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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: 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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[Cross posted at Agony Booth.com]

This week on Once, Storybrooke finally gets a new bar! Snow White gets wasted! Emma becomes that cliché lady who pours her heart out to a bartender! Aladdin and Jasmine learn that sometimes all it takes is a little tongue action to save the world! And Captain Hook delivers a very important message on his shell phone!

It was a busy boozy episode . . . one that featured a giant CGI octopus . . . for about two seconds. So, let’s get on it, shall we?

IT’S TIME TO RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

Too soon?

A Disney Princess, An Evil Queen and a Savior Walk Into a Bar . . .

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right? But the Bar Crawl (Can you call it a crawl if it only involves one bar? Is it more of a Bar Sit?) was actually the highlight of this week’s episode . . . for me anyway. For one thing, it only took six seasons, but Storybrooke finally found itself a hangout for its residents that isn’t snoozy Granny’s. So what, if it seems like the only patrons of Aesop’s Tables are fat old ugly Vikings? It has potential dammit.

Because after a few “artisanal” drinks, who knows? Maybe a Viking like this . . .

. . . could end up looking like this . . .

It all starts with Emma finally breaking the news to her dad that her fiancé killed her grandfather. Prince Charming, who, just a few episodes ago was all revengey and murderous ragey, when he thought that old rich guy killed his dad, just seems slightly bummed by the fact that his buddy and soon-to-be-son-in-law did it. This is probably because the writers are SO DONE with this whole Dead Dad storyline, and so am I!

Anyway, Emma’s still kind of sad and broody over the fact that she thinks Hook abandoned her in exchange for living out the rest of eternity on a bluish submarine with Captain Nemo, but apparently not broody enough for Regina. Regina, who is super into therapeutic emoting and “getting in touch with your feelings,” ever since she cured her case of multiple personality disorder this past week, by sending it into another dimension with a guy who looked like her dead boyfriend, decides that getting Emma drunk as a skunk, and enabling her alcoholism, is the healthiest way to deal with her pal’s tendencies toward emotional repression.

 

So Regina and Snow White trick Emma into hanging out with them at Storybrooke’s new bar(!), Aesop’s Tables. There, Snow White gets so wasted after two sips of alcohol that she picks a fight with a couple of Vikings and makes fun of their silly hats, which is actually kind of racist, I think. She then challenges the dudes to a game of darts . . . probably to make up for the whole being racist thing.

Elsewhere in the bar, Emma pours her heart out to a sexy bartender over Captain Hook’s abrupt departure, while dabbing her dewy eyes on a bar napkin. (Important later.) And just like that! Emma’s Emotional Repression is cured, and for way cheaper than the cost of a session with Jiminey Cricket the Terrible Shrink Who Doesn’t Understand Rules of Patient Confidentiality! And the moral of that story, boys and girls? Alcohol RULES, can solve all your problems, and help you beat Vikings at darts!

Much Adieu About a Kraken

Meanwhile, back on a bluish submarine, Captain Hook can’t get back to Emma’s realm without the blood of a Kraken to help steer the underground ship across portals. Fortunately for Hook, there’s a Kraken just chilling outside the submarine, patiently awaiting its demise for this exact purpose. Unfortunately, for Hook, stupid Aladdin and Jasmine pop up in the water at the worst moment, and scare the Kraken away . . . you know, because Evil CGI Octupuses (Octupi?) are super frightened of unarmed folks in row boats.

Then, the writers remember that they never resolved Jasmine’s and Aladdin’s storyline about saving the kingdom of Agrabah from about a year ago, so Hook reluctantly invites the couple onto the bluish submarine with him, even though it’s totally not his submarine. Hook is absolutely that friend of yours who you let crash at your place for a few days, only to come home from work to find that he’s eaten all your Lean Pockets, used up all your toilet paper, and invited 12 of his closest friends to watch the Lakers game on your couch.

Apparently, Jasmine and Aladdin have spent an entire year wandering around a forest aimlessly looking for a lost kingdom. What’s worse, all this time, these two incredibly hot people never once decided to use one another’s bodies as scratching posts. They haven’t even so much as kissed!

Seriously? I know monks who are less chaste than this. No, really, some of my best friends are monks, and they can be pretty randy, when they want to be . . .

I Got The World on a String Ring . . .

Through a flashback, we learn that (1) Jasmine and Ariel are pals, who gossip about boys, and occasionally ride one another’s magic carpets, and (2) Jafar once tricked Jasmine into agreeing to marry him, so he could hide her entire kingdom inside a wedding ring, for no other reason than that he’s evil, and hates people.

I feel you, Jafar. People are the worst! They can all go hide in rings for eternity, as far as I’m concerned!

Back on the bluish submarine, the ship appears to be taking on water, thus forcing Hook, Jasmine, Aladdin, Nemo and the rest of the crew to abandon it, by using Aladdin’s temporary status as genie to “wish” all of them to a nearby island, so they don’t, you know, like, drown and stuff.

This island just so happens to be the place where Jafar is currently hanging out. We know this because the bluish submarine has a sort of GPS on it that locates Man Pain, and there’s no Man Pain like a Disney Villain Man Pain.

Also, conveniently, this is the island where Ariel and Prince Eric live in a shack decorated by Ariel’s obvious hoarder problem (She’s got gadgets and gizmos of plenty, whositz and whatsits galore. You want thingamabobs, she’s got twenty!) Quite a step down from the palace where you used to live, huh Prince Eric?

Anyway, amongst all her scary hoarder items, Ariel actually has something useful: Red powder that can turn Disney villains into creepy walking canes! OK, kind of random, but definitely something Captain Hook should consider taking back to Storybrooke in a doggie bag for future use . . . I, for one, can think of a lot of annoying Once characters, I’d like to see turned into creepy walking canes!

Armed with the knowledge that she’s literally just one sneeze away from vanquishing her greatest nemesis, Jasmine finally defeats Jafar!

But wait, what about the whole “kingdom stuck in a ring” thing, and the whole, “my boyfriend’s my genie slave” thing. Well, apparently, all Jasmine had to do this whole time to solve both of these problems was stick her tongue down Aladdin’s throat! So, True Love’s Kiss resolves this entire year-long storyline that nobody really cared about in the first place, in literally two seconds.

The moral of this story? Chastity is for suckers, so make out with hot men (or women) in the woods, whenever you get the chance. You just might be saving the world from eternal ruin by doing so!

Speaking of eternal ruin . . .

You Used to Call Me on My Shell Phone . . .

Now stuck in the no-longer-encased-in-a-ring Agrabah, but still unable to get in touch with Emma, Hook finally encounters a stroke of luck when hoarder Ariel presents him with another surprisingly useful item: a shell phone. “I have a phone just like this at home,” exclaims Hook. (That’s not even a joke. He actually utters this cheesy line!)

Hook uses the shell phone to connect with Emma, and tell her that he didn’t really dump her ass. He just got trapped on a bluish submarine by the guy who is trying to murder her, and almost eaten by a CGI Octopus. Well, isn’t that a relief!

Speaking of the guy trying to murder Emma, “Aesop the bartender” pops by Emma’s house late at night to reveal that he’s actually Douchebag Gideon, son of Rumplestiltskin and would-be-murderer of Emma. As it turns out, Gideon posed as the bartender and made Emma think that Hook abandoned her, just so he could make Emma cry, collect her tears, and use them to close off portals to other worlds, like the one Hook would need to get back home.

(Did you know Savior Tears close portals? Neither did I. Neither did the writers, I presume, until about five seconds before writing this episode.)

Do they have to be real tears? Would artificial tears work just as well?

Apparently, Gideon doesn’t want to murder Emma anymore. (Because the whole “Emma is fated to die” plot is SO last week!) What he really wants is to blackmail Emma into helping him kill the Black Fairy, by using her now-trapped-in Agrabah fiancé as leverage.

Really Gideon? She’s the Friggin Savior! Killing villains is kind of her thing! You moved a submarine across dimensions, then created an entire bar (which was cool) and a whole new sexy face (which was weird and random) to get Emma to do your bidding, when, really, all you had to do was ask . . . (or shove your tongue down someone’s throat . . . or throw red powder onto someone and turn them into a walking cane . . . because those are all ways to solve problems on this show that are easier than what you did.)

Until next time!

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ONCE UPON A TIME: It’s an Alt World After All: (Season 6, Episode 11 Recap)

(Cross posted at AgonyBooth.com)

Welcome back to Storybrooke, folks!  It’s a magical, mystical land where characters leave, die, and return from the dead, age (or don’t) whenever they feel like  . . . a place from which Continuity and Logic escaped together on a romantic vacation about 3.5 seasons ago, and haven’t been seen since.

But that’s OK, because it’s also a land that allows us to see a fat old unwashed version of Captain Hook fight an occasionally wooden, occasionally young, occasionally absent Pinocchio, in front of a massively large tree that can magically move from a forest to inside a workshop, whenever Plot requires it to do so.

Let’s jump right back in, shall we?

It’s a Hard Knock Life for Swan

It’s winter in the early 90’s.  So, it makes sense that young Emma conveniently finds herself homeless on what appears to be the set of the Broadway musical Rent.  Emma is cold, so she’s burning pages of a rather antique, rare, and expensive-looking story book for kindling.  After all, rare and expensive storybooks are super prevalent on the “mean” streets of Minneapolis . . . almost as prevalent as crack pipes and hypodermic needles.

(But wait, if she burns a book that’s her only source of income, how will she pay her rent?  This year’s rent?  Next year’s rent?  RENT! RENT! RENT! RENT! REEEEEEEENT!  Sorry . . . I got a bit carried away there, for a moment.)

Anywhoo, an age inappropriate older gentleman is watching Emma.  He approaches her, and starts making small talk about the fairytales in the book she’s burning, like any seasoned pederast would do.  Emma openly admits to this creeper that she has no family, and no one would be looking for her, were she to suddenly go missing.  (EMMA NO!  What kind of fairytale character-turned-sassy-self-aware-street-urchin are you?  Have you no sense of self-preservation!)

But just when you are thinking that this story is either about to take a very dark turn, or Chris Hansen from To Catch a Predator, is going to pop out of the trash can and launch a citizen’s arrest, you remember that this is Once Upon a Time, when the dumb actions of characters only have real consequences when The Plot desires it.

So, the creepy-maybe Pederast (who ends up being a young version of Pinocchio?) convinces Emma to turn herself in to child services . . . but only after he inspires her with a recounting of his favorite fairytale, The Ugly Duckling, a tale of redemptive transformation that would be doomed to become the theme of superficial high school rom com films for decades to come.

“What’s your last name?”  Child Services Lady asks Emma pointedly at the end of this flashback.

“Swan,” replies the girl, with the self-assuredness to know that she’s going to look like actress Jennifer Morrison in about twenty years.

Tree to Be, You and Me

 

Meanwhile, over in present day Alt World, a not-so-dead, not-aged-a-day, possible vampire or zombie, Robin Hood has stolen Regina’s and Emma’s jewels.  And the shock of seeing her dearly departed love back in the flesh caused Regina, and consequently Emma, to miss their chance to jump into the portal back to Storybrooke, and stand around staring at one another for three months, while the show went on hiatus.

Fortunately, Emma sees a tree (because they are in a forest, duh!).  And this reminds her that, back in Season 1, her baby self and Pinocchio were able to travel inside a tree-turned-into-a-wardrobe to another universe.  But who will build the wardrobe?  Why Pinocchio himself, of course!

Emma and Regina visit Emma’s real-world friend, Pinocchio, who, in Alt World, is a “humble” puppeteer who makes clones of himself for a living.  Emma quickly fills Pinocchio in on this season’s ridiculous plot, and Pinocchio is instantly totally cool with it, because this hour-long tale (45 minutes with commercials) doesn’t allot him any time for reasonable skepticism.  Puppet Man  agrees to build a wardrobe that will get Emma and Regina back to Storybrooke.

Except .  . . wait, where’s Regina?  It appears that in the literally two seconds it took Emma to explain to Pinnochio the plot of Season 6 of Once Upon a Time, Regina escaped, but not before penning to Emma a two-page missive on why she was leaving.  (Evil Queens write fast!)  Apparently, Regina wants to take another ride on the Robin Hood train, zombie or no zombie, before she leaves Alt World for good.  (I hope, for her sake, the sex lasts longer than the letter-writing did.)

“I never wear pants for this precise reason. ‘Always be prepared.’ That’s my motto.”

Little Orphan Angsty

Meanwhile, back in Real World, Prince Charming is super cranky, because he hasn’t slept in days.  (If you recall, he and Snow White are still under that sleeping curse thing where only one of them gets to sleep at a time.)  He’s dead set on killing the Hooded Man who is fated to “murder” Emma Swan during an improbably street duel at the end of the season.  The same Hooded Man who just so happens to be the adult version of Rumple’s and Belle’s baby-just-last-week boy Gideon.

Both Belle and Rumple try to reason with their bratty man child, who apparently turned 28-years old in three months (I’ve heard of rapid aging on TV shows, but this is ridiculous!).  They gamely explain to him that murdering the lead of a series at approximately the same time it’s been earmarked for likely cancellation, before he’s had any screen time, would not be the savviest career move for him.  Also, that killing is bad and stuff.

But Gideon, who has been raised by the Evil Black Fairy for either three months or 28-years, we still aren’t sure, will not hear it.  He is convinced that murdering the Savior will be the only thing that allows him to become a Savior himself, thereby proving to his Evil Stepmother that he is not evil . . . by doing something that is really, really evil.

 

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Upon failing to convince her son to spare Emma’s life, Belle approaches Prince Charming to reveal the identity of Emma’s would-be killer.  “Promise me you won’t murder my son, who is about my age, and whom I didn’t raise . . . even if he murders your daughter, who is about your age, and whom you didn’t raise either?”  Belle pleads.

Prince Charming reluctantly promises not to kill Belle’s kid, Mr. Whiny McEmo Pants, but you just know he’s got his fingers crossed behind his back when he says it.  So, all bets are off.

Robbing Robin?

 

Back in Alt World, Regina tries to put the movies on vampire or zombie Robin Hood, by cornering him in a bar, and asking him whether he has a happy life, despite the fact that he’s clearly not getting laid regularly. (Hint, hint, wink, wink).  Through their conversation, we learn that Alt World vampire or zombie Robin Hood is a swinging single, who doesn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor, like his alter ego, rather, he steals from the rich to give to himself.

This is clearly not a deal breaker to Regina, who, after all, is a serial killer.  (Nobody’s perfect?) But before she can take vampire or zombie Robin to pound town, the pair get arrested by the Sheriff of Nottingham.  (Can vampire/zombies get blue balls, I wonder?)  The good news is that Regina’s and Robin’s arrest is short-lived, as they are promptly rescued by Alt World Rumplestiltskin, who Regina had helped break out of prison earlier in the season.  The bad news is that in Alt World Regina, as the Evil Queen murdered Belle.

So, Rumple locks both Robin and Regina in a tower, where he plans to murder them both.

But then Robin breaks him and Regina out of the tower, because, you know, breaking and entering is kind of “his thing.”

(They are in jail.  They are out of jail.  They are back in jail.  They are back out again.  They are alive.  They are dead.  They are good.  They are evil.  Sometimes watching this show gives me whiplash.)

Captain Un-Hooked?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Alt World, Pinocchio is trying to carve a wardrobe out of a magical tree, when a fat old drunk arrives to kidnap Emma.

Holy crap!  It’s Captain Hook!  Alt World has not been kind to you, my friend!  I would definitely recommend staying home from the high school reunion.

Emma is easily able to disarm her erstwhile boyfriend (who, let’s face it, even when he’s good looking, slim, and half-sober, has never exactly been the sharpest hook in the bait box), but in doing so, breaks Pinocchio’s magic make-a-tree-into-a-wardrobe-time-jumping-portal chisel.

How will Emma and Regina get home now?  You are going to have to wait at least a commercial break to find out!

Death versus Savior: Round 1

 

Ultimately, Emma is able to use The Ugly Duckling’s tale about “believing in yourself” to convince Pinocchio that, gosh-darn it, he can create a wardrobe with a magic make-a-tree-into-a-wardrobe-time-jumping-portal chisel, even if that magic-make-a-tree-into-a-wardrobe-time-jumping-portal chisel has been broken in half by Captain Hook’s fat ass!

(Sidenote:  Is that what The Ugly Duckling was about, “believing in yourself”?  Because I don’t think that was what the fairytale was about . . . at all!  I thought it was about growing out of your “awkward phase.”  It’s easy to “believe in yourself” when you are a hot swan, who used to be a pubescent duckling.)

In the very next scene, the massively large tree has been instantaneously turned into a beautiful wardrobe and transplanted to Pinocchio’s workshop, because apparently, magic chisels can literally move mountains.   Now, if you recall, from Season 1, a Magical Wardrobe can only fit two people.  This was why Snow, Charming and Emma couldn’t all travel to another realm together, thus setting the stage for the events that launched the series.

In present day, this would mean that only Emma and Regina could travel back to Storybrooke and Vampire or Zombie Robin Hood would have to remain behind.  Fortunately, as I mentioned, Continuity and Logic left this series long ago, and are probably sunning themselves on a remote island off the coast of Mexico by now, while raising their two kids, Credibility and Character Development.  And, because of this, Regina invites Vampire or Zombie Robin Hood to join her and Emma back in Real World, and he instantly agrees.  Why?  Because he’s a dude, and dudes will generally do anything for sex . . . even if that sex happens to be with a deranged serial killer.

Back in Storybrooke Emma confronts Gideon her would be murderer, and has a duel with him.  But it’s not The Duel, because she’s wearing a winter jacket, and the Emma is The Duel is just wearing a white tank top.  (Emma is destined to die in better weather, apparently.)  Gideon loses this duel, but disappears before Emma can finish him off.

Then, Gideon heads up to the clock tower and breaks it, because that’s what bratty man children do, when they don’t get their way, and fail at murdering the lead character in the series, whose very existence on that series keeps them employed.  They break things.

And that’s all that happened this week on Once.  Next week, we get to watch Prince Charming beat the crap out of Captain Hook.  That should be fun . . .

 

 

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Binge or No: Netflix’s The Santa Clarita Diet

(Will be cross-posted at Agony Booth.com)

Zombies are the new vampires, that’s for sure. So, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood decided to make them more physically attractive, grant them spacious homes in Suburbia, and give them white-collar jobs. The Santa Clarita Diet is about as pro-zombie as a television series can get . . . minus the gag-inducing scenes filled with vomit, and the occasional image of a limb grossly detaching itself from the human body . . .

The ten-episode thrill-omedy, which premiered on Netflix February 3rd, stars Drew Barrymore as Sheila Hammond, a West Coast suburban realtor, whose recent infection with a zombie virus has given her a renewed zest for life, and a passion for eating men’s balls off . . . literally. (This isn’t your mother’s “Mmmm, Braiiiiiinnnnnnns” type zombie. Sheila is way less wasteful, when it comes to munching on parts of the male anatomy. Oddly enough, no females were harmed in the making of the first season of the series. Is that sexist?)

Early promotional spots for the series actually skirted the whole “Sheila is a zombie” issue entirely, and instead cleverly featured the cast touting the benefits of a “new diet” that offers its participants “tons of energy,” and “makes them look great.” Sheila, herself, is a testament to this, as Drew begins the series looking rather frumpy (and with something disturbingly weird going on with her eyebrows), then subtly becomes more glamorous with each passing episode . . . until the last two, but that’s another story.

In fact, if it weren’t for (1) Sheila’s new zombie-like dependence on her id making her increasingly impulsive, hungry, and reckless; and (2) the whole “murdering people is wrong, and disposing of bodies is hard work” thing, zombie-ism, at least as it’s portrayed in the series, would seem like a pretty workable lifestyle.

As for Sheila’s supporting cast, we have Timothy Olyphant playing waaaaaay against type as Joel Hammond, Sheila’s mild-mannered nebbish of a realtor husband, who’s supportive faux cheeriness, as the body count piles up, borders on frenzied and manic. Basically, this is the kind of role you’d see Matthew Broderick playing, if this series came out about ten-years earlier.

Rounding out the main cast are: Liv Hewson as Abby, Sheila’s and Joel’s rebellious daughter (who is way cooler about the fact that her mother occasionally murders the neighbors, and feasts on human flesh in her spare time, than I would be); Sklyer Gisondo, as Abby’s nerdy and way too-loyal friend / paranormal enthusiast, Eric, and Dan Palmer and Richard T. Jones, as Sheila’s and Joel’s feuding cop neighbors, Rick and Dan.

The Santa Clarita Diet also features Nathan Fillion in a cameo that’s either truly thankless, or patently hilarious, depending on how you view it.

As for the series itself, I think it takes a few episodes to find its footing. The show seems to struggle early on, at least in my opinion, to strike the appropriate balance between comedy and horror. For example, in one scene, you might see Sheila and Joel bathed in blood and guts, as they try to bury the gnarly organs of body that the former just devoured in the woods, without being discovered by the cops.

And then, in the scene immediately following that, Sheila will be depicted, clad in a garbage bag, chasing after, and unsuccessfully attempting to wrestle, a rooster, like she’s a character in a Looney Tunes cartoon?

The series also takes its sweet time in finding the unique voices of its characters, in ways that go beyond them just spouting cheesy zombie and murder puns to one another for 25-minutes. The writing for Sheila, in particular, suffers in the early episodes, as we are told that the realtor mom’s personality has changed drastically, since she was infected, but have to take the rest of the cast’s word for it, as she begins showing signs of infection within the first five minutes of the series.

I was actually planning to discontinue the show after the first two episodes, but soldiered on, and found myself completely hooked around episode four. Around that time, the writing for the series becomes tighter, the jokes funnier, and the main characters become more consistent and relatable in their personalities.

In particular, I found the acting of the teen characters on the show, Abby and Eric, very strong. Their story line adds a sort of sweetness, and a touch of realism to the series, that I think would be lacking otherwise.

Another important point to note, before you venture into The Santa Clarita Diet is that it’s pretty friggin gross. As in, don’t watch it while you are eating . . . EVER! Maybe you folks who just love watching The Walking Dead, and really dig body horror, will be totally cool with this. But I found my eyes averting the screen pretty much any time one of the characters projectile vomits (soooooooo much vomit on this show), or a painted toenail pops off and rolls under the coffee table, or Drew’s Sheila is seen slowly and messily gorging on an arm, while looking much like a baby eating her first spaghetti and meatballs dish. These kinds of scenes amount to roughly a quarter of each episode’s run time, so be warned.

As for trademark zombie lore and the series’ central mystery, i.e. how Sheila came to be infected with the zombie virus in the first place, there isn’t really much there, at least in the first season, which focuses more on the inconveniences and unintentional hilarity of suburban zombie living than any sort of complex rules and/ or zombie origin stories. The mythos that is presented is rather vague and superficial, though I suspect that aspect of the show will be built upon, should The Santa Clarita Diet be picked up for a second season. Still, this might annoy some of you paranormal enthusiasts out there, who tend to like a bit more world-building with your blood, guts and gore.

In short, if you are someone who: (1) likes a good laugh, and a unique take on an old reliable horror movie stable, (2) doesn’t mind lots of gross shots of vomit and disemboweled corpses, (3) doesn’t care too much about origin stories, and (4) is patient enough to get through a rough first few episodes, The Santa Clarita Diet might be the lifestyle change you are seeking. And by “lifestyle change” I mean “five hours seated on your couch watching a show on Netflix, while not eating.” (Did I mention before that you shouldn’t be eating while watching this show?)

Verdict: BINGE IT . . . with discretion.

 

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Black Mirror Mini-Binge: A Beginner’s Guide To Entering The Void

Cross posted on Agony Booth.com

With a series title based on the black, yet translucent, and sometimes eerily sinister-looking, screen that stares back at you from your sleeping smart phone or tablet, the British-based television anthology Black Mirror has slowly (but surely) garnered cult status, since its UK debut back in 2011. Touted by many as a modern-day Twilight Zone for Technophobes, Black Mirror’s standalone, but thematically related, episodes sagely (and often savagely) tackle the inane nuances of modern day conveniences, while, at the same time, contemplating the various ways in which said conveniences could potentially lead to the catastrophic downfall of society as we know it. Needless to say, it’s not uncommon to finish watching an episode of Black Mirror, and feel just the slightest bit like slitting your own wrist, because the vision of the future it presents is so gosh darn bleak.


This is not to say that Black Mirror is a bad series. On the contrary, most of the time, it’s a pretty friggin awesome one. In fact, on numerous occasions, I’ve found myself utterly spellbound by a particular episode’s creative insightfulness, not to mention the sheer delicious terror it induced in me while watching. On just as many occasions, topics presented during the episode have sparked spirited, sometimes very angry, conversations among my friends regarding various forms of social media and modern technology and their inherent downsides.


And yet, Black Mirror is certainly not for everybody, nor is it appropriate for all occasions. As such, it’s not the kind of show for which I’d advocate binging all four seasons of the series (comprising just 13 episodes in total) in a single sitting. That would likely be way too intense, even for the toughest, most mentally stable, of television viewers among us.


No . . . Black Mirror is most definitely the kind of show best absorbed in moderation, much like fine wine, double fudge brownies, sex, and the Home Shopping Network (if viewed while feeling particularly insomniatic and thus vulnerable to cheap advertising ploys).


Fear not, television fanatics and eclectic cult series connoisseurs! I have a relatively risk-free solution to the Black Mirror Conundrum. For those planning to embark upon a steady diet of Black Mirror, I propose the following fail-safe Introductory Mini-Binge. It’s only three episodes long. Just enough to whet your appetite, and get you used to Black Mirror’s unique flavor, without immediately sending you into uber-depressive strait-jacket territory. Let’s explore, shall we?


Recommendation #1: The Entire History of You: Series 1, Episode 3


Sites like Facebook and Instagram, even the photo cache on your cell phone, have made millions of dollars by capitalizing on the rose-colored world of human nostalgia. Not too long ago, a trip down memory lane required flipping through the pages of a carefully cultivated photo album or heavily autographed yearbook, rewinding a lovingly shot, albeit slightly amateur, home video, or retrieving the plastic key that unlocks the childish scrawl adorning a long unopened diary.


Now, you’ve got Facebook creepily combining with music all your digital photos, in order to create a “Your Year in Review” montage. Anyone with an internet connection could probably find at least one of your baby pictures online, if they looked hard enough. And your own cell phone exists as a constant daily reminder of that ill-advised drunken selfie you and your friends took in the public restroom of a gross dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen at 3 a.m. that one hazy Saturday night.


In the Entire History of You, Black Mirror takes this unsettling-if-you-really-think-about-it concept one step further. It contemplates a computer chip in your brain that records everything you see and hear for purposes of instant (and, if you aren’t careful) obsessive repeat viewing. Anyone who has ever said or done something stupid, and then aggressively punished themselves for it, by replaying said stupid actions or words over and over again, ad nauseum, each time finding a new and improved reason for self-loathing, could probably imagine the egregious self-harm they could inflict upon themselves, if given the opportunity to actually re-watch in unfiltered HD-TV full color, their own darkest moments.

The reverse could be problematic too. I could imagine after a particularly shitty day, it would be rather tempting to get lost for days in the vortex of that awesome summer you had junior year of college, where every day was sun-filled, and every night was a party (or, at least it seemed that way at the time).
Picture a successful young professional, who gets home from a bad day at work to find a strange man in his house, who may, or may not, be schtupping his wife on the regular. You could imagine how dangerous this particular type of technology could be in the hands of such an emotionally volatile man, both for himself and those around him.


Yes, the view of future society painted by the Entire History of You is a pretty ugly one. But it’s one that will definitely make you think about the unspoken benefits of selective memory, forgetfulness, and plain old outright ignorance, specifically, the ways in which, those, seemingly negative qualities of human nature could, in some ways, save us all from our own ever-approaching insanity. (Fun Fact: Robert Downey Jr. actually optioned this episode for a full-length film . . . another solid reason to check it out, if the above hasn’t succeeded in swaying you.)


Recommendation #2: Fifteen Million Merits, Series 1, Episode 2


For better or worse, reality television has become a mainstay of prime-time television viewing. And why the heck not? It’s cheap to produce. It’s mind numbingly addictive to watch. And it’s oddly refreshing in its emphasis on real, flawed, “average” individuals, competing for your attention, as opposed to the beautiful airbrushed heartthrobs and starlets of television yesteryear . . . the ones who seemed genetically pre-designed to make us all feel so gosh darn inadequate.


Fifteen Million Merits is a not-so-subtle commentary on reality television, as well as our society’s increasing reliance on using avatars and “virtual selves,” to carry out our own personal fantasies in a pixelated online world, without the “hassle” of having to getting out of our pajamas and actually leave our homes.


While the Entire History of You takes place in the not-so-distant future, inside a world that looks suspiciously like our own, Fifteen Million Merits contemplates a universe that’s a bit farther removed, and yet not entirely incomprehensible, especially in light of our society’s current trajectory toward an increased living out of our lives online.


In this alternate version of our world, men and women live entirely through their avatars, working and exercising compulsively, not to better themselves, but to buy shinier duds, and better opportunities for the computerized creatures designed to represent them the digital world.


Our main character in this story, Bing, has grown surprisingly complacent with this new unreal world. We watch him in the first few minutes of the episode, simply sleepwalking through the virtual annoyances of his daily life. But then, he meets Sybil from Downton Abbey, and promptly falls in love with her. (As men do!). After that, all bets are off.


Fifteen Million Merits is fascinating in its deft, and surprisingly believable, world building, excoriating in its commentary on modern media and its compulsive need to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and horrifying, when you recognize how close to real life the world painted in this episode happens to be. In short, it’s a can’t miss hour of television for any burgeoning viewer.

Recommendation #3: San Junipero, Series 3, Episode 4


Since my first two Black Mirror episode introductory picks were admittedly pretty darn dark, I figure it’s time to lighten things up a bit, with what may very well be Black Mirror’s most optimistic, heart-warming, surprisingly pro-technology, episodic feature to date. If the Entire History of You’s underlying purpose is to warn viewers of the dangers of nostalgia and living in the past, San Junipero exists as its idealistic counterpoint. This episode, which takes place, almost entirely in a glossy, almost-too-perfect, embodiment of 1980’s California, views both nostalgia and memory as a circuitous route toward eternal happiness, love, second chances, and, yes, immortality.


Shy, bookish Yorkie, a child of the 80’s, never had the chance to experience much in life. That is until she enters the virtual world of San Junipero, enters a dance club filled with strangers, and encounters the effervescent, free-spirited, Kelly, a wild child, who is hiding secrets of her own.


This surprisingly fun-filled, oddly “happy,” installment of the Black Mirror franchise has a little twist in it, one that I won’t spoil for you here, thought the more observant of you will likely catch on to it, within the episode’s first fifteen minutes. Suffice it to say, this episode has a heck of a lot more heart than most Black Mirror installments, and it’s certainly a good deal more optimistic. Yet, despite its deceptively simplistic, lighthearted, nature, San Junipero has a lot of intelligent things to say about the nature of mortality, love, relationships, and the legacies we create for ourselves and one another just by following our dreams and giving in to our own desires.

If Entire History of You and Fifteen Million Merits left you feeling super depressed and wary of the future of humanity, this third Black Mirror pick will ensure that you can wake up tomorrow, fully capable of getting out of bed, and maybe even put an extra spring in your step as you do it.

So, there you have it, my top three picks for a healthy introduction into the dangerously addictive world of the Black Mirror. Are you ready to dive into the void?

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ONCE UPON A TIME RECAP: I Dream of Genie

Cross posted at Agony Booth.com

emma-and-henrys-alternate-reality-once-upon-a-time-season-6-epis

EMMA: “Of course, this Alt-World is real, Henry! What would make you think it is fake?” Henry: “Well, we are standing in front of a Green Screen . . .”

This week on Once, Emma gets “wished” into an alt-world, where her hair and makeup are better, but everything else about her is way worse. Also, Aladdin becomes everyone’s b*tch; the Evil Queen unleashes her inner reptile; and everyone who thought Belle’s kid was super creepy, and most likely The Worst, gets to say “I TOLD YOU SO!”

It’s the last Once recap of 2016, Fairytale Fans! Let’s do this!

Sword-of Good News

sword

In a quest to determine the true owner of the Sword That Will “Kill” Emma Swan (but not destroy that sword, mind you, because the plot requires it to remain in play, at least until the end of the season), Emma, Regina and Hook have a run-in with the Evil Queen in front of Robin Hood’s grave, because “foreshadowing.” There, Evil Queen literally taunts Emma with “your mama” jokes. And this makes Emma so mad that she stabs the Evil Queen in the face with her own death sword. (Talk about Anger Management Issues!)

like-like

When it is plot convenient for them to be treated as such, Regina and Evil Queen are treated as the same person. This means that when Evil Queen gets stabbed in the face, Regina should also bleed. But when Emma stabs Evil Queen with her death sword, for some reason, Regina’s face is still as beautifully Botoxed and pore free as it was pre-Evil Queen Face Stabbing.

lol

Based on this impromptu experiment, Emma determines that she CAN actually kill the Evil Queen, without killing Regina too! And this would be fabulous, and extremely relevant, news, if the Evil Queen wasn’t rendered a complete non-entity by the end of the episode . . .Oh well! Better luck next McGuffin!

Wish-Y Washy

walkin

 

 

When Emma tells the rest of her family that she’s going to use her own Death Sword to kill the Evil Queen, at night, out in the street, thereby basically mimicking the exact circumstances of the vision she had, in which she died at the end, her son Henry is the only one that thinks this is incredibly shitty idea. (Unless you happen to be watching a show geared toward eight-year olds, it’s generally a bad sign when the smartest character on the show isn’t even old enough to shave.)

look

Ignoring Henry’s rather logical and intellectually sound warnings, Emma heads off with Hook, Daddy Charming, and her Future Death Sword to tempt fate, recreate her death scene from her vision, and maybe, but probably not, succeed in killing the Evil Queen. While they are en route, Princess Jasmine screams out frantically for help from inside Granny’s diner. It turns out that the Evil Queen has her very loosely tied up in a chair. And when I say “loosely,” I mean to say that, those Chinese Handcuffs we all used to play with as kids are probably more difficult to get out of than the Evil Queen’s half-assed chair knot.

genie

Nonetheless, Jasmine dutifully stays put like the good, not too bright, hostage that she is. And so, the Evil Queen promptly steals the genie lamp from Jasmine, summons New Genie Aladdin from it, and makes her first wish: that Emma Swan’s erstwhile wish never to become the Savior be granted. So thoughtful, that Evil Queen! Someone get this lady a Humanitarian Award!

Since, Emma Swan originally became the Savior, upon being shipped off to modern times from fairytale land, no-longer-the-Savior-Emma is instead portaled to an Alt World, in which she instead actually grew up in fairytale land with her super rich parents, a la Ivanka Trump.

father-fem

In order to rescue Emma from Alt-World, Regina conveniently uses the “Evil Queen and I are technically the same person” card (which appears to be working again, after the whole Death Sword glitch thing), so that she can be whisked to the exact same World.

Princess Emma: The New Disney Heroine that Feminism Forgot

emma-prince

To say Alt-World is weird, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a viable alternate timeline, is a complete understatement. For one thing, Emma’s parents, the Charmings, are super old. (This part actually, does make sense, because while time stopped in Storybrooke during Emma’s first 28-years of life, in Alt-World, time continued normally, thus rendering Charming and Snow at least 28-years older than they currently are in Storybrooke).

What doesn’t make sense, is how nobody else in Alt World aged one iota. I let this slide, when it came to the dwarves, because, perhaps, dwarves don’t age like humans do. However, this fact particularly disturbed me, when it came to Granny, who, had she aged in real time, would have been roughly 110 in Alt World. And yet, there she was, looking not a day over 85! (Then again, maybe Granny is actually a dwarf, and nobody told me. Is that true? Did I miss a plot point somewhere?)

dress-like

Also in Alt World, Princess Emma somehow still met, boned, and ultimately married Baelfire / Neal (who was a knight in Alt World?), resulting in her giving birth to erstwhile fairytale author Henry.

And what I’m still trying to wrap my head around is how all that could have happened, seeing as Neal had left fairytale land, and was actually in Neverland around the time “the original curse occurred.” If there is someone out there with a way better understanding of the timeline logistics of this show, who could explain to me how this could be possible, by all means, chime in.

neal

When Regina shows up in Alt World, everyone is super frightened, because they assume that she’s the Evil Queen, (who, in this timeline, Charming and Snow White defeated and banished from the kingdom pre-first curse), who is now back to enact her revenge, and rightfully so! Alt-World Emma is concerned too, but she’s too busy singing showtunes, and picking flowers in the forest, to really give the whole thing much thought or concern. This is because, apparently, had Charming and Snow White actually had the opportunity to raise Emma from birth, they would have turned her into a pampered prissy simpleton, incapable of defending herself. Sorry Baby Neal! This is most likely going to be you in 28-years!

snow-and-charm evil-q

It looks like Regina has her work cut out for her, if she wants Emma to remember who the heck she is, and get the two of them back to Storybrooke in one piece. Did I mention, the episode is only half over at this point?

A Charming Failure

fail-charm

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, the B team is proving themselves to be even more useless than Regina in their attempts to rescue Emma from Alt World. First Charming tries to take the genie lamp from the Evil Queen, so he can wish Emma back home. But instead, he just wishes that the Evil Queen will “get what she deserves.” It’sa super vague, and dangerously objective wish, one that anyone who has ever read a fairytale, let alone starred in one, would know not to use under any circumstances whatsoever.

Not surprisingly, Charming’s wish accomplishes precisely nothing in either defeating the Evil Queen, nor in getting Emma back. So, Charming returns the Genie Lamp to Jasmine, since she’s most likely boning the guy inside it, after all. And when Jasmine offers to use her first wish (She does have three, I might add) to wake up the Sleeping Snow White, and break the curse that prevents the pair from being awake at the same time. Charming’s response is, “Meh, I don’t really need her anyway. You guys do what you gotta do.”

ouat-4.2-snow-upset

And so, Jasmine and Aladdin wish themselves to Agrabah, taking with them, the gang’s seemingly best chance at getting Emma back from Alt World and/or waking Snow from a potentially eternal slumber. GO TEAM!

Robin Hood-winked

im-your-friend

Regina, for her part, is fairing slightly better in Alt-World, as she seeks a captive Rumpelstiltskin’s help in awakening the currently completely useless Emma’s memories of her life as the Bad Ass Savior. Rumpel gamely suggests that Regina do her best Evil Queen impersonation, in order to scare Emma into turning heroic again. He even offers Regina a bean that will open a portal to get her back to Storybrooke with Emma, in exchange for his freedom from captivity. Regina accepts this deal, because making deals with the Dark One always ends so well for everyone on this show!

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Dressed in her Evil Queen finery, Regina puts on a Super Sassy Show at Henry’s knighthood ceremony, even going so far as to kidnap Charming and Snow White, because that should really piss off Princess Emma. Right?

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Wrong! Prissy Emma responds to Regina’s Evil Queen’s taunts by . . . wimpily giving the Evil Queen the key to the city, in exchange for her parents’ lives. Yikes! Growing up with the elderly Charmings in Alt-World has made Princess Emma super soft. Regina is going to have to up the ante, if she wants Bad Ass Savior Emma back.

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And so as the Evil Queen, Regina KILLS THE CHARMINGS by thoughtlessly crushing their hearts in her bare hands. (This version of them is old and fake anyway. Plus, they clearly did a crappy job raising their kid, and, therefore, don’t deserve to live.)

Does the death of Princess’ Emma’s parents snap her back into action? Nope, it just makes her sit on the floor and cry like a total b*tch. Knight Henry though, he’s ready to kill Regina / Evil Queen. And worse, he’s going to do it with the all-powerful Emma Death Sword, which somehow made it to the Alt World along with Emma.

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Now, while Regina would gladly kill the Fake Charmings, she can’t bring herself to kill Fake Henry. So, instead she just stands there, and awaits her demise. And THIS . . . THIS is what finally causes Emma to snap out of her Wishy-Washy stupor and return to herself. She uses her magic to freeze Fake Henry just in the nick of time, and, in doing so, saves Regina’s life and the fake version of her son’s soul.

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Then, Regina and Emma head to meet with Fake Rumpel, pick up the portal bean and prepare to go home. So, of course, just as the two are about to enter the portal, Regina comes upon Fake Robin Hood, who is alive in this fake timeline, and conveniently about to rob them. Not willing to pass up time with her sweetie, even a fake version of him, Regina lets the portal close, and with it, her and Emma’s only chance to get home and kill the Evil Queen.

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No worries. The Evil Queen is about to disappear as a problem anyway, at least temporarily.

Blue Fairy, You Had One Job!

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Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Rumpel uses some magic hair to attempt to track down his newborn child. Understandably he is super disturbed to find out that the kid completely off the grid. Predictably, Rumple comes to Belle with this conundrum. Shortly thereafter, the two learn from a thoroughly beaten-up Blue Fairy, that Fairy Lame-Mother was able to care for Baby Gideon, for all of two minutes, before she lost him to the Ultimate Evil. Great job, Blue Fairy!

In worse news, Rumpel’s mom, the Black Fairy, was apparently the one who kidnapped Gideon. And this means either that she’s going to eat him, or he’s going to turn evil. Maybe she’s going to turn him evil, then eat him?

Anywhoo, a man in a black cape, who looks suspiciously like the guy who kills Emma in her vision, appears from a portal, and promptly turns the Evil Queen into a snake in a cage, because, why not?

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He then removes his hood, revealing himself to Belle and Rumpel, as Gideon, their “son”, a.k.a. the same creepy guy who kept hitting on Belle in her dreams, and convincing her to give the baby version of him away to the useless Blue Fairy.

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And this just goes to show you that you should never trust a guy with a bad Julius Caesar haircut, who haunts your dreams, and claims to be your son, but still hits on you like he’s your boyfriend / your stalker. Words to live by. Trust me, I know from experience!

Until next March 2017, Oncers!

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