Tuesday, March 26, 2013

OUAT 2.17 & 2.18

Hey there followers! My thanks to all of you for continuing to check in, despite my lack of posting recently. My string of migraines has made serious work of any kind difficult, although we now believe we have them under control. Also I was out of town this past weekend for a wedding, and didn't touch my computer once. Always nice to take a break from addicting things every once in awhile...

"Forget the personal stuff!" you say. "What about Once Upon a Time?!?"

Patience, guys. I'm getting there. Just have to tack on a spoiler warning...


There we go. Now let's get started.

OUAT 2.17 - "Welcome to Storybrooke."

Am I the only person who felt like this episode belonged in season 1? I mean, yes, that was sort of the point... but it really didn't seem to have much to do with the rest of season 2. After 2.16 (The Miller's Daughter) we were all geared up for crazy stuff. And then...

Not that there wasn't anything good about this episode. It was interesting to see what Storybrooke was like before Emma arrived. And it was good to see Graham briefly, although he was so completely under Regina's control (and this is the first time we've seen him since that was revealed), that it was like watching a souless automaton. Very sad, imho at least.

Obviously Owen and his dad are important to know about, as Greg is clearly a big player now. But I do think they could have moved the episode earlier or written it otherwise to make the season flow a bit better.

Love to see the continuing bonding between Henry and Neal... and knowing that Neal is his father does explain a lot more about Henry's precociousness and impetuosity. "He's your son!" Emma says, reminding Neal that he shouldn't take Henry's actions at face value when there are lives at stake!

It was good to see Henry defending Regina to the others. She is his mom, even though he sees her evilness as clearly (or more so) than anyone else.

Most shocking moment? When Regina took Snow's heart. For a moment I seriously thought they were going to kill Snow off!

OUAT 2.18 - "Selfless, Brave and True."

Another episode that felt a bit disjointed with the rest of the season, at least flashbackwise, for the first half. However once Tamara was introduced into August's past, things started to make a lot more sense. It was great to see August again, even though half of his appearances were in his wooden form (which worked better than I expected, poor graphics nonwithstanding.) It was good to see more of his flawed side, even as in the present we saw him overcome that. And of course it was a vital journey for Snow to watch and glean hope from.

Interesting thing I noticed... Snow said that her slap to Geppetto's face was "not her." We've also never seen blackness in anyone else's heart before, even Cora's. What if the blackness isn't Snow's own corruption, but rather the curse/influence of someone with ulterior motive?

Despite our relief over August's rescue, I don't think there was a single fan who was very happy about the reappearance of young Pinnochio. Not that we have anything against the lad (will he and Henry be friends?) but seriously, we LOVED August. Now we're back to Neal as the sole surviving eligible young man. (No, I don't count Hook as 'eligible.' Sorry.) Although ROBIN HOOD is FINALLY appearing next week. Here's hoping they do him right...

Now let's talk about Tamara. I wrote a piece on Tumblr yesterday after watching the episode, and I think it's relevant enough to repost here:

I go into the OUAT time tag and...
…everyone is saying that Tamara is more evil than Cora.
Um… she’s helping her lover find his long lost father who was stolen from him by an evil magic woman. That’s why Tamara scoured the world looking for magic.

She’s ruthless, that’s for sure. But the only experience she and Greg have had with magical people is negative. Regina taking his father. August stealing her money. They have no reason to believe that there /are/ any good people in Storybrooke. All they know is that they’re up against overwhelming odds and they have to utilize all of their resources to have a hope of surviving.
No, I don’t like Tamara or Greg. BUT I can’t call them evil. What they’re doing, as far as we’ve seen, is NOT for selfish reasons. They’re trying to rescue a man. 
Now, will we see more in future episodes that changes this? Quite likely. But for now, I think it’s important to imagine how the situation looks from their eyes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Welcome Pope Francis!

I'm Protestant, not Catholic, but have so many Catholic friends that are like family to me that I do feel apart at least of the fringe celebrating the new Pope Francis. I was able to catch his first public address as Pope on my television, which was rather interesting as the captions were doubly delayed, having to first wait for the English translator!

Anyhow, I have to say it's pretty cool to see a South American as Pope, and what I hear so far about his past policies and stances bodes well for how he will handle his time as the earthly head of the Catholic Church.

Eight years ago I was in Rome, marveling at the size and history of the Vatican. Just a few weeks later I watched the square fill up with mourners after the death of John Paul II. I heard about Pope Benedict's election, but wasn't really tuned in to specifics. It would be another two years before I found the books of Regina Doman and getting to know all of my Catholic friends and understanding their faith. So it's really with an entirely different perspective that I've watched the events of the last month, and particularly the excitement of today.

I mean, for goodness sakes! Eight years ago we didn't have Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and all the other social media that is so prevalent that it warranted a mention in the speeches from the Vatican today. "Global" celebrations are now truly global, as people from all over the world can communicate instantly with each other.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

OUAT 2.16 "The Miller's Daughter"

(Why do I always get migraines on OUAT night? Ah well, it's faded enough to write some sort of synopsis...)

Actually I've been writing lots of thoughts on tumblr, but I'm going to try to pull them all into one post here.

Spoilers beware.

I've always loved the story of Rumplestiltskin. I think it had to do with all the spinning - I've been obsessed with spinning wheels since a young age, and got my own for my 10th birthday. There also was a picture book that altered the tale by making the king greedy and awful and Rumple convinced the miller's daughter that he would be a great father, and she was like "who needs a king? I'll marry this great dad material!" and then they had a daughter who could also spin gold who later defeated the greedy king. (You can buy the book here - it's awesome!)

Anyhow, I wonder if the OUAT writers read this book, because there certainly are some similar elements, in terms of the Cora/Rumple relationship. Until Cora chooses power over love, and rips out her own heart so it won't get in the way, that is.

Of course we're left with her marrying fifth-in-line to the throne, Prince Henry, who may or may not be brother/related to future Snow's father, Leopold. If so, that means Regina ends up marrying her own uncle...? More likely Leopold is from another country. He and Snow, after all, seem to have been traveling a ways when they reach Regina's manor for the pivotal rescue.

How does Cora go from naming her child "Regina" (queen), to living in relative isolation in a country manor? I mean they can afford nice clothes and horses and stuff, but they're not living as fifth-in-line to the throne people should. Well actually, if the other heirs had children that would have pushed Henry down to 10th, 15th, 20th, who knows what place. I mean look at England. Queen Elizabeth's fourth child would have, at one time, been third in line for the throne, and now he's so far away from it, he needs a telescope to see it.

Still, it's more dramatic to imagine that Eva got Cora banished before she did some growing up of her own and became the wise and kind woman we saw in last week's episode.

What is confirmed is that Rumple is NOT Regina's father. Which is rather a relief, as that would have been really crazy.

In Storybrooke things are rather more messy... highlights of the ep were Henry and Neal sailing the ship, Rumple and Belle's phone conversation, Rumple and Neal's semi-reconciliation, and Emma's use of magic. (several people have pointed out that Rumple teaches Emma to use magic relying on positive feelings - the exact opposite of what he taught Cora.)

And then there's Snow and the candle. Which, really, who didn't see that coming? After everything Cora did to Snow, it makes so much sense. I mean, she basically taught Snow how to kill her. Really, Cora, you didn't see that one coming? But of course it leaves Regina with a pretty severe vendetta. Although lets be fair and realize that if Regina hadn't been manipulated into returning Cora's heart, she likely would not have been there to see that look of pure love on her mother's face.

There's lots of interesting stuff coming. The game has changed... OUAT has proven that they're not afraid to raise the stakes.

But what I want to know is why no one bothered to research how to use a spinning wheel. Cora is pulling thread out of the wheel... in reality you feed the materials into a wheel. Unless this is some strange wheel that doesn't work at all how it looks...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

OUAT 2.15 - "The Queen is Dead"

So yeah. The Queen dies. Obviously that's not a spoiler. But there are plenty of spoilers coming up, so head far away unless you've watched the episode!

Oh boy. Warning, this may not be an entirely coherent post.

Seriously. It's been a half hour since the episode ended and I'm still pretty emotionally wound up about it. I think it's probably safe to say that this was the most intense episode the show has done yet.

I'm simultaneously awed and annoyed by the actress for Young Snow. She's talented, but I think she also way overreacts. She's supposed to be ten, right? Anyhow, what an intense storyline! Her mother got less screentime than I'd hoped, but it set up some important character stuff for Snow. And, y'know, Cora's history with the family.

Leslie Nicols was adorable, although SERIOUSLY THEY KILLED MRS. PATMORE??? Downton characters aren't safe even on other shows, apparently. And falling off a clock tower? Someone's been hanging out with Steven Moffat.

The New York half of the story was pretty awesome, though. Thankfully Hook was knocked out pretty quickly (yay Emma!) but now Rumple is poisoned so the stakes are upped. That's nothing compared to the revelation that Neal knows Hook from another world... looks like our theory of Neal/Bae being Peter Pan/Lost Boy is going to be proved correct! (Either that or they copied our theories...) The last two episodes of the season are going to be called "Second Star to the Right" and "Straight on til Morning" so we may be very, very lucky and get to see Neverland!

Anyhow, Neal can sail a ship, he and Emma are starting to patch things up, Neal is worried about his father dying, and BAM. Fiancee. Tamara looks like a sweet girl, (does SHE have a fairy tale identity?), but talk about drama! I seriously thought Neal waited for Emma this whole time. Which is kind of crazy, admittedly, but ah well.

Now Snow's going 'bad girl' so to speak. A lot of fans are cheering about this, but I think it's going to backfire big time. And next week's promo seems to back up this theory.

Phew. That was a lot for one episode. Did I miss anything?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage

Imagine that you're a 14-year-old girl with an adventurous streak who has been shipped off to finishing school, only to find that said establishment is actually a giant dirigible school for training young ladies in the art of espionage. Oh yes, and it's Victorian England and there are werewolves and vampires running around (the real things, no disco ball Edwards!) - they're even some of the teachers! And then of course there are the sky pirates searching for a mysteriously missing 'prototype' that another student might be hiding...

This is the premise behind Gail Carriger's latest novel, "Etiquette and Espionage." Although I've greatly enjoyed her adult series, (The Parasol Protectorate), I've been reluctant to review them here as they are definitely adult and contain some sex scenes and quite a bit of innuendo. "Etiquette and Espionage," however, is YA fiction and I feel is appropriate for the 10 and up crowd. That doesn't mean, however, that older readers won't also enjoy it! And there are crossover characters between the two series, so that adult readers will have a reason to pick this one up as well (and younger ones will have treats waiting in store sometime in the future).

Carriger describes her brand of steampunk as "teapunk" which is a clever way of saying she uses the settings and tropes of steampunk, but the writing style and satire of the comedy of manners writers such as P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Oscar Wilde. Although her humor is somewhat more evident in "The Parasol Protectorate", it nonetheless appears here as well, making "Etiquette and Espionage" a fun read. And though it features a female heroine, there are a couple of young lads along for the adventure that should make this book enjoyable for both genders to read.

Not to mention that fans of traditional vampire and werewolf lore will appreciate Carriger's traditional interpretation of these supernatural curses, although she isn't afraid to illustrate that sometimes these creatures take themselves a little too seriously! There are also plenty of clockwork apparatuses scattered throughout, both in machines and automatons, not to mention one adorable little steampowered messenger puppy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

"That'll be all, O'Brian."

(Haven't seen Season 3 yet? Better not read this!)

With Downton Abbey rolling cameras on season 4, it's time for another slew of news to hit the web. We've seen the first set pictures (which includes two heartbreaking tombstones), heard there's going to be a character of color, and learned that Lady Mary will get plenty of screentime and a romance. Today's headline is the departure of Siobhan Finneran, also known as lady's maid Sarah O'Brian, or 'THE BANGS.'

While the other news bytes are more or less expected, this one came as a surprise (to me, at least). O'Brian has been our resident lady we love to hate, and is a solid fixture at Downton. Now that she's also got a nephew working there, how are they going to explain her absence? Will the Scottish lady from the Christmas Special lure her away to India? Will she have a health breakdown? It's all supposed to take place offscreen, so presumably Cora discovering the true cause of the miscarriage is not going to be the reason.

I detested O'Brian in season 1. In season 2 we saw her empathy towards the victim of PTSD, and her obsessive devotion to Cora, and finally her regret over her involvement in the Vera Affair. Season 3 brought in a new cause of mischief, but this time we could empathize with her. She had every right to expect Thomas to take her nephew Alfred under his wing, and I could certainly sympathize with her hurt and anger when he did the opposite. I was looking forwards to seeing further character development in season 4.

Will I mourn O'Brian's absence? Not the way I mourn Sybil and Matthew. However, her presence at Downton is going to be missed, and I'm sure I'm not the only viewer who'll note it.