January 5, 2013

Mid-Season Two Check-In With “Once Upon a Time”

Posted in Judaism, Pop Culture at 4:28 am by chavalah


Protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) continues to discover her powers as the prophesied savior.

Protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) continues to discover her powers as the prophesied savior.

“Once Upon a Time”’s five-week winter break comes to a close at last and I can’t be more excited. This show, to me, has surpassed itself thus far in its second season.

Several of the issues I had last season are completely moot now. Rumplestiltskin is in no way an antisemitic stereotype—his show canon has expanded far beyond his Grimm’s Fairy Tales origin and he’s become a deeply complex character. Similarly Regina is far more than the Evil Queen/bad representation of adoptive parents as her character has been allowed to deepen. The final episode before the break ended with a shocking note of sympathy for her, completely planned, according to the show runners, and a successful move in humanizing, according to tumblr. 😛

Much of the action of the first half of the season has focused on female relationships. Mothers and daughters feelings abound with Cora and Regina, Snow and Emma, and others. And in the modern day Enchanted Forest, four women band together in order to get two home. We have newcomer Disney characters in the forms of Aurora (Sarah Bolger) and Mulan (Jamie Chung.) Their backstory involves a prince whose soul was sucked away in the first episode, but I’m among those who believe that a strong bond has formed between these two ladies on their own, without the prince. Though it’s likely too optimistic to hope that a lesbian attraction on network television would be introduced on a show geared towards the “family market,” alas. That statement in itself certainly deserves a blog post of its own.

OUAT did break through a huge convention, however, with the casting of Sinqua Walls in the anglophilic role of medieval Christian lore, the knight Sir Lancelot. Unfortunately his character was killed off rather quickly, in a way that made sense for the plot, at least. For myself, I guess I was surprised that Arthurian legends were stirred into the pot. The show has continued to expand, not only taking from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Greco-Roman myths but also far more contemporary stories like “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and even “Frankenstein.” But the Arthur stories are so steeped in the mythos of one of the largest religions practiced today that I suppose it gave me pause. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that all Disney properties are fair game. I’m kind of expecting Princess Leia to make an appearance now, sheesh!

Perhaps the most contentious issue on the show this year is that of the relationship between Rumplestiltskin and Belle. Some critics have pointed out the problematic nature of her wanting to stay with an abusive or at least manipulative man. But as a rebuttal to that argument, I posit that you have to look at “Once Upon a Time” within the framework in which it’s intended. I believe that the creators are trying to subvert the fairytale culture of black vs white, good vs evil. Not that good and evil don’t exist on this show as strong constructs, because they certainly do, but that the people are more layered. The Evil Queen was once an innocent girl who was betrayed and lost the love of her life. The Dark One was once a cowardly peasant who nonetheless did what he thought was best to save his son, but then lost him all the same. And, in case you’ve missed it from the constant mantra, true love is the most powerful magic of all. 😛

Look out for “Once Upon a Time” starting this Sunday at 8 pm on ABC!


1 Comment »

  1. […] you read my update from last year, you know that I loved season two. As I’ve been interacting with more of fandom, I’m surprised […]

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