This Once Upon a Time review contains spoilers.
For the life of me I don’t know why Deadwood actor (and television director) Brad Dourif made an appearance on this week’s Once Upon a Time, but you know what? The reason why doesn’t matter. It’s like asking why the sky is blue: There’s an answer, but to speak it ruins the beauty of the moment.
What does matter is that we got to see Dourif all dolled up as the Dark One and it was more glorious than I could have dreamed possible (and frankly, it’s impressive that I haven’t dreamed of this yet). If we don’t get more glimpses of the dude in the future weeks painted all shimmery green-gold and being all “curses and foiled!” then, in the immortal words of professor Hubert J Farnsworth, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
That said, Once Upon a Time might have jumped the silly-shark this week. That’s like jumping the regular shark, only the animal in question is wearing a loud Hawaiian print shirt and a fake mustache. You know, for maximum silliness. There’s a fair amount of disbelief that I’m willing to suspend in the favor of some delicious escapist nonsense. ‘Delicious escapist nonsense’ is basically the definition of Once Upon a Time, and I love it deeply and truly.
I’m willing to turn my back to a lot of its problems and cheese (read: the entire Frozen storyline) for the sake of enjoying it as the dramatic equivalent of chocolate trifle. But not even the dramatic work of Dourif or of Robert Carlyle can make me believe that Mickey magic sorcerer’s cap and a poorly rendered CGI-ed walking broomstick are story elements that I want to spend an hour with each week.
I don’t care how powerful the sorcerer’s hat is. I will never find a lumpy chapeau worn by an animated mouse something that I dread or care about. The fact that so much of this week’s episode was dedicated to Rumple’s attempts to get the hat and thus free himself from the power of his dagger (a looooot of ‘dagger’ and ‘box’ talk this week, amiright) without losing his magic was a bummer. Because there was so much else going on that I would’ve loved to spend time with! Emma and Hook finally going on a date (Note: Jennifer Morrison. You don’t have to cut your hair if you wear it in a stylish up-do more often), Hook contending with his dark-side, hell, even Ana contending with HER dark-side in the flashbacks — these were all really gripping details. I wanted more time in this part of Storybrooke and less time with Rumple and his dysfunctions.
Maybe the show is just doing its job. The primary function of a serial drama (genre-based or otherwise) is to build anticipation from one week to the next. I desperately want to know about The Snow Queen and her relationship with Emma. I want to know how Will Scarlet is connected to the Wonderland kingdom. I want to spend more time with Regina and Henry all nerding out together (BECAUSE ADORABLE). I want to know if Hook will continue to go to the dark side and if Belle will ever buy skirts that cover her bottom. I care about the majority of the cast and about the world there in. I’m just having a hard time convincing myself that I need to be worrying about Rumple. We’ve already set up a villain for the season in The Snow Queen. Let’s get back to that.