If you didn’t tune in 20 minutes before the season premiere of Once Upon A Time with a steak and a glass of ice water, then you are, among other things, not me. In addition to not being me (a person of great excellence with an ass that just won’t quit) you also missed ABC’s ode to all thing OUAT. The hour-long fan special was a highly produced and polished video of like, five people from Twitter basically just squealing and flapping their hands. I was fine with it. Because, were it not for the fork I had to use to eat my steak and the plate that needed holding, then I too would have been just as flappy. I can’t completely disregard the very real possibility that I might have raced back and forth in my apartment while squealing “Dark Swan Dark Swan Dark Swan!”
For lo, the summer is gone, and the fall is upon us and with it has come… DARK SWAN! When last we left our plucky band of affable goofs, Emma was all “I will become the dark one to fix all of the problems!” This, of course, creates a bigger problem. This season they will try to fix that problem, and they will, and in so doing create another problem they must solve. That is how TV works. If I sound disparaging in my tone, you misunderstand me: I love OUAT. It’s earnest dedication to telling stories about good people battling with their capacity for evil is admirable and rare indeed to see on network television. But to love something fully is to acknowledge its quirks and eccentricities as real things and to go on loving it just the same. What OUAT has in good intentions it very often loses in half-baked character arcs, ideas, and plot holes big enough to sink the Titanic (another tale that will, if there is a god and he is good, easily be incorporated into the show’s story bible by season eight — mark me.)
A few questions immediately sprang to my mind as the gang uses magic to fly Granny’s diner to the Enchanted Forest. Questions like — Wasn’t the Enchanted Forest destroyed? Will this house magic ruin Granny’s ample stock of lasagna? Does Emilie de Ravin really just only read her sides thus explaining her affectless demeanor in basically every reaction shot? Wasn’t getting in and out of these magical realms a very difficult feat? So difficult that Rumple once spent YEARS getting Regina to make the curse, to unleash the savior, so the he could rescue Bae? And now inter-realm travel is as easy as Belle (burn, Belle, burn). When it comes to OUAT, it’s better to adhere to Dr. Coleridge’s philosophy and willingly suspend your disbelief. What makes that challenging here is that very often OUAT asks you to suspend your disbelief not just week to week, but from minute to minute and scene to scene. They assert the ridiculous and then shake their head at you for remembering.
Jennifer Morrison’s portrayal of Emma Swan-Going-Dark is the delicious marrow at the bone of this Sunday night drama. The woman is WERKING. The writers deciding that Gold’s dark one persona should act as her demonic Jiminy Cricket is a brilliant choice, one that almost makes up for the haphazard addition of Brave’s Merida. It feels like too many characters in the kitchen, but I’m willing to deal with it if it means we’re going to continue to get fun tips of the hat to fiction’s greats, like we did with the more fleshed out “Cuckoo’s Nest” references this week.
Snow and Charming took a back seat during the premiere, and perhaps that’s as it should be. While the happy couple make a great supportive team for Emma, this season is going to be about ratcheting up the tension between Morrison’s Emma and Lana Parrilla’s Regina. It’s a smart, fascinating reversal, with Regina as the savior and Emma as the villain. Morrison’s final moments on screen this week were nothing short of transcendent. Show: Consider me tantalized.
Best Moment With Emma’s Red Leather Jacket:
When Emma turned her beloved red leather jacket accidentally into stone because of evilness.
Best Death and/or Maiming:
It’s a tie between Zelena chopping off her own mitt and Sir Kai exploding himself on Excalibur.