Here’s an aphorism that has always driven me to distraction: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Oh, suck it, Emerson! Perhaps that’s unfair. If good ol’ Ralph had but known that his words that would be reverently slapped on every poorly constructed narrative, he would probably have drowned himself in Walden pond. This week’s Once Upon a Time was a study in how consistency — or at least thorough plotting — can be the saving grace of even the most ho-hum television show (I’m looking at you, NCIS), and is maybe a lesson they could learn.
I’ve gotten away from myself. But frankly, given what went down in this hour of television, I think I’m entitled to some sputtering indignation — so are we all, so go ahead, sputter, gentle reader. You see, rather than write themselves out of the tough spots the show has found itself in with the death of the Wicked Witch and the failed love triangle of Marian, Hood, and Regina, the writers sought this week to rewrite the past and, in the process, erase all their own mistakes. Losing evil, green Rebecca Mader was arguably the biggest mistake the show has made to date. But bringing her back to reveal (here be spoilers) that she offhandedly murdered Maid Marian AGES AGO is almost worst!
It’s as if the show suddenly became struck with panic at the notion that Robin would be perceived as a bad guy for touching front bottoms with Regina and still being married to Marian. But you know what would have been a lot more human and compelling? The real Marian confronting Robin and telling him to make a decision — not a scheming witch in disguise out to hurt her half-sister. Human beings make mistakes. Human beings are flawed. This does not make them unlovable or remove the possibility of sympathy. I thought previously this was something the show understood — exhibit the entire story of Regina and, more recently, the errors Charming and Snow made in order to ensure their daughter’s goodness.
Though I suppose this is always going to be a problem when you have constructed a world of characters who refuse to see their own moral complexity. You could argue that this is something the writers are aware of — hence Emma, a person who has spent time in the human world, as a character. But the argument will only take you as far as my sassy open palm because NO. Emma left the human realm too long ago. If this wasn’t the case, she might have piped up earlier and pointed out to all and sundry that happy endings don’t exist — life keeps going, be you hero or be you villain.