Monday, March 12, 2018

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (7x12)

What is the best thing Once Upon a Time could do at this point in time as it winds down toward the end? It's no longer about being fresh and exciting and, despite being the end of the road and a propensity for bridge burning, it shouldn't be aiming for offensive television. A happy medium is what is called for; OUAT should strive for boring to light entertainment that avoids making any huge mistakes not only in their ongoing plot but also in the conversation that the show is having with their audience and culture at large. This week's episode, "A Taste of the Heights" manages to hit that boring-but-inoffensive sweet spot. Nothing about this episode is remarkable and it feels like so much filler centering on characters that no large swaths of the audience particularly care about. But at least I don't feel compelled to rage (or praise) anything about this episode. That's the aim of these final episodes of the show and the conversation about whether or not that's actually a good thing can be a conversation of the end of the series but for now, it's enough. 

The Alligator Was Real

We're gonna barrel roll through this episode. Tiana/Sabine has almost no relevance to the larger plot being spun out this season. Her main function is to provide humanity to Jacinda by giving Jacinda/Ella a best friend and character outside of Henry with whom to interact in the Enchanted Forest flashbacks. Tiana is the Ruby to Jacinda's Snow, to put it another way (the big difference, of course, being that Ruby/Little Red Riding Hood was given incredible depth, motivation, and a compelling theme all on her own and that while Ruby's main injection into the show might have been as Snow White's best friend, her own story stood up to scrutiny even when Snow was taken out of the equation. Tiana's story decidedly does not). The much maligned food truck storyline continues apace with Sabine except with several plot speed bumps in the form of a forgotten form (which should have been at the top of the to-do list for either Sabine or with Jacinda) and a man as Drew/Naveen is introduced in both our world and the other world. There's nothing compelling with any of this, either the Hyperion Heights or Enchanted Forest sections. Sabine and Drew apparently have a cursed history that gets laid out in some clunky exposition while and in the flashbacks, Tiana and an incredibly grating Naveen meet, argue, bicker, and then forge a tenuous connection all while hunting a giant alligator (that did not turn out to be Rumplestiltskin in a move that I was genuinely surprised by). Because Tiana has been given almost no development and is as bland as an under-cooked beignets her scenes with Naveen land equally flat because of the aforementioned broadness. Naveen, on the other hand, begins as a hyper masculine hunter who speaks about his powerful enchanted spear only to soften and deliver just enough clunky emotional backstory in order for Tiana to open up and be receptive to him as a man. In other words, it's the cheap way to push a romance that is using the audience's love of Disney instead of an organic development between two Disney inspired characters. Outside of Tiana, there's some other flimflam going on involving Rumple, Nook and the Coven of the Witches. Plus, apparently, Regina and Dr. Facilier have a romantic past despite absolutely no evidence to this at any point in the past six years. This latest development is more of the same misogynistic mindset we've come to crushingly expect in which a woman cannot have any sort of meaningful story without a romantic tie-in and while we can absolutely file that under offensive, it's not a new offense and I'm sad to admit that at this point in the history of the show, I acknowledge it and move on. With ten episodes to go, we're just here to be mildly entertained. Nothing more, nothing less.

Miscellaneous Notes on A Taste of the Heights

--Rollin’ Bayou is a clever name for a food truck. Flamin’ Cajun is not.

--Henry doing a podcast is a modern take on being an author but I kinda hope the voice over doesn’t happen every episode. It would get old quickly.

--I’m glad Rumple is no longer pretending to be cursed with Regina but I wish he’d ask after Henry or Lucy.

--The super heavy and dark cloak Cinderella is wearing in the flashbacks is tragic.

--“My enchanted spear is the only thing powerful enough to kill the beast” (ugh)

--Dr. Facilier, a sorcerer/warlock with powerful otherworldly magics, couldn’t get a necklace swallowed by an actual gator until said creature was dead. The show relies so much on magic until it suddenly needs magic to fail for reasons.

--I still don’t see any chemistry between Jacinda and Henry and still don’t believe they could actually be True Love in the mold of Snow/Charming

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