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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “Queen of Hearts” and the Nature of Love

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

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

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

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

To Cora, “love is weakness.” It is something to be exploited, and the Queen of Hearts has no equal exploiting feelings of the heart, especially since she has no heart (or it’s safely buried in a tightly locked safe). Rumple believes strongly that “true love is the most powerful magic.” As powerful as he is, and as much as he has manipulated the entire world in which they all dwell, he did not make Emma (Jennifer Morrison) who she is, with the power she now seems to have. That, he tells her, is because she is the product of true love.

But I have to wonder if he had known, or at least had suspected? The curse he created, borne of the true love between Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) — just as Emma had — might have given Emma heroic superpowers. Another side effect of the curse being broken? Perhaps. And what will Emma do with her magic, if indeed it’s there?

But Cora is also right; love also can be a weakness. Rumple’s love for Belle is his weakness (and, of course, his love and regret over his son Baelfire). And if she is exploited by Cora or threatened by Hook, Rumple likely will be pretty vulnerable, despite his power. Henry is Regina’s weakness (and Emma’s), and while his influence on her (like Belle’s on Rumple) is a force for good, he can also be used against her. And now that Cora and Hook are on their way to Storybrooke, both Regina and Rumple have much to fear.

So, Cora’s desire is be needed by her daughter. She wants to destroy everything Regina has so that she can “pick up the pieces.” How different is that than Regina’s desire for Henry to need her? Neither of them can command the love of the one from whom they most want it, so needing to be needed is perhaps the consolation prize to be gained by whatever means. 

Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis’ wonderful script weaves together many of the dangling threads of the Once Upon a Time narrative. It’s a real treat!

We circle back to Rumple’s imprisonment to learn that he could have escaped his cell at any time. Many suspected even as far back as “Price of Gold” that Rumple walked into Cinderella’s (Jessy Schram) trap with his eyes wide open (and one very wide pair of eyes, has our Rumple!), even reveling in the “trap” set by Cinderella, Snow and Charming.

Sitting in his cell and biding his time, Rumple had written Emma’s name over and over, yet it had not been the ravings of a man made insane by his isolation (although from his appearance in the Pilot, his imprisonment has taken its toll), but a way to conceal a vital bit of magic in the hopes that Emma one day might find it if needed. Does that mean that Rumple had foreseen Emma getting back into Fairytale Land and needing the magic ink? I don’t think so. I believe the writing of her name over and over, as Rumple explains, had been his way of making sure he remembered her name, allowing it to trigger his memory upon hearing it in the Pilot (very cool little detail, Adam and Eddy!) 

We also learn, going back as well to “Price of Gold,” why Rumple wanted to acquire the Fairy Godmother’s wand. Another small piece of the puzzle.

And finally, we’ve again returned to Lake Nostos, a place of temptation for Charming in “Whatever Happened to Fredrick.” Here, the Homeric reference takes on new meaning as it is the portal for Emma and Snow’s journey home. For Odysseus, Lake Nostos had been, as for Charming, an obstacle to his safe journey as he had been tempted by sirens. In “Queen of Hearts,” it is the pathway home, truly the portal to return return things that are lost. 

“Queen of Hearts” happily brings back to the fore the central narrative of the show. All of the key characters are front and center where they should be (most of the time, anyway!): Emma, Snow (and by extension Charming), Henry, Regina, and Rumple. Each plays a critical role in the episode, driving the story to its intense conclusion, setting up the narrative for the chapter of season two with Hook and Cora poised to make their entrance into Storybrooke — not through the Lake Nostos portal, but by sea.

What will the future hold? Well, we have more than a month to speculate! Let’s start tomorrow night on Let’s Talk TV. Unlike the series, I will not be going on hiatus, but will use the break to post several new articles that dive a little deeper between the lines of the Once Upon a Time narrative and characters. So stay tuned!

NOTE: Congratulations to Robert Carlyle on the critical success of his new movie California Solo, which opened in New York Friday. It opens December 7 in Los Angeles at the Nuart, and Carlyle will be appearing at a Q/A panel following the movie. My review and its accompanying one-on-one interview with director Marshall Lewy was published Friday by Blogcritics Friday. 

 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Betsy

    Barbara, I LOVED this episode.

    Gold ripped my heart out. He APOLOGIZED to Emma……He talked about true love and what it creates; he credited HER with doing what it took to break the curse. He was open to someone other than Belle. I thought this was a HUGE episode for him.

    Now I know Regina fans will kill him for that snarky comment at the end about how maybe one day she’ll be invited for dinner, but you know what? Given that he won’t take revenge on her for Belle (not now) and he’s obviously still furious……I’m sorry, I’m ok with that. Belle lost 28 years of her life thanks to Regina and he missed out on all that time with her as well. I do think he actually looked slightly concerned for her when she was doing the magic thing, so there’s that. Overall though, I think Regina can be thankful that she’s gotten away with treating Belle like the lowest form of life.

    I have been saying consistently for a long time now that LOVE is a strength, not a weakness. REAL honest and true villains don’t understand that. Did Hook love Milha ? I suppose he did, but does he truly understand about real love? Does he understand that it’s a strength, not a weakness? His goal is simply vengeance at this point – because he doesn’t have that love anymore. The thing is, though, when Rumple lost Belle, when he thought she’d died…….what did he do? He did not kill anymore; in fact he became morose. We saw him become more of a trader. Hook lost his love. What did he do? He became worse. He was going to kill Belle just because…..for no reason (let’s not hear Regina fans crow that she saved Belle; she “saved” Belle for her own reasons).

    In the preview, which I’m sure you saw, that was pure RAGE on Gold’s face. It wasn’t that he just needed to beat Hook up for their last encounters, that was very, VERY personal. He wore that look when beating Mo up in SD and then pinning him to the wall in the Croc. No way was Gold going to let him get away with what he did to Belle.

    But anyway, back to the eppy:

    I really think Gold realizes that he NEEDS personal connections, that he is a human being and human beings are social animals. There are advantages to having social connections and friends……and also, it helps Belle as well.

    This was such a GREAT episode for Gold. In a way, he’s really a romantic, talking about true love and the magic it creates. He wants that with Belle….so badly. He wants to have children with her because he loves her so deeply and profoundly. I think he believes in the beauty of parenthood and how it’s the ultimate sign of love.

    Cora is a GREAT villain and I like Hook as a real villain, not the smarmy version we saw before tonight.

    I agree about Belle, but the issue has been that Adam/Eddy just really got caught up in all their toys and spent a lot of time on that storyline which we agree went nowhere. Per lots of tweets and spoilers, though, Belle is going to have plenty of airtime – as will Rumbelle. They must have gotten about 10 minutes of airtime this first half…..pretty bad, lol.

  • Betsy

    Oh and pay attention to the preview – Gold is using his old walking stick to knock Hook out, lol

  • WML

    This was a truly fantastic episode. Let me start with the end – the previews to the upcoming episodes that will start after the New Year. Mr. Gold telling Emma to find his son. Mr. Gold giving Hook a good whack on board the ship. Regina using magic to try to get more time with Henry. It appears that the redemptive journeys we have seen so far are taking different turns than what we expected.

    Now, back to the story. Finally, a reason for Aurora and Mulan to be in the story. And Bolger did a good job playing the heroine – first as one manipulated by Cora to betray her friends – and then having the strength to know that Emma and Snow’s quest can only go on without her. The idea of sacrifice for the good of others is a major undercurrent in this show. In Aurora, Emma and Snow are able to have life again in Storybrooke, a new dawn for their existence, so to speak.

    Mulan? I still have a hangover trying to figure out why she’s in this story, but hey, maybe the future will tell her tale further. I agree with Barbara though. Less Mulan and Aurora, more Rumbelle. Aside from being a fantastic actress, Emilie de Ravin brings a totally different dynamic to the show. It’s because Belle is now poised to play a pivotal role in the show. And I think in the aforementioned preview of Mr. Gold giving Hook the punch that he could never give for Milah’s sake, we see just how true love,as Mr. Gold says time after time, is the greates power of all. Besides, I am not the only one who find Emilie and RC’s chemistry undeniably magnetic.

    I can’t believe that after what the EQ did to save Emma and Snow that they can be so cruel to her as to leave her near tears as they go out to celebrate the return of Snow and her daughter. It is actually great to show that even the people we term “good” are not without faults. That they are capable of hurting others (maybe not purposely, but hurting others nevertheless). Gold’s taunts to Regina seems not only to be an “I told you so” ministration, a calibrated tweak of someone that he does not fully trust, but also a display of his still lingering disbelief that there is someone there who could truly love him. For if the EQ, for all her efforts at changed can still be discarded, then could such a fate be far from his own?

    Finally, we have Hook as the real villain (with a twisted sense of fair play). Trying to use Belle against Rumple, then abandoning her (and actually quite ready to kill Belle when she was of no use to his quest to exact revenge on Rumple) is a clear example to what kind of man Hook really is. Selfish, charming, boorish, diabolical, unpredictable, backstabbing – well, this should be fun to watch.

    Barbara Hershey is fantastic! Cora has supplanted the EQ as the epitome of evil in this show. And yet, she has the great capacity for love (for her daughter). Who knew that her desire to see her daughter was not totally driven by revenge but to help her on with her life (in Cora’s view, to make Regina darker than she has already been). How this mother/daughter dynamic compares with the Snow/Emma dynamic will be interesting to watch. And how this affect the Regina/Henry dynamic will be interesting to watch. I say this. Oh Henry! The best you can do to the woman who just showed you great loyalty and love (by absorbing the power of the blocking spell so that Snow and Emma can return) is telling her that you will essentially see her later? Once again, good people are not immune from doing bad things.

    Emma – great heroism on her part, battling against Hook and then having some sort of ability that can ward off Cora’s attack. Who is the real queen of Hearts? One who takes the hearts of others (with little regard to her victims) or one who’s heart cannot be broken (or stolen)? I think the episode title alludes to a different queen than expected. After all, one capable of true love can be seen as the queen of hearts, in the traditional sense of the word. And Emma, as we see, borne of true love, loving her own son with unbridled strength, may well be the true queen.

    Charming was asleep till the very end, to be awakened by true love’s kiss. Sacrifice rewarded by love. The dwarves around him, in vigil, while Snow awakens him from slumber. A mirror image of what took place before – somehow appropriate now that the journey back home was possible only through a walk in a room full of mirrors. Actually, the Snow/Charming reunion didn’t do much for me. Yes, it’s nice to see the Charming family back again. Maybe it’s because I didn’t appreciate their treatment of Regina after her great sacrifice.

    Snow will be Snow. Arrows away, giving support to her loved ones and compatriots. That she loves Emma and Charming is unquestioned. Beyond that? We shall see what the future holds.

    The OUAT characters that have show the greatest growth and potential are Regina and Rumple. When one mentions Evil Queen, how many people have forgotten the iconic treatment given to her by the Disney animators. Charlize Theron? Who’s that. Lana has made this role her own. And she is a fully formed figure – strong and yet fragile, a person who in the very core seeks true love. Her inner being yearns to be truly loved. Lana plays the tortured part of Regina/EQ’s sould exceedingly well. When she is crestfallen after being left behind by Henry and his family, you can see the deep pain that she suffers. The same pain she displayed when she had to let Daniel go. Her quest for true love, her ability to give love inspite of herself (as shown in the very touching scene between the EQ and Cora in the chamber of hearts). After what she has gone through, we want her to find true love. And yet, we still don’t know whether Henry will give him his true love. Again, a we shall see.

    Mr. Gold. Rumple. Robert Carlyle is a fantastic actor in a fantastic role (or roles). Rumple is the man on the true journey. In all of manifestations of the Rumple character, the one thing that is always apparent is that he is capable of true love. His weaknesses temper that ability at times, but his belief in the power of love is the great undercurrent of the whole show. It is his curse after all, one fashioned to bring him to his son, that started this journey for everyone. His regret at his failings is borne of true love for his son. The conversation between Emma and Gold, where Emma does not blame Rumple for trying to protect Storybrooke (even at the point of endangering her own life) is an interesting one. It is almost a foreshadowing of the relationship yet to come between these two (if Bae and Neal turns out to be the same person). Emma understands that Gold is somehow manipulating events and yet somehow, by instinct, she understands that the manipulations has come at a great price for Rumple. The almost loss of his humanity (by the corruption that power brought) could never be complete because at his core, Rumple is capable of great and true love. Emma, as a mother, must instinctively know that under the facade of power and seeming evil lies the soul of a man whose love for family is as great as her own. There seems to be some respect between these two. Yet again, we shall see.

    All season long, we have seen Regina’s quest for redemption and glimpses of Gold’s own redemptive journey. The producers have told us that this season is one centered on the journey for redemption. After this episode, the possibilities of who continues their quest is still open to stipulation. I wait with baited breath for the continuance of this tale. And the expectation that Rumple and Belle will make the redemptive journey together. Hey Mr. Producer! Enough Mulan and Aurora.

    I cannot say often enough how strong a cast of actors and actresses have been assembled to tell these tales. Carlyle and Morrison are able centerpieces of this universe (especially RC). To all of them, to the writers, director, costume designes (Eduardo is fantastic), Mark Isham, the producers. Thank you for making Sunday night so special. And for making one of the best family dramas in television. Great episode, well played, well written, well directed. A great Christmas present for us all. And now….

    Anticipation. It’s making me wait.

  • WML

    And thanks go out to the crew and support staff of this wonderful show as well. And thank you Steveston, for being our Storybrooke.

  • S

    Im thinking the way Gold used magic to push Ruby back and knock her unconscious for a minute, might tick off Belle. I dont tink Gold is becoming a better person at all. I like him as a sympathetic villain.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    Gold did some fairly despicable things in the episode (at least they seem that way). Pushing Red back wasn’t nice, but even Emma saw his point in the end. That look on his face waiting to see who emerged from the well was pure anxiety. And he didn’t make a move (not an inch) to stop Regina (and he could have). That would have been a great excuse for him to avenge her treatment of Belle, and he didn’t take it. He waited and let her make the decision.

  • WML

    Regina and Gold are still conflicted. I think that the redemptive paths of these two will be interesting to watch. If Neal is Bae and if he does come to Storybrooke, that’s another weakness for Mr. Gold to deal with. Belle knows that she’s in this for the long slog and she acknowledges this in the coversation she had with Ruby. I think if you ask most of the people in Storybrooke whether they prefer Cora to come through the portal or have Gold and Regina try to defend them, even at the possible cost of Snow White, many of the people would choose the defensive posture. That said, it appears that Gold’s recently revealed weakness, the ability to truly love, may actually be the means that he needs to be able to subdue Cora. Emma gave him a glimpse of how powerful true love can be. Although deep down, I think Gold has always known this. After all, the curse he created was out of pure love, for his lost son.

    More importantly, Emma understands why Gold did what he did. And as noted earlier, the Gold who is willing to apologize is only made possible by the influence of Belle. And if and when he stands up to Hook, it will be because true love finally gave him the courage that he never had.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    Very nicely put WML!

  • WML

    Barbara,

    What of Gold really foresaw more of what’s happening than he leads on? I’m not saying he knows everything – he didn’t know Belle was alive or what would happend with Emma when she confronted Cora. BUT – what if he knew that it was Snow and Emma that was going to go through the portal, and that he let Regina “save” them? Do we even know that defensive spell would work? What if it was just a light show to make Regina more acceptable in Henry’s eyes? And if this is so, for what reason is he doing this for? After all, it the spell was powerful enough to kill Cora and Hook, why would it not kill Regina, who is arguably a weaker sorceress than her mother? Far fetched idea, I suppose.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    i absolutely think that gold knew more than he let on.

  • Betsy

    Oh, I disagree, Barbara. I’m not sure what he did that was despicable. Pushing Red back doesn’t approach that word for me — and really, if he’d let her, she might have friend herself.

    I guess I’m not sure how Gold not doing anything to stop Regina was despicable or even bad. He’s not going to avenge Belle ….and that’s what Belle wants, so that’s a good thing. I have NO problem with his snarky comment to her at the end because it’s the LEAST she deserves.

    Gold looked SO sad and pensive in that last scene with Emma as he discussed True Love. I wonder if he was thinking of Belle? When did he become attached to the notion of True Love? I mean, it was very clear last night it’s vitally important to him; it’s not just a notion, it’s a FEELING Gold has deep inside. Dark One Rumple was so cynical that it’s amazing that he did become this attached.

    Was it Belle? Did she reach into his soul so much that he became convinced of True Love’s magic and power? As a loving father, did he believe that one day he and Belle might have created a child, something truly powerful, through the magic of their love? YES, I think so, for this reason: Belle’s love was breaking his curse. As powerful as that curse was, it was BREAKING it. Belle had said that True Love could break any curse, so Rumple KNEW how powerful True Love was. Belle showed him the way.

    Bae was his motivation for finding a curse, but Belle invested in him the belief in true love.

    I had an AHA moment watching the preview again. I don’t think Gold is telling Emnma about his son because he’s calling on the favor : it’s too early for that (these scenes have to come from episodes 10-12 only) and frankly, I think he may never call on the favor; it might be a tease. We know Bobby said we’d see Gold looking for Bae, so I think Gold tells Emma about needing to find Bae because he needs a strand of her hair or something with her DNA on it to try and break the barrier curse.

  • Betsy

    I do not think Gold’s love for Belle or Belle herself is a weakness. In fact, it’s a strength. He doesn’t know it yet perhaps, but it is and when he realizes it, he will be even more powerful. That love for her and hers for him is a real force.

    As for Bae, I have always felt that he will be angry and resentful. He will probably be vulnerable to people who want to use him against his father…..and possibly Bae would actively fight Gold. That would crush him. I feel that Rumbelle’s arc next year will very likely be dealing with the fallout. It’s their issue, not just Gold’s, because she loves him deeply. I suspect that past season 3, Bae will calm down, but he won’t want a relationship with Gold – and that will be a series long arc.

  • Baronius

    Gold tried to kill Snow and Emma. Regina went along with it, lying to her son, but then stopped at the last moment. I wouldn’t be inviting either of them to dinner.

  • Sara R

    I thought this was a wonderful episode. The way the writers are able to tie in everything in a way that makes such sense is quite incredible. Cora being the Queen of Hearts was just so perfect.

    I like the depth of character being brought to Regina. She has undergone quite the journey from her pre-Queen/Daniel days to Snow’s “betrayal” to becoming the Evil Queen to being evil as Regina to now trying to redeem herself… BUT I cannot help but miss the Evil Queen/evil Regina. There is something so seductive about that characterization. It seems though, from the previews, she may slip back into that mode as a further progression of her storyline with Henry still pulling/being pulled/pushed away from her.

    Excited for the return in January.

  • Sara R

    Oh, another thing… anyone else think there is a possibility of Henry’s father being Baelfire. I feel like that would be a good way to tie his character more into the overall storyline. His journey through the portal may have stripped him of his membership of Fairytale Land as well. Just a speculation.

  • Sara R

    *memory

  • Pixie Michele

    Kudos! Insightful synopsis once again Barbara! I loved the performances and appreciate all who work on this series, but most of all, the writing. I agree that
    Adam and Eddy’s epi’s flow and tie up so neatly, then hook for the next journey. I think because they never lose sight of fairytale themes as the focus.
    Acknowledged that OUAT is a drama, but Jane and Adam/Eddy epi’s resound stronger with everyone because they drive theme home. That’s accomplished in an exquisite manner in the more adult format of drama, but still so simplistic in delivery that we go back to fairytale morals of childhood seeing it. That’s a tricky balancing act. With theme in mind, I take a different point of view with Rumple that became clear in this episode.
    Rumple is the ultimate spectator in the sublime fairytale faceoff he has orchestrated. He wants to believe love and hope (Emma and Henry respectively) can overcome anything. As much as he knows all the players (why Rumple has been woven into so many stories), he still cannot predict the outcomes. I believe he sees visions, but not the whole continuous thread to the end. Thus, the planting of the ink for a vision he had of its use, but not knowing how it was used. His anxious look at the well was because so much was at stake for his beliefs. What does Rumple take away seeing that Emma triumphed and Regina chose to believe in hope/Henry?
    Rumple is a student learning love. He’s used quick magic that “always comes with a price” as his crutch. He wants better.
    His belief in true love’s power took the leap of faith that for the outcome.

  • Pixie Michele

    Sorry, hit wrong button. Disregard last sentence that wasn’t complete yet please.
    Rumple’s belief in true love’s power (i.e. Emma) made him take the leap of faith with his sublime plan. He left it all in the savior’s hands. However, he is truly astonished by Emma’s accomplishments because he doesn’t understand, yet, how love really works. That it takes time, unlike quick magic. You can see the student’s impatience (“someday invite you to dinner” to Regina) and the student’s doubt (“It’s going to be Cora” through the well). But Rumple is willing to learn.
    I’m confident he will, taking us along for the ride. Right now, he believes that only Emma and her powers can give him back all he’s lost (Bae) and he’ll continue to act with that in mind. This same belief held true at season one’s end at the well. He doesn’t bring Bae back because he’s not “educated” enough yet. But when Rumple learns, sacrifices, and puts love into action himself…well, that’s the most satisfying outcome/happy ending of all.

  • http://www.cinemalowdown.com/ Sherry

    I thought this was a good episode. I liked that there was a lot of Mr. Gold and Regina. I also like that they are keeping Mr. Gold devious.

    One thing I was just writing about, and I hope they get into more when it comes back, is the crossing the border issue.

    I thought it was such a great idea – really giving people the choice if they wanted to leave their fairytale selves behind – and they haven’t done much with it since it was introduced.

    They could at least show how the guy that did lose his memory is doing.

    That is one problem the show has, too many ideas and characters, too little time.

    I miss Dr. Hopper, and some of the other people we used to see more of.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    This is the part of my critique I still stand by. Little mundane changes in daily life brought by the season finale are vanished: the memory thing with the border, some of the characters (hopper is certainly among them) and the relationships seem picked up when convenient rather than being organically part of the show. Those are little textures I think are lacking.

    I loved this episode. It was certainly one of the season’s best outings. And now that they’ve got Emma and Snow back in Storybrooke, I hope we’ll see more of Storybrooke.

  • http://www.cinemalowdown.com/ Sherry

    I totally agree Barbara. Yes, I have been missing those little details and clever moments.

    In the first season I thought it was fun spotting different familiar characters, and figuring out who the lesser known ones were and how they fit in. I don’t feel like I’ve been doing that this season.

    One thing I forgot to mention was – why no real back story for Mulan? I don’t really like her character all that much, but that might be part of the reason. She serves a singular purpose instead of being a full fledged character.

  • Rosie

    [“Earlier today on my personal blog (you can find the link in my bio), I criticized the series for (among other things) dragging on the Mulan/Aurora/Ruined Fairytale Land story arc a bit too long. And doing it at the expense of several other significant storylines.”]

    What other significant storylines? I don’t recall any significant storylines during the time Snow and Emma were in Fairy Tale Land, unless you consider King George’s never ending resentment toward Charming . . . which wasn’t well handled in this season’s 7th episode.

  • Rosie

    [“One thing I forgot to mention was – why no real back story for Mulan? I don’t really like her character all that much, but that might be part of the reason. She serves a singular purpose instead of being a full fledged character.”]

    Perhaps she has the wrong skin color.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    What I meant was that storylines to do with Red, Dr. Whale, Archie, and the infamous border issue were touched on an shelved. What’s going on with these characters. The texturing I refer to requires at least some references post-facto at least here and there. The new storyline brought right to front and center I think might have taken something away from those. Although the main storyline I think that took a hit was the Rumple/Belle narrative.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    Rosie–My problem with Mulan is the same as with Aurora. Neither of them are connected to the main characters (from before). Whenever a new character has been introduced into the main cast it has been with a pre-existing relationship to one of the central characters via a backstory. There is established history. I think that’s the difference.

  • WML

    I want for Rumbelle and please don’t give the producers more ideas and ask about the Mulan backstory. Of all the characters introduced in the show, Mulan was the most boring (well, Prince Phillip gave her a run, be he was asleep in less than a wink of an eye). Sarah Bolger’s Aurora, on the other hand, would be interesting if she ended up in Aurora. You’ll have the four princesses (Aurora, Cinderella, Snow and I presume Ariel will be there soon). Well, I guess Emma is a princess, but I like her as sheriff.

    And PLEASE. Can we have more Emile and RC? Even a burger date is electric when you watch these two together.

  • WML

    Let’s redo this:

    I want more Rumbelle and please don’t give the producers any more ideas by asking about the Mulan backstory. Of all the characters introduced in the show, Mulan was the most boring (well, Prince Phillip gave her a run, but he was asleep in less than a wink of an eye).

    Now, I wonder if the wraith took the souls to the same place that the sleeping spell sent the consciousness of those under the spell? It would be interesting if Charming had a dream and ran into Phillip. Heck, since Aurora, Charming, Henry and Snow all went under the spell, denizens of Storybrooke and the remnants of the Enchanted Forest are really no further away from each other than a dream. I wonder if this idea gets used again in the future (silly idea, it’s a perfect way to bring Aurora back in the show). At least Mulan never fell under the spell.

  • http://www.cinemalowdown.com/ Sherry

    @WML – I’m not saying I want a Mulan back story – or any more time spent on her, but I think one of the reasons she is boring is because she has no story.

    I find her total devotion to Aurora to be a little silly. It’s like she’s a robot or something. It seems like they put her in the show because they could, not because it was necessary.

    I am neither against or for the Rumple/Belle relationship. Whatever direction that makes for a good story is what I hope for.

  • http://www.cinemalowdown.com/ Sherry

    I should say I always want more Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin though!

    And more Regina.

  • Rosie

    [“More importantly, Emma understands why Gold did what he did.”]

    Emma doesn’t know the complete truth about what Gold did. Does she know that he had manipulated Regina’s emotional state, helping her to become the person willing to use his curse? I rather doubt it.

  • Rosie

    [“I’m not saying I want a Mulan back story – or any more time spent on her, but I think one of the reasons she is boring is because she has no story.

    I find her total devotion to Aurora to be a little silly. It’s like she’s a robot or something. It seems like they put her in the show because they could, not because it was necessary.”]

    Let’s be honest. Mulan is a character, who is a person of color. Most television writers – especially for shows that feature an ensemble cast, with a white person in the lead – are not willing to devote much energy to the backgrounds of non-white characters like Mulan.

    And instead of realizing this, many fans are inclined to simply write off characters like Mulan as useless and disposable, instead of demanding that the writers improve the character.

    I realize that many people do not want to face this, but I’ve seen this happen too many times in the past to ignore it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    But I feel the same way about Aurora.

  • WML

    Mulan was bland. Aurora was bland. The producers wasted a lot of time on these two characters and what’s the payoff? That they’re going after the “soul” of Phillip? Another character we don’t have anything invested in. Hopefully, the rest of the season focuses on the core talents of the show, especially Gold and Belle, Neal and Emma, Cora and Regina. These are the dynamic pairings in OUAT, in my opinion. Hook? Well, bring him on, if you must (I am still not convinced).

    Here’s one for the producers. When you finally decide on bringing Oz into the picture, can we have a mind boggling musical with Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel? And I am still looking for a way to bring David Tennant to America TV. I think he’d be a great Wizard. Or maybe Patrick Steward, with that great voice of his.

    I don’t think that Mulan was bland because she was a person of color. The part of Lancelot was well written and I actually cared for the knight. Mulan? Nope. Aurora? Dream Sequence was okay, but otherwise, could have done without her. Anita? Don’t care. Basically, we had a lot of superfluous characters and story lines in the first nine shows of the season. I liked the giant though. And let’s face it. In my opinion, all the scenes with RC and Emilie de Ravin crackled with electricity. Lana Parilla was fantastic and Barbara Hershey topped her daughter’s evil ways. Cameron was fantastic (can we have Emma as a brunette to match her mom’s hair color?). Neal was a fantastic addition. Charming was good and Snow became Emma’s sidekick – though the scene at the nursery was great.

    But why, oh why, did we see so much of Aurora and Mulan? David Anders shined and we need more of the cricket. Most of all, flesh out the most dynamic duo in the cast. Rumple and Belle (and Neal and Cameron).