Thursday , November 30 2023
Vote in Blogcritics 'Once Upon a Time' poll...and spread the word.

‘Once Upon a Time’ Poll: What Do You Think of Season Four?

More than six million people tune into ABC’s Once Upon a Time each week. The series has veered from its mashups of classic fairytales, legends, and myths along with modern-day Maine to incorporate Disney movies that have no grounding in generations-old tales.

The classic Norse story of the Snow Queen, the Frozen angle certainly has the most obvious Disney stamp of all the series storylines thus far. After the mid-season break, Cruella DeVille and the 101 Dalmations story (another Disney story) will make their mark on Storybrooke.

In addition to the bit of Disney-fication the series has embraced, character narratives have changed, been put on the back-burner, or swept under the carpet to make room for new characters and new stories. To many, these changes are a welcome shakeup to the story; other longtime fans of the series are not happy with the direction of the show. I’ve made little secret of the fact that this season has been disappointing for me.

I feel the Frozen story line (except for the Snow Queen, herself) has shuttled to the side stories of too many characters, and the out-of-left-field changes to the character of Rumplestiltskin has me completely bewildered. To me it feels contrived to make Rumple a out-and-out villain, without the complexity and nuance that has always characterized his actions. But I’m, as I’ve also said, completely convincible. Right now, my hope lies with next week’s episode, “The Fall,” written by, arguably, the show’s best scribe, Jane Espenson.

I’d like to know where you stack up in the debate being had on blogs, in forums, on Twitter, Tumbler, and every other social media outlet on the Internet. I’ll keep the poll open until a week after the mid-season finale and report back to you, my dear readers. So vote, get your friends to vote (wherever you stand), and spread the word as Once Upon a Time heads towards the climax of its Frozen story arc!

And as a bonus, I’ve included a separate poll that lets you vote on your favorite Once Upon a Time relationship! Once Upon a Time returns to ABC November 30 with “The Fall.”

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About Barbara Barnett

A Jewish mother and (young 🙃) grandmother, Barbara Barnett is an author and professional Hazzan (Cantor). A member of the Conservative Movement's Cantors Assembly and the Jewish Renewal movement's clergy association OHALAH, the clergy association of the Jewish Renewal movement. In her other life, she is a critically acclaimed fantasy/science fiction author as well as the author of a non-fiction exploration of the TV series House, M.D. and contributor to the book Spiritual Pregnancy. She Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (

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  1. I can’t being to state how disappointed my family has been with the “Frozen” storyline. I read an article in the business magazine, The Motley Fool, where a Disney exec admits they’re using OUAT to merchandise their franchise. I just wish they’d put a little more into OUAT. It was a wonderful, very creative show. Now it’s just an hour long DIsney commercial. I have lost all respect for the Disney franchise and, once OUAT is off the air, my family has decided not to support it in any way anymore.

  2. Interesting. I’d not read that Motley Fool article.

  3. Robin and Regina, of course

  4. I wish they’d stop letting Jane Espenson write episodes. The show is bad but she brings it down to another level with her sexism and nonsensical writing. She does a decent snark but it’s at the cost of plot.

  5. Robin and Regina 😀

  6. Um what the fuck? Emma and Regina aren’t a couple… I don’t get them here…

  7. Rumpel and Belle isn’t even an option for favourite couple? Did Horowitz and Kitsis design this poll?

  8. Robin and Regina! 🙂

  9. Regina and Emma are the heart of the show. However their relationship comes to pass, they need to find a way for it to work. What they have and what they could have is remarkable. I find the show much more enjoyable when they focus on the core cast.

  10. I haven’t watched an episode fully in weeks. I loved the show in the first two seasons and first half of last season was fantastic, but the Frozen stuff and the Rumple redefined mantra of the fourth season does nothing for me. The show, at least for me, is no longer must watch television. A shame, since Robert Carlyle is a great actor and Lana Parilla is a darn good actress.

  11. For the poll: I picked Robin and Regina. I am fascinated by their dynamic, two people who are flawed and have dark pasts they are not proud of, who have done wrong in the past but who are perfectly right for each other in the present. They recognize the hardships, the pain and struggles their other half went to. What Robin said in reply to Regina when she wondered why they didn’t get together all those years ago was perfect. He doesn’t see the big bad Evil Queen, he sees the pain that turned Regina into the EQ, made her pick evil. Because he understand where that came from. Yeah, I really love their dynamic. I hope they can get their happy ending on OUAT. In my personal opinion they deserve it most.

  12. I’m past tired of the Savior stuff. I’m not really a fan of the messaging of born hero because your parents loved each other, especially when, until now, she regularly wasn’t the one to really figure/end/save etc. the situation. It would be much more interesting if she ends up not being the savior- misdirection, or that her powers aren’t hers- and that they will/do end (and actually non magical saves from others would be nice). I am glad Emma is getting some more back story, she was way too plot device for a time imo, but I’m not really digging how they’re doing it, might be a touch too little too late, or just that it’s all…hypocritical? Plus, I’ve always felt her magic was too easy, a quick plot fix device? I mean really, how hard has she had to work for her powers compared to what we saw with others? This little bit of sudden out of control (which might be more interesting if highlighted that that’s not true for all users, same with being called monster, and the differences of type, whys, etc.) very contained.

    The Emma and Regina episode…just, meh. I know a lot of people were waiting for that, but it seems a little pushed for me to that end. Emma has made horrid comments to Regina constantly except when in crisis pushes (and Regina’s Regina) to then be all like “but we were becoming friends” really? Working together for Henry, for the town is great, and a good foundation, but working together and friends is a big difference. Would have much rather seen Tink and Regina keep talking, more Snow/Regina- had some, but, not enough. Especially as I still hate how the Henry situation was handled, two moms is possible and awesome, but one thing when one mother actively reaches out, or both start together, different for one to come out of left field and be given more rights constantly after just a few weeks. Regina doesn’t get enough credit. In a show that says it tries to underline that family isn’t all blood, they don’t always follow their own voice.

    There are a lot of things I enjoy about Once, reworking fairytales is inherently interesting to me, but, there is some core messaging with hope, savior, adoption, etc. especially some serious narrow mindedness with hope and heroes (who can kill, be horrible and thats just fine, because their heros)- belief can actually lead to great evil, I wish they’d show that, show Henry’s flaws rather than Golden Hearted. To that end, I LOVED Snow/Regina’s talk about Snow not being all good, Regina all bad (for me Snow/Regina is core, and I want MORE). But I do feel they over emphasize Regina as making bad choices, without much consideration to the circumstances, what was done to her. Snow being an awful child when she had everything is slightly different than someone turning bad after lots of abuse. Same with Ingrid, Anna makes comments/judgments on her based on a small interaction and no deeper consideration. The heroes are never really are made to face what some of the “evils” went through, that it wasn’t just a quick flip (in some cases, Regina being evil I’d rate as entirely different than Rumple, or Zelena, based on what we’ve seen). We get to see flashbacks and the feels, but the “goods” never have to grow much, and it’s written so that ultimately they never have to- not more than a second-, and get to be always justified. If they made the goods grow and face their own reflections as much as the evil characters, I think the show would be so much better. They stress evil is made, but not so much good being made, Emma being case in point- special by birth. Would be amazing if could do an arc showing that our heroes in different circumstances could have become evil- I think that type of arc would be a breath of fresh air.

    I do love Regina and Robin, I wish we could have had his character be built more first, but that may come to be, kind of like Hook- we learned more about him slowly, but still feel his came sooner- probably the too many characters issue. I suppose in some ways, my judgment of this arc will depend on what they do next, if they wrap around to build foundations (the hat, the author of the book, etc. I feel like will continue and I’m interested in where they go with that, tentatively, they could do some really awesome things with fate and choices, or they could do some horrid things in terms of the messaging issues I have), I find usually the slowly built stories are better. That may be the biggest issue with this arc, it kind of came out of nowhere, and relies heavily on the core character imo they’ve been the most inconsistent with (Emma, plus, as said, I have issues with the savior under line period). So…yeah. I’m still watching Once, but I’m not really thrilled with anything right now.

  13. no doubt about the best couple: Regina and Robin!!!! They make me sooo emotional… I can t even describe how perfect they are for each other… Regina was is and will always be my favorite character and Lana is AMAZING!!!

  14. Robin and Regina…so sweet and hot. I simply loved the scene in the vault, Lana’s acting was perfect, she showed every emotion that was going through Regina…and she and Sean have an amazing chemistry. They were wonderful even in the library.
    “I just want her to be happy, even if she thinks that’s impossible”, yeah, Robin, me too…me too!!

  15. My fav is rumbelle. Snowing and SwanQueen a close second. Tolerate CaptainSwan. Hate outlawqueen.

  16. Emma and Regina, I love how their relationship has grown and it still need work, but they’ll get there, I just fell in love with both characters in the pilot!!!!! ❤❤♥♥ I also love Rumple and Belle, and like a bit Regina and Robin.. And I’m cool with Snowing and Well I really DON’T like Emma and Hook because I never liked Hook and I don’t like pirates!

  17. Robin and Regina!! Rumbelle is just awful. Anyone who roots for them has no idea what true love is, IMO! (Rumple is awesome I just can’t stand Belle. You know it’s bad when you see them together and he’s the power hungry villain who always chooses selfishness and power and yet you think to yourself…. “Ugh what does he see in HER??”

  18. Definitely Emma and Regina. It’s funny when a (currently) noncanon pairing is a thousand times more interesting and complex than the actual canon pairings. (Well, I do like Snowing and Rumbelle.) Although lately I would rather Belle just leave Rumple, because he’s lying to her constantly and she deserves better. I’m really conflicted because I love Rumple as a villain, he’s so fun to watch…but I also wish he could be a good person for Belle…ahh I don’t know what they should do with his character! Maybe just keep him evil and let her leave him? God that would be sad. But necessary. Sigh 🙁

  19. A lot of this season has been a dud for me. There’s been way too much focus on the romances and not on the plot. Romances used to hardly even be a focus of the show, which was one of the reasons I loved it! Snow/Charming was the biggest romance of the first season and Snow’s interactions with Regina and Emma were still more of the focus than her relationship with David. Regina and Emma’s love lives (mostly Graham for Season 1) was plot D, again other relationships took focus (each other, Henry, Snow) and I really really miss that aspect. It was so refreshing to have any show, but especially one revolving around fairytales that wasn’t beating us over the head with romances and the soap opera drama that usually follows. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve started liking the idea of Regina and Emma together as a romantic couple later in the show. It would move the focus from love interests back to plot. Even though it would be a romance there has been so much buildup between these two that it wouldn’t take away from what the show was based on and it wouldn’t hold the story back.

  20. Really in a lot of ways Elsa has been a large part of the bright spot of the season I am glad to see Regina and Emma working on getting over part of their rivalry but want to see it go further Really it seems that Elsa and the Ingrid are really salvaging a lot of things this season and making up for some of the problems with Hook and Robin Hood. Rumple is back to being more of Rumple so hopefully it will get better as time goes on.

  21. ☆ Kaily Russell ❤

    I hope to see more Regina and Emma bonding.

  22. I have to admit that I am not a “shipper” and I actually miss the time before “ships” were a huge focus of the show. I would love to see more in depth stories regarding the core characters and some of the original supporting cast. They touch on some potentially great storylines but then just drop or rush through them, part of that comes from them bringing on so many new characters for each half of the season…characters that we have no reason to get invested in because they are going to be gone after 11 episodes. I’ve watched the show since the pilot. In my opinion, season 1 was the best season. At times, it seems like the creators/writers are doing everything they can to erase that whole season or change back stories just to make the “ships” work.

    In terms of relationships, I think Robin and Regina is one of the worst. Regina was one of my favorite characters right from the start. I don’t have a problem with her getting a love interest and I am all for her getting a happy ending; however, I just can’t get behind this story. I wish the story would have been more organic. To me, it feels too forced, too rushed. Thanks to some pixie dust, we find out that Regina, well before becoming the Evil Queen, discovered she had another true love/soul mate. The man conveniently had a lion tattoo on his arm so that we could be reminded of his soul mate status ad nauseum by endless shots of said tattoo. We discover that man is Robin Hood, who didn’t have a tattoo the last we saw of him, but he did have a wife with a child on the way. We didn’t get to see any interaction between the two characters prior to this reveal to see if they had any chemistry. We didn’t get to see the characters fall in love BEFORE Regina saw the tattoo in Storybrooke or at all really. Regina sees the tattoo, freaks out, gets a pep talk from Snow White and decides to jump on the pixie dust bandwagon all within a day or two. There wasn’t any build up to SHOW me that it had to do with anything other than that pixie dust chose him for her. I would have preferred to see a romance/relationship develop BEFORE I was told by the writers/creators that this was the man Regina would be with for the rest of her life. SHOW me they are meant to be together, don’t just TELL me. Where is the drama in that? Where is the journey? It is a lazy and forced way to develop a romance, in my opinion.

    In addition to how the story was originally developed, the unsavory plot points/scenes we are getting for angst/drama purposes make it extremely difficult for me to get behind this relationship. I won’t bother addressing them specifically because it would make this post even longer than it already is. In my opinion, they would have to come up with a spectacular twist to overcome the bad choices they have made in this storyline. Anyway,
    why should any of this “angst” create drama for me? I seriously don’t understand how anyone who is pro Robin/Regina could possibly be worried that things won’t work out for them. We were already told they are true love/soul mates, which means they will end up together, which equals no drama. Granted, there is a chance that I could be wrong and they don’t end up together, but I think that chance is slim.

    I get that there are many people who love the pairing. To each their own. To me, it is just a hot mess…and not in a good way.

  23. I’m sad to see that the show put focus on Cs and OQ romances. I don’t like the way Once wrote those pairings. It felt to rushed and unhealthy. Hook was shown as a sociopath pirate with no respect for women; seeing them like treasures to get or gifts to claim. I’ll always remember when he said that he has the habit of getting women drunk so he could sleep with them, and the comments when Rumple was looking for his wife about women who were on the boat to please the men, and a lot more. I had no problem with the fact that there is a sexist misogynist pirate (like the cliché), I thought the pirate would just stalk Emma and that Emma will just ignore him. I was badly surprise to notice that Once were working on making this a romance . Emma has changed a lot since, in a short time, and I don’t recognize her anymore. It’s like she has no self respect anymore. I think its a very huge bad move to sanitize Hook that way so CS could happen. It shows a really bad and unhealthy romance model to everybody who watch this show. They have no chemistry, it feels wrong. I don’t like OQ neither. Things are going to fast… we dont have time to believe in it. It makes me feel that Once created those two romantic interests for Emma and Regina to put some spice in the show but it costs a lot; maturity, depth, good love stories. It feels like Robin cannot calm down a bit to think about his frozen wife. True love has to be patient. It feels like 2 teenagers who think they are in love after 2 weeks; its not love, it’s attraction. I wished to see SwanQueen love happens, cause their story is particular, slowly graduate into trust and confidences. It would have been so precious, deep and interesting to see that evolution into a romantic relationship. Also there is no same-sex couple on the show. This exclusion is bad and unhealthy. Even I dont watch the show anymore, I vote for Swanqueen, Rumbelle and Charming all the way.

  24. I love robin and regina,, they’re amazing…and I actually really like hook for Emma, but hey I like bad boys, plus hook is gorgeous…but I really wish they brought the mad hatter back!! He was one of my favorites and I would love love love for them to do Alice in wonderland..that’s my favorite story of all time….and I wish they did more on the little mermaid..I feel like they rushed through it..we never even got to her underwater home…2 other stories I’d love to see happen is Aladdin, and Lion king..if they can!!!

    • Once Upon A Time in Wonderland focuses on Alice and has Aladdin characters. There’s only one season, though, unfortunately.

    • Yes! More Ariel and defiantly bring back the mad hatter. Sebastian Stan was great in that role.

  25. Henry has been pushed to the background. He was once the principle character. I miss Belle. The “Frozen” “brand” is being pushed in the toy stores this season, and ABC-Disney is trying to help sell it with this emphasis on Snow Queen, Ana, and Elsa. Shame on them.

  26. Where are the polls?I don’t see them!

  27. I vote Swanqueen!

  28. Robin and Regina are my OTP!!!! I love them!!!

  29. Speakingforthefamily

    I watch this show with my family when I’m at home and when I’m off at college we always talk about the episodes on the phone after we watch it. I can’t find the poll for favorite couple but I definitely have to put down SwanQueen! My parents are pretty conservative, only to the point that they don’t usually consider LGBTQ relationships when watching t.v., they just take what’s given to them (which for a lot of shows consists of straight relationships) but even they have picked up the potential this storyline holds. Two people whose destinies were always bound to each other (The Savior and the Evil Queen) but their feelings for each other were not fated but their choice. Their journeys brought them together they weren’t just dumped onto each other. I just wish the show would go there. I can find relationships like Hook/Emma and Regina/Robin anywhere on t.v. but Regina/Emma is unique and special (the same words Emma uses to describe their relationship in 4×05 but so applicable for what this could mean for t.v. and movies).

  30. nicolemuenchseidel

    I’m not seeing the ship poll, but I took the other poll. I stopped watching. I can’t watch the writers make Rumple a one dimensional cartoon villain like No Heart from “The Care Bears”. I feel bad for Robert Carlyle, having this done to his character, and I’m guessing likely being required to be supportive of it in interviews. There’s a slim chance that I may come back to OUAT, if they find away to fix Rumple (example, season 4 is just a *really* bad dream [yes, it’s a cheesy “Dallas” twist, but better than OUAT-S4], Rumple’s possessed by Zoso after being resurrected from the Dark One vault, etc.)…it may come off farfetched and a bit tacky, but certainly better than the current debacle.

    Since I can’t vote on the ship poll at the moment, I just comment here that RumBelle is always my favorite, even though I basically have to pretend that season 4 doesn’t exist with all the OOC Rumple and for that matter OOC Belle, deciding, after he had been controlled by Zelena and Regina, to use the dagger she thought was real to control him to help find that twit Anna, who she never had an interest in before. None of the other main ships impress me…indeed, I find CS and OQ rather appalling. So the only ships I like are more obscure ones: DreamyGrumpyLeroy/Nova and the ship that never really happened, Baelfire and Morraine. I never quite felt that Emma was good enough for Bae, and her behavior with Hook shortly after both times she thought NealBae was killed confirmed my feeling and made it stronger. Since clearly, the not-so-last-magic-bean and the Dark Curse were not the only ways to transcend realms, I wish the writers would have had Bae’s ‘friend’ Morraine go looking for him too, and that the writers would have had Henry’s dad just be some random guy from our world. It could have been a compelling ‘fish out of water’ tale, having to come to grips with all these fairytale characters, and Emma who he thought was ‘normal’ being the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.

    Sadly, I think the ultimate legacy of OUAT will be missed opportunities after a stellar first season.

    • nicolemuenchseidel

      On a side note, you mentioned “Madam Secretary” at the end of your “The Apprentice” article. I had been debating checking it out prior to that, then after the article, my husband and I went to the CBS site and watched all the MS episodes. We love MS! Fantastic, smart, well written show with a great cast! …and last Sunday, it had about twice as many people watching as OUAT. I find myself wishing that MS will have a need for Scottish ambassador or something when Robert is finally free of his contractual obligations to OUAT. I know it’s unlikely, but a girl can dream. 😉

  31. Where is the Ship Polls?

  32. At first I thought the integration was working well, but eventually it did feel like Frozen was taking up the main plot at the expense of the characters. The setup for Emma and the Snow Queen’s backstory was interesting, but they didn’t do much with it for Emma except in episodes seven and eight, and it wasn’t as powerful as it would have been if Emma had had her memories returned earlier (which would have made more sense as well, since the Snow Queen wanted Emma to love her and be vulnerable to her. I believed in Emma’s insecurities rearing up when she lost control–she was in a new, less emotionally shut-off place after season three, making her magic more reactive, and then she was reminded that she came to her family as an adult stranger (and hurt Henry.) But knowing who Ingrid was to her would have lent more weight to the story. Ingrid’s death confirmed this for me: the flashbacks were used to develop her instead of Emma, who only got her memories back when it no longer mattered to the current story. The emotional weight of the Frozen storyline was given mostly to the Frozen characters and Ingrid; it’s quite a contrast to how the Neverland and Oz arcs used their new settings and characters to develop the main ones. I loved the Emma/Elsa and the Frozen story wasn’t all bad on its own, but in the context of Once Upon a Time, and not an OUAT spinoff or something? It could have been better.

  33. As to ships: I can’t find that poll, but I would say Emma and Hook. I like how Emma reacts to him–she’s not a ball of sweetness and light that guides him out of being a villain, but she is interested, understanding, and caring, and she enjoys his enormous vanity. The season three finale showed him serving her story quite well, as someone both supportive and willing to confront her (and get her to open up willingly, which is significant for a character who always pushes people away.) He’s not perfect in how he goes about it sometimes, such as when he let everyone know she wanted to leave before she wanted it known, but my impression is that this kind of flaw is the downside of a virtue for Emma, who prefers when people come right out with their problems. He brought out the side of Emma she usually pushes down, which helped her find her home.
    I also like how Hook reacts to Emma. He’s inspired by her and motivated by her, but not by primarily by getting with her. He already had his doubts about where he’d gone in life, and she helped him see he could go in a different direction. He is frequently awed by her. He does his best to take care of her emotionally (and in other ways, but the emotional one is the most important, because she’s been so self-sufficient those other areas while lacking in this one.) The way his story is viewed through the prism of romance, while Emma’s is viewed through multiple prisms is also an interesting reversal of how stories often go.
    That said, I did feel like this season dropped the ball on it somewhat. The setup, Emma afraid of not being able to protect him and Hook afraid he would botch it up by not being good enough, had potential. The hat storyline could have been used to develop the characters. But it felt more like an external obstacle. It went off the radar for three episodes until episode eight, where it still took the back burner for much of the two hour special: Emma spent a lot of time getting to the mansion so all the other conversations and the Frozen flashback could happen. Then of course we got the heart storyline, and two episodes with a few scenes of angst and Emma feeling something off, before two short scenes in the midseason finale. Emma got to sense that something was strange without having the opportunity for a reaction to it because of the plot, and then it was time for the very necessary Belle and Rumplestiltskin scene. They also needed to wrap up the Emma/Regina friendship thread for the winter. With all of that, they missed a chance to have Emma react to Rumplestiltskin’s con, Hook’s issues with redemption (although I did like his dying request and the scene where he was confused at Rumplestiltskin not choosing Belle), and a possible ‘Hook is now distant from Emma, what does Emma feel about that when she also thinks she’s not fit for her family and he’s been such a constant in supportiveness?’ plot. (On a minor note, it was weird how they waited until they were at Granny’s for Emma to put his heart back.) It felt like the characters were there, but the plot was driving them instead of the other way around.

  34. With respect to Rumplestiltskin, I didn’t think they made him different as much as they just took a dark route. He’s been well-established as needing power since the first season, because he thinks having power over others is the only way to prevent them having power over him. He even set aside Belle’s return in the season one finale to bring magic back to the town, and he was willing to kill Henry to keep him from being his undoing even when his son and Henry’s father was alive to grieve over it. He did change at last when it was either his death or losing everything anyway, but then he was enslaved and forced to watch his son die. The only good things in his life after that were power and Belle. He tried to give up power anyway, but the way he set up his vengeance against Zelena and his discovery of the hat right after escaping her slavery made it very easy to just slip back into old behavior. Particularly when Hook and Emma unknowingly gave him great opportunities to take advantage of them, and the Snow Queen gave him a convenient way to get everything without having to continue to put up a charade about what he was doing to achieve that. There were times when he got a bit hammy (“The only person I will betray is…Emma Swan” and his “me first” speech come to mind), but they were counterbalanced by his promise at Neal’s grave, his strained reaction at finding the hat, his reactions to Belle in her centric, and most of all his conversations with Emma and Regina (the Regina example came after you wrote this, but I was able to draw conclusions from the rest of the show before the midseason finale happened.)
    That said, I do wish they had kept that scene from episode two, where Henry’s pain leads him to want his memories of Regina removed and Rumplestiltskin tries to help with advice instead. Would have made an interesting counterpoint what he ended up trying to do, and given more substance to the plot where they work together at the shop. It’s another instance where I agree the Frozen plot took up a lot of potential storytime for regular characters. If it was for ratings–and that must have been part of the reason–it might actually have wasted an opportunity, by not giving focus to characters the new audience needed to care about to stick with the show after the Frozen arc. I think the ratings support this: they began dropping and reached a new low with the midseason finale.(I remember an article in May/June with a quote about how Disney might do a Frozen series of some kind. It wouldn’t surprise me if this first half of OUAT’s season four was a test-run for that. I don’t have a link to the source right now, but I think I could find it.)