Monday, April 27, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x19)

It's my birthday. Maybe that has nothing to do with this weeks episode, "Lily," but I thought I'd put it out there. Well, maybe it does have something to do with this weeks episode. What is a birthday? It's a time to reflect back on your life, the choices you've made, the wrongs you committed and the wrongs you've righted. It's a time to remember friends, family, and think about the future. And isn't that ultimately what Emma (and her dark hearted fated friend, our titular Lily) are doing in this episode? Remembering their friendship and all good times and the bad times and looking toward the future. Albeit, they have very different versions of the future given that Lily wants to suck the marrow from Snow and Charming's bones and make their corpses dance as she sits on the beast that rises from the sea and cackles. But hey, no one is perfect. Did I like the episode? That's always the question isn't it? For me, it's middle of the road--not great, but not horrible. This weeks episode was really about questioning if you can change fate, if you can beat destiny. Is Lily really fated to be "wrong" because of Snow and Charming's choices? Is Emma really fated to be the True Love Savior also because of Snow and Charming? And if Emma and Lily are really intertwined and have been since birth, then what does that mean for their collective and individual savior/anti-savior journeys? Grab your evil former best friend and let's go! 

The Chore Wheel Is To Blame

Can you defeat fate? And more importantly, should you try? According to the Sorcerer (who is apparently a giant blue smoke monster; a hybrid of the Man in Black and Robin Williams's Genie from 'Aladdin' in my mind) Lily and Emma's fate remain entwined as they have been and always shall be, even in spite of Lily's banishment. So when Emma was a little fetus type thing and Lily was a dragon fetus type thing, they were tied together? Who put them that way? Is "FATE" just some sort of universal force that no one can control or wield and we are merely puppets on strings; or does the Sorcerer have a larger role to play in this? Let's face it: the entire way the Sorcerer was presented, pillar of smoke, talking in a disembodied voice to his supplicant who fears to appear before this entity? It's not subtle; it's Moses and God, or really any kind of prophet/servant of the Lord and Yahweh Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts if you don't know your ancient Hebrew). The Sorcerer seems to be the show's own God-insert which makes me wonder if the Sorcerer is some sort of omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent figure then doesn't He control fate? Doesn't he make up these rules about who is tied to whom? Doesn't matter who it is--Lily and Emma; Emma and Neal; Snow and Charming; Regina and Robin. The Sorcerer is the clockmaker. Everyone is a cog and together we turn and create life around us but only once the clockmaker has put all the pieces in and wound it up. If The Sorcerer is God and Controller of Fate, then we have to wonder why he set up Lily and Emma to be so fated together. Is Lily some sort of Anti-Savior--a force to drive Emma to her final monomyth-laden fate? All Saviors need someone or something to battle against--Cora, Pan, Zelena, and Ingrid might be good seasonal villains (well, less so with Zelena) but a True Savior, in all their archetypical glory, needs someone equally mythic and cosmic to prevail against. Moreover, does the Sorcerer have an outlet in our world? If he's controlling the wheel of fate (not to be confused with the chore wheel though Lily seems to have a particular disdain for that as well) then he has to be controlling the fates of Emma and Lily in our world: putting them in Minnesota, putting them in Boston. Even their stories seem eerily similar with the same symbols, like necklaces and boy/girl crime sprees. If the Sorcerer can dictate fate in our world, then what does that mean for us humans here on planet Earth? My point is this; how much of this is fated (and perhaps controlled by the Sorcerer) and how much of this is simply based on choices? And which matters more in this universe? Regina says that our actions are our own but fate pushes us, yet it seems like fate is doing more than just pushing our characters. It seems to be dictating them. You know, like throwing a wolf out into the road so that your car gets a flat tire and you end up meeting your very own Anti Savior at a coffee shop. And for a show that has harped on "evil isn't born, it's made" we have two episodes in a row now where two characters are evil more so because of their nature and how they were born and not because of their choices. Is there an actual mission statement? Maybe. And I'll get to that in a bit.

So is Lily really evil? How do you even answer a question like that? No, really. Try. I'll wait. You can't can you? Neither can I. I don't know how to define objective evil and most people in this world don't know how to either. We have very little concept of objective evil because our world is so utterly subjective. Most of us would agree that slavery and rape are objective evil. Even something like murder gets murky because figures like soldiers and police officers, those who normally get the hero label, have to kill all the time. It's not pretty but we don't call it objective evil. We call it justice or war or doing the job. So if the two objective evils in this world are rape and slavery at the least, then is Lily really evil? Adult Lily tells Emma that because of her (and Emma's parents) she is hard wired to make bad choices, but that is a wholly confusing sentiment. We're all hard wired to make bad choices because, at the end of the day, humans are lazy, sloppy, greedy, lustful, and selfish. We all want what we want and we want it now. It's okay. It's what makes us human. It's not a bad thing; but it's our ability to walk away from being lazy, sloppy, greedy, lustful, and selfish that makes us better than our baser selves. Lily chalking all of this up to being hard wired is saying that she's no different from anyone else. And that may actually be the point in this philosophical exercise. How so? Well, put a pin in that because I'm going to come back to in a moment. But first: Lily knows everything that Emma wants to tell her because the Apprentice appeared to her on the bus and told her she was special. Note, for the children in the audience, if you are approached by a strange man who claims that you are special and he can show you how and why, run as fast as you can, scream for help and get to a well lighted area. Oof. Really, OUAT? Anyway, here are the questions involving that super special bus moment (beside why Lily didn't scream and run away): is the Apprentice indirectly responsible for Lily and her behaviors? First, he didn't appear to Lily until she was 15 or so, letting her bad decision making go unchecked for over a decade. Second, when he did finally step in, it was to tell her all about the Two Idiots who wronged her, putting her on the path she is currently on which is to burn Snow and Charming over a large BBQ. Once again, is Lily responsible for her actions or was she fated to be this way?

Savior And Anti Savior 

It's the oldest story there is--black and white, light and dark, good and evil. Except, even here on OUAT where things have reached soap opera levels of stupid (oh, we'll get there my friends. We'll get there) it's much more complicated. So I told you to put a pin in the Lily being just like everyone else idea and here's why. Emma has a choice: kill Lily or don't kill Lily. Lily has a choice: accept what happened to her and forgive or don't accept what happened to her and don't forgive. It's the same kind of choice we face every single day here on planet Earth (though, perhaps, without the theatrics). Lily isn't pure evil anymore than Emma is pure goodness and light. Even before learning about what her parents did and going down this darker path, Emma was given to fits of rage, jealousy, greed, selfishness, and has lied, stolen, and been violent. She is not some ray of light in a dark and abysmal world. Lily, by the same token, is not some dark and abysmal figure. She might have made wrong choices but she's also kind, sweet, caring, nurturing, forgiving, and helpful. She doesn't exist as a raincloud to Emma's sunshine. There are no heroes and villains; just real people with real problems (though, again, perhaps without all the drama). The entire point of this season wants to show (whether or not it's being executed well, I'll decide at the end of the season) that the line between heroes and villains is nonsensical and nonexistent. The Savior can go dark and the Anti Savior can be good. There is darkness in Emma and there is light in Lily just as there is in every single character on this show. What is going to matter more than what destiny says they are is who they say they are. Does Emma accept that while she is the Savior and responsible for the happy endings of everyone in Storybrooke, she might also have to be a little dark in order to understand the light? My answer is yes. The Savior (in all their mythic glory) cannot truly walk in the light until they understand the darkness. They must be tempted and tested and pushed to the point of no return before they reach their apotheosis and become the godhead or the ultimate Savior of the Universe or the Eternal Champion or the Prince that was Promised or the Dragon Reborn or any other fantasy/religious title you want to throw at me. That's Emma's journey right now.

One final topic and one that isn't moral or philosophical or archetypical but rather something so insultingly stupid that I laughed for 5 minutes solid. Of course Zelena is pregnant. Of course. Because while OUAT likes to dance with those deep questions that I've been putting forth in this review, it also likes its big shiny reveal and Tweetable moments. Zelena carrying her sister's soul mate's child? Daytime soap opera at it's finest (worst?) It is so unbelievably cringe worthy that I really hope everyone sees how simply ludercrious this is so I don't have to explain it. In an episode that had some pretty heavy quandaries, the fact that it ends with the most cliche and squicky reveal in this show's history pretty much sums up the show as a whole. It tries to be something deep and meaningful and offer commentary on life and the universe...and then your sister reveals that she's carrying your boyfriend's love child. Just when you think there is substance, the flash returns. I will say this; I think it's very likely that Zelena is lying about being pregnant because it's how she plans to keep Robin with her and cause Regina pain. Though, what's her end game? In nine months even stupid, straw-headed Robin is bound to notice that there is no baby being born to Zelena. And honestly, how far does your code really take you, Robin? The woman raped you and is carrying your child in order to torture another person and still you think you should stay. Your code is often frustrating but nevermore so than now. If Zelena is not lying and she really is carrying Green Hood Baby then, obviously, we're not getting rid of Zelena this year. Doesn't that just beat all? Here's hoping no one tries to cast the darkness from little Green Hood into another living soul! God, ain't fate a bitch?

Miscellaneous Notes on Lily

--Some of the dialogue between Young Emma and Young Lily was tortuously bad and cheesy. "It's like my whole life is darkness and when you're around, things are brighter." Not only is that full of the worst kind of cheese, it also feels pretty Queer Bait-y.

--Rumple's speech to Belle was quite nice but I'm not so sure this was the end of Rumbelle. I think at the very least, it's the end of Scarlett Beauty. Which is such a shame because it's totally been developed in the show to be believable and poignant (I'm holding up a Sheldon Cooper-esque Sarcasm sign). Do I ship Rumbelle again? Nope. But, I have to admit, I had some pretty Rumbelle positive feelings during that final shop scene.

-- Seriously, little not follow strangers just because they offer you food! Stranger! Danger!

--I'm not touching the hot button ethnicity issues of Adult Lily with a ten foot pole.

--Emma is inside Neal's apartment for the first time since his death and she has no emotional reaction whatsoever. I would rage about this but Emma, while undergoing a cosmologically significant journey, is still Pod! Emma. 

--Could someone please tone down Maleficent's lipstick? It blinds me. Though, in other makeup news, at least Emma has gotten over her case of Ebola Eyes.

--Zelena is pregnant. I really need to end on this hilarity.

1 comment:

  1. -"What is done, is done."-Sorcerer I call bullshit; if the writer's can retcon, why can the Sorcerer/God not do the same.
    -Why would there be any mention of Lily's mystery "baby found in the woods" news article be in the SB archives? It is an isolated town; it makes zero sense.
    -Why is Will here? Seriously...why? We never got an explanation about Anna, and after the Rumbelle scene, it looks like BelleHart or whatever the ship name was is over anyway. Just because you are highly rated on one show, does not mean you will fit into another. (Unless you are Elizabeth Mitchell; I adore her in all that I have seen her in and they either kill off her character or cancel the needs to stop.)
    -Everyone knows that Rumple is in town now...I don't get why he is still delegating all of his deeds. Speaking of Rumple...since when does plot device-y all seeing orb come into play?
    -Why did Regina and Emma not bring any outside magic in case of emergency, or at the very least a locator spell kit...for all they know, Lily could have been out to sea near could have been months before they found her. Or God-forbid that Regina and Emma got split up and a mugger confronted is just stupid and irresponsible to not be prepared; ironically given that young Emma's family were packing for a out-of-home excursion.
    -Why was Regina wasting time with Lily when Robin was in potential danger...they wasted days, weeks, (unknown amount of time since according to Issac time really doesn't matter)...
    -Why did the Heaven's crack and Buggy's lights blow out when Lily hit Emma? That would give the semblance of magic in a land where it cannot exist. Lightning, okay...maybe a storm was there, coincidence, but the blow out...not so much. exactly was Cruella's death an accident? It was done with intention to prevent Henry from being killed. Though "regrettable," still intentional.
    -Didn't the Sorcerer tell the Apprentice to mitigate the damage done by Issac? His idea of fixing things is to give the little Spit-fire ammunition, as well as a gun to go blazing off and killing people? Why in tits would that be a way of calming things down or rectifying what Issac did?
    -Didn't Regina get Belle's permission to remove the heart? That seems like a huge step backwards for Regina if she just took Belle's heart. Belle seemed like she wanted to help, but then looked so confused when it was told that her heart was in a box.
    -Why would Robin and Not-Marian want another kid? They already fight in front of one while they squat in an apartment with no known means of income. Why would this have been a good idea?
    -Why would Lily think/believe that it is Snowing's fault that she is "evil?" She knows about Issac and what he is not only capable of, but also what he has been doing. He wrote it that way; the Charming's did not decide.