Once Upon a Time: Time to Transform

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Once Upon a Time S01E15: "Red-Handed"

It's hard to know where to begin with this week's episode of Once Upon a Time. Never in my viewing life have things that I liked so much been so bound up with things that I can't stand. Last night's ultimate message with Ruby's backstory (by the way, how hot and amazing is Meghan Ory? Hi there Angelina Jolie 2.0!) was "Adventure is scary! Don't leave home!" And I strenuously object to that message. You find one human heart in a box and you need to go running home with your werewolf tail between your legs? Not okay.

And yet, every second she and Snow walked through the forest together was a moment out of my wildest dreams. The visuals of the snowy forest and her red cloak and Snow White's dirty white gown was an exquisite feast to my eyeballs. Red Riding Hood as a lady werewolf who tied up her one true love and refused to leave his side, then morphed and ate him: that's daring, dark and amazing and I can't hold my two thumbs up high enough to that kind of madness. It was an unexpected turn, that Granny had been locking Red in the house each night and protecting the humans of their town from her transformations. What a goth little twist on the toothless original tale.

I was so thrilled when Ruby stormed out of Granny's café (taking all the business with her, I'm pretty sure 90 percent of the customers there are just checking her and her apron out)! It was like, "Okay! Things are happening!" and then we had Mary tell her to move in. That was exciting in itself, the idea of the three of them being roommates, sitting up late watching Legend together, but we never saw them in the apartment.

She spent one day kind of outside of her comfort zone and then decided nothing could be better than running a diner in the town she's never left. Fantastic message. If you really want to streamline existence, why not just be born in your own open grave and curl up there until you die? Then you REALLY don't have to worry about getting into trouble in the outside world. I have no patience with this "Grow where you're planted" kind of message.

Also, I don't like David Nolan enough to have any patience with him having a mental break down and wandering around the woods. He had black outs! He didn't remember if he called Cathryn or not! Shoot him, shoot that effer already. No good to anyone.

And what can I say about Regina framing Mary Margaret? I am super grateful that we are finally going to see the beef between Snow and the Evil Queen, but we're not completely stupid, OuaT writers: we know you can't lock up Mary Margaret in jail indefinitely. Real talk: we all know Regina killed the bitch and put her heart in a box. Kind of what she does. And we all know she waved some wand or cast a spell by throwing some chicken bones and made Mary Margaret's fingerprints appear in the box, right? So was the tension supposed to be us, as the audience, worrying that Mary Margaret was going to be framed as a psycho killer by magic means and then electrocuted for a crime she didn't commit? What the hell is this, Dancer in the Dark?

I understand that this show is determined to be around for the next six years, but will anything good happen, ever? There is no show on TV as relentlessly mean to its audience as Once Upon a Time. I can't remember the last time I walked away from this show feeling anything but bummed. The characters are getting progressively stupider and stupider. David's black outs almost feel like an extension of the encroaching stupidity that seems to flow through the town like lead in the water supply.

Speaking of stupid: Emma, do you not remember that you were curled up next to Mary Margaret on her bed the night Cathryn went missing? At what point was Mary Margaret supposed to have procured a jewelry box and disemboweled Cathryn after dragging her from her car? Emma, I shouldn't be the one pointing this out. But don't expect the world's most glamorous Sheriff to piece together that she was Mary Margaret's rock solid alibi, a waitress managed to out-cop her this episode on her first damn day. Emma, without Ruby's K9 sniffing capabilities, would probably have been looking for that human heart until Regina came into the office and hit her upside the head with it.

Speaking of Regina, I miss Lana Parrilla. I miss her doing something other than running into a room and hissing at Emma. While Regina as a character has become annoyingly successful in keeping all the action frozen, Lana, my fave actress on the series, is almost always off camera. Both she and Robert Carlyle are being seriously underused, and how the writing staff justifies benching two of their biggest players week-after-week is beyond my comprehension. It's time for a good villains-centered episode, one that doesn't base its emotional stakes on something we know can't happen (like Mary Margaret getting convicted of murder) or a character we've just met. Just put Lana and Robert in a room across from each other and make your audience happy FOR ONCE, FOR ONCE UPON A TIME!

Somewhere along the way holding up the story became a lot more important to the writers than the characters. The writers privilege obfuscating the story over the actors, over the audience, and over the natural momentum of the story itself. There is no sense of rewarding the audience for its loyalty or building on meaningful relationships. Every note of emotional justice or relationship fulfillment is sacrificed to drawing out the story for as long as possible, like a terrible day-time soap opera. OuaT seriously needs to take a few tips from Revenge, which manages to have fresh developments every episode, and those developments actually re-energize the characters and lead to MORE developments. With Revenge, a small story explodes into many possible directions like a tree trunk splitting into finer and finer branches and twigs and buds, growing larger and fuller. OuaT works backwards, with a predetermined conclusion sucking the storyline toward it like a black hole, and they are trying to avoid the inevitable conclusion by throwing whatever crazy obstacles they can to slow the natural momentum of how events realistically and naturally would unfold. It's not tension to delay finishing a sentence. It's not stakes to threaten characters you can't harm. OuaT gets a lot of credit with me because of its beautiful fairy tale world. But Storybrooke is starting to feel as much of a trap to the audience as it is to its miserable inhabitants.

QUESTIONS…

…Were you disappointed that Ruby returned to Granny's or did that warm your heart?

…Does Emma not remember being right next to Snow when Cathryn went missing?

…Would finding a human heart seriously eff you up, even if you were part werewolf?

…Do you miss Lana and Robert or are you enjoying all this filler?

…Do you care anymore if Mary Margaret and David get together or do they just annoy you now?

…What are your predictions based on next week's promo?

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