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Once Upon A Time: “Desperate Souls” episode review

13 Jan

This is the episode where we learn exactly how Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) turned… evil.  Not that he didn’t have his issues before he was imbued with magic.  And in Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mr. Gold join in an unlikely alliance for her to become sheriff.  He also gives Emma Sheriff Graham’s old walkie talkies so she and Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) can play together.   A rare moment of kindness on Mr. Gold’s part.

It’s almost disarming to witness Rumplestiltskin as a kind, loving, and protective parent.  His son (I actually thought it was a girl at first oops!), is about to turn 14 and be drafted into the ogre wars (seriously?  ogre wars?).  He’ll do anything to make sure his son doesn’t have to fight including running away.  And this isn’t the first time, apparently, as a young man, he deserted his army and caused many lives to be lost in the ogre wars.  Who knew ogres could move so fast and fight so efficiently?  So now a chief knight has it in for Rumplestiltskin once he and his son are caught but the son shows he has integrity.  He’s willing to be drafted and fight.  And while he gets high on his own testosterone, Rumplestiltskin gets some advice from a beggar (Brad Dourrif) on the side of the forest road:  he should get the dagger that holds the Dark One’s name and then he will have power over the Dark One (at this point we have only seen the Dark One be commanded by the knight and he can do some magic but we don’t know the full extent of his power).  Rumplestiltskin takes his advice and with the help of his son, sets fire to the castle, breaks in and retrieves the dagger.  It turns out the old beggar is really the Dark One and Rumplestiltskin ends up killing him with the dagger and inherits all the magic powers.  Now at least we have some idea about him.

In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold deliberately starts a fire at City Hall and Emma saves Regina (Lana Parrilla).  She becomes a hero but discovers Mr. Gold was the culprit and outs him at the debate for the upcoming Sheriff election.  She stands up to Mr. Gold and Regina then walks away from her political debate resulting in her getting elected as Sheriff.  Later, Mr. Gold reveals that he orchestrated everything because he knew she’d stand up to him and gain the people’s trust.  Either way, now Emma has moved into a better position against Regina.  I’m hoping for a lethal, nasty fight.  Because that’s just the way I am…

Once Upon a Time: “The heart is a lonely hunter” episode review

11 Jan

I have had a few female friends who are as deranged as the Evil Queen so this particular episode was particularly intriguing. This is especially true since women, in particular, can sometimes be petty and unforgiving at times. And those women usually don’t stop until they’ve destroyed anyone they think is a threat to them. I guess some people don’t realize it is healthier to let things go and get on with their lives. At least in television drama, I suppose it is better that the deranged people hold onto their grudges. It makes for good drama.

SPOILER ALERT:

Graham (Jamie Dornan) is determined to prove to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that he is not in love with Regina (Lana Parrilla), nor does he want to be aligned with her any longer. He gets drunk, grabs Emma, kisses her and suddenly flashes back to his life as The Huntsman. He remembers his companion, a wolf, which he starts seeing in Storybrooke.

Graham/The Huntsman was hired by the Evil Queen to assassinate Snow White because apparently she told a secret of the Queen’s which ‘hurt her.’ Since the Evil Queen still possessed all her limbs, I can’t believe she was hurt as badly as she perceived but… who knows, maybe we will all hate Snow White by the time Once Upon a Time is finished with us. The Huntsman discovers he can’t kill Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) because her heart is pure so he lets her go and kills a stag in her place, presenting the Queen with the substitute heart. She isn’t fooled. She gets her revenge by tearing out The Huntsman’s heart and placing it in a box then keeping him her slave for eternity. If he defies or disobeys her then she’ll crush his heart and that will be it for the Huntsman.

Back in Storybrooke, Graham remembers his past as the Huntsman with the help of Henry’s storybook, his old friend the Wolf and Emma. He tries to locate his heart but fails. Regina finds him and Emma searching her father’s mausoleum. Graham dumps Regina, Emma and Regina get into a girl fight and Regina ends up alone at her father’s grave. But she has the last laugh because as Graham is whispering sweet nothings to Emma, or at least telling her how grateful he is to know his past, Regina is crushing his heart until it’s dust and he dies in Emma’s arms. No happily ever after in Storybrooke as yet. Evil Queen 2, Emma 0.

Once Upon a Time: “The Shepherd” episode review

14 Dec

Mary Margaret settling for the Doctor.

Two extremely miserable men I know (whose identities shall remain hidden as I’m sure they wouldn’t want the world to know of their emotional ignorance) gave me some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Both said, “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man, so always pick the rich man, Romi.” I just smiled and nodded because sometimes battles are not worth fighting. Sometimes it’s better to let people think you’ve absorbed their ridiculous advice and will file it away for later use. I never thought I’d be applying it to discuss a Once Upon a Time episode, but it has happened. Because I discovered early on it is not just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man. I’ve been out with plenty of rich guys and most of the time, I’d like to throttle them. The same goes for many poor guys as well. What the two misguided men who gave me their advice did not understand is that if you truly love somebody, at the end of the day, rich or poor does not matter. Yes, of course it helps if they are rich. It takes monetary pressure off, but if being rich is that important to the woman, then perhaps she should get her ass out there and make the money she wants and not expect a man to do it for her. I would much rather make my own money and be with a person I truly love than marry someone for security. That is like making a deal with the devil. In fact, making a deal with the devil is probably preferable considering going into a marriage for the wrong reasons can make hell look like a cake walk.

Why am I spending so much time on this? Because this is Prince Charming‘s (Josh Dallas) dilemma in the episode, “The Shepherd.” He begins his story by informing his mother he will only marry for love and she tries to tell him he can’t have everything. By the end of the episode, it is clear, that if he can figure it out, he can have everything, at least in Fairy Tale land. In Storybrooke, he is under the mistaken impression that he must try to love someone he truly doesn’t have actual feelings for. Instead, he has feelings that Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) implanted though false memories from the curse with objects such as the windmill in the antique store. How did Prince Charming screw up in real life? By letting other people influence his feelings and behavior and not listening to his heart but listening to his head. And how does he end up? SPOILER ALERT: At least for now, with a woman he might like but certainly doesn’t love and nearly emotionally destroying his true love and soul mate. And what happens to Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) the true love and soul mate? She ends up having to get drunk with a creepy doctor, compromising her ideals (since we all remember that crap date where he eyed the waitress). Sometimes men need to, well, man up.

This episode is all about Prince Charming, his life in Storybrooke and his life in Fariy Tale Land. We see how he became so famous and that he isn’t actually the original Prince Charming – that was his twin brother who was killed by a warrior. King George (Alan Dale) had made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (who doesn’t in Fairy Tale Land? that man would probably own me about 100 times over by now if I were there) to get a son. His son was actually the twin brother of a poor couple who needed money to pay for their farm, so they sold one of their babies. King George, apparently, loves to cut deals. So when Prince Charming died he was actually trying to prove to King Midas (Alex Zahara) that he could slay the dragon plaguing Midas’ kingdom so Midas would reward King George’s kingdom with something he sorely needed – gold. Lucky for King George Prince Charming’s twin brother was so good at lamb and sheep wrangling or he would have never been able to save the kingdom by playing the same wrangling trick on the dragon he did so many times on the farm. And what did his cleverness get him? A great reward? Nope. Instead he gets forced into an engagement with King Midas’s annoying daughter whom he knows he will never love. Lucky for him, Mary Margaret/Snow White is on her way to rob the unhappy couple and forever change all their destinies. Of course, in Fairy Tale Land it all almost works out happily ever after, but there is always someone wanting to rain on someone else’s parade and in this case the Evil Queen screwed up everyone’s life. Hopefully she’ll be on the chopping block in the near future. She certainly should be for what she pulls in Storybrooke, sending David Nolan/Prince Charming to Mr. Gold’s antique shop to reprogram him with bad magic and sending him back to his slaggy wife. But true love will prevail. It better…

In other Storybrooke happenings, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) discovers the Sheriff lied to her and is hooking up with Regina (Lana Parrilla). She’s not too happy but none of that will even matter after the next episode, which I’ve got to admit, I’m not looking forward to. Not because it’s about the Sheriff but because of his fate in Storybrooke…

Once Upon a Time: “That Still Small Voice” Episode Review

5 Dec

The origins of Jiminy Cricket. Something I’d never given a lot of thought about.  Perhaps because the last time I had seen anything to even do with Jiminy Cricket was in the last century.  When I was about ten years old.  And probably watching The Mickey Mouse Club.  So I suppose this episode just didn’t interest me, because although I have nothing against crickets (in fact I like them), I’ve never cared about Pinocchio.  Possibly because I realized at a young age, sometimes one does have to tell small lies to survive.  And I always felt like that particular Disney movie was a bit – preachy.  I know the original fairy tale is darker and I suppose I should actually attempt to read it.  Perhaps I would develop a newfound interest in the entire story, but until that happens, I’d like to skip forward please, to Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty and the love stories because yes I am a sucker for those, even if I come off as a cold-hearted bitch most of the time.

SPOILER ALERT:

As soon as Emma (Jennifer Morrison) dons her Deputy Badge, the earth moves, literally, and there is a cave-in at the abandoned Storybrooke mine.  Regina (Lana Parrilla) is not-to-pleased to see that her Sheriff and secret lover  (Jamie Dornan) has hired Emma, but she has a bunch of unhappy townspeople on her hands so she has bigger fish to fry.  Henry (Jared Gilmore) is convinced the cave-in means something has changed and there must be a clue in the mine beneath but everyone warns him to stay away.  Okay, there is a piece of glass that comes up that Regina finds but… I’m not that enthralled.  In the meantime, Regina threatens Dr. Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) and tells him he must shatter Henry’s ‘delusions’.  When Dr. Hopper does this, Henry first turns to Emma, but when she takes him back to Regina, he runs away and goes down in the mine trying to find a clue to the other world.  This leads to a rescue effort and Dr. Hopper going in to find Henry.  They get trapped and yes eventually rescued.  Honestly, were either of them going to die?  Logically, no.  So why bother putting them in jeopardy?  That felt like an exercise in a giant waste of time for both the writer and the viewer.  Surely there could have been a better event that actually made me feel like I cared about Henry or Dr. Hopper.   Because to be honest, I began hoping the mine would swallow them both.

In terms of the Jiminy Cricket origin story, that at least had some creepy elements to it but I was having an extremely difficult time trying to figure out why a grown man was pushed around by his con artist parents if he didn’t agree with their actions.  Getting a potion from Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) to poison them seemed slightly out of character for someone who had a closeted sense of morals.  Finally, I just don’t think it was clear to me exactly why he so desperately wanted to become a cricket.  Because they can’t be pickpockets?

Finally, I would have preferred to see a bit more go on between Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and John Doe (Josh Dallas).  They are growing closer but I’d like to understand what he doesn’t like about his current ‘wife’.  I don’t have an issue with him being in love with Mary Margaret, but there is always some reason why one doesn’t love one person but loves another.  Usually it is far easier to define why you don’t love someone rather than why you do.  But in this case they seem to have opted to avoid that topic for the modern version of the story.  Here’s the problem:  John Doe’s ‘wife’ doesn’t seem like the woman in the fairy tale.  So… a bit more of an explanation might make a bit more sense.  Yes, I know we are supposed to believe in the true love portion and that they are simply meant for each other (John Doe and Mary Margaret) but at least explain the lack of connection.  Or try.

Once Upon A Time: “The Price of Gold” Episode 4 review

16 Nov

This week we get the story of Cinderella. Not quite as good as last week’s true love episode, but not bad. Although it is *mostly* the traditional tale, the powers that be decided to take license with the original story, and honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. SPOILER ALERT: At the beginning of the story, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) swoops in right after the fairy godmother and just as she is about to transform Cinderella (Jessy Schram), vaporizes her and captures her magic wand. Not only was I not prepared for that, I felt like it was a cheat.

While I understand they needed Rumplestiltskin to play the foil, I feel like changing the entire course of the fairy tale takes the premise too far. I’d much rather have seen a side deal with Cinderella and Rumplestiltskin after the Ball. Maybe he won’t let the glass slipper fit unless she agrees to his deal. That makes more sense to me. But at least he wasn’t vaporizing the fairy godmother. And this vaporization, in my mind, violates a tenant that I thought they were keeping on this show: using the fairy tales we all know and have grown up with then transforming the characters into real people. And while certain items in the story can and should be embellished especially if certain parts of the tales have been left out, key elements of the narrative should be held scared. For instance, say, the fairy godmother.

The “extra” part of the fairy tale, once Cinderella gets married and pregnant, is where the writers should take free license. For instance, it is fun to watch Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) attend the marriage of their close friends, Cinderella and Prince Thomas (Tim Phillipps). This storyline takes us into uncharted fairy tale territory and it is what helps make this show so enjoyable. The “real life” section of this episode, although a bit heavy-handed and cliched about a single, pregnant mother, still ultimately worked in the narrative. Making Ashley the exact age that Emma was when she gave up Henry was just far too on the nose. And how much insight was Henry supposed to get into his mother’s dilemma when Ashley ended up not only keeping the baby but getting Prince Thomas’ equivalent in her real world? Finally, I’m not entirely sure I buy that Emma would go ahead and make such an ignorant deal with Mr. Gold. I believe Emma would have negotiated. But that makes it so much easier for the writers to create some ridiculous dilemma where Emma will have to choose down the line. That felt like – pre-cheating.

While this is definitely one of the shows I’m looking forward to each week, I’d still like to see it not take the easy way out. I haven’t decided yet if I like the idea of Emma taking on her new role as Deputy. What I saw coming a mile away was Regina (Lana Parrilla) sleeping with the Sheriff (Jamie Dornan). I’m hoping the Emma/Sheriff/Regina love triangle will not be predictable. But with such a one-dimensional character as the Mayor/Evil Queen, it makes it hard not to be predictable.

Once Upon A Time: Episode 3 “Snow Falls” review

13 Nov

The over-arching question for this episode, and the series, is now officially put to the test:  does true love conquer all?  I’d like to think so, but then again, you have to find true love first and according to the show (and in real life as well) not everyone finds it.  And sometimes even if people are lucky enough to find it, they might be too immature or selfish to appreciate it.  Or they are cowards and listen to their friends and family instead of taking chances.  There are villains in all forms in real life.  In fact, in real life, people don’t need an Evil Queen to make them miserable.  They can create their own curses for themselves and others – but in Once Upon A Time, we luckily get to hide behind an Evil Force designated to cause unhappiness.  It is probably a worse fate for people if they realized they couldn’t always live happily ever after because they only have themselves to blame.  At least in the case of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), that isn’t the case – entirely.   We still haven’t found out what exactly Snow White did to anger the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla).

This particular episode, written by Liz Tigelaar (executive producer of Life Unexpected), worked far better than the previous episode.  We get to watch how Snow White and Prince Charming met.  And thankfully, Snow White isn’t just some helpless fairy tale character.  She’s essentially a highway robber who steals from Prince Charming and his fiancee.  She sells his jewels to some trolls.  He tracks her down, they save each other, he gets back the jewelry so he can marry the naggy woman he is with but it is clear he’s got the hots for Snow White.  And this entire sequence actually works.  The fact that they save each other and put themselves in danger when they seemingly don’t like each other is a clever way to illustrate their overwhelming attraction.

In the present day, Mary Margaret can’t find love but it’s clear to us why she can’t.  She’s already got it, she just doesn’t realize it.  Henry (Jared Gilmore) realizes though and gets Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to convince Mary Margaret to read to John Doe while he is in a coma and maybe he will realize who she is and recognize their story.  It works.  He touches her hand then leaves the hospital to go looking for her.  He almost dies.  Mary Margaret saves him, he goes back to the hospital and we discover, thanks to Regina, that he has a wife.  I’m not worried though.  Only an idiot would let marriage to someone else stand in the way of true love.  And Prince Charming doesn’t seem to be an idiot.  So, will true love win out?  I’m an optimist when it comes to this and I say:  ultimately it will.  At least on this show.  Hopefully.

Once Upon A Time: Take 2 “The Thing You Love Most” Review

1 Nov

The Evil Queen

When I watched the Once Upon A Time episode at New York Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed it. It felt like a fairy tale episode of Lost. It might have had a few plot holes but I overlooked them since it was a fun premise and I enjoyed the bonding of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and her estranged son, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore). I tuned in last night for episode 2 and honestly have to ask: what the hell happened here?

SPOILER ALERT… SORT OF

First of all the premise of the show is that the Evil Queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla) is so angry at Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) because of something she did in the past to ruin the love the Evil Queen had, that when Snow White marries Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) she puts a curse on fairy tale land so nobody will ever be happy and they will be ordinary and stuck in time. They won’t know who they are. The curse, we discover, originated with Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle). But here’s the big issue I am having with this episode: why isn’t Regina remembering the curse? She intimates that Rumplestiltskin won’t remember who he is once the curse takes effect and he defers a definitive response so we, like the Evil Queen, are led to believe that only she will know what’s going on in the land of Storybrooke.

We discover that Regina (the Evil Queen in current time) doesn’t seem to remember her agenda at all. She’s on autopilot. It is only Rumplestiltskin who actually controls the game. Now, what is the point of that? Yes he invented the curse but the Evil Queen enacted it. And if he is powerful enough to invent curses then why is he not powerful enough in fairy tale times to remain free instead of being a prisoner? Although I suppose the curse ensures his freedom and perhaps the entire show is REALLY about Rumplestiltskin manipulating everyone including the Evil Queen. That is the only way any of this will make sense to me. Otherwise, why have a lead character who doesn’t understand what she is doing. And how is any young kid, Henry in this case, smart enough to know without a doubt he is living in a cursed world of fairy tale characters?

Giancarlo Esposito as Sydney the Reporter

In this episode the only thing that saved me from tuning out completely was my old favorite Gus from Breaking Bad, Giancarlo Esposito, who is resurrected (since Gus met his magnificent end this season ) in Once Upon a Time as Sydney/The Magic Mirror and Pam from True Blood as the Evil Queen’s rival, Maleficent (Kristin Bauer) the equally Evil Queen from Snow White. Otherwise, I was sadly unimpressed. It seemed that all Regina could do was set Emma up to be arrested, something her own sheriff realized was an orchestration to harass and intimidate Emma. Then, not only does the Evil Queen kill her favorite horse to sacrifice his heart and fails at the curse, but then she goes ahead and kills the only thing she loves in the world, her father, who also appears to be her servant, which is enough to get the curse rolling. Then she… forgets. And while it was nice that Emma meets her mother and she wins Henry’s trust back, I don’t believe she’d be that stupid. The woman was a bounty hunter and the doctor set her up to be arrested. All the doctor says is Regina made him to it and she accepts that and tells Henry she’s on his side and they can start ‘operation COBRA’. That was all just a little too simple for me to believe.

I’m worried that things might just go downhill from here. I’m hoping I’m worrying for nothing because I still really like the idea of the show.

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