Friday, September 27, 2013

Once Upon a Time returns Sunday -- with a trip to Neverland

Sunday marks the return of one of my current favorite shows – ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

To say that the magical show had something of a sophomore slump last season would be an understatement.

The Storybrooke denizens spent the first nine episodes of the show floundering – and it took a little while for things to get back on course.

To be fair, I have re-watched season two of Once Upon a Time twice since it came out on Blu-Ray – and I like the second season a lot more now than I did while it was airing.

I think the second season’s biggest problem was separating Mary Margaret and Emma from everyone else so early (and for so long). I understand what they were going for - -a bonding between estranged mother and daughter – but it still felt like the time in the magical realm dragged by.

When you watch the episodes stacked on Blu-Ray, that separation seems to go by much quicker.

The initial separation wasn’t the only problem with the show, though.

Personally, I was disappointed with the lack of family hijinks. These are two parents that have a
daughter that is roughly their age – and the opportunity for hilarity was embedded in the story – so I don’t know why the writers didn’t play with that more.

Not everything has to be doom and gloom in Storybrooke either. This is a magical world – and even Lost knew that sometimes you just needed to have a little fun to keep the audience invested in the characters.

I also thought the writing for Regina was all over the place. I don’t want her to be totally good, but she doesn’t have to vacillate so wildly, does she? That being said, the flashback to little Owen and Regina’s realization that the curse she created wasn’t going to make her happy after all was one of the best episodes of the show to date.

Despite those complaints, though, there was a lot to love about season two.

I loved the revelation (although most fans had guessed it) that Henry’s father was also Rumplestiltskin’s son. The reunion of Emma and Neal was both bittersweet and heartbreaking. And, yes, I am invested in Emma and Neal and not in Emma and Hook. I’m pretty tired of pirates, and Hook is kind of a bad Jack Sparrow rip-off, in my opinion. I just don’t get his appeal.

I also hope that the truth about Neal being alive is resolved sooner – rather than later. I don’t want to see a Hook, Emma and Neal triangle – mostly because the fact that Hook was Neal’s stepfather gives the triangle a creepy quality.

I also liked Emma and Regina’s attempts to work together – especially in the final episode. These are
two women that should hate each other and fight with each other, and yet they have a common goal.

Which brings us to Henry’s abduction. I like the twist that Peter Pan has been looking for Henry, that he’s somehow special to the evil Neverland scamp. I do not like Tamara and Owen’s “company” mantra, though, and I think the fact that they were actually trying to take Henry came out of nowhere.

Just because this is a show about magic, that doesn’t mean that you can let all continuity go out the window.

At the end of last season, Emma, Rumplestiltskin, Regina, Mary Margaret, David and Hook all agreed to open a portal to Neverland to rescue Henry. It sounds like this little adventure is going to last nine episodes – up until the mid-season break.

The show has a chance to fix some wrongs here – but separating characters is a risky story choice. It didn’t work out so well last season. Still, the most important characters will be going on this adventure together – while Storybrooke will be left to fend for itself.

I’m attached to the secondary characters in Storybrooke – especially Red and Leroy – so I’m hoping that this estrangement won’t be as painful as the last one.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the third season of Once Upon a Time?


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