Monday, October 24, 2016

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (6x5)

Is Once Upon a Time a diamond in the rough? It feels strange to ask that question six seasons in; either it's a good program or not at this stage. To extend the metaphor, it either shines brilliantly after much polishing and care, or, it is simply a lump of coal, past the time when it could be something to truly behold. I suppose I'm asking because the Pilot of OUAT premiered 5 years ago and since then so much has changed; what once was a diamond in the rough has become a pile of ashes that was precious but barely resembles that which came before. Harsh? Yeah, maybe, but honestly this week's episode, "Street Rats" felt like more filler than it needed to be given the big build up to the much anticipated 
(and promoted) Aladdin and Jasmine. We gleaned almost nothing about Saviors and their mythology apart from a handy dandy magical MacGuffin (because of course!) that can cut the line of destiny that surrounds all Saviors. Any pertinent information about the Savior is either being left for another day or the writers are simply unconcerned with exploring why the universe they created makes Saviors and what criteria makes up that title. In other words, was there a point to this episode? What did we learn, if anything? Maybe we should all go hang out in the Cave of Wonders for a bit until we've figured it out. Grab your magic pair of scissors and let's go!

Honestly did you learn anything from this episode? New information doesn't even need to focus on the plot at large--the role of the Saviors, the identity of the Saviors, the makeup of the Saviors, ect. The audience can spend an hour of their lives learning more about their core characters, about how they interact with their ever changing world given the over the top magical circumstances they encounter weekly. Tonight, Emma's entire family learns that she believes her death is nigh and instead of having a character driven episode revolving around that rather weighty bit of information and how it affects everyone from Hook to Snow to Henry to Regina, we have our characters chasing after a magical object (Aladdin, or Diamond in the Rough if you want his MacGuffin name) only to obtain, not enlightenment and resolution to something internal, but yet another heretofore unmentioned magical object! The only information the audience received was either known in advance--Aladdin was a Savior and believed that all Saviors would die, just like the situation Emma is currently facing--or does little to expand the universe the story is taking place in. Sure, there are shears that can cut the Savior's line of destiny, but that does nothing to answer the big mythological questions about the Saviors themselves. In fact, it complicates it more, and not in a good way! Thus far, we've met two Saviors and their reasons for being Saviors are not even remotely identical. Emma is the Savior through birth and circumstance; she is the product of the Truest Love and because the essence of that love was placed onto the Dark Curse before it was cast. Her Saviorhood is dependent upon certain factors, namely parents and Rumplestiltskin. Aladdin is the Savior because he's the "diamond in the rough," whatever that vague title even means outside of being important to the Disney universe. He's a thief with a heart of gold, but is that what determines his Saviorhood? Aladdin cannot possibly be the only good-hearted thief in Agrabah (or anywhere) so is everyone who shares his philosophy, that starvation and cruelty are bad, equally Saviors? There must have been other factors that led Jasmine to seek out Aladdin specifically but they are not divulged to us here tonight. The reasons for Aladdin's Saviorhood are all fanservice callbacks to the much beloved Disney movie instead of actually helping the narrative about our main Savior, Emma. In fact, there appears to be no commonalities between Ms Swan and the thief of Agrabah, leaving me frustrated to the nature of Saviorhood in the Onceiverse. If that concept--the Saviors--is supposed to be so important this season that it takes central stage, then why do I feel as though nothing new is being said? If I sound angry, it's because I don't like it when this show wastes my time. If you're going to explore the nature of the Savior, then actually explore it. Doing anything else feels like a waste of an hour, the writers just trying to kill time before some big climatic winter finale; and even if the episode doesn't advance the main plot of the Saviors, at least give us something to digest and ponder about! Last week's episode has little to say about Saviorhood, but it had an interesting philosophical, cultural, and moral bent. In sum, don't waste my time, OUAT. I'm out of patience.

Miscellaneous Notes on Street Rats

--This is probably my shortest review for OUAT ever but honestly I can't be bothered to waste your time and mine after this episode offered up nothing interesting.

--Karen David looked amazing in the blue outfit.

--Aladdin calling Jasmine out on only caring about the welfare of the Kingdom once her own family was affected was great and I wish it would translate to other monarchs. The myopic vision of the royals is an ongoing issue on this show (poor peasants)

--"If the baby dies, you die!” Seems fair.

--“It made me a mother. It gave me a family. I have actual magic in my life. I have you.” That’s it. That’s what this show is supposed to be; the idea that your community is your family and everyone needs one to be a self-actualized person. It’s nice when Emma remembers this instead of focusing on one aspect.

--Is this Deniz Akdeniz’s natural accent? Or is he doing a (bad) Cockney accent to demonstrate that Aladdin is poorer compared to Jasmine’s posh British accent?

--Emma lies to Hook. And Hook lies to Emma. Such a healthy relationship. Obviously the shears will come back into play but we'll just have to wait and see if Emma uses them or someone uses them on her.

--“Why does magic always have to be so literal?” This line pleases me.

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