idea, it's at least in line with how TV runs mostly. No one is ever truly dead and people come back all the time (unless you're Neal). But the writers also wanted to have a lot of Outlaw Queen drama because sex and triangles sell and so to hell with morals or logic or codes or honor, right? And so we got an entire half season of never ending OQ drama, complete with sex in a crypt and now none of that matters. Why? Because Marian was never Marian. She was Zelena all along and the real Marian was evaporated by Zelena in the Enchanted Forest of the Past when Hook and Emma went through her time portal (because heaven forbid they keep a strong woman of color on this show!) Now, the fact that Robin broke all his codes of honor and chivalry don't matter at all--it wasn't his wife; in fact it was a villain who takes delight in breaking her poor sister's heart by screwing her soul mate! It's cheap; it's tawdry; it's remedial. And frankly, it's a sign that the writers on this show don't care about telling a good and honest story, they care about heightened drama and things that make people gasp but not in a thought provoking kind of way. Only in a way that gets them to tweet excitedly. It's all flash in the pan and no substance.

Okay, I've been plenty snarky for awhile, let's do something different. How about we discuss my favorite moment of the episode, though of course I did have some serious issues with it as well. This speech Rumple gave Robin outside the hospital was quite beautiful and quite reminiscent to who Rumple used to be--the Rumple I loved. It was also the most he spoke of his son in a very long time, as if Rumple (or the writers) suddenly remembered that Baelfire was part of this show once. Rumple, in this scene, recognizes that he did have happiness. But as he does, Rumple let it go, he pushed it away. Rumple dropped Bae down a portal and wasn't content to be married to Belle. As he says, "a man who pushed away every chance at happiness because it was never enough." That is Rumple in a nutshell; so why do I still have issues? Because that thesis of Rumple hasn't been playing out on screen. He has been myopically focused on his power but with no underlying desire for his happy ending until he lost it all at the end of the FROZEN ALL THE THINGS--which would have included Bae. Even if Michael Raymond-James never came back to this show (and I'm not expecting that he ever would want to return) Rumple not trying to bring back his boy after searching for three hundred years? After this speech in which he understands that he did have his happy ending once? Makes no sense. None whatsoever. And now he's being expected to get a happy ending for the woman who murdered his son (and gleefully gloats about it) and mind-raped him for a year. And we're supposed to be thrilled that Zelena is back. Nope. Not even remotely.

I'm going to be honest. My heart isn't into this review this week--be it praise or snark. The frustrating and lackluster (and very rage inducing) episode has just left me sad and angry and not wanting to even think about how truly terrible this episode was. And it was truly that terrible. It's not even a matter of not seeing our regular cast members. Stand alone episodes of guest stars can work well enough if the material is strong; but the cheap and sickening morals and ethics coupled with the overwhelming number of plot devices and silly reveals just leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I miss when this show made me happy; when I found something new and exciting every week. Now I just watch with half closed eyed, thinking about all atrocities they are committing. There were other ways to end Marian and Robin without resorting to some serious blatant racism. There were ways to introduce the Elixir of the Wounded Heart without the unnecessary Oz trip. This show claims that it wants to push boundaries but in reality it just falls, head first, into the oldest and silliest of soap opera tropes. And with that note, see everyone next week.

Miscellaneous Notes on Heart of Gold

--Get out of Neal's apartment and get out of it right now. I don't care what excuse they come up with for why Regina has Neal's keys in the first place. Zelena name dropping him is the first time we get a Nealfire reference in HOW LONG and it’s from people who could care less that he’s dead (not to mention his murderer) and instead of it being meaningful and heartfelt, to show that characters who should care--like Emma and Henry--have actual human emotions and aren’t just caricatures and robots only focused on shiny shiny magic and PLOT….it’s to hint at what is to come plot wise–brief and unneeded outside of shiny shiny plot. That is what is offense. Neal is mentioned in passing for PLOT not because the characters on this show should actually want to talk about him as if he was a meaningful part of this story because guess what–HE WAS. Get out of Neal's apartment, you perfect strangers.

--Rumple doesn't want Neal's things--well, fine. But maybe Henry does???

--"I am only the Savior because you altered my entire being at the expense of another soul." No, I don't think that is how this works Emma. You're actually only the Savior because of your parents true love and the fact that Rumple put a drop of it on a scroll. Nothing about this news affects you or casts dispersions of your saviorhood.

--"You're the biggest pain in the ass I've ever had the displeasure of writing about." Ok, line of the night.

--How did Rumple get the Quill?

--Robin uses the clover to disguise himself when breaking into the Dark One's Castle. Okay, fine. But Belle recognized Sean Maguire (who now plays Robin) but she only met Tom Ellis (who played Robin in "Lacey") So in order to solve what was never a plot hole, but merely a standard TV business occurrence, the writers created more problems for themselves. 

--If Marian was Zelena all along, then why was "Marian's" heart bright and pure red when Regina removed it in 403?

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