Friday, October 13, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Remix

"This is cool," said my husband when I told him about the premise for Once Upon a Time's seventh season. "Now I can watch it with you!"

Which is excellent because with the new Friday night slot, the earliest I'll get to watch new episodes is Saturday mornings, as we don't have a television in our house. So I'm pretty psyched that our Saturday morning couple tradition for this year is going to be watching OUAT.

Because, let's be honest, I'm addicted to this show. It's gotten pretty lame in spots, but I haven't given it up. And I'm glad I haven't because it's my television candy. Super sweet and not the best mind food, but entertaining and fun all the same.

OUAT's original premise was a remix of the Disney versions of fairy tales. They've turned that on it's head several times for two-parter episodes, but not for a whole new season. And never this drastically. After a good wrapping up of the old storylines and characters and a summer to adjust to publicity photos of the new characters, I was ready to dive in.

I'll be honest, it's a little difficult to properly gauge episode 7.1. ("Hyperion Heights") because pretty much all of the episode was revealed in one way or another prior to airing. So while I'll give my traditional SPOILER WARNING, it really only goes for those of you who have been imitating ostriches. There's no big reveals in this episode that haven't already made it into trailers, interviews, or promo pics.

But... just in case... possible spoilers to follow? If you haven't watched the episode and just want to know if you SHOULD watch it...scroll down until you hit the bold text below.

The basic plot is the one we've seen before. The kid trying to bring their parent back to belief. Only this time, the parent is Henry, the Truest Believer, and he has no memory of ever having been a parent.

Which, I mean, talk about weird! With Emma, she wasn't missing memories. She remembered Neal, remembering giving birth to Henry and giving him up, yadda yadda yadda. We could empethize with her inability to believe in MAGIC, of all things.

This time around, Henry has lost his memories, so his situation is more like Prince Charming's in the first season. He does remember having a wife and child, but false memories have been planted in his brain, including memories of their death.

We don't know who Cinderella identifies as Lucy's father, but he is definitely not in the picture. Evil Step-mother very much is, and I'm left wondering how a Step-mother, of all people, plausibly has shared custody of her step-granddaughter? Obviously the answer is 'magic' because it doesn't make much real-world sense.*

*I know, I know, first rule of OUAT. Don't try to apply real world sense.

I will admit, I was somewhat jarred by Cinderella. She was not at all what I was anticipating. After the rousing success of the recent live-action version, I thought we might get something more akin to that. As it is, Cinderella just feels very much like fighting princess Snow White 2.0. And while I don't mind that necessarily, that does seem to have become the default heroine template for this show. It seems a little...boring? Expected? I guess I'd care less if we hadn't already been shown that Tiana was also going to be a fighting princess. I hope that they manage to keep Tiana's love of cooking as part of her character, because that was just so awesome in the Disney movie and super distinct. If she loses that...well, there becomes little to tell the various heroines apart other than how they look.

(Didn't catch Tiana in this episode? She plays Cinderella's roommate in one brief scene, as well as getting a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo at the ball.)

To be fair, Alice does break this mold. Well, she fights, but differently and her entire character is tremendously distinct and quirky. She is a unique person who is given depth and intrigue in a very few short scenes. I don't know what's up with her, but I'm definitely interested in finding out!

I'm less interested in the Tremaines. Right now they're just Regina&Cora 2.0 and nothing very distinct has been added to their personalities except that "oh by the way we HATE magic." Which has interesting potential, it just doesn't necessarily make them interesting to watch. Yet. (I'm excited about Adelaide Kane, though. I think she'll be fun in this role.)

On the other hand, I quite liked what they did with Hook and Rumple. I'd always felt that Hook was poorly written (though well-acted) in seasons 2-6. Although made an iconic villain, they never sketched out his villainy very well, making him a troubled anti-hero far too quickly imho. Frustration with this writing really impaired my ability to appreciate Hook as the character he actually was...but I do now! And I think the eager young detective role, especially paired with Rumple's hard-boiled veteran will be awesome to watch.

Regina feels out of place, however. They made her a lot more like the actual actress this time around, and while it'll be interesting to see where they go with this, she felt out of place in this episode. While Hook and Rumple were given effective, colorful hooks (pardon the pun) for their new personas, Regina felt more dropped in...relying on her star power to cover lack of a truly compelling entry. "It's Regina! They'll just love her!" Honestly her entry would have worked better if she hadn't been given the inspiring monologue at the end. I just couldn't take the monologue seriously because it ought to belong to a core character, which Regina has not been set-up as in the new situation at all. She's the bartender, but she hasn't really connected with the characters at all yet. She feels shoehorned in, as though from another story altogether.


What a mixed bag of feelings! In summation, I feel it was a solid foundation entry in a new chapter of OUAT's mythology that gives a lot for the season to build on. I'm curious to keep watching, and I think they have some good balls in the air that will keep this from being the 'worst' season.

Indeed, if you stopped watching at one of the 'worst' seasons ("Frozen" or "Hades" depending on who you ask...) this might be a very good time to drop back in. You don't need to know anything beyond "Everyone got their happily-ever afters, more or less, and now Henry is grown up and there's a new curse..."

Everything could change tonight, however! 7.2. features the much heralded one-episode-return of Jennifer Morrison to explain why Emma is not around. Which is rather clever marketing as it ensures that most fans have to watch at least two episodes before deciding whether to drop the show. Only, it gets better! Belle doesn't get her return until episode 4, so... gotta keep watching! ;)

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