So, after quite a long wait, we are once again cracking open the storybook and rejoining our favorite bunch of fairy tales in their random misadventures. Yeah, gonna be honest, not overly thrilled with what I have seen in the promos for the back half of this season, but lets put that aside for a moment, break through the barrier, and return to Storybrooke.
So, brief recap. Gold was evil, did evil stuff, good guys found out, threw him out of town, and now he is calling on hold friends to sneak back in. All caught up? Good.
Our flashbacks this week deals with the formation of the much vaunted Queens of Darkness. Rumpel brings them together promising them their happy endings. He uses them to get the Dark Curse used by Regina way back when, because he needs them to get past the defenses around it. Once he gets the curse, he betrays the the trio, locking them in a cave with a demon that apparently eats people who have the potential for darkness. The three team up to escape the monster, and succeed. Good for them.
In Storybrooke, life is back to normal, or as normal as it gets for them, after the banishment of Rumpel. Belle does some digging and finds a spell to release the fairies that Rumpel trapped inside the evil hat. She find an Oxford professor online who is able to translate the needed spell, and Regina uses it to free the fairies. Regina asks the Blue Fairy about the storybook, and she reveals that the Sorcerer and the Author are in fact two different people, and despite the Author going missing, he lefts clues behind in his works. Further investigation is stopped by an attack from the same demon that almost got the Terrible Trio. Regina and Emma drive it off, but can’t defeat it. This is when Ursula calls, having played host to Rumpel and meeting up with Cruella to get into town, and tells them about the monster, in exchange for access to Storybrooke, claiming they want to earn redemption. Emma and Regina lure the monster to the edge of town and cast it over the border, depriving it of magic and killing it. The evil duo is
welcomed into town, despite Snow and David’s warnings against it, and they later sneak Rumpel into town. We close out with the reveal that the person in Storybrooke with the greatest potential for evil is in fact Emma, and that Snow and David have some hidden past with Ursula and Cruella.
There were some very good parts to this episode, and some not so good parts. The good being that the characters were just as enjoyable as ever, with clever writing and witty banter. Seeing Emma and Regina teaming up to fight the monster was just plain fun, and continues to show how they have put all the negativity behind them and are actually friends now. Regina had an amazing moment when she put herself in danger to protect Emma from the heart eating monster, the willingness to sacrifice yourself for another being the mark of a true hero after all, we need more of Regina being that awesome. At the same time, Emma basically throwing out any plan that would put Regina in danger shows how important Regina has become to her, another nice mark of their friendship.
Now the bad. I honestly think that the writers for Once have long since run out of ideas, or at least good ones. A lot of stuff in this episode was borderline contradictory from what has been previously established. For instance, Ursula. When last we saw her it was back in season three, she was mentioned in the Ariel episode, and was basically worshiped as Sea Goddess, complete with shrines and followers and the like, and now she is evil. Da fuck is up with that? I understand not revealing everything and pacing out the backstory, but c’mon, last time we saw her she was hardly evil, and was doing damn good for herself, how the fuck did she end up in New York and wanting to fight the heroes for a happy ending? And don’t get me started on freaking Cruella De Vil. Since when she is some dark queen with magical halitosis? She was a freaking heiress with a fur obsession, not some magcially powered dark queen! I’m not opposed to her being worked into the show, but the way they did it was just stupid and makes no real sense. The character does not fit into the magical world of the Enchanted Forest, she has been shoehorned in because the writers are obviously running out of anything interesting to do. Also, what the hell is up with Rumpel finding the Dark Curse?! It has been all but stated in the past that Rumpel made the curse, hell its stated that Rumpel designed the curse to break if Emma died! (See S01E21 An Apple as Red as Blood) So, how could he design the curse with a fail safe, if he didn’t actually make it?
God dammit writers, pay attention to your own damned continuity!
Not only that, according to the promos, we are going to see Emma going darkside at some point. You can’t see me, but I am rolling my eyes so hard right now. This whole changing alignment thing is a tired old cliche that rarely is used well, hell, how many times as Regina yoyo’d across the good/evil line? If this something brief, a one or two episode arch, where Emma gets hit with some sort of magical whammy, then yes, it could be
interesting to watch Snow and David scramble to save their daughter, maybe throw some time limit on there where if they don’t reverse it in time she is perma evil, raise the stakes a bit. It could allow Morrison to do something new with the character, and give Goodwin and Dallas a chance to shine. Sadly, I think this will be something drawn out over the rest of the season, so its going to get really old, really fast. I honestly think this is just the writers having no idea how to make any interesting new villains, so they have to just take a hero and slap an alignment change on her. Lazy writing at its best.
Credit where credit is due, Merrin Dungey and Victoria Smurfit played the roles of Ursula and Cruella fairly well, Smurfit getting the look for the character down perfectly, so they may not be horrible to watch, and their hidden past with Snow and Charming could be interesting to watch play out, plus the reveal that the Sorcerer and Author being two different people was nice a twist, pretty much the only thing at this point I am looking forward to at this point.
Overall, the characters were still fun watch, and there are some plot points that could be a lot of fun to watch play out, but honestly, I am finding it hard to be excited about the back half of season 4.