Monday, May 4, 2015
In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x20)
Wow, there was a lot of inappropriate man-handling in the past, amiright? Like, a lot of touching and feeling but the sort that makes you want to scrub your brain with some heavy duty, industrial strength bleach. I really did not need the Sheriff of Nottingham groping Regina nor did I need him flirting with Cora. The entire flashback--which I admit I thought had some of the weaker moments of the episode--was about Cora and Regina's first reunion since Regina pushed Cora through a mirror into Wonderland. This isn't to say I didn't like the flashbacks, more like they didn't hold my interest as much since they felt inserted and thought up for this episode only; they were never planned out from the last time we saw Cora and Regina, let's say. However, there are some really good in-character moments for these two ladies, Cora and Regina, and that is always worth noting and celebrating. Too often, lately, the characters on OUAT feel completely outside their basic paradigm, as if they are playing versions of themselves that even they don't recognize. Rumple not trying to get his son back? Snow and Charming being secret baby snatchers? All feel totally outside the basic mold of how we were told to view these characters. And while there is something to be said about character growth and change, it has to feel organic and not like it's only for the plot of the current arc. Snow and Charming are the greatest victims of this. Cora and Regina, on the other hand, have always had a very twisted relationship. It was one built on abuse and Cora's own supposed superiority. Mommy knows best, after all. Cora wanted Regina to get a happy ending so that Cora could live vicariously through her; it's something that, I think, is more grounded in the reality of our world than in the fantastical of the Enchanted Forest. Parents live for their children all the time. but not all of them have magic and the ability to remove hearts and take away your first love with a mere squeeze of their hand. Should Regina have trusted Cora as far as she did? No, but it's keeping in line with Regina's character: the daughter who only ever wanted her mother's love and approval but found it difficult to get since--lo and behold--Cora didn't have her heart inside her body for a long time. So Cora's insertion into Regina's life in a weird and twisted way (trying to get Regina to bang a man) and Regina's almost enthusiastic response to affection and attention are very much in line with how these two ladies were set up in season one, back in 'The Stable Boy.' Wow, did I just praise OUAT? Yes. Yes I did.
Meanwhile back in Storybrooke, we get more mother and daughter reunions. First up, those dragon ladies. Lily is, more of less, full of rage and anger and resentment and has little to no interest in the bonding exercises Mal has planned. No trust falls for these girls in the woods. I am going to be rather critical of OUAT and how they treat motherhood in a second, but before I do, I want to stress two things. First, I love my mom and I think mothers in general are great. Second, I really did enjoy the Mal/Lily scenes and how they came back together; how Mal accepts Lily's darkness and isn't scared by it or won't run from it. I think that's really want Lily wanted all along: acceptance. She never had a real shot in this or any world after what Snowing did to her--she was forced into darkness instead of choosing it and thus believes that no one could never chose her. But Mal does. Mal thinks she is beautiful and worthy of love and praise. It's beautiful. But now, let me put on my critical thinking cap to explain why I find some parts of this storyline bothersome. It's the idea that motherhood is salvation. While I love mothers in general, they are not saints. I'm sorry, but they aren't and I think putting that label on them is unfair. It creates impossible standards since saints are perfect vessels of heaven and incapable of erring. Mothers, no matter how great mine and yours may be, are not perfect. They err. They are human. Ok, in this case Mal is a dragon, but let's put that aside. Mal's redemption and change of heart come solely because of her daughter and finally getting to be a mom, not through any acknowledgment of past wrongdoing. Before, even as close as last episode, she was still the tough Mal we know. Pinned and put together and all together tough-mafia woman. Look at her hair in this episode versus last week. The makeup people have reverted her to a softer more "motherly" look because her daughter came home; it's the same look they gave her right after she had laid her dragon egg. No more snarling and lip curling. No more pinned up and mobster gang woman. Now, she's a mom, which means being weepy, emotional, and more demure. It's a problem. Maybe Mal can still be a "tough dragon bitch" but that's not how the writers conceive of her anymore now that she's Mom! Mal and not Villain! Mal. The issue? It's just the tiniest bit (okay, more than a tiny bit) misogynistic but not the sort of misogyny we typically think of. This isn't hatred of woman (the normal definition of misogyny) but rather thinking that woman's path to redemption is through motherhood because it elevates the mother to a level they cannot achieve on their own. If it were just Mal then I'd have a little less of a problem, but it's not. Zelena is most likely headed down that path, and Cora did trod that path already, especially in her final centric "The Miller's Daughter" and in some ways Ingrid went down that path as well with Emma and Elsa. It's troubling but maybe that's all I need to point out.
--I don't care about Zelena or her baby, but if Regina had actually written Zelena and that baby out of existence, I would have flipped a lot of tables.
--I may hate the former Green Witch, but "another woman defining her happiness relative to the love of a man..." was the most perfect quote for this show ever. For one hot second, I forgot that I hated Zelena.
-- Emma holding on to the dream-catcher having all the emotions caused me to also have all the emotions. "He was a lot of things to me..."
--Rumple the Big Bad of this season and one of the most wanted men in Storybrooke just chills in Granny's and eats a bagel...?
--No, let's not give Roland a memory potion! Let's talk to him and try to explain the situation.
--Dr. Whale is an OB? Since when?
--Rumple. I need to talk about him, don't I? It sounds like Rumplestiltskin is going to die, but the Dark One will take over and use Rumple as a meat suit in order to bring forth chaos and mayhem. Goody. Another season in which we see Not! Rumple but some unholy entity who bears little to no resemblance to the character I loved. At least in that case, there will be no Rumple left over at all.
--"We can be happy in the future or we can angry in the past." OR: the motto of season 4B.
--Two hours to go. See you all for the finale next week!