captain-xodoe said: "#but it tripped at the finish line" one helluva fuckin trip
When I watched the season two opener and saw them drop Emma and Snow into FTL, I knew the show had jumped the shark. Which is tragic because it had so gloriously captivated me and one of my IRL bros and we had just been so damned stoked.
We tried to stick with it, see if it would pull itself out, but we were pretty much done when they killed Lancelot in the way that they did (lesson for aspiring writers: if you’ve only had one character of color for a whole season don’t immediately kill the one other character you just introduced and marketed as a reoccurring guest star—you will quite literally loose viewers).
EVERYONE I have ever spoken to IRL about this show (with the exception of that one hotel concierge, but she was just so taken with “The Evil Queen’s character arc” she’s didn’t really care)—the rank and file “average viewer”, speaks fondly of the first season. But come the later episodes they talk of the noticeable quality shift. It’s like a fucking light switch got flipped.
And mind you, these are folks who just go home after work and flip on the TV to escape the day.
It boggles my mind really. They had it. They had it in their grasp. A show that people would be talking about around the water cooler, because we are a cynical generation raised on Disney, of course we are ready for a deconstruction of fairytales in a quasi-Disney universe. We are downright hungry for that shit.
But did they stick with the promise of the story to come at the end of the first season?
Did we see Emma the-one-sane-person-in-this-small-town-of-theme-park-rejects dealing with a crazy shenanigans of her world turned over all over again? Watch her and experience with her the new status quo as she grows, reject, and rebuilds her role and self? Nooooooooooooo.
We got a manic three parallel story structure when maintaining two was crazy and difficult enough for both the audience and the writers. We got a plot instead of character driven mess that moved waaaaaaaaaaaay to fast, and even more white characters that didn’t even TRY to subvert the tropes like they had in the previous season.
Did we get a long, drawn out, cross continent WAR across the kingdoms as several parties—all with legitimate claims to their respective thrones—duked it out in one giant mashup of folklore, fairytales and Disney lore?
No, we got some weird…I don’t even know what we got honestly. A couple of mentions of troops and George’s castle burning was NOT what my mind’s eye had imagined when Charming promised Snow that they would take back their kingdoms. Especially not when I heard they’d cast Mulan.
I expected and epic mid-season climax where an unknown mercenary in the Charmings army fucking buries Regina’s army under the goddamn snow on the slopes of Bald Mountain. I expected Prince Philip, Prince Eric, Aladdin and Jasmine or whoever, standing against Maleficent, Jafar, and Ursula. I expected a bunch of back door politics and daring nighttime surgical strikes because you can’t blow your season budget on animating a fucking army every episode, be you can watch the generals and major players making plans and decisions because they’re the ones we care about anyway.
Honestly, who of our generation wouldn’t pay to SEE that?
They were SO CLOSE. SO CLOSE! BUT THEY TRIPPED AT THE FINISH LINE. And all because…I DON’T KNOW. Someone changed the strain of weed they were smoking. Some exec thought they knew what would sell better. Maybe some intern who was coming up with half the brilliant ideas left to get paid writing Sleepy Hollow. I DON’T KNOW.
But something happened, and I will be forever bitter.
This phrases it so much more eloquently and neatly why I never picked the show back up after the season 2 opener.
But… the first half of season 2 of OUAT was awesome. And it was all awesome ladies all the time! And then an awesome antagonist in Cora!
Its after they didn’t pick up and follow up on Cora’s death and swerved into Neverland that it started going to the dogs IMO.
I mean, I love the prospect of that whole epic showdown and I want that too, and wish they had that incorporated in the show. Because that’s awesome! But can you imagine having that with the awesome ladies road trip show too?
Look, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for an epic ladies only road trip, portal hopping across the realms, meeting awesome literary and classic film characters and fish-out-of-water Emma hijinks and awkward White-Swan-Mills family bonding a la the Gargoyles “world tour” arc. That’s were the show should go at some point given the nature of portals and portal jumping.
My issue is when and where it came in the narrative.
In season one, our heroine had left the ordinary world of Boston, and come to Storybrooke, introducing us the the characters and players in this new place. Strorybrooke therefore, was “the world of adventure” in the main character’s journey and thus, the audience. Emma spends a whole year refusing the call to various degrees, ultimately committing when her and Regina’s son is in danger.
She goes off, very literally slays the dragon, returns with the ultimate boon, etc, etc, etc…
But low and behold, there is a wrinkle in her apotheosis. Magic is coming and now, everyone remembers who they once were.
So Storybrooke—which had become the ordinary world for our hero—has once again fundamentally changed into “the world of adventure”.
Storybrooke is where the “problem” is. Ergo, that is where the action should be.
Emma may have spent a whole year getting to know these people, this town, and it’s dynamics when it was cursed—but now she (and we the audience) are back to square one. We have a whole slew of emotional, mental and physical trails to watch her overcome right in her own backyard, which has once again become a very dangerous and scary place.
Cora was a fantastic villain, and was not utilized to her full potential. If you somehow manage to get an oscar nominated actress for your show, you damn well better give her something she can sink her goddamn teeth into. For goddsake’s they foreshadowed her being the Queen of Hearts the moment they introduced her, play with that. Don’t remove her from her seat of power the moment she appears, build to her reemergence, make us tremble at her reveal. Let us feel the terror and awe that Regina (our foil and co-protagonist in many ways) feels around her, you know?
My problem isn’t so much that what but the execution—how and when.