Monday, April 20, 2015
In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x18)
So Cruella wasn't scorned by a man and then went evil over how unfair her life was without a man. I mean, let's all take a moment and appreciate that ONCE actually didn't go this incredibly misogynistic route like they have many times before in which women feel worthless or can no longer be good because "my man done left and hurt me!" The aspect of this narration that I truly appreciated was that for most of the episode you thought that's exactly where this backstory was going. The Author up and did something nasty to the poor woman and she went evil because her heart was broken. But nope! Cruella is actually a sociopath who enjoys killing and couldn't care less about the Author...and probably gives even less thought to the rest of humanity. Her backstory isn't in keeping with the idea that evil isn't born, it's made, but it is something utterly different from that now trite and repetitive theme that has been hammered home to us about a million times now. I appreciate the difference. I think there is probably a line somewhere with mental illness and it's very possible that the writers crossed it (I'm honestly not sure since I'm not a mental health expert) but sociopathy is a condition that causes this kind of behavior--not caring about others, being able to fake emotions to gain trust and sympathy, using everyone around you in a manipulative way. Does it make you evil? No. Does it mean that the ill person should die? No. But I do recognize that in this fairy tale world story, Cruella's danger was to everyone around her and in order to advance some parts of the story and move it forward, she was going to go down, even if it might make me question (once again) the mortality of the show. But I'm sort of talking in circles and getting ahead of myself. Let's really look at Cruella here in all her sociopathic and crazed glory. Let's dive in and splash around in that darkness, eh?
There wasn't a whole lot going on in present day Storybrooke which is why this is going to be much shorter (yes, yes, yes. I'll talk about Rumbelle later.) Really the entire present day story was leading up to Emma killing Cruella to save Henry, not knowing that the Author had written that Cruella could never harm another soul as long as she lived. It was a good twist, but this is the question I really want to ask: Is this really enough to make Emma go dark, like Gold hopes and planned? Because, this was, in Emma's mind, justifiable homicide. She doesn't know that Cruella has been "banned" from hurting people and is unable to actually hurt Henry. All Emma knows is that the lunatic has a gun pointed at her son and has every intention of using it--or so Emma thinks. What wouldn't a mother do in this situation? See. There we go. We're back to that that question that ONCE has always wondered about; namely, what lengths would a parent go to in order to protect their child? From Rumple ripping apart worlds, to Snowing taking Emma's supposed darkness and putting it in Lily to Emma killing another person to save Herny, the theme of parents and their offspring is one that keeps coming back up. Even in the flashback, Cruella's mother believed that there was no way to fix Cruella (and to be fair, there isn't) so for other people's safety and for Cruella's, she locked her in an attic. Should this act of preserving her child really cause Emma to go evil? And if it does, what does that say about all the other acts parents have committed in the name of their children but has not caused them to go all red-eyed (no, seriously. What is up with JMo's look lately?) and demonic. Did Snowing go evil after the Lily incident? No. They tried to be better heroes. And we constantly see how Regina's love for Henry is really her saving grace. So for Emma to go full on Dark Side after this leaves me with a lot of questions about continuity and fairness. The writers have been playing up Evil! Emma this season but the way of getting her there leaves a lot to be desired. In other news, how the heck does Henry have no survival skills yet? This kid has been kidnapped how many times now? Many. The answer is many. And he still can't manage to get away from the crazy people? Seriously, kid. Start carrying some pepper spray. I think I am going to paraphrase Buffy here, "Henry's in trouble. Must be Sunday."
--Alright. Let's do Rumbelle. Kill me now. Or just give me lots to drink. First off, I have a lot of issues with the idea that Belle would willingly give up her heart to the Evil Queen, a woman who held her captive for 30 years. But moreover, that moment in the woods (while well acted) was just full of NO. The way "Belle" spoke to Rumple was hard to watch. And why didn't Rumple realize he wasn't kissing is True Love? Shouldn't you know that? Also, ex husband? When did that happen? How did that happen? Did she fax him divorce papers while he was in NYC living on Ramen?
--"I'm a really terrible person." Well, she did warn us. Also, dragon eggshell to keep your youth. The hell is that?
--Emma is behaving like a petulant child right now. I get that she's angry; she has every right to be. But to say that she doesn't trust Snowing and Charming with Henry's life?? Are you kidding me? They'd never hurt Henry. It's actually the opposite of their Lily story--they protected their family first and foremost. If the writers want me to buy that Emma has grown as a character then she needs to develop a new coping mechanism.
--Speaking of Emma, I also have a really big problem with the idea that because the villains--Hook and Regina in this case--never touted themselves as paragons of virtue, their deeds aren't as bad or reprehensible. That's...not how this works Emma. That's not how any of this works.