February 7th, 2015

disney - ariel facepalm

Once Upon a Time: Season 4 So Far (Super Spoilers)

Last night, Seanie and I finished the current season of Once Upon a Time. You know, the Frozen edition. Warning: there be SPOILERS ALL OVER the oncoming rant.

Now, I really liked the movie Frozen, but the TV show was really going overboard. Previous seasons have taken well-known fairy tales and spun them in new, interesting ways. What if Cinderella was a knocked-up teenage high school student? What is Snow White could do more than just sing to the birds and clean house? What if Red Riding Hood was also the wolf? So many new and intriguing possibilities were opened and explored. Yes, the show would have clear nods to Disney, but characters rarely shared more than a name and one or two personality traits with their animated counterparts.

Then came Frozen.

Elsa, Anna, Hans and Kristoff aren’t just fairy tale characters. Rather, they are the animated characters. That is to say that they are the same people that we saw in Frozen; the events shown Arendelle all take place within a few months of the movie’s story. It’s not a reinterpretation, but a continuation, of the Disney movie. As a result, the TV show feels more and more like a commercial for Disneyland than a creative exploration of fairy tale land, and that is a huge downgrade from previous seasons.

They do some things very well. The villain during this season is a Snow Queen. Not Elsa, but another one, who in many ways is closer to the original creation of Hans Christian Andersen. Ingrid, as the new one is called, is obsessed with creating a perfect magical family for herself, and she is willing to kill anyone and everyone who threatens her connection to her two sisters. Unfortunately, her two chosen companions aren’t actually her sisters. One is her niece, Elsa. The other, in a completely and totally unexpected surprise twist, is NOT ACTUALLY RELATED TO HER. Emma, although guilty of being Ingrid’s foster daughter for several months in her teens, broke with OUAT tradition and did not discover that Ingrid was secretly her grandmother or cousin or uncle’s roommate’s best friend. Anyway, so Ingrid decides to kill everyone in Storybrooke just so that she can be alone with her two adopted sisters, and Emma and Elsa have to figure out how to protect everyone from the Crazy Ice Lady.

I admit, I liked Ingrid. Yes, she was TOTALLY batshit crazy, but I respect a villain who can play the long game. She was ruthless and she was evil. But, like former Evil Queen Regina, Ingrid just wants to be loved, and once she found out that her blood sisters had loved her and didn’t really think of her as a monster, she was more than happy to sacrifice herself to protect Storybrooke. That…no. I know people are prone to flip moods on a dime in Storybrooke, but that just didn’t seem like how the character OUAT had built up all season would react to a letter that, for all she knows, Anna scribbled a few minutes before running into the ice palace.

I should say that the actors and actresses playing the Frozen characters did as well as they could with the characters. Sometimes, it seemed like they were a little wooden, which I think is because unlike the show’s version of Sleeping Beauty or the Mad Hatter, they are trapped by the Disney constraints. They have to act like the movie characters; the personalities are already decided. So, like the actors and actresses playing Anna and Elsa in the Disney parks, they have to stick to stock phrases and gestures instead of organically developing the character. But for what they had to work with, they did well.

Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, as always, is the best character. Throughout the series, he’s always been a sort of anti-hero, neither fully evil but far from well-behaved. Here, he’s slipping into the role of villain, and with each progressing episode he becomes a little bit darker. It was great. Apparently, the loss of his son last season really did strip away any desire he had to be good.

His wife Belle has always been a dunderhead. I mean, she puts up with an abusive relationship, she is constantly thrown into danger, and she’s always blind to the fact that Rumpelstiltskin lies and manipulates her constantly. Now, for the first time in forever, she sees Rumpelstiltskin in all his warts and sparkle-skinned glory, and she is done with him. She cast him out and walked away! Good job, OUAT. That was an actual unexpected plot development. Try to remember how to do that for the future.

Speaking of dunderheads, good grief but the Charmings are IDIOTS. I hate every moment that they’re on screen. I feel so, so sorry for poor Emma, who has to put up with a father who wants to be overprotective when I’m pretty sure he’s younger than his daughter, and a mother who wants to have sleepovers and giggle over guy gossip. In this season, Snow White has been elevated to Mayor (just how the change in power went down, I’d love to have seen) so the townspeople are constantly turning to her to help or fix things. It makes me want to shake them. You idiots – how many times have you been nearly killed or cursed or otherwise ruined because a Charming made the wrong decision? Why would you trust one of them with running Storybrooke?

Although I do love that one of the first scenes we see after learning Storybrooke has been cursed by the Snow Queen is the Mayor and her husband trying to escape the town by climbing over the ice wall that surrounds it, leaving the towns’ residents to suffer the effects of the curse. Great leadership, guys!

What else…

Emma has been perfectly in control of her magic, but since the show’s writers want to parallel her story to Elsa’s she suddenly can’t manage to prevent electric lights from sparking whenever she walks into the room. Um, whatever. Last season this woman teamed up with Regina to create a LUNAR ECLIPSE. I don’t think a little frustration is gonna unhinge her powers.

Regina’s awesome, as always. Best lines, best delivery, and best costumes. Even a reformed Evil Queen is still pretty badass. I’m kinda glad her little relationship with Robin Hood is finally (hopefully) over. Having Regina pine after some scruffy bum camping in the woods was just weird. Granted, her first true love was a stable boy, so I guess she just likes ‘em a bit dirty, but still…ick.

Hook finally got some new clothes. That was nice, since I suspect wearing the same leather for three seasons meant Captain Killian probably smelled pretty ripe. Sadly, the removal of his giant leather pirate coat had the effect of making his head look a bit on the large side. Hook the Lollipop Man! Get back in your pirate garb, matey.

Will Scarlett from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland appears to have made the transition over to the main show, making me wonder if other Alice in Wonderland characters will be dropping in. If so, I should probably go back and watch the rest of Wonderland. I only saw the first 2-3 episodes and they were bad so I quit, but if more of his storyline is making its way in I want to know about it.

The second half of the season promises villains galore with the return of Maleficent and the debut of Ursula (her first “appearance” doesn’t count since it was just Regina pretending to be Jamaican) and Cruella de Vil. Maleficent is the self-proclaimed mistress of all evil and commander of all the powers of Hell. Yes, she’s scary. Ursula is the wicked sea witch, a sorceress who transformed hundreds of merpeople into little seaweed plants. Yes, she’s terrifying. Cruella de Vil…terrorized some puppies and wanted to turn them into a coat. ONE OF THESE LADIES IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER. I have no idea why Cruella is part of the villainess line-up. Maybe she’s Maleficent’s personal stylist? Notice her wardrobe has improved immensely since her first appearance back in Season One.

This show is the worst kind of soap opera crack. It’s terrible, and I always end up shouting at the TV, but once I start watching it I will binge through episode after episode until I’m all caught up.