Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Just When I Thought I Was Out: Once Upon A Time Season 7 Episode 1 Thoughts

Well, I'm back in. I skipped most of season 5 and all of season 6. But the idea of reboot got me back into Once Upon a Time. I always liked the premise of the show, a crisis crossover of folklore, every season it would make one or two creative decisions that were just deal breakers for me. All the same it is a show I very much want to like so a fresh start was right up my alley. Here are my thoughts on the season seven premiere.

Boomer B
Once is generally best when it's a story about stories so I generally don't have much of a problem with alternative versions of characters who already made appearances. (This is where I plug Daughter of the Forest which is a beautiful retelling of a fairytale that for its first third stops to examine and deconstruct fairytale logic before the fairytale proper begins.) That's kind the point when working with public domain characters there never is a definitive version that each iteration must live up to.  In particular, I really do like their version Cinderella who breaks the meta-meter when told how her story is going to play. "Do you know how many girls have that shoe size?"

That said I really do love the previous version of Alice and hope Once hasn't decided to scrap her altogether. Cinderella got a single episode so it doesn't bug me as much and like I said it's the nature of folklore but Alice got a miniseries which I viewed in many ways as being superior to that year's main season.

Batman In New 52
I don't know how I feel about it but this season is playing fast and loose with continuity and it's not clear what stuck, changed, and why. The word on the street (let's be honest Twitter) was that this is a reboot but it's really not. Thus far it's more along the lines of a time skip that allows for top-down retool of the show. Most of what happened still happened. But not always.

And that's okay.

I believe Once Upon a Time is best when it's a story about stories so I'm hoping they kind of write that into the plot and there are hints that they might. They make a big deal about Henry being an author.

Okay, why that matters.

Since most of the characters of the show are established to be fictitious, storytellers wield godlike power over them and the events of their lives.  Also when these storytellers screw up the universe falls apart. And I kind hope the story goes in that direction.

Regardless there is a bit of mental legwork in figuring out what you know and what you don't.

So... who's Batgirl again?

Not Again
It's not the first time Once Upon a Time has tried to retool and generally almost everytime (to the point it's getting kind of annoying) they basically redo the first episode. It's a justifiable decision. It's not going to make me stop watching the show but I wish they hadn't done it AGAIN. The problem with most network television, including this show, is pacing. There is a lot of stuff I'm interested in but I often have to sit through a lot of stuff I'm not, and somebody knocking on an apartment door to explain that the main character has amnesia and that fairytales are real is no longer cute. It's annoying.

It worked in the first episode because the show hadn't explained itself. There was doubt as to whether or not Henry was nuts and that was going to be the show.  When Hook shows up to do it again in season three it's an interesting in media res moment.  We instantly know something bad happened and somebody needs to fix it.

This time around... eh.

To be fair it's interesting to see Henry on the other side of this conversation and there is some fun in that. But there is so much going on the rest of the episode that it feels like there were better ways to do things.

Also, it creates this problem of SEVERAL characters being unapologetic copies of their first season counterparts.

Henry+ Cinderella=Emma
Cinderella's Stepmom = Snow White's Evil Stepmom
Hook=The Huntsman
Cinderella's Step Sister= The Magic Mirror
Snow White's Evil Step Mom = Jiminy Cricket  (Hey it was a heavy lift but she made it.)

And Rumple Stiltskin is basically playing himself sans character development... as usual.

I hated the back half of season 4... and the front half of season 5. And the few parts of season 6 I managed to catch. Why do they insist on bringing him back. Give him the hero's death he wants already. Let him die! Dealing with his inner conflict and mustering the will to commit a truely selfless act is his motivation for everything he does for the first 3,  arguably four seasons. He's a bad guy who wants to be a good guy. I could imagine no better closure for the character than to sacrifice his life to save his wife and son while at the same time exacting murderous revenge. It's so ... him. The best way for him to be the good guy he so desperately wants to be is to just accept he's the best bad guy and that sometimes life calls for a black hat. And they had to ruin it...again, and again.   

Most of what worked in the premier is what was new. Specifically, Cinderella and Henry are the most organic couple I've seen in this show which ships EVERYBODY. (Seriously, Cinderella is just about the only character I can think of who isn't related to Henry by blood or marriage.)

You Know Technically Henry is A Prince
Fairy tale logic and all. It's hard to tell this early but the vibe I'm getting is that by screwing up Cinderella's story Henry screwed up the multiverse. Heeeeh... authors.

Anyway if they do go that route Henry's technically prince and the two seem to be diggin' on each other. And I imagine that that could be a lot of fun. 

Who Knows What
One of the reasons why I liked the idea of the reboot is that it allows the writers to go back and try good ideas that didn't work the first time. The first season is flawed because it has a lot of fat but once it gets going it's really good.

Namely once the show stops playing coy about whether or not the curse is real and we are dealing with fairy tale characters the bigger question becomes who is and isn't aware of this fact and the show juggled that ball brilliantly.

And we're right back there. The show offers strong hints that returning characters are themselves even if they may not be aware of it, that it's not just some fluke that they're played but the same actors. Finding out who knows what and how is going to be one of the things that keep me glued to the show.

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