Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Once Why Did You Make Magic Evil?

So this is like my 4th or 5th time talking about Once Upon a Time a show I can't quit. I'm in one of those periods where I'm behind and thinking about taking it up again.

My problem is that Once never really left that flawed but with room to grow period.

I'll cut a relatively new show I'm interested in a lot of slack because as a serialized format the writers can learn on their feet. But it seems like every season there is a moment that proves to me the writers on Once aren't. We are five seasons in.

Which is a shame because I honestly believe there is a good show in there.

The biggest mistake I can think of is how the show treats magic.

In seasons 1 through 3 roughly the villains were the best thing going. They had what I called the Swearengen  effect. Sure they might be rat bastards but they're rat bastards who know what they want and how to get it. You kind of have to admire the competency if nothing else.

And thier reliance of dark magic was more of a metaphor than anything else. Magic didn't make these guys evil, it was just that their use of it symbolized their inability to let go of the stuff that made them villains.

For instance. Rumpelstiltskin is basically a coward always in search of a bigger gun. Magic just so happens to be that bigger gun. If it wasn't that deal to become The Dark One it would have been something else.

Regina feels she's owed a certain amount of respect. In a better world that would have made her a hero. She didn't grow up in a better world. She grew up in a shitty world and she's found the best, sometimes the only way to get that respect is to make sure everyone is scared shitless of her. Going back to a world where people feel free to ignore and disparage her just so she can gain a few lightside points is pretty damn scary SO FUCK THAT NOISE!

Cora is basically Rumpelstiltskin without self awareness. He may be a rat bastard but at least he'll cop to it and occasionally try to reign it in. Cora on the other hand thinks that she is just the best at playing the game.

Pan's traditional quest for youth is interpreted as a life free of responsibility or consequence regardless of who he has to screw over to maintain it.

So in the later half of season 4 when Rumpie starts acting out of character and the writers go oh it's because he's being corrupted by magic I thought it was major character derailment. And the same goes with Swan and Hook.

With or without magic Rumplestilskin is the same guy with the same fatal flaw it's just magic is something external other characters can point to to make points about how he does stuff, and the same goes for most of the other villains.

It's also why I thought Swan's turn was kind of dumb. Does she have issues that could corrupt her? Hells to the yes but by season four she mostly had them under control. The show literally had no better way to generate conflict then to magic her into evil. No character motivation for the turn magic made her do it.  Good lord.

Not only that but it extended to Hook who when he wants naturally has it in him. It's a continual struggle for him not to just stab dudes to solve his problems.


And more to the point he's a hedonist. Give him a three day bender and a time gap and that's all you need.

My point is by making magic the reason for evil the show shot itself in the foot and took away one of it's greatest strengths. The strong motivations and characterizations of its villains.

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