Monday, March 30, 2015

The Preemptive Critic - "Inside Out"

I think I might have spotlighted this movie already on my TPC feature, but this is Trailer #2 and it's even better then the first one -

I just that I haven't been feeling that great lately. Today there was just a lot of needless fighting and contention all around me, and I just don't do well with that sort of thing (especially when it gets out of control and even invades the places you thought were free of such garbage). Even when you try to explain that there's no reason for it, people get so entrenched in their way of thinking that it's pointless even to try fixing it. You just have to walk away and let them stew in their own juice (that, frankly, sounds disgusting). It reminded me of being on my mission when I would try to help someone, but they were having none of it, yet somehow I felt like I failed miserably, even though I did everything I knew how to do. And I probably bring it on myself for thinking I have to fix it all, but I really don't because everybody else has got to make their own decisions based on what they know. But that doesn't actually make me feel better about having failed.

What does this have to do with Inside Out? Honestly? Nothing. At least, nothing that I know of. But at the same time, I've heard people say that this is probably going to be a great movie to help kids (and adults) learn about mental health and such - and I'm already feeling it with this trailer (points for the video being set to Boston's "More Than a Feeling"). It doesn't take much for a movie like this to hit me where I need it most. Especially since I keep thinking no wondering about what I'm doing and if it's actually making any kind of difference to anybody. The answer is typically "No you're not doing a damn thing, you useless lump - nothing ever changes even when you want it to, so why in the hell are you even trying anymore?" and that doesn't help my mindset. It even makes me feel like the things that I have accomplished in the past don't mean diddly-squat, even though at the time I thought I was doing awesome.

Anyway - this movie's gonna make me bawl and I can't wait to see it. Sorry for the depressing blog post, but I'm just a little frustrated right now and if it takes a trailer for a Pixar movie to help me process it - well... welcome to being me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Road To Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.16 "Best Laid Plans" - SPOILERS!

I'm sorry - but after this episode wasn't quite as ZOMG TRAUMA as I thought it was going to be, I'm kind of in a giddy/punchy mood. I'm LAUGHING at how serious Snow and Charming were about the whole "We stole Maleficent's baby and we suck forever!" Faces of Sadness. And, thus, this song becomes appropriate because it's sooooo over-the-top in this case -

(Can you truly, truly imagine Snow and Charming going OMG SOOPER DARK om nom nom? I can't. So that whole Snowing Redemption sequence was unintentionally freaking hilarious because - let's face it - NOT GONNA HAPPEN)

Let me just start by saying - IT'S ALL SNOW WHITE'S FAULT! Think about it - she's the one that was all freaking out about "OUR BABY IS GOING TO BECOME ANAKIN SKYWALKER AND WE MUST AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS" while Charming's like "Our baby was cute and adorable and let me dazzle our audience with my endearing Daddy!Charming act." And then you have the Apprentice giving the whole "Everyone Has The Ability To Choose Good or Evil" speech THAT I HAVE BEEN YELLING AT THE TV FOR THE PAST FOUR WEEKS! (with the exception of last week because Hook's dilemma with the Author was pitch perfect, especially given how everyone else has been losing their shit about it - so, yeah, their worry might rub off on him a bit).

BUT NOOOO - Snow has to be all "NO DARKNESS FOR BABY!" so she goes and pulls an Oedipus where they tried to avoid the prophecy by fulfilling it anyway and life sucks and UBER GUILT that I totally did not buy for one measly second and... yeah, this episode wasn't as heavy as the promos and sneak peeks would have us believe. I would get upset and yell about false advertising, but this is ABC. If there isn't over-the-top HIGH DRAMA every week, pigs are flying and Satan is ice-skating.

Let me repeat myself - Snow White is not evil. She is never going to be evil. No matter how many times you tease us with dark spots on her heart or bad things she's done - I don't buy it AT ALL. She is not that badass no matter how many scenes of her running through the forest with a bow and arrow and wearing white leather pants you show us. She is still that sweet princess-y chick that sings to birds and totally flipped out when there was a sorta, kinda, possible chance that her baby could maybe be a villain. That whole thing was exceedingly ridiculous and Emma was right to be pissed at her mother for believing that she could become a villain.

Good grief.

Anyway - what else is there to like?

Killian Jones - STILL BETTER THAN ALL YOUR FAVES! After Ursula tells him Rumple's plan, what does he do? Immediately inform Team Charming that - Emma could go dark, yo! Even if Snow and Charming have their whole "This is super-uncomfortable" whisper argument (that Henry was completely oblivious to, apparently), Emma is quick to reassure Killian that she is NOT going to go dark, no matter what (even if the good captain is doubtful - and, truly, he has reason to be cautious. Unlike Ma and Pa Charming. I really didn't buy their concern AT ALL. Just in case you weren't sure of my opinion of the whole thing.

Sticking with the good ship Captain Swan - Killian getting a wee bit jealous of Emma and August's friendship - but Emma totally reassuring her precious pirate that they're just friends. I live for these little moments between them both (also - Mal's sleeping curse put Emma and Hook to sleep next to each other and that was just "totes adorbs").

(Yes, Emma - scruffy hot dudes who wear leather jackets. You totally have a type. But I'm gonna be 100% honest here - it's a good type to have ^_^)

Henry finding out the Author's hiding place - also that he gave Regina the forgery. Give that kid a medal and all the cookies in the world!

Gold - still holds the title for most in need of smackings (OH SURE - try to explain things to Belle while she's asleep. THAT makes EVERYTHING BETTER you freaking dipshit! Only because he knows she'd boot his ass right back out the door - and she would be justified in doing so).

MY WALT DISNEY AUTHOR TRIBUTE THEORY WAS CORRECT!! (sort of. It's close enough that I'm taking it). The way August explained the Author was BRILLIANT! I love that it's not just one person, but it's more like a caretaker role - someone who keeps these stories alive in the hearts and minds of the next generation, even if they tweak them a bit here and there. Of course, Uncle Walt was the one who preserved fairy tales for our generation (more or less - he got the ball rolling on fairy tales in movies and such and that tradition continues to this day), so why wouldn't Once Upon a Time, which owes so much to Walt's interpretation, pay tribute to the man? Even if he does end up being a troublemaking trickster in the end? I still think it's clever.

(Didn't he say that the peddler's name was Walt? I swear that's what he meant. I may have to give it another watch before I know for sure).

Overall - a few small pieces were good, the whole story was kind of "meh..." I guess I'm just not that enamored of Snow and Charming's deep dark secret (strike that - Snow is the one that gets on my nerves. I have zero problem with Charming most of the time).


Seriously - last season's Oz storyline was amazing and wonderful and I wanted to know if they'd ever revisit that realm - BEHOLD IT IS HAPPENING!

(but dammit I have to wait two weeks. WHY MUST YOU HURT ME IN THIS WAY?)

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Million-and-One Reasons Why Killian Jones is Better Than Everybody Else

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.15 "Poor Unfortunate Soul"  - SPOILERS!

NOTE: Yes, I skipped 4.14 "Enter the Dragon." Last week was kind of crazy for me and it slipped through the cracks. To be fair, that episode was completely and totally… meh. You know what I got out of it? More of Pre-Curse Regina's whining, Maleficent isn't as badass as she should be, hints of a Sleeping Beauty story I'd like to see but probably never will, Aurora is an ineffectual wet blanket, Rumple holds onto his title of "One Most in Need of Being Smacked Upside the Head," Killian Jones in the rain is sexy as hell, and Colin O'Donoghue needs to win all the freaking awards in the world but won't because the awards committees are stupid and ABC isn't HBO or AMC. Nothing I didn't already know and neither did you. Good enough? Moving On!


I'm not even kidding - I will probably watch this one as much as I do "Good Form" or "The Jolly Roger" or even the Captain Swan movie from last season.

I derive so much enjoyment from the Hook-centric episodes compared to some of the others OUAT gives me, I wonder why they even bother with the other characters (that's a rhetorical fangirly question - still, I wouldn't complain if a few changes were to take place). And it's not like the episodes that reveal Hook's backstory are treated any different than an episode of, say, Snow and Charming or Regina or Rumple. But I think what's different is that this show has become so saturated with those other characters that when we do get one that's about a different main character (i.e. Hook or Emma or Belle - or even the Frozen backstory from Season 4A) - it suddenly becomes more interesting and novel.

So - where to begin?

Pan's Villainy Revealed - FINALLY!

First of all - we finally (FINALLY) get an episode where we see past!Hook working for Pan (after all that crap was teased last season AND NEVER FULLY EXPLAINED. Nope, I'm never going to let that go) and it's... going to the Enchanted Forest on a cake run.

(Most Feared Monster in Neverland, everybody).

Still, it's great to see pirate!Hook again because, as much as I love Killian's modern look and whatnot, it's easy to forget his origins and I sometimes miss it.

Also great to see is a new twist on the classic story of The Little Mermaid - this time, with a young Ursula and her father, Poseidon (played by Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame - tell me that was not completely awesome!) Turns out, Ursula's the one with the magically beautiful voice, which her father uses to entice ships to run aground and sink - which very nearly happens to the crew of The Jolly Roger (but doesn't, thanks to some quick thinking on the part of the ship's captain and a last minute change of heart from Ursula).

Look Out, Madam Mermaid

Okay - can I just say that my inner four-year-old Disney fan was squealing with joy at the fact that young Ursula in OUAT sings "Fathoms Below" from the movie. And if you have no idea what the crap I'm talking about (first of all - WHAT?) - here you go -

Anyway, Ursula's gone human and is singing in a tavern in order to earn money to get away from her father because she hates that he uses her voice in order to seek revenge for her mother's death at the hand of pirates. Ursula wants her voice to be used to make people happy and to do good things. Hook and his crew are in the tavern and he recognizes her voice as the one that could have wrecked his ship, but didn't - and being the total softie that he is (underneath that angry and vengeful pirate exterior), he agrees to take Ursula wherever she'd like to go.

Problem is, Daddy Poseidon gets wind of Ursula's plans and tries to convince Hook to steal Ursula's voice, but Hook - honorable scamp that he is, promised that he wouldn't hurt Ursula because that's not good form. But he does ask Ursula to steal the squid ink that Poseidon promised in exchange for Hook double-crossing Ursula so Hook could get his revenge on Rumple (confused yet?) Poseidon puts a stop to this scheme as well and Hook, in his anger, steals Ursula's singing voice anyway, which causes Ursula to become the vengeful and evil sea witch - and that's the terrible thing Hook did to Ursula that was referenced two episodes ago.

You Don't Need The Author To Get What You Want

This brings us to present day Storybrooke and the Queens of Darkness. Team Hero figures out that Rumple tricked Belle by using Killian's appearance to steal the dagger from her (oh man - CAN'T BELLE JUST CATCH A BREAK FROM ALL OF RUMPLE'S BULLSHIT?) Killian is rightfully pissed that the Dark One is still at large, so he decides to use his past with Ursula to find out what Rumple has planned. And here is where things start to get interesting.

All through this "Operation Mongoose" business, I'm watching these villains seek to manipulate the system and all I can think is "Hook's got his happy ending and he was a villain once - what gives?" So I am glad that this episode tried to answer that question and actually addressed this whole situation in several ways.

The first one is since Hook has made some pretty big changes in his life and turned his whole outlook around, he offers Ursula her happy ending back that he stole in the first place. If Ursula agrees to cough up the Dark One's plans, he'll give her back her singing voice.

See? No author, no magic, just honesty. Piece of cake.

Except - Ursula's voice is on The Jolly Roger. The same Jolly that Hook traded to Blackbeard for the magic bean to get back to Emma in New York (excuse me while I go cry for a moment... okay, I'm good). But Ursula has ways of getting the ship back - which she does. And... it's a bottled ship.


Sadly, the tiny!Jolly isn't going to be much help, so Hook and Ursula go to Gold's Shop where Belle and Will are totally making out have a potion from Wonderland that can make the Jolly big again (and Hook trades a few snipes with Will - after a bit of a harsh-but-not-undeserved jab at Belle "Oh NOW you check my identity!")


(I'm thinking that's where Hook and Emma are going to take up residence when all this is over. Just a theory, mind you)

Long story short - Killian gives Ursula back the seashell with her voice (it's locked in a safe where the key is in Killian's hook and I just LOVE that!) - but she can't get her voice back because of reasons, so she gets pissed and knocks Killian out and chucks him out into the ocean.

(For a guy who spent hundreds of years sailing the seas, Killian certain spends a lot of time almost drowning)

But never fear! Ariel is here to save the day! (HELLO FRIEND I MISSED YOU TOO!) There's an explanation of why she's here, which I'll save for someone else to dissect - but Ariel, though her appearance is brief, gives what may be THE most important nugget of wisdom in all this Operation Mongoose insanity -

I sure hope he's filing this away for future reference (gif set source)
The Only Payoff For Having Any Faith...

Before I head into my OMG TEH FEELS!!!! conclusion - I have to circle back for Emma Swan. Who, if you remember, is being kept from the truth of her own villainous potential from her incredibly naive-but-well-meaning parents (and who are slowly crawling up my list of People Most In Need Of Smackings - not quite to Rumple-levels, but they're somewhere in there). I'd just like to draw this parallel (that was pointed out to me via Tumblr - but I've got some to say about it).

I think I figured out why Snow and Charming (mostly Snow) have been annoying the crap out of me lately - Snow has got this insufferable way of denying that anything bad is or could possibly happen. I liken it to the part in Season 2 of in Avatar: The Last Airbender where Team Avatar is in the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se to ask for the Earth King's help in fighting the Fire Nation. But we find out that the Dai Li (the Earth Kingdom's secret agents) routinely kidnap and brainwash people who even mention the war within the walls of Ba Sing Se. Everyone must be happy OR ELSE!

Snow is kind of like that in her own way - any hint of Emma doing or saying anything that could be construed as "dark" is a problem. But Snow - for all OUAT's assertion that this Snow White is badass and she was a bandit and she knows how to ride horses and shoot arrows and wear pants and go camping - she's still Snow White. She's still that sweet little princess lady who sings to birds and lives in a palace and befriends dwarves and everything is rainbows and sparkles and YAY! They are fooling precisely no one with this tough-woman act, I'm sorry.

Emma, on the other hand, is hardcore into confronting the truth and she is brutally honest. She says that, yes, she wants to kill Rumple just like Killian said he wanted to stab the Dark One with his own dagger and never mind the fact that he'd become the Dark One instead. Now, in reality if he was given the choice, Killian probably wouldn't actually do that, but Emma understands Killian's frustration because Emma's lived with some of those same emotions. Snow is never going to understand that because she's never been the villain. I'm not saying this is a bad thing - but sometimes the sickly-sweetness of Snow White kind of grates on me. Too much of a good thing and all that (and even in the "Next Time" promo - Snow is still trying to appeal to Emma with that sweet nature and Emma, who must have found out about her parents OMG SOOPER DOOPER SEKRIT, is clearly having none of it).

And, as an aside, there is one promo for next week floating around out there that shows Hook going directly to Team Charming with the information that Rumple is gunning for Emma and her potential for Great Darkness(tm). Which shows to me that, yes Hook has kept secrets from Emma in the past, but he has learned from those mistakes and he is NOT going to to that again. Remind me who the evilest of villains here is?

(Just one more on the pile of Reasons Why Killian Jones is Better Than Everybody Else)

...Is When It's Tested Again and Again

Back at Gold's cabin where Team Darkness is keeping no-longer-little-kid-Pinocchio prisoner (long and boring story), Ursula is going on a rampage against Team Hero, who tracked them down to their hideaway. Long story short - Hook comes back with Daddy Poseidon, who is ready and willing to make amends with Ursula. They make up and everything is awesome and Ursula - who to this point was a villain - just got her freaking happy ending WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM THAT DAMN AUTHOR!

(Killian Jones, take a bow, you heroic pirate, you).

Everybody clears out - and here we come to the second way in which Operation: Mongoose was not in fact rendered completely moot. Remember how I said Hook's got his happy ending and I was wondering why no one was paying attention to that fact all the while running around like a bunch of crazies looking for this freaking author when all they had to do was stop and wonder - "Wait... how the hell did he manage it?" Well - while that still isn't entirely an unprofitable line of inquiry, Killian himself is starting to ask that question. And if you ever wondered why I ship Captain Swan so much - I would say look no further than this scene WHICH WILL COMPLETELY TEAR YOUR HEART TO PIECES AND YOU WILL LOVE EVERY MOMENT OF IT!

PUNCH ME IN THE FACE AND BURY ME WHERE I STAND I CANNOT WITH YOU TWO ANYMORE (but I will because you are the freaking BEST on this or any show EVER!)

If that wasn't an "I love you," then I don't know what is.

Beyond my *happy fangirling*, though - just look at this for a minute. NOT ONCE does Killian imply that he wants to the author to give him his happy ending. If Killian Jones wants something, he goes out and gets it himself - or he works damn hard to get it. And until now, he's never thought that he could lose his happiness because of something that's outside his control. Yes, he's worked to become a better person and leave his villainous persona behind and seek redemption - but what if that's not enough? What if it's too late to prove himself? Despite assurances from Emma and everybody else that he is indeed a hero, it's possible that Killian could totally lose everything he's worked so hard to fix. I mean, name one thing (besides the thing with the pistol in the Jolly - which totally didn't work) that Killian did in the present day in this episode that would be considered villainous? He gave Ursula back her voice, he helped her make amends with her father, he's consistently been on the side of good - yet he still thinks of himself as a bad guy.

And then you have Emma, who up to this moment STILL doesn't think that she's anybody's happy ending. I mean - Emma, honey - DO YOU SERIOUSLY HAVE TO ASK? And the answer is - yes. Honestly - she really does. She's never been loved by anyone like this - she doesn't trust easily and she doesn't open herself up that often. I think she still has that fear in the back of her mind that she's going to wake up one morning and Killian's going to be gone, just like every other guy she's trusted with her heart. I mean, these two have both been through so much crap and now they've each finally found another person who cares about them deeply - and the ONLY REASON they could lose this wonderful little thing that they because of a bunch of stupid villains who can't get their own crap together. BUT BY DAMN THEY ARE GOING TO FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER AND THAT IS TRUE FREAKING LOVE RIGHT THERE!

So, this sets up for more drama and angst, but I figured it was coming because, hell, Snowing had their challenges to face. How could Captain Swan (or Outlaw Queen, for that matter) expect to do any less? Personally, I cannot WAIT for this story to unfold - and I'm still hoping for Rumple to get impaled on his own dagger (nobody has to actually stab him with it. He could just be running and trips and he stabs himself. Problem solved)

Other Things I Liked/Noticed -

- I knew the Outlaw Queen reunion was a sham - but I theorized that it was Rumple impersonating Robin the same was he did Killian. I didn't think it'd be a dream sequence. Either way, I'm glad we got to see Robin Hood again, even if it wasn't for very long.

- Hook and Will trading jabs at Gold's Shop. Yes, please - give me more!

- "I'm good at surviving or you're just bad at killing." HOOK WINS ALL THE THINGS!

- Cruella was surprisingly quiet through all of this, but she had some lovely moments - like totally lusting after August. I like to keep my blog on the clean side of PG-13, but I think you can imagine where this crack ship could go.

- And this -

I don't care who you are - that's Twue Wuv, right there. (gif source)
Next Time -

Remember how "Smash The Mirror" was such an important Emma episode for how she sees herself and her relationship with her family? I think "Best Laid Plans" is going to go in that direction as well. But that's just a guess -

Buckle in, kiddos because CRAP IS GETTING REAL!

*runs off to watch that Captain Swan ending again*

Monday, March 9, 2015

Just. Can. Not. Spit. It. Out.

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.13 "Unforgiven" - Spoilers!

*sigh* Once - can we have a little heart-to-heart here for a minute?

Last year when everybody was dancing around the whole "Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin's father" reveal? How secretive everyone was? How you had to resort to some pretty clunky not-exposition in order to keep the whole thing a surprise in The-Episode-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named (it's "Think Lovely Thoughts," if you're having a hard time guessing) and then afterward it's mentioned every other moment? And do you remember just how DUMB I thought the whole thing was? And how it tainted the brilliance of the reveal in the next story arc of the Wicked Witch being Regina's half-sister because we'd just got off this stupid roller coaster with Pan and we were so damn tired of these idiotic little glorified click-bait teases?

I SERIOUSLY, honest and truly hope you're not going down a similar path with this whole "What did Snow and Charming do to Maleficent and her baby?" SOOPER SEKRIT mystery - OMG WE MUST KNOW!!! Honestly, you guys do have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver on these great big twists. I mean, I was getting tired of you all dragging out the BIG TIME SECRET THAT EMMA MUST NEVER LEARN during the episode - and it turned out to be that Emma has the potential for great darkness.

Well... duh. Her and every other person who's ever walked the planet. Tell me something I don't know (other than I am SO glad you didn't drag THAT part of the story out beyond the end of the episode. I mean - Snow and Charming know what they did, what's the point of being all "You-Know-Who" between the two of them? JUST FREAKING TELL US ALREADY!)

*sigh* *again* I really don't enjoy pre-Curse Snow and Charming (and Regina, but this episode didn't have her Enchanted Forest persona) flashbacks. It's like - we spent ALL OF SEASON 1 dealing with the hideousness of the Dark Curse. Yes, it was terrible. Yes, it forms the the entire premise on which this show is based. Yes the FREAKING CURSE WAS BROKEN ALREADY AND HAS BEEN FOR A LONG TIME! Can we please do something different???

Anyway - Snow and Charming were kind of "...meh..." in this episode (that's not anything new). Boring old secretiveness for the sake of being secretive and it amounts to a big old pile of... nothing. But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the episode. There were some really good moments here. And they were all in Storybrooke.

Granny's Reserves the Right to Refuse Service

With all that carping and complaining out of the way, I'm going to praise several things that Once consistently does right. That is their villains and (most of) the characters' interactions with them. How can you not LOVE Granny pointedly ignoring Cruella and Ursula and their desire to order drinks? Made even better when Will Scarlet comes in for "the usual" and Granny happily obliges with two coffees (two, huh? Hold onto that).

My Kingdom for an Author

Fandom by and large seems to be split on whether or not Regina's quest to find the Author of Henry's storybook - but I don't have a problem with it. It gives Regina a chance to do a few things that she hasn't had the chance to do (and lets us all have a break from the unending feud between the Evil Queen and the Charmings. I mean it) Like have some meaningful interaction with Henry. Season 4 has been very generous to Regina and Henry and giving the both of them to bond, which is something Regina sorely needs. Also, the scene between Regina and Gepetto in the garage was absolutely beautiful. It's good to see other characters' opinions of Regina change and improve, especially since that's such a key part of a redemption arc.

Daddy/Daughter Sheriffing

Anytime I get to see Emma and David together is an absolute joy. Having the pair of them chasing after the Queens of Darkness was so much fun. I mean, I know I carped about how all this secretiveness feels kind of forced and unnecessary, but for some reason, I don't mind when it's Emma trying to get the details from Daddy Charming. Maybe it's because Emma says what many in the audience are thinking - sure, they're villains, but are they really that bad? That confusion goes even further when David lets Cruella and Ursula go after he swipes Maleficent's claw-thingy from Cruella's car and Emma doesn't get what in the world he's doing.

Grilled Cheese = True Love

You all knew this was coming. Yes, there were things about this episode that I could do without. But you give me anything Captain Swan related and you have my complete and undivided attention and what was in this episode was worth all the "Ugh - THIS AGAIN?" stuff from the flashbacks. Even though Emma and Hook's storyline in this episode deals with Hook being (seemingly) unnecessarily secretive, I so did not mind. For one thing, the way that this whole thing was framed, I know Hook's past with Ursula is going to be dealt with in detail in an upcoming episode (and... I read online spoiler reports and episode titles), so I'm content with waiting.

For another, this is yet another instance of a love story that has its roots in fairy tales and fantasy, but the through-line of it is so very true-to-life. Hook and Emma are absolutely crazy about each other, there is NO disputing that. However - as with any relationship between two people - things from the past do come up to impact the present and those things often come up unexpectedly. Whatever happened with Ursula, Hook was not prepared to discuss it with Emma, which is why that scene in the station that started out with Hook bringing his Lady Faire her coveted grilled cheese sandwich had such a great impact on the story. Emma doesn't think she's bringing up anything too heavy and it's totally okay to ask Hook about it after a bit of adorable playful flirting. Clearly, Hook doesn't want to talk about it. Emma assumes that he's hiding something and he leaves in considerably less good humor than he came in. That is real life, my friends. Little things happen between people that cause temporary hurt and anger and confusion, even between the most dear of loved ones.

However - Emma has been on this wonderful path of self-discovery since the beginning of the show and we are blessed to see the fruits of her experiences. Not so much her experiences of fighting dragons and time travel and sailing to Neverland - but the moment when she comes back from talking to her parents and how she automatically assumed that they were lying to her when she "knows" they'd never do that (oh.... crap....) So, she calls Hook and asks him to come over so she can make things right with him and THESE TWO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER SO MUCH AND I CAN'T GET OVER HOW PERFECT THEY ARE FOR EACH OTHER AND I JUST WANT TO EXPLODE IN A HAPPY BURST OF RAINBOWS AND GLITTER!!

And then Emma catches Snow and Charming eavesdropping on her conversation with Hook and everyone's embarrassed except Hook who just looks complete DONE with all of this.

Excellent timing, Mama Snow. (gif source)
Sometimes, my joy for my ship can only be expressed in gif form :)

The Unforgiven Curses

(I was trying to tie that in - probably didn't work so well).

Beyond the lovely monologuey-voice-over Snow has of talking about Emma's potential for darkness while we see Emma and Hook happily walking through town (RAINBOWS AND GLITTER, YOU GUYS!) - there is one more moment that bears mentioning. Rumple is skulking around outside his shop which Belle has continued to maintain, as well as being the town librarian. Rumple sees Belle in the shop window... but then she is joined by Will Scarlet and the two share a kiss (PS - earlier when Cruella and Ursula were in Gold's shop, Belle had a coffee cup identical to the two that Will picked up from Granny's at the beginning of the episode - I didn't pick up on that; someone pointed it out to me). Rumple is clearly distraught at seeing his wife having moved on from his stupid-ass shit - to which I say GOOD FOR BELLE! I would dearly, dearly love Belle to have a storyline that was completely independent of Rumple's crap. And if that storyline means that she and Will Scarlet hook up, that is totally okay by me.

(I don't have any illusions to the idea that Scarlet Beauty is going to become endgame - to use fandom parlance in this case - but I just like that Belle is getting on with her life after been in Rumple's shadow and a pawn in his schemes for WAY too long).

What's Next?

Maleficent had a baby and the Charmings did something to the baby that's OOOH OMG SECRET DON'T TELL NOBODY!

(this whole "Secrets and Lies" storyline better amount to something more than a Broadchurch-knockoff that airs on ABC after Once Upon a Time, that's all I'm saying)

Have a "Next Time" promo and we're gonna bounce!

(not gonna lie - I'm kinda diggin' Maleficent's 1920s gangster look)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Reset Button at the Edge of Town

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.12 "Darkness At the Edge of Town" - SPOILERS!!!

Oh, Once - it is good to have you back in my life again.

One thing this show has always, always, always, ALWAYS excelled at is misdirection. And I mean that in a good way. Making you think you're going one way, but then you go somewhere completely different. I mean, how many story arcs have we gone where there's a villain who could have made a different choice, but they don't and that becomes their (ugh - can't believe I'm going to say this) undoing? Cora had choices to make, Peter Pan had choices to make, Zelena had choices to make - they all chose poorly.

Parallel this with the villains who have made good choices - Regina is the poster child for villain redemption, with Captain Hook at her heels as a close runner-up (and I characterize him as the runner up because he's had one less season to gain redemption - though maybe I should consider him as better at it, since he's done more in less time... but I digress). The Snow Queen even had redemption for a brief moment, before her chance to make amends resulted in her taking her own life to save everyone else (which was quite the change from the one-off baddies constantly choosing to stick with their terrible plans). Rumplestiltskin had his chance to be redeemed until he completely pissed it away at the end of Season 4A (obligatory DAMMIT RUMPLE!)

So with this new story arc of Heroes and Villains and the Queens of Darkness and villains getting happy endings - they're done hinting at all these parallels. This show is going to go full-bore into how these choices affect the outcome of which side you choose to embrace.

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

After the complete and total bomb zone Storybrooke was after the events of the Frozen arc (Spell of Shattered Sight, Rumple's villainous bullshit, time behind the ice wall) - it was good to have a few little scenes at the start of this episode to kind of show what "normal life" ought to be in our favorite little quirky fairy tale town. Regina is dropping Henry off at the bus stop before resuming her post as the mayor of Storybrooke (PRAISE HEAVEN AND HALLELUJAH!) Mary Margaret is back to teaching school. Granny is tending Baby Baelfire (still not calling the kid what they named him), Emma's off to work as town sheriff - but not before meeting Killian for a morning coffee and a squee moment for us Captain Swan shippers. And Killian and Belle are working together to find a way to free the fairies/nuns from the Sorcerer's Hat that Killian helped imprison them in when he was under the control of Rumplestiltskin because Rumple had Killian's heart in his attache case.

You know - business as usual.

The Enemy of My Enemy

I really, really, really love that we got a scene with both Killian and Belle - given their past history, but also their past of being screwed over by Rumple. Thing is - Belle doesn't really have any friends in Storybrooke, since her story has always revolved around Rumple. And Killian still has an air of being an outsider in town, his relationship with Emma Swan, notwithstanding (probably has to do more with him not having been part of the original curse). So, it's good to see them both being friends with each other and working toward a common goal - which hints at things to come in the future (this being a premiere episode of sorts - it has to set up a lot of stuff after coming back off hiatus).

Speaking of Rumple - he's in New York mooching Top Ramen off Ursula in a dumpy apartment filled with fish. He's a cryptic bastard, as per usual, and still doesn't seem to have learned anything in his six week exile from Storybrooke. My advice to Ursula? Dump his sorry ass off on some curb and get on with your damn life, honey.

But then we wouldn't have a story, would we?

If She Doesn't Scare You

When the Queens of Darkness were introduced and Cruella de Vil was included, I kept thinking "How in the crap is she going to fit in?" The traditional character isn't magical at all - she just goes after puppies for fur coats. Now, the Once version does have magic - she has this green breath that can make living creatures do whatever she wants (and she chooses to use it on rottweilers in the Enchanted Forest. Ummm... 'kay?) - but where her appeal comes is in her personality and her confidence - which is FABULOUS. I know next to nothing about Victoria Smurfit outside of OUAT, but so far she is doing a pitch-perfect job as being this incredibly conceited, high-and-mighty, take no shit offa nobody, absolute queen of villainy. She's got just the right amount of over-the-top nuttiness and almost boredom that just makes this character work.

This really should have been a promo image for the premiere.
Modern-day Cruella is introduced in a way that totally makes sense for her character. She is losing her ostentatious mansion because her wealthy husband is being carted off in the most publicly humiliating way possible (someone called TMZ and the FBI showed up - it looks to be). She gets to keep one of her fur coats AND she's got The Car (you know the one I'm talking about). She even almost runs over an FBI agent when she tears out of the driveway, which means this is gonna be GOOD.

Life's Like a Novel With the End Ripped Out

Back in Storybrooke, Operation Mongoose is front-and-center, just like Emma promised Regina. Personally - my thoughts on the identity of the Author run thusly: I almost don't care about it. The show has made it very clear that it is a person's choices that determine what they become. Rumple even said as much to Regina at the end of the Frozen arc. Yet, now everyone is obsessed with this Author and think they're going to just find this person and flat-out DEMAND he/she/it/they rewrite the book.

And yet... and this might be kind of dumb, but just go with me... I harbor a secret hope that this is going to be Once's way of paying homage to Walt Disney. I thought this clear back at the Season 4 premiere when Rumple found the Sorcerer's Hat and there were those connections to Fantasia and The Sorcerer's Apprentice and how the Sorcerer in that movie is named Yen Sid and tradition holds that he was loosely based on Walt Disney, especially the disapproving look he gives his Apprentice - which is the same look he gave the animators at Disney Studios when they weren't doing as good a job as Walt knew they could. For Once Upon a Time to make Walt Disney a part of this universe in some tangential way would be brilliant beyond brilliant - given how much this show owes to the genius of Disney Studios for inspiration. Honestly - just how much fans of fairy tales in general owe Uncle Walt. Sure, we might have read or seen fairy tales anyway if Disney didn't have this great tradition of telling these beloved stories - but would it really be the same? Just think about it. Disney made these stories (and so many others) accessible and relatable to ordinary people. Whether you're a complete Disneyphile or just watch the movies to keep your kids entertained - you honestly cannot look me in the eye and say that Walt Disney didn't change the way stories are told - and that the company he started doesn't continue in that tradition even today. There is a reason movies like Frozen and Big Hero 6 get awards and accolades and people love them. There is one thing that Disney movies have (for the most part) that many others don't - and that is heart. Sure, other studios try to recreate that magic and some come close, but for some reason, Disney did it first and Disney does it best. So, to have a show that brings all these stories together (and, yes, not all of these are Disney, but enough of them are) pay tribute to the man himself would be fitting and glorious and I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about it

(I'm not holding out too much hope for it - this is just pure speculation at this point and there's no guarantee that this is what they're going for. But it's nice to think about).

Song of the Lonely Mountain

Long story short - Belle and Killian come rushing in with a solution to the fairies-trapped-in-magic-hat problem. Regina does the thing, the fairies are freed. Yay! Except - someone didn't notice the evil blob of smoke that also got released, which turns into Chernabog (hey! Another Fantasia reference!) and that thing comes back to terrorize Storybrooke while everyone's at Granny's having a "Yay! We Saved The Fairy Nuns!" party

We're not in Arendelle anyomore
Regina and Emma scare off Cherny (that's what I'm calling it - it's not quite as cute as "Marshmallow" and I'm kind of missing my Frozen peeps right now), but they take off toward the town line to really get rid of the damn thing. Cherny almost destroys Emma's Bug (it breaks the windshield, which I suppose is the best we could have hoped for) and it tumbles beyond the town line and gets dusted.

Except Cruella and Ursula are there as well (Rumple's off hiding in the trees, presumably) and they call Regina using Rumple's phone - and this is where things get REALLY interesting, because the two Queens of Darkness tell Regina that they've reformed and they want to change and come to Storybrooke and be with the heroes.

Now - see how clever these writers are. Because through three-and-a-half seasons, this has been all about villains getting redemption and second chances and making good choices. And here we have two villains who are trying to get in the heroes' good graces by claiming to be redeemed and changed.

Now - how could this get any better in the storytelling department? Insinuate that Emma Swan - the Savior of Storybrooke, the product of True Love, the purveyor of the strongest light magic - could potentially be turned to evil. Like, go totally dark magic. I mean - we're all thinking "No way in HELL would that happen..." but we also did think that the was no going back for the Evil Queen and she ended last season actually using light magic. So if that door opens one way, conceivably, it could go the other.

Ohhhhhh boy...

Other Things I Liked/Noticed:
- Cruella calling Rumple "short stuff." Actually, any kind of snark she throws at Rumple is fantastic. More please.

- Fairy tale villains going for drive thru on the way to do villainous things. Best. Unexpectedly Hilarious. Thing. Ever!

- Regina incinerating Mary Margaret's bluebird painting in the mayor's office - and Emma not saying a word about it when she comes by to bring Regina lunch.

- Ursula correctly deducing that Belle was the one to banish Rumple. Oh, I am SO going to enjoy this half-season!

- "I suggest we go see what's killing property values this time." Oh, Regina - never change.

- Also - "Sea bitch"

- And, of course, all things Captain Swan. Killan and Emma holding hands when Regina was freeing the fairies from the hat, Emma cheering Killian up when he was feeling low about putting the fairies in the hat in the first place, all the little happy casual moments between the two of them - I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT!

This was a solid start to this new story arc and I'm interested to see where it goes. Last fall, I had Frozen to be excited for and about and I wondered how Once was going to top that. I think they're off to a good beginning.

Besides - it's just good to be back writing about one of my favorite shows again.

Next Week: A return to pre-Curse Snow and Charming. *sigh* Well... if we must...