A new obsession has taken over my life and no, it’s not Ryan Gosling (that’s an obsession that began two years ago after seeing The Ides of March and probably more than obsession at this stage). This obsession is a television show, and it’s finally returning. And I am probably way too excited about it. What is this amazing show that I have spent my whole summer watching and obsessing over? Why it’s Once Upon a Time of course!
It’s exactly a year ago since the fantasy, drama was first mentioned to me by two friends who were convinced I would like it (in hindsight they weren’t kidding). While I was mildly interested in the modern fairytale, I got distracted by other things, mostly other television shows (it was the last season of Gossip Girl) and time moved on. Yet it wasn’t when I moved out of home become solely reliant again on the internet for my main source of entertainment but also needed major recovering from the recent heart breaks that occurred in Game of Thrones (worthy of another blog post for another time). I decided to delve into Once Upon a Time and the first episode I found intriguing mostly surrounding their take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and how the Evil Queen wasn’t going to take things lying down, she wanted her happy ending too.
So in order for her to achieve this she cast an evil curse transporting everyone from fairytale realm to our world into a town known as Storybrooke in Maine, USA. Where they were forced to live in the 80’s for the last 28 years but being completely unaware of that fact, as well as forgetting who they really were (their fairy-tale/real selves) in the process. So the pilot episode I was amused, sure I wanted to know what happened next but by the second episode I was hooked (If you don’t get the double meaning behind that you will in the following paragraphs) and it was due to the show’s adaptation of the Evil Queen or who she is really known as Regina Mills. Yes, Regina on the surface seems to be the villain of the show but her character growth or what we learn of her throughout the show, reflects how Once Upon A Time deals with all of the characters personalities, past and present dilemmas but mostly why they are the way they are as well. Yet what makes this show so brilliant and addictive, that it’s extremely relatable that you wonder how this is possible considering this show is based on fantasy, fairy-tales no less.
I think that is mostly owed to the creators themselves Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, who were also the geniuses behind Lost (a show I grew up with throughout my teenage years even though it got beyond confusing and sometimes pointless, I still loved it) and it’s easy to tell the Lost resemblances throughout the show as well certain returning actors (but we’ll get onto that). It’s quite clear they wanted to achieve something different while not straying away from the fairy-tales we all loved and grew up with (I still want to be a Disney Princess at heart), I just love the show for it. Even the drama, absolutely devastatingly sad moments (this show has made me cry ok, only one other show has kind of done that to me maybe two), wonderfully comic and just plain adorable moments. It was definitely my show for obsessing but mostly definitely escapism this summer, even the sad moments. It is a show no matter the situation I am in, when I begin to watch it, I am instantly cheered up, if that’s not a sign of a good television programme I don’t know what is.
So credit is due to the creators but the actors on this show are amazing, they bring these characters to life so much so that they are these characters themselves. Which is no easy feat as I’ve already mentioned considering how multi layered all of these characters are. Our heroine is Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and a 28-year-old bail bonds hunter who is thrust into the world of Storybrooke, when her 11 year old son Henry(the moral compass of the show) tracks her down in order for her to break the Evil Queen’s curse, only thing is Henry, is also Regina’s adoptive son. A lot is resting on Henry’s shoulders in order to make Emma believe that she is indeed the saviour and the town’s only hope, which of course, Emma doesn’t believe. I really like Emma mostly her resilience as a character herself, from taking on the task of being a mother(she really isn’t given much of a choice) to later on becoming an actual heroine(again no choice). She has had a tough and really lonely life but she is strong as a result of it, but of course a life like that would have consequences and she understandably has difficulty trusting and letting people in, which I think actress Jennifer Morrison does a brilliant job of portraying this especially through the many storylines that challenge this.
*warning real spoilers start below, above was just vague (not really vague) descriptions of season 1 and maybe season 2, I have to get more detailed below I’m afraid which may include spoilers
The cast as I have mentioned on this show is superb but are quite renowned too, I’ve already mentioned how brilliantly the character of Regina is portrayed which would not be possible, so props given to Lana Parilla. Of course I cannot ignore Once Upon a Time’s brilliant depiction on one of fairy-tales most famous couples Snow White or known as primary school teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin (your one who couldn’t get hint in He’s Just Not That Into You) and Prince Charming/James/David or in Storybrooke world awoken coma patient David Nolan portrayed by Josh Dallas (Thor). Snow White is no damsel in distress (to be honest none of the female characters are, which I give the show further props for especially when it comes to portraying renowned fairy-tale Princesses), they don’t fall in love at first sight or randomly come across each other, they go through many trials in both the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke, that it seems like the most realistic portrayal of relationship in this fairy-tale form (ignoring maybe the debatable adultery and battles and stuff). Then there are, as I mentioned above the returning Lost actors; Alan Dale or you may know him as Charles Widmore but in Once Upon a Time he’s evil King George or the District Attorney, then there’s Hurley from Lost (again) who returns as a gentle giant (genius casting) and finally Sayid who is Jafar in Once Upon a Time’s new spin off series (after it’s huge success they decided to delve further into the world of Wonderland which starts a week after OUAT returns).
Another previous Lost actress that has more of a prominent role in OUAT is Emilie De Ravin who we all know as Claire but in the Enchanted Forest and in StoryBrooke she is fairy-tale favourite Belle from Beauty and the Beast (or in another plot forms Lacey). What makes Once Upon a Time’s version of this renowned childhood tale more interesting is the beast is none other than the most feared villain of the realm “The Dark One”, in StoryBrooke he is known as Mr. Gold but his most famous and of course his original name is none other than Rumplestiltskin (he is known by other titles too but we’ll be here all day). Rumplestiltskin is conveyed by renowned and extremely talented actor Robert Carlyle, who is of course brilliant as the multi layered evil genius; that you can’t help be frightened of but also love at the same time. Rumpelstiltskin, when we first meet him, is feared both in Storybrooke and in the Enchanted Forest mostly for his deals which only benefit him and go ary for others and basically in Storybrooke he owns the town charging overpriced rent seemingly to everyone. Despite his cold surface (arguably green too), he is the creator of the curse that brought all the fairy-tale characters that we know and love to our world but his motive for giving it to Regina in the first place, is the most interesting of all.
Rumple who is over 300 years old (cause the Dark One never ages) cleverly convinces Regina to use the curse even letting her think it was her idea, all so he can come to a land without magic (aka normal world) and bid his time until eventually Emma cops on and accidentally breaks the curse, all so he can finally go in search for his son (who is in our world but not apart of the curse, a even more complicated tale). Before Rumplestiltskin became a villain he was a simple shepherd and all he had was his son Baellfire, of course things got complicated when his son is called to go to war (13 at the time) and in desperate bid to save him he makes a deal he doesn’t understand and becomes the dark wizard as a result. He is of course consumed with the power and control that dark magic brings and instead of choosing a magic free life in our world with his son, he of course chooses magic and loses his son as a result, hence the creation of the curse.
But before Regina becomes so consumed for revenge against Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin again bids his time or put his plan into place he decides to get a maid and in not in the most conventional way, through another deal with a Duke, in exchange to end an Ogre war he wants his daughter as a maid hence the introduction of Belle. Belle of course sees beneath Rumpel’s tough exterior and they both fall in love as a result, of course it doesn’t exactly work out like the fairytale we know well (as you’ve gathered nothing in Once Upon a Time really does and that’s why I love it). Like Baellfire his reliance on Dark Magic is his weakness and he loses Belle as a result but when the curse is broken they are reunited and through Belle Rumplestiltskin hopes and tries to redeem himself (like Regina) in order to make himself a worthy enough father for when he hopes to be eventually reunited with Baellfire (or Neal), of course his dark side sometimes gets in the way.
So I finished Season 1 and thankfully didn’t have to wait to long till Season 2(I was quite behind) but I was sceptical, mostly questioning whether it could be as good or live up to the brilliant stories and character arcs of the season before, I mean where could they go now that the curse was finally broken. I mean Lost was truly a great series but I felt it lost (sorry for the pun) it’s way during season 2 and onwards but I was reassured by same friend who recommended the series to me in the first place, that in her opinion it got better and she was right. I loved how the characters were coping with their fairy tales selves as well as their present Storybrooke selves, Emma coping as a mum and coping with parents who are pretty famous fairy tale characters and the same age as her and as I mentioned above our villains doing their best to try and be there better selves (which isn’t easy when they’ve been known as nothing else).
But the introduction of new characters and how they interlinked with our current characters made the series even more brilliant, the return of Cora or The Queen of Hearts (in the literal and Wonderland sense) who is Regina’s mother and pretty much explains why Regina is the way she is. If there was any example of not living through your children Cora and Regina would be it. Then there is my new favourite character to the series Captain Hook and I don’t just love him because he is played by the gorgeous and Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue. No, because he is another brilliant multi layered villain and his sexual innuendo one liners are hilarious, but also because they have taken a character we’ve grown up with as an ultimate villain and made him likeable and relatable. But what I loved most about his character arc is the total different tale and twist on how he lost his hand and gained his hook, by a “Crocodile” or rather Rumplestiltskin (again another way two characters are interlinked in the most unexpected but well thought out way too). There are also even more brilliant plot twists surrounding Baellfire, Captain Killian Jones and Rumplestiltskin in Season 2 but I won’t reveal too much, but all I am saying I love how they interlinked characters and plots in more ways than one that I was constantly shocked (in a good way even with predictable plots) and gripped throughout the season.
Since I was left in suspense after the Season 2 finale, I have been counting down the days till when Season 3 finally returns, I can’t wait to see what happens in Neverland. When we last left them Captain Hook was sailing Emma, Snow, Charming, Rumplestiltskin and Regina into a portal of the unknown path in order to find Henry (who has been kidnapped and brought to Neverland for reasons we have yet to find out). What am I looking forward to most however is learning more about my favourite characters but also the introduction of my all time favourite Princess, Ariel. I can’t wait to see what turn they will take with my favourite tale especially since I have heard that Eric and Ursula are joining the OUAT cast.
I am also looking forward to what they will do with characters now they are each out of their comfort zones and forced to deal with unresolved issues, despite the Jolly Rodger (Hook’s ship) being quite big it’s definitely little crowded considering all six of them hate each other (not all but pretty much). But also I would be lieing if I didn’t say I wasn’t looking forward to the romantic possibilities between Hook and Emma which the preview indicates below, which if anything could make things a little complicated (if it does occur it would make things ten times more complicated considering Emma’s family and other romantic dilemmas). I think you gathered by this long post, I really like this show and I have only skimmed the surface of the plots and the characters of this great television series, either ways I can’t wait to escape into fantasy again each week and see what Season 3 has in store: