Once Upon a Time "The Price of Magic" Review: Don't Put Magic Under a Microscope

Once Upon a Time Special Episode: "The Price of Magic"

In this endless OUAT hiatus, I’ve been stunned how often I’ve missed new episodes of the series. Missed them desperately. Found myself re-watching episodes (holla Netflix!) and wondering where Season 2 will end up. I've craved the honest, forehead-slapping surprise this fairytale B.S. brings to my heart, and what an utter escape hatch from reality Storybrooke is for me. So even though I knew this week's "The Price of Magic" episode was an aggrandized clip show put together by a writer’s assistant and a promo editor overnight while everyone else from OUAT was on vacation, I couldn’t keep myself away.

My bad. Seeing all the events of Season 2 presented as a chain of causative events did not do the show any favors. This is probably how judges feel in night court when a tweaker comes in and explains why they were in the 7-Eleven parking lot humping a pool noodle while shouting "Respect your elders!" ("Okay so there was this magic bean and...") The biggest lesson I've learned in trying to recap this magic is that one must not recap this magic. Much like a Monet painting, OUAT falls apart up close—but take a few steps back, and it's an engrossing and impressionistic masterpiece. 

Poor Kitsis and Horowitz themselves had to pop out their director chairs and present the various bits of plot they’ve been spackling together as some sort of logical progression—and it was so impossible. The guys looked vaguely embarrassed.This isn’t Breaking Bad, y'all. OUAT is not about telling a carefully crafted story. What K&H are selling is a set of characters that people will keep watching no matter what, and an intriguing premise that begs to be resolved. An ideal skill set for serial television! They are modern-day Sheherazades! But hot damn did it all fall apart as a précis.

Surely this episode was some form of penance from a studio executive who was sick of seeing them flout their own story logic. K&H guiltily listed the myriad number of ways you can go from dimension to dimension (beans, mirrors, spinning hat, armoire ash, et. al.) like students explaining why they solved a word problem wrong. They mumbledy-mumbled about the hearts and catalogued the workarounds they gave Rumple to move his quest for Bae forward (a magic shawl! A magic globe!). I felt eerily grateful I hadn't tried to rope any noobs into catching up on OUAT by watching this episode with me. 

"The Price of Magic" was an hour of our time, is the thing. This particular episode wasn't worth the hour, but generally OUAT is, and I hope no one got frightened away by seeing this as their entrance to the series. Real fans have got a good-enough handle on the world’s logic —which is to say that they've let go of giving a damn—and for them this was a superfluous watch. But no first-time viewer could've sat through this without bursting into tears or cackling laughter. You could even hear the voiceover guy getting  flummoxed by his own explanations. I bet in the recording booth he would stop himself mid-line and be like “But Hook alias Killian Jones had craftily pocketed the desiccated magical Bean and so… whoops, I just had an aneurysm.” 

The summation of messy, messy Season 2 also reminded us how many loose ends this show has left to unravel on their own. Remember Aurora and Mulan? What the hell even happened to them? Remember Cora’s zombie army? Is Ethan Embry really a necessary part of this viewing experience? Did we really have to rewind August to child-actor size? Did we need another villain with no connection to the already fractured narrative, a.k.a. Tamara? Our main Savior heroine, who personifies true love and the Light Side of All-Powerful Magic, agreed to steal $20,000 of watches?

I have a lot of questions about this series. I’ve seriously invested a lot of my mental landscape to it over the course the season. But I think my fellow TV.com OUAT fans are my best bet for any sort of real, practical answers, so I’m really hoping you’ll help me by answering these questions.

 

 

  

 

 


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I hope the writers and producers realize how wobbly their story lines are from watching this show.
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Does anyone remember all those interviews that Raphael Sbarge did in the summer/fall talking about how much was in store for Archie and how integral he was about to become? Did he mean he'd get locked under the poop deck of a magical ship and nobody would care what happened to him afterward?

I know I get shot down every time I say this, but I really do feel bad for these actors. I feel like they are promised storylines that end up on the cutting room floor, or they go from integral to peripheral, or when they actually DO get screen time they are given these incredibly stupid lines. There is entirely too much fat in this series. Cut the crap, cut the guest star spots, cut the story bridges to nowhere, cut the spinoff. Make the show you promised us in Season 1. We actually liked it before you failed at painting the peacock.
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OMG just saw this comment and its so brilliant. Poor Raphael Sbarge. You just know he was telling all his friends "this is my season on the show. wait and see."
Actors man, ACTORS. They have it alternately the easiest and hardest of everyone.
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Preach
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I just hope the don't kill Regina's character. To me she makes the show.
They should have her find love and have her repent for all the hurt she's caused.
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Of course you can't do a summary of a series that links ALL fantasy and fairy tale stories and expect it to come off as purely logical. Still, I enjoyed this episode since it filled in some of the blanks that I had about the previous season AND brought me up to speed for next week's new episode after another annoying break. I really want to see the family tree for this show since it has such a convoluted geneaology!
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It's not a matter of purely logical. Even slightly logical would be a big step up. There are holes big enough to sail a puny invisible pirate ship through.
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I agree. I think people misrepresent the logic argument. Nobody is saying that it would be logical in our world to jump into a magical hat. But in a fantasy world where that IS logical, there at least have to be consistent rules about it. It's a flimsy reponse to say, "Well fairytales aren't real, so you shouldn't expect them to be logical, duh."
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I'm not expecting real worlld logic from the series...just a consistency within the fantasy worlds they take place in. You can see this further in the new Wonderland series where they are tying Anastasia and Will Scarlet to Wonderland and the Knave of Hearts and the sarlacc of Star Wars.
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I thought it was going to be more of a 'making of' rather than a clip show. Didn't the promo show Robert Carlilie standing in front of a green screen with the voice over alluding to going 'behind the magic'?
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This was not a good decision to make this episode...people have to wait already ages before the next episode comes again and then we get this....and the worst part is..that i watched it with the idea..that in the end, maybe we are going to see some spoilers orso of what to come...but nothing...absolutely nothing...!!!!
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I'm not sure which producer is Horowitz and which is Kitsis, but I kinda liked the guy to the right - the chubbier one. He did seem rather embarrassed about being put on the spot (anywhere other than his ATM, of course), while the fellow to his right seemed arrogant. Sorta like 'What! You don't get dumb??? Then you must not be smart!!!'

Watching this recap was interesting for me, as during the first 20 minutes, I was thinking 'Wow! This show is so clever! How could I ever doubt?' Then the wacky characterizations just kept piling up, and even though I had seen most of the shows, I began thinking 'Huh? WTF? HUH?' And then watching the producer to the left continue to act as if this plotting was clever just became hilarious.

So the show has again succeeded in entertaining me. And I figure that watching this show is SO much more evolved than watching an actual train wreck. RIP, the original promise of the high-concept. But hey, viva the colorful icing, viva the Regina one-liners, and viva Swan Queen!
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Every word of this made me laugh. You are spot on as usual, Punkin!
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Well shucks! Thank you :-)
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"Did Kitsis and Horowitz seem a little embarrassed by having to lay the story out?" Although it would be better if they hadn't written such a confusing mess, I'm grateful they realized and did an explaination-review. Hopefully this will get them to write better long-story.
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I feel like this article might have come across better if it was written by someone who isn't a stan.
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The episode title should've been, "The Price of Watching an Episode that Doesn't Advance the Story One Inch."
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Why did they stretch the episodes out? I felt I had to wait about six months just to make sure that they finally started airing episodes again. ABC...screw you! Airing one episode, then wait two weeks, then air another episode and then wait another three weeks....is just cray cray! Mmmkay!!! Momma needs her guilty pleasure fix! Hell, I switch my brain off just so that I don't notice the messy plots and the lazy writing, but I still need my fix! I'm so cheering for some swan queen action! It would be the greatest romance that ever was!
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I started to watch this episode and then stopped. Glad I did. Something about these two guys sitting back and explaining everything about the show just took all of the magic out of the show.
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I only read this revuew to see what i missed, I hace decided I'm not longer gonna watch this show, I just can't. There're to many character I honestly don't give a damn about.
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Hey Lily - think of this as good practice for reviewing the upcoming season of True Blood. 'Cos when it comes to 'jumping the shark' OUAT and True Blood are grand masters. I have a horrible feeling that next season of True Blood will make this current season of OUAT seem like Shakespeare (i still can't wrap my head round 'Billith') credit where it is due though - as much as I like to yell at my computer/tv screen whilst watching these shows I am still watching though... :-) Your reviews help a lot as they assure that I am not insane and other people can spot the wackness of these shows too!
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I stay far far away from any producers' interviews because those guys don't have an effing clue what they are doing and they manage an arrogance in their "explanations" that defies logic and makes my blood pressure sky rocket. So, I didn't watch last night for the protection of my TV from things being thrown in frustration. Dumb luck and a faithful audience, I'm not sure it can carry them much longer, especially with this silly spinoff idea.
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Agreed. I was kinda excited about it, then realized it was just some stupid rehash. It became more clear to me than ever that these guys slapped their names on the series and haven't thought much about it since. They clearly don't have a handle on what's going on. With that type of leadership I can't expect others involved in the show to have much respect for the story or the audience. They repeated yet again that Bae was taken to a land without magic when we know that's a lie. The whole premise of the show falls apart if the bean took him instantly to Neverland. I'm hanging on til the double-ep finale in hopes they will address this and make it right!
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I still vote for the story line that has Bae come to our world (without magic) but then go to Neverland as a Lost Boy who later returns.
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I think that's the best we can hope for. In my mind that would solve about 80% of the problems, though it still leaves a few doozies.

Unless Neal is 42 or older, he wouldn't have even been in our world when the curse was cast. That makes it mighty coincidental that he found a portal from Neverland to the one known land without magic just at the precise time Rumpel finished his centuries-long gathering of ingredients for the curse. Particularly considering it was his sole goal to never be found by his father.

It also doesn't make sense that the Blue Fairy told Rumpel that the bean she gave Bae was the last one, but we see centuries later when Prince James kills all the giants that there are entire fields of beans. Not to mention we see Rumpel is acquainted with Jefferson and the hat. Lots of easier ways to get to either Neverland or our world.

But hey, I've swallowed bigger pills from these folks before. :)
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I don't think it is specifically magical creatures who can be killed my this super taser. I think ANYONE could be killed by it. Magical or not, the characters on this show are humans. Electrocution is a killing method. I think from what Tamara has assumed, she thinks she has possession of a magical being killing machine. It seems a flimsy reasoning that her taser is really the end all for magical people, except maybe the reason it works on them and no one tried it in fairy tale land is because they didn't have electricity because that's technology.
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The most important tid bit that really came from this special for me was from the previews for next week's episode where Tamara tells Hook that they know how to kill Magical creatures, and I think that's where the Taser plot hole gets filled in.It was pretty ridiculous how a little taser could kill off a mythical dragon sorcerer mid levitation.
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Well, even after watching the episode I doubted it was a regular taser. Since she (somehow) was able to run "every test known to man" on a vial in a couple of hours/days then obviously she's "in it, to win it."

So she probably had a super-charged taser-LIKE device that could output some insane power. Or, it too is magical or perhaps proto-magical as she's been trying to replicate magic via science.

So I was OK with it killing the dragon. The man made of wood? Not-so-much.
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So this is sitting on my DVR, but if it's that's terrible I may just erase it. Or I'll leave it on as background noise/occasional comic relief while working on my research proposal...........

I've long realized that if you try and examine this show up close, you will just end up banging your head against a desk/wall/other-hard-blunt-object. It's great for a weekly escape (well as weekly as network tv can be this season, sucky scheduling across all the networks much?) but there are so many potholes and general holes in plotlines and things that it's just not worth it to apply all the logic to it. But I'll still watch, if only for me to laugh at how idiotic everyone is every now and again.
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ARE YOU AS EXCITED FOR THE SEASON 2 FINALE AS YOU WERE FOR THE SEASON 1 FINALE?
Not even a little. I stopped watching 2 eps back and forgot to start again. Which is sad because I loved this show in season 1, but I have discovered that I was watching for Snow and Charming. Watching them mill around aimlessly while we all stop to watch Bae/Emma and Rumple/Belle has me bored out of my skull.
Also that Cora/Rumple kiss a few eps back has disturbed me on a very deep level. I'm ahving trouble getting past that.
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I feel so bad for Alan Dale doing the voice overs, it just sounds so ridiculous when you recap the whole season like you said. Its a fun ride but when you try to analyze it, it starts to fall apart
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I sort of sat through this (I actually played temple run for the entire course of it) but geez this series should not be closely examined. I have a feeling they kind of feel about magic the way tvd feels about Bonnie. They liked the idea but it gets rid of any real threat. I totally forgot Aurora and Mulan and all that was this season!
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I purposely skipped it... there's not a lot of "behind the scenes" I felt I'd be interested in learning. Really; the only thing I would have been interested in is if they explained some of the plot-holes or open questions about the curse that are still un-answered even after the 80's flashback.

Effects: Other than learning how many hours a day does Robert Carlyle have to spend getting his golden-toad makeup applied I could care less. It's not like it's the 1990's and we want to know how they made the T-1000's effects. And OUaT's FX aren't anything THAT special compared to TV and film.

Story-wise: it's a fun show, but it's not like the *first* season of Lost where everything was intricately detailed and chosen for a specific reason. So I don't need to know how they carefully craft this-or-that. It's a logistical mess, but it's a FUN logistical mess.

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Here was I thinking that a recap meant a new episode. I wasn't going to watch it and now I know I couldn't possibly regret that decision. At this stage I'm not sure even a Lost standard season finale will be enough to keep me watching next season.
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I didn't even bother watching it because I haven't missed the show, and from this review, I didn't miss much. So thanks for saving me an hour of my life.
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As for Mulan and Aurora: I'm fine seeing them or not from a story perspective. From a narrative stand-point their final scene kind of works. Either it sets it up for us to see them again, OR just says "They will go about their adventures together, stronger friends than when they started"

Their primary role served as a support role for Snow+Emma when arriving in a changed FTL. It made their survival / success a little more plausible. So them having run their course is fine, especially on a show with such a heavy character list.

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Oh god I just hope they don't bring them back. Ever. They left it open with that whole "I know how to get Philip's soul back from the wraith" line, and I hope they are letting our imaginations take it from there. My personal ending: they were chased by Cora's zombies straight into an ogre lair and haven't been heard from since.
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Actually, I may be remembering incorrectly... but Emma didn't steal the watches. Bae stole them a while back and hid them a while ago because there was too much heat on him.

Emma went to fetch them and tried to fence them after the fact.

Granted, it's mostly semantics. She did steal stuff with Bae... but with the exception of the car it looked like it was mostly penny-anty stuff. And she was willing to fence them. So she's not exactly pure of heart.
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Its the Tamara thing that's the most funky to me right now. They further destroyed her character by putting her together with the retard outsider guy who wants revenge on Regina.

What we need is "And they slipped in a one inch deep puddle of water... and died."
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If they passed out like the people from Flash Forward, drowning in a puddle would be totally doable. :)
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"Messers. K&H assure the public, their production will be second to none."
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Bless you for your polls at the end. I really wish you could get Adam and Eddie to see them along with this , to get them to understand how hard it is for fans to stay passionate now, with how lazy and blah the writing it has become. It's also predictable with everything they've been plotting out. Also, even if you are not an Evil Regal/Regina fan, there is only so much you can do to an evil character before it's too much. Regina hit that with Cora two episodes back, there is going to be so much more in the next 3 episodes if the promos are anything to go by. There are so many issues with the plot lines (several sub plots that were dropped, what the hell happened with Mulan, plus let's be honest here, Blue Fairy turning August back into a kid is super sketchy for a powerful magic being. What did August have on her that she didn't want him to tell or to talk about Tamara? Come on now, classic pupet master move there) I'm still watching to help Lana get a check and hope that it gets better. Will it?

No. It's not, because they will have Regina tortured to the point of A) losing her powers, B) sent into a coma where Henry will have to give her true love's kiss paralleling parental/familial love with season 1 with Emma/Henry (or happy fan girl theory, swan queen coma kiss, breaking the curse completely) but she will still lose her powers, the only mean to defend herself, or C) kill her off, which will not happen as Regina has been shown on the finale ship pictures with the Charmings, Hook, and Rumbelle. *Unless all this happens in the s2 finale, which will be doing way too much in the episode*

Right now, I'm only hoping that Adam and Eddie can get their heads out of their unjustly inflated egos and fix the show. Because honestly, this is embarrassing and even Twilight's plot holes seem to pale in comparison as the show continues to drag along with it's weak plots, left wing magic ideals [fyi, any fantasy show or has elemental elements in it (such as Pokemon) story lines, wood is not beaten by lightening but the other way around], too many characters introduced to have your main cast of compelling characters dropped, mishandling of Cora (ugh, her arc could've easily lasted to the first few episodes of s3 or end of s2) when you begin to think about it.

Here's a fan hoping that they succeed and learn from their mistakes and make season three so much better.
More+
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yes.
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Good yes or bad yes?
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Good Yes. Very well said.
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Yep, well said indeed!
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I was afraid I was overstepping with the Twilight comment. ^^;
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I'm for Snow Queen as long as Lana wears more leather pants.

It actually kinda funny that Regina is a gorgeous woman and if she'd knock that chip off her shoulder I'm sure someone in Storybrooke would fancy an interest in her. Not like that town doesn't have a glut of attractive men for her.
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Yeh, where do I sign up to replace the Sheriff with his curse. You know, to be forced to stay with her every night for eternity?

I can think of worse ways to pass the time.
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You'd be surprised by how quickly it gets old. Her recitations of the wrongs she's suffered, and the vengeances she's planned. Better hope she's got some interesting kinks that don't involve removing your various internal organs.
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The most meaningful and interesting dramatic developments to come would all be in these triangles:
(1) Henry/Regina/Emma ("What does it mean to be a mother? How parents who don't trust each other share custody?" Get some mediation already, people);
(2) the "new family" Snow/Charming/Emma ("how do you connect with parents your own age you just met?" and oooh I want Snow to get pregnant again, just to see Emma's face); and (3) Rumple/Love/Magic (the price of Dark Magic is evidently Love, and Rumple is the resident Bad Example, even if the Belle or Bae storylines limp along). Although, what is the price of Emma or Blue Fairy's Good Magic?

Tamara is an unpleasant distraction, although we can hope she will destroy the local magic forever.

However, there have been too many murders and attempted murders to permit an admirable, ethical or adult resolution. Too bad, since Fairy Tales should teach us something.
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hahahahaha!
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Pretty sure the voiceover guy is King George of Widmore.
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