Monday, April 27, 2015

Road Trip From Hell

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.19 "Lily" - SPOILERS!!

This is another episode wherewith the main storyline where I'm all....

And since the main storyline with this episode is slowly becoming the main story arc of this entire "Queens of Darkness" thing (which, now we're down to "Queen" singular. Unless we count Zelena as an honorary QoD... which ... I could be persuaded to do. We'll get to her, though) - that's kind of a problem.

Let me put it this way -  I was intrigued at the beginning of Season 4B with this promo of Emma looking like she's being turned toward darkness by Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella.

Villains turning the Savior to evil? THAT is cool and interesting and fun. My question was how would these three turn Emma toward their way of thinking where it was genuinely something that she wanted to do. Like, have her go full-on Anakin Skywalker and become Darth Vader (before we found out he was just a whiny little ass, of course)

But in every twist and turn with this story - I'm just not feeling it. At all. This wasn't about the Queens turning Emma to their side for the sake of having the Savior turn evil. It was *sigh* about Rumple manipulating the system because - Rumple's an ass. Again. And again. Ad nauseum. Lather, rinse, repeat.

(I am 100% done with Rumplestiltskin. I liked him better when he was this ambiguous trickster that you didn't know who's side he was on. Now... ugh - I'm just tired of his crap).

Add in that painfully stupid plot point with Snow White freaking out because her child maybe-maybe-not-could-sorta-possibly turn evil and SHE MUST BE A HERO otherwise there will be shame and dishonor on the entire Charming family - holy heck, that was so freaking stupid. Not to the levels of "Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin's father" stupid, but it's pretty darn close.

You know what - I'm busting out the gifs for this one.

What's left with this episode, then? This whole thing deals with Lily as a grown-up - Emma's "friend" we met in flashback last story arc when she was helping teenage!Emma steal Pop-Tarts from a convenience store. Who, of course, turns out to be Maleficent's daughter (and points to Emma for hanging that lampshade). While I do like the idea of exploring this situation with these two princesses - one of darkness, one of light - I feel like if they wanted that to be the storyline, they should have started out with it. Stop this stupid stringing-us-along with all these dumb gimmicks and assorted other bullcrap. I mean, at least with Frozen and the Snow Queen arc, that made sense (and Emma's friendship with Elsa made even MORE sense). The two stories were so closely related and it fell into place with what the Storybrooke characters were already doing - that felt real and natural. This whole thing - just feels forced and cheap. And I don't like it. At all.

So what did I like? If anything?

The final three minutes where Regina and Emma (and *grumble* Lily) get to Casa de Hood in New York. And the final reveal to Robin that Marian is actually Zelena and Zelena has successfully cuckolded Robin that she is pregnant with Robin Hood's baby.


Okay, okay - it's kind of soapy and dumb. But that's the thing with Once Upon a Time - without the fairy tale elements, this would be just another overwrought daytime soap opera (except ABC puts those in primetime - hello, Scandal, Revenge, and that stupid Broadchurch knockoff that they kept throwing promos of up during OUAT). But let me remind you of some key elements in fairy tales and mythology in general that make this new monkeywrench (pun not intended) Zelena's thrown in kind of fitting in this world of fairy tale madness -

- How many kids by how many mothers did Zeus have? There were other gods out sowing their wild oats as well, but Zeus is the king-daddy of them all. It's practically a tired old line to say "I'm a son/daughter of Zeus" in Greek mythology! "Yeah, so's the kid down the road. What's your point?" There are others - it's a trope as old as time.

- In Gregory Maguire's "Wicked" (the book, not the musical), the Wicked Witch does have a child, though (through some batshit insane circumstances), she doesn't realize the child is hers. So, this fits right alongside the Wicked storyline, without outright copying it.

- Think about it - a child of Robin Hood and the Wicked Witch, Conceived in trickery, jealousy, revenge - man, how screwed up is that kid going to be? And if Zelena gets away and is free to raise the baby - they might as well scrap this stupidity with Lily and Maleficent right now and wait this plotline out.

Things I Liked/Noticed -

- Oh, Killian. You continue to remain the one single bright spot in this horrible story. Sticking by Emma and reminding her not to turn to the dark side - and I actually believe you because I know oh so well that you've been there and you've clawed your way back out to be a hero. Your storyline is so underserved in this show and I keep waiting and hoping that you'll get more to do with it because every time we do get something from you, it is absolutely brilliant and wonderful and amazing.

- Please, please, please, please let this be it for Rumple and Belle. Rumple knows he's no good for Belle, Will loves her, she... at least cares about Will. Just, please let Scarlet Beauty stay a thing. And, while you're at it, FREAKING GIVE BELLE SOMETHING TO DO!!! (other than be a pawn in the arduous back and forth between Regina and Rumple. Just - over it).

- In the flashback with teen!Emma, the family was serving Cluckity Cluck Chicken (that restaurant that Cruella took Team Dark Squad to the drive-thru clear back in episode 12 - oh, "Darkness on the Edge of Town" - you set up so much lovely potential. Only to have it be shattered into so many disappointing pieces).

- Abby Ross continues to shine as young!Emma. She's wonderful and I wish there was a way for her to have a fairy tale story because I think she'd be enjoyable to watch in such a setting. Sadly, that's not how Emma's story goes and more's the pity.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Lily is a dragon, Snow is going to be effing barbecue (points if you understand that reference), Maleficent is ineffectual (I don't know what's worse - this story line or what happened to Angeline Jolie's portrayal of Disney's most badass villain EVER! It's like - you totally clipped her horns! She's not scary anymore!) And that Author? The only good thing he's done is tell Rumple that he was the biggest ass of all the characters he's written.

Let me put it this way - last season, I was eagerly anticipating the season finale. This year, I just don't even care. But I'm going to finish it out because I said I would. So, there's that. I'm not a quitter.

Have a promo and let's get out of here -

*snore* When's Agents of SHIELD on again?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Truth is in the Telling

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.18 "Sympathy for the De Vil" - SPOILERS!

Guess I need this here as a matter of ceremony -

So, we get the Cruella story with this one (HOORAY!) But before we can get to Cruella - there are a few things we have left to take care of.

Heart As Black As Night

*sigh* Belle just keeps getting stuck in the middle of the villains' bullcrap. But it's Rumple's fault for putting Robin Hood in danger first. So, chalk that up to Rumple being his typical asshole self.

(but wasn't Rumple's dark heart, like, the grossest thing ever?)

All Innocent Children

I've watched this episode a couple of times and I'm trying to pinpoint the parts where Cruella's backstory is actually about her being the villain and her mother is the innocent. Possible it's just the point of view that the story is being told from - we're supposed to feel bad for the poor helpless girl locked in the attic. Whose name is Cruella? (when that's what you name your child, what the heck are you supposed to expect??)

Anyway, I did like the explanation that Cruella comes from a 1920s Great Gatsby world (even if I hate Gatsby with all my heart) and that it's one of many storytelling realms out there. That more than opens up the possibility of Once exploring other fictional worlds, regardless of if they're actually fairy tales or not (and as long as they can get the rights to them. I don't expect the Hogwarts Express to come chugging into Storybrooke on September 1. But if it did - that would be awesome!)

I also liked the explanation of the Author's magic - that whatever her writes comes true. But it still kind of sticks in my craw that everyone seems to think that the Author is the one with all this control and power over these characters' lives and nobody has any free will. I'm hoping that this comes back into play before the end of the season and it hits everyone with a big ol' "WELL DUH!"

Also - the use of the song "Cruella De Vil" in the 1920s flashbacks was fantastic! I love it when Once can work Disney references into the show. Unrelated, Cruella playing "Angry Birds" - that was stupendous! And Author!Ink can do awesome things to your hair and makeup (permanently).

Am I the only one utterly annoyed by this Author dude? As much as Rumplestiltskin has infuriated me this season, I was ready for Rumple to off him just so I didn't have to listen to his weaseling whining anymore.

The Dark Side of the Force

All of this leads up to Emma's turn to the darkness. From Snow and Charming's self-fulfilling prophecy and Emma's resentment at being used - yes, I too would be upset about that. And it's understandable that Emma would take Regina and Killian with her to find Henry - even if they both are trying to get Emma to forgive her mom and dad.

And then we get this line from Emma, which perfectly illustrates everything I was thinking -

"Forgive me if I don't take advice from a woman who held a grudge for half her life because a ten-year-old spilled a secret."

(I love it when this show exhibits self-awareness.)

Also, Emma's remark about how Hook never held himself up as a paragon of virtue and that both he and Regina were both honest in who they were - THAT right there is where a lot of things clicked for me. Why Snow White has been bugging the crap out of me lately - actually, for much of the run of the show. Charming hasn't bothered me quite as much because he wasn't quite as hyped up on "OH NOES OUR BABY MIGHT BE TEH EVUL!" (that's just the most recent instance of this). Snow is the one who freaked out because her heart had the tiniest bit of darkness clear back in Season 2. Even when she had what whole "confession" to Regina about her heart being untouched, I'm just like - OH PUH-LEASE! No one is buying this "Oh, I'm not all that perfect" act from Princess Rainbow Lollipop. Personally, I'm glad that Emma is pushing back against her parents right now. It presents an interesting foil - that perfect Snow White can't engineer a pure and virtuous life for her daughter. That Emma has to make her own choices (which she has been doing for most of her life - let's not forget).

So we find out that Rumple is trying to trick Emma into killing Cruella, who is unable to kill anybody, and it works. With Emma looking red-eyed and venomous and thisclose to turning completely dark.

(Or she's just lost a lot of sleep and is stressed out over not having a moment's peace from all these crazy villains.)

Regardless - I love that they ended on that shot of Emma looking out into space. Without any resolution of her finding out about Cruella's inability to kill another person. It gave the episode that much more kick and next week's episode even more important because - how is this going to play out?

Next Week - It looks like the Lily storyline is about to payoff. Or get dragged out some more. Who the heck knows?

(PS - Puppy Coat! It's morbid as hell, but it's Cruella De Vil. They had to nod toward that somehow!)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Preemptive Critic - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

Duh -

What do you think?


Christmas needs to be, like, yesterday.

(I preemptively love this movie)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Playing by the Rules of Someone Else's Game

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.17 "Heart of Gold" - SPOILERS!

YAY! Once is back! (darn holidays, causing unnecessary mini-hiatuses in the middle of a story arc)

This was an interesting episode, both in terms of what happens in the storyline, and in how it is structured. First - the structure. There has only been one other episode that hasn't featured the Charming Family quite so much (to my knowledge). That episode was "The Crocodile" from Season 2 - where neither Snow nor Emma make an appearance (though Charming was in Storybrooke quite a bit). Also, this episode had the major action take place away from Storybrooke, though it's still in modern day. ALSO, also - WICKED WITCH!

Guess who's back, bitches!
(She may be evil as hell - but I adore Zelena as a villain. And if I ever get the chance to meet Rebecca Mader - I hope she's ready for a [benign] fangirl attack because HELLO!)

Another thing that makes this episode notable that, while Rumplestiltskin does put the flashback action in motion, this is all about Robin Hood and his family. While Robin is Regina's fated One True Love... we really don't know that much about his backstory (gee - a charming lovable rogue who used to be on the wrong side of the law but is now on the side of good and is a love interest for a major leading lady on the show and we don't have a lot of backstory for him - WHO ELSE DOES THAT REMIND YOU OF?? Then again, we have even less for Robin Hood than we do for Captain Hook, so shouldn't complain. Too much).

The first time I watched this, though, the DVR cut off, like, the first ten minutes of the episode, so I missed all the stuff in Storybrooke with Emma pissed off at her mom and dad for what they did with Maleficent's baby (that whole thing still - UGH! WHY!) And I missed the part where the Author calls Rumple a pain-in-the-ass (and I snicker appreciatively. Welcome to my world, dude). And I also missed the part where Rumple gives Regina Robin's number and then we flash back to "Nine Weeks Ago" - so I was kind of confused when the DVR recording started with Robin Hood chasing down a delinquent on a horse (you know, DVRs have been around for a while now - you would THINK someone would figure out how to make sure that the whole episode can get recorded. I don't know if it's the network dinking around with start times or if the DVR capabilities are wonky, but SOMEBODY better figure this crap out!)

So, it turns out the Hood Family's been living in Neal's old apartment (wouldn't that have been rented out to someone else by now? TV logic - don't look too far into it) and exiled!Rumple comes looking for his son's old place. And has a heart attack? Okay sure - we'll go with it. Rumple's an old man by now and without magic, he can't do very much. Robin, being the heroic and honorable lug that he is, takes Rumple to the hospital and Rumple sends his off to Walsh's furniture store (remember Walsh? Wizard of Oz-turned-monkey? Emma's almost-fiance?) because Zelena would have sent him with some magical stuff and he's hoping that the Elixir of the Wounded Heart can be found there.

("Wizard of Oak" - heh. Point goes to the OUAT Writers Room)

Also, Hidden Mickey -

I see what you did there.
In the Enchanted Forest (actually, Sherwood Forest) flashback, we discover Robin of Loxley, a former-thief-turned-tavern-owner who's being threatened by the Sheriff of Nottingham because of late taxes (what else does the government do?) The Dark One comes to Robin with a bundle of gold in exchange for that same Elixir, which is in Oz. And this is where I do my punch-the-air HELL YES! fangirl flail because Once!Oz is absolutely gorgeous! I loved the Oz stuff in Season Three and I was hoping they'd find a reason to use it again (seriously - is nobody going to go back for Glinda? What about the prophecy of who is going to fill the Innocence seat on the Sisterhood of Witches? These are the things I think about!)

(My money's still on Regina, but nobody asked me).

Robin sneaks into the Emerald City (*resists temptation to sing "One Short Day"* *fails miserably*) to steal the Elixir - but not before meeting Will Scarlet (geez, Will - Wonderland, Enchanted Forest, Storybrooke, and now Oz? How in the crap do you get around?) who asks Robin to hook him up with some of that wounded-heart-healing potion when he swipes it. In the Emerald City ("Oooooone shoooooort daaaaaay...." okay - I'm done now), Robin finds the Elixir, plus a few other things  and Zelena catches him stealing from her. He gets away by using the Wizard's magic bow that always hits its target (Ohhhhhhhh - THAT'S where that came from!) and he leaves Oz. As well as the one sample of potion he could get with Will, because Will wanted it to help him get over the death of his sister.

Robin doesn't deliver to Rumple, so he loses his tavern (I guess), but then he rejoins the Merry Men in their thieving ways, with the promise that he will only steal from the rich and give to the poor - and he takes his new wife along for the ride to start a family as bandits.

Back in New York, Robin gets the Elixir for Rumple if Rumple leaves his family alone. Robin leaves, Rumple takes the potion... which doesn't work.

Enter Marian.

Who isn't Marian, as it turns out. Through a complicated-yet-simple plot device, Zelena survived being stabbed by Rumple and she ended up time traveling with Hook and Emma. Zelena impersonated Marian (after killing the real Marian) and let herself be taken back to Storybrooke in an attempt to take away Regina's happiness (it's actually quite a clever plot). And Zelena is willing to let Rumple live, if he finds the Author and gets him to write Zelena a happy ending.

So THIS is where all this Author madness actually came from! Which makes Zelena an honorary-unofficial-but-totally-the-boss Queen of Darkness.

To which I say - HELL to the YES on that one!

When the Queens of Darkness story arc was introduced, I remember thinking - "This'll be cool - but it's too bad that they don't have the Wicked Witch anymore, 'cause she'd be a badass QoD!" And behold - here she is! As evil and over-the-top and amazingly fabulous as ever! I mean, I don't want them to overplay her or ruin her character, but I just LOVE Zelena in a way that I've never enjoyed a villain in any story EVER. I don't typically like the villains AT ALL - but she is sooooo my favorite!

This episode felt a lot like a breather before Crap Gets Real - but at the same time, it sets up the last push to the finale (which - not going to spoil anything, but I have seen pictures from the set of the finale and OH BOY this is going to be crazy!) And - I thought I knew where all this was going, but honestly, I have no clue. I don't know what rules they're playing by anymore, I don't know what's going to happen, who is going to turn to the darkness (if anyone will, honestly) - but I'm excited to find out.

(I haven't enjoyed an episode that didn't have any Captain Swan moments like this in a LONG time. It's an odd feeling, but no an unwelcome one).

Next Time -

Cruella's story! YAY!!!! Gimme!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rhett Butler Marries Scarlett O'Hara and Other Unfortunate Truths

The following post is merely meant to be instructive in how my brain works. I'm not trying to make a point or get attention or garner pity. In fact, if this does attract pity from anyone, I will delete this blog and run off to live in a hermitage in the Himalayas.

(Okay - maybe I won't go that far. But I will rage at said-purveyors-of-pity with a tortured "YOU COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT, ASSBRAIN!!" shouted out into the stratosphere. It's how I siphon off my rage ^_^)

~*~begin stream of consciousness~*~

About eleven years ago, I was a lowly staff writer for The Snowdrift, the student-run newspaper at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. Near the end of the spring semester, one of the opinion columnists who was about to graduate wrote a column in which his only goal was to be an ass. The column was more or less a stream-of-consciousness of every controversial and mean-spirited thing he could think of. I don't remember everything he wrote in that column - it was pretty disjointed - but I do remember that he called every female student at Snow fat and ugly. I also remember him saying afterwards that nobody read the paper unless there was something controversial, and this experiment proved him right.

Indeed it did. After his column was printed, it seemed like every woman (and a good handful of the men) at Snow wrote in to complain. The opinion section of the next issue had to carve out a good chunk of space to devote to these responses. I'd say he achieved his goal. People were reading the paper and talking about it. He got their attention, even if it was negative attention. And he wasn't apologetic in the slightest.

Why am I bringing this up? To make mention of the fact that you don't get noticed unless you do something incredibly stupid - or if you do something that could be perceived as incredibly stupid.

This is why I thought of the episode with the newspaper. Yesterday I was looking for a birthday present for my nephew (who turns one in a little over a week) and I happened to notice this adorable piece of baby couture -

I laughed, snapped a picture for Instagram and captioned it with that if my niece was still a little baby, I would totally buy this for her! (and if they had a version with camo and tractors, maybe I'd get one for my nephew. Hey, a little advertising never hurts.)

After I posted the picture and the caption, that obscenely annoying Stupid Desperate Voice in my head said "OMG -YOU IDIOT! You don't post stuff like that on social media! What if some guy sees it and writes you off as some pathetic old maid who's too desperate for a date and then he won't ask you out!"

To which I replied - "Dear Stupid Desperate Voice - I haven't been on a date since the first Hobbit movie came out. I don't think a picture of a onesie on a clearance rack at WalMart is going to affect that too much. And even if it does - it's a hell of a lot more attention than I've attracted in the last three years! I'll take anything at this point!"

(Yes, I have conversations with my mind chatter. I'm probably certifiably insane. But I somehow manage to function in the normal world).

This got me to thinking about how my attitudes and outlooks on dating have changed. It's been on my mind a lot lately. Ever since we had that idiotic "Dating Box" lesson at church a few weeks ago (it's some high school hold-over that these kids have that lit the fire under the boys' asses to ask girls out to prom or something) - I've decided that I'm taking on the Dowager Countess Violet (you know - Maggie Smith's character on Downton Abbey) outlook on this aspect of life. I've been in the game so long and am so tired of it that I might as well say whatever comes to my mind about it. Just like when your grandparents saw rude and offensive things and nobody bats an eye because Grandma's just crazy like that. That's what I'm going to do. Actually - I've already been doing it.

Some time ago, I was at a church activity for my Young Single Adult ward (which is an LDS congregation made up of single people ages 18-31. I'll be 30 in a little over a month, so I've got one foot in the grave as far as the YSA's are concerned).  At that activity, there was a guy that was about my age and he was completely surrounded by 20-22 year olds, just giggling and flirting with him like he was the last piece of meat at the buffet. I stood back and watched the scene unfold, like I had hundreds of times before, shaking my head at the idiocy on display.

After a while, we chanced to be at the Rice Krispy treat table at the same time. We introduced ourselves to each other and asked the typical "Where do you live?" "Are you working or going to school?" "Where do you work/What are you studying?" etc. Somewhere in the conversation his age came up and the comment just fell out of my mouth - "Ah - that explains the gaggle of fangirls you had earlier." He asked me to elaborate and I said "You're older, good-looking, have a good job, you're new(ish) in the ward - it's like throwing a bucket of blood in shark-infested waters!" He laughed and I threw out my Countless Violet comparison as a joke. Later that night, Stupid Desperate Voice came through and said "Oh, good job you idiot. He probably thinks you're a complete bitch for saying those things!" And my next thought was - "If he does, let him! That was damn hilarious!"

Here is my point - too many single women look at being single as a total hardship. Even when they're looking for things to be happy about, it's more akin to Scarlett O'Hara looking out at her family's plantation that has been made desolate by war and devastation and proclaiming through gritted teeth as she shakes her fist to the heavens - "I'LL NEVER BE HUNGRY AGAIN!!!!!"

Does anybody remember this movie in its entirety? Do you remember Scarlett O'Hara. She was a complete and total bitch. I defy you to find me a protagonist in any medium of fiction who is more heinous, awful, selfish, bratty, and whiny than her. She is patently unlikable and you're almost rooting for her to keel over dead at ANY point during the movie. And yet - she is the one who wins Rhett Butler - who is arguably every red-blooded female's dream guy (him or Mr. Darcy - take your pick), while all this time that wretched whore is pining after that complete and utter twit Ashley. So, I guess it helps to be the "Mean Girl" because guys like that? I have no freaking idea -  don't ask me to explain the male psyche. Actually - don't ask me to explain the female psyche either, because and they're just as batshit insane.

So, we've got all these young women claiming that they don't need a man and they don't need marriage and they're defiantly yelling out into the world that they ARE LOVED, DAMMIT! But really, they're just saying that to diffuse the stigma (or whatever) of being single. They are DETERMINED to feel loved and valued no matter what!

It's hilariously sad to watch.

These are just my observations and musings on my generations' modes and methods and attitudes of dating. They're asinine and completely ridiculous, but it's what I have to work with. I'm not bitter or resentful at all. On the contrary - I'm happy to make jokes at their desperation and insanity. I'm not going to close with scripture or any kind of motivational speechifying, because I think we get enough of that and it's not like it helps. And I'm not here to help anybody. I'm here to point and laugh at it all. Because I have reached the point in my dating process that everything is either going to be hilarious or it's going to be depressing. And I've had enough of depressing. Everything is so serious nowadays that I'm going to take my utter discouragement and make a joke out of it. You get attention by making fat jokes. Scarlett O'Hara is a bitch, but she still wins the hot guy in the end. I may be loved in the metaphoric sense, but it doesn't do me a damn lick of good in any other quantifiable ways.

And I've made peace with that.