(image from Why We Love Once Upon a Time)
Well, well, well. Who'da thunk it. Once Upon a Time was much better the second time through.
1) I was not hung up on what I wanted the show to be (an amazing exploration of actual fairy tales in a modern setting), and watched it for what it is (a first season of an adventure story about story book and Disney characters). This time I was not surprised and outraged by the singing of Heigh-Ho, nor the name of Maleficent. I knew Henry would be annoying, that there would be massive cheese, sprinkled with brilliance, and that Emma's face would never change from that bewildered look she always has. And because I was not hung up on these things, I enjoyed it more!
2) Watching it one episode after another, I realized how slow the show was NOT. Waiting from week to week, it often felt like plot lines were dragging on forever. Oh for the love of GOD, how many times would Regina and Emma bicker about the kid. When will David and Mary Margaret make up their frikkin minds?? But I was shocked that boom! Episode 2, we find out about Regina's father, boom! Episode 7, Graham dies. Episode 8, we find out about Rumplestiltskin's background. The major plot points just keep on coming. And even within the long, drawn out stuff, there are subtle changes in the arguements Regina and Emma have, or the stages of accepting parenthood that Emma goes through, or the issues that David and Mary Margaret address. Waiting a week for each episode, it just seems like they are rehashing the same things, but juxtaposed, one after the other, you catch the differences.
Favorite Things This Time Around:
1) "That Still Small Voice:" I love me some Jiminy Cricket/ Doctor Hopper. He knocked this episode out of the park. His struggle with his conscience in the collapsed mine, and his complete pwning of Regina really make his performance one of the best in the series, I think.
2) "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:" Honestly, the first time around, I wanted this episode to be the beginning of everyone starting to remember their fairy tale lives, and trying to reconcile them with their Storybrooke lives. I thought that would be really compelling, and I was so disappointed when this didn't really happen. However, this episode stands out as one of the greatest episodes. There are actual stakes, and the evil queen actually does something evil. Snow White's letter to the queen is beautiful and moving. And Jamie Doran's performance in the last few moments of the episode are heart-wrenching.
3) "Skin Deep:" While last time, this episode was a bit ruined for me by the Disney references (Gaston and Chip), it is honestly one of the best episodes of the season. You have two knock out performances by Emille de Ravin and Robert Carlyle. Emilie de Ravin is rediiiiculously charming, and only she can deliver the "you're in love" monologue in the "Dreamy" episode and make it actually sound deep and important. And Robert Carlyle has this moment:
...followed by this:
It just kills me every time I watch it.
"Red-Handed" and "Hat Trick" used to be my favorites, but they kinda lost their shine. "Red-Handed" had the amazing moment where Red realized that she killed Peter, and "Hat Trick" has this shot:
But the episodes themselves were not that strong. "Dreamy" was even worse than I remembered it. I feel like early, to mid-season were actually the stronger episodes.
Notes on Snow White's character development:
The first time through, I was a bit jarred by Snow White, who had told the Huntsman that she forgave Regina and was ready to die so that the kingdom could have peace, and then suddenly decided to assassinate the queen in "Heart of Darkness." Now that I am more familiar with the timeline, it kinda makes sense. First, Snow White is the innocent, kind daughter of a king. Then, then she goes into the woods with the huntsman, where she tries to run away, and stops, realizing that he knows the woods more than she does, after which we have the moving letter writing about how she was willing to die. THEN, we get Snow White surviving in the forest by herself, until we get to episode 3, where she is planning to assassinate the queen with her shrinking dust. She then states that "no one knows the forests like I do." She gives up her shrinking plan after meeting Charming, and then spends the rest of her time thinking about him, meeting the dwarves, getting her heart broken, telling him she doesn't love him to save his life, and then she drinks the potion. After that, she goes back to plan A: killing the queen. While I still think it is a bit of a stretch to sat that drinking the potion means she turns into a huge bitch, she went to the dwarves and lived with them because she was distraught. So I can see that, since she no longer had the emotional bond that drew her to them in the first place, she feels stifled after being so incredibly independent.
Things I am Looking Forward To in Season 2 (now that I have completely given up the idea that this is a show about fairy tales):
1) Captain Hook. He is one of my favorite villains of all time because he has such delicious neuroses. He has an amazing speech in the original book about how no little children want to play Captain Hook, they all want to be Peter Pan. He is a horrible murderer, a fop, and huge ball of insecurity all at the same time. I hope the show does him justice. I am excited for Episode 4, which is titled "The Crocodile."
2) The dual personalities. This is what I was waiting for all along in Season 1: people waking up and realizing who they are, but still having their Storybrooke life in their head. I hope there is a lot of wonderful delving with that, and it is not just passed over to dwell on "Regina did this to us!"
3) I hope Regina gets a bit more non-evil stuff to do, since we now know she really loved Henry. All she wanted was to win for once, she said. Lets hope she is able to get a little happiness, and we can move on to Hook being the main villain of the season. I also hope Rumpelstiltskin doesn't throw Belle by the wayside for magic again.
4) Snow/ Mary Margaret and David/ Charming finally getting together and being happy. As cheeseball and frustrating as their relationship was, the final moment of the season finale when they finally found each other made me want to shout (a la Buffy), "Your love is a beautiful love!!!"
5) WHO THE HELL IS DR. WHALE??? What do we know about him? We know his name is Whale. He is a doctor who actually seems to care about his patients. He was in Regina's pocket. He is also a letch who is attracted to Ruby, and has a one night stand with Mary Margaret. We also know that he likes to do the unexpected (as he tells Mary Margaret one episode). We know he has the Halloween Episode which is called The Doctor. "Whale" points to Monstro, but honestly, I think that would be stupid. However, every Storybrooke character who has a noun for a name (Gold, Blanchard, Hopper), the name is a clue to their character. Anyone know any other fairy tale Whales? There are a lot of rumors going around, but honestly, the only one that makes sense to me is Dr. Frankenstein (Victor, not the monster). Yes, it is not a fairy tale. Neither is Captain Hook, Pinocchio, the Queen of Hearts, or Mulan. If we are indeed branching out to storybook characters rather than fairy tale characters, I think Frankenstein is our best bet. He is an unorthodox doctor who has a Halloween episode. Apparently in the official OUAT facebook game, Dr. Whale is described as having a "god complex" and thinks he is a "victor." Pun? Maybe. (See more reasons why people think he is Frankenstein). IF this was legit, straight up fairy tales, I would think it would be awesome for him to be the doctor in Godfather Death, or one of the Three Army Surgeons. However, they have yet to introduce an obscure fairy tale character.
Thoughts? Theories? What sayest thou, internet?