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Once Upon a Time

Watch Once Upon a Time – Tiny Online S02E13

Once Upon a Time - Tiny
This week’s “Once Upon a Time” tackled the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk in a typically unique fashion — not only painting Jack as the villain of the piece, but also making the character a woman.

This time, instead of Jack’s curiosity, it was the giant who proved the catalyst for the story — Anton’s fascination with humans prompted him to ignore his family’s wishes and venture down the beanstalk to see if he could become part of their world. (Yes, I did just make a “Little Mermaid” reference, and I think Anton and Ariel will have plenty in common when she inevitably finds her way to Storybrooke, don’t you?)

Since I prefer my fairytale characters with an edge (e.g. Hook and Jefferson), it was somewhat disappointing that the infamous beanstalk climber was dispatched so soon, but since “Once” makes liberal use of flashbacks, I suppose Jack’s demise doesn’t preclude us from seeing her again. (Her adventures in Wonderland would be fascinating, I think.) Cassidy Freeman did an excellent job with a relatively small role, proving both seductive and undeniably capable, as most female characters are in the world of “Once.”

It was also a pleasure to revisit the decidedly un-Charming Prince James, who is every bit as arrogant as his twin is noble. Josh Dallas seemed to relish the chance to play a darker role, and that enthusiasm was infectious — it was a pleasure to watch him being the bad boy, especially since we didn’t have to sacrifice Charming’s goodness in order to experience it.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – The Outsider Online S02E11

Once Upon a Time - The Outsider
Once Upon a Time razzled and dazzled me this week because things HAPPENED. So many things happened! Regina’s name was cleared when Archie came back from the dead (good job escaping Cora, I suspect she was busy starching her parasol, and hot-rolling her updo; her look seems to require a LOT of maintenance), Hook got his pleather-clad butt handed to him, and Belle got SHOT (I think) before a car ran straight into her (busy day). But first, can we say hello to the two new actors? Right Bosom and Left Bosom, that is!

YOWZA! If you want to go on a serious hike but think you might have to do a little pros-tah-tution during your adventure, go with this getup. Belle was heaving around FTL dressed like Lara Croft, and weirdly the townspeople were not having it, with two guys in floppy hats giving her a swirly and Mulan tripping her in the forest. And damn if Mulan and Belle didn’t have the most undeniable sexual chemistry of any two characters on this show-seriously, let the Tumblring begin! Sorry, #Bed fans, but I might have to pull up my anchor and set sail on a #Bulan ship because unbearable sensual tension ahoy!

In our real world, Mary Margaret pointed out that Henry raising new dog Pongo on the bed-the one that she and her recently reunited husband would later make passionate love on-was kind of gnarly. She suggested they find a house with several bedrooms, bedrooms with walls and doors around the beds and “privacy” as it is sometimes called, so that she wouldn’t wake to the sound of Emma dismantling a toaster again or singing “Freebird” at the top of her lungs, as Emma is wont. Emma was immediately against the idea, because obviously they could all just live in the car and shower under gutter pipes after it rains.

Charming was against the idea of putting down roots/mortgaging a colonial-style bungalow in this world because Fairy Tale Land still exists, and it is their home dammit. “I don’t want to die here,” he said bitterly from the cozy diner of his picturesque Maine town. No, I like this conflict a lot because it opens up the coming seasons in a cool way, and why go vs. why stay is sort of a thought-provoking debate, at least relative to the usual heavy-handed “can people change?” moral question/foregone conclusion this show continues to flog like a dead horse.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – The Cricket Game Online S02E10

Once Upon a Time - The Cricket Game
Back from winter hiatus, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) are back in Storybrooke, having back through the portal. The focus returns to Regina in this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “The Cricket Game.”

As the show moves forward into the second half of season two, as the series’ creators told me in a recent interview, “the focus will be on Snow, Emma, and Charming (Josh Dallas), Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Henry (Jared Gilmore), Rumple (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin), and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Cora (Barbara Hershey). They are going to probably take center stage for awhile.”

But the story begins with the return of Hook and Cora as Hook make their grand entrance in confederation as they prepare to explore the town. They skulk around town, keeping an eye on all as Cora is intent on breaking Regina down to her lowest point, isolated and alone with no one to turn to. You may recall that Cora’s deepest desire is to leave Regina with no on else so all she has to turn to is Mommy Dearest.

Cora and Hook have arrived in Storybrooke, and they loiter ominously while the people of the town celebrate the return of Emma and Snow. Regina gets mad at Archie for breaking doctor-patient confidentiality by telling Emma she came to see him (and her complaint is totally legit, if you ask me). Their fight and some bizarre hoodoo involving a dream catcher and a dog’s memories convince Snow, Charming, and even the reluctant Emma that Regina is the culprit when Archie turns up dead.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – Queen of Hearts Online S02E09

Once Upon a Time - Queen of Hearts
How I love that feeling of breathless anticipation as I impatiently await the show to recommence after a commercial break. It’s that sense of anticipation that tells me I’m watching a truly fabulous episode, no matter the series. This week’s Once Upon a Time episode “Queen of Hearts” certainly falls into that category, and a great way for the series to gracefully take its bow until after the New Year holiday.

Earlier today on my personal blog (you can find the link in my bio), I criticized the series for (among other things) dragging on the Mulan/Aurora/Ruined Fairytale Land story arc a bit too long. And doing it at the expense of several other significant storylines. Some of that criticism still stands (for example, after bringing Emilie de Ravin (Belle) into the regular series cast, they’ve terribly underused her, neglecting the lovely bittersweet “Rumbelle” storyline).

But there is no denying that “Queen of Hearts” is a fantastic episode, tying together several story threads extremely well while plucking several new ones (and perhaps conjuring a Pandora’s Box for Regina and Rumple, played exquisitely by Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle, respectively). That potential Pandora’s box comes in the guise of Cora (Barbara Hershey) and the notorious and nefarious Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue).

But “Queen of Hearts” is less about the conflict between Storybrooke’s antiheroes and the truly evil Cora and Hook, and so much more about the value, virtue, and power of love. Love is one of the series’ most important themes, and “Queen of Hearts” explores it from the distinct and diametrically opposed vantages of Once’s two most powerful sorcerers – Cora and Rumple.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – Into the Deep Online S02E08

Once Upon a Time - Into the Deep
In this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time, people fall asleep a lot, which is a perfect representation of the experience of watching this week’s episode of Once Upon A Time.

Into the Deep” (or as I have retitled it: “Slow Story In A Burning Room”) is a string of convenient plot twists stemming from the Sleeping Curse that Snow White, Aurora, and Henry have all fallen under in the past, and it uses the curse to progress the plot in a passive fashion. Last episode’s cliffhanger revealed that Aurora can talk to Henry inside the netherworld of their dreams, and this week, that burning room becomes a magical telephone that allows the two worlds to communicate with each other. If you thought Henry couldn’t get more annoying, just wait until you hear Jared S. Gilmore yell all of his lines.

The episode begins with a conversation between Hook and Cora, who betrays her one-handed partner when she finds out he lost the Enchanted Compass to Emma Swan. Despite having two charismatic performers, the dialogue in this first scene is completely lifeless, and gives off a bit of a Power Rangers vibe. (Cora as Rita Repulsa just feels right.)

It’s beginning to feel like the writers have completely replaced real stakes with magical ones, and it’s sucked the emotional momentum out of this show. Early on, the magic was a nice change of pace, but now, it’s taken a forefront to the character development. The most interesting character right now is Regina, and that’s because magic has become her central conflict. For all the other characters, magic is a means to an end, something with all kinds of different rules that bend to the wills of the episode writers.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – Child of the Moon Online S02E07

Once Upon a Time - Child of the Moon Generally, episodes of “Once Upon a Time” fall into two categories: those that propel the mythology forward in big ways (such as last week’s “Tallahassee”) and those that tread water by focusing more on character backstory, and/or form building blocks for the next mythology episode.

This week’s Ruby-centric outing, “Child of the Moon” fell into the latter category — not much was resolved or advanced, but it was clearly pushing things into place for next week’s dramatic-looking installment. That’s not a value judgment; every serialized story requires certain “filler” episodes to pace the story advancement over 22 weeks, and “Child of the Moon” did a fine job of making us root for Ruby/Red as we learned more about her troubled past.

Back in the Enchanted Forest of yesteryear, we picked up where “Red-Handed” left off, with Snow and Red on the run from the queen’s men and Red first getting to grips with her inner Big Bad Wolf after eating her adorable boyfriend Peter. After separating from Snow, she met up with a pack led by her long-lost mother Anita (Annabeth Gish), who wanted to teach her all about embracing her animal side instead of shying away from it.

The episode mostly served as a reminder that humans can be far more monstrous than any beast, as illustrated by the evil King George’s attempts to undermine Charming’s rule in Storybrooke, killing the innocent Billy (AKA Gus, Cinderella’s adorable mouse buddy) in an attempt to frame Red and make it look like Charming couldn’t protect the town. It’s a familiar message, given some of the awful things Cora, Rumple and Regina have done over the course of the show so far, but the theme of free will is especially important this season, with Ruby proving able to fight her darker impulses and make the right choices — something that Regina and Rumple are both struggling with this year.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – Tallahassee Online S02E06

Once Upon a Time - Tallahassee This week’s “Once Upon a Time” felt like a breath of fresh, top-of-the-beanstalk air. We finally found out who Michael Raymond-James is playing (Henry’s father!) and who sent him the postcard telling him that the curse was broken in the season premiere (August!).

Neither of those revelations felt particularly shocking, but it was satisfying to dispatch two of the year’s biggest question marks and get some insight into Emma’s checkered past so early in the season. “Tallahassee” also introduced us to Jorge Garcia’s sympathetic Giant, marking a reunion for him and “Lost” executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. And this episode isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Garcia — in our recent interview, the “Lost” alum revealed that Horowitz and Kitsis had invited him back to film again in a month, so fingers crossed for some Giant backstory.

After the last episode’s hit-and-miss introduction to Frankenstein, this week’s “Once Upon a Time” felt like a breath of fresh, top-of-the-beanstalk air. We finally found out who Michael Raymond-James is playing (Henry’s father!) and who sent him the postcard telling him that the curse was broken in the season premiere (August!).

Neither of those revelations felt particularly shocking, but it was satisfying to dispatch two of the year’s biggest question marks and get some insight into Emma’s checkered past so early in the season. “Tallahassee” also introduced us to Jorge Garcia’s sympathetic Giant, marking a reunion for him and “Lost” executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. And this episode isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Garcia — in our recent interview, the “Lost” alum revealed that Horowitz and Kitsis had invited him back to film again in a month, so fingers crossed for some Giant backstory.

Jennifer Morrison has played Emma with a great weight on her shoulders thus far, so it was nice to see a more carefree, playful version of the character this week — one who was in love and saw a chance for happiness and a stable home in her romance with the roguish Neal Cassady, no matter how fleeting it turned out to be.

August apparently wanted to make amends for abandoning Emma when they were children by lurking around and “protecting” her later in life, but I wonder how Emma would react to learning that he scared away her one chance for happiness just for the sake of breaking the curse.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – The Doctor Online S02E05

Once Upon a Time - The Doctor Online S02E05 “Once Upon a Time” season 2 continued Sunday, Oct. 28, with episode 5, “The Doctor” which finally revealed the identity of one of the characters—Dr. Whale—and showed more of fairytale land in the present.

Characters are being used sporadically, with newbies sharing more screentime than the regulars and with favorites such as Snow and Regina disappearing from episodes entirely. To get the show back in the right direction, they need to focus on what storylines they want illuminated, they need to make sure Charming’s screentime is not all spent with Henry, they need to make sure that characters like Red and Archie who showed so much promise last season are given time to grow and most importantly they need to figure out what kind of show they want to be, because they seem lost.

Remember last season, when Emma seemed to have a purpose on the show? Back when Henry was trying to convince her that everyone in town was really from a fairytale? Well, during that time, she became sheriff largely on a platform of being able to shoot a gun and being a human lie detector. Since then, she’s lost her job, her gun and all sense of importance in the story. But this week, her lie detecting skills reemerged when she called Captain Hook on his bluff of a cover story. Emma’s still one of the worst characters on the show, but thank God they’re at least trying to do something with her now.

Regina, having trouble keeping her promise to Henry to not use magic, goes to see therapist Dr. Hopper. As they talk about what obstacles are troubling her, Dr. Whale storms in to demand that Regina send him back to his land. She can’t; he’s mad.

And so when Regina said goodbye to Daniel for good, it felt like that moment wasn’t really earned. Daniel should have stayed gone. On the plus side, it’s nice that Regina appears to be finding closure (what’s dead is dead, leave the past behind and so forth).

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Watch Once Upon a Time – The Crocodile Online S02E04

Once Upon a Time - The Crocodile Online S02E04 There has never been any doubt that Robert Carlyle is a gifted actor, arguably one of the best actors of his generation. He’s gone from film to television and back again both here and in the U.K. He’s done tiny budget independent films that allow him to create characters and give voice to films with great social or political weight and bigger projects that undoubtedly allow him to support small-budget worthwhile cinema. But there is also no doubt that whatever role he chooses to do, he has an ability to transform himself completely, making the character unforgettable.

A feature article by EW reveals that the Once Upon a Time script writers are continuing in the Lost tradition (from which Adam Horowitz and Ed Kitsis come) and filling their scripts with curse words that could never make it to air.

Kitsis tells the magazine that, “When we were on Lost, [showrunner Damon Lindelof] once said, ‘You can either be running through the jungle or you can be f–king running through the jungle — What’s more intense?’” So, “we carried that on because it helps the actors.”

Tonight’s episode of Once Upon a Time started in Storybrooke where Belle worries that Gold is up to his old tricks. She struggles with a boyfriend who can’t give up magic and leaves his house to sort her feelings out. Gold is so desperate to find her that he turns to her father, the man Gold took her from in Story Book Land, but when that doesn’t work he is forced to seek help from a reluctant Charming and Red. But was Belle’s dad really unable to locate his daughter, or is he up to something to try and keep Gold and Belle apart forever?

In the fairtytale land that was, Rumpelstiltskin tracks down his MIA wife Milah at the local tavern, where she’s enjoying grog and games with the pirate Kilian Jones and his crew. Milah describes Rumple as “just my husband,” then digs the knife deeper by lamenting her lot to not be an ogres war widow but “lashed to the village coward.” Ouch. The next morning, Rumple is alerted that Jones’ crew took Milah, so he races to the pirate’s ship. Jones challenges Rumple to a swordfight to the death, but finds no taker. “A man not wiling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets,” Jones warns.

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Watch Once Upon a Time – Lady of the Lake Online S02E03

Once Upon a Time - Lady of the Lake Online S02E03 This week’s “Once Upon a Time” was fairly ambitious in scope, attempting to tell stories in Fairytale Land both past and present, as well as chronicling Henry and Charming’s Project Scorpion in Storybrooke. Toss in a sweet subplot involving Jefferson and his attempt to reconnect with his daughter, and it made for an action-packed hour.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that much of ‘Lady Of The Lake’ shuffled the more repetitive elements of the show to the sidelines, including Lana Parrilla’s snarking Regina (who nabbed a grand total of approximately two lines), made consistent fun of Emma (seriously could this woman be more dense?) and gave more screentime to Barbara Hershey’s delicious villainess, Cora. I’ve long maintained that what the show needs is fewer goody-two shoes (*cough Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow and Josh Dallas’ Charming cough*) and more villains. That’s why it’s promising that not only is Cora still on the loose (and looking to force a reunite with her dear old daughter), but we’re going to meet ‘heavy into eyeshadow’ Captain Hook next week (commence drooling in t-minus six days).

We start in the past, before a battle for the kingdom, with Snow and Charming and Red planning in a tent. The enemy appears and the team splits up. “Leviathan,” what they are calling the enemy, is really Lancelot. “Of the round table?” Snow asks. “Not anymore,” he answers.

Trying to locate the armoire portal in the ruins of her castle, Snow and Emma travel through dangerous lands, encountering an ogre, whom Snow kills with an arrow to the eye. Emma is singularly unprepared for this land, despite her handgun (which only serves to alert the ogres to their presence). And her fish out of water status gives Snow the opportunity to prove her maternal instincts as they overcome the barriers between them built by resentment and Emma’s feelings of abandonment.

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