Sunday, May 14, 2017

Once Upon a (One-Dimensional) Time Should End Tonight. There Should Not Be a Seventh Season


I AM saddened and dismayed that this series has chosen to go on to a seventh season. Tonight's season finale should be the series finale.

It's a great show with enormous, gaping plotholes. The writing has suffered at times, from being just tolerable to outright atrocious. The series' creators, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, have, on many occasions, bitten off much more than they can chew, and the result has been, more often than not, choppy, sloppily offered episodes that barely satisfy, if at all.

Here are my principal complaints regarding the characters, and my solution to each.

Emma and Hook. They have become utterly one-dimensional. Hook is a pirate, first and foremost. Emma is the ostensible Savior. He should still have a strong streak of scalawag in him; she should still have a strong streak of Dark One in her (which has somehow been completely excised from her).

Their love story, while important, yes, should not be central to them as individuals. How dysfunctional that it is! Who you are as a person is why another fell in love with you in the first place! To toss all that aside because you're "in love" is absurd.

My solution: Emma joins Hook on The Jolly Roger and becomes a pirate, and off they go for all sorts of adventures!

Henry. Poor, poor Henry. What a wasted character, and what a waste of Jared S. Gilmore's talents. He's the son of two mothers--Emma and Regina--and is also the Author, a responsibility that comes with more potential power than the power of probably any other character in the series, including Rumpelstiltskin's. And yet the only thing he gets is to be "mommed" over by his mothers, and a little teenaged angst (or course), and the occasional chance to lift a wooden trainer sword or pet a frickin' horse that was given to him but that we never get to see him with after one bloody episode!

My solution: He moves out of Storybrooke, goes to college, and, with his Authorial powers, does his best to hook up with girls, get good grades, and generally be a hero, often with unexpected and sometimes unwanted results. Maybe he goes back to the Enchanted Forest once he gets his degree in Philosophy and tires of working the take-out window at Wendy's.

Rumpelstiltskin. Arguably the most compelling character on the entire show, he too has been relegated to the Desiccated Plains of Relationshit Blah. He has become the whipping-boy of Belle, who nags and preaches at him ad nauseam, ostensibly in order to rein in his "Dark One-ness." He too has become utterly and pathetically one-dimensional, which is sad, because Robert Carlyle is probably one of the ten greatest actors in the world today. He's that good.

My solution: Rumpel finally has enough of "I know there's good in you, Rumpel!" from Belle and divorces her. Saddened and alone once more, he finds Maleficent. They fall in love. They leave Storybrooke and go on a search for Lily, who has gone missing, or after Gideon, who has perhaps lost his mind after his awful time with the Dark Fairy. Somehow they retain their magic, at least to a small degree, outside of Storybrooke's borders. From there all sorts of drama and heroism and, yes, "darkness" ensue.

Belle. Emilie de Ravin is a fabulous actress whose talents were increasingly wasted as Once Upon a Time slogged on ... and on ... and on. As Belle, she became, like her husband, increasingly one-dimensional. She was supposed to be, of course, the Beauty; he, the Beast. But instead she became the Nag, and he became the Least. She became uppity and snarly and preachy and all sorts of unfortunate "good girlfriend" useless. It was very disappointing to watch.

My solution: Divorced from Rumpel, she somehow finds herself cursed. Lacey, her cursed self, is back, but not totally. She runs into Mulan, and they fall in love. They leave Storybrooke for the Enchanted Forest and together go on all sorts of adventures and misadventures. The interplay between Mulan's straight-up heroism and what would be Belle/Lacey's penchant for problem-making would be compelling--at least to me.

Regina. What a great character. What an amazing actress (Lana Parrilla). She, like Robert Carlyle, is in the elite.

Her evolution from the Evil Queen to simply Regina has been the cornerstone, in my opinion, of the entire series. Or perhaps one of them. Rumpel's story is another. Of all Once's characters, hers, in my opinion, has been the least wasted.

But again, Kitsis and Horowitz have done practically everything in their power to one-dimensionalize her, and it has been infuriating to watch.

My solution: Regina is somehow cursed into a realm of true wickedness, a vile kingdom that installs her as queen. She retains her powers, and she retains her hard-fought-for goodness, but must be willing to use her darkness, when called for, in order to slowly transform the kingdom into one of light and goodness. Perhaps at some point she brings Henry from college to help her. Henry, who endured knightus interruptus from the show's creators.

Snow and Charming. I love both Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas. By the rather childish ideals of what heroes look like from Kitsis and Horowitz, or perhaps from ABC Studios and Disney, both these excellent actors have been kept as one-dimensional characters. Their finest season was the first one. I believe I speak for Once Upon a Time fans ("Oncers") everywhere.

My solution: There are many avenues these characters could take that would evolve them. Why does married life imply no life? Isn't that the very essence of suburbanism--give up everything and everyone after you get married? Stop enjoying being a hero, going on adventures, getting into a little trouble, becoming more and more who you are, and instead get a little home in the 'burbs and work at a meaningless 9-5 slog that eventually kills you from any number of suburban diseases? Kitsis and Horowitz did a great disservice to these two, so much so that I am almost inclined to call it malicious.

Snow and Charming are heroes. Why does that mean that, at the end of the line for them, is utter boredom and a vanilla life that is implied to be the ideal but truly isn't? How is that a "happy ending"?

Zelena. Here is the biggest waste of the entire series--Rebecca Mader's portrayal of the Wicked Witch. They didn't one-dimensionalize her; they tried to one-half-dimensionalize her!

Mader is an amazing actress whose talents were utterly wasted here. What a shame. Zelena had her magical teeth and claws systemically removed during the series' run (including literally at the end) ... and then she had a kid. Yay! Let's suburbanize the Wicked Witch! Let's give her spotty screen time with zero substance whatsoever! Let's take her shopping for laxatives and mint tea!

My solution: I think she should pair up with her little sister, Regina, in this evil kingdom so that she can join the fight to turn it from evil to good. And let's get rid of childish notions of goodness and evil. Let's grow up a little, shall we? A little wicked goes a long way. I'd love to see that. I mean, actually see it. Kitsis and Horowitz often offered such a possibility during the show's run, but almost always failed to come through.

There are a whole host of other characters I haven't mentioned here. People call them "minor" characters, but I find that term insulting and demeaning. They aren't minor at all. How would you like to be called minor, eh?

Let's go through an incomplete list, shall we?

Dr. Wale!

Dr. Hopper!

August! August!

Grumpy and Nova!

Blue!

Robin, for Christ's sake!

Catherine and Frederick!

Jefferson and Tinker Bell!

All of them blown off. All of them with huge, gaping plotholes in their stories.

Inexcusable. And sloppy.

The series has been renewed for a seventh season, which is an awful, awful idea. Everybody has been canned from the show save for Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) , Regina (Lana Parrilla), and Rumpel (Robert Carlyle).

How craptastic.

I absolutely love all three of those actors; and I love their characters. I have been inspired by all three many times over the past six seasons, which is why Kye and I binge-watch Once regularly. But Kitsis and Horowitz have played fast and loose with their characters, and with the now-dismissed characters, and with the overall story, and the smaller stories woven within it. They have bitten far more than they can chew, and as a result most of these characters are going to be ripped off when the season finale ends tonight. What a goddamn shame!

The series should end tonight. We are both adamant about that, to the point that, as much as we love those actors and their characters, we are going to refuse to watch any of season seven unless we both hear consistent reports from good, reputable sources that it's actually worth watching.

The best stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. Period. No exceptions. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz should, as major Hollywood producers, know this. That they don't, or don't care about that principle, bodes very badly for season seven of Once Upon a Time. It seems to me that both have fallen under a Dark Curse of Greed, and need to pull their heads out of their well-fed Hollywood producer asses and see the Authorial Light of Good Writing.

My solution: I am going to write these stories and post them on Archive of Our Own.

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