Monday, April 4, 2016
In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (5x16)
If a tall dark man with a predilection for fire and death asks you to take a ride on his bike just say no, kids. Riding on bikes only leads to sex--or true love's kiss, I'm never quite sure with this show. Okay enough joking around; let's get serious. The God of the Underworld is in love with The Wicked Witch of the West. Wait, I thought I was supposed to stop joking? This is rather nonsense, right? We can all agree that in no universe other than OUAT would anyone link up and romantically connect the green witch of Dorothy's nightmare and the ancient Greek Lord of the Underworld. And yes, you can argue that this is part of OUAT's charm--pulling stories and myths from different parts of the world and putting them together in a hodgepodge stew and making us love it even if it doesn't look right or appealing. And I'll even grant that in a lot of ways, it's clever. Given how OUAT likes to disregard the "real" mythology and insert their own, many viewers had called that Zeus and Hades wouldn't see eye-to-eye. The show is too deeply indebted to Disney for the writers to not follow the theme of adelphos vs adelphos (that's brother in Ancient Greek, y'all). Because that brotherly un-love story is already a part of OUAT's set up, connecting Hades and Zelena seems like a logical move; after all, her entire story has been one of fighting her sister, the sibling who seemingly got it all while Zelena was cast out (literally!) into the woods (and then a tornado picked her up and carried her safely to Oz. This show, guys...this show). The problem isn't the logic; it's that the writers set this romance up too fast, developed it too fast, and rely on telling us that Hades and Zelena are true love (through some painfully clunky dialogue) instead of showing us the development slowly and organically.
Let's deal with the elephant in the room: this season, which for the most part has actually upheld some of its intrigue and appeal, is a rehash of season three, specifically the second half. It's well trod upon ground. Hades wanted Zelena's baby so he could go back in time (using the other ingredients that Zelena tried to use back in 3B) so that he could get the upper hand on his brother Zeus and, I suppose, not be lord of the Underworld. If you look to your left you'll see the Greek poets weeping. Look, Hades wasn't this kind of guy (sorry, god). Someone had to take the Underworld and he did his job with a firm hand. He didn't try to overthrow Zeus; he didn't stage a coup or revolt. When souls came to his domain, Hades judged them fair and square and was more or less content to just reside in the Underworld, away from the rest of the pantheon. There was no revenge plot. In the myths, the three brothers--Poseidon being the third--drew lots and Hades got the Underworld while Zeus got to go play with lightening bolts in the sky; it didn't matter that Zeus was younger. So it goes, you know? But like I said already, it's not really surprising that the writers went the more Disney route given how much they follow Disney already. But what bothers me more is the total lack of originality in Hades's plan. It's what Zelena tried to accomplish back in 3B! If you're going to go the Disney route in motivation (take down Zeus) then at least go the Disney route in Hades's plan--bring on the Titans, I say! Those are some interesting creatures, full of the over-the-top characteristics that the show loves to play with. But, of course, the writers had to make Hades have the same plan as Zelena because how else can they get the two wicked evil doers together (hint: plot forces character which makes this whole true love thing rather inorganic!) I will say this, though, to end on a more positive note: the final scene between Hades and Zelena was pretty powerful. I like that Hades isn't forcing Zelena to love him, that he's going to build up trust between the two of them so that she can see he is serious in his love. That's good! That's what this show needs--to show me that there is love between the two. Outside of Zelena/Hades nothing really happened this week other than that some truths were revealed (while the heroes sit around their death apartment or death diner because that's normal) and a few more layers to the crazy cake were built. We're at that part of the season where the story comes to a stand still so things can be stretched out for a few episodes--it happened last week and it happened this week; no progress except in a few answered questions but the plot football stays firmly on the yard line it was originally on (I don't speak sportsball...is yard line even a thing?) But hey, a baby is in the Underworld now so that's gotta be good for morale!
--Talk about a really flat and uninspired Dorothy. The actress needs some oomph in her step cause, wow, was she monotone and lifeless. This Dorothy and Meg from 513 should get together and see who can out-dull each other.
--The Scarecrow was the stuff of nightmares.
--Dorothy will win in Oz because she has the love of the people. And a dog. Sure.
--Rumbelle, Rumbelle, Rumbelle. What am I to do with you? "If you want me to be a different man, I’m sorry. This is who I am.” I need to think about this more. My first instinct was utter disagreement. It’s not really the truth to who Rumple is in the beginning; it is true to the OOC character we know now. I didn’t like it. And it was poorly written. But it wasn’t without merit and the sentiment that "I can be a better man but not a different one" is intriguing and not something the show has done before.
--Hades and the Devil get conflated and mixed up, according to Hades. So...is Lucifer a thing in this universe now? I don't know how to take that. Especially given all the very "devilish" qualities the show has given to Hades.
--Zelena literally ripped out the Scarecrow's brains. That was intense and all manner of funny/weird.
--"We're regulars at the diner in Hell!"
--"My enemies became my family." That's a great line and one that reminds us what OUAT's main thesis was--that there is nothing more important or essential than family (blood or communal)
--Hades made the Underworld look like Storybrooke for Zelena. So what did it look like before?
--"Things don't grow here. They decay. But it can be our decay." That is some clunky and weird dialogue, friends. "Wouldn't it be nice to not be alone anymore?" This, on the other hand, has a certain human resonance to it because we can all easily relate to it.