Monday, March 28, 2016

When Heroes Fall

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episode 5.15 "The Brothers Jones" - SPOILERS!

I knew this episode was going to be a rough one. I adore Killian Jones. I adore his brother Liam. I adore Emma Swan. I knew there was going to be conflict between those three. I knew I was probably going to end up swearing at one of them - if not all three - at some point.

But can we just appreciate Liam popping his head in up the stairs to talk to Emma?

Because I do.

All right then - so this is as close to "Emma Meeting Killian's Family" as we're going to get. Fair enough - it's the Underworld arc and all of Killian's immediate family is dead (thank you Neverland), so this was an obvious choice for an episode idea.

At least, it BETTER had been an obvious choice. Sometimes, I'm not entirely sure what goes on in the Once Writers' Room.

But rather than it being a "Hey, big brother that died centuries ago - here's this woman that I'm madly in love with and we're probably going to get married and have a bunch of kids and I'm super happy, can you be happy for me too?" sort of scenario, they go with the super-angsty one and it turns out that Hero-Worshipped Big Brother is just a tiny-bit in cahoots with Hades. And he wants his little brother to stay in the Underworld and be miserable like unto himself.

Well... poopy.

And I hate to say it - I understand where Liam is coming from. The guy spent his entire life from roughly age ten (I'm guessing, based on the Hook-backstory episodes we got at the end of the last story arc - Thank Merlin they FINALLY peeled themselves away from yet-more-Rumple-backstory to bother with that) being a parental figure to his mischievous baby brother. He was the good kid. The one who talked Killian out of trouble with the authorities. The one who figured out that they could buy their freedom by joining the Royal Navy. The one who gave up that freedom when Killian tossed it all away at a game of cards. The one who made a deal with Hades to get them out in one piece when everything finally went toes-up. Even in death, he's still looking out for his little brother.

It's touching. If a little sentimental and sappy at times. I love ya, Killian - but how many times are you going to proclaim that Liam is The Most Honorable And Honest Dude Ever To Sail And He's Going To Make It All Better. Talk about PRESSURE.

(To be fair, Killian was a bit of a wide-eyed dreamer and kind of naive back then. It wasn't until later in life that he became the sarcastic, cynical, snarktastic pirate that we all know and love.)

Hearing how much your younger sibling looks up to and idolizes you - well, it makes you do crazy things. Like hiding vital information about the Dark Lord of the Underworld that will help everyone cross over and move on. Or sailing straight into a hurricane (DUDE - WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?) Or telling the love of your baby bro's life that she's not good enough for him. Given how much Hook and Emma have been through, THAT was a knife to the heart.

Let's talk about Hook and Emma, shall we? Because while last week's utter joy of -

- was good and proper, there is a TON of fallout to deal with between the two characters. Because when they were separated, Killian had become the Dark One because of Emma's good intentions, but that temptation was too much for him to handle, and he dove right back into the Powers Of Darkness that he was terrified of. There is still that sense of Killian being jerked around by the whims of others - which he obviously HATES - and he wants to make his own choices.

Emma, on the other hand, has just learned to let someone in. Which is a HUGE deal for her. She's also been subject to devastating losses, which she blames herself for. Whether fairly or unfairly - that's up for discussion. The fact is that this story is dealing with some incredibly broken people and there is not just one solution for all of these issues. If it were, it would be a simple fairy tale.

(See what I did there?)

One this is certain - Hades is an Asshole of the Highest Degree (being in charge of the Underworld will do that to you. Probably). And that's one thing everyone can agree on - his agenda must be stopped at all costs.

Nothing like a common enemy to motivate broken people in to action.

Speaking of broken - oh, little Henry. Who is not so little anymore (Emma called him a "mopey teenager" - which is true. Just... don't look too closely at the timeline of Once because it really won't make sense how this is actually five years later in-story, when they follow all their cliffhangers so closely one after another). And he wants to be a HERO, dammit! He's tired of being the one who gets rescued all the time. Can't he be someone important for once?

Well - you were the Author. Then you broke the stupid pen, genius. And because of that, it's now in the Underworld. And you trapped the Apprentice there because of it. Ugh. Must I explain EVERYTHING?

Actually, I don't. Cruella does that for me (the same Cruella who's been doing the naughty with Charming's not-so-Charming Evil Twin Brother - THAT'LL be interesting...). I still love Cruella as a character, and no one can convince me that I shouldn't.

Regardless, Henry's coming into his own as the Author, to which I say - HOORAY! Seriously - kid has this incredible fairy tale lineage and you're not going to let him do jack crap with it??? That's just WRONG.

Anyway - by the end of the episode, Killian and Liam reconcile, Liam's unfinished business is finished and we get a super-sweet scene with Killian giving Emma's advice about forgiving yourself to his older brother. So, for once, baby brother looked out for the older one. And I am become emotion... hold on a sec...

...all right - things are good.

Emma and Hook reconcile themselves (YAY!) Hades reveals to we the audience that he and Zelena had a fling, which means she'll be back in the next episode (PRAISE BE!). And we're going back to Oz. Which looks as gorgeous as ever -

(I stinking love OUAT Oz, you have no idea).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Persephone Marries Hades and Other Unfortunate Truths

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 5.14 "The Devil's Due" - SPOILERS
Look, I'm no pearl-clutching 90s-era-Hillary-Clinton "FOR THE CHILDRENS!" parental advisory concern-troll looking to get in the way of people's fun.

But Title Card People, I must ask -

Really? REALLY? Family show, guys. Family. Show.

Anyway - to the meat of this episode:

Well, yes - we'll get to that. Emma finds Hook (she will always find him). And all the requisite drama that goes with it. Drama dictates that my darlings cannot yet be happy. Boo.

Though I have to say - I'm pleased that Team Writers Room learned from the mistakes of Neverland. Don't drag out the #Save[Character] plotline out until your audience is ready to gouge their eyes out with rusty sporks. So, credit where credit is due.

My focus here for a moment is going to be - not on my most favorite fictional couple of the hour - but on an ancillary character vital to the entire Captain Swan storyline. Though it's not someone we often think about very much. Yes, folks - I'm talking about the Lady Milah.

(I know she doesn't have a formal title as such - but given the crap she's been though, I think she deserves one).

That's it. That's the show.
This could quite possibly have been the most awkward meeting of past and present ever. Milah and Emma meeting. Hook's former girlfriend (on account of she's dead) and his current True Love.

And... it wasn't. I mean, yes there was that moment where Milah plays the part of Everyone Who Isn't In The Once Fandom (don't look too closely at the relationships in this show) - but that was the end of it. Kind of like Milah understands Killian (she never knew him as Hook) - that he would move on and find love after her death. That's just the kind of man he is. And Milah - to her everlasting credit - understands that. She and Emma become almost-instant friends. She helps Emma (and Rumple) on the quest to #SaveHook. And she's pretty damn badass about it too.

Can we just trade Rumple for Milah? No, I'm 100% serious. Hades wants to trade - I will happily swap out Milah and send Rumple up the Fallout-nuclear-green River of Lost Souls.

But no, Rumple even has to eff that up. Because, Rumple. He's been effing things up even before he became the Dark One. To the point where he wasn't just a cowardly-deadbeat-good-for-nothing husband and father, he even sold out part of Milah's future happiness just to save his own bacon.

I had some understanding of why Milah left Rumple before. But after this episode - I would have been helping her pack her bags and sending her on her merry way. The only thing I would have encouraged her to do differently was to take Baelfire with her (discounting the Once storylines that would irrevocably muss up).

Was Milah a good person? HA! Are you kidding? She would have killed a man in order to steal a potion to save her son. But still - her character makes sense. It's understandable that she would do those things. Quite honestly, she's become one of my favorite side characters. And she's only ever been in a handful of episodes! But she has the same kind of appeal that Regina does - someone whose done evil things, but wants to change and make up for it.

And how does Rumple repay Milah's redemption?

Excuse me - things are about to get crass here. Please remove all small children and dogs from the room.

Okay - you good?

Rumplestiltskin can go have sex with himself.

Phew - that's that.

Oh, and by the way - here's yet another unnecessary plot-twist-background-thing for Rumple. Because, you know, we aren't pissed off enough at him as it is.

(Though I must give TPTB some credit - at least they're trying to get Belle into the mix with this one. And write Emilie de Ravin's pregnancy into the story. So, there's that.)

Basically, I hate Rumple. I hate that he still has to be part of this story. I hate that he has zero character development. I also hate that he has become a necessary evil character, because all the other evil characters have been redeemed. And there still has to be that ONE little turd floating in the swimming pool.

Blah. Why?

Anyway - some good news: Emma and Killian have been reunited! Rumple lied out of his grimy little teeth about what he did to Milah and Killian - being the honorable man he is - thanked Rumple for... I dunno, being Rumple, I guess. I'm chalking that one up to Killian having been tortured for many long weeks at Hades' behest.

Eh, whatever - now Emma can split her heart and save Hook...

...or not.

Convenient plot contrivance, ahoy!

Next Week: The Return of Liam Jones! Killian to be reunited with his awesome and lovely and adorable long-dead brother! HUZZAH! Emma and Milah meeting went all right (Rumple, notwithstanding), so this should be just as good, right? I love this plan! REJOICE FANDOM!!


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME ONCE UPON A TIME?? Liam has to like Emma! They have to get along! They're going to be family! YOU CAN'T DO THIS I WON'T STAND FOR IT!

I hate this damn show. I couldn't live without it.

(I could live without the constant Rumple angst, though).

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Because He's Really, Really, REALLY Bugging Me!"

Recap/Review of Once Upon A Time 5.13 "Labor of Love" - Spoilers!

You know, I had every intention of letting this review series fade away. But then Season 5B happened and... well... I can't let this go to waste.

When last we left Our Intrepid Heroes - Emma did a Kind Of Bad Thing by making Hook into another Dark One, Hook's inherent Darkness resurrected all the Dark Ones from the Beginning Of Time And Beyond. Emma decided to be Self-Sacrificing because her Darkness wasn't all That Bad. But Hook is Better Than All Your Faves and took one for the team because Nimue is a Bad Bad Bitch (but in a delightfully evil way that I shall miss very much indeed). Hook dies in the most heartbreaking terrible way possible. Rumplestiltskin continues to be Very Punchable and reverts to being the Dark One. Belle remains oblivious to Everything In The Entire World. King Arthur is an Ass Of The Highest Degree and I'm glad he kind of dropped off there at The End.

And I abuse my Capitalization Privileges. My blog, my house, my rules.

Anyway, #OnceTurns100 saw a return of Queen Bitch Cora (whoo-freaking-hoo) and the Hansel and Gretel witch and Cruella's car and... that's about it. Oh, and Neal showed up to give Emma a pep talk, because we ALL wanted to see Nealfire again (bleah - at least he wasn't there that long). But Regina's dad FINALLY got some much-needed character development beyond just being the sad little man that gets caught between two snippy witches.

You go, Sir Henry. You go, my fine fellow.

I had more thoughts on "Souls of the Departed," which you can listen to on the Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast, Episode 85 right here.

Which brings us to "Labor of Love." The Hercules episode of this story arc. Because this is Once Upon A Time and it's their take on Greek Mythlogy/Disney's Hercules - so it follows that we only have one episode with the hero of that movie. But the villain from that story gets the spotlight.

Oh - and it's also a "Snow White Gets Her Name Back" thing. Which... ehhhh... was that entirely necessary? I never felt like Snow White=/=Mary Margaret. I just thought it was a dumb way to differentiate when they were in Storybrooke, versus yet-another-pre-curse flashback scene. I mean, the show kept separating Charming and David, Ruby and Red, Archie and Dr. Hopper, Mr. Gold and Rumplestiltskin. Belle, Robin Hood, and Hook never really got alternate curse names. And, of course, Emma and Henry are just themselves.

Man, Snow - if it meant so much to you, maybe you should have said something before now.

Anyway - forget tiny!Snow learning to shoot straight because we have to shoehorn our Featured Fairy Tale Character Of The Week into the past somehow (though I did enjoy mean-stepmom-Queen Regina being a World Class Beast to tiny!Snow. It's not that I don't like Snow White - it's just that too much of her brings out my snarky side. I don't call her Princess Rainbow Sparklepoo for nothing). I wanna talk about IMPORTANT THINGS.

Like Cruella's little chat with Henry. First off - PRAISE BE Cruella is back! I was annoyed that we had been promised the return of Cruella, but all we got last episode was her car being driven by an on-set stunt dude and Victoria Smurfit was nowhere to be seen. But THERE SHE IS - in all her wonderful two-tone glory, sniping at the nearest mortal being. Which happens to be young Henry, the Author himself.

And funny I bring up that Author business - since Cruella wants to rejoin the land of the living (and with the Underworld being the hellhole - pardon the pun) that it is, and she wants the Author to do it. Except, Author!Henry broke the quill in two and nobody should have that much power (even though Walt Disney seemed to wield it just fine without any terrible consequences. We even got an awesome theme park out of the deal). Except the quill isn't actually dead - Henry can find its magic in the Underworld and do his Authorly Duties, like he was meant to. Oh, and bring Cruella back to life so she can go on being delightfully horrible and soaked in gin and 1920s music (look, I really want Cruella and Zelena to be evil witch buddies, because I think that would be lovely). Cruella appeals to Henry's better nature of wanting his Emma-mom to not be a murderer and have her hero-heart as pure as the driven snow.

Except... we dealt with all that Dark!Emma stuff last story-arc and even Dark!Emma wasn't all that bad. It turned out to be all an act because Emma likes to go all Lone Wanderer and keep the people she loves in the dark so she can fix things that went Horribly Wrong. Also - OUAT!Excalibur is a pain in the ass. Gimme Cal from The Librarians any day.

My point is - whatever "darkness" Emma has because she killed Cruella is negligible at best. Don't forget - Emma was trying to save Henry because Cruella was threatening to kill him. It was a dumb plot point that was supposed to somehow make Snow White look like she had a speck of evilness is her. Which, we have thoroughly proven is laughable (even when she was Evil Queen!Snow in the alternate reality - it was a complete joke).

Anyway - Cruella is back. I am happy.

Next order of business - Isn't Hades kind of a... letdown? I mean, the guy doesn't even have the fabulous costuming to help his underwhelming evilness (what - did they cut Eduardo's budget or something?) Good grief - for all the guy's tough talk and threatening Cora and Killian and everybody else... I'm still placing my bet on Captain Hook kicking his ass Nine Ways to Sunday. Even without his hook and even bruised and bloodied.

And that's another thing - why in the name of Poseidon's left nut is Hades so fixated on torturing Killian Jones?? It's like Darth Vader's strange obsession with chasing the Millennium Falcon in Empire Strikes Back. Sure, Killian was a/the Dark One and he destroyed all the Dark Ones (with the exception of everyone's favorite little trickster shithead) and that might stick in Hades's craw a little bit - but out of all the people at his disposal in the Underworld that he could mercilessly torture, why Killian? Did Killian's mouth get him into trouble yet again? Did he insult Hades's mother as he was falling into the Underworld and Hades took it personally? Is that why he's forcing Killian to choose who of Team Storybrooke stays in the Underworld?

(First choice is easy. Rumple's got a suite in Hell with his name already engraved.)

Although I do love this little tidbit from the synopsis for next week's episode (slight spoilers - but did we really expect Killian to do anything else?) -

“Hook refuses to choose which three of his friends will have to remain in the Underworld.“
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Suck on THAT, you deranged ginger twit in a cheap suit!

(In fact, that's what I'm calling Hades from now on - The Deranged Ginger Twit in a Cheap Suit. High Lord Weenie of the Underworld is also acceptable. Seriously - I'm just not feeling the evil-villain-ness of this guy. You may feel differently, but I just don't get it).

Basically, eff Hades and the horse he rode in on.