Friday, May 20, 2016

The Strange Case of Discount Martin Freeman

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episodes 5.22-5.23: "Only You"/"An Untold Story - SPOILERS!

It's taken me the better part of a week to get up the motivation to write this review. Part of that is because it was my birthday on Tuesday *confetti* But also, it was due to the sheer underwhelmedness (that's a word now) that I felt watching this finale. I probably ought to change the title, but it's one of the two things about this finale that I actually liked.

Sigh... where to begin?

This whole stupid two-parter was just plot. Not even very good plot. Basically, it was checklist storytelling. Like "Oh crap, we need the characters in these positions by the time Season 6 premieres and they aren't there so.... PANIC!!"

Seriously - there is ZERO fallout from Robin Hood's death, no emotional closure there. Regina doesn't even get to say a proper goodbye to Roland or the Merry Men or ANYBODY. It's just "Oh, sorry kid. Your almost-new-mom is off with her blonde BFF on a wild goose chase. So, off through the portal with you. Your last paycheck is in the mail!"

Goodbye adorable Hobbit child. You deserved so much better.
Bad form, OUAT. Just bad form.

Also - and I hate to rag on these young actors because they don't really deserve it, but Henry and Violet were just bad in this episode. Like, middle-school play bad. Is it just because Jared Gilmore is usually around the older cast members and they can make his stiff acting look better? Can he just not carry a scene by himself? Did he get extremely poor direction? I honestly don't have an answer for this, because I thought he was so much better than what he was in this story.

I seriously don't even care that Henry's throwing his little pissy fit about how bad magic is and that he's going to destroy it, because AUTHOR! If I have to sit through one more awkwardly acted scene, I'm going to lose my gorram mind!

So what were the adult actors up to, anyway?

Again, setting up plot. And more plot. Just getting rid of whatever was left of Season 5 and starting to get geared up for Season 6. And here is one of my biggest complaints about this finale - I know that Once Upon A Time has this weird thing about making sure out heroes don't have a chance to breathe between adventures. Hardly one crisis ends before another comes in to take its place. They've even made jokes about it in the past - but now there's nothing left to joke about.

But for the love of Merlin's baggy Y-Fronts - can we PLEASE get some time to let these characters be characters? Emma and Hook were just barely reunited after thinking Hook was dead for dead. Regina's going through a tough loss. Hell, I'd even take a sappy Snow and Charming reunion, if it meant getting some decent closure to this storyarc.

In fact, going back to something I nit-picked earlier in the Underworld Arc - that episode where Mary Margaret was all "I don'wanna BE Mary Margaret anymore! I'm Snow White!" Remember how I said I never got the sense that was even an issue for her, so I didn't give a crap about this great and wonderful ~*~character moment~*~? THIS is why! They rush everyone so damn fast through the story that we never have a chance to let these characters breathe. So when these big revelations drop, we're left wondering... "Why was that even a thing that I should care about?"

I get it - you're trying to cram as many catchphrases and Disney characters into your story as possible. You're trying to make the big bucks for ABC. You're tryiing to justify your continued existence for the network. That means the equivalent of clickbait titles and ALL CAPS headlines (I blog for a living - I know how this works, at least on that level). There are business decisions being made here as well as artistic ones. Believe me, I understand that some things have to be sacrificed.

I'm going to go back to something I said on last week's episode of The Five(ish) Fangirls. We were talking about the cancellation of Castle and I mentioned that I think TV showrunners have about five good seasons in them and that's it (generally speaking - some have more, some less). But then the network comes in and says "Hey, can you make more for us?" And the showrunners - not wanting to suddenly be unemployed - have to come up with something new and exciting for a story and characters that they are completely burned out on. And, as time goes by, it shows. Castle was scraping the last barnacle off their barrel to the very end and their cancellation was more of a mercy kill than anything. I really don't want the same thing to happen to Once Upon a Time. It's an insult to the earlier seasons that made me fall in love with the show.

And if that's not the case and they just get bored with the current storyline that they're working on, so by the end of it they're just shoving all the old characters out of the way to make room for the new ones - then what in the world are you even DOING this for, anymore???

And if all you want is NEW SHINY EXCITING things, then why in the name of all that is good and holy do we have to have THIS bitch back for next year?

Good Granny's meatloaf - ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH! You seriously had to kill off one of the best characters on the show, just to trash on Regina's redemption story so we could have this over-sequined hosebeast back? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHYYYYYYY?

If nothing else, we did get Discount Martin Freeman as Dr. Jekyll -

(Which - that whole thing made NO sense. Why is Big Bruiser Dude working for an abstract personality construct that doesn't actually exist, anyway? You know what? Don't care)

There was also that bizarre Statue of Liberty moment from Ghostbusters 2 that Henry had. Which, as with anything Ghostbusters-related these days, the original was better -

In the end, that was just a wash anyway, because everyone in New York went back to their lives and never again spoke of that bizarre time they were compelled to throw pennies into a fountain because some awkward teenage weido told them to.

After all is said and done, the ONLY part of this season's finale I was even remotely interested what this moment where Emma and Killian FINALLY got their happy ending (for all of two seconds, before we got whisked off to deal with some other crisis or whatever) -

Given what this season was about - this SHOULD have been given a greater focus. Instead, we just got plot-driven storytelling. Which can be good, don't get me wrong. But they tried to do waaaaaay too much in too short of a time frame. There was too much out-of-character moments to get everyone in their starting positions for next year and it made no freaking sense.

I expect better of you, OUAT. And I got none of that. For a season that started out quite promising, you gave me garbage.

And I'm done until September. If I bother to tune in, that is.

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