Monday, April 17, 2017

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (6x17)

I have been thinking a lot about the DNA of this show. I know I've done this before--broken down the basic premise of Once Upon a Time to get at what the core really is. It's a simple show, at its heart, and I have no desire to repeat myself, though if it's at all possible that the writers read my blog maybe I need to. There are a few DNA links that are important to understand about season one of OUAT. Mainly it involves an Evil Queen, a cursed realm, and an orphan girl named Emma Swan who just so happens to be the Savior and will save everyone. If that is all I told you about season one of OUAT, you would have the bare bones but a good enough understanding of the premise of the show. Except, then, this week's episode, "Awake," happened and now I have to reexplain that while, yes, there was a Curse that caused everyone to forget their memories, Snow White and Prince Charming actually accidentally woke up this one random time because of a flower on the side of the road but then they took magical memory potions to go back to the way they were so they could hold off on being saved for another eighteen years. I just complicated everything and now the show looks haphazard which, let's fact it, it is. Grab your true love flower and let's go!

The Writers Are Really Hoping You Burned Your Season 1 DVDs

In the broadest sense, I get what the writers are hoping to elicit from their audience with this episode. The notion that Snow and Charming gave up their only child, sent her into a strange land, and sacrificed their chance to be a family has always been powerful and emotionally resonate. It's why those last few moments of the Pilot are so strong; you see the hope in Snow's eyes as she realizes that Emma got away; the new hope, the Savior went into the wardrobe and because of that the kingdom has a sliver of belief that someday they will be rid of the Evil Queen's curse. The writers are hoping to cash in on those feelings by setting up a roughly similar scenario once more, only this time ten years into the future and not in the Enchanted Forest. It's a sort of emotional manipulation in which they hope you don't notice that while they tug at your feelings of nostalgia they are, at the same time, destroying the very basic DNA of the show and replacing it with a watered down, convoluted, overly complicated piece of narrative that simply doesn't work because of how powerful the original story was. Think about this way: what's more powerful? Snow and Charming meeting on the Storybrooke streets as Snow and Charming for the first time in twenty-eight years because their daughter shared a true love's kiss with her child or Snow and Charming meeting in a cold and isolated hospital room, having been woke up because of a random heretofore unmentioned flower that has some vague magical properties and not because of Emma at all? Take Snow and Charming out of the equation totally and look at Rumple. Which scene works more--the one where Emma gives her name and a light goes off in Rumple's head or the one where Charming mutters Emma's name as he turns to leave the shop and suddenly Mr. Gold is Rumple again only until he takes a memory potion to erase his memories of having woken up? I would argue that in both cases the original moment far outstrips the first. Is the moment in front of the door where Snow and Charming decide that they have to let Emma grow up without them, believe that she's strong enough to grow up alone and find them, a powerful one? A bit,  yes, especially on Snow's end since it's the most in character she's felt for a long time. But it's a rehash of an already powerful moment, the one where Snow, having just given birth, lies in bed with her husband and begs Charming to take their daughter and get her to the wardrobe before it's too late. That moment I'll remember long after I've forgotten this paltry new one. The first question any writer should ask themselves before they put pen to paper is, "why should I write this? Is this really something that the world needs?" If your answer is no then scrap it and come up with something else. I get that from a seasonal standpoint this episode needs to resolve the curse upon Snow White and Prince Charming but there are other ways to do that without having to likewise show this tortured flashback that undoes so much of what made the first season so great. The entire town drinking a part of the sleeping curse and diluting it enough to wake up Snow and Charming? Yes, all sorts of illogical but a sweet enough moment that keeps with the idea that Snow and Charming are heroes and the people of the Enchanted Forest/Storybrooke love them and respect them. At this point I am beginning to conclude that the writers simply don't care about any sort of consistency. They just want to turn in 22 episodes, get renewed and start all over. Snow and Charming, season one, and even we deserve better than this.

Miscellaneous Notes on Awake

--It’s really nice seeing Granny, Archie, the dwarves and Marco. It reminds me of when SB felt like a real lived-in town.

--“We were destined to clash since the dawn of time.”

--I didn't make any mention of it in the review proper but apparently Tiger Lily used to be a fairy and feels responsible for not stopping the Black Fairy when she had a chance.

--Neverland is looking rather Vancover-y.

--Not only is there a potion to remove the darkness in one's heart but a curse is now akin to darkness in a heart!

--Why did it take ten years for the flower that reunites true loves to grow in Storybrooke? And why didn't it pop up when other big baddies (Cora, Pan, Zelena, The Queens of Darkness, Dark Swan, Hades, all the Dark Ones ever, the Evil Queen) come to town?

--Emma was always the Savior. She didn’t need to be 28; that’s just when she came to town. She was born the Savior because she was born of Snow White and Prince Charming and because of Rumple’s machinations. It was not because she was “of age.” That is nonsense.

--Snow is willing to risk a forever-coma and leaving her second child an orphan if it means Emma can have her boyfriend back. While I know that parental sacrifices for their children is a major theme of the show, I honestly think the writers have forgotten that Snow and Charming have a second child. We also really need a scene of Emma's internal angst here to make her look less callous and cold in choosing Hook over her parents as easily as it appears.

--Hook's shadow had a little shadow hook. That is hilarious and little bit adorable.

--Pongo is in a bad mood because he’s off gluten.

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