Monday, October 5, 2015

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (5x2)

If last week's episode was proof that OUAT still had some magic left in its most likely final season, this episode proved to me that magic is fleeting and goes as quickly as it comes. This weeks episode, "The Price," suffered from a host of problems but the one that stands out the most is that it was utterly boring and pointless. It felt like fanfiction where ships--canon and non canon--take center stage and every overly used melodramatic trope is pulled out: a ball with murderous intent! A life in danger! New romances! Modern music and Ye Olde Dancing because "we are both" (or something)! Scene chewing! Care Bare Stares! There was, quite frankly, just no point to this episode. Instead of focusing on the Dark Swan, what happened to her and how she and her family are coping in this new amnesia filled world while simultaneously looking at Arthurian mythology and the heroes journey, the plot turned to something about a Greek Fury, the zenith of the moon, and that a price must be paid for a death denied, something OUAT has usually eschewed with a wave of their magic hands. Robin was never in danger but we had to have a big sob scene of everyone thinking he might really die before Emma's Dark (wut?!) Magic saved the thief. But, hey, Captain Swan got denied their True Love's Kiss, so that should put a smile on my face (and it did). I said last week, OUAT is now an episode by episode for me. This week? It failed on a lot of levels. Grab an iPod and let's jam this one out. 

The Tree Is Our God

Here's the sad and honest truth--I don't have a whole lot to talk about. This episode was not the least bit thought provoking except in wondering how far the writers could take their characters into the absurd. Everyone stops to attend a ball; Merlin is in a tree (though, I have less issue with that, honestly, because it's so true to Arthurian mythology); Regina pretends to be the Savior for some inexplicable reason (lying is not a good way to make friends, y'all and the ruse is quickly learned). Because of the complete lack of depth in the flashback of six weeks ago, I want to ask some questions and just spitball some answers. That's what the show has left me with; well, this episode at least. Like in the first half of season 4, there is nothing in the way of introspective character building. It's all about the shiny shiny plot. I can't sit here and wax on and on about moral and philosophical questions of goodness and heroism and villainy. Regina says she's the Savior, is confronted by her very obvious past by one lone person in Camelot (do Arthur and Guinevere not get out much?) and proves how far she's come by not turning Ser Rude into a toad. Bravo. But it's nothing we haven't seen before and therefore Regina's get a brief round of applause before I become bored again. Thankfully, that's when Charming up and shanked Ser Rude even though last season the empty platitude "heroes don't kill" was bandied about over and over after Emma magicked Cruella off a cliff. See, consistency. It's not a thing on this show. So now heroes can kill when their friend is in danger? Okay, well, Emma saved Henry from the crazy two-toned sociopath last year and yet it was the final straw that broke a camel (or something) and she went all Crazy Red Eyes and held a gun to Lily's head in the middle of an abandoned road.

Okay, so back to questions and spit-balling on plot because that's all I'm left with at this point. Merlin's in a tree. In Arthurian mythology, Nimue (sometimes called the Lady of the Lake) put him in there. Merlin was quite hot to trot for the Lady of the Lake but Arthurian romances are decidedly unromantic, at least in terms of how we think and conceptualize romances in our modern world. If I had to guess, I'd say Merlin's true love, Nimue, put him in that tree for reasons. Because OUAT can be relied on for some things (like amnesia!) chances are that Nimue was also the first Dark One (ignore the timeline; it's a lie) and there's some tragic sob story coming our way about Merlin and Nimue. I, frankly, don't care. I'm more worried about how to get Merlin out that tree. True Love's kiss can break any curse so do we need some bark macking? Is Emma supposed to chop down the tree with Excalibur? Outside of Merlin we've got Emma's magic healing touch--because losing Robin would be such an utter tragedy on this show. I mean, how could we possibly go on without his inconsistent honor and his bizarre facial expressions? What I'm bothered by here is that Emma is now the Dark One and is using Dark Magic. Yet somehow she is able to save Robin from the brink of death with said Dark Magic...and it was still light white magic. I'm bothered by both but let's just focus on the first part. Regina now wields Light Magic which is supposed to be stronger than Dark Magic. Yet Regina's Light Magic can't save Robin because of a random plot twist that the sword was enchanted to kill Regina and therefore nixes out her magic so thus only Dark Magic can. Emma's True Love Magic wasn't strong enough to even attempt to save Neal (yeah, you knew it was coming) back in season three. Yet her evil Dark One magic can save Regina's boyfriend. Again, it's about consistency and how it simply doesn't exist on this show. The rules of the world depend on the current arc and even on the current week. Next episode, they could decide that Emma's Dark Magic can't do anything and only Regina's Light Magic can save everyone. Why should I be invested in this story and and myth and the characters if the writers aren't even trying to have their world be logical and true to their own rules. Fantasy does not mean that anything goes; it means that you have to build a world that has internal rules and then, most importantly, you have to follow those rules. It doesn't matter how silly and stupid those rules are; if the rule is that all blonde people need to walk backwards at sunset, then every blonde person must walk backwards at sunset! It doesn't meant that you suddenly have one blonde walking forward simply because it fits your plot. This has turned into a rant but it's because I am so utterly frustrated by the total lack of internal logic in this show. It's dizzying and exhausting and getting worse the longer this show goes on. I need to move on now. Quick, someone cast an inconsistent and convenient curse! Apparently you won't need the heart of the thing you love most, so don't worry about that.

Hell Hath No Fury

Okay, OUAT, nice try but even going to my comfort zone of Greek mythology isn't going to work in saving this episode. Like in the flashback there is little here to talk about that is of interest except the plot, apart from one thing that does make my myth-loving side tingle. So let's spit ball some ideas about where this is going. The appearance of the Fury and Charon in his boat signals the reality of the Underworld; it exists here in the Onceiverse and I am going to wager that we'll see it again. In fact, I think I just figured out how the season is going to end--Emma is going to have the Darkness sucked out of her by the Fury, but with the Darkness also goes her soul and down down down goes the Savior into the Underworld. What then? Oh, only one of my favorite classic tropes: the katabasis. I had thought that the show would use this half of the season to be Emma's katabasis, though with a less literal descent into the Underworld. But, it might be that they will go super traditional and have their heroine literally descend into the Underworld and have to face down death (in the form of a fast talking Hades a la James Woods) before resurfacing, the mistress of both words, a Savior fully realized. That's how you end the series and it's one I could get behind so long as Emma saves herself and the writers don't dip into their Greek mythic bag and make Hook out to be like some sort of Orpheus figure going down into the Underworld to find his Eurydice. If the writers really want to bring this full circle, then they will give Snow a bigger role to play (should this prediction come to pass) and stage it as a successful Demeter and Persephone story where Demeter can save her child for more than six months of the year. Emma saved Henry and therefore saved everyone. Snow saves Emma and therefore saves everyone. Parallels! Like I said last week, if done right, meaning without any of the writers tendencies to insert those annoying flashy and tweetable moments, then it could really be something. It could be mythic and interesting and in line with how stories are told. Sadly, Zelena is still around (if mute) which means we aren't likely to get a heartfelt and deep story. And that' That's all I got for this episode; a plot heavy, uninteresting, CGI eyesore that sets up potential plot but loses that solid ground it found last week. So it goes here in the Onceiverse.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Price

--A dwarf became a tree. To quote Regina, "well,that's new."

 --The CGI for Camelot might be the worst CGI on the show. I can't decide if it's this or Arrendale.

--Rumple chose power over love. Well, yes but also no. He needed his power to find a certain little boy named Bae. But, oh right, he doesn't exist on this show anymore and Rumple is just "evil." My bad! Remember when character motivations were really complex and interesting?

--Emma Swan is like Bloody Mary or Beetlejuice; you have to say her name three times to get her to appear.

--Snow and Charming will die with Regina, leaving their newborn son an orphan. Parents of the year, right there. 

--Trees like tacos.

--Henry has a crush because instead of finding him a friend, we went straight to romance.

--Silent Zelena is the only good Zelena.  

--True Love's Kiss: Denied!  

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