May 21, 2017

Once Upon a Series Finale?

Posted in Pop Culture at 7:19 pm by chavalah

The majority of the “Once Upon a Time” main cast during a yester-year San Diego Comic Con shoot.

Anyone who is still watching ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” knows that drama has been afoot lately. I only get my news from my favorite OUAT podcast, but the airwaves are buzzing—the vast majority of the main cast is leaving the show, and the set up for season seven is almost removed enough from the preceding six to be called a spin off.

Allow me to briefly express my cynicism about this move enacted by ABC. The writers actually gave us a pretty cohesive ending to the series last week, but instead we’re being dragged along past the finish line. I fear that the show will go out with a whimper instead of a bang—these “reset seasons” don’t have a great reputation—but who knows, I could be wrong. I’ll probably be back to review season seven either way. 😛 But for now, I want to bid my farewell to this modern day fairytale as I knew it.

Admittedly, my attention has waned these past few seasons, but 6B had some high points. The Black Fairy, as played by Jaime Murray, was a pretty memorable villain. We primarily stayed focused on the main cast, with frequent callbacks to older seasons. The most significant of these was the build up to a “final battle,” which characters teased as part of Emma’s ultimate destiny all the way back in the beginning.

We also got a wedding and a musical episode; what’s not to love there? 😛 And the season finale, though maybe occasionally skittering around iffy plot issues, ended strong for the characters, and reaffirmed the show’s central message of hope and faith. There was even a parting shot of Emma-as-savior, surrounded by her friends in family in a Final Supper da Vinci style; not the first overtly Christian imagery in my pop culture viewing this first half of 2017. My biggest complaint was how under-utilized Belle was, in this and indeed in most episodes. Seems almost greedy to complain about this, considering the large number of female characters with fully formed, complicated storylines, from Emma to Snow to Regina and Zelena and even Cora, I’d say. I think I’m going to miss that aspect of OUAT most of all; the strong focus on the lives and relationships of women. Makes it really stand out when Belle’s not a part of that group.

So, as my parting act, permit me to give armchair advice to seasoned TV people about how they should have handled their show. 😛 This season drew me in enough to make me more wary of the mistakes of seasons past. Somewhere around the end of season three, I think that the story lost its way a little bit.

It should have been more streamlined. The writers realized by the sixth season that they should focus more fully on the leads and less on the “guest star of the week.” I would retroactively cut the Land of Untold Stories, Camelot, the three villainesses, and even Arendale (let it go, let it go…). The Underworld we need to keep, if for no other reason than because of the cathartic conclusion to the Cora/daughters storyline, and the start of the sisterly relationship between Regina and Zelena. Really should have gotten more play over all as their shared “happy ending.” But I’d divorce Hades’ realm from the whole “roving Dark One powers” nonsense. That whole thing was very forced and added little to Emma’s character development, unlike utilizing her authentic flaws when it comes to walls and abandonment getting in the way of family, hope and love.

I’d also be ok with leaving Lily in, and focusing on this intriguing “real world” relationship from Emma’s past, sans the mishegas about who has what magical potential for good or evil. I’d cook up another reason for the Charmings being in conflict with Malificent, possibly be responsible for sending Lily to the land without magic, basically building up their flaws. And give them something to do in Enchanted Forest flashbacks rather than run from Regina. 😛

I also have my quibbles with the author powers, and how they tease boundaries concerning whether “characters” act with free will. But I also liked giving a growing Henry more agency, and recording stories does seem like a natural outcropping of his “heart of the truest believer” moniker.

I might be in the minority, but I loved season two, being introduced to Cora and Hook, both of whom have great journeys on the show, plus the slow start of Emma’s identification with her family. The only significant thing I’d change is allowing Mulan and Aurora to ride off into the sunset together, as it should have been! So long as I’m daring to hope that “family friendly” can include access to all kinds of loving relationships.

Neverland is the most underrated story arc of the show, imho, and Pan was the best villain. Season three was when the show runners started doing two story arcs per season, but frankly, with some planning, I think Neverland could have lasted an entire season. Then afterwards…in season four we should have introduced the Black Fairy right away. Establish Rumple’s parents as the big baddies of the show. Start teasing the threat of “the final battle” early, White Walkers on “Game of Thrones” style. 😛 Make Emma’s—and everyone’s—fight with the Black Fairy a little more nuanced and a little less rushed. “The final battle” only has to be the tail end of it—before then we could have a war. And for pete’s sake, now that I’m removing all of the fluff, there’s time to give Belle a decent story arc or two! Oh, if only.

Thus concludes my personal reboot of “Once Upon a Time.” If only we had access to a time machine? Technically, one of the season finales was a big homage to “Back to the Future.” 😛

Though not of the same caliber as the “prestige television” that makes up most of my viewing diet, this show has served me faithfully throughout the years. I skirt on the edges of fandom by listening to the ONCE Podcast, and texting with my one or two friends who also watch. I even remember, way back in season one, walking out of one of my first Library School grad classes, to the tune of a classmate on the phone saying “I have to go home to watch ‘Once Upon a Time’!” I knew then that I was in the right place. 😛

Thank you to all of the cast and crew for putting this show together. I’ll be tuning back into ABC this fall for wherever we go next.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: