BINGE OR NO: Netflix’s GLOW

(Soon to be cross-posted on Agony Booth.com)

When I was a kid, my mother was a huge fan of soap operas. In the days before DVR, and before Netflix made binge-watching a “thing,” she would record an entire week’s worth of her favorite soap, Days of Our Lives, while she worked, so that she could spend her Saturdays catching up with all her fictional best friends and lovers and their increasingly wacky lives.

As a result, my father would often chide my mother, a career woman with a Masters degree, for her deep-abiding love for this evil-twin having, devil possessing, amnesia abusing, secret love child coveting, art form. Whenever he did so, my mother would wryly reply that my father’s ability to watch countless hours of WWF wrestling was pretty much precisely the same thing as her Days of Our Lives addiction. Wrestling, she claimed, was, after all, a soap opera geared toward men. This argument undoubtedly horrified my father, who would inevitably respond by turning up the volume on his wrestling match full blast, as if to say that no series that LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS could possibly be equivalent to a “ladies’ television show.” But deep down, I think he knew that my mother had a point.

This exact same epiphany is experienced by GLOW’s co-female lead Debbie Eagen, a former soap star, who must now try her hand at a role where your ability to “pretty cry” is not nearly as important as the depth which you could realistically portray the pain of having someone twice your size sit on your face.

Based on an actual television series of the same name that took to the airwaves for four seasons, during the years of 1986 through 1990 (many of the wrestling personas portrayed here are based on characters from the original series), Netflix’s GLOW is a ten half-hour episode long comedy set piece about the maybe (?) origins of women’s wrestling.

The REAL cast of GLOW

Leading this large and diverse cast of mostly female actresses is Allison Brie, as Ruth Wilder, a grown-up theater geek, and out-of-work actress, who is desperate to find an on-screen role where her character does more than bring a powerful male lead coffee, or tell him that his wife is on line 2.

That is, perhaps, one of the most interesting things about GLOW the series, the way in which it argues that women’s wrestling, as an art form, was actually pretty progressive, particularly for its time period, in the way in which it championed strong females, both as the heroes and the villains of its stories. Not such a big accomplishment, you say? Think about what a HUGE deal everyone made over the Wonder Woman movie actually featuring a female superhero, and how long that film took to make it to the big screen. And this is 2017, over thirty years after women’s wrestling premiered on TV!

In GLOW, Ruth is able to take on the role of her dreams, that of a female lead villain, who is strong, tough, takes no prisoners, and would sooner pour scalding hot coffee on a man’s head, than serve it to him black with two sugars. I mean, sure, women’s wrestling had its down sides too. Most of the “characters” on the show were thinly drawn, and often aggressively offensive, racial, and socio-cultural stereotypes: The Terrorist, The Welfare Queen, The Evil Communist, and an Asian Character named Fortune Cookie. Not to mention how the female wrestlers were often hooted at, degraded, and objectified by men, as they rolled around with one another in scantily clad outfits. Yet, arguably all those same downsides applied to men’s wrestling as well. So, there’s an odd sense of equal opportunity here, when it comes to poor taste.

Speaking of objectification, those men out there looking to revel in hot bodacious babes engaging in Sapphic aggressive dances with one another might be a bit disappointed with Netflix’s GLOW. With one or two exceptions, this is not a particularly glammed up bunch of ladies. 80’s fashions (which are showcased in all their neon-tinted, big-hair having, glory here) do NOBODY any favors, appearance wise, at least by modern-day beauty standards. Even Allison Brie, who in real life is quite beautiful, has her looks noticeably, and purposefully, toned down here. Her character Ruth wears little to no makeup throughout most of the series, and often prefers shapeless, oversized, outfits to more form-fitting attire.

In terms of characters, Brie’s Ruth, Betty Gilpin’s Debbie, and Marc Maron’s schlocky, but occasionally paternal, showrunner Sam take center stage here during most of the episodes. The rest of the cast serves largely as comedic support, their roles limited mainly to the stereotypical characters they play on the wrestling mat. As a fan of Jenji Kohan’s other Netflix Series Orange is the New Black, I found myself wanting to see more of many of these characters, and to learn what brought them to this unique job opportunity, possibly through the use of OINTB inspired flashbacks. There are no such flashbacks in GLOW.

Just as OINTB’s Season 1 story was largely about Piper and her complicated love-hate relationship with Alex, so too was GLOW’s Season 1 story predominately about Ruth and her friendship turned antagonistic relationship with Debbie. (I’d tell you why it turns antagonistic, but I’m afraid that would be a bit of a spoiler.) Perhaps, if the show gets picked up for a second season, GLOW, like OINTB, will branch out and feature more of the backstories of its intriguing and diverse ensemble cast.

As for the series itself, though it takes a little while to find its footing and humorous tone, GLOW is sudsy good fun, with just the right amount of 80’s camp, and a pro-feminist message thrown in for good measure. At a mere five-hour run time, GLOW is easy and painless to breeze through. The live-taping of the wrestling show featured in the final episode serves for an exciting and entertaining, colorful capstone to the series. And you will undoubtedly find yourself missing GLOW a bit when its over.

So, in the end, my mom was right.  Wrestling, and shows inspired by wrestling, are a bit like soap operas. Both are guilty pleasures, for sure. But if you look closely, you might just find a little bit of substance underneath those suds.

FINAL VERDICT: BINGE IT!

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Once Upon a Time’s Recent Reconstructive Surgery Will Render It Nearly Unrecognizable In Season 7, But It’s Far From the First Show to Go Under the Knife

(soon to be cross-posted at Agony Booth.com)

After her memorable portrayal of the earnest and refreshingly relatable Baby Houseman in the original Dirty Dancing (not to be confused with the atrocious remake that will appear on ABC this week), actress Jennifer Grey seemed destined for a long and glorious Hollywood career. And then she went and got a nose job.

Though her talent agents undoubtedly praised her new appearance as being more in line with the American Beauty Standards of the day, Grey and her new nose no longer resembled the strong-willed teen that nobody was allowed to “put in a corner.” The surgery nearly ended her career. And though the actress does occasionally appear on TV and film (most recently as the real estate agent mother of the main character in the Amazon series Red Oaks), one can’t help but wonder what might have been had she refused Hollywood pressure to go under the knife.

Television series are a bit like Jennifer Grey’s face, I think. Over time, they are naturally going to age, and evolve as seasons pass. But if they change too much, or too quickly, from what made fans like them in the first place, those changes will undoubtedly result in the series’ demise.

This past week, in a two-hour season finale that I wasn’t able to timely recap because I was overseas, Once Upon a Time closed the storybook on its sixth season. It was an episode that could have functioned as a series finale, had the show not been picked up for a seventh season. Emma Swan, the series’ main protagonist, fulfilled the Prophecy of Saviors by sacrificing her own life to protect goodness against evil, only to have her life restored at the last minute by the ever-abused Plot Band-Aid that is “True Love’s Kiss.” Rumple, the series’ on again, off again (but mostly on again) peripheral baddie, took grand steps toward redemption by killing his own mother, the Black Fairy, who also so happened to be the Big Bad of the Season. In doing so, Rumple (1) broke the curse that his Mommy placed on the town, (2) reunited with the love of his life, the much put-upon and criminally underutilized character, Belle, and (3) got a second chance to raise his son Gideon, who was conveniently reverted from troubled 28-year old man with a perma-scowl to baby boy following the final battle.

The show even went as far as to add a series-ending-esque musical montage epilogue to the finale, which depicted each of the main characters experiencing their so-called happy ending, by returning to their respective loved ones and resuming “business as usual” in the much-abused town of Storybrooke.

Had Once Upon a Time ended with its sixth season, it would have been a respectable run for the series, by any stretch of the imagination. At 133 episodes (22 to 23 per season, which is almost unheard of in this current culture of “sexy” 9-to-10 episode truncated season runs), Once boasts 12 more episodes than the uber successful and generally beloved (except for maybe it’s series finale) Lost, another ABC series that coincidentally featured the same writing team as Once.

The series is also well over the “age limit” generally required for syndication (four seasons). This means that, after Once ends, it’s pretty much guaranteed a second life in reruns and re-airings, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Up until a few weeks ago, at least, a sixth season run seemed precisely where Once Upon a Time was headed. This seemed particularly true, in the wake of news that nearly three-quarters of the original cast (most notably, Jennifer Morrison who plays main protagonist Emma, and series stars Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin, who play Prince Charming and Snow White, respectively) would not be returning to the show for future seasons. In addition to a truncated cast, the show was also struggling HARD in the ratings department. Having garnered a respectable average of around 11 million viewers per episode in its first season, by its sixth, the show was averaging less than 3 million. To add insult to injury, ABC had recently announced plans to move the series from its six-year home on Sunday nights to the dreaded Friday night death slot.

That’s right, Emma. Drink away the pain!

And yet, despite all this, the Once Upon a Time was renewed, and its showrunners decided to continue the saga for an unlikely seventh season. With virtually none of its original cast returning, the showrunners decided to pitch the season as a reboot of sorts. The plot would now focus on Emma’s son, Henry Mills (now grown, and played, understandably, by an older, and much more attractive, actor) and his scrappy daughter.

Puberty has been REALLY kind to you, Henry!

Cast veterans Lana Parilla (who plays the Evil Queen), Collin O’Donohue (who plays Captain Hook), and Robert Carlyle (who plays Rumplestiltskin) would reportedly continue on with the series, though their role in this restructured show, at least, at this point, is uncertain.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a long running show was forced to shift gears in later seasons, as a result of cast member departures and/or flagging ratings. Medical drama ER (which lasted on air for a whopping 15 seasons), and its contemporary Hot Doc Show, Grey’s Anatomy (still going strong after an impressive 13 seasons) have both made a point of casually introducing new cast members each season by cycling through classes of medical interns. This is a clever way for a show to test out the likability of new cast members on a smaller scale, and, if they pass the ratings test, gradually increasing their roles on the series, so that they can eventually take the place of primary cast members, should they eventually decide to depart from the series. To date, only four of the original Grey’s Anatomy cast members still remain on the show.

Perhaps, no series has been more successful at cycling through cast members than the Canadian high school drama, Degrassi, which has been on air in some form since as early as 1982! Using a similar model to Greys and ER, Degrassi is known for introducing a new class of freshman students each year, and gradually shifting focus toward those students, as older characters graduate from high school, and the cast members who play them depart the show. In fact, Degrassi has been shuffling cast members for so long that some of its original cast members now play the middle-aged parents of characters who recently graduated from college, and subsequently were married to one another. And you know what that means . . . Degrassi Grandparents aren’t out of the realm of possibility in seasons to come.

Other series have been forced to make abrupt changes in their main cast lists, as a result of the sudden departures of series’ protagonists. Pitched as a family drama revolving around a father raising teenage daughters, and based on a book with the same name, 8 Simple Rules, had to switch some pretty serious gears after its first season, following the untimely death of John Ritter, who played the show’s patriarch. David Spade and James Garner were brought on for the show’s final two seasons as family members’ of the main characters.

Spin City a sitcom about the goings on in NYC local government lost its star Michael J. Fox after four seasons, as a result of the increased severity of his Parkinson’s disease. Fox was replaced by Charlie Sheen, who played a different character, naturally, for the series’ final two seasons.

Sheen went on to star alongside John Cryer on Two and a Half Men, which lasted for 12 seasons on air. Coincidentally, this time, it was Sheen’s turn to depart a successful series, as a result of his own misbehavior and issues with substance abuse, around season 8. Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, as a series co-lead. The latter’s tenure on the show lasted for four seasons, and ended only when the series was cancelled in 2015.

The aforementioned series are all shining examples of moderately to majorly successful cast member replacements. And it was these examples the showrunners’ of Once Upon a Time undoubtedly cited in the writers’ room, when they were pitching the idea of continuing their series without most of the original cast.

However, unlike all of these shows, Once has not had the opportunity to gradually introduce or test out its new leading cast members, Andrew J. West of The Walking Dead and Alison Fernandez of Jane the Virgin. (Though both characters were featured in the series finale, they had a combined screen time of less than five minutes.) And while three of the original cast members still plan to continue on with the series, in order to provide some consistency and appease loyal fans, the veterans’ chemistry with the new additions to the cast still remains a question mark, as the two new additions to the cast appeared in scenes only with one another during the finale.

Regina: “Who is the new hot guy with the little girl?” Emma: “I think that’s supposed to be our son and his kid.” Regina: “So, basically, in the last five seconds, I just learned I’m a grandparent at 40. I also inadvertently expressed attraction to my own child. So much to talk about in my next therapy session with Jiminey Cricket.”

Nonetheless, the showrunners of Once remain cautiously optimistic about the new direction in which the show is headed in its seventh season. “It’s like a new book. So, we’re starting with new stories. Although it’s going to have some of the people that we’ve loved for six years at the center of it, we are going to meet new people and new worlds,” Executive producer Adam Horowitz explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.

New people. New worlds. New time slot. New cast members. In fact, the series name will be just about the only thing Once Upon a Time will retain this fall from its first six seasons. But new and different doesn’t always mean better, as Jennifer Grey’s nose will most certainly confirm. And so Once Upon a Time has headed to hiatus, leaving fans with the greatest cliffhanger of all. Will this series will be able to survive its forced reconstructive surgery, and obtain it’s long awaited Happily Ever After in Syndication Land? Only time will tell . . .

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(Cross posted on Agony Booth.com)

As a show runner, inevitably, there will come a time in your life when your series is dangling on the precipice of cancellation, and seemingly nothing can save it but a miracle, a Hail Mary, and/or a calculated risk that has appeared so much in prime time over these past few years that it’s started to become cliché. You guessed it! Welcome to Once Upon a Time’s Musical Wedding Episode!

So rev up the song in your heart, strap on your dancing shoes, and start doing those vocal exercises, because we’ve got nothing to lose but our dignity!

Hit Me Baby, One More Time!

Once upon a Time, Little Orphan Emma wants to try out for the local talent show, get discovered and become Britney Spears . . . without the whole shaving her head, bashing in a car with an umbrella, and marrying K-Fed part, of course. She uses a tape recorder as her recording studio, because auto-tuning apps are not yet available to the general public. But then some bully kid shows up and crushes her dreams, as they are wont to do. “You will never become Britney Spears,” taunts the bully. “You’ll just end up the lead on an ABC show that airs between America’s Funniest Home Videos and The Match Game hosted by Alec Baldwin.”

Kids can be so cruel!

More Random Singing Please!

This week’s fairytale flashback involves Snow White making a wish that will give her unborn daughter a the weapon she needs to battle six seasons of increasingly improbably storybook villains. The good news is that Snow’s wish comes true. The bad news is that weapon apparently involves the entire cast of the show breaking out in song at regular intervals throughout the episode.

First up on American Idol: Fairytale Character Edition are Snow and Charming. They sing a song about love being powerful magic that occasionally exerts itself through random acts of singing and dancing. Basically, this song is the one designed to explain the plot of the rest of the episode. My favorite part was the CGI Bird at the beginning. That little chick has some pipes!

The Evil Queen’s up next. Her song about defeating love through an evil curse that sends people to Maine(!), is a bit less PG-rated. There’s rump shaking involved, and twerking, lots and lots of twerking. Miley Cyrus would be impressed . . . and also very, very frightened.

Emma’s future hubby has to sing too. So, Snow and Prince Charming track him down in a bar, and offer him the right to kill Rumplestilskin, in exchange for a ride on the Jolly Roger to the Evil Queen’s lair . . . despite the fact that said lair is right across the street from their castle, and seemingly completely land-locked.

Speaking of other realms, apparently, Snow’s “wish” has traveled all the way out to Oz, where the Wicked Witch has concocted a curse to counteract all this damn singing, and prove that she’s better than her sister the Evil Queen at being “BAD” . . . but not before she gets in a song of her own, of course.

Back in fairytale land, the Evil Queen and Snow and Charming have one final sing-off together, before the Evil Queen uses the Wicked Witch’s curse (which was sent via Fedex?) to stop all the singing, thus rendering Snow’s wish seemingly meaningless.

Enter the Blue Fairy.

“Hey, what gives, Blue? What kind of effed up wish granting was that? How is my singing for five minutes in the second to last episode of the show going to save my daughter from evil,” Snow complains.

“Wait about 30 years, and I’ll show you,” offers Blue cryptically.

“30 years?!!! This show will probably be canceled by then! You are terrible at your job!” Snow gripes.

About 30 Years Later . . .

Back in Storybrooke in present day, the Black Fairy arrives to tell the gang, (1) surprise Rumple screwed y’all over for the 85,000 time and I’m not actually dead, like you thought, (2) I’ve stored up an entire town’s worth of black farts to stink up your wedding, Emma, unless you give me your heart.

“Oh no! Not a stinky wedding!” Emma exclaims, nervously. “It’s bad enough, I have to get married on the smog-filled roof of a tacky diner! Now, I need to worry about gas too!”

Emma heads to Hook’s to bid him what she believes to be a final goodbye. Meanwhile, the Evil Queen and Wicked Witch manage to freeze time in a gambit to stop the whole smelly fart/ wedding destruction thing from happening, but only succeed in freezing themselves. (Oops!)

Doh!

Henry randomly finds Little Orphan Emma’s tape recorder, and wonders whether Emma can defeat the Black Fairy by becoming Britney Spears, after all. But a completely defeated Emma “valiantly” decides she’d rather give up her heart than shave her head, break a car window with an umbrella, and marry K-Fed (a wise choice, if you ask me).

Once Emma leaves, Henry finds the Storybook page from earlier in the episode in which the Blue Fairy told Snow White that her singing curse would help Emma in about 30 years. He looks at his watch and gets very excited about this.

When Emma encounters the Black Fairy, the latter taunts her with the images of her not-too-bright frozen friends. So, Emma offers up her heart to rescue them. But, much to the Black Fairy’s surprise, she can’t vanquish Emma’s heart. Why? You guessed it! It’s filled with the songs of all her friends, loved ones . . . and the Wicked Witch.

“The party doesn’t start ’til I fly in!”

So, of course, Emma has to start singing too. Her song is about how all her life she thought she was alone. But she wasn’t, because her loved ones (and the Wicked Witch) inadvertently made a mix tape together and inserted it inside her heart. Emma uses the mix tape to unfreeze the rest of the main cast, and vanquish the Black Fairy . . . but only temporarily, of course, because we still have one more episode left in the season.

Because wedding’s on the roof of a diner are way less tacky than weddings inside a diner . . .

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for folks. Hook and Emma get to get married. They choose to do it on the roof of Granny’s diner, because the show is on the verge of cancellation, and doesn’t have the budget to build a new set on such short notice. It’s a sweet wedding, and everyone’s invited, even the seemingly forever forgotten, Baby Neal!

Emma is wearing her mom’s wedding dress. And Hook is looking super dapper in a tux that’s surprisingly NOT made of leather. Jiminey Cricket officiates the wedding, because he apparently got ordained on the same website that gave him his degree in psychiatry. Emma and Hook then exchange their own heartfelt vows. And, because this is a musical episode, they naturally force the entire cast to break into just one more song. This one is about “Happy Beginnings,” and is super fitting to be featured in a show about to get cancelled.

Then, the Black Fairy’s curse comes and engulfs the entire wedding in stinky black farts. (So, when the cast sang “Happy Beginnings,” perhaps, they meant “Smelly Beginnings?”)

But it’s OK, Once fans! Emma now knows she has a mixtape in her heart! And everyone knows that stinky black farts are no match for mixtapes . . .

. . . unless, the show ends up being canceled after next week, in which case all bets are off . . .

 

 

 

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ONCE UPON A TIME: A Black Fairy Tale

(Cross posted at Agony Booth.com)

This week on Once, Rumple continues his trend of contemplating doing the right thing for about five seconds, before effing up AGAIN. (But hey, major points for character consistency!) Also this week, Captain Hook chooses a best man for his wedding. And the Wicked Witch of the West learns to drive . . . (and by “drive,” I actually mean run people over with her car).

What can I say? It’s the week before the series’ much ballyhooed musical episode, and the showrunners have clearly put all their season’s eggs in that basket. So, let’s get this one out of the way, shall we?

A Rude Awakening

Rumple uses some stinky dead dragon’s baby breath (Dany Targaryen would most definitely not approve) . . .

. . . to finally awaken the still shady as heck Blue Fairy from her plot-convenient coma. Almost instantly, the gang is peppering her with questions about the whereabouts of the other half of the Kill the Black Fairy Wand. But then, sweet, sensitive, Snow White intervenes and . . . strangles the Blue Fairy?

Just kidding! Apparently, “Snow White” is actually the Black Fairy in disguise. And “Prince Charming” is actually Stepford Gideon. But still, watching Snow White wrap her hands around that self-righteous Blue Fairy’s neck is mighty cathartic and satisfying. Admit it!

Before the whole “attempted murder” thing, the Blue Fairy did manage to reveal that the missing wand half is located in the center of Storybrooke, which means that a good portion of this episode will literally involve a scavenger hunt, a la Blue’s Clues.

Get it, Blue’s Clues, because she’s the Blue Fairy, and there’s that kid show with the dog where they . . . ahhhh, never mind . . .

While the rest of the gang play “fetch the stick,” Rumple, Emma and a “kidnapped” Stepford Gideon head to the dream realm, where Rumple will attempt to interrogate his son as to where the Black Fairy has hidden his heart, which she is still using to control his ass. Another Scavenger Hunt item! This episode really is Blue’s Clues . . .

The Birth of Two Baddies

Once in Dream Land, Gideon admits that he has no clue where the Black Fairy has hidden his heart (which, kind of makes sense, because if he knew where it was hiding, wouldn’t he just take it back?) But, just when this whole Dream Walk thing seems like it’s going to be a total bust, Emma and Gideon get all shrinky on Rumple, and encourage him to use this “Dream Vacation” as an opportunity to find out the real reason the Black Fairy abandoned him as a child.

“How exactly would I go about doing that?” Rumple inquires dubiously.

“Why not try inappropriately fondling that baby blanket randomly sitting on that empty crib in the middle of the forest?” Emma suggests.

And because Rumple is the kind of guy who wakes up comatose fairies with the halitosis of dead dragon babies, he figures, “Why the heck not?”

The fondled baby blanket reveals to Rumple that his mom wasn’t always a Black Fairy. In fact, she wasn’t a fairy at all. She was just some random lady who gave birth to a newborn boy, and then promptly learned from her fairy godmother (Tiger Lily), and her fairy godmother’s boss (the odious Blue Fairy) that her son is destined to be a Savior.

Yup, you heard right. Rumple was supposed to be a Savior . . . like Emma . . . and Aladdin, and just about every fourth character on this series.

Of course, as has been beaten into our brains ad nauseum since the beginning of the season, being the Savior means you are destined to die in a battle against the Ultimate Evil. “No way,” exclaims not-yet-Black-Fairy. “My kid is not dying just to save all you losers. Apocalypse, schmockalypse.”

“Well, EVERYONE dies eventually,” argues Tiger Lily. “Let’s not forget that these are the middle ages, and, based on those rags you are wearing, you are poor as sh*t. So, basically the chances of your kid surviving past the age of five would be slim at best, anyway. At least, as the Savior, your kid is guaranteed to reach puberty before he croaks, which in this era is the equivalent of old age.”

“I don’t care!” Not-Yet-Black-Fairy insists. “I’d rather my child die as a toddler from the Black Plague, than die at age 28 to save the lives of folks as obnoxious as the Blue Fairy.”

“Well, that makes total sense,” agrees Tiger Lily. “Blue Fairy is the WORST!”

And so, because the prophecy about the Savior apparently states that the person who will be born in the same winter as baby Rumple and bear a crescent moon scar on his or her arm, Tiger Lilly and Not-Yet-Black-Fairy run around fondling the arms of every baby born that winter. And no one finds the fact that they are doing this the least bit creepy.

When all the newborns prove themselves arm-scar free, Not-Yet-Black-Fairy decides to up the ante by turning herself into a fairy herself, so that she can break into the “fairy vault” and perform some kind of dubious spell to save her son. The spell involves like killing all the babies in the world, or something? This, on one hand, seems a wee bit extreme. On the other, like I said, all these kids are basically marked for death anyway for being poor and medieval, so no huge loss?

When Tiger Lilly tries to stop Rumple’s mommy from ridding the world of babies, Rumple’s mommy rips out Tiger Lilly’s heart. And it is this act of evil causes Rumple’s mommy to morph from “Garden Variety” fairy to “Black Fairy.” (Because performing temporary heart surgery on a recurring cast member is way worse than planning the mass genocide of all the world’s newborns?)

Oh, and P.S. Black Fairy now has a crescent scar on her arm, which means that it is SHE who is destined to murder her own son, as he battles to save the world.

Black Fairy, you have a collect call from “Irony.” Do you accept the charges?

Road Rage

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, the Wicked Witch is still majorly bummed out that she can no longer make green farts come out of her fingertips, or use those green farts to assemble furniture from IKEA. (Since when did Storybrooke get an IKEA, or any chain store for that matter.)

So, sister Regina tries to cheer the Wicked Witch up by buying her a car (a green one naturally). The erstwhile Evil Quen even offers to teach her sibling how to drive, so the latter can effectively ditch down and head to NYC before the apocalypse arrives. “You can take my adopted kid Henry with you, because there is noooo way that gawky-looking kid’s contract is getting renewed for Season 7,” Regina adds.

“Not even if I write myself into the script? I am The Author, after all?”

So, Regina attempts to teach the Wicked Witch how to drive. But, as it turns out, driving is way harder than broomstick riding, and Zelena kind of sucks at it. Midway into the lesson, Regina gets a call from Snow informing her that the other half of the Murder the Black Fairy wand is probably hidden at Granny’s.

So, Regina cuts the lesson short and books it there, ASAP. At Granny’s, Regina easily locates the wand half behind the juke box. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Black Fairy is there too. Regina and the Black Fairy quickly decide to duke it out in the middle of the street, Wild West style, as people on this show tend to do, whenever they have disagreements.

Just when it seems like Regina is about to lose, the Wicked Witch shows up out of nowhere and RUNS THE BLACK FAIRY OVER WITH HER CAR! And it, is awesome!

In fact, it’s so awesome that I think we need to watch it again . . .

And again . . .

And again . . .

Black Fairy survives though . . . unfortunately.

Matricide Maybe?

After their vacation in Dreamland, Rumple tells the rest of the gang that (1) (SURPRISE) he’s a Savior too; and (2) it looks like HE, and not Emma, will be tasked with murdering his mommy to save the world.

Rumple meets Black Fairy in the woods to murder her. It is there that she reveals to him the rest of the story. Apparently, the Black Fairy had the opportunity to give up her evil powers to save her son. But, instead, she opted to cut off her SON’S powers, to erase his fate as Savior. As punishment for this, the Blue Fairy banishes the Black Fairy to another realm, and THAT’S why she abandoned Rumple, because the Blue Fairy had a restraining order against her. Not, you know, because she hated Rumple, like he originally thought.

The next time we see Rumple he’s putting the “Black Fairy’s” black heart on the dinner table at Granny’s (super unsanitary), and returning Gideon’s heart to him, so he doesn’t have to be a Stepford kid anymore. Everyone is super proud of Rumple for murdering his mommy and saving the world.

Yup, suuuuure. That’s “exactly” what happened. Rumple learns that the woman he thought despised him actually loved him all along (in her totally psychopathic and effed up way, but still!), and murders her OFFSCREEN, right after she graciously tells him the location of her son’s heart. And the writers, for whatever reason, decide, not to squeeze every possible bit of angst out of this most iconic moment in the history of the series.

“Great!” Emma exclaims. “Now that I no longer have to save the world, I can finally get married to Hook in a tacky venue that my dad will positively hate.”

“Cool,” says Hook. “I’m going to ask your teenage son to be my best man, because I like him, and not at all because I have no male friends my own age . . . no male friends at all really, except maybe your dad, and I killed his father, so, awk-ward!”

“Sounds good,” answers Emma. Then, we can spend the last three episodes of the season having hot, drama free, sex with one another on camera,” posits Emma.

And if you believe all that, I have a very nice bridge to sell you in Brooklyn . . .

Annnnd . . . we are right back where we started . . . AGAIN.

So, you can imagine my complete lack of surprise when Rumple meets the Black Fairy at night, right smack in the middle of a public street in the last two minutes of the episode. (But no one sees them there, because Plot.) The pair congratulate one another on pulling the wool over the eyes of the most gullible fairytale characters on the planet (most notably the one who claims her “superpower is telling when people are lying.”) Mother and son then plot to murder Savior Emma, once and for all, on her wedding day, because that’s what sh*tty people do. Having logical motivation for one’s actions is for p*ssies.

And that was “The Black Fairy” in a nutshell.

See you next time, Oncers! There will be music! There will be dancing! The second-hand embarrassment you will get from watching alone will be worth the price of admission . . .

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ONCE UPON A TIME: You Can’t Keep a Bad Witch Down!

(Cross posted at AgonyBooth.com)

Just what Storybrooke needs, another “reformed villain.” The town suddenly seems overrun with them. Jiminey Cricket is going to need to start a new support group soon . . . maybe even a halfway house. This week on Once, the Wicked Witch of the West gave up her ability to shoot green farts from her fingers for the greater good. Also this week, the Charmings fought over how bling-y Emma’s and Hook’s wedding should be, but still seem to have forgotten that they have another child. Be patient, Baby Neal. I’m sure in 28-years you’ll get all the parental love you so desperately need and deserve.

Let’s review, shall we?

The Heart of the Matter

Once upon a time, the Wicked Witch of the West was just a sweet ginger teen, who used her magic, to like help birds and stuff. But it turns out the good folks of Oz were super racist against magical people (or maybe they just had something against gingers), so they bullied Mini-Not-Yet-Wicked-Witch. Fortunately, this all-powerful magical being had a man to help her . . . a big burly teen with an axe. And everyone knows that crude weapons that require close contact with the victim in order to be effective are WAAAAYYYY more powerful than magical fingers that can turn you into a flying monkey from 100 yards away. So, away fled the bullies. Thus, a new (very temporary, but highly plot convenient) friendship was born between the Wicked Witch of the West and the dude who would eventually grow up to become the Tin Man.

Years later, a now grown and green-faced Wicked Witch of the West (whose magic knows no bounds, but still apparently needs servants to salt her deli meat dinners) is lounging alone in her castle when she receives a visitor. Why, it’s her old friend Guy With An Axe . . . except now he sort-of / kind of looks like the Tin Man! It turns out that the Wicked Witch of the North stole Tin Man’s heart (for fun, I guess?), and now he will turn entirely to tin if he doesn’t find a MacGuffin in the middle of the forest to cure him.

(Huh? I thought when evil people stole your heart out of your chest, you became their personal puppet, not their personal oil can. Why are you changing the rules on me, Show?)

Anyway, Wicked Witch agrees to help the Tin Man Formerly Known as Guy with an Axe to find his MacGuffin, because she was given the day off from her usual job of terrorizing munchkins and lollipop kids, and had nothing better planned. Everything goes well at first! The Wicked Witch even rescues the Tin Man Formerly Known as Guy with an Axe from being eaten by Scar from The Lion King! She does this by shooting green farts from her fingers at Scar, and turning him into the Cowardly Lion. (We feel you, Scar. Being farted on is super traumatic! Who knew that all this time the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz was just suffering a mild case of PTSD brought on by stinky gas?)

Things go south, when the Wicked Witch finds the MacGuffin and learns that, in order to get the Tin Man’s heart back, she has to imbue the object with all of her powers, thus giving up her green fart fingers forever. (Or, she could just, you know, go to the Wicked Witch of the North, fight her, and take the heart back by force, but whatever!) Not willing to give up her powers for her friend, the Wicked Witch abandons Guy with an Axe, just as his transformation into a giant oil can becomes complete. Then, the Wicked Witch goes back to her castle to eat the deli meats that have been sitting out on her dining room table for hours, getting cold and probably catching flies. Now, that’s just unsanitary . . .

Then again, considering this is the same character whose storybook demise literally involved forcing her to take a shower, I guess it’s kind of par for the course.

Why You Should Never Hire Snow White to Plan Your Wedding . . .

Back in the present day. Emma and Hook are making pancakes, tongue kissing and fondling one another in a way that says (1) “we had great sex last night;” and (2) “we are about to get started on Round 2.” So, of course, Snow White has to barge into the couple’s home and ruin everything. Hey Snow, while you are so busy keeping Emma from getting a Little Hook in her (see what I did there?), you might want to consider the fact that your newborn baby hasn’t had a diaper change in about three months. I mean, you probably aren’t feeding him, so that helps a bit with waste minimization. But still!

“Too bad, you get none. Gawd, you are so needy!”

Anyway, Snow White is apparently into scrapbooking! (Twenty-eight years of teaching eight-year olds to build the exact same bird house every day will do that to a person!) Snow has lots of ideas for Hook’s and Emma’s wedding. “The apocalypse can wait,” exclaims Snow. “We’ve got ten seasons of Say Yes to the Dress on DVR to watch!”

And so, instead of spending the episode figuring out how to defeat the Black Fairy, Emma and the rest of her family, at Snow White’s behest, fill the hour scouting wedding venues. Snow’s top pick: Granny’s Diner, the exact same place where the groom temporarily died a couple seasons ago. But worse than that, it’s a diner. So tacky!

Prince Charming is not down with this choice of venue at all. “My daughter is a princess. She’s not having a wedding that’s the Storybrooke equivalent of a kid’s birthday party at McDonalds.”

Charming is also not cool with Emma having her wedding at town hall. He makes some rather snide comments about its poor lighting and shoddy paint job, before storming off. Prince Charming = Wedding Venue Snob, who knew?

“If my daughter gets married in a diner, I’ll never be able to show my face in the country club that Storybrooke doesn’t have again!”

He’s totally right about the diner, though . . .

The Lesser of Two Evils . . .

While the rest of the town is suffering from Wedding Fever, the Wicked Witch, to her credit, seems like the only one actually interested in defeating this season’s Big Bad! When the Black Fairy shows up at the Wicked Witch’s house and sort of/kind of threatens to eat her baby, if she doesn’t go over to the dark side (Well, I mean, technically, the Wicked Witch is already on the dark side, so, I guess, the darker side?), the lady in green is mad as hell, and she isn’t going to take it anymore!

Regina tells the Wicked Witch to slow her roll, and not be so hasty about murdering the Black Fairy, who is currently holed up in the dwarf mines. “We have four episodes left in the season . . . relax!” She tells her sister.

But the Wicked Witch will not relax! And she will not wait until Snow White plans an entire wedding for Emma at Chuckie Cheese to murder the lady who wants to eat her kid. (For all we know, the Black Fairy may have already eaten Baby Neal, and put a spell on the Charmings and the series writers, so they would forget he existed! That would explain so much!)

“Unlike the rest of you wackos, I actually like my baby! I do not want him served with french fries and a side of ketchup as the main dish at Emma’s wedding.”

So, the Wicked Witch drops off her baby at Belle’s house for safe keeping, trying desperately to ignore the fact that Belle recently managed to lose her own baby five minutes after giving birth to it. (She’s still the best babysitter in town though, scarily enough.) Then, our villain / heroine (villoine?) heads to the dwarf mines to defeat the Black Fairy.

Inside the dwarf mines, as it turns out, the Black Fairy and Stepford Gideon are farming white magic crystals. When the Wicked Witch confronts the Black Fairy and tries to green fart finger her to death, the latter turns the tables on the former, by using the witch’s own magic to turn all the white magic crystals to dark magic ones. This just so happens to be the first step in the Black Fairy’s “How to Start and Apocalypse” handbook. Who knew?

When Regina finds out how royally her prodigal sister screwed things up again, she tells the Wicked Witch to take her baby and leave town for good.

“Damn you, sis, and your attempts to move along plots faster. Don’t you know this show is on the verge of cancellation?”

But the Wicked Witch has other plans . . .

In Which The Wicked Witch Becomes Just Some Lady Who Really Likes to Wear Green . . .

The Wicked Witch uses her magic to bring a green fart tornado to Storybrooke. But that green fart tornado just so happens to be carrying a very important item. By golly, it’s the MacGuffin from the flashback! You know, the one that saps all the Wicked Witch’s powers! The Wicked Witch decides to use the MacGuffin to suck up all her powers, thereby turning the black magic crystals back to white magic ones, and undoing the Start of the Apocalypse (at least for three more episodes).

Regina and Emma are super proud of the Wicked Witch for giving up her powers to save the world, for now. But they may feel differently when they need someone to make them a green fart, and no one is around to do it . . .

In other news, the clan decides to use one of the newly restored white magic crystals from the dwarf mines to wake up the Blue Fairy from her coma. Emma and Co. are hoping that the Blue Fairy can give them intel they can use to defeat the Black Fairy. Yeeeaaaaaah. . . . probably not. For one thing, the Blue Fairy is super shady, and will most definitely end up being the season’s surprise Bigger Bad. For another, her only current talents on the show seem to be losing babies, getting cursed by villains, and making judgmental faces at people, in that order.

Resting . . . er I mean . . . Flying Bitch Face

But hey, all logical reasoning and common sense aside, you keep dreaming big, Emma and Co! You may live to see a seventh season yet . . .

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ONCE UPON A TIME: The Quicker Potion Fixer Upper

“Do you prefer eating your deep fried cursed hearts with ketchup or BBQ sauce?”

(cross posted at Agony Booth.com)

There were so many potions used this week on Once to clean up certain dangling plot items, it was hard to keep track of them all. Let’s see, we had: sleeping curse potion, memory forgetting potion, drink pink stuff to create a door to your true love in another realm potion, potion that deep fries dark curses out of your heart, and potion that allows your shadow to travel across realms to fondle your girlfriend’s face and give her a magic wand. This is because, in Storybrooke, potions are kind of like cell phone apps. They allow you to do things you never know you always wanted to do, like, for example, have a conversation with an animated Easter Bunny (That’s a real app, by the way.)

Let’s review, shall we?

Mmmmm, Deep-Fried Hearts!

Regina’s first idea to break the sleeping curse that hangs over Snow and Charming (collectively, but not simultaneously) is to basically rip out both their hearts and throw them into what looks like a deep frier. (Even though a steamer would result in the hearts having way less trans fats and lower cholesterol.) The idea is to “fry” the curse out of the hearts. The plan sort of seems to work at first, until Regina realizes that after you deep fry hearts, they kind of . . . um . . . don’t work as well anymore?

Now, Snow and Charming are not only still cursed, they also both have weak, fatty, cholesterol-filled hearts. And that means if Regina and the gang don’t find a curse cure by the end of the episode, both members of the happy couple will be forced to hang out in the Land of Nod for all eternity.

Oops! Now, if that’s not a PSA for using healthier forms of food processing, I don’t know what is.

Fortunately, there’s a magical solution just around the corner in the form of a pink flower that only grows when evil is around . . . or, more accurately, when the plot requires it to grow. The good news is the pink flower can be made into a potion that reunites separated true lovers, like Snow and Charming. The bad news is that it means the Black Fairy has found her way into Storybrooke, which puts her one step closer to murdering our Savior.

Emma and Snow quickly find a full field of those plot reviving pink flowers. But then the Black Fairy pops by and makes her Stepford Son Gideon magic them away. “Are you going to kill me now?” Emma wonders, since it seems like the perfect opportunity for the Black Fairy to do so.

“Nah, we still have a few more episodes left before the finale,” the Black Fairy insists before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

“Hey, you forgot a pink flower?” Emma calls after the Black Fairy.

But she’s already gone. This means that Snow and Charming have what they need to both have speaking parts in the same episode! Once Upon a Time is about to get a whole lot more expensive . . .

Shadow Dancing

Erotic or Creepy?: You be the judge

So, remember how, last week, the forty-year old looking Lost Boys were chasing Hook with bows and arrows? Well, the good news is Tiger Lily saves him by putting sleeping darts in all their necks. The bad news is she uses a dart on Hook too.

But Tiger Lily was just kidding about the whole “trying to murder Hook” thing. As it turns out, she just wants Hook to help her get a magic fairy wand to the Savior, so that she can use it to defeat the Black Fairy. “Well, what a coincidence, I’m currently boning the Savior,” Hook exclaims.

Using some of Peter Pan’s magic, Captain Hook, though unable to rescue himself from the Lost Boys, is able to send an emissary across the realms in the form of his shadow. The Shadow hands Emma the wand, along with Hook’s Hook, and then turns to leave, but not before performing a bit of heavy duty fondle action with Emma’s face.

This poses an interesting question, if you hook up with your boyfriend’s shadow, does that count as cheating?

A Snow and Charming Do-Over (Under?) and A (Better) Proposal

Back in Storybrooke, Emma worries that the Shadow’s gift of Hook’s Hook to her means that he’s in danger. (She also fears that Hook’s shadow may have given her an STD.) Snow, who is about to take the pink flower potion that will “reunite” her with Charming, and, by extension, cure their sleeping curse, decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and let Emma use it instead to reunite with her boyfriend, even if that means eternal sleepiness, and leaving her baby Neal, who the writers apparently forgot she had, to grow up an orphan. (Hey, Emma was an orphan, and she turned out just fine. She was only incarcerated once for grand theft auto!)

Emma’s all, “Why the heck would you do that? Don’t you care about your other kid at all?”

This brings us to our episode’s flashback of the week, which takes place during the First Curse in Storybrooke, around ten years before the pilot episode. Apparently, during that time one of those plot-convenient pink flowers appeared. And when Snow placed it in the then-comatose Charming’s hand it caused him, and, a few moments later, her, to remember their true identities.

Immediately concerned about the fate of their daughter Emma (who, unlike their other kid Neal, they actually seem to like), Snow and Charming hunt down Rumple and inquire about Emma. He tells them to drink more potion and think about her. This will create a door to Emma’s world and allow Snow and Charming to retrieve her from there.

The problem is that Emma’s only 18 at this time. And the prophecy requires her to be 28 to Save the World from Evil. (Apparently, world saving has an age requirement like drinking, voting, running for office, and buying porn off the internet.) Snow and Charming do end up creating that door to find Emma, who looks super young for 18, like WAAAY too young. (Maybe she has that thing Emmanuel Lewis has that makes you look 10 when you are 18? Or, maybe the writers just took memory potion and forgot that the script indicated her age as 18, instead of 10? The world may never know.)

“I swear, judge, she told me she was 18-years old!”

However, ultimately, Snow and Charming decide that preserving Emma for world saving is way more important than their happiness as parents. Besides, Emma’s a ten-year-old-looking-18-year old. What trouble could she possibly get into without parental supervision? So, Snow and Charming drink the conveniently available memory potion, that causes them to forget their true identities and allow them, and everyone they care about, to live inside the movie Groundhog Day for another decade.

So, basically, it’s a win/win for everyone right?

 

Back in the present day, Emma way too quickly accepts her parents’ offer to kind of/sort of commit murder suicide on one another (and, in doing so, pretty much guarantee that Baby Neal will grow up-to be a serial-killer) in-order-to-improve-their-daughter’s-sex life.

Emma then drinks her parents pink flower potion, creates a portal to Neverland, beats up some Lost Boys, and brings her beau safely back home.

Once there, Hook decides to propose to Emma for realsies. He even gets on one knee. This time, Emma doesn’t try to steal his thunder, by saying yes, before he even gets to ask the question. Everyone is happy. Well, except for Emma’s kind-of dead parents, and Baby Neal, and Tiger Lily who got left behind to hang out with a bunch of Forty-Year-Old-Looking-Lost-Boys for all eternity.

Ain’t “True Love” grand?

Worst Mother-in-Law Ever!

When Black Fairy and Stepford son Gideon pay a visit to Rumple and Belle at Rumple’s shop, the look on Belle’s face tells us she’s seriously questioning marrying into the most screwed-up, evil, and incestuous family of all time.

“Gaston is suddenly looking like a mighty attractive option.”

Then, Rumple tries to use some magic against his Bad Mommy. And the Black Fairy, in turn, uses the Control the Dark One sword against him so he can’t do it.

I don’t know about you guys, but if there was a sword around somewhere that could make me the slave of anyone who wielded it, I would keep that sh*t locked up in a vault so far away that no one would ever find it. Rumple just kind of leaves it around on the floor, for the latest Big Bad to nonchalantly pick up whenever the episode requires it.

Not too bright, if you ask me. Fortunately, Black Fairy actually gives Rumple back the sword on her own free will. She insists that after she defeats the Savior, Rumple will gladly and willingly join her on the Dark Side. It’s all very Darth Vader / Luke Skywalker-ey . . . you know, if Luke Skywalker had a real fondness for canes and face glitter.

But Rumple isn’t totally useless here. He gets at least one parting shot on Mommy by informing her that he knows Gideon is only acting like a huge douchebag, because she stole his heart. (Otherwise, Gideon would only be a medium-sized douchebag.) Rumple notes Gideon’s decision to leave one pink “reunite with your lover” flower for Emma and Snow to find as evidence that there is “still some goodness in him.”

See? Even Stepford medium-sized douchebags do nice things, every once in a while!

Naptime!

They literally drank the Kool-Aid . . . Peer pressure is bad, boys and girls!

Speaking of nice things, just in time for the end of the episode, Regina comes up with another plan to wake up Snow and Charming who are now both lying in bed together in identical comas. She brings the whole town together (which seems to only comprise like 20 people all of the sudden), and instructs them each to drink some of Snow’s and Charming’s curse. Regina hopes that this will dilute the curse enough for Snow and Charming to wake up. It also could, you know, kill the entire town, but, whatever.

So all the townspeople of Storybrooke drink the sleeping potion, and Snow and Charming wake up together (HOORAY!), and find the entire town lying around them in a coma (BOO!) . . . but only for like two minutes, and then they all wake up. (YAY!)

And they all lived happily ever after . . . at least until next Sunday at 8 p.m E.S.T. See you then!

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ONCE UPON A TIME: It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN!

Never gets old . . .

(Cross posted at Agonybooth.com)

It’s the end of this show, as we know it, folks. The biggest of Big Bads has finally arrived to battle the Save-iest(?) of Saviors! But first, we’ve got some CGI spiders to mutilate, and a pirating adventure to endure. Also, Henry’s got some gross white goo in his eyes, and that “Evil” Author from last season just really wants Hamilton tickets, dammit!

So, without further adieu, let’s talk about “Mother’s Little Helper.”

Along Came a Spider

Last week we got a CGI Kraken, and this week we got the large furry spider from the movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Honestly folks, if a CGI Dumbo doesn’t make an appearance before this series ends, I will be super upset.

But before we get to Ole Spidey, let’s talk about Gideon. He’s in Emma’s house, asking her to help him murder the Black Fairy. Emma’s all, “See, I kinda would have maybe helped you. But then you tried to murder me, and banished my boyfriend on a bluish submarine, where he almost got murdered by a CGI Kraken. And then you threatened to hurt me again, so, ummmm . . . yeah . . . I’m going to pass. Next time just say ‘please.’ A little politeness goes a long way when you are basically hiring a hitman for your surrogate mother.”

To prove she’s serious about the whole “not helping” thing, Emma throws Gideon against a wall using her lightning fingers and gives him a pretty gnarly nosebleed, which, for all you Gideon haters out there, was actually pretty cathartic to watch.

Emma experiences a change of heart soon after though, when Rumple reminds her that basically every bad thing that ever happened to her throughout this entire series pretty much indirectly stemmed from the Black Fairy. (It much more directly stemmed from Rumple himself, but let’s not get too picky here.) Emma then finds Gideon at the clock tower, and agrees to help him kill Black Fairy, but only if Gideon agrees to give her back the Savior Murdering sword he stole from her, and also un-banish her boyfriend.

The two frenemies shake hands over their newly established detente, and head over to Mickey Mouse’s house, where supposedly Emma’s savior magic can be used to open a portal, so that Emma can get to the Black Fairy and murder her ass. Unfortunately, someone beat the pair to the house . . . and by “someone” I mean a Big F*&king Gross Spider.

Gideon and Emma try running away from the Big F*&king Gross Spider for a little bit. But then Gideon turns on Emma, pushes her into a giant spider web (which literally appeared out of nowhere . . . is that how spiders work, because I don’t think spiders work that way, not even Big F*&king Gross Spiders?). Dark One Junior then steals back Emma’s Savior Murdering Sword, and runs off, leaving her to die by suffocation, wrapped up in a spider web like a mummy.

Well, that was kind of rude! Your social networking skills could use a little work, Gideon . . .

Never Trust a Pirate

Speaking of untrustworthy douchebags, Captain Hook challenges fellow fictional pirate villain Blackbeard to a game of cards, in the hope of winning from him a magic bean he could use to portal back to Emma in Storybrooke. Blackbeard agrees to play, but only if Hook agrees to give him his ship, the Jolly Roger, if he loses. Hook ultimately does lose the card game (but only because Blackbeard cheated).

Ahhh, but there’s a twist. Hook admits to Blackbeard that his ship is back in Storybrooke, and Blackbeard can only get to it by using the magic bean, and taking Hook with him. It’s admittedly a pretty savvy move by a character who isn’t always known for being the sharpest tool in this show’s shed.

Unfortunately, because Gideon’s curse has prevented Hook from properly portaling back to Storybrooke, Hook and Blackbeard end up in, of all places, Neverland, where the pair of pirates are promptly chased and shot at with arrows by a hoard of angry Lost Boys (I use the term Boys loosely, because they all look about 40-years old).

Blackbeard finds canoe near a body of water, and quickly knocks Hook unconscious, so that he can escape Neverland on his own, leaving Hook to do battle with the Lost Boys solo. Of course, Hook could have totally fit in the canoe too, but Blackbeard doesn’t care. Just like in Titanic, Jack could have totally fit on the piece of wood Rose was resting on, but she let him freeze and drown anyway. I never understood that about Titanic . . . Maybe Rose was an asshole all along, just like Blackbeard, and we just never knew.

Anyway, I hope you brought along your shell phone, Hook. Because you are going to really need to phone a friend, right about now. Just don’t call Rose from Titanic, if you value your life.

Writer’s Block Can Make You Evil

Speaking of needing friends, Regina finds herself totally at a loss for how to break the sleeping curse that is preventing Snow White and Prince Charming from ever appearing in the same episode together, thus saving the Once production crew a lot of money in actor salaries. So, she decides to give Henry a grocery list of potions that might help her on this front.

Side note: Whatever happened to Henry’s girlfriend? Is she also under a sleeping curse, due to budgetary restrictions? Last season, the show introduced an entire high school of kids from the Land of Untold Stories, and this kid still hasn’t managed to find one other friend under the age of 35, except for said MIA Girlfriend. Is it any wonder he’s slowly turning into a mixture of Norman Bates from Psycho, because of the whole Mother Obsession thing, and Jack from The Shining, because of the whole Writer Turned Crazy Person thing?

Anyway, as Henry is writing the list, his eyes go all milky white, and he starts jotting pages and pages of jibberish into his notebook before passing out. When Henry awakens he has no clue what it was he was writing or why, but it looks suspiciously like “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”

Assuming that Henry’s sudden prolific, albeit crappy, writing abilities have something to do with his Magic Author Powers (up to this point, the so-called “Author” has only been shown writing one sentence at a time, and even then, only when the plot requires it.), Regina and Henry pay a visit to the “asylum,” where the show stores all Big Bads that managed to make it through their season without being murdered. There, they find Other Author Isaac.

Other Author Isaac is willing to instruct Henry and Regina on the former’s sudden Eye Goo Problem, but only if Regina gets him out of the asylum and into a porsche headed to NYC. Also, Other Author Isaac wants Hamilton tickets, because who doesn’t?

Regina agrees to Isaac’s requests (well, minus the Porsche and the Hamilton) only to learn that (1) Henry’s author powers are taking over his body and could eventually make him evil (thus making my The Shining reference all the more relevant, if I do say so myself); and (2) Emma’s battle with the Black Fairy is coming soon, which means the end of the fairytale book, and, possibly this series.

Not for the “Feint” of Heart

Speaking of the Black Fairy, this week’s flashback sheds some light on her parenting skills, and why they will undoubtedly earn Gideon a lifetime of crappy therapy courtesy Jiminey Cricket. First, we see in live action, the tale earlier hinted at by Gideon, of how the Black Fairy tortured Gideon’s boyfriend Roderick when the two were kids, just to prove that Gideon wasn’t brave or heroic enough to save him.

Twenty-eight years later, the Black Fairy instructs Gideon to hunt down the person who stole her keys, and that person winds up being Boyfriend Roderick all grown up. Roderick begs Gideon to help him sneak into the Black Fairy’s study and use some Magic Eight Ball looking thing to call the Savior and get help to defeat the Black Fairy. But before they can do that, the Black Fairy finds the two guys and punishes them both. She punishes Roderick by turning him into a spider, and squashing him under her shoe. (That’s two too many spiders in this episode, as far as I’m concerned. Bugs are the worst!)

She then punishes Gideon by . . . taking his heart out of his chest, controlling him, and using him to trick Emma into helping him open the portal to free her from the outer realm and bring her into Storybrooke.

Well, at least now we have an explanation for Gideon’s utter douchebaggery! Then again, maybe Gideon is just a garden variety douchebag like Blackbeard or Rose from Titanic, and the whole evil fairy holding his heart thing is just a distraction from that basic truth. The world may never know . . .

Back in present day, Rumple saves Emma from permanent mummification and kills the Big F*&king Gross Spider, which is great, because, as I said, bugs are the worst, whether they are giant CGI versions, or normal-sized ones that used to be your childhood boyfriend.

And yet with the Black Fairy in Storybrooke, Gideon under her control, and her son Henry potentially going full-on Evil Author, Emma’s got a lot more to worry about now than a bad case of arachnophobia.

Until next time, Oncers!

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