An Once Upon a Time Community
Sunday 8:00 PM on ABC (Returning Fall 2015)
First of all, I want to start off by saying that I recently did a marathon rewatch of Season Two, and it was not nearly as bad as I’d remembered. There were not as many “bad” episodes as I thought, and many storylines seemed a lot more cohesive to me than I had first realized. Obviously, this is because I was able to sit down and watch all these episodes at once. The reason I mention this, though, is that Season Three is supposed to air relatively uninterrupted. Which could be an improvement itself.

That said, I think Season Two had a lot of problems outside of the fact that we often waited 2 or 3 weeks between episodes. Below are some ideas I’ve had about what could have improved the 2012-2013 season.* And, just so this post isn’t just chock full of whining, I’ve also looked at how some of these ideas could maybe be applied to the upcoming Season Three.**

(*I don’t necessarily think all of the following ideas should have been implemented – that would have been too chaotic. But I think a few of these, take your pick, might have improved the season.)

(**And a disclaimer, before comments like ‘If you hate the show, why do you watch it?’ start coming in: I don’t hate the show. I love, love, LOVE this show. Sincerely. And I have high hopes for Season Three. It’s because I love the show so much that last season was disappointing for me.)

1. “You would have been enough.” (Took the words right out of my mouth, Cora)
I think most of us would agree that Cora was one of the more successful components of Season Two. Aside from the fact that Barbara Hershey was flippin’ amazing, her arc as a villain, and the way it tied into Regina’s struggle for redemption, was one of the most cohesive, well-plotted storylines of the season. So it was really kind of a shame that it wrapped up in early March, with six episodes still to go. Especially since the vacuum she left, as a villain, was filled with the lackluster duo of Greg and Tamara. I think Cora’s arc could have been extended through the end of the season. That would have made for a more streamlined season arc and frankly, a better villain to watch. Heck, she probably could have even served as the propellant into Neverland somehow, pretty much ridding us of the need for Greg and Tamara completely.

My Wish For Season 3: Mostly, I just want Greg and Tamara gone, and quick. Like maybe within the first ten minutes or so :D Especially Greg. What more would you do with this character? More importantly, what more could you do with him that anyone would actually care about? I say mostly the same for Tamara, except: during my rewatch, I came up with a crazy pet theory that Tamara could be Tiana, of the Frog Princess. And maybe she’s anti-magic because she got turned into a frog, and it didn’t end as nicely as it did in the Disney version. If that were the case, I would be okay with keeping her around. I really liked Sonequa Martin-Green, the actress who plays her. But if she’s not going to become any more relevant either, then let’s bag her too.

2. Holding Off On Hook
Look, I’m a huge, huge fan of Colin O’Donoghue’s Hook. He was also one of the better additions to the show this season. Buuuut… he was introduced very early on, played around in the Enchanted Forest for a couple of episodes, and then just kind of floundered until the finale. Which kind of makes me question the necessity of introducing him so early in the season. Especially since the early promos for Season Two featured Hook heavily, implying there would be a big focus on him… and then there wasn’t. As much as I love him, I think I actually would have enjoyed him more if he’d been introduced later. I certainly would have been less confused as to his purpose in the show. And again: streamlining. That’s gonna kind of be a refrain of mine here.

My Wish For Season 3: Obviously, as we are heading off to Neverland, this is Hook’s season to shine. And I definitely want to see lots, lots, lots of him. Including good backstory in the flashbacks.

3. Where is Baelfire?
Just as I think Hook might have been better off with a later introduction in the show, I think bringing Neal/Baelfire into the group should have happened earlier. I was a little baffled, during my rewatch, when I watched Episode 6, “Tallahassee,” and then realized we didn’t see Neal again until Episode 14, “Manhattan.” I dunno, maybe I’m alone in this, because I think many fans aren’t as keen on Neal as I am. But I know I would have preferred to see more of him than, say, most of the entire story arc about getting Emma and Snow back to Storybrooke. I felt like, by the end of the season, the writers wanted him to have more weight than he really did (I mean, who bought his and Emma’s not-so-heartfelt declarations of love as he disappeared into the portal?). And he could have had more weight, if he’d been given more time throughout the season.

My Wish For Season 3: Again, might be alone in this, but I want to see more Bae, too. Also, if the writers disappoint and don’t go with Mulora, I could settle for a Neal/Aurora pairing. Think about it: she’s a stuck-up princess and he’s a roguish thief. It’s classic. I’d certainly prefer it to any more Neal/Emma nonsense. And then Phillip and Mulan can go off and be badasses together. (I think. Is Phillip a badass? Discuss.)

4. Will the real Snow White please stand up?
Speaking of badasses, what happened to Snow this season? She started off strong, kicking butt in her little cardigan, and with her pixie haircut, threatening to cut a bitch here, there, and everywhere. (I’m pretty sure she threatened both Mulan and Aurora at some point). It was so, so refreshing to see that nearly all traces of the insipid Mary Margaret had disappeared. And then… I don’t know. I know she had the whole arc about feeling guilty for killing Cora, and that arc could have been awesome, but IMO, it just was not handled well. I didn’t buy her lying in bed for days. I didn’t buy her begging Regina to kill her. And it was even more than that. By the end of the season, she just seemed to have lost all common sense.

My Wish For Season 3: Well, for the writers to figure out who they want Snow to be, obviously. And here’s hoping they come down on the badass side, because she’s so much more enjoyable – and so much more the Snow we saw in Season One – that way. My other wish for Snow? Honestly, I’d like to see a little less of her. Her contention with Regina has featured majorly in the past two seasons, and I think that story is running out of steam. I wouldn’t mind her taking a back seat for a bit. I’m a huge Charming fan, and he had almost no storyline of his own in Season Two, because he was just there to prop up Snow, for the most part. I’d like to see it the other way around now.

5. “Let’s take back the kingdom.” – Snow to Charming, Season 1 Finale
When Seasons One’s main flashback storyline concluded with this line from Snow to Charming, I assumed this would be the main flashback storyline in Season Two. I’d thought, in Season Two, we would see Snow and Charming taking back the kingdom from King George… bringing him in as a major player and villain in Season Two. And I still think this could have been a great way to go. They sort of played with it: Episode 3, “Lady of the Lake,” showed us some of the war against King George and featured him as a villain in the flashbacks. And Episode 7, “Child of the Moon,” featured George as a villain in Storybrooke. And then… he just kind of disappeared. Seriously, I have no idea what happened to the guy after he threw Jefferson’s hat in the fire. Which is a shame, really. Like I said, Cora was pretty great as the big bad, but we could have taken some of the focus off Regina and Snow’s continued feud, and instead spent time on the less-explored enmity between George and Charming.

My Wish for Season 3: I recently heard that we could see more of Snow and Charming’s war against King George next season (although I cannot recall where I heard this, so take it with a grain of salt). Personally, I think it would have been better served in Season Two, unless George somehow follows our heroes to Neverland—because I think that story would work well against present conflict between George and Charming, as I said. But hey, who knows, maybe it will work next season as well. I’ve been wondering what might be going on in Storybrooke – and honestly, I’d just as soon see less of Storybrooke next season – but maybe George could resurface as a big bad there now.

6. “I just need a little time, that’s all.” – Emma, on bonding with her fairy tale parents
I guess she really did need just a “little” time, because we didn’t really see all that much of Emma dealing with her new parents. And I was really looking forward to that. I was especially looking forward to seeing Emma and Charming bond, because I think the two of them had about three conversations in Season One, and they were mostly all about Mary Margaret. However, we saw pretty much zero bonding between them in Season Two. Between Emma and her mom, we got a few scenes in the early part of their time in the Enchanted Forest, but that was really it. I wanted Emma to have issues with them. I wanted to see the three of them really struggling to come together as a family, emotionally.

My Wish for Season 3: With Emma and her parents stuck on a boat with Rumple, Hook, and Regina, the time is ripe for some real character journeys and interactions. In particular, I want to see the Emma/Charming bonding I didn’t get to see in Season Two. Like, maybe a lot of it. I want to see Charming actually have a character arc. I could stand more of his and Rumple’s twisted friendship too, which featured more often in Season Two than I first realized: Charming giving Rumple relationship advice? Charming as Rumple’s wingman? Pure gold, pardon the pun. It’s even better now that they’re both Henry’s grandfathers.

7. Sleeping Beauty’s tale
The first couple of episodes with Aurora hinted at all sorts of interesting twists and new details on the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, which I had totally forgotten about. Again, at the start of the season, I had expected to get more of her backstory, as well as Phillip’s. I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this, but instead of rehashing the Charmings’ conflict with Regina so much, Season Two might have focused more on Aurora and Phillip’s story (if, you know, they hadn’t been totally dropped after midseason).

My Wish For Season 3: Since it looks like we’re returning to the Enchanted Forest with Phillip, Aurora, Mulan, and Neal, maybe we can get that backstory after all. I’m actually kind of hoping we can focus on the Enchanted Forest more next season. Neverland, Storybrooke, and the EF seems like a lot (especially with flashbacks thrown in), but I would just as soon see more of the Forest and less of Storybrooke. There seems to be all sorts of problems in the Enchanted Forest right now, so that could be the focus of the present-day storyline there, with flashbacks for Aurora, Phillip, and Mulan too.

8. On Flashbacks In General
There were times in Season Two when I wished we would just stop with the flashbacks entirely, because they often weren’t bringing anything new to the table. The flashbacks in “The Doctor,” “Child of the Moon,” “The Cricket Game,” “Tiny,” “Lacey,” and “The Evil Queen,” all did very little to actually add to the plot or characters. There was a lot going on in Season Two, and sometimes, it seemed like the writers were doing flashbacks just for the sake of doing flashbacks. They sometimes ate up a lot of time that could have been used advancing story that actually matters now, or building on characters in the present time.

My Wish For Season 3: I don’t really take the stance of cutting out flashbacks anymore, mostly because we’ve got a lot of new fodder for them: Hook, Bae, Phillip and Aurora, Mulan, and the new additions of Tinkerbell and Ariel. That said, let’s use that new fodder. And if a flashback isn’t going to tell us something new, then don’t do one. We don’t really need a flashback story in every episode, not when we’ve got three different dimensions to deal with, now.

What would you have done differently in Season Two? And what suggestions do you have for Season Three?
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