did a&e even read peter pan though? i’m baffled. the book is all about mothers and henry has TWO, yet their pan cared way more about neal and rumple. it doesn’t make sense to me that they’d choose to have peter be more interested in fathers, when the original peter pan was obsessed with mothers, and OUAT revolves around two mothers… they already had a perfect set up for the neverland arc based on that concept, and yet someone still went through an awful lot of trouble to make everything about the dudes anyway
This phrases it so much more eloquently and neatly why I never picked the show back up after the season 2 opener.
But… the first half of season 2 of OUAT was awesome. And it was all awesome ladies all the time! And then an awesome antagonist in Cora!
Its after they didn’t pick up and follow up on Cora’s death and swerved into Neverland that it started going to the dogs IMO.
I mean, I love the prospect of that whole epic showdown and I want that too, and wish they had that incorporated in the show. Because that’s awesome! But can you imagine having that with the awesome ladies road trip show too?
Look, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for an epic ladies only road trip, portal hopping across the realms, meeting awesome literary and classic film characters and fish-out-of-water Emma hijinks and awkward White-Swan-Mills family bonding a la the Gargoyles “world tour” arc. That’s were the show should go at some point given the nature of portals and portal jumping.
My issue is when and where it came in the narrative.
In season one, our heroine had left the ordinary world of Boston, and come to Storybrooke, introducing us the the characters and players in this new place. Strorybrooke therefore, was “the world of adventure” in the main character’s journey and thus, the audience. Emma spends a whole year refusing the call to various degrees, ultimately committing when her and Regina’s son is in danger.
She goes off, very literally slays the dragon, returns with the ultimate boon, etc, etc, etc…
But low and behold, there is a wrinkle in her apotheosis. Magic is coming and now, everyone remembers who they once were.
So Storybrooke—which had become the ordinary world for our hero—has once again fundamentally changed into “the world of adventure”.
Storybrooke is where the “problem” is. Ergo, that is where the action should be.
Emma may have spent a whole year getting to know these people, this town, and it’s dynamics when it was cursed—but now she (and we the audience) are back to square one. We have a whole slew of emotional, mental and physical trails to watch her overcome right in her own backyard, which has once again become a very dangerous and scary place.
Cora was a fantastic villain, and was not utilized to her full potential. If you somehow manage to get an oscar nominated actress for your show, you damn well better give her something she can sink her goddamn teeth into. For goddsake’s they foreshadowed her being the Queen of Hearts the moment they introduced her, play with that. Don’t remove her from her seat of power the moment she appears, build to her reemergence, make us tremble at her reveal. Let us feel the terror and awe that Regina (our foil and co-protagonist in many ways) feels around her, you know?
My problem isn’t so much that what but the execution—how and when.
And…honestly….was it just me, or did literally every character we knew get their character arcs totally destroyed in S2? I mean I think there’s tons of issues in regards to Regina’s story, but like most everyone else also got basically fucked too.
Like, the fact that they basically dropped Ruby/Granny, Dr. Cricket, and Sidney off the face of the earth entirely is bad enough. Nobody really gave too much of a fuck about Cinderella but I’m pretty sure she dissapeared too?
But I mean, you set up one of your major villains to have this big love story/redemption arc, right? You’ve got Belle and Rumple, a potentially VERY COMPELLING PLOT THERE….and you send her off to Rumple at the end of the first season, rather than finding/searching for Belle being the Rumple centric plot of S2?
And then WHAT could possibly possess you to stick in a “he murdered his ex wife” backstory? Like, since when does that help your romantic narrative? IT DOESN’T. IT LITERALLY DESTROYS IT. As does making Rumple so loathsome in his manipulations of Regina that he loses even more of his sympathetic value. As does HAVING HIM FALL IN LOVE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN (Cora) PRIOR TO BELLE’S INTRODUCTION, LITERALLY TOTALLY INVALIDATING THE WHOLE IMPACT OF THE BELLE RELATIONSHIP. RENDERING IT ENTIRELY MEANINGLESS.
Bae was this great, interesting kid, we all wanted Rumple to find him again and make amends. How AMAZING was Robert Carlyle in the scene where he thought August was Bae?…and then we get NEAL? Wow.
August just got turned into fucking wood fuck that guy his “usefulness” to the plot is over now lets just shove him in a closet somewhere. He might as well have BEEN the secret box.
The Dr. Whale reveal was the underwhelming bore fest. THEY HAD SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE HIM SCARY/MYSTERIOUS AND HE JUST ENDED UP EVEN MORE YAWN WORTHY.
Hook was literally just Captain Jack Sparrow if you sucked all remaining particles of interesting out of him and pumped him full of the most cringe worthy bad boy cliches because you THINK you know your female audience wants that shit.
Mad Hatter was literally interesting for his FIRST episode in season 1. Then I like forgot he existed pretty much. His hat was a bigger character.
See, there are constraints to writing for television, and I get that. Giancarlo Esposito and Sebastian Stan had filming conflicts with Revolution and The Winter Soldier respectively.
What that should mean though is give us a throwaway line for Esposito who’s currently filming, something like, “Oh we went to get Glass out of the psyche ward but when we opened his cell, all we found was this mirror shard!” or somesuch, letting you write him out in a way that it would be easy to get him back again.
Sebastian Stan should have been used as much as possible before he had to leave, because that guy’s star power was about to ratchet up to 11. Which means should he ever get the chance to come back he’ll bring all his fanboys and girls with him. Use him to explain how portals work, then let him jump away never to be seen again, or until his gig with the MU is up, whatever.
Once’s strength was in it’s episodic nature, as a writer you should learn how to use your toys sparingly. Cinderella I’m okay with letting fall aside, her story was more of less done anyway. Use the episodic structure to introduce a few more one-shot or seasonally important characters into the mix, preferably you know, someone not white. Bring it back to that whole “subverting the genre” premise it so lauded. Make Robin Hood the Robbing Hood—a hooded figure who no one in the Enchanted Forest knew the identity of, then while Emma is investigating a bank heist, we learn Robbing Hood is a Black woman who, during the Curse worked as a bank teller, denying people extensions on their loans, and generally hating her job because all she did all day was take money from the poor to give to the rich.
See what I did there? I took a classic story, dressed it up for the modern day, and gave it an edge of something that is enormously topical given our current political and social climate:
When I watched the season two opener and saw them drop Emma and Snow into FTL, I knew the show had jumped the shark. Which is tragic because it had so gloriously captivated me and one of my IRL bros and we had just been so damned stoked.
We tried to stick with it, see if it would pull itself out, but we were pretty much done when they killed Lancelot in the way that they did (lesson for aspiring writers: if you’ve only had one character of color for a whole season don’t immediately kill the one other character you just introduced and marketed as a reoccurring guest star—you will quite literally loose viewers).
EVERYONE I have ever spoken to IRL about this show (with the exception of that one hotel concierge, but she was just so taken with “The Evil Queen’s character arc” she’s didn’t really care)—the rank and file “average viewer”, speaks fondly of the first season. But come the later episodes they talk of the noticeable quality shift. It’s like a fucking light switch got flipped.
And mind you, these are folks who just go home after work and flip on the TV to escape the day.
It boggles my mind really. They had it. They had it in their grasp. A show that people would be talking about around the water cooler, because we are a cynical generation raised on Disney, of course we are ready for a deconstruction of fairytales in a quasi-Disney universe. We are downright hungry for that shit.
But did they stick with the promise of the story to come at the end of the first season?
Did we see Emma the-one-sane-person-in-this-small-town-of-theme-park-rejects dealing with a crazy shenanigans of her world turned over all over again? Watch her and experience with her the new status quo as she grows, reject, and rebuilds her role and self? Nooooooooooooo.
We got a manic three parallel story structure when maintaining two was crazy and difficult enough for both the audience and the writers. We got a plot instead of character driven mess that moved waaaaaaaaaaaay to fast, and even more white characters that didn’t even TRY to subvert the tropes like they had in the previous season.
Did we get a long, drawn out, cross continent WAR across the kingdoms as several parties—all with legitimate claims to their respective thrones—duked it out in one giant mashup of folklore, fairytales and Disney lore?
No, we got some weird…I don’t even know what we got honestly. A couple of mentions of troops and George’s castle burning was NOT what my mind’s eye had imagined when Charming promised Snow that they would take back their kingdoms. Especially not when I heard they’d cast Mulan.
I expected and epic mid-season climax where an unknown mercenary in the Charmings army fucking buries Regina’s army under the goddamn snow on the slopes of Bald Mountain. I expected Prince Philip, Prince Eric, Aladdin and Jasmine or whoever, standing against Maleficent, Jafar, and Ursula. I expected a bunch of back door politics and daring nighttime surgical strikes because you can’t blow your season budget on animating a fucking army every episode, be you can watch the generals and major players making plans and decisions because they’re the ones we care about anyway.
Honestly, who of our generation wouldn’t pay to SEE that?
They were SO CLOSE. SO CLOSE! BUT THEY TRIPPED AT THE FINISH LINE. And all because…I DON’T KNOW. Someone changed the strain of weed they were smoking. Some exec thought they knew what would sell better. Maybe some intern who was coming up with half the brilliant ideas left to get paid writing Sleepy Hollow. I DON’T KNOW.
But something happened, and I will be forever bitter.
“This welfare queen is stealing my hard earned money!” exclaims Albert Spencer in a huff.
"You’re damn right, Georgie Porgie! Don’t look now, but I just stole your breeches too!" Robyn taunts merrily as she waves Spender’s belt over her head. With a grin and a wink, she throws up her hoodie and disappears into the night.
"I’ll get you next time, Robbing Hoooooood!" Albert shakes his fist as he struggles to hold up his pants, "Madame Mayor! Tell the Sheriff to arrest that fiend!"
"You heard the District Attorney, Sheriff Swan. Arrest the hero of Sherwood Forest." Regina deadpans, utterly lacking in any sincerity.
"Toodle-pip-what? I’m still processing the fact that Robin Hood’s a woman, to be honest.” says Emma to no one’s great surprise.
Now, that said, I would have paid though the nose for a scene with Ashley showing up at Regina’s door absolutely dog-tired with a wailing baby that she’s at her wits end with, and a Regina who calmly ushers her inside and shows her what the fuck she’s doing wrong. Use this as a way to drop in Regina’s own fears and anxiety when she was raising her own son. PUSH the fact that Regina is unequivocally Henry’s mother, and not some fucking nanny to raise yet another FUCKING WHITE MONARCH.
Let the broader story guide the characters we meet and learn about in a single episode. Maybe Snow and Charming hired a boat to take them to Agrabah where they meet Sindbad the sailor and had a roaring adventure with him for an episode. Mulan is a mercenary general in their army, so on and so forth.
Rumpel could have been a terrific character to explore all sorts of problematic areas that are ever present in the Grimm version of fairytales. Stockholm syndrome, cycles of abuse, misogyny, hell, anti-Semitism—I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about how the Rumpelstiltskin tale was originally, probably, most likely Christian blood-libel propaganda. Basically, there is a lot of shit to unpack around that character, but killing his wife? Because she chose to leave him for another man? Are you fucking serious?
Here’s an idea, instead of fridging yet another woman, let’s give Rumpel and Hook some sordid backstory that pulls together all the kidnapping and child-dealing narratives that are ever so popular in fairytales and children’s stories (because that is a huge anxiety for both parents and kids). Let’s make Peter Pan a Big Bad who is collecting children for nefarious purposes. Maybe he siphons their life-force to keep Neverland, well, Neverland. Maybe he’s building an army—something, but something, you know, interesting. Maybe Rumpel made a deal with him almost 300 years ago to be one of his supply lines, maybe Hook has been harassing Rumpel for three centuries because he’s morally opposed to the selling of children and has been trying to stop Pan (or is he just trying to get learn the secret of Neverland for himself? *stokes chin* Yo ho, me hearties, yo ho…)
Not only does this make Hook slightly more heroic, and 100% less manpain-y, but now we have very interesting potential for storytelling when we DO get to Neverland. Now we have a Hook who Emma would totally be interested in, a Hook who will stop at nothing to destroy Pan, Henry be damned. His motivation going far beyond just getting his dick wet. That gives us two momma bears in opposition to this guy who thinks he’s in the right, one momma who sorta harbors feelings for him despite knowing better, and the other who can be every bit as ruthless as him where she needs too.
And look, as thirsty as Bobby’s ass in those leather pants makes me, I know the Rumpel character needs to undergo a serious fucking character shift before he’s good enough for Belle.
But it has to come from him and not her. He has to decide to become a better man for himself. Because that’s what real character growth is. Belle’s story should have been about deconstructing the myth of her as some passive flower locked in tower. So let’s do it, let’s see Belle tearing it up in FTL, (like we did sort of minus the Might Whitey bullshit) and parallel that with Storybrooke. Instead of a character like Lacey and a weird…whatever the fuck that was affair (?) with Rumpel…maybe have a character who has to assert her independence at ever turn, who rejects Gold because he’s not a good man yet. Not by a long shot. And maybe, in the end, even after he’s changed and become a healthy and loving human being, maybe in the end, it won’t be enough. Belle goes, and Rumpel respects that—Beast no more. Because being a decent and good man isn’t about the prize at the end. If it is then your aren’t really a decent and good man. Narratively make the final decisive deconstruction of that premise: they go their separate ways, healthy and whole. Fade to black.
I do agree that Cora shouldn’t have been fucking Rumpel. Make Cora the miller’s daughter, who made a deal with Rumpel—maybe reneged on it, or maybe instead of Rumpel just giving her his name she discovers it through her own guile. With his name, she orders him to teach her magi—give her some real bite. Drop the whole romance thing. Cora/power is the only OTP that should be going on there. Besides, there’s other plot points we should having been spending more time on.
Neal’s storyline was a travesty. You have a character named Evil-Fire, you should probably do something with that. Make him a foil to Emma, falling into the Land Without Magic, his slow descent from the sweet good-hearted boy we saw to the shit-heel that left Emma swinging in the breeze when the heat was on. If ours is a world with no happy endings, then let’s see how societal forces converge to crush an immigrant’s soul.
Give us some real goddamn spectacle with August, have Emma confront him for having taken her mother’s spot in the wardrobe and then abandoning her. Let Emma’s character deal with that, let’s see a slightly unhinged Emma threatening Booth for having been directly responsible for making her life a living hell.
I wanted to see Emma place a shot glass with a couple of termites against August’s forehead while she had a mental breakdown over…fucking everything. I wanted to she her in a fit of hysterics, gnashing and weeping, bargaining for her younger self and pleading for her current state, while August just screams and screams while the termites begin to gnaw on his forehead.
Cause, I might be taking crazy pills over here but I sort of feel like that be a terrifying bit of gallows humor to inject into a very twisted and emotional scene given the fact that the character is you know, pine.
Some fanfic writer has already done this right? Please tell me someone has already done this. With Regina bursting in and going ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Take it from me: torture bad. Don’t do it. It changes you. Seriously.”
Dr. Whale should have been queer. A nod and a wink to his name sake, and a not-to-subtle fuck you to privileged white gay cismen culture.
Because, at the end of the day, Once Upon a Time was a story about women. Women and their hopes and dreams, fears, glorious strengths and terrible vices, triumphs and—fuck, their humor. OUAT…once upon a time, had some of the best little quirky and simple comedic bits between women. Women defending and caring for other women. Women telling it like it is, women. Wonderful, beautiful, victorious women.
This show was a breath of fresh air, and…people loved it.
And it just…disappeared. It didn’t fade, it just—vanished.
I think you can still hand it over, by adding admin or something? If you could find someone willing to take over. Because that tumblr is one of the best, I’d hate to see it just stop. But you shouldn’t have to do it all, at least not alone!
yeah, I might just do that…
I understand people feeling that way, TRULY! I get it. but I think I’ve heard just about every opinion on this, and I’ve shared my own multiple times. I have nothing more to say about it and I’m not interested in facilitating a debate among anons, so I won’t be replying to messages about this anymore unless there’s actually something new to say.
that’s a really good question…………………………. I don’t know. trying to keep that blog updated is a HUGE source of anxiety for me so I’ve resorted to just flat-out ignoring it bc the guilt of abandoning it is significantly less stressful than trying to keep up with it and that’s the gods honest truth
I’m sure they were, he said a LOT of terrible things, I can’t honestly remember it all, but what I remember most was a lot of ignorant bullshit about LGBTQ people having to “wait our turn” (and comparing us to cars??), as well as purposefully cruel comments about what the cast ‘really’ thinks of SQ fans.
I’m not too interested in saying this or that was ‘worse’ though, maybe on a basic level what Ginny said wasn’t as bad, but I think her status is so important to consider. she’s more famous than MC, much more visible. she had tons and tons of fans rallying against SQ fans, calling us bullies and even using the “NOH8” slogan against us (something specifically created to promote the acceptance of LGBTQ people, now being used against a largely LGBTQ group for the ‘crime’ of speaking out against what many saw as a blatantly homophobic comment).
and what did she do? she supported those fans, she accepted their pity and agreed with them that she was the one being attacked, thus giving them the justification they needed to further vilify and bully SQ fans (to this fucking day). the hatred Ginny’s willful ignorance has fueled is reprehensible to me, regardless of her intentions.
I think the worst of all this is how both of them dealt with being called out. Ginny never apologized, never once admitted she could’ve inadvertently said some really hurtful things. instead she chose to imply SQ fans love incest and that anyone who thinks her comments were homophobic were wrong (here’s a tip: straight people don’t get to decide what is or isn’t homophobic, especially above gay and lesbian people).
and IIRC, Coleman may have issued some sort of ‘apology’ (I’m not sure), but I’m fairly certain I remember him flat out denying saying things that we know for a fact he said, so… I don’t really think that counts.
ohhhhhh, that makes sense. perfect example of how a single comment can be interpreted in so many different ways. but I like this rather innocuous take on it, thanks for sharing.