Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Part Two

Read Part One Here

I'm going through each episode of Once Upon a Time and writing quick one to two paragraph thoughts on them. Last week i did episodes 1-5. This week, 6-10!

The Shepherd:On the one hand, I really really loved Charming's backstory and how we see him get to the point where he and Snow met a few episodes back. As usual, the show is best when giving the fairy tale characters depth and history. He's not simply some handsome prince who has been coddled his entire life, he has a terrible history and of COURSE Rumpelstiltskin is involved. Meanwhile in the real world, I got the sense that this show is going to follow on of the love story paths that I can't stand, where people waffle around with the exact same decision over and over and over again. Granted, this episode gave it something extra but it seems like every single week the story is going to be "David decides between Mary Margaret and Kathryn." Boring.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: WOW. I was really losing my faith in this show at this point, I was contemplating just watching the Enchanted Forest sections and skipping the real world stuff because it had gotten dull. Of course, that would just ruin half of it because the stories are starting to get really well intertwined as we see the same themes and relationships play out in the real world as the Enchanted Forest. But anyway, what a powerful episode, and one that actually starts to make Regina interesting too! I also secretly loved that we saw Snow before her transformation into confident and capable fighter, and we saw that even at her core at all times she was compassionate and caring.

Desperate Souls: Aaaand, we're back to the real world being more or less boring and dull unless Rumpelstiltskin is directly involved. This entire episode, if he wasn't in the scene, then it was just not that great. I think that's what's driving me the most nuts here, the real world has the potential and the Enchanted Forest proves the writers aren't terrible and that the cast has the chops to pull this off. But the entire "let's play politics" storyline...*sigh*. I don't even know what it is. I can't explain why it didn't work for me. Except to point out that Regina is back to being dull and not even an interesting villain. RESPONSIBILITY! YOU DON'T KNOW WHO I AM! Lather, rinse, repeat. Regina, honey, I don't care what you're capable of.

Meanwhile, learning Rumpelstiltskin's backstory? AMAZING. Even with it being rather predictable, it didn't matter. I cared every moment about his fate, and Bae. I wanted the outcome to be different even though I knew it wouldn't be. Robert Carlyle makes this show, you have to admit. He is hands down the best actor in the entire cast, and he would make me believe anything. But most of all, he makes me believe that he has depth and layers. He makes me think that he has a grand plan and we'll never know what it is until he's READY for us to know. Give that man all the awards.

True North: There were a few things I liked about this episode, but each one seemed to be balanced out by something I really couldn't stand. Regina is back to her exact. same. things. Get a new tune, please, I'm begging you. But Emma is really taking control and making changes throughout the town. Gretel is awesome, and I loved her. Hansel was a bit of a nitwit. There were shades of stories yet to come with the talk of Henry's father, which was great. But the fact that Emma lied to Henry is not only not called out (not really, he should have figured it out) it's never again revisited in the show so far. If it's not a major plot point early in Season Two I'll be really cranky. Regina's question to Gretel revealed something about her then doesn't do anything with it.

Emma's rants about the foster system to Mary Margaret were interesting on one level because she's talking to the mother who "abandoned" her. But nobody ever called Emma on her blatant bias and the fact that she's full of crap in these scenes. Nobody even questions her, which comes off as an endorsement of her ideals on foster care as truth, which people have justifiably called the show out for. It's fine for Emma to have these feelings based on her experiences, she's a character with a history and layers, etc. But it's that there is nothing to counter those views or even point out her biased views that it becomes a problem.

Last thing about this episode is that it's when it really hit home to me what one of my primary issues is: the art and costume design isn't really working for me at all, especially in the Enchanted Forest. Sometimes they have a home run, the blind witch was kind of awesome. Apparently I'm the only person in the world that absolutely hated Regina's look in this episode. But my problem is that it all comes across looking really cheap to me. The wigs are obviously wigs, they don't look remotely like real hair and most of them don't even seem to fit. Half the costumes look great, the other half look like their made out of the discount bin. Regina's spells almost always look like the cheapest CG possible, and all of these pulls me completely out of the story. Maybe this is all intentional and they want the Enchanted Forest to look fake, but it's really not helping me at all and it's making it hard for me to forgive the story when it bores me.

7:15 A.M.: And we're back to David can't make a decision. Yay! The Enchanted Forest story as we see Snow and Charming circle around each other continues to be interesting and make me love everything (even poor Stealthy). I'm reminded once again that Rumple is playing the long game and I still don't know exactly what he's up to but it's bound to be awesome. Charming has all the character depth and emotions that David is still lacking. I'll be honest, I didn't hate the real world parts of this story at all. In fact I was glad that it seemed like there was finally decision making, yay! David is becoming confident and dealing with his issues! He's growing and changing and raising the stakes and all the stuff characters are supposed to do! It's about time.

Part Two Overview: All in all, I had promised myself I would watch at least until Skin Deep (which I'll talk about next week) and there were points during this section that it was a good thing I had decided that because I would have just walked away from the show, looked up some spoilers, and been happy with my life. I wish the show could be consistent, and have the same sort of acting and character development they show off in the Enchanted Forest during the real world sections. And I wish the art design and costume design skills from the real world sections were being applied to the fairy tale ones. If the show could just balance that out, it could be really amazing.